Berkshire Theatre Group Presents “Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story” at The Colonial Theatre New Musical

Pittsfield, MA Berkshire Theatre Group (Kate Maguire, Artistic Director, CEO) in association with five-time Tony Award-winning  Caiola Productions (Once on this IslandDear Evan Hansen, The Color Purple, All The Way, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) presents Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, with direction by Tony Award-nominee Randal Myler (It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues), music direction by Dave Keyes(Smokey Joe’s Café) and choreography by Brian Reeder (American Ballet Theatre, ABT Studio Company). Performances begin June 27 and run through July 21.

 

This new high energy musical features Tony Award-nominated Alan Campbell (Sunset Boulevardas Alan Freed and multiple-Emmy Award-nominated George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) as J. Edgar Hoover, along with Bob Ari (Act One, Frost/Nixon) as Leo, Morris Levy; William Louis Bailey (Freckleface Strawberry) as Dave Cooper, Frankie Lymon, Ensemble; Whitney Bashor (The Bridges of Madison County) as Betty, Alana, Ensemble;Early Clover (Lead singer of Cornell Gunter Coasters) as Quartet, Ensemble; Richard Crandle (Cruel Intentions) as Little Richard; AJ Davis (Dreamgirls) as Quartet, Ensemble;John Dewey (Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story) as Buddy Holly, Pat Boone, Ensemble; Janet Dickinson (Anastasia the Musical, Bullets Over Broadway) as Inga, Alan’s Mother, Ensemble;Jerome Jackson (Singer for The Drifters) as Quartet, Nate, Ensemble; Tony and Grammy Award-nominated Valisia Lekae (Motown the Musical, 110 in the Shade, The Book of Mormon) as Lavern Baker, Ensemble; Brian Mathis (Jesus Christ Superstar) as Judge, Bill Haley, Ensemble; Matthew S. Morgan (The Lion King, Hairspray) as Chuck Berry, Jay Hawkins, Ensemble; Virginia Preston (Dirty Dancing) as Jackie, Ensemble; James Scheider(Million Dollar Quartet) as Jerry Lee Lewis, Dick Clark, Ensemble; Dr. Eric Turner (Rent, Ain’t Misbehavin) as Quartet, Fats Domino, Ensemble; and Jared Zirilli (SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical, Lysistrata Jones) as Danny Of Danny And The Juniors, Johnny Fabulous, Ensemble.

Kate Maguire says, “We are thrilled to have an amazing group of artists assembling on the gorgeous Colonial stage to tell this incredible story.”

 

In the summer of 1954, in a small radio station in Cleveland, an unknown disc jockey heard the sound that would change America. And the rest is music history.

 

Rock and Roll Man is the new musical about the incredible rise and fall of Alan Freed, the man who coined the phrase rock and roll and brought its sound to the world. He discovered black artists—and got them record deals. He traveled the country—and got them heard from coast to coast. He spoke to the younger generation—and brought them to their feet. For the first time in history, Freed put black and white artists together on stage, performing for multi-racial audiencesan unprecedented move. By the dawn of the ’60s, he was the biggest name in music—until scandal made him the biggest target in America.

 

This high energy musical highlights the greatest rock and roll legends of all time, such as Little Richard, Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Screamin’ Jay, just to name a few. Featuring original songs by Gary Kupper and some of the biggest hits of a generation, including “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “Tutti Frutti,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and many more, Rock and Roll Man takes you behind the scenes and behind the music of one of the most influential—and controversial—figures in pop music history.

Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story

book by Gary Kupper, Larry Marshak, and Rose Caiola

original music and lyrics by Gary Kupper

 

directed by Randal Myler

music direction by Dave Keyes

choreography by Brian Reeder

at The Colonial Theatre

BTG’s Pittsfield Campus, 111 South Street

Previews: Thursday, June 27 at 7pm and Friday, June 28 at 8pm
Opening Night: Saturday, June 29 at 8pm
Closing: Sunday, July 21 at 2pm


Tickets: Preview: $45
Tickets: A: $75 B: $50
Opening Night (June 29 at 8pm): All tickets are $75 and include a post-show reception

 

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial Ticket Office at 111 South Street, Pittsfield; at the Fitzpatrick Main Stage Ticket Office at 83 East Main Street, Stockbridge; by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. Ticket Offices are open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday 10am-2pm or on any performance day from 10am until curtain. All plays, schedules, casting and prices are subject to change.

