On Stage: Hello Dolly! at Kimmel Center this week

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Hello Dolly!

It seems that everybody is familiar with “Hello Dolly!” in one form or another – especially the Academy Award-winning film and the hit Broadway musical.

It’s hard not to be familiar with the song, “Hello Dolly!”– at least with the tune’s opening lines… “I said hello, Dolly; Well, hello, Dolly; It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.”

For the next week-and-a-half, there is an opportunity to get more familiar with the musical version of “Hello Dolly!”

The Kimmel Center is presenting “Hello Dolly!” now through March 1 at the Academy of Music (240 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, www.kimmelcenter.org) as part of its Broadway Philadelphia series.

The cast of the National Tour features Carolee Carmello as Dolly Gallagher Levi, John Bolton (not that John Bolton) as Horace Vandergelder, Daniel Beeman as Cornelius Hackl,Analisa Leaming as Irene Molloy and Sean Burns as Barnaby Tucker.

Burns is familiar with his role having played it on the 2018-2019 and current editions of the National Tour.

“I was in there for a piece of the first tour,” said Burns, during a recent phone interview from New York.

“I auditioned in early March last year on a Monday. They called me back on Wednesday and I took the role on Thursday. The nice part about replacing someone is that I got to watch the show for a few nights before I actually had to go on myself.

“I was familiar with the story. I had seen the film before but not hadn’t seen it performed live. ‘Hello Dolly!’ on stage only comes around so often.

“The movie version is different because it gets to go to all the settings. The live version onstage isn’t as realistic but there is something special about seeing it live.”

“Hello Dolly!” tells the story of widow Dolly Gallagher Levi, a strong minded matchmaker who arrives in New York to “help” Horace Vandergelder, a curmudgeonly, half-a-millionaire, widowed shop owner, find a new wife — while secretly plotting to marry him herself.

Meanwhile, two of Vandergelder’s comedically-ridiculous employees leave the shop abandoned and head out to the city in an effort to find adventure. Often referred to as “Broadway’s Greatest Musical”, “Hello, Dolly!” features sweeping dance numbers, hilarious missteps, endearing chaos and, of course, love.

“Hello, Dolly!” is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart. It is based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce, “The Merchant of Yonkers,” which Wilder revised and retitled “The Matchmaker” in 1955.

“Hello, Dolly!” debuted at the Fisher Theater in Detroit in 1963 and moved to Broadway in 1964, where it won 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The 10 Tony haul set a record which stood for 37 years.

The show album “Hello, Dolly! An Original Cast Recording” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002. The album reached Number One on the Billboard album chart on June 6, 1964, and was replaced the next week by Louis Armstrong’s album “Hello, Dolly!” Armstrong was also featured in the film version of the show, performing a small part of the song “Hello, Dolly!”

The show has become one of the most enduring musical theater hits, with four Broadway revivals and international success.

“Hello Dolly!” became one of the most iconic Broadway shows of the latter half of the 1960s, running for 2,844 performances, and was the longest-running musical in Broadway history for a time.

This production stays true to the older versions and older choreography,” said Burns, who has performed in two other national tours – “Jersey Boys” as Joe Pesci and “Peter Pan 360” as Michael Darling.

“This production has done a wonderful job of keeping what was great about the original and adding new costume design and set design.

“It won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design. The tour is keeping everything from Broadway and bringing it to you. It’s such a spectacle with a beautifully done backdrop. It’s all very classically done.”

Over the years, “Hello Dolly!” has featured many of Broadway’s top leading ladies, including Carol Channing, Mary Martin, Barbra Streisand, Pearl Bailey, Tovah Feldshuh, Bette Midler and Betty Buckley.

Burns plays the role of Barnaby Tucker, an assistant to Cornelius Hackl at Vandergelder’s Hay & Feed store. He is sweet, naïve, energetic, and a follower.

“Barnaby is the best friend you could ever have,” said Burns. “You can connect with the person there. He is Cornelius’ best friend and is very supportive. He is also very naïve. Everything is new to him. He’s fascinated by everything.”

Burns went to Bishop Hoban High School in Wilkes-Barre and then graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. with a double degree – theater and music education. He has never performed professionally in either of the major cities between the two locations – Philadelphia or Baltimore.

“This will be my first time to play Philly,” said Burns. “I’ve done regional theater and national tours but never anything in Philadelphia. I’m looking forward to it.”

Video link for “Hello Dolly” — https://twitter.com/i/status/1228443038948610049.

“Hello Dolly” is running now through March 1 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices start at $29.

Phillip Glass is a world-class pianist and a composer who is hailed as one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century.

The Annenberg Center (3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, https://annenbergcenter.org/events) is celebrating the career and impact of Philip Glass with #GLASSFEST — a three-week festival from February 21-March 14.

