On Stage: ‘Hairspray’ returns to Delaware Valley

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


Prior to May 2022, it had been more than a decade since “Hairspray” went on a National Tour and played a run in the area. The show, which is filled with fun numbers and poignant messages, is a delight that shouldn’t be missed.

The National Tour touched down at the Miller Theater (formerly the Merriam Theater) in Philly in May. Now, it’s back to visit Delaware.

The Playhouse on Rodney Square (1007 North Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware, www.thegrandwilmington.org/venues/the-playhouse/) is presenting “Hairspray” from December 1-4.

The show’s 20th Anniversary is this year, and this is the first time “Hairspray” has toured since 2009. The show’s messages of inclusivity are as timely and relevant as ever, whether it be about self-acceptance and body positivity or the resonance with the experiences of people of color today.

“Hairspray” started out many years ago as a John Waters movie – a typically off-beat Waters piece that eventually became a cult favorite.

Set in 1962 in Baltimore, Maryland (Waters’ hometown), the production follows teenage Tracy Turnblad’s dream to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on the real-life Buddy Deane Show.

When Turnblad wins a role on the show, she becomes a celebrity overnight, leading to social change as she campaigns for the show’s integration.

In 2002, the musical version of “Hairspray” made its debut at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Two months later, it opened on Broadway to rave reviews and went on to win eight 2003 Tony Awards – including “Best Musical.” It ran for 2,642 performances and closed on January 4, 2009.

“Hairspray” has also had national tours, a West End production, and numerous foreign productions. It was also adapted as a 2007 musical film. The London production was nominated for a record-setting eleven Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four, including “Best New Musical.”

The show is a lavish production with great singing, sparkling dance routines, top-notch acting and colorful sets and costumes. It is also a thought-provoking story that is set in the early 1960s and deals with prejudices against blacks and fat people.

The story has a lot of messages – especially about discrimination and desegregation. But it’s not a heavy show – it’s a feel-good show. The main thing is that people have a good time when they come to this show.

Turnblad, an overweight teenager with all the right moves, is obsessed with the Corny Collins Show. Every day after school, she and her best friend Penny run home to watch the show and drool over the hot Link Larkin, much to Tracy’s mother Edna’s dismay.

After one of the stars of the show leaves, Corny Collins holds auditions to see who the next person on the Corny Collins show will be. With all of the help of her friend Seaweed, Tracy makes it on the show, angering the evil dance queen Amber Von Tussle and her mother Velma.

Tracy then decides that it’s not fair that the black kids can only dance on the Corny Collins Show once a month. With the help of Seaweed, Link, Penny, Motormouth Maybelle, her father and Edna, Turnblad sets out to integrate the show.

The cast will be led by Greg Kalafatas as Edna Turnblad, Niki Metcalf as Tracy Turnblad and Sandie Lee as Motormouth Maybelle.

“I’ve been with the show since last year – including the Philly stop in May,” said Kalafatas, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Durham, North Carolina.

“I saw the original cast on Broadway in 2002. I was in college at the University of New Hampshire at the time and was in New York for spring break.

“I really loved it. I loved the score – especially since I listened to a lot of oldies when I was young. When I saw the Broadway production, I thought – I could do that show. I wanted to do Edna, but I was too young at that time.”

Now, 20 years later, that is not a problem.

“Edna starts off the show not comfortable in her skin – not comfortable with her weight,” said Kalafatas, whose previous National Tour experience includes “Something Rotten,” “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.”

“At the top of the show, she is a little brash – not happy with her life. The thing I like about her is to see the journey of accepting herself and how she looks. Also, she is an endearing tender mother.”

Asked what he likes most about “Hairspray,” Kalafatas replied, “Everything, honestly. It’s a really well-constructed musical and a fun comedy. It’s fast-paced and the costumes are great. Overall, it’s just a really good show.”

Video link for “Hairspray” — https://youtu.be/1wO6h8AuOks.

This new touring production reunites Broadway’s award-winning creative team, led by Director Jack O’Brien and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell.

“Hairspray” will run through December 4 at the Playhouse. Ticket prices start at $48.

On December 1, the Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting the December edition of its monthly Candlelight Comedy Club.

Carole Montgomery

The headliner is Carole Montgomery, and the feature is Linette Paladina. The emcee is Justin Gonzalez.

