Man leaning against tree with red tie and black jacket


Imagine that you are rehearsing with your old band for a summer tour—for another band that used to open for you. Management is not your strong suit. Songwriting is, however, and you have written at least six iconic hits for other artists. In walks your former manager. What is he about to tell you?

You don’t hold the rights to your own songs. 

At The Rehearsal, a musical event written by J.D. Johnston (IMDB name: John Dennis Johnston), you’re in the middle of the action (safely distanced, of course, at FUSION Forum).

“This show is designed to be performed anywhere that a real rehearsal could take place: a theater, a garage, a park,” said Johnston, a recognizable actor with both film (48 Hrs., Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and TV (“Hill Street Blues,” “ER,” “In Plain Sight”) credits. “The audience is in on everything.”

Johnston got the idea for the show after a friend in Los Angeles lost the rights to his own songs in a bankruptcy. The playwright thought, too, about all of those session musicians who don’t get credit for their contributions, and all of the headlining musicians who were worse off after a tour took all of their cash and then some. 

“Joe Cocker owed millions after his ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ tour,” Johnston said. “Howlin’ Wolf, Leadbelly…every black musician got ripped off at the door. You couldn’t book a large tour without radio play and radio play needs money.”

The play takes place in 1994 B.S. (before Spotify). Clifford Cody James, the songwriter, is prepping his CCJ Band for the tour. When former manager Belger (Wells Jones) delivers the crushing news, Clifford (Johnston plays the role) must decide where he’s headed. 

“I don’t believe people do anything until they have to,” said Johnston. “Now he has to decide who he is and what he wants.” 

The songs in The Rehearsal were written by the band: Johnston (vocals), Musical Director Mark Godwin (lead guitar), Yvonne Dunn (guitar, vocals), Conrad Mendoza (drums, vocals) and Norm Toy (bass). All band members have fabulous musical and other credits, separately and together ( 

The band calls The Rehearsal “A live music theatrical event.”

“In most musicals, the drama is interrupted by songs,” said Johnston. “In our musical, the songs are interrupted by the drama.”

THE REHEARSAL, A live music theatrical event

Story written by JD Johnston

Directed by Harrison Sim

March 25, 26, 27 ; April 1,2,3 

Fri/Sat 7:30pm / Sun 3pm

Doors open 30 minutes prior to curtain.

$20 /$15 Students & Seniors;; Box office 505.766.9412

Thanks to the City of ABQ, the April 3 performance is Pay What You Wish.

FUSION – @708, 700-708 1st St. NW, Downtown ABQ