• Stu James and Ensemble (Photo - Ed Krieger).

      Stu James and Ensemble (Photo – Ed Krieger).

      Enjoyed this show so much, I went back to see it a second time last Friday, taking a second set of friends with me, and as expected, they were fascinated with the story and thoroughly entertained by the creative and dynamic presentation of an important slice of the 1950’s LA music scene.

      By Carol Edger Germain

      Recorded in Hollywood.Like many others, I was surprised that I did know about this important chapter in soul music history, the precursor to Motown. I felt really uninformed, but really fortunate to learn about John Dolphin through this energetic and tightly produced glimpse into his life and contributions. He was a man who didn’t take no for an answer, a visionary entrepreneur who opened a 24-hour record shop/recording studio/radio station in South Central called “Dolphin’s of Hollywood.” Because of racial bias, he was denied a lease in Hollywood but named his store in accordance with his aspiration to be a major somebody in the center of the West Coast entertainment industry. I forgave myself my ignorance when I learned that he was murdered in 1958, after a much too short, but eventful and innovative, career in the business.

      The man, the times, the memories, as documented in the book “Recorded in Hollywood, the John Dolphin Story” (written by his grandson Jamelle Dolphin and Matt Donelly,) are brought to life by the heartfelt direction of Denise Dowse, the musical arranging of Stephan Terry, and the choreography of Cassie Crump. One of the most creative aspects of the play is the contribution of Andy Cooper – more than a dozen “period” songs, newly created to fit right into the feel of the music emerging at that time. Being from an area closer to the Chicago music scene, this show reminded me of the similar musical progress being made in Chicago at the same time – white musicians and fans merging into the black/soul/blues music scene and people being united by the love of the music and the respect for performers and fans alike, you couldn’t help but set aside any prejudices and join in the feelgood effect of the music.

      Recorded in Hollywood 1We were all impressed with the remarkable talent of the entire cast, down to the smallest part. That was a feat in itself – they were all at the top of their acting, singing, and dancing game, from the leads (Stu James as John Dolphin, Nic Olsen as DJ “Huggy Boy,” a perfect rendition of 1950’s DJs, Jade Johnson as John’s wife Ruth) to the multi-character ensemble cast, who morphed into various characters without a hitch, and even though you had a split second recognition that they had just played another part, the switch-off was complete and immediate and the flow was not interrupted. The tragic end of John Dolphin’s life brought forth a rainbow of emotions from those close to him, and that is where Jade Johnson really poured out Ruth’s heart, bringing a tear or two to my eye, I must say.

      When I went to the show the second time, one of John Dolphin’s son was out front telling stories about his father while we waiting in line for the house to open. It was an extra treat for the evening, but I couldn’t help feeling sad for him and his brother, losing such a legendary father so young, before they even got to know him. But still, a legacy to learn from and be proud of.

      Recorded in Hollywood
      Denise Dowse (Director). Erin Chapman (Management). Jamelle Dolphin (Story). Andy Cooper (Music & Lyrics). Matt Donnelly (Writer).
      Stu James – John Dolphin
      Jade Johnson – Ruth Dolphin
      Godfrey Moye – Sam Cooke
      Nic Olsen – Huggy Boy
      Eric B Anthony – Percy Ivy
      Rahsaan Patterson – Leon Washington
      Lillian Theatre
      6322 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood
      Through 5/31 (and hopefully another extension!)
      $30. Purchase here.

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