“I’m originally from Brooklyn,” said Montgomery, during a phone interview Tuesday evening from her home in New York.

“I went to Brooklyn College and decided it wasn’t for me. I started doing theater when I was 20 and comedy when I was 21.

“I started comedy in 1979. There were no open mics. It was very different from the way it is now.

“At first, I did audition night at a comedy club called Pits. Eventually, I became a regular at Catch a Rising Star. Then, I went to Who’s On First and was a regular there.

“I lived in New York and was doing comedy there most of the early 80s. I moved to L.A. in 1987 and that’s when comedy started to explode. I worked in L.A. and also went on the road.”

When a family addition arrived, it altered the course of Montgomery’s comedy career.

“I had a son in 1992,” said Montgomery. “I got a residency in Las Vegas when he was four. There were burlesque shows in Vegas, and I was the comic. I was in ‘Crazy Girls’ at the Riviera and ‘Midnight Fantasy’ at Luxor. I was the comic and then there were the dancers.

“After Vegas, I moved back to New York. It’s been 15 years now. Around the time I reached 50, I realized standup was a young people thing. When I was 54, I started to teach and developed a show – ‘Funny Women of A Certain Age.’”

“Funny Women of A Certain Age” premiered on the Showtime Network in March 2019. It made history as the first TV comedy special to feature female comics over the age of 50.

“For TV specials, I use women over 50,” said Montgomery. “When I tour the show, I use women over 40.

“I try to keep work for older women. There are more than 100 female comics over the age 50 and more than 500 over the age 40. For my shows, I try to rotate three women including myself.”

A few months ago, Montgomery played the Sellersville Theater with “Funny Women of A Certain Age.” At the Candlelight, it will be a solo show.

“I don’t do politics in my show,” said Montgomery. “I want to make people laugh. Laughter is the one thing that can unite people.

“My show is a lot about life. When I first started, I was a single woman, so I talked about dating. Later, I got married and I talked about being married. Then, I had a son and I stuck to family life.

“What’s interesting is that back in the day, I was considered blue. I’m not considered as edgy now. I haven’t changed but the environment has.”

Gonzalez, who is a stand-up comedian and magician, is a local Renaissance Man. He is an independent musician based in Philadelphia who travels throughout the tri-state area and beyond.

Gonzalez, who began performing professionally at the age of 11, now performs with a repertoire that includes classical, big band, Broadway and opera. Most recently, he added a new genre when he assumed the role of lead vocalist for “33 1/3 LIVE’s Killer Queen Experience.”

“I’m originally from Northeast Philly,” said Gonzalez. “I went to school in South Philly at GAMP.”

The Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP) is a college preparatory school for students in grades 5 through 12 that provides a unique educational environment, focusing on college and career readiness, while allowing all students to pursue music as a major subject.

“I was at GAMP for eight years,” said Gonzalez. “I studied voice and instruments starting with lower brass. Voice was a large chunk of it. I got my first professional performance in Europe.”

At the age of 13, Gonzalez was asked to join a chorus as a soloist on its two-week tour of Germany and France. On that trip, he had the opportunity to perform in many castles, mansions, and historic houses of worship. The most memorable moment for him was singing in the Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris, France.

“It was amazing,” said Gonzalez. “I was 13 and I was singing at the Cathedral Notre Dame. I was just a poor Puerto Rican kid from North Philly, and I was singing in places like a castle in Germany and a cathedral in Berlin.”

After years of laying the groundwork for a promising career as an opera singer, Gonzalez was diagnosed at the age of 18 with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. One of the symptoms of MS is memory loss. His opera career was over just as quickly as it began.

“It affected my brain’s ability to memorize,” said Gonzalez. “I still sing classically at venues around the East Coast and on Broadway.”

Today, 20 years since that first tour, Gonzalez is still a sought-after classical music soloist. He is also a practitioner of the American Song Book and the music of Broadway. He uses all of this music to entertain, educate, and share his story.

“I also have several music projects,” said Gonzalez. “There is the Little Big Band Lounge Revival, which does lounge and popular standards along with classic love songs, and the Justin Gonzalez Jazz Trio, which is a pop trio that uses classical instruments.

“There is also ‘33 1/3 LIVE’s Killer Queen Experience.’ And I also sing with the Philadelphia Chorus.”

Video link for Carole Montgomery — https://youtu.be/A3FSKozxNHg.