For more information about Berkshire Theatre Group and our upcoming shows, please visitwww.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Rose Caiola (Book) Outer Critics Circle Award-nominated author of Freckleface Strawberry The Musical, adapted from the best-selling book by Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore. Five-time Tony Award-winning producer of Dear Evan HansenAll The WayThe Color Purple, and the revivals of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Once On This Island. Founder and Artistic Director of Manhattan Movement & Arts Center (MMAC) and Manhattan Youth Ballet (MYB).

Gary Kupper (Book, Music and Lyrics, Musical Supervisor, Arranger) majored in theatre at Boston U., and has been an actor, director and written many musicals. Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story combines his two great loves: theatre and rock and roll. As a musician, he has had the privilege to play with many great classic rock and blues acts, including Chuck Berry, with whom he toured the world for over 30 years. As a songwriter and singer in the 70s, he recorded an album of original songs on Polydor Records at the Band’s Bearsville Studio, backed by Van Morrison’s band. This is his second collaboration with Rose Caiola. Their first,Freckleface Strawberry, was a hit Off Broadway adaptation of Julianne Moore’s NY Times best-selling children’s book, which Mr. Kupper wrote the songs for. He also co-wrote the book with Ms. Caiola. It garnered an Outer Critics Circle Best Musical nomination, a rave NY Timesreview and was licensed by Music Theatre International, playing all over the world. Mr. Kupper and Mr. Marshak began Rock and Roll Man as a labor of love, which grew out their deep admiration for Alan Freed.

 

Larry Marshak (Book) was a staff writer and editor at Night Beat Magazine and ultimately, the editor for seven years of Rock Magazine. He has written over 200 published pieces in numerous publications on rock and roll culture, including pieces in the new autobiography of Bruce Springsteen. His first published piece was an interview in the Village Voice with Alan Freed. He produced dozens of rock and roll concerts, including the series of 30 original rock & roll shows, in partnership with CBS Broadcasting, in New York City at the City Center, the Beacon Theater, Radio City and the Academy of Music. Marshak has had six productions in Las Vegas, including the longest running show in Las Vegas history, Love Potion #10 at the Sahara Hotel. He was the house producer at the Sid Caesar Theater, and produced the road shows for GoldaLaughter on the 23rd FloorPlay It Again Sam and Groucho. He produced the national tours for Forever MotownThe Golden Years of MusicAaron Banks Wonderful World of Martial Arts and The Golden Years of Comedy. He is also the producer of the current touring version of Forever Motown and Lonesome Traveler. He has managed The Drifters for forty years. His last Broadway production was Elvis the Legend Lives at the Palace Theater.

 

Randal Myler (Director) received Tony Award-nominations (Best Musical and Best Book Of A Musical) and a Drama Desk-nomination (Best Musical Revue) for It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Bluesat Lincoln Center and the Ambassador Theatre. Mr. Myler’s musical bio of Janis Joplin: Love, Janis (also director), reached more than 700 performances at the former Village Gate in NYC, where he also staged Dream A Little Dream: The Mamas And Papas Musical, with original ‘Papa’, Denny Doherty. His musical Hank Williams: Lost Highway received great critical acclaim Off Broadway, (including Obie, Drama Desk and Lortel noms., and a ‘Best Director’ nom. from the Outer Critic’s Circle) and ran for two years at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Mr. Myler’s co-authored musicals Fire On The Mountain and Low Down Dirty Blues received numerous Joseph Jefferson Awards in Chicago, and he has guest directed throughout the country, from D.C.’s Kennedy Center and The Arena Stage to L.A.’s Mark Taper Forum and Geffen Theater.

Bob Ari (Leo, Morris Levy) New York: Act OneFrost/NixonBells Are RingingLaughter On The 23rd FloorPicasso At The Lapin AgileDie Mommie Die. Regional: Denver Theatre Center (The Great Leap), George St. Playhouse (RedMy Name Is Asher Lev), Shakespeare Theatre of D.C. (Kiss Me Kate), Cleveland Playhouse (Lombardi), Walnut St. Theatre (Art,Hotel Suite), Fulton Theatre (Cat On A Hot Tin Roof) and many others. Tours of Frost/Nixon(US) and West Side Story (Europe). Films: Two LoversWantedKissing Jessica SteinMusic Of The Heart and Cradle Will Rock. T.V.: Madame SecretaryManifestBlindspotLast Week TonightElementaryVeepThe Good Wife, all three Law & Orders and many others. Trained at Carnegie-Mellon and the Moscow Art Theatre School.

