Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Rydell: North Fork Theatre, Westbury, Long Island

A PACKED HOUSE comprising mainly of an adoring fan club of female 60-somethings, with their tagalong husbands, greeted the three South Philadelphia teen idols of yore. “I’ve never been this close to Frankie,” gushed one elderly lady.

With the singers often being on stage together, the show was more cabaret than rock ‘n’ roll, with “rat pack” type comedy thrown in for good, or bad, measure: “I was in an elevator with a nude woman and I say, ‘Lady, you’ve got an identical outfit to my wife.'” Oy! Somehow the adult audience is what these artists always seemed to crave for.

There was still room for most of the big hits from the former teen-star trio – now grandfathers all, and wearing well. Highlights included Rydell’s ‘Wild One’ (no ‘Kissin’ Time’), Fabian’s stroller ‘Turn Me Loose’ and Avalon’s ‘Dede Dinah’/’Gingerbread’ (even if annoyingly done as a dreaded medley).

There was a nice “rock ‘n’ roll heaven” tribute to Ricky Nelson (a great ‘Hello Mary Lou’), Bobby Darin (a classy ‘Mack The Knife’ from Rydell), Elvis Presley and Philadelphia’s own Bill Haley. Best of all was the orchestra with a big horn section that recalled the swing-jump Frank Slay/Bob Crewe arrangements of Freddy Cannon’s Swan hits.

In a sense, the show was a tribute to American Bandstand at its peak, with the ailing Dick Clark (“we were Dickie’s boys”) getting justified honorable mentions. It may not have been rock ‘n’ roll but it was an entertaining evening all the same. As I left, I couldn’t help think of all the millions of Chancellor and Cameo records this trio had sold to their loyal fans – including those at the North Fork Theatre. That was almost 50 years ago: golden boys, golden anniversary.

© John Brovenunpublished, October 2007

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