Inspired by the music of Leiber & Stoller
A Rock ‘n’ Roll show with a difference… a street corner brawl of a show, teeming with kids, fighting, hustling, flirting and kidding their way to maturity.
The war is over. A new generation is growing up in a changing world – the teenager is born in America. Like everything in America it starts on the West Coast, where newly-affluent kids and developing a new life-style with its own image and music, and working with this new music are two songwriters – Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. From humble beginnings with small R&B groups they grow to be to of the most influntial songwriters of the 50s, their songs selling in millions and making them legends in their own time. There style is best summed up in the records of the Coasters, and one of their best known records is ‘Yakety Yak’, a mini slice of teenage life if ever there was one.
We move forward to the 1980s nearly thirty years later, to what at first seems a very different society. But it’s still tough growning up especially when jobs are hard to come by. And somehow the simpler lyrics of an earlier teenage rebellion seem to shine through. The political protest songs of the 60s and 70s are not so relevant to this new generation, many of whom are also disillusioned by punk. The songs of the 50s are reborn, and for many kids, the image of the 50s is reborn in their bedroom mirrors.
The generation gap takes a new twist. The teenage children of the 50s teenagers and their parents have their problems. It’s hard pulling the girls when you’ve got no money and you can just about afford to keep a car on the road if you’re lucky – and the words of thirty years ago are back…
The production transferred to the Astoria Theatre in the West End, January 1983.
Regular audience member in the 1980s, Jacci Todd remembers the musical Yakety Yak!, which featured the McGann brothers. Interviewed by Toni Tsaera.
The Mint Julips are a female acapella group who came out of one of the youth theatres at Half Moon Theatre on Mile End Road in the 1980s. Three of the members – Debbie Longworth, Debbie Charles and Lizzie Charles – talk about being cast in Yakety Yak! lay the foundations of their group. Interviewed by Rosie Vincent.
Sheila Fox did publicity for Half Moon Theatre on the Mile End Road. She talks about reaching out into the local community to find new audiences for Yakety Yak! She found a sub-culture of ‘greasers’ and how she organised a dance marathon. The production transferred to the West End and she describes how its community appeal was lost. Interviewed by Toni Tsaera.
Ray Davis (Kinks) was writing a musical for us but couldnt get it finished so i booked the McGanns and the marvellous band (forget their name momentarily) and they began rehearsing the Lieber & Stoller songbook.
Every day i wrote a few scenes and brought them in and we kind of scaffolded a story and the book together on the fly….
The music was stunning…..
The whole band, the cast, lined up at the end singing Stand By Me… hell, that was great!!