 

William Louis Bailey (Dave Cooper, Frankie Lymon, Ensemble) National Tour: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Wang Theatre, Madison Square Garden), Freckleface Strawberry(Manhattan Movement and Arts Center). TV/Film credits: Nickelodeon commercial (choreographer, dancer), Dragged, Party of One, Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, SHADE: Queens of NYC. As a choreographer, he has choreographed for multiple recording artists and has also choreographed shows such as CATSHigh School Musical, and a new show called Siren’s Den: A Rock Musical. Dance captain credits include: FameFreckleface Strawberry and Once on This Island. Instagram: @jadavalenciaga

 

Whitney Bashor (Betty, Alana, Ensemble) Broadway: The Bridges of Madison County(Clarence Derwent Award). Off Broadway: Ordinary DaysThe FantasticksHimself and Nora. Regional: The Bridges of Madison County (Williamstown Theatre Festival), BeachesMerrily We Roll Along (Wallis Annenberg; Ovation Award Nominee), Fly By Night (Dallas Theatre Center), Light in the Piazza (PTC; Barrymore Award Winner), Unsinkable Molly Brown (MUNY). TV: Law and Order SVUBoardwalk EmpireAll My Children. BFA: U of Michigan.

 

Alan Campbell (Alan Freed) Broadway: Mamma Mia!, Sunset Boulevard (Tony nomination),Contact. Off Broadway: Hello Again, Adrift in Macao, Book of Days (Signature) and Avow. Other credits: Seminar, Race, Death and The Maiden, 12 Angry Men, Doubt, Oleanna, Dracula, Emmet Otter’s Jug-band Christmas, Hay Fever (Old Globe), Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, Johnny Guitar, Bells Are Ringing, Of Thee I Sing, On Shiloh Hill, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I Love My Wife and The Nerd. Feature films: Recently completed Uncle Frank with Paul Bettany,Weekend Warriors and Universal’s Simple Wish. Television: Jake and the Fatman (five seasons), co-starred with John Ritter on Three’s a CrowdAnother World, All My Children, Contact, Live From Lincoln Center on PBS, Redflag: a CBS movie, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Facts of Life, Throb, Matlock. Web series: Then We Got Help and Submissions Only. Recordings: Sunset Boulevard, Adrift in Macao, ABC: A Tribute to Adler, Bock and Coleman and The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Alan is a Founding Director of Theatre Raleigh in North Carolina, and proud father of Riley Rose.www.alancampbell.net

 

Early Clover (Quartet, Ensemble) a native of Georgia, decided at the age of seven that he was going to be a singer, entertainer and musician. Since 1988, Clover has been the lead singer for the world-famous Hall of Famer, Cornell Gunter Coasters. Clover wrote and produced his first solo album You Gonna Need A Back in 2003, and another CD, Love Man, in 2005, which both included platinum hit writers, Joshua Thomas and Harvey Scales. In 2006, he produced another album titled A Tribute to Legends and Motown. Clover started his own independent label, M.E.N. Records, while producing and releasing another album titled Loving You in 2008. Early has chronicled his life and development in his new book, From Sawdust to Stardust found on the internet now. Extraordinary, energetic and charismatic is Early Clover.

 

Richard Crandle (Little Richard) is overjoyed to be back on stage as Little Richard after originating the role in the world premiere of Rock and Roll Man (Bucks County Playhouse). Richard is a born and raised Jersey boy living in New York City. He was most recently seen as Ronald Clifford on the First National Tour of the hit 90’s musical, Cruel Intentions. Richard has performed in theatres across the country, including Cincinnati Playhouse, where he wowed audiences with his portrayal of soul singer Little Willie John in the world premiere of Cincinnati King. Richard appeared in the U.S. premiere of the Olivier Award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar (Lyric Opera of Chicago), and abroad in the original Australian company ofKinky Boots. Other credits: Hairspray (National Tour), Dreamgirls (Milwaukee Repertory Theatre), Smokey Joes Cafe (STAGES St. Louis), The Cat in the Hat (Arden Theatre). TV/Film:The Sing-Off (NBC) and Black Nativity Movie (Fox Searchlight Pictures).

 

A.J. Davis (Quartet, Ensemble) is an internationally known entertainer originally from Merrillville, Indiana and now residing in NYC. Tours: Dreamgirls (US/Japan Tour, New York Harlem Singers Asia Tour and The Harlem Voices European Tour). Other theatre credits: Rock and Roll Man (Bucks County Playhouse), The Wiz (Maine State Music Theatre), Smokey Joe’s Café (Midtown Arts Center), Brand New Lucky Diamond Horseshoe Club (Queen’s Hall in Trinidad and Tobago). A.J. also tours with numerous Motown/Doo Wop tribute acts, and world-renowned groups including The Drifters. A.J. has a bachelor’s degree in Music Business Administration from Indiana State University, and he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. You can follow him via Instagram and Twitter @AJD1227.

