Recorded In Hollywood - Theatre Review

A review by Suzanne Birrell.

Before Motown there was John Dolphin whose record store, Dophin's of Hollywood, introduced Doo-wop, rhythm & blues, and rock 'n roll music to the west coast.  

As a bass player, I love R&B and so was excited to see a musical about the man who started it all on the West Coast. Recorded in Hollywood-an R&B musical! I waited with anticipation and although opening night came with some teething problems, the show did go on and what a show it was.

DJ Huggy Boy (Nic Olsen) starts the show "Live from Dolphins in Hollywood!" With a live band playing the tunes, the stage is suddenly packed with dancers moving this way and that and singing "Ain't We Havin' a Time."   The music is infectious, the harmonies are glorious, and the dancing is dynamic. How much more can I say?  I settled down for a great show and Recorded in Hollywood did not disappointed. The story unfolded with music and song and dance in a most satisfying and entertaining way.

Singing and dancing, Stu James takes on the role of John Dolphin through his highs and lows with verve. Jade Johnson transforms from young girl, to wife, to mother; in love and broken hearted with grace and ease and singing from the depths of her soul. Her sisters played by Brooke Brewer, Jenna Gillespie, Sha'Leah Nikole Stubblefield, and Katherine Washington give us comic commentary and double as The Coopers and heavenly harmonies.

 The most complex role was that of Percy Ivy played with aplomb by Eric B. Anthony. His dancing and singing were over the top complex, dynamic and entertaining. 

Philip Dean Lightstone, Jake Novak, James Simenc, and Richie Ferris were the Longboards with the harmonies and smooth moves; and I could tell from his moves just who he was portraying when Jake Novak came in as Elvis. Franklin Grace, Nic Hodges, and Matthew Sims, Jr. were the Hollywood Flames singing rhythm and blues with moves. Godfey Moye literally took my breath away when he started singing "You Send Me" as Sam Cook- good looking and such a voice. And when John Devereaux (Jesse) sang "Earth Angel," the night was complete.

An absolute show stopping high point for me was the ensemble performance of  "Can You Help Me Out" ( I call it the temptation of John) Wonderfully written, ingeniously staged, the choreography was spot on, the music was divine, the performances were riveting (I would have ended the first act there-I just wanted to reflect on that scene.)

Congrats all around for a five star show. Grandson Jamelle Dolphin authored the book that gave us the story. Matt Donnelly provided a wonderful script. Andy Cooper is to be much applauded for composing timely and memorable songs. Denise Dowse choices as director brought the audience into the story. The choreography by Cassie Crump is brilliant; It was amazing to see that many bodies on one stage stepping and swinging with every moment picture perfect. And let's not forget a live band who was backstage and led by Stephan Terry who wrote all the sweet harmonies.  Michael Donovan is to be applauded for assembling such a talented cast in which every person had to sing and dance and act and play multiple characters.  Mylette Nora's costume designs were not only artistic, but had to be quickly changeable and flexible for every dance. The set design by Joel Daavid gave us the setting but also room for dance. The projections designed by Troy Hauschild enhanced the story. Norman Kern (sound designer/engineer) and Christina Schwinn (lighting designer) round out this very talented ensemble.

Though Recorded in Hollywood is the Story of John Dolphin, businessman and record store owner who had his own record labels and radio station, it is really a much richer story than that. It's a story of the times when the police actively prevented whites and blacks from mingling, when blacks couldn't rent a store in Hollywood. It's the story of how music was able to peacefully bring together divergent cultures. It's the story of the woman behind the man, Ruth Dolphin, who pulled her husband out of a depression and kept the dream alive after his death. And it's the story of the music and the people who sang the songs.

Highly entertaining, infectious energy, Recorded in Hollywood is a musical journey not to be missed. If you like good music, where the beat goes on and they're dancing the night away, Recorded in Hollywood is your kind of show.

Recorded in Hollywood

continued June 19-July 26 at the Hudson Theatre

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Running time: 120 minutes plus an intermission.

Elephant Stages - Lillian Theatre
6322 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA  90038

Reservation: (323) 960-4443 or Click Here:

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Posted By Suzanne Birrell on April 15, 2015 12:47 pm | Permalink