Rock ’n’ roll tributes come in all shapes and sizes. When written for the stage, the best of these provide musical numbers that embody or typify rock’s various genres while placing them within the context of their eras.
While “The Beat Goes On” does exactly that, for the most part, it makes for a trying evening of theater.
That’s because the 2014 revue seems intent on acknowledging nearly every major hit song from every major school of rock, from the early ’50s up through the 2010s.
Vanda Eggington wrote the show for Vanguard University’s Theatre Arts Department and directs and music-directs it under the college’s American Coast Theater Company banner using 13 students, each of whom portrays dozens of famed rockers.
Eggington’s M.O. is to state a style prevalent in whatever decade – eg. surf rock, the British Invasion, disco, psychedelic rock, Motown, new wave, alternative rock – recap the era’s major events, societal trends and products, then to reel off dozens of songs in the form of a medley. Each segment also contains at least a…