We recently received this great review from Theatre Spy, a lovely lady called Annie.

She attended Rock N Roll Years Show in Burnavon Cookstown last month.
Thank you Annie . The cast and crew will be delighted and will appreciate your review…………

The Rock and Roll Years :
Dance Hall Days
~ The Burnavon Theatre
Saturday 12th May 2018

Paying homage to, not one, but two decades in the history of American music is no mean feat. The 1950’s and 1960’s were decades that laid the foundation for ensuing popular contemporary music by blending Southern blues and gospel with a strong back beat. Rejecting (or maybe escaping) the conformity, melancholia and tragedy of their parents and the war years, teenagers embraced innovative and daring dancing styles, with more daring fashions, positivity, confidence and creativity. The musicians and artists of the time defined a context for this enthusiastic self-expression which evolved and influenced so many artists of Western music in the generations to come.

But we know all this already. Whether it’s our parents and grandparents’ stories, through the radio, or thanks to the annals of history, we hum along to Elvis, or Patsy Cline, while driving home from work or cooking the dinner. Rarely do we glimpse how it felt to actually be there. Last Saturday night in the comfort of The Burnavon Theatre, I happily settled in and experienced a little time-travel of my own…

Blending musical theatre (a prevalent and popular genre in the 1950’s and 1960’s), and some classic rock and roll hits, as well as several less well-known, though never-the-less compelling, numbers, the cast of The Rock and Roll Years: Dance Hall Days kept the audience in thrall from the opening of the curtain. George Jones as the well-connected American agent that catapults the aspiring artists to fame, brings his own charisma to the character and although we are never in doubt that he sees dollar signs when introduced to the artist, the use of ‘the name change’ as the principal focus of the dialogue between artist and agent, assures the omniscient audience of the promoter’s ability to market the artist successfully. In addition, his exasperation at the very “un-showbiz” nature of the artists’ names is both humorous and endearing. (The ‘name change’ is a cleverly written motif; it links the artists and brings cohesion to the musical as a whole. It also alludes to the change an artist in those time must undergo when marketed to the public.)

Jones moves adeptly and seamlessly between character and musician. As musician, he joins Clubsound in transforming songs I had only heard before in recordings, into vivacious and powerful renderings reminiscent of the times. The guitars were impeccable in renditions of the Shadows and the Beatles. The percussion and keyboard seemed indeed flawless to the mid twentieth century wide-eyed teenager I so desperately wanted to be in those moments of the performances! As the audience sang, clapped along and never averted their eyes for one second from the performers I knew that we were all feeling the same, regardless of age, gender or creed.

The adaptability of the vocalists was incredible. The similarities in pitch and tone to the original artist was so poignantly real that when I closed my eyes or looked at the black and white back drop showreel photographs, I felt that I had stepped back in time! I was falling in love with Dean Martin, marvelling at Roy Orbison, and sympathising with Connie Francis! Each performer truly paid a wonderful musical tribute to the original artists.

Although the tragic completion of the artists’ lives is acknowledged poignantly and respectfully in the narrative, the mood of the show remains indisputably positive and upbeat (which I imagine is how the original artists would want to be remembered).

The show finished with a well-deserved double standing ovation and I was almost sad to leave and return to reality. The hospitality and friendliness of the staff at the Burnavon Theatre ensured that our return to the 21st century timeline was an extremely pleasant one, and now several days later, I am very much looking forward to my next trip back in time!

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