Rockabilly Swingtime

Written on September 17th, 2017

Lively, High Energy Mix of Entertainment

We’re not sure if Rockabilly Swingtime is really the right name for the musical revue currently on stage at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.  In fact, it would be more aptly called “A Catch-All of our Favourite Lively Tunes” or something to that effect.  Nevertheless, it offers a very entertaining collage of music from the 1930s’ swing to Lady Gaga, with some of the most dynamic choreography ever seen on the VPP stage.

The show includes a couple of songs by Canada’s King of Rockabilly, Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins.  There are also swing numbers from the big band era.  And mixed in are the likes of Freddie Mercury and Michael Bublé – something for everyone could be the theme.  The instrumental work is good, the singing is great and the dancing is amazing. 

All of the nine member cast have their individual moments.  Alex Baerg on guitar gives us a powerful rendition of Ronnie Hawkins’ “Forty Days” followed by Brian Barber, also on guitar, with great vocals, swinging with Queen’s  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.

Randy Rektor spends most of the show plucking his big bass, but puts on black frame glasses and a guitar for a Buddy Holly number, “That’ll Be the Day”, complete with Buddy-style glottal stops.  Julia Juhas shows off her rich voice with a Billie Holiday number, and Adele MacKenzie has a husky, emotional rendition of Etta James’ “At Last”.

Paul Otway, the band’s trumpet player, sets aside his trumpet and sings “Hello Dolly”, Louis Armstrong style, much to the audience’s delight. Christy Adamson gives us a beautiful version of the 1950s Doris Day hit “Everybody Loves a Lover”. VPP favourite Jesse Grandmont plays the fiddle and swings his bow creating the country sound for the Western Swing numbers, and lends his voice to “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t  got that swing” and various Elvis songs.

Musical Director and keyboard player Mark Payne sings the 1972 hit, “Wildflower” by Skylark. While many folks might not know the song by that name, they will surely recognize Mark’s heartfelt lyrics, “She’s faced the hardest times, you could imagine, And many times her eyes fought back the tears…”.  Drummer Dave Robilliard shows versatility, adapting to all the songs presented.

The three female cast members, Christy, Julia and Adele, don their military uniforms to take on the personae of the Andrews Sisters, performing “Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy” with the signature harmonies.  The blonde, brunette and redhead trio also do an excellent “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”  The three are amazing high-energy dancers, who perform non-stop in this show.

If you need a pick-me-up, this show will do it.  Everyone leaves the theatre humming an old favourite and stepping a little livelier.

Rockabilly Swingtime continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until September 24.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit

Photo: Cast of Rockabilly Swingtime.  Photo by Diane O’Dell.

Rockabilly Swingtime
Directed by David Hogan
Musical Direction by Maryk Payne
Choreographed by David Hogan & Adele MacKenzie
Performed by Christy Adamson, Alexander Baerg, Brian Barber, Jesse Grandmont, Julia Juhas, Adele MacKenzie, Paul Otway, Mark Payne, Randy Rektor, Dave Robilliard.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
September 5 to 24, 2017
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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