That Lovin' Feelin' Review - Blue-eyed Soul by the Righteous Brothers

 

Clapping hands, tapping toes, swaying bodies, vibrant voices - expect them all during performances of THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN.’ Celebrating the lives and music of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, better known as the Righteous Brothers, this musical homage spans 40 years of their intertwined destinies.  From 1963 to 2003, these two talented performers managed to link rhythm and blues to rock and roll for an exciting new sound that captured the heart of pop America. And finally led to their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

 

 

 

Not only was their music rich with possibilities - but they crossed more than music lines. When they first came on the music scene in the 1960's, black stations wouldn’t play their records because they were white - and white stations wouldn’t play their records because they sounded black. Over the years, their partnership had its ups and downs - and there were times during which each became a successful solo singer - but their truly brotherly relationship always led back to their singing together again. In fact, they were on tour when Bobby Hatfield (Brenden MacDonald) died unexpectedly. But that didn’t stop Bill Medley (Morgan Lauff, the younger) from carrying on alone.

 

 

 

Playwright James A Zimmerman manages to portray their love-hate relationship (how brotherly), their failures, and their triumphs in this West Coast premiere of the new musical. Director Jules Aaron helms the joining of facts and emotions into a smooth narrative. Musical director Paul Cady (who doubles as the older Bill Medley) does an excellent job of showcasing over 20 of the Righteous Brothers hits. The music is enhanced by a live five-piece orchestra performing on stage, terrific costumes (Angela M. Eads), spirited dancing (choreographer Michele Bernath), and great sound (Steve Shaw). Now and again, photos flash on a screen behind the stage to pay respect to many of the well-known performers who set the pop music scene on its ear in the 60's, 70's, and beyond.

 

 

 

This is an exciting, electric show and highly recommended - especially if you grew up in the hey-day of the Righteous Brothers - or if you just love pop music history. It was great fun and even hilarious to see a younger, impossibly coiffed (and not yet infamous) Phil Spector (Patrick Burke) and newbie Cher (Amanda Dawn Harrison), a back-up singer in the 60's. Lots of little surprises in this show. The 60’s and 70’s eventually morph into the next century when the Righteous Brothers are “discovered” anew in popular movies like “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost.” The entire cast keeps the show jumping. No one will fall asleep in this audience.

 

 

 

THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’ runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until February 2, 2016 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets cost $25 (students and seniors with identification $20) with special group rates. For reservations, call 818-763-5990 or go online at www.thegrouprep.com.

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