REVIEW: Centre Stage is Bopping the Hits in ‘Shaboom-Shaboom’

BY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

The cast of “Shaboom-Shaboom.” Photo by Wallace Krebs Photography

Boom-ba-doh. ba-doo, ba-doodle-ay (sh-boom). Dah-ta-da-ta-ta-dah! A-weema-weh, A-weema-weh, A-weema-weh, A-weema-weh! Do-lang, do-lang, do-lang, do-lang! Da doo ron ron, do doo ron ron! Abop bopa-a-lua whop bam boo!

Who knew there were so many nonsensical ad-lib rhythmic vocal zingers in the early days of rock and roll that still sound so-oh-oh-oho-oho-so good today.  

Well, Centre Stage has all of those great hits from the 1950s and 60s to get you bopping on your feet from the first number by a talented octet of some of the Upstate’s finest rising stars.

Centre Stage’s annual music show is as much of a commercial success for the company as it is a tradition. And “Shaboom-Shaboom” may just have the greatest opening of any music show ever produced at Centre Stage…ever. And that’s before a single note Is played by the band (lead by Greg Day) or sung by any of our four couples (four dashing lads matched with and four ladies in swing skirts and color-coordinated sweaters and oversized hair ribbons and ponytails). No spoilers here, but it has to do with Director John Fagan’s full-scale Wurlitzer Jukebox set design that engulfs the entire space. It’s mammoth and impressive, and vividly brought to life by some fancy, innovative lighting by Taylor C. Jensen. Does anyone remember the Ty-D-Bol Man?

This year’s rockfest features a gaggle of fresh new faces to the rock show format at Centre Stage in this ultra high-energy show and nonstop musical journey in time to an era when holding hands and a kiss on the lips was considered third base. From the Supremes “You Can’t Hurry Love,” to Bobby Darin’s “Dreamlover” to Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly.”

Javy Pagan is back after last season’s “Rockin’ the Keys” and brings his sweet balladic stylings to songs like Frankie Valli’s “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” but with more of a Tom Jones swagger.

 John Mark Elliot and Mitch Smith both make their Centre Stage debut and each strut their falsettos with Elliot taking lead on a soothing “Donna” by Ritchie Valens, and Smith (who also turns out to be a fine dancer, or at least a spinner) singing Chuck Berry’s
Johnny B. Good” with a kick-butt guitar solo by Tim Lee.

Wesley Hudson (recently in the company’s critically-acclaimed “Dreamgirls”) leads “The infectious melody of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” as well a gorgeous ‘Blue Moon” with the boys backing. Hudson, I might add, has a way of swooning his fans with just the lilt of his microphone

“Shaboom” features some beautiful  ensemble work such as “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” by Mel Carter Never Let Me Go!, so reliant on those tightly stacked vocal parts with no room for error.

Anna Elyse Lewis, is a pro in this style of music having performed some of these very hits in “The Marvelous Wonderettes” in Spartanburg a few seasons ago, and dazzles once agon in this show with a fantastic medley rendition of The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Bailey Tyler (last seen in the rock show “Heart N’ Soul”) lets loose with Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” and Centre Stage regular Celia Blitzer in her first music show appearance on this stage (though she was incredible in “Beehive” last summer with the Mill Town Players) takes leads on a faithful, fine performance of The Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.”
But it’s Clare Ruble (of “Mamma Mia” and the recent Warehouse production of “The Rocky Horror Show”) who has the sassafras to bring saucy-pop interpretations to songs like her solid “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes or her spunky “My Boyfriends Back” by the Angels. And you DO  believe you’re gonna be in a whole lot of trouble when her boyfriend returns.

This incredible selection of pop and rock gems was carefully curated by Fagan and Music Director Jessica Eckenrod, who has performed in a few music shows herself.  And with two choreographers on board (Michael Cherry and William Wilkins) and arrangements by Greg and Wesley Day, “Shaboom-Shaboom” is like a sinful trip down memory lane with good friends.

Costumes for “Shaboom-Shaboom” are by Michele Colletti with hair and make-up by the great Victor DeLeon. JeanE Bartlett is stage manager with sound design by Matthew Polowczuk and scenic painting by Jessica Scott.

Rounding out the “Shaboom-Shaboom” band is Kevin Heuer on drums, Bruce Caldwell on saxophone, Wesley Day on trombone, Greg Day on bass , Time Lee on guitar, Tad Day on trumpet, and Andy Welchel on keyboard.

“Shaboom-Shaboom” continues through Feb. 16, Thursdays-Sundays. For tickets, call (864) 233-6733 or visit http://www.centrestage.org.

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