Video link for Justin Gonzalez — https://youtu.be/kNtcF4Z5aqQ.

The Show at the Candlelight Theater on December 1 will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, which include complimentary snacks, iced tea, lemonade and coffee, are $30. There will be a full-service bar open throughout the show.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is just beginning performances of its annual tradition of presenting a holiday production.

Now through December 23, The Candlelight is presenting “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.”

The successful song-and-dance act of army buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis follow a duo of singing sisters en route to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander. Filled with laughter, romance, spectacular dance numbers and the unforgettable songs of Irving Berlin, it’s clear to see why this is a holiday favorite for the whole family.

Now through December 4, “Tina – the Tina Turner Musical” is running on Philadelphia’s Kimmel Cultural Campus at the historic Academy of Music. This engagement is hosted by the Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization.

“Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” is a jukebox musical featuring the music of Tina Turner and depicting her life from her humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, to her transformation into a rock and roll star. It is the story of the life journey of Anna Mae Bullock.

Anna Mae Bullock was born on November 26, 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee and was the youngest daughter of Zelma and Floyd Bullock. Two years after her mother left the family, her father married another woman and moved to Detroit in 1952. Bullock and her sisters were sent to live with their maternal grandmother, Georgeanna Currie in Brownsville, Tennessee.

Bullock and her sister began to frequent nightclubs in St. Louis and East St. Louis. She first saw Ike Turner perform with his band the Kings of Rhythm at the Manhattan Club in East St. Louis.

Bullock was introduced to the public as Tina Turner with the single, “A Fool In Love,” in July 1960. It reached No. 2 on the Hot R&B Sides chart and No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100. After the release of “A Fool in Love,” Ike created the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which included the Kings of Rhythm and a girl group, the Ikettes, as backing vocalists and dancers. He remained in the background as the bandleader.

Anna Mae Bullock was on her way to a roller coaster ride of a music career as Tina Turner.

Now, Turner’s life and career is being celebrated with “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical.”

The Broadway production opened in November 2019 and was nominated for 12 Tony® Awards, including Best Musical. The production reopened at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in October 2021 following the 18-month industry wide shut down due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

The cast is led by Naomi Rodgers (Frozen) and Zurin Villanueva (The Lion King, Mean Girls, Shuffle Along, The Book of Mormon), who will evenly share the role of Tina Turner, each playing four (of eight) performances a week. Also starring are Garrett Turner as Ike Turner, Roz White as Zelma Bullock, Ann Nesby as Gran Georgeanna, and Lael Van Keuren as Rhonda.

The production at the Academy of Music has a great story – and great music performed by highly talented actors. The sets are colorful and inspiring, and the audience responds energetically to such classic hits as “A Fool in Love,” “Proud Mary,” “Private Dancer,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “We Don’t Need Another Hero” and, of course, “(Simply) The Best.”

According to Tina Turner, “It has been years since I toured the U.S., and I am very excited that my own musical can now bring my music and story to my fans in their home cities across America. It’s a homecoming and that is very special to me.”

Video link for “Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” — https://youtu.be/Q4xlsuaZ6To.

“Tina — The Tina Turner Musical” is running now through December 4 at the Academy of Music.

Ticket prices start at $20.

People’s Light (39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, peopleslight.org) is presenting “Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto,” which is running now through January 1, 2023.

Each year, the People’s Light holiday panto transforms a beloved children’s story into a musical extravaganza filled with outrageous characters, toe-tapping original music, slapstick comedy, and topical humor for both kids and adults.

The beloved holiday tradition returns to People’s Light with the world premiere of “Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Panto.” The show, which is directed by Bill Fennelly, features book by Jennifer Childs and music and lyrics by Alex Bechtel.

People’s Light has adapted the theatrical form of British pantomime into its own unique brand of holiday hilarity. Audiences of all ages gather to partake in the songs, dances, topical jokes, and jovial camaraderie of this longstanding tradition.

This year, People’s Light is welcoming two Philadelphia icons to the panto family — comedy legend Jennifer Childs writes the book and award-winning drag performer Eric Jaffe is the audience’s new guide through the magical mayhem – and two veterans — Bill Fennelly, who also directed 2019’s “Little Red Robin Hood,” and composer/lyricist Alex Bechtel, who penned the music and lyrics for 2016’s “Sleeping Beauty” and has appeared as an actor in multiple past pantos.

