Spoleto 2010 » Opera & Musical Theater

Charlestonians love over-the-top Rock 'n' Roll Heaven

Bring on the cheese please

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Charleston Music Hall was hoppin' all night long thanks to a host of rockers from the past. The Rock 'n' Roll Heaven Show, created and directed by Sheri Grace Wenger, included everyone from Elvis to Jim Morrison. This over-the-top showcase of vocalists had the audience enthralled; quite a few were singing-a-long too.

Wolfman Jack started the evening off by introducing Elvis. It was a little startling to hear him say that Elvis is like Michael Jackson. Um, didn't Presley come first? Brandon Joyner has been playing the role of the King of Rock 'n' Roll for several years now, so we wouldn't expect anything but a great impersonation. Joyner had the talk and walk down to a T, and the audience loved him. His "guitar playing" (or lack there of) could use some work; it'd be nice to see it look a little more realistic.

After Elvis came a wide variety of former artists, and every song was familiar to a majority of the crowd. Big Mama Thornton (played by Monique Y. Waters) was a powerful ball of fire on the stage, and she kept the audience laughing and participating throughout the night. After Mama, Dusty Springfield (Emily Giant) took the stage. Giant's performance would've been great if not for the back-up vocalist who continually overpowered her voice. The first act stretched from Presley's opener to Janis Joplin (Kain Cameron) to Freddie Mercury (Brandon Wardell).

Overall, there were number of microphone mishaps and quiete a few dancers who missed a choreographed step or had to watch the dancer beside them for the next cue.

While the first opened with the King of Rock 'n' Roll, it was fitting that the second act opened with Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. The Gloved One was played by Gabriel Wright, who had all of MJ's moves down pat. He was also the spitting image of Jackson. That said, the vocals just weren't Michael.

There were many noteworthy performances during the show though including Mama Thorton's beautiful "At Last," the baby-making classic of "Let's Get It On" Husain Williams (Marvin Gaye), and a somewhat comical performance by Ryan Ahlert (Morrions) and Cameron (Joplin), centered around the departed duo's common love — booze. Every lead vocalist performed well and as close to the original, for the most part, as possible, including the final set by the Blues Brothers and the entire cast.

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