It was a time of malt shops, poodle skirts and saddle shoes. The 1950s was a decade of change, the creation of the teenager and, of course, rock and roll music.
Drayton Entertainment is bringing the magic of the decade to St. Jacobs, starting this week, with Red Rock Diner. The revue show tells the story of one of Canada’s first rock and roll deejays, Red Robinson, and the movement he created on the West Coast of the country, bringing new music to teenagers in the great white north.
“He was the first one,” said David Connolly, director and choreographer of the show. “He was a teenager himself and he had this radio show called Teen Canteen and that shot him to incredible popularity.”
Red Rock Diner writer Dean Regan chose Robinson’s show as the backdrop to showcase the music and movements of the 1950s, and now, audiences at the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre will be able to join in.
“The audience is a big part of the show. We count on them for a lot, actually. It will be great to finally mix that last character into the show that we didn’t have in our rehearsals. We have been doing it without the audience. We are ready, anxious and very excited for the audience to take us on this amazing journey,” said Connolly.
The show runs for nearly four months, starting this week on Sept. 13, and going all the way to Christmas Eve. Connolly says it may be a long run, but the music will keep the show’s momentum going.
“The music is going to propel the energy. I have no doubt that it will actually do better as the run progresses,” he said.
Classic tunes like “Great Balls of Fire,” “Rockin’ Robin” and ballads like “Diana” and “Crying” are just some of the hits audiences won’t be able to help bopping along to.
The cast of six, with Daniel Abrahamson as Robinson, Brittany Banks as a blond bombshell, Jeremy Carver-James as the smooth talker, Kristen Pottle as the good girl, Sayer Roberts as a soda-jerk and Josh Wiles as the bad boy greaser, are joined by a live three-piece band led by musician Nick Rhodes.
Connolly wants theatre-goers to remember the days of the birth of the teenager, all while singing and dancing along.
“I hope they get reignited to the energy of the era. It was such a time of change across the board, but especially for young people. They were finding a voice and the music reflected that. It reflected the freedom of teenagers being their own people with a lot of R&B influence,” he said. “Rock and roll, country, R&B and gospel all started to come together and change not only the face of music, but the way people thought and treated each other. We want the audience to be reminded of that, reminded of the freedom and energy that was part of that decade.”
The show runs for 15 weeks with both matinee and evening performances. Tickets are $44 for adults and $26 for youth under 20. To take a trip to the past in St. Jacobs, visit www.draytonentertainment.com, or call 1-855-DRAYTON (372-9866).