The People’s Light panto is entertainment for the entire family, and the audience is part of the action.

“It’s a family event,” said Childs, during a phone interview last week. “It has something for all ages. There are opportunities in panto for audience interaction. There are contemporary references. It keeps it very live.”

The show at People’s Light will run now through January 1. Ticket prices start at $47.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is bringing live theater to its stage with a rarely seen production of “The Butterfingers Angel.”

The official opening night for the comedic show is December 3. The show will run through December 23.

Created by William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), one of America’s major dramatists, this touching, funny and highly imaginative retelling of the Nativity story is presented from a fresh and richly creative point-of-view.

The action follows a free-spirited Mary who had decided that men and marriage were not for her, a suddenly cautious Joseph who contends that he is too old for his intended, and a flustered boy-angel who directs each scene from a prompt book and can only manage to get the most strangled, bleating sounds from his trumpet.

Enhanced by a talking tree, sheep and a donkey, along with traditional Christmas music, this wholly original theatre piece is both secular and sacred – often antic, but the spirit of reverence, joy, and the true significance of the occasion is never lost.

Ticket prices start at $40.

Dar Williams, who will be performing on December 2 at City Winery (990 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, citywinery.com), is out on support tour – but not a tour in support of a new album.

Williams has been touring in support of a newly released book, “How To Write A Song That Matters,” which was released on September 9 via Hachette Books.

The veteran singer/songwriter will be live at City Winery in Philadelphia this weekend for an all-request show.  Fans can request songs here — https://tinyurl.com/59hny6n8.

“I had a really busy fall,” said Williams, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from her home in New York’s Hudson Valley. “I was all over the country. These are my last few shows of the year.

“I put out my latest book in September and then did a book tour all fall. I did concerts because it’s a book about songwriting. A big theme of the book is that we all have a song we could write. I did three-hour workshops in four or five cities.”

“The last time I was in the studio was 2020 and I put the album out in 2021. I don’t think I’ll be going back in the studio for a while. I don’t have an album yet. But I’m always courting inspiration. I have five or six songs I’m working on currently.”

Williams, who has recorded more than 20 albums, released her most recent album, “I’ll Meet You Here,” in October 2021 on BMG’s recently launched Renew label. Her most recent album prior to this was “Emerald,” which came out in 2015.

“There was a gap between albums because I did a book,” said Williams, a well-respected speaker/author/singer-songwriter.

“After I released ‘Emerald’ in 2015, I stopped writing songs for a while. I didn’t start writing songs again until 2017. Then, I recorded ‘I’ll Meet You Here’ in 2019.

“I was going to release it in 2020. But because of the pandemic, I moved the entire release up a year. It was just a year off and now it’s really full out.

“I recorded the album in North Jersey at a studio near Weehawken with producer Stewart Lerman. The core of the recording was done in a couple weeks in November 2019. Then, I did an intensive week in January 2020 with Stuart Smith, who plays with the Eagles.

“I sent a scratch track of the title song to Larry Campbell in Woodstock. I wanted to do it as a duet with bassist Gail Ann Dorsey and Larry Campbell.”

Campbell produced the track and played guitars, pedal steel and twangy baritone guitar. Later, they had to postpone a mid-March mixing date because Campbell said he wasn’t feeling well anyway which turned into a serious case of COVID-19.

“I had a schedule conflict, so we had to postpone the mixing date with Larry for day,” said Williams. “He was getting really sick and then found out he had COVID. He got very sick with COVID. We were very lucky because if we had done the mixing session, a lot of people could have contracted the disease.”

Despite encountering some speed bumps along the way, Williams finally able to put the album out.

“The album officially came out on October 1,” said Williams. “We had a few singles that came out prior to the album release and that helped.”

The album has 10 songs including nine originals.

One song isn’t her own, but she loves the melody and message of “Sullivan Lane,” a retro-poppy tune about finding kindred vulnerable spirits. It was written by one of her neighbors – Philadelphia native Joziah Longo, leader of one of America’s most underappreciated folk-rock bands Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

Even when Williams isn’t focusing on music, she still stays very busy.

“I just taught a college course at Wesleyan University,” said Williams, who also handles the duty of being as mother to a young child. “Teaching at a university was great. I’ve also done some songwriting retreats and that’s been great too. I like to have different avenues rather than just recording and touring.”