The Annenberg Center first presented the composer with The Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s. Through frequent appearances and a long-term commitment to showcasing new music, the Annenberg Center championed Glass and familiarized him to Philadelphia audiences.

The Crossing choir

The three-week #GLASSFEST includes The Crossing choir performing “Knee Plays,” works by Philip Glass and David Byrne (February 21-22); the Philadelphia premiere of the five-hour entirety of Glass’ groundbreaking “Music in Twelve Parts,” performed by The Philip Glass Ensemble (February 29); “Glass Reflections” performed by pianist Jenny Lin in the Egypt Upper Gallery at the Penn Museum (March 5); and the world premiere of theatrical work, “The White Lama: The Improbable Legacy of Theos Bernard” (March 13-14) by multi-disciplinary theatre artist and filmmaker Nikki Appino, featuring a score that will be performed by Glass himself and co-composer Tenzin Choegyal. 

The Annenberg Center’s #GLASSFEST opens on February 21-22 with Grammy Award-winning new-music choir, The Crossing in the premiere of “Knee Plays,” a newly staged theatrical production at the Annenberg Center’s Harold Prince Theatre.

The program offers a rare opportunity to hear “Knee Plays” from Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach” and David Byrne’s New Orleans-inspired contribution to Robert Wilson’s largescale project, “the CIVIL warS,” connected on one program.

The Crossing’s “Knee Plays” features music of Philip Glass and David Byrne on texts of Robert Wilson and David Byrne with projections by Eric Southern. The production was conceived and led by Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, and will be narrated by Philadelphia actor Dito van Reigersberg.

“It’s a challenge,” said Nally, during a recent phone interview from his office in Philadelphia. “We’re still in the middle of that challenge – modifying things, taking away things. We took both Philip Glass’ ‘Knee Plays’ and David Byrne’s ‘Knee Plays’ and mixed them up.”

Drawn from Robert Wilson’s massive productions — “Einstein on the Beach” and “the CIVIL warS” — these two diverse and mesmerizing sets of musical knee plays are substantial works on their own — serving as a record of the time of their creation.

In the original David Byrne “Knee Plays,” Wilson wanted to transform a tree into a book, into a boat, and back into a tree. Byrne was interested in how that may play out under the influence of Noh theatre. Wilson and Glass were focused on the transformative nature of Einstein’s work and life. Transformation is paramount to the “Knee Plays.”

According to Nally, “While the tree and the physicist remain shadows looming behind our ‘Knee Play’ reincarnations, they aren’t here; their spirit of transformation and connection guide the evening which finds the singers of The Crossing moving into roles that stretch their identities.

“At one moment they sing, and in the next they are the instrument-wielding band, or a response to the call of Dito van Reigersberg (in a rare cameo), or philosophers with only a voice, a reed or a drum, and words to try to make the connections that Wilson, Glass, and Byrne were exploring.

“We investigate identity. We laugh at themselves. And we are transformed. Physically. The spirit of Japanese theatre returns to the ‘Knee Plays’ — if only as an attempt to understand The Other. To connect. To be the knee.”

This production is more than just a choral work.

“We have design by Eric Southern, who is on the faculty with me at Northwestern University,” said Nally. “We have in-house designer Paul Vasquez. And, we have Dito van Reigersberg, who is known on stage as Martha Graham Cracker. He’s appearing as Dito doing all the David Byrne text that goes along with David Byrne’s story.”

The Crossing is an American professional chamber choir based in Philadelphia. The Crossing is conducted by Nally and dedicated to new music. It is committed to working with creative teams to make and record new, substantial works for choir that explore and expand ways of writing for choir, singing in choir, and listening to music for choir.

Many of its nearly 90 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues. With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has issued 19 releases and received two Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance (2018, 2019), and three Grammy nominations in as many years.

“This is the first Philip Glass piece to be performed by The Crossing,” said Nally. “He hasn’t written much choral music.

“When Annenberg asked me to put this show together, I thought of Philip Glass’ ‘Einstein on the Beach.’ I also had seen David Byrne’s music in videos.

“These pieces are so different. During the concert, you immediately know if you’re in David Byrne’s world or Philp Glass’ world. It’s a very different show because we’ve never done anything like this before.”

This is The Crossing’s second program as part of a three-concert residency at the Annenberg Center. The Crossing returns on March 22 at 7 p.m. for the world premiere of Michael Gordon’s “Travel Guide to Nicaragua,” which was co-commissioned by the Annenberg Center and Carnegie Hall.

Video link for The Crossing – https://youtu.be/HeRU3iKonhM.

The concerts at the Annenberg Center’s Harold Prince Theatre will start at 8 p.m. each night on February 21 and 22. This show is currently sold out online. However, please call the Box Office at 215-898-3900 for up-to-date information as additional tickets could become available.

