Last night, we went to go see “A Night at the Rock Opera” at REP East (FB), so I’m guessing you’re expecting the traditional write-up/review. But you’re not going to get it. There are a few reasons. First, there were no handouts, so I have no cast list to credit, nor a song list (or should I say “set list”) to give. Secondly, this was a fundraising benefit — so you don’t expect quite the same level as a well-established book show. Thirdly, we’ve got company coming over this evening, and I’ve already lost 6 hours to a headache. So, instead, a few observations.
- The cast was made up of a REP regulars, from what I could tell. Going just from tagging on Facebook, the performers included: Ginhee Eng, Lori D’Itri, George Chavez, Sarah Krieg, Tom Lund, Beth Ann, Sarah Stoddard, Coastal Eddie, Nikki Berra, Casey Christianson, Kelly Bader, Amber Schwinn, Erin Rivlin, Leslie Berra, Jill Kocalis Scott, and Bob Berra. All were good singers — a few had particularly strong rocker voices (you can hear the difference). You can see a picture of the cast here.
- The performances were very strong. Good voice, lots of energy, and you can tell they were having fun. That’s always key to me — if the folks on stage are having fun, the audience has fun.
- The selection of songs was a wide mix, and I could recognize most of the shows: Jesus Christ Superstar, The Who’s Tommy, Mamma Mia, Hair, Little Shop, All Shook Up, We Will Rock You, Hairspray, Footloose, Return to Forbidden Planet, Spring Awakening, Next to Normal. Posts indicated there were songs from Rock of Ages (which I expected), but I don’t recall hearing anything from that show. There were also a few shows I expected to be in the mix but that weren’t: Grease, American Idiot, Marvellous Wonderettes, Backbeat. I also wish that more songs from certain shows were included — particularly more from Next to Normal (I love “My Psychopharmacologist and I”, but “I’m Alive” would have been great), Hairspray (“Mama I’m A Big Girl Now”), Spring Awakening (“The Bitch of Living” and “Totally Fucked”), and Rent (“La Vie Boheme”). But there’s only so much time. Part of the problem with song selection is defining just what is “rock” and what characterizes it. Especially for music from the early 1960s, the line isn’t always clear. This affects some of the songs from Hairspray, Little Shop, and All Shook Up. Arguably, more of the headbanging stuff was what I expected. But then again — this is a concert, I had fun, and all the songs were good.
- I was thinking, when they were performing Bohemian Rhapsody, that they really need to listen to the Big Daddy version. It’s on an unreleased album that was available only as a Kickstarter premium. However, I have it, and would be glad to play it for them. Just imaging Bohemian Rhapsody with “Shaboom, Shaboom”.
- In general, the theme of the costuming was … black. Black dresses (of many forms, all long), and most of the guys went for the black on black look (black suit, black shirt, black tie). Some of selections worked; some worked spectacularly well, and a few less so. For women, the black dress has always been a classic; I’m guessing the black-on-black look for guys is in now (I never grew up with it). I’ll have to try it. Do you think I could rock brown-on-brown?
- In some ways, the concert was sad. There were middle aged and up performers on stage, and the audience was filled with middle-age and such (including me) rocking out. Since when did Rock become the music of the older generation (I remember making this observation when we saw “Rock of Ages”)? Gee, I’m getting old. Excuse me while I go shoo someone off my lawn.
- The show got me thinking — could someone make a jukebox musical out of rock musicals (especially original songs for rock musicals — otherwise it gets too meta). It could be an interesting commentary on the evolution of theatrical music from the traditional era of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Upcoming Theatre and Concerts: The last weekend of April will bring Noel Paul Stookey at McCabes, as well as the Southern California Renaissance Faire. May brings “The Lion in Winter” at The Colony Theatre (FB), and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at REP East (FB), as well as “Hairspray” at Nobel Middle School. I may also be scheduling “Porgy and Bess” at the Ahmanson. June is mostly open pending scheduling of an MRJ meeting, but I will try to fit in as much of the Hollywood Fringe Festival as I can. July will be busy: “Ghost” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/5, “Return to the Forbidden Planet” at REP East (FB) the weekend of 7/12, “Once” at the Pantages (FB) on 7/19, “Bye Bye Birdie” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) on 7/26, and “Family Planning” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on 8/2. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.