Keep It Rockin’

by Alexander Hehr

Rockin’ into FST’s second cabaret of the season, Blue Suede Shoes celebrates the height of the rock & roll era with songs from the early roots all the way to Elvis Presley. Classic hits like “Rock Around the Clock, “Johnny B. Goode,” and “Mustang Sally,” fill the Goldstein Cabaret stage as the audience is transported back to the time of teen idols and sock hops.

Descending from swing, rhythm & blues, country western, and gospel music, Rock & Roll became the sound of the 50’s generation. This new sensation that swept the nation created legends like Elvis Presley and inspired countless members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Our onstage band pays homage to these music greats and more in Blue Suede Shoes as they play their way through the birth and history of the music that changed the industry forever.

Last seen in Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves, Jannie Jones joins this brand new cabaret. Jannie has been with Florida Studio Theatre since the inaugural cabaret season where she starred in the one-woman cabaret My Castle’s Rockin’. Earlier this year, Artistic Director Richard Hopkins described the audience’s reaction to Jones’ performances to the Herald Tribune, “They always love her. They’re always talking about where she gets all that energy and where does she get that huge voice. For the audience she has star value, and yet she’s never a diva playing the star card. She’s always at the center of the company pulling everybody together, helping to make it all work.”

We asked Jannie Jones what does rock & roll mean to her, “I immediately see Little Richard wilding out on the piano, packed full of energy,” she says. “I see the pretty young ladies dancing in the Elvis Presley’s movies & my daydreaming about being one of those girls someday. There’s a sense of freedom, laying all of your woes down for a while & just having a music party.”

Another veteran in the cast is Joe Casey, previously portraying Johnny Cash in Million Dollar Quartet and starring in both American Pie and Poems, and Prayers, and Promises in past cabaret seasons. Mixing in with our FST pros, newcomers Nygel Robinson and Gabriel Aronson rock the stage and round off our live band for the show.

As the third member of Million Dollar Quartet to return to Florida Studio Theatre this season, Joe Casey weighs in on Blue Suede Shoes on his third show in the Goldstein Cabaret, “I think the Goldstein is a great place for these guitar shows because it’s so intimate. There’s not a bad seat in the house. As a performer I can literally see everyone so I can sing these stories right to everybody.”

Joe continues, “Rock & roll means freedom. Freedom to be yourself and say what you want/need to say. Plus I believe rock n roll encompasses every style. As a singer/songwriter I classify my style as acoustic punk. (I grew up in the 80s after all) But rock & roll encompasses all those stylistic classifications. There’s a punk beat in that early Elvis rockabilly.”

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