By Michael Reubens
June is World Pride Month with concerts and events globally paying tribute to harassment of gay people that culminated in riots at a New York Greenwich village Gay Bar on 28th June, 1969.
New York City is just one city hosting events as a tribute to gay civil rites which were born out of police brutality at the Stonewall Inn with riots and demonstrations ensuing by the gay community.
But it this very bar that is the star attraction with Songs from the Stonewall Jukebox: Stonewall at 50 at Symphony Space on Manhattan’s upper west side that served up a concert featuring a pot pouri of talented artists and musicians for a one-night event via a compendium of songs and narration actually being played on the jukebox at the bar when the police stormed in and arrested everyone that fateful June night all those years ago!
David Driver hosts and presents his talented group known as The Riot Squad as we flashback to the swinging sixties. Accompanied by back projection slides naming who originated the songs, taking in amongst others, Get Back (The Beatles), I Know a Place (Petula Clark), Let’s Hang On (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), My Cherie Amour (Stevie Wonder), My Way (Frank Sinatra), Put a Little Love in Your Heart) Jackie DeShannon, This is My Life (Shirley Bassey), Where The Boys Are (Connie Francis), You Don’t Own Me (Leslie Gore), You’re My World (Cilla Black) and, of course, the Gay Anthem of all times Over the Rainbow (Judy Garland).
David Driver, Maggie Moore, Castrata and Darius De Haas are the featured artistes with Viva De Concini (Guitar/Vocals), Carson Moody (Drums/Vocals), Eleanore Oppenheim (Bass/Vocals), Rashobda Reeves (Keys/Vocals) and Ellia J. Garlands, Kevin Smith Kirkwood and Lenny Zenith rounding out the guest vocalists.
Maggie Moore displayed star quality in her rendition of Shirley Bassey’s This is My Life bringing passion to this Welsh Diva’s hit and You Don’t Own Me re-created by the deliciously divine Drag Queen, Castrata, brought the audience to their feet. Unfortunately Over The Rainbow fell flat by Rashonda Reeves at the piano but Kevin Smith Kirkwood was a super talent also resulting in a standing ovation with his song choices.
David Driver worked effortlessly in this work in progress. With such a talented team, that at times resembled a karaoke night as audience members danced in the aisles and waived their arms vigorously.
Here’s hoping we will see the show again re-formatted and directed at another venue and before World Pride Month ends.