Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, stars of Rock and Roll, have one thing in common: a start at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Last night at the Bridge Hotel, Roselle, a rare insight into the struggling first days of these and many other icons of this very important part of popular music history was presented in a lively, fun production written by Kieren Carroll from an original idea by Singer/Guitarist John Kennedy, and directed by Neil Gooding.
The performances by John Kennedy and his band were great, (apart from a suspect chord in “Walking in the Rain”) John’s vocal diversity is excellent ranging from the low keys and style of Johnny Cash and Elvis through to a reasonable Jerry Lee Lewis, (“Great Balls of Fire” needed to be more shrill – but then who could emulate him?) Matt Charleston was good as Sam Phillips, Corinne Marie good as Marion Kaisker.
I found it distracting to see both actors swigging water and checking their scripts in the background of most scenes. Perhaps the lighting could be tweaked so that at least they are just sillouettes? Damian Sommerlad was good as the narrator and all other male characters. I liked the device of turning away from the audience. The characterisations were only adequate – I don’t think Johnny Cash ‘shimmied’ in quite that way when he sang? But then there is a big difference between the singer “Benton”, who I liked, and Jerry Lee!
Set seemed to be virtually non existent apart from a badly draped black fabric across the back wall. I also think personally that the script needs to finish on a high rather than… Maybe go back in time to the reunion at the studio we had already seen to reward our attention? The next performance at the Bridge isn’t until November. With a bit of spit and polish, worth rocking along to.
SONS OF SUN back at the Bridge Hotel in November