 

John Dewey (Buddy Holly, Pat Boone, Ensemble) Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Bucks County Playhouse); #yourmemorial (HERE Arts Center); Onaje (NYCFringe); The Diary Of Anne Frank (Flat Rock Playhouse); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Storm Theatre). John’s voice can also be heard in numerous TV and radio commercials including Nerf and Monopoly. Graduate of The Boston Conservatory. @JohnCDewey; TheOtherJohnDewey.com

 

Janet Dickinson (Inga, Alan’s Mother, Ensemble) Janet is excited to be working at BTG. She loves being minutes away from her cabin. Broadway: Anastasia the Musical (Lily, Dowager u/s);Bullets Over Broadway (Helen Sinclair u/s); How The Grinch Stole ChristmasHappiness at Lincoln Center; Chasing Rainbows (Kay), World premiere/Flat Rock Playhouse. Little Dancer(Mary Cassatt), World premiere/ Kennedy Center. Tours: Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot9 to 5 The Musical. Off Broadway: Fat Camp; Forbidden Broadway’s Rude Awakening. Janet is originally from Bemidji, MN.

 

Hayden Hoffman (Young Alan, Lance, Ensemble) is 11 years old and lives in Lenox, MA. He has been performing since the age of eight, when he made his acting debut as Tiny Tim in Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of A Christmas Carol. Hayden has had the pleasure of taking part in several Berkshire Theatre musical productions including the ensemble in Beauty and the BeastWinthrop in The Music Man, Young Simba in Lion King, Jr. and dual roles as Young Terk and Young Tarzan in BTG’s 90th Anniversary production of Tarzan. Most recently, Hayden was thrilled to have the opportunity to play the role of Bud in Shakespeare & Company’s summer 2018 production of Mothers and Sons. Hayden eats, sleeps and breathes theatre and is grateful for every opportunity to perform!

 

Jerome Jackson (Quartet, Nate, Ensemble) Born in Richmond VA, Jackson started singing at a very young age in church. He joined an R&B group, Richmond Extension, under the direction of Van McCoy and recorded his first single, “Everything’s Coming Up Love.” He joined the band, The Main Ingredient, and now have been singing with The Drifters for 28 years.

Valisia Lekae (Lavern Baker, Ensemble) is an award-winning actress who has been blessed to grace the Broadway stage in a multitude of Tony-nominated productions, including The Threepenny Opera110 in the ShadeRagtime and The Book of Mormon. Her starring role as Diana Ross in Motown the Musical garnered her a Grammy nomination, Tony nomination, Theatre World Award, Drama League nomination and an Outer Critics Circle nomination. Valisia also received a 2013 Triumph Award and was on The Root 100 list. Valisia won the 2010 Joseph Jefferson Award for her portrayal of Sarah in Ragtime. She was also nominated for a Black Theatre Alliance Award for the same role. Off Broadway, she appeared in the John Denver musical, Almost Heaven. Regional credits include: Caroline, or Change (Emmie),Dreamgirls (Deena Jones), Godspell (Joanne), Big River (Alice’s Daughter) and Little Shop of Horrors (Chiffon), for which she was received a nomination for the Kevin Kline Award. She was part of the Live at the Lincoln Center production of Camelot, toured with the USO and the national touring companies of All Shook Up (Lorraine) and Mamma Mia! (Lisa), and has been a part of many workshops and readings in the New York City area. TV credits include: The BlacklistBlue Bloods and the 60th and 67th Annual Tony Awards. Valisia is an ovarian cancer survivor and has been honored by the NOCC, OCRA and Look Good Feel Better. She has also served as the spokesperson for the NOCC and has been the keynote speaker for cancer organizations across the country. Her journey has been featured in Elle.com, Vogue.com,Vanity Fair MagazineEssence MagazineParade MagazineUSA TodayNY Times and many other publications. She has been honored three times by her alma mater, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. @valisialekae. www.valisialekae.com.

 

Brian Mathis (Judge, Bill Haley, Ensemble) is thrilled to make his first appearance in the Berkshires, and even more thrilled to reprise his roles from Bucks County Playhouse’s production of Rock And Roll Man! He has appeared regionally with Water Tower Theatre, Theatre Three, Lyric Stage, Casa Manana, Stage West, Dallas Theater Center, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Theatre Under the Stars, Queensbury Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company and Alabama Shakespeare Festival. National Equity tours of Seussical and Jesus Christ Superstar. Brian is heard on dozens of anime projects as well. Proud Equity member since 1995. Many thanks to Rose, Randal and Stanczyk Casting. Love to Rachel and Clayton.

