Arts Club Theatre's Red Rock Diner
Reviewer Wayne MacEachern
Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island
All through September 1998
Tickets: (604) 687-1644
Have you ever gone to a Rock N Roll concert and felt the electricity
of enthusiasm singe your every nerve? When I decided to cover this 50s
Rock and Roll Revue at the Arts Club, I suspected my nerves would be assaulted
by high voltage nauseating nostalgia reminiscent of the 70s when
American Graffitti and Happy Days relentlessly thrust
Bill Haley, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Chuck Berry onto our
Combine that fear with the recent anniversary of the King of Rock N
Rolls death and my hesitation to revisit the 50s became more
like a Stephen King horror story rather than an opportunity to have a
rockin good time.
Fortunately, Dean Regans production of Red Rock Diner had little to
do with either King. It was fresh, powerful, entertaining, and sincere. At
the same tiime, it offered the audience a glimpse into the bold genius and
manic off-the-wall humor of legendary Vancouver DJ Red Robinson.
From the opening chords of the twangy guitar intro that led to a very appropiate
and stirring rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star all the
way to the final curtain call, the audience was riveted by an experience
that transported us back to the 1950s era with humor, style, energy,
and absolutely first rate performances by a top notch cast. Throw in a set
that pulsed with memories, a wonderfully crafted and reference-laden script,
a little musical chairs, and a lot of great yo-yo tricks and,
voila! Red Rock Diner is a show Vancouverites will fondly recall for years
It would serve no ones interest to single out any of the cast as a
scene stealer, although my personal favorite was Neil Minor. As a soda-jerking,
vertically challenged, lovelorn dynamo, Minor sang with all the heart and
ardor of a true Rock and Roll entertainer. He also added some excellent physical
comedy that reflected the slapstick style of that era.
Debbie Timuss delivered perhaps the best solo performance of the night as
she demonstrated her real-life skills as a former Grizzly cheerleader in
a remarkably funny and acrobatic King Edward Talent Show skit.
Mark Weatherley as Red Robinson, Elvis look-alike Michael Buble,
Biker/Greaser/Heartthrob Curtis Blayne, and blonde bombshell Lalainia Lindjberg
were innovative, exciting, highly energetic, and above all, extremely talented
in their roles.
A superb (oops - I almost called them a back-up) band featuring Tom Arntzen
on the keyboard provided sounds credited to the birth of Rock N
Roll. Arntzen together with Bill Runge on Saxophone and Miles Hill on stand-up
bass delivering fiery solos-- the house was
With more than 20 songs delivered each night plus matinee performances, the
entire cast somehow managed to maintain a high-impact, full-force
Red Rock Diner has been extended to play at the Arts Club Theatre until the
end of September, and based on the rapport established with the audience
on the night I attended, Im sure each and every night will be destined
for standing ovations and deserved success.