Centre Stage’s “Rockabilly Heaven” revisits hit songs from the musical era that mixed rock and country to create a new influential genre.
With well-known artists like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee, and Janice Martin, the show invites you to get lost in the music.
Director Matt Reece says “Rockabilly Heaven” shows the music’s lasting influence and evolution from the days of Johnny Cash to the days of Queen.
“One thing that we really wanted to embrace with this particular show is the rockabilly music has such a rawness to it,” Reece says. “It’s not stylized.”
With nine singers and a four-piece band, the summer production offers big music and big fun. “Our band combined with our singers combined with the choreography — it’s just a perfect celebration,” he says.
“Rockabilly Heaven” keeps the vibes loose while paying tribute to those earlier musicians.
Choreographer and singer Kristofer Parker calls the show “really fun” and “rambunctious.”
“Those that kind of took that rhythm and went with it, we’re just basically celebrating them and telling our side of the story for them,” Parker says.
The theme of the show is simple: Have a good time!
“People that danced to this music, they went out, they had a great time, and they didn’t care about anything else that was going on at that moment,” he says.
That free-spirited nature is what Parker sought to embody within “Rockabilly Heaven” for both the cast members and the audiences.
“It’s just so relieving to be able to go out and do that every night,” he says. “Just to go on stage, forget about what’s going on, forget about work, forget about the words to the songs, that we just go out there and have fun.”
You should walk into the theater ready to sing, clap, party, and toe-tap to over 30 songs including “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hard Headed Woman,” “Jackson,” and “Rave On.”
“If you want a great time, want to listen to music that you enjoy, and want to feel like you’re part of the show, then that’s the reason that you should come to see the show,” Parker says.
The cast features Benjamin Augusta, Lena Bledsoe, Hannah Brooks, Kristi Parker Byers, James Hall, Grace McGrath, Kristofer Parker, Joshua Thomason, and Morgan Voke-Thomason. Music direction is by Chase McAbee with band direction by Greg Day.
When: July 25-Aug. 17
Where: Centre Stage, 501 River St., Greenville