Strong performance in musical based on life of Dean Reed
Ivy Arts Centre, University of Surrey
I BELIEVE that while writing for the Surey Advertiser, I have awarded only
three fivestar reviews. Comrade Rockstar is a fourth.
Inspired by the life of musician Dean Reed, it is a musical with book and lyrics
by Julian Woolford and music by Richard John. It traces the career of an American who
accidently became a rock legend behind the Iron Curtain.
'Accidently' is a misleading description. Reed pursued fame wherever he could find
it and his ruthless nature was littered with three broken marriages and a family
and daughter 'back home' that rarely saw or heard from him.
He was certainly not going to break a tour of Poland to attend the funeral of
The one-night performance at the Ivy Arts Centre (and essentially a revised tryout)
on Friday was a concert version of a show that was polished and intriguing.
As a rock musical, it has genuine guts and a score that from time to time tore into
the frame. It had softer moments too, with Kim Ismay as Countess Nyta Dover effortlessly
changing the pace to a seducive slow.
As a 'musical bio-cum-documentary', it possesses both drama and humour.
Reed was a resistible personality but his story is compelling, with strands of
dysfunction, manipulation, East/West politics and fan worship, tightly twisting
into an evening that at times teetered on the brink of 'thriller'.
Dean Reed died in East Germany at the age of 47 in 1986. He was vitually unknown
in the West but widely mourned throughout the Soviet Bloc.
His death was attributed to suicide, leaving a
letter of apology
to the East German leader, Eric Honecker.
A cast of 28 was given rousing applause at the end of the show, with many audience
I loved it and wish the show well.