Entertainment » Jim Harris

‘Rock and Rabbi’ starts fall shows

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Unless you’ve been to Orlando, Fla., or Tulsa, or maybe to West Texas recently, you probably haven’t heard of “The Rock and the Rabbi.” It’s not “Mamma Mia,” and it didn’t take Broadway by a storm.

But it’s been a hit in Orlando, and when it played Tulsa last year it was almost all that people could talk about.

The show played Tulsa because Larry Payton, who runs Celebrity Attractions, found out about the music through a fellow promoter. “You need to see this play and wrap your arms around it,” Payton said he was told.

But first, he listened to Danny Hamilton’s music for the show. If CDs wore out like records, Payton would have had to request five more CDs, he said — he played it that much over a two-month period.

Then, he saw the play, which is the apostle Peter’s version of living and moving around the Galilee area with Jesus Christ. Other reviewers who have seen it say it’s not preachy, and there’s no call to join a church after the show or reaffirm your faith, or any of that. It’s just a story, a familiar one, put to some impressive music (singing and acoustic guitar mostly, but with accordion and other eclectic instruments also used).

Payton and his wife were so impressed by the production when they saw it in Florida, they signed on as executive producers. Celebrity Attractions brings Broadway musicals to Tulsa, Little Rock, Lubbock, Amarillo and Springfield, Mo., but Payton also tries to find other family-oriented shows to schedule, such as the outstanding Beatles tribute band 1964, which has played to big crowds here two years in a row.

“The Rock and the Rabbi” falls into the same category.

The show opens Monday, Sept. 11, at Robinson Center Music Hall and runs through Thursday, Sept. 14. A matinee show on Sept. 14 will have $10 tickets for seniors and students. All seats for the 7:30 shows Monday through Thursday range up to $30.

The show kicks off a Celebrity Attractions season that includes ‘Hairspray,” Mel Brooks’ “The Producers” and the Ray Charles tribute “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” but the next show, “Hairspray,” isn’t scheduled until early 2007.

Call Celebrity Attractions at 244-8800.

After “The Rock and the Rabbi,” the entertainment at Robinson will include the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s usual strong slate of shows (although the SuperPops with Linda Ronstadt has been moved to April) and the Bonnie Raitt-Keb Mo concert on Oct. 3. There’s comedy coming up quickly, too, with Money Mike and Friends on Sunday, Sept. 3, and the always hilarious Jerry Seinfield returning here on Thursday, Sept. 7.

For the Symphony shows, call 666-1761, while the Celebrity Attractions office at Third and Spring streets will have the skinny all on the other shows.

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