The Annenberg Center will also present legendary African singer Angélique Kidjo on February 20. Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, known as Angélique Kidjo, is a singer-songwriter, actress, and activist from Benin.

Doobie Decibel System

On February 20, there will be an adventurous triple bill at the Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) featuring Doobie Decibel System, Reid Genauer & Folks (of Assembly of Dust) and Jamie McLean Band.

For years, Doobie Decibel System (DDS) had two configurations — DDS Duo featuring Jason Crosby and Roger McNamee and DDS Band featuring Jason Crosby, Roger McNamee, Pete Sears, Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz and Jay Lane.

At other times, there was Doobie Decibel System Trio with Crosby, McNamee and Lebowitz. The current line-up continues the evolutionary process. The DDS configuration for the show in Ardmore is the Doobie Decibel System Quartet.

“We’ve added a fourth member, which is a pretty cool thing,” said McNamee, during a phone a recent phone interview. “I think you’re really going to like what you hear. Our new member is Erica Jeski. She’s a classically trained vocalist so now we have four-part harmonies.”

The current Doobie Decibel System line-up features Crosby on guitar, fiddle and vocals; Lebowitz on lead guitar, lap steel and vocals; Jeski on vocals; and McNamee on acoustic guitar and vocals.

The band, which is based in the San Francisco Bay area, was the brainchild of Crosby and McNamee. Both musicians have impressive credentials.

Crosby has been a member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the Susan Tedeschi Band, among others. In recent years, Crosby has played with Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Carlos Santana, Pete Seeger, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews in various configurations.

McNamee is lead vocalist and plays bass and guitar with Moonalice, performing 90-100 shows a year. Additionally, Lebowitz has played or recorded with ALO, Lebo & Friends, Jack Johnson, Phil Lesh, Steve Kimock Band, and Brokedown in Bakersfield.

Moonalice has leveraged technology to help build a national audience. The Moonalice Couch TourTM on Moonalice.com enables fans to watch any show on a smartphone, PC or tablet without an app. Moonalice works with 24 poster artists to produce a unique poster that is given to guests at every concert.

Doobie Decibel System also supports the creative community by offering a commemorative poster by a well-known artist to fans at each show. Live streaming video in HD of every performance is available and archived for free listening via their website DDSband.com.

On its website, the band posted a note about the Ardmore show – “Barring unforeseen circumstances — or a technology gremlin — will intend to broadcast the concert live and in HD. The show will also be available in archive shortly after the set. Enjoy!

“At showtime, reload the page – https://www.moonalice.com/tour/2020-02-20/ardmore-music-hall — and the player below will become live.”

Doobie Decibel System’s debut album came out in 2015.

It’s fortunate for DDS that its fans are very supportive because they could listen to DDS music non-stop and never have to pay for it.

“We recorded 27 songs for that album and videos for all of them are up on our website ([http://www.ddsband.com)/]http://www.ddsband.com),” said McNamee, who lived in Delaware County for 20 years when his wife was the chair of the music department at Swarthmore College.

“We also broadcast all our shows and then archive them on the site. And, we do a different poster for every show. We’re big believers in the integration of music and art. We’ve done 1,160 posters to date

“We started Doobie Decibel System about five years ago. In the Bay Area, members of the Grateful Dead have opened clubs — Bob Weir’s Sweetwater (Music Hall & Café) and Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads.

“They changed the scene dramatically. They provided a place where musicians could do ‘friend’ concerts with the main artist and his invited friends. Because of Lesh and Weir, the city has a new level of interest for local acts.”

Doobie Decibel System bridges the gaps between generations and genres.

“With Doobie Decibel System, we’re playing psychedelic music, but it’s playing in folk music style – playing electric guitar music as acoustic folk music,” said McNamee. “We do covers of artists such as the Beatles, Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd — songs that emphasize harmonies.”

Video link for Doobie Decibel System – https://youtu.be/dkiyagFa22c.

The show at the Ardmore Music Hall will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at the venue are theNEWDEAL and Wax Future on February 21, UGO + Rheel Menn: Motown Meets The Sounds of Philadelphia on February 22 and Digable Planets and Johnny Popcorn on February 23.

On the third Thursday of each month, the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) switches from a theater for plays and musicals to a venue for comedy.

John Poveromo

On February 20, it’s time for Candlelight’s February edition of its “Comedy Club.”  John Poveromo will be the main act with Joann Filan as the opening act and Rose Vineshank serving as the emcee.

With Poveromo, who headlined a show at Punch Line Philly last July, every show is different. The comedian is likely to change his set on the spot based on the crowd and whatever is on his mind.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Toms River, Poveromo gravitated toward humor ever since he was a youngster.

“I didn’t hang out in the music scene,” said Poveromo, during a recent phone interview.

