Based on a concept by George W. George and co-produced in conjunction with The 5th Avenue Theatre, the musical, press notes state, "follows the life of the first white deejay who dares to play black music at the center of the radio dial. Taking place on legendary Beale Street in the early 1950s, this dynamic show puts audiences front and center at the birth of rock 'n' roll."
The cast features Chad Kimball (Lennon, Good Vibrations, Into the Woods) as deejay Huey Calhoun, Montego Glover (The Color Purple, Dreamgirls) as Felicia, J. Bernard Calloway (The Good Negro, "Rescue Me") as Delray, Allen Fitzpatrick (42nd Street, "Kissing Jessica Stein") as Mr. Simmons, Cass Morgan (Mary Poppins, Ring of Fire) as Mrs. Calhoun, James Monroe Iglehart (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Bobby and Michael Benjamin Washington (Mamma Mia!) as Gator.
Rounding out the ensemble are Brad Bass, Tracee Beazer, Josh Breckenridge, Kevin Covert, Dionne D. Figgins, Jiehae Park, John Eric Parker, Jermaine R. Rembert, Melanie Vaughan, Daniel J. Watts, Charlie Williams and locals Lorene Chesley, Steve Gunderson, Lauren Lim Jackson, Cashae Monya, Jill Morrison, Irungu Mutu, Pearl Rhein, Megan Yelaney and swing Jonathan Taylor.
Earlier developmental stagings of the piece have been seen at North Shore Music Theatre and Northern California's TheatreWorks. This marks the first production directed by Christopher Ashley at the Playhouse since he stepped in as artistic director.
Tickets and additional information may be found at www.lajollaplayhouse.org. Here is a look at the production, which plays the Mandell Weiss Theatre on the UCSD campus through Sept. 28:
All photos by Kevin Berne