If you like your 50’s music with a side of narration, like a director’s commentary over a soundtrack, ‘Sons of Sun: The Sam Phillips Story’ might be what you’re after.
Dubbed a ‘rock and roll play’, ‘Sons of Sun’ is more of a tribute to Sam Phillips and his role in producing some of the greats of 50’s music legend like Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Howlin’ Wolf. The band, led by John Kennedy, are the focus of the show and actors Matt Charleston, Damian Sommerlad and Corinne Marie step in occasionally to add a documentary feel to the music in enacting the script by Kieran Carroll.
It’s all a bit contrived as there was a definite sense that we were there for the music but it slides into engaging its audience in dramatic historical verbatim-style transitions between tracks. It was done with great integrity and there is clear talent in music and performance and the audience of the Bridge Hotel were thoroughly entertained. The multiple characters played by Marie and Sommerlad were solid examples of transformational acting and although Sommerlad had to spend almost every musical impersonation that involved picking up a guitar and playing it with his back to us while Kennedy cranked it out, we forgave this ‘rock and roll’ play because the acting was secondary to the show.
Matt Charleston as Sam Phillips was impressive and as he had the most dimensions to play with in role, starting as visionary underprivileged underdog and culminating in overworked producer with questionable tactics, he got to take us on a journey that not only involved the evolution of music but also character.
The audience were certainly enjoying themselves and as soon as the doors were open, it was a fight for the best tables and let me tell you, the over 50’s show no mercy. But this is a polished and enjoyable night of music with a bit more depth and context and director Neil Gooding has managed to transition action and music to please the crowd.
It was a pleasant way to spend a Friday night and rock it out with the retirees….in your blue suede shoes…like a hound dog…goodness gracious great balls of fire.