Some classic tunes to help bolster that summertime vibe

Summer’s got a few weeks to go, but the pending Labour Day weekend signals a shift. For those not ready to let the season slip away, there’s something to be said for revelling in the sounds of those hot summer nights. That’s just what’s on tap with Cruisin’ Classics, now on stage at the Drayton Festival Theatre.

The production is a musical celebration of those classic hits of the 1950s and ‘60s, including the likes of Rock Around The Clock,” “You Send Me,” “Crying,” “It’s My Party” and “In The Still Of The Night.”

The story revolves around Chuck, the owner of a struggling diner who’s wrestling with the possibility of selling his beloved haunt. As he relives the moments and music of a simpler time, from the early rockin’ sounds of Bill Haley to the beautiful ballads of Brenda Lee, a hit parade of timeless tunes sweeps the audience members along for the ride.

In keeping with the era, the show comes complete with saddle shoes, sweater sets and poodle skirts.

“Cruisin’ Classics shines a spotlight on some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs ever written,” says Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment. “This production is packed with loads of energy and countless unforgettable tunes. You can’t help but get caught up in the fun.”

Cruisin’ Classics features a cast of 15 performers who bring audiences back to the days of sock hops and soda shops.  Paul Lewis is Chuck, the devoted owner of a downtrodden diner, who takes a walk down memory lane as he considers the future of his beloved eatery. Lewis has appeared in various musicals in theatres across Ontario for some 25 years; recent roles include Gomez in The Addams Family: The Musical, Sir Galahad in Spamalot, Tito Merelli in Lend Me a Tenor, and Officer Lockstock in Urinetown, among others.

Jodi Katz, Kyra Mastro, Connor Meek, Meghan Shanley, Joshua Warren and O’neil Watson are featured vocalists singing everything from The Chiffons’ “One Fine Day,” and Connie Francis’ “Where The Boys Are” to “Yakety Yak,” “Runaround Sue,” “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

Shanley is a lead vocalist in the touring band Jessie’s Girls and a former Miss Virginia. Katz has appeared on “Good Morning America” and “LIVE! With Regis and Kelly” singing back up for superstars Josh Groban and Miley Cyrus.

Mastro and Meek are both graduates of the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts’ triple threat program. Mastro recently appeared alongside James Franco in JJ Abrams’ film 11/22/63, while Meek has appeared on stage in musicals such as The Producers and Young Frankenstein.  Warren is a recent graduate of the Sheridan College Musical Theatre Performance Program, and previously appeared on stage in Mamma Mia! at Theatre St. John’s, and as a member of the Charlottetown Festival Young Company.

Watson is part of the Juno award winning group Faith Chorale. He has performed with David Foster, Deborah Cox, Jully Black and Jon Bon Jovi.

The production features a six piece band including Rob Asselstine on piano, Rob Christian on keys, Rich Levesque on bass, Eric Mahar on guitar, Robert Martin on keys and reeds, and Ken Post on drums. Background vocals are provided by Madelaine Champagne and Lloyd Lawrence.

The Drayton Entertainment production of Cruisin’ Classics runs through September 1 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. Tickets are $46 for adults; $27 for youth under 20 years of age, available at the theatre, online at Drayton Entertainment or by calling the box office at (519) 638-5555 toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866).

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