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[whitespace] John Bisceglie brings back his over-the-top revue 'Rock 'n' Roll Reunion'

By Heather Zimmerman

ALTHOUGH IT'S BEEN said about youth, the past and many other things, that "you can never go back again," that's rarely the case when it comes to music, especially the early days of rock & roll. John Bisceglie--known for his lavish productions at Bella Mia restaurant and for his theatrical tribute/roast to the South Bay, The San Jose Follies Strikes Back--himself goes back in time several years to resurrect his Rock-n-Roll Reunion, an over-the-top revue of '50s and '60s rock & roll that was popular at Bella Mia a few years ago. The show is now playing at the Victory Theater (the former JJ's Blues Downtown, renovated by Bisceglie last fall for The San Jose Follies Strikes Back).

Rock 'n' Roll Reunion is steeped in mid-20th-century nostalgia. It features not only a host of golden oldies but also an abundance of intentionally corny--and occasionally raunchy--jokes. The show winks knowingly at Eisenhower-era consumerism with audio clips of '50s commercials. The broad comedy extends to the characters themselves, who are a collection of high-school stereotypes embodied in three couples: the popular kids, the greasers and the nerds.

In the first act, the six "high-schoolers" sing, dance and mug their way through a multitude of '50s favorites. A particular standout is an inspired arrangement of "Stand by Me," and some lively choreography is showcased well in numbers such as a clever rendition of "The Monster Mash." Unfortunately, the show loses steam in the second half when it more or less dispenses with the campy charm and offers up an almost nonstop medley of '60s tunes (including some songs made perhaps too familiar by icons like the Beatles and Elvis). Some cast members' voices are stronger than others, so the ensemble pieces tend to fare better than the showy solos featured more prominently in the second act. Throughout, Rock 'n' Roll Reunion boasts unfailingly high energy, and the show is at its best when Bisceglie channels that vitality into a tongue-in-cheek revue rather than a straight-up tribute.

Rock 'n' Roll Reunion plays at the Victory Theater, 14 S. Second St., San Jose; Thursday at 8pm, Friday-Saturday at 8:30pm; open-ended run. Tickets are $18 on Thursday/$25 Friday-Saturday. (800/660-TKTS)

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From the March 25-31, 1999 issue of Metro.

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