The era of the British Music Invasion comes alive in “ModRock,” a new musical, which is having its world premiere engagement beginning Wednesday, June 19 (press opening Sunday June 23 at 5pm) at the El Portal Theatre. “ModRock” is set in the vibrant, swinging London of the mid 1960’s – a time when styles and cultures clashed, the British bands ruled the pop charts and all fashion trends emerged out of Carnaby Street.
“ModRock” tells a timeless story of star-crossed lovers from the rival “Mod” and “Rocker” factions through 20 classic songs from the era including “We Gotta Get Out of this Place,” “For Your Love,” “Tired of Waiting,” “Bus Stop,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Time of the Season,” “Downtown,” “I Can’t Explain,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” “A Summer Song,” “You’ve Got Your Troubles,” “I’m A Man,” “Where Are They Now,” “I Only Want To Be With You,” “Cool Jerk,” “There’s A Kind of Hush,” and “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying”.
“ModRock” was created and has book by Hagan Thomas-Jones and features a young cast of 12; many already have significant Broadway, national tour and television credits. The ensemble cast includes Melinda Porto (The Bend in the Road Pasadena Playhouse, Miss Saigon McCoy-Rigby Entertainment) as Kate and Steven Good (Prometheus Bound, Once workshop, Ajax at American Repertory Theatre) as Adam – the star-crossed lovers – as well as Harley Jay (Miss Saigon national tour, Mark in RENT Broadway and national tour), Michael Hawley, Jade Tailor (True Blood, Vegas), Emily Morris (The Suite Life of Zach and Cody) and Adrianna Rose Lyons (Rock of Ages Las Vegas Company) as the Rockers. The Mods are portrayed by Erin Watkins, Scott Kruse (South Street Pasadena Playhouse), Ian Littleworth (The Fall to Earth Odyssey Theatre), Julia Tobey (Guiding Light, All My Children) and Scott Weston (Michael Peter Pan 360° production).
The director is Brian Lohmann, the associate artistic director of the Impro Theatre. He directed Dickens UnScriptedat the Broad Stage, LA Noir UnScripted at Theatre Asylum, and at the Odyssey Theatre Tennessee Williams UnScripted and was co-director of Shakespeare UnScripted at Theatre. “ModRock” is choreographed by Michele Spears (One Night Stand Mark Platt producer, Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Musical Theatre Guild, Contemporary Musical Theatre at Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara).
The musical arrangements are by David O; musical direction by John Ballinger; scenic, lighting, and projection design by Joel Daavid; costume design by Ann Closs-Farley; sound design by Cricket Myers; hair, wig, and makeup design by Judi Lewin; and casting by Michael Donovan CSA.
Tickets, starting at $44, are on sale at the El Portal Theatre at elportaltheatre.com, or by calling
1-818-508-4200. The CD of music from “ModRock” is available through iTunes, CDBaby.com and other sites nationwide. For more information, please visit www.modrockmusical.com
In Great Britain, the period between 1963 and 1966 was one of the most extraordinary moments of youth cultural history, and popular music history. For the first time British rock and pop artists crossed over the ‘pond’ and exploded onto the US Record Charts and airwaves. The height of “The British Invasion”, as it came to be known, was The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. “ModRock” is an homage to this period and to the many iconic bands and songwriters who emerged from it. In addition to The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, these include bands such as the Kinks, the Animals, Dusty Springfield, the Yardbirds, the Hollies, Chad and Jeremy, The Who, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Zombies and Herman’s Hermits to name just a few.
Set in the vibrant, swinging London of 1965, “ModRock” portrays a time when it seemed Great Britain was the center of all of international music, fashion, culture and lifestyle. It tells the story of star-crossed lovers from rival “Mod” and “Rocker” factions who are forced to choose between loyalties and their newfound love. We meet the ‘face’ (fashion) obsessed Mods and the tradition bound Rockers, told through twenty of the biggest hit songs of the era.
It was a time of a rapidly changing social culture. The fashion of Mary Quant, Alvaro, Stevens and others, Sassoon haircuts and new fashion obsessed youth movement of “Mods” contrasted with the tradition bound leather and denim clad “Rockers” and these two opposing factions of working class London youths clashed in large brawls in 1964 and 1965.
And by 1967, everything began to change again as Flower Power began to rule the day but those proceeding years still remain among the most memorable of the era.
The idea for “ModRock” came to Hagan Thomas-Jones in 2008. A documentary film producer – including “Money For Nothing”, a history of the music video and “Gameplay” a history of the videogame -- Thomas-Jones was developing a film on the “British Invasion” of the early 1960’s but he could not find the right book or story when it occurred to him that this unique time in cultural history would be a great setting and score for a stage musical.
Hagan-Thomas said, “Some people think only the Beatles and Stones when the British Invasion is mentioned but it was so very much more! The period between 1963 and 1966 in Great Britain produced some of the best songwriters and bands of all time. There were literally hundreds of artists, bands and songwriters who emerged from the period, many of whom remain among the most iconic of all time, and whose music still resonates with us today."
Calendar Listing for “ModRock”
Theatre: El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood CA 91601
Dates: Performances begin Wednesday June 19 at 8pm
Playing Previews (June 19-22): Wed. June 19 at 8pm; Thur. June 20 at 8pm
Schedule: Fri. June 21 at 8pm; Sat. June 22 at 8pm
Tickets: www.modrockmusical.com, or by calling 1-818-508-4200
Prices: $44, $59 - Premium tickets available.