Edmonton Musical Theatre celebrates its 45th anniversary with a revamp of Broadway Rocks Again, one of the company’s top hits first mounted in 2006.
The script was originally written and narrated by Colin McLean, Edmonton writer and television personality. In this update, director Peter Mills has revised the story line for a more contemporary vibe.
“The original show was always at the top of our conversation. Everyone had fond memories of it. We had packed audiences and people loved it,” said executive director Steffni Ault explaining why the Broadway Rocks template was considered.
“We kept the heart, the characters, the relationships and the dynamics. What Peter did was grow more of the Johnny Platter role. He gave Johnny more focus and developed the show more in Act 1.”
The premise focuses on The Johnny Platter Show, a fictional live television show based on the American bandstand shows of the 50s and 60s. In between the 29 songs and dances, people fall in and out of love while learning to accept people for who they are.
Of the 30-member cast, a trio of St. Albert singers are also part of this production. Emily Barnachone plays a TV back-up singer. Daisy Cheers is Patti while Carolyn McGratton is the well-organized television stage manager who calls the shots.
The two-act show features gold standards now considered jukebox favourites. Several of the planned hits are ABBA’s I Have a Dream, Freddy Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Billy Joel’s River of Dreams, Queen’s Body Language, Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love.
Bernard Quilala, a multi-faceted singer has landed the role of Johnny Platter. He’s sung at Edmonton Musical Theatre since 2006, was a Canadian Idol competitor and was a featured performer at John Cameron's Singing Christmas Tree.
As Johnny, Quilala takes on the role of a man whose whole world is about making it big in television. Taking the Ed Sullivan Show blueprint, he reinvents the variety show and develops a loyal audience following.
Johnny’s devoted office assistant provides him with solid ideas to improve the show. She also has a crush on him, but he’s too oblivious to see her in a romantic light.
“There’s a deeper meaning to this. The message is if you ignore what is in front of you, you might miss out on life. Johnny is not balanced. He’s always in work mode.”
A secondary plot line follows Jeffrey, the show’s cameraman and his daughter, who is a singer and works backstage.
“It’s about letting go. She wants to make her own choices and he has to let her fly on her own terms and explore the adult world.”
Ault sees Broadway Rocks Again as a gentle way of easing back into theatres following the pandemic.
“I hope people will be entertained. I understand audiences are still a bit apprehensive about coming to theatre events. But coming to this show offers great interaction and it’s a fun event. People will feel something different in their lives. They will feel the energy of the actors and will come away feeling happy.
Performances take place June 1 to 4 at Westbury Theatre, 10334 – 84 Ave. Tickets are available at the Fringe Theatre box office. Tickets are at tickets.fringehteatre.ca.