Mike Panian and Betty Anne Northup as Gene and Betty in No Rock; No Roll

Mike Panian and Betty Anne Northup as Gene and Betty in No Rock; No Roll

No Rock; No Roll brings the hits

Local playwright Michael Poirier and director Lana O’Brien join forces in a play for Winter Carnival

It’s 1971; Dan and Gene are on their way to becoming rock and roll legends. They have two top 10 singles and are touring to packed houses. Suddenly, a poor decision on Dan’s part rips their dream apart and Gene leaves him standing at the microphone, alone.

Fast forward 40 years. Gene is happily married to Betty, a groupie who had been following the band across the country, while Dan has eked out a meagre living as a soloist, touring the roadhouses. Out of the blue, a music promoter shows up, promising the two senior citizens a comeback, or at least a shot at the brass ring. It’s a promise that Gene’s wife and Dan have bought into. Gene on the other hand is still harbouring ill feelings towards his former partner, even though he can’t remember why. The fact that the promoter’s name is “Snake,” and he has all the earmarks of a gangster, doesn’t quite fool Betty, though. So when she Googles his real name and confronts him with, “the truth,” the play takes an abrupt right turn.

This is the premise for a dinner theatre production running during Vernon Winter Carnival. The show is being produced by Back Stage Theatre and was written by local playwright Michael Poirier. No Rock; No Roll will feature standard rock and roll favourites and an original theme song written by Julie Armitage, the production’s music director.

“We’ve taken a four-year break from working with Winter Carnival and it’s great to be back,” said Armitage. “You couldn’t ask for a better catalogue of songs to choose from, and the actors have really stepped up to the plate with their vocals.

“We are also using five local musicians that are well-known in the community.”

Another local theatrical favourite, Lana O’Brien, is directing the show. As an actor, director and high school drama teacher, she has worked on, or in, a wide variety of productions, but this is her first time working directly with Poirier.

“Mike has asked me to work on past productions of his, but unfortunately timing has never put us together,” said O’Brien. “This time we managed to squeeze it in and I’m really glad we could make it happen. It’s been a lot of fun working with an amazing group of local talent and with the Schubert Centre.”

Schubert Centre manager Jack Gareb didn’t blink an eye when Poirier approached him to renew the partnership; he just asked “What days do you want?” and pencilled him in.

“The Schubert Centre has always provided an excellent meal with our plays,” said Poirier. “Head chef John Fournier’s ability to present a wonderful dinner is showcased by the excellent care we get from all of the staff that wait on us.”

No Rock; No Roll runs Feb. 11 to 14 at the Schubert Centre, 3505-30th Ave. Tickets are $45, which includes a buffet dinner and show, and can be purchased at the Winter Carnival office or at the Schubert Centre.