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Reviving Rock & Roll Classics – With Nick Gallardo

October 21, 2022

For Nick Gallardo, the arts were always in his blood. Literally.

Nick was born in Tucson, AZ, to parents who met performing in the classic musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He grew up in a house where music was constantly playing, and watched his cousin Mike perform with the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus from a young age. Seeing Mike hone his skills and enjoy his time singing made one thing clear to Nick—he wanted to be on a stage.

This summer at FST, audiences can see Nick Gallardo bring some of the greatest hits from the 1950s and 1960s to life in a Cabaret that he helped shape: Rock & Roll Reignited With Not Fade Away. We sat down with Nick to learn more about what inspired him to create Rock & Roll Reignited alongside the show’s co-creator, Jared Mancuso, his extensive touring experiences, and his personal connection to Rock & Roll.

Rock & Roll Reignited takes Rock & Roll classics from the ’50s and ’60s and presents them with a contemporary twist. What are some of the ways that you’ve taken songs like “It’s So Easy” by Buddy Holly and made them sound more contemporary?

Rock & Roll Reignited is a 70-minute music train moving full steam ahead with all of the icons on board—Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Beatles, and more! We’ve revved up some of the songs’ tempos to make them peppier and included moments of call-and-response to give audiences a chance to share how much fun they’re having with us. Add in a dash of nuance, a few jokes, and an emotional moment or two, and Rock and Roll Reignited was born.

What inspired you and your artistic partner, Jared Mancuso, to create this show?

Jared and I met in 2014 performing a more traditional tribute show to Buddy Holly called Rave On. We spent a lot of time talking about “The Day the Music Died,” but when when we were playing their songs, we felt so alive! So, in Rock & Roll Reignited, we wanted to focus on what makes this music meaningful to us today. We were also worried that, if we didn’t find a new way to share this with new generations, that it was going to die out.

Who introduced you to this era of music? What made you fall in love with it?

My parents! There was rarely a day when there wasn’t a 45, tape, or a CD playing in the background. Seeing them interact with each other and the happiness the music brought them sealed these songs in my heart. My dad would play “We Belong Together” by Ritchie Valens, which is featured in the show, for me when I was a kid.

Rock & Roll Reignited does not solely focus on the top hits of the ‘50s and ’60s, but also features some lesser-known songs. Why did you want the Cabaret to have a more varied song list?

By infusing this show with songs like “Rockin’ All Night” by Ritchie Valens and “The Wanderer” by Dion and the Belmonts, we invite the audience to learn about some important, yet less famous, songs, and have the chance to share details about these great artists.

You are an established concert entertainer emulating Rock & Roll greats in various live tributes. What did learn from performing in these shows that you bring to the stage with every Rock & Roll Reignited performance?

I see every show as a new opportunity to give the best of myself to the artist I’m paying tribute to and as a chance to work on my stage chops.

I learned how to both see the big picture of a show and then focus on working out the details. This is something Jared and I have implemented with Rock & Roll Reignited. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’ve poured so much of yourself into something, accounted for every detail, and created something we’re truly proud of.

What would Sarasota audiences be surprised to know about you?

I’ve paid tribute to the great Frankie Valli in a show titled December ’63 on over 40 cruises around the world. I’m also a distinguished Trick Rodeo Roper!

Rock & Roll Reignited played in FST’s Court Cabaret from June 14 - August 7, 2022.