 

Matthew S. Morgan (Chuck Berry, Jay Hawkins, Ensemble) is pleased to join BTG and honored for the opportunity to portray these two iconic characters in Rock and Roll Man! Previous credits include: Rock & Roll Man (Bucks County Playhouse); The Lion King (Bway & National tours); Hairspray (Bway & Toronto companies); RENT ( National tour). Many plays and readings: Best of EnemiesBlues for Mister Charlie (Turtleshell prod), including the upcomingUncle Remus: His Life and Times as Told to Aaron Coleman. @mrmatthewsmorgan

Virginia Preston (Jackie, Ensemble) TV: Law and Order: SVU (NBC), Billions (Showtime).

First national tour: Dirty Dancing. Originated the role of Sarah McDougal in the world premiere of Sousatzka. Regional: On The Town (Ivy Smith). Graduate of the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA program.

James Scheider (Jerry Lee Lewis, Dick Clark, Ensemble) Berkshire Theatre Group debut! James is pleased to reprise his roles after appearing in the world premiere of Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed Story at Bucks County Playhouse. Broadway: Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis U/S). Off Broadway: Evening‑1910 (George Spencer), Axis Theatre. 1st National Tour/Chicago: Million Dollar Quartet (Jerry Lee Lewis). Regional: Rock of Ages (Drew), Mary Poppins (Bert), The Cotton Patch Gospel (Matthew), Jesus Christ Superstar (Simon), 42nd St. (Billy Lawlor), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Joel). James toured world-wide with the USO Show and is a founding member and front-man of the folk rock band, The Ol’ So & So’s. Proud AEA member since 2008. JamesScheider.com

 

Eric B. Turner, PhD (Quartet, Fats Domino, Ensemble) is the modern-day Renaissance man. He has built an extensive performance resume, having multiple appearances on stage, television and screen. As a world traveling entertainer, Eric has shared the stage, as well as, recorded with music greats like: Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, India Arie, The Drifters, to name a few. Eric has an earned PhD in Counseling Psychology, and served as a Professor of Psychology at New York University. This singer/songwriter has released chart busting singles from Europe/UK, including three #1 hits: “Someday”, “Follow Me” and the latest, “Still Here.” Find him on Instagram/Twitter @DrEricBTurner

 

George Wendt (J. Edgar Hoover) Actor and comedian George Wendt was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was part of the Chicago-based comedy troupe, The Second City before moving into his iconic eleven-year run as Norm Peterson on Cheers. He is also known for numerous SNL appearances, including his ironic role of Bob Swerski, Chicago Superfan, and is the uncle of former cast member, Jason Sudeikis. Recently, George returned to the stage, starring in the Broadway revival of the musical Hairspray and upcoming performances in the stage productions of Rock and Roll Man: The Alan Freed StoryDeath of a Salesman and Elf.

 

Jared Zirilli (Danny of Danny and the Juniors, Johnny Fabulous, Ensemble) Most recently seen on Broadway originating the role of Bruce Sudano, Donna Summer’s husband, inSUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical. Broadway: Lysistrata Jones. Tours: WickedWe Will Rock You. Off Broadway: Romance Language (Ars Nova), Pretty Filthy (The Civilians), Fat Camp (Dodgers). Regional: Alfred Davidson in the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa’sRAIN (Old Globe), SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical (La Jolla Playhouse), Lt. Sam Weinberg in A Few Good Men (Alley Theatre), Nate in LMNOP (Theatre Under The Stars, Goodspeed Musicals), Radames in AIDA (Drury Lane), Roger in RENT (Hangar Theatre), Matthew in the DC premiere of Altar Boyz, Giuseppe in The Light in the Piazza (Maine State Music Theatre). Readings: Vanity Fair and Pride & Prejudice (Bedlam), Rob Camiletti in The Cher Show, Vinnie in Life After High School (Roundabout), Elton in Clueless (Dodger Theatricals), Jacob in Twilight: The Musical (New World Stages). Television: Law And Order: SVU (guest star). Costars on BlindspotBlue Bloods and Pan Am.

About Berkshire Theatre Group
The Colonial Theatre, founded in 1903, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, founded in 1928, are two of the oldest cultural organizations in the Berkshires. In 2010, under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO Kate Maguire, the two organizations merged to form Berkshire Theatre Group (BTG). Berkshire Theatre Group’s mission is to support wide ranging artistic exploration and acclaimed performances in theatre, dance, music and entertainment. Every year, BTG produces and presents performances to over 68,000 attendees and, through our Educational Program, serves over 13,000 Berkshire County school children annually. BTG’s celebrated stages reflect the history of the American theatre; they represent a priceless cultural resource for the community.

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