Rockville 2069: A Review

Rockville 2069

Rockville 2069

Rockville 2069 had its World Premiere on Saturday 30 August 2014 at the Artscape Opera House in Cape Town. To be part of this momentous occasion was a privilege indeed. The creator, composer and librettist behind this epic rock musical masterpiece is Johnny Ray. He worked in collaboration with Bruno Paiola.

To write and publish a story is no mean feat. To write a script, compose a 22 song album, stage a music extravaganza complete with live orchestra and rock band is simply incredible.

A 100sqm daylight LED screen, 3D animation and 12 digital cameras complement the futuristic time space (2069) that serves as the setting. The opening images of the natural environment help to foreground the central theme of the story – the destruction of nature and where this leaves humanity. Music in this production is the catalyst for change. The philosophy of peace and love of the legendary Woodstock 1969 festival flows throughout.

The Drummers - Photo Credit: Jesse Kramer

The Drummers – Photo Credit: Jesse Kramer

As Joni Mitchell herself so eloquently put it in her own ode to Woodstock:

‘We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

For me, these words echo the message that is at the centre of the Rockville story. We need to pay serious attention to the ongoing destruction of the planet and come together as humanity to save our earth.

The singing and the dance routines burst with energy, passion and soul. The characters have a likeness to the musical icons who embodied the counterculture movement.

Opening Scene - Photo Credit: Jesse Kramer

Opening Scene – Photo Credit: Jesse Kramer

Pappa played by Joseph Clark is part of the hippie group. He has the insight of Bob Dylan, the rough and rouge energy of Bruce Springsteen and the fierce commitment to change that Bono is all about. Mamma (Vicky Jayne) has the quintessential earth spirit of a woman like musician and activist Joan Baez. Also leading the cast are Danielle (Josie Piers) and Johnny Reb (Stephan Van Huyssteen). It’s an ‘opposites attract’ scenario. Danielle is the peace loving flower power child of Mamma and Pappa. Johnny Reb is the rocker.

Supporting the lead quartet are a cast of characters as rich and varied as the signature psychedelic colours that symbolise the revolution. The drummers are the reggae maestros keeping the beat and rhythm. The rockers are Johnny Reb’s crew – living life with electric passion. The hippies are joyful and positive earth spirits.

I think the core message that Rockville offers is important.  We need to look after the environment and restore our relationship with each other. If all we do is frantically tap for the latest app, we forget to look up and smell the flowers. A person born at Woodstock would have just turned 45. As we race towards the future, failing to remember, Rockville reminds us who we are and where we have been.

I repeat:

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Rockville 2069 is on at the Artscape Opera House from 29 August to 7 September 2014.

For More Information And To Book Tickets: Rockville 2069 

Photo Credit: Keri Lee Dobbie

Photo Credit: Keri Lee Dobbie



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