“Eastside Heartbeats,” a new rock ‘n’ roll musical, runs through May 29 on CASA 0101 Theater’s Main Stage.
“Eastside Heartbeats” tells the fictional story of Jimmy Ramirez, leader of the four-man vocal group the Eastside Heartbeats. The group has conquered East L.A., but Jimmy and the others have bigger goals. They aim to be number one in the nation – Mexican-American superstars. But first they have to make a record.
“Eastside Heartbeats” is inspired by the true story of Cannibal and the Headhunters, the musical group which opened for The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965. It is written by Tom Waldman who, along with David Reyes, authored the book “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll from Southern California.”
“In researching the book I realized that the incredible story of Cannibal and the Headhunters opening for The Beatles deserved its own treatment, either in film or on the stage,” said Waldman. “When I wrote the script for ‘Eastside Heartbeats’ I decided to use that story as the basis for a largely fictional account of the vibrant East Los Angeles music scene of the mid-1960s. I wanted to capture on stage the excitement, energy and determination of a community of Latino teenagers who saw rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues as a way to establish their own identity and to rebel against their immigrant parents.”
James Holvay, who wrote the hits “Kind of a Drag,” “Don’t You Care” and “Susan” for the seminal 1960s group the Buckinghams, composed most of the musical’s 19 original songs. Rudy Salas, leader of Tierra, one of the most successful pop, rock, or soul groups to come out of East Los Angeles, wrote a number specifically for the show, “Doing It Our Way.”
The musical is executive produced by Maria Elena Yepes, who launched the new theatrical production company, Brown Fist Productions.
“When Cannibal and the Headhunters made their debut at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday, August 29, 1965 opening for The Beatles, I was a teenager in the audience,” Yepes recalled. “I remember that night and special moment in time with great fondness. Now, over 50 years later in 2016, it brings me great joy to bring this fictionalized story reminiscent of that musical era to the stage for new generations.”
The show is helmed by director and creative producer Steve E. Feinberg who co-authored composer P.F. Sloan’s 2014 autobiography, “What’s Exactly the Matter with Me?”
“‘Eastside Heartbeats’ captures that special summer of our youth – when hearts were pumping, kids were dancing and all was right on a Saturday night in East L.A.,” said Feinberg.
“Eastside Heartbeats” will be presented on CASA 0101 Theater’s Main Stage located at 2102 E. First St. (at St. Louis Street across the street from the Hollenbeck Police Station) in Boyle Heights. Performances will be presented on Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 5 p.m.
Tickets are $30 per person for general admission; $25 per person for students, seniors, Boyle Heights residents and groups of 10 to 19, and $20 per person for groups of 20 or more.
This show is recommended for all ages. Advance reservations are highly recommended.