“I was much more interested in stand-up. For me, humor was a way to cope with stuff. I saw grownups coping with things with humor. I remember when I was about five and my parents were watching a video of Richard Jeni’s ‘Crazy from the Heat’ and they were laughing like crazy.

“I also really liked Robin Williams from his TV shows like ‘Mork & Mindy’ and that was another gateway to comedy for me. Then, I got into Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser and Ellen and found out they all started with stand-up. And, I liked stand-ups because they told it like it was.”

Poveromo’s knack for being funny became evident during his high school days.

“I ended up getting named ‘Class Comedian’ out of 500 kids at Toms River East High School,” said Poveromo. “My sense of humor was always about cracking jokes.

“I went to college after I graduated high school at Brookdale Community College. I didn’t want to go to college, but I had to do it because if you didn’t go to college, you were a failure.

“I left school after a year and took a stand-up course in New York. That was back in 2005. My first time on stage was at Carolines On Broadway – no pressure, right?”

Carolines on Broadway is a venue for stand-up comedy located in Times Square in New York City on Broadway between 49th and 50th Street. It is one of the most established, famous, and recognized stand-up comedy clubs in the United States.

“I was taking a risk,” said Poveromo. “I wasn’t going up with ‘five minutes of comedy that worked’ attitude. I thought – you just go on with whatever when you get onstage.

“In the beginning, I’d go up with a couple ideas. I just do my own material – whatever I wanted talk about – because I’m naturally funny.”

Since childhood, Poveromo has enjoyed making strangers laugh. He has written comedy for shows on HBO and VH1, as well as his own book, “Drawings From a Nobody,” which features his comic-strip style drawings of scenes from everyday life.

Poveromo’s perfect blend of self-deprecation and optimism makes him a dynamic and unpredictable performer who is both engaging and fun to watch as he struggles to make sense of himself and the world around him.

He can be heard on Sirius XM Radio, has been featured at the Jersey City Comedy Festival and The New York Underground Comedy Festival, and has appeared on Comcast On Demand’s “Young Comedians Showcase.”

Poveromo also has written for a variety of shows, including ESPN’s Sports Nation, Current TV’s Viewpoint with John Fugelsang, Joy Behar’s Say Anything on HLN, The Independents, and CNN Newsroom, as well as Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, Hannity, and VH1’s “Best Of” series.

“My live shows are really loose,” said Poveromo. “Spontaneity is important. Playing with the audience is also a big part of my show.

“I talk about anything that goes on in life. My favorite topics are society and how people react in social situations. Human behavior is really interesting to me.”

Video link for John Poveromo – https://www.facebook.com/ComediansOnTheLoose/videos/2135113526749144/.

Tickets are $30 and include complimentary light fare buffet, cash bar, and free parking. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and show starts at 7:40 p.m.

The Candlelight Dinner Theatre’s main production – the hit musical “Cabaret” – will have the final three performances of its run on February 21, 22 and 23.

The venue’s next Comedy Club is scheduled for March 19. The Candlelight Dinner Theatre’s next mainstage production – the murder mystery musical “Something’s Afoot” – will open on March 14 and run through April 26.

John Németh

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present John Németh on February 20, Know Retrn (A Tribute to Kansas) with Fooling Ourselves (A Tribute to Styx) on February 21,  Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles with Paul Keen on February 22, and “Films & Words – Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” with guest lecturer Shelley Kelley on February 23.

The Steel City Coffee House (203 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, 610-933-4043, www.steelcitycoffeehouse.com) will host Cumberland County and Ray Short on February 22.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will have Rhythm of Recovery

Featuring Jacob Currie and Olivia Trace with Aaron Rucker on February 21.

Living Room at 35 East (35 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, https://thelivingroomat35east.com) will host  Jon Cline Record Release Party on February 21 and Rod MacDonald and Mark Dann on February 22.

118 North (118 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, www.118northwayne.com) will have Wheelhouse on February 20, Almost There on February 21, The Bar Band featuring David Uosikkinen on February 22 and Man About A Horse on February 23.

The Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com) presents Elvin Bishop on February 21, America on February 22, Spyro Gyra on February 23 and Masters of Illusion on February 25.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will host Y&T on February 20, Gaelic Storm on February 21, Mickey Dolenz on February 22 and Liberty Comedy Presents: Carole Montgomery, Linda Belt & Nicole Korkolis on February 23.

The Grand Opera House (818 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-652-5577, www.thegrandwilmington.org) will present Gaelic Storm on February 20, Lewis Black on February 21 and Squeeze on February 22.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) hosts Drew Nugent & The Midnight Society with Burlesque Dancers on February 21 and Luke Jackson on February 22.

The Locks at Sona (4417 Main Street, Manayunk, 484- 273-0481, sonapub.com) will host C. J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band on February 20 and Carmine Yusko on February 21.

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