"I hope you're luckier in love than your daddy was," Donald (Donald Lewis Jr.) says to Johnny (Peter Elliott) when he returns to New Orleans with a marriage announcement. Not everything is as simple and neat as a love song in Jefferson Performing Arts Society's new show Blueberry Hill, named for Fats Domino's hit.
After dating for only three months, Johnny and Claudia (Jessica Mixon) decide to get married. Their quick engagement prompts their parents to meet at the Blueberry Hill Bar and Grille, Johnny's father's place. In an unrealistic turn of events, it turns out the parents know each other and have a history. The wedding plan hits a snag.
But there's music to bring everyone together to try and work out things.
Written and directed by Butch Caire Jr., the show features R&B songs from the 1950s and '60s that were written and recorded in New Orleans. In his director's note, Caire calls the show a "tribute to our musical heritage." Throughout Blueberry Hill, characters sing R&B hits such as Irma Thomas' "I Done Got Over It" and "Chapel of Love" by The Dixie Cups, and these songs help shape the story.
At points, the script was predictable. Aside from the couple and their parents, characters like Donald seemed to be onstage just to deliver one-liners or harmonize. Discussion about race relations in the late 1960s was interesting and should have been further developed.
Ultimately, the charm of Blueberry Hill lies in the music. I saw audience members swaying and mouthing the words to the classics. For me, the show was merely a musical history lesson, but for others it offered toe-tapping nostalgia. — TYLER GILLESPIE