One of those avenues has been writing books. Williams published two young-adult novels with Scholastic in the mid-2000s, along with a green blog for Huffpost, before she tackled her urban-planning study, published in 2017 – “What I Found in a Thousand Towns: A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities — One Coffee Shop, Dog Run & Open-Mike Night at a Time.”

In that book, Williams muses on why some towns flourish while others fail, examining elements from the significance of history and nature to the uniting power of public spaces and food. Drawing on her own travels and the work of urban theorists, Williams offers real solutions to rebuild declining communities.

“What I Found in a Thousand Towns” is more than a love letter to America’s small towns, it’s a deeply personal and hopeful message about the potential of America’s lively and resilient communities.

“It’s not a memoir,” said Williams. “It’s what I had seen from tours in my travels at towns that had found a way to be resilient – hometown pride and a world welcome. I followed that thread and tried to figure out what it was.

“I call it ‘positive proximity’ – a state of being in a town where people know that living side-by-side is beneficial…that the more they follow that proximity, the better life can be.

“I wrote about how to build positive proximity, how to maintain the benefits of positive proximity and how to sustain positive proximity.”

In her book, Williams looks at two area towns – Phoenixville and Wilmington.

“The Phoenixville chapter is about what happens when a town digs into its history and builds on that,” said Williams. “It is a town that has become a vibrant place because of that. The Wilmington chapter is about waterfronts – about how towns can come back to life by developing their waterfront areas with parks, restaurants and public spaces.”

Williams headed in an entirely different direction on her new book, “How To Write A Song That Matters.”

“I wanted to write a book that was written by a performing songwriter,” said Williams. “There is a broad and magical way that songs live in the world. Songs bring people back to times in their lives with new eyes.

“I’ve been doing all-request shows to go along with the book. It’s been fun. Usually, all the requests are in a few days before the show but there are times I’ll play a request that was handed in on a cocktail napkin at the show.

“I have gone back and relearned a lot of songs. It’s nice to see that songs I thought weren’t popular were wanted by people. I play some deeper cuts and some that are really familiar to me. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Video link for Dar Williams – https://youtu.be/4-0tPKPbypk.

The show at City Winery on December 2, which has Jesse Terry as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $35-$55.

If you want a living musical example of “less is more,” then you should attend Yarn/Wire’s upcoming Bowerbird concert on December 2 at 8 p.m. at University Lutheran Church (3637 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia,

The percussion and piano quartet, which is based in Queens, New York, will be performing the Philadelphia premiere of “curvo totalitas” by Catherine Lamb.

In “curvo totalitas,” which is written for two synthesizers, steel sheet, and tam tam, Lamb creates a sound world that is at once meditative and intense, focusing the listener’s attention on the resonant metals played by the percussionists. The two keyboard players act as live sound engineers, creating introspective melodies and slowly changing colors drawn directly from the percussion instruments’ sounds.

The Yarn/Wire quartet features Laura Barger, synthesizer; Julia Den Boer, synthesizer; Russell Greenberg, percussion; and Sae Hashimoto, percussion.

“We formed in 2005,” said Barger, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Queens. “We still have two original members – Russell Greenberg and me.

“The group started when four of us were grad students at Stony Brook University in Long Island. We were all working on our own masters and doctoral projects.

“We found each other when working on late 20th-century and 21st century compositions. We started with just student recitals.

“Two composers we came together rover were Steve Reich and George Crumb. Reich was centered around percussion.”

Like all musicians, Yarn/Wire had to adapt to life during a pandemic.

“We had no performances during the pandemic,” said Barger. “It was sad because we had several 15th anniversary events scheduled and those events couldn’t take place.

“The two new members came on after COVID. We still kept busy. We did present a web series called, ‘Feedback,’ It featured 50 episodes on Livestream.”

“Feedback” arose out the uncertainty that existed for performers and presenters about the state of artistic programming and educational activities during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In order to address this in a constructive way that would have an impact beyond the virus, Yarn/Wire decided to produce its own online web series that centered on the process of making new music.

“We average two or three live performances a month,” said Barger. “Sometimes, it’s more. We just came back from a European tour where we did 12 performances in 14 days.”

