BWW Review: HITMAKERS: ORIGINS OF CLASSIC ROCK at CenterStage
If you've got a "whole lot of love" for rock music or if you are "reelin' in the years" for that 70's sound, you will want to check out HITMAKERS: ORIGINS OF CLASSIC ROCK at JCC's Centerstage now until February 16th. Previous iterations of the Hitmakers series focused on the individual writers and performers who ushered in the age of rock and roll. This time they zero in on the bands that pioneered rock with a capital R!
Music director Casey L. Fillaci has assembled an extremely versatile and talented group of musicians who flawlessly recreate the individual style and energy of each iconic riff and drum solo. For those of us with gray or no hair, it is the perfect nostalgic retrospect. For the young, the evening serves up an introductory smackdown tutorial on how to rock. The show consists of over 30 iconic rock classics; featuring tunes originally by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Doors, Jethro Tull, The Who, Pink Floyd and others...and yes, they even get the Led out for you Zeppelin fans. Eight talented singers front the band, belting out lyrics with power and enthusiasm. Interspersed between the songs are tidbits of rock history supplied in a script created by Rochester music critic Jack Garner. All in all, it is a terrific evening of music and memories.
The set design is sparse and functional, placing the band up center with an elevated drum platform. Jack Witmer's lighting design creates the mood of a rock concert with flashing, colorful lights and requisite haze. Fillaci's arrangements are authentic and crisp. His music direction of both the band and the singers is inspired. Hitmaker veteran singer Darren Frazier anchors this strong ensemble. His bold, soulful, Motown sound harkens back to the origins of rock and roll. Always a stylist, he interprets songs as diverse as "I Shot the Sheriff", "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and Elton John's "Your Song" making them his own. Melissa Boyack's smooth and smokey tone perfectly compliments songs such as "Gimme Shelter" and "Money" with delicious, throaty richness. Perhaps the most versatile performer in the cast is Josh Wilmot. His supple tenor voice at times soars beautifully in ballads like "Maggie May" but also rocks hard on Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." The band's virtuosity and the ensembles fine harmonies add a richness and fullness to the musical experience.
HITMAKERS: ORIGINS OF CLASSIC ROCK is a thoroughly entertaining experience. To paraphrase The Doors, it will light your fire on a cold, Rochester February evening. All that is missing are the songs by bands fronted by female vocalists such as Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks and Big Brother and the Holding Company's Janis Joplin. But hey, maybe Centerstage is planning this tasty treat for us next year.
For ticket availability or more information about the fine entertainment at the JCC click here.