Dont expect any poodle skirts or bobby socks here. The Heroes of Rock N Roll strive to captivate audiences with its authenticity and influential rock sound.
We were looking to capture this essence of the music, the soul of the music, the thing that made [it] so raw and powerful for its time , says 22-year-old writer, producer and performer in the show, Dean Z, who had a hand in every aspect of it.
This California-born, Las Vegas resident performed in last years Mackinaw Theater production of Reflections, and is thrilled to be back for the seven-week run of Heroes.
I love it up here. Las Vegas is so jaded for entertainment. In small towns they appreciate what you do so much more. They appreciate music; they appreciate a good live show.
It appears true. Sitting behind an enthusiastic row of red-hat ladies and next to a man who sang along with Connie Francis, it was difficult to tell that the mid-week afternoon performance wasnt sold out. Historic film clips, rotating stage murals and a steady stream of one-liners kept the audience involved.
A mainstay throughout the performance is the Sin City Beats, a five-piece band with members from Amsterdam, London and California, and two backup singers and dancers. Genuine 50s sound comes from the bands saxophone, standing bass, drums and two guitars. According to Z, all of the musicians in the entire show are self-taught and nobody reads sheet music.
Usually theres a band that knows how to read (music) and has really skilled entertainers, but they dont have a soul that this music possesses, explains Z. This band has a soul cause theyre all rockabilly (pop music influenced by rock and country) players. Everyones got the real energy, the real soul of this music; everything on stage, even the drum set is authentic.
Although Z enjoyed writing and pro-ducing, his specialty is impersonations. Hes been performing Elvis for 19 years, Buddy Holly for six or seven and Ricky Nelson and Phil Everly for just one.
EXPERIENCE AT A YOUNG AGE
The show also stars 23-year-old Tasha Valentine from Nashville, Tenn., and 21-year-old Lance Lipinsky. Valentine has years of experience performing as Patsy Cline and some as Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe, but Connie Francis was a new character for her.
We had all been doing impersonations, me since I was about 14 Lance has been doing Jerry Lee for about four years. Weve all worked together before and when the guys decided that they wanted to put a rock n roll show together they were trying to think of somebody they knew who could multitask and do different characters, so they called me.
Like Z, Valentine enjoys the small-town atmosphere of Mackinaw City but admits they have to work a little harder to find things to do. Everybodys been really nice to us; its a whole different animal to us being up north.
Valentine, who was on Nashville Star a couple of years ago, was discovered in her teens. I was singing at a karaoke contest when I was 13 and I didnt win the karaoke contest, but a guy approached me and asked me if I would like to do Patsy Cline in their show. The salary was unheard of for being 13, and I was really excited, and Ive been doing it ever since.
Although Patsy Cline is her favorite Valentines done lots of research on her and has discovered shes more like Cline than she cares to admit shes looking forward to the future. The show was intended for Vegas and was immediately picked up by Mackinaw and we anticipate traveling with it.
Plans are in the works for the show to tour the country and possibly overseas. Japan has a huge rock n roll fan base. Wherever they end up, the group will continue to enjoy what they do for a living.
Theres a certain feeling about bringing people happiness; it is really a powerful thing just knowing that youre going to entertain them, says Z. I like seeing a 10-year-old kid rocking in [his] seat to music that [he] didnt even know anything about.
After the conclusion of Heroes of Rock N Roll, seven more shows continue Mackinaws summer lineup.
In the past we always had one house performance and we noticed we had a lot of groups and individuals in the area that would come back three, four, five different times, says Marketing & Group Sales Director, Susan Brown. If theyre coming back for just one show so many times, lets see if we offer them ten or more, if theyre going to keep coming back. Business has been good, as people from as far away as Indiana and Ohio have been calling to buy tickets for every show.
Beginning June 20 and continuing
through July 2 will be Long Live the Beatles and Jukebox Heroes featuring the Mahoney Brothers. Alternating performances will be offered each day so visitors can spend the day visiting the Mackinaw area and see two different shows.
July 4-July 16 a show starring Stephen Sorrentino will be offered. Voices in my Head is a variety show, so theres comedy, piano, music, dancing, its tons of different (things), says Brown.
The Ultimate Elvis Elvis Tribute takes the stage July 18-23 with Elvis impersonators, Donny Edwards and
Shawn Klush portraying Elvis throughout his career.
From July 25-Aug. 13 the Golden Dragon Chinese Acrobats will be performing.
They were here last year and they did really, really well, says Brown, and theyre actually on Broadway right now .They actually stood at the edge of the stage and stacked chairs all the way to the ceiling; the stuff they can do with their bodies and everything is amazing.
In a live tribute to Elton John, Rod Stewart and David Bowie, the British Invasion Vegas-style show performs Aug. 15- Aug. 27. Impersonators Even Stephen, Rod Caudill and David Brighton capture the essence, sound and stage antics of each entertainer.
Ending the summer season is Go Greased Lightning, a nostalgic look back at the musical Grease and the fabulous 50s, performing Aug. 29-Sept. 10.
With ticket prices lower than last year, even high gas prices shouldnt keep you away.
Tickets for Heroes of Rock N Roll are
$10. All shows after June 18 are $19 for adults, $17 for seniors and $15 for students ages 5-12. Show times are Tues.-Sun. at 3 & 7:30 p.m. Visit www.mackinawtheater.com for more information and to see fall lineup.