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Tribute's a family affair.

Byline: By David Whetstone

Lonnie D: The Story of Lonnie Donegan at Whitley Bay Playhouse until Saturday

A brand new musical burst forth last night and all those venue managers around the country who snapped it up, sight unseen, need have no worries.

This is going to be one of the warmest ( warm in the sense of affectionate ( and foot-tapping shows on tour this autumn.

You can only imagine that Lonnie Donegan (1931-2002), legendary King of Skiffle, would have been proud and touched.

For those who grew up with his music ( and they clearly made up the bulk of last night's large premiere audience ( it oozes nostalgia.

But while it is a show bathed in fond memories, it isn't mawkish.

And if the name Lonnie Donegan means nothing to you, go along and submit yourself to the sounds that changed the face of British popular music in the 1950s. The musical, produced and directed by Leah Bell, from Bedlington, features three of Lonnie's four sons, Anthony, Peter and young David.

Peter, who toured with his dad, has inherited his father's easy charm and ability to work an audience. At just 20, he could be a major star in the making. Part one surveys Lonnie's life with girl dancers and the male group Hitsville playing teenagers in the "Froffy Coffy Bar" as Peter and Anthony relate their father's achievements, reflected in images projected on a screen.

Part two is simply a gig, an irresistible one with Lonnie's own skiffle band joining the Donegan brothers for a medley of greatest hits.

These guys can really play, age clearly no bar to that quality called cool.

We had the comic songs ( Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavoura and My Ol' Man's A Dustman ( and the number which caused a hiatus in British pop music, Rock Island Line, a massive hit in the summer of 1954 and long due a revival.

Leah Bell and Lonnie's widow, Sharon, were on stage, and the music was still going, when a deadline called. They might all still be there.
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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