Peppy is Rockin’ The Planet
Peppy is Rockin’ The Planet
By Ramón Hernández
Singer, songwriter Emil “Peppy Castro” Thielhelm is “Rockin’ the Planet with The Greatest Story Ever Sung.”
The former Blues Magoos founding father, guitarist and vocalist, who composed the music and wrote the lyrics to every tune in this musical production, says the message in these songs – all based on the Bible – is to bring peace, love, acceptance, healing, hope and making the world a better place.
“My son, Jesse Castro, contributed to writing the music for five of the tunes; and June Rachelson-Ospa was a co-lyricist to about one-third of the songs,” Peppy said.
Giving the reader an insight on how this project came about and giving credit where it’s due, he added, “It all started four years when Steve Leber called me up at 8:30 a.m. on Christmas Day. And he’s Jewish, so I told myself, ‘this is going to be good,’ and it was.
“He woke up feeling the world was so screwed that he wanted me to write a show call ‘Rock the Bible.’ I thought it was a great idea, and I agreed. Hence, the play was conceived by Steve.”
For those not familiar with Leber, he began his career with the William Morris Agency, where he developed and handled music icons like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles’ Concert for Bangladesh, plus. And that was only the beginning for the behind-the-scenes entertainment entrepreneur who went on to guide virtually every name in baby-boomer entertainment. And at the time he called Peppy, he had just become chairman and CEO of Grandparents.com.
New York City-based Peppy was a member of the original 1968 Broadway “Hair” cast; and his songs have been recorded by Diana Ross, Cher, Kiss, plus many others. So, this world-class caliber play could have been cast and presented on Broadway. It could also have enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. So, why did he choose San Antonio?
“I met Jonathan Pennington through June (Rachelson-Ospa) when he did a showcase in New York; and, it was at that time that he asked if I would consider doing a version of ‘Hair’ at the Roxie. My answer was that I would rather do something original. He agreed and here I am,” Peppy said as he pointed to the Roxie’s main entrance.
“I came here not knowing what to expect, and I found a purpose,” said the award-winning playwright and multi-instrumentalist whose office walls are lined with Gold Records.
“Making new friends since I arrived and seeing the future in the kids in the play has become a blessing in disguise.”
“That’s right,” Jonathan added as he offered his analogy of the play. “God must be a teenager because of the things kids go through. Unlike churches that preach God’s fire and brimstone, God has shown me who he is through this production, which as the movie ‘Spiderman – Homecoming,’ contains a little humor. So yes, I think God is my super hero.”
While Leber, Pennington and Emmy-nominated Peppy may be the producers you never see, the ones who are going to impress, wow and amaze you are the cast members who will act and sing their way into your senses, your feelings and into your hearts. They are the stars.
Of course, our Lord and Savior gets universal top billing and the part of God is played by Paden Mercer. Starting out with the Book of Genesis, Sebastián Ramírez and Valeria Jauregui are cast as Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel are portrayed by Allan Jaurejui and Diego Jaurejui.
Then the evil Lucifer tries to steal the scene and Eve’s innocence with an apple as Sean Salazar enters the stage as Satan. However, Salazar later redeems himself as Noah with Jazmin Chacón at his side as Naamah.
We know we are surrounded by invisible angels. However, Savannah Mercer, Ivanna Danforth, Pauline Csitkovits, Yvette Cárdenas and Cristián Plata are five rockin’ angels that you will be able to see throughout each heavenly presentation in which the music is top gun.
It is said that “sometimes, music is the only medicine the heart and soul need,” so if you are feeling blue or just have plain humdrums, make a beeline for the Roxie Theater to go get a good dose of feel good contemporary rock music with a message that may change your life.
From “Creation,” “Seven,” “Make Us Over,” “Angel,” “The Ten Commandments” to “The People’s Hero,” “Flood of Love” to “Just One Love” plus 11 more tunes, be prepared to be transported to a level of peace, joy and delight as ten good-looking, wholesome, talented Alamo City teenagers and two preadolescents, sing, dance and tug at your heart strings.
“Rockin’ the Planet” can be seen at the Roxie Theater Performance House from March 29 to April 14. Performances are: Fridays @ 8:00 p.m.., Saturdays @ 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays @ 4 p.m. The Roxie Theater is located at 7460 Callaghan Road, Suite 333, San Antonio, Texas.
In closing, Leber is also known for his precedent-setting arena tour of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a project that was such a success that it became a viable industry model. Coupled with Peppy’s experience in “Hair,” don’t be surprised if “Rockin’ the Planet” does not wind up on Broadway, then taken on a national tour.
To purchase tickets and for more information, call 210-360-9180 or visit their website: www.roxietheatrecompany.com/on-stage/rockin-the-planet.
Also, be sure to read the article on Peppy Castro on page ______ in this issue to find out how he went from being one of the early pioneers of the psychedelic garage band rock era to rocking Christian music.
(Note: Jonathan Pennington is the owner and director of the Roxie Theater Performance House.)