Red Rock Diner

Canada’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Deejay

A fascinating story is being told on stage at the cabaret-style Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs.   Here in Ontario we aren’t familiar with this west coast legend, so this lively little musical is actually an educational experience as well as very entertaining.  We learn about ground-breaking disc jockey Red Robinson, the first person in Canada to spin rock ‘n’ roll vinyl on the air.  Until Red came along, no one in our country had dared to play this crazy new devil’s music on the radio.

Robinson was just a teenager in Vancouver when he got his first radio job and started playing rock ‘n’ roll music.  He was on radio just a short time when he interviewed Buddy Holly and they discussed this new trend.  He and Holley speculated that rock ‘n’ roll might last until Christmas and then it would be gone.

Similarly, Robinson thought his local fame would also be short lived.  He created an elaborate on-air hoax telling his listeners there was a beached whale. Police became involved when no whale could be found.  When his manager discovered it was a prank, Red was fired.  But immediately the station owner re-hired him – 10,000 people showed up at the beach looking for the whale, proving Red had a huge following of fans.  Red Rock Diner

In act one, we visit the Red Rock Diner.  Kudos to set designer Jeff JohnstonCollins for replicating a 1950s lunch counter so accurately. Even the round table tops at which the audience sits are records, and the programs are presented in menus.  In act two, we are at King Edward High School on prom night, 1957.  Both are perfect venues for presenting early rock favourites. We are treated to about 40 rock hits of the fifties, some very familiar, others less well known, but all very enjoyable.

The five ensemble members have unbelievable energy and all five are true triple threats, singing, dancing and acting with great enthusiasm. They not only work well together as the chorus, but each has his or her own talent and moment to shine.  Sayer Roberts is a standout with the song “Cry”, Kristen Pottle impresses with dance and tap skills, Josh Wiles offers an excellent Elvis medley, Jeremy Carver-James combines laughs with amazing dance moves, and Brittany Banks makes a cute prom queen with her Marilyn Munro looks. All five have perfect comedic timing.

Daniel Abrahamson has the role of deejay Red Robinson.  He has an excellent singing voice and can do funny impersonations in the creation of radio characters.  But unfortunately, his hair just isn’t red enough to warrant the nickname Red!

The show comes to a poignant conclusion with a slide show featuring the life of the real Red Robinson – including scenes where he took the stage with Buddy Holley, Elvis and The Beatles, and when he was honoured at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the likes of Wolfman Jack and Dick Clark.

Red Rock Diner continues with eight shows a week until December 24 at St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre, St. Jacobs.  Tickets are available by calling the Box Office Toll Free at 1-855-372-9866, or check

Photo: Jeremy Carver-James, Kristen Pottle, Josh Wiles, Daniel Abrahamson, Brittany Banks, Sayer Roberts at the Red Rock Diner.

Red Rock Diner
Created by Dean Regan
Directed and Choreographed by David Connolly
Musical Direction by Nico Rhodes
Choreographed by Valerie Moore
Performed by Daniel Abrahamson, Brittany Banks, Jeremy Carver-James, Kristen Pottle, Sayer Roberts, Josh Wiles.
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre, St. Jacobs
September 13 to December 24, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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