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Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Shootout

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Which is the greatest of all the many great rock ‘n roll bands?  Is it The Who? Could it be The Doors? Would Led Zeppelin be a contender? Would the Moody Blues make the cut? The response, at least in this writer’s informal opinion-taking efforts, typically comes down to two: it’s usually (almost always) The Beatles versus The Rolling Stones. But the query, in this scribe’s estimation, is best answered by a conversation he overheard his wife having with her 91 year-old mother.

When describing our upcoming show plans, your friendly reviewer’s even friendlier wife informed her beloved mother that we were going to see a Beatles cover band ,known as Abbey Road, and one other tribute group. The so-called “other tribute group” she was referring to is Jumping Jack Flash, the exquisite Rolling Stones' doppelgangers. So certain was she that her mommy dearest would know the Fab Four, she called them by their proper title; so confident was she that her mother wouldn’t recollect the Stones, she didn’t even mention their culturally codified name.

It’s not that a sweet nonagenarian necessarily holds the last word on this matter. Nevertheless, it does give a possible hint as to which group’s legacy will endure the longest and leave the most distinguished mark on music.

Now, however, audiences have a chance to make this determination for themselves in a showdown play-off between an ersatz Beatles group (Abbey Road) and a substitute Rolling Stones band (Jumping Jack Flash), and the results are, um, electrifying. The show is called Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Shootout, and it is a clever supposed coming together of these two mega-wattage groups.

In a half-dozen shifting power jams, with each group making three costume changes (one for each of their sets), we initially hear Abbey Road rendering its timeless early hits. "She Loves You,"" I Want to Hold Your Hand,"" Eight Days a Week," and "Twist and Shout" are some of the infectious sounds emanating from this first set.

Next we experience the Jumping Jack Flash belt out such splendid sounds as "Paint it Black", "Ruby Tuesday," "Honky Tonk Woman," and "Sympathy for the Devil." As an added listening treat ex- Disney mouseketeer Dick Dodd lends percussion accompaniment to the latter Stones’ song and also sings and drums to his own sixties hit "Dirty Water" – recorded when Dodd was the frontman for the Standells.

By the time the showdown is complete many in the audience are left standing, dancing, shouting, and singing along to such melodic monuments as "Back in the U.S.S.R.,"" Beast of Burden," "Come Together," "Wild Horses," "Something," and "Start Me Up." The finale of the spectacle is a mash-up of The Beatles’ "Daytripper" and the Stones’ "Satisfaction," and it is a marvelous (and unlikely) melodic medley.

Credit goes to these able musical enactors. As The Beatles, Alex Clarke is a handy Ringo Starr; Greg Wilmot is a humorous John Lennon; Chris Paul Overall is a credible Paul McCartney. As the Rolling Stones John Burton is Bill Wyman; Pat Hennessey plays both Brian Jones and Ron Wood; Young Hutchinson is a capable Keith Richards; and the star-powered Joey Infante inhabits the Mick Jagger persona in a show-stealing turn.

Both Abbey Road and Jumping Jack Flash pay homage to some of the greatest and most innovative rockers of all time. Who’s the best? You be the judge.

The show reviewed took place at San Juan Capistrano’s The Coach House on June 1. However, the bands play regularly throughout the Southland and are available for bookings by contacting manager Andy Nagle at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling (562) 480-7951.

 

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.