Years of serving as Mount Airy’s Opie look-alike during Mayberry Days has resulted in one college student bringing a touring production of a musical favorite to Mount Airy, and local arts officials say it’s going to be one for the record books.
The Surry Arts Council is now selling tickets for Bethel University Renaissance Theatre Program’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revue “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” with performances set for Feb. 1 at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.
And it all began with one young man’s love of Mount Airy.
Opie look-alike Jamie Sullivan has been coming to Mayberry Days for about 10 years, according to Tanya Jones, director of the Surry Arts Council.
“He’s now attending Bethel University in Tennessee, and they are performing this show this year, touring around the Southeast, and he’s part of the crew,” Jones said. “Jamie wanted his university to come here and perform the show, so he put me in touch with the people and we were able to make it happen.”
Jones said the contact is “great for Mount Airy.”
“We’d never have known about it,” she said. “The kids in the production wanted to come, and now that it’s happening they’re really excited about coming here.”
The show is being performed in 10 venues across Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina, and it is designed to hearken back to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll music.
“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, as much as anyone, virtually invented rock ‘n’ roll,” Jones said, “and now their songs provide the basis for an electrifying night of entertainment that illuminates a golden age of American culture.”
The show features an idealized ’50s setting and the classic themes of love one, lost and imagined blended with an intriguing staging, exceptional vocalists and slice-of-life emotions.
It features almost 40 of the greatest songs ever recorded, including Leiber and Stoller’s biggest hits “Stand By Me,” “Hound Dog,” “On Broadway” and “Poison Ivy.”
The story is told through the eyes of a group of high school students experiencing love, loss and joy through rock ‘n’ roll classics.
Tickets for the performance are $5, with season ticketholders and those with student/teacher IDs admitted free.
Jones said the performance is one everyone should see.
“This is a gift to the community,” she said. “The show is touring in a number of states, and we’ve actually priced it lower, not because it doesn’t deserve a higher ticket price, but because we want everyone to come out and experience this performance.
“These are students who are interested in drama and are very talented,” she added. “We’ve actually looked into producing the show here, but it takes a lot of vocal and musical talent, and a lot of rehearsals. This isn’t a show you can just throw together.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.