BWW Interview: Kristi Parker Byers of ROCKABILLY HEAVEN at Centre Stage
What happens when you blend traditional honky tonk Country music with old school Rock and Roll? You get a little thing called Rockabilly. Think Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash.
More than anything, though, you get a foot-stompin' good time.
Centre Stage opens a brand new musical revue, Rockabilly Heaven, on June 25.
We asked one of the show's performers, Kristi Parker Byers, to give us a preview.
BWW: First tell us a little about the show and your role.
Rockabilly Heaven is a fantastic montage of songs that showcase the history of Rockabilly and its sound. My role is somewhat of a storyteller/narrator role, in addition to being a vocalist. I bring the audience into our performance and help tell the story of the history of Rockabilly. My character is also androgynous, which is an exciting look for me.
What are some of the numbers you get to sing?
I sing "Tainted Love" (made popular by Imelda May), "Got a Lot of Rhythm in My Soul" (made popular by Patsy Cline), "Act Naturally" (made popular by the Beatles), and others. My favorite of these is "Tainted Love" because it really shows more of a "rock" style in my voice.
Tell us a little about the rest of the cast and crew.
Our cast is comprised of some of the most talented performers in the Southeast! Everyone can sing, everyone can dance, and everyone is absolutely gorgeous! Everyone brings their "A-Game" to every single rehearsal, and it feels like we're just having one big jam session together. They, along with our band, crew, and director, have worked tirelessly to make sure the show is top-notch in every way. The audience will be entertained from start to finish.
What's the rehearsal process been like?
This rehearsal process has been somewhat different for me. As someone who is used to performing in musical theatre, I am more accustomed to shows where my character gets to leave the stage periodically. NOT IN THIS SHOW! Every single member of the cast is on stage 100% of the time, so rehearsals have been more demanding. But we have an outstanding choreographer who understands that I am literally twice the age of the other cast members, so he tweaks it when necessary for my character (and my aging knees).
What are some of your favorite numbers that others sing?
Some of my other favorite numbers from the show include Kristofer Parker's rendition of "Matchbox," Lena Bledsoe's version of "Wild One," and Grace McGrath's version of "Bigelow 6200." These numbers are all so much fun to watch, and the cast really jams along as the performances are happening. I can't wait to see how the audience reacts to them!
What was your relationship to the original songs/artists before the show - were these songs that you grew up listening to?
Being a Southern girl who grew up right here in Greenville, I grew up listening mostly to country and Rockabilly music. I've been singing since the age of 3, and my Grandfather was even in a Rockabilly band in the 1960's with his buddies. My favorite artists were Linda Ronstadt, Patsy Cline, and Dolly Parton when I was growing up. I was really thrilled when I was given an upbeat Patsy Cline song to perform in the show!
What do you hope audiences will take away with them?
Rockabilly Heaven is a two-hour live jam session with a group of people who love Rockabilly music and its influences. The audience is sure to clap along and have a blast with us because our show is a party for the ears. Y'all are going to absolutely love it!
Rockabilly Heaven runs July 25 - August 17 at Centre Stage in Greenville, SC. For tickets and showtimes call the box office at 864.233.6733 or visit centrestage.org.