Sunday, June 30th, 2013, I was able to see ModRock at the historical El Portal Theatre in Studio City, California.
The show directed by Brian Lohmann, produced by Tom Coleman, is set during the tumultuous times of the 60is where two sub cultures, Rockers and Mods, roam the streets of London. The Rockers led by our young hero Adam, Steven Good, were motorcyclists, wearing clothes such as black leather jackets. The Mods, including Adams greatest enemy Simon, Scott Kruse and our leading lady Kate, Melinda Porto, were scooter riders, wearing suits and clean-cut outfits.
The idea of using this very fashion prominent era and classic hits including "For Your Love", "Tired of Waiting", "Don't Let me Be Misunderstood", "You've Got Your Troubles" "Dedicated Follower of Fashion", "Bus Stop", "I Can't Explain", "Time of the Season', "Sunny Afternoon" and "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" as a background for this musical seem fresh and promising but unfortunately the story written by Hagan Thomas- Jones is less then original. The musical reminds all too much of Grease, except of course the diverse British accents spoken on stage which all of the cast has mastered perfectly. The story and characters, however, never quite unfold except that the two leads Kate and Adam fall in love and decide to hide their little secret from their friends. And then their love gets exposed during and confrontation in a club scene and a riot breaks out which seems to be anti climatic.
The music of this period and the many iconic bands and songwriters who emerged from it including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Animals, The Who, the Pacemakers, just to mention a few, are still the most thrilling feature of this production although the performance is not quite as exciting as the original singers. Accompanied by a 5 piece live band, hidden from the stage and not enough thought through choreography it may just be a better sound system and new moves that need to be added to this production in order to make the audience jump off their seats. Steven Good is certainly handsome and dreamy in his role as Adam but seems a bit self-conscious in his solos and performs most comfortably when next to his charming leading lady Melinda Porto who reminds in her qualities of Natalie Wood in the TV production of Westside Story. She seems very contained and almost innocent next to her arrogant brother Simon, played by Scott Kruse, who is equally one dimensional as a character and seems to only care for his diverse outfits.
Miss Porto delivers her songs very eloquently but lacks the depth one sees in performers on Broadway.
Harley Jay, however, brings a lot of energy and humor to his role as Johnny. He seems to hit all the right high and low notes with his over the top interpretation of his song “Sunny Afternoon”, thrilling the audience and bringing some chops to the stage.
Memorable also Adrianna Rose Lyons as Claire and Emily Morris as Jane. Both singer/actresses bring a lot of vitality and humor to their performance.
The costumes designed by Ann Closs- Farley and the hair and make up design by Judy Lewin deserve praise and mentioning as well as the clean projection design by Joel Daavid which add a lot to the visual esthetics, definitely making this show worth seeing.
If you are a fan of the sixties and British Rock/ Pop music come see the show. Tickets click to https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/922240 or go to