Denise Fraser’s drumming career has involved some serious island-hopping. When last we spoke with her, she was on the island of Manhattan, playing for Sandra Bernhardt’s Broadway show at the Booth Theater. The success of that show led to a taped version that won raves when it aired on HBO.
When Sandra took a hiatus to have her daughter, Denise moved home to Los Angeles, where she soon found herself performing on another island. Gilligan’s Island.
Yup, you read it right. The cherished ’60s sitcom (still popular in reruns thirty-five years later) has been turned into a live musical show. Gilligan’s Island’the Musical features a script by Sherwood Schwartz (who created the original TV show) and a score by former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber and his wife Hope.
“The show played at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, just north of LA,” explains Denise. “It’s a real light-hearted production – quite a bit different from the harder-edged, more satirical material that Sandra does. I had a ball doing the drums and percussion, and we received very positive audience response.”
Positive enough, in fact, to merit an original cast recording. “We went into Capitol recording studios on September 1 to record the album,” says Denise. “That will get the show out to an even larger audience. If it proves one tenth as popular as the original TV version, who knows? I might be back on Broadway soon!”
Gilligan and his pals may be eternally stuck on their island, but Denise isn’t. After recording the Gilligan’s Island cast album, she accepted the percussion spot for a touring company of the hit R&B musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe. Denise will play several western-US cities with the show through January.