Yarn/Wire previously performed the 45-minute piece “curvo totalitas,” which means “curved totality,” back in 2018 at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. The on-stage audience sat in six tight rows with a musician at each of the corners of the square formed by the rows. The synthesizer players were placed catty-corner from percussionists. The music was intended to be heard from within its geographical middle.

The two keyboard players act as live sound engineers, creating introspective melodies and slowly changing colors drawn directly from the percussion instruments’ sounds. The shimmering expansiveness of the piece provides space for audiences to enjoy a highly personal listening experience, finding moments of calm or tension in any given moment.

“Performing in a square is definitely the goal,” said Barger. “It should be a surround-sound experience. There is no improvisation. Everything is specifically notated for the piece.” Video link for Yarn/Wire — https://youtu.be/11LBfmirlvA.

The show at University Lutheran Church on December 2 will start at 8 p.m.

In consideration of the ongoing pandemic and the safety of those in our community, Bowerbird is requiring all audience members, staff, and performers to wear a mask while inside the venue (please note that musicians will have the option to perform without masks once on stage).

Ticket prices range from $12-$20.

On December 2 at the Keswick Theater (291 N. Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 215-572-7650, www.keswicktheatre.com), there will be a show featuring a “Battle of the Bands.”

But it won’t just be any bands – it will be the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (sort of). The show is billed as “Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown.”

The debate between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has been going on ever since they first crossed paths on the charts 55 years ago. The argument at the time, and one that still persists, was that the Beatles were a pop group, and the Stones were a rock band.

According to Beatles fans, the Stones had no class. According to Stones fans, the Beatles had no balls.

In a modern-day alternate universe, these two legendary bands will engage in an on-stage musical showdown courtesy of tribute bands Abbey Road and “Satisfaction – The International Rolling Stones Show.”
Taking the side of the Fab Four is Abbey Road, one of the county’s top Beatles tribute bands. With brilliant musicianship and authentic costumes and gear, Abbey Road plays beloved songs spanning the Beatles’ career.

With their tight harmonies, flawless note for note renditions of Beatles hits, custom–tailored costumes, vintage instruments, Liverpudlian dialect and precise attention to every detail, Abbey Road has honed their show to become one of the most musically and visually satisfying Beatle tribute acts in the world.

Abbey Road recreates the magic, music, wit and charm of the Beatles, including the Fab Four’s cheeky personalities, familiar onstage banter and patter between songs.

“Both bands on this show are separate functions entirely,” said Axel Clarke, Abbey Road’s Ringo, during a phone interview Tuesday from his home in Long Beach, California.

“We’re from Southern California. A few years ago, we experimented with a Beatles vs. Stones show but didn’t find what we were looking for here.

“We decided it was a good project. We searched for the best Stones cover band and got this band — Satisfaction – The International Rolling Stones Show – to come to SoCal. Now, we’ve been touring with them for six years.”

“Satisfaction – The International Rolling Stones Show” presents a faithful rendition of the music and style of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the bad boys of the British Invasion. This touring tribute show to the Rolling Stones is entering its 19th year in production with more than 3,500 performances to date.

Performing up to 150 shows a year, this music act showcases the most authentic cast and costuming of its kind. The lineup of Stones tribute performers brings a colorful performance to more than 50 years of classic hits. The cast now has four successful projects including “A Symphony For The Devil” and “Beatles vs. Stones-A Musical Showdown.”

The project was put together by Chris LeGrand, who also plays the role of Mick Jagger.
“This is the 21st year for ‘Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Tribute Show,’” said LeGrand, during a recent interview.

“I put the show together in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It took a while to find the right group of musicians. So, it started small as a night club act. Now we do 125-150 shows a year so it’s a very demanding schedule. I never saw a Stones show doing 100-plus shows a year.”

The bands alternate time on stage as the ‘battle’ evolves – each with three mini-sets.

“The Beatles had three distinct eras,” said Clarke. “The first was the Ed Sullivan time up to the ‘Rubber Soul’ album. The second was ‘Sgt. Peppers’ and the third was the era of ‘Abbey Road’ and the ‘White Album.’

“With the pandemic, we’ve had more than a year off, so we’ve updated some songs and worked on our multi-media show.

“It’s still broken into three eras but there is a whole lot of stuff to cover. With the downtime, we’ve tried to mix and match songs. We’ve got some new more things we’re doing – new stuff from each era.

“As a Beatles fan, I think – what would I want to hear. We play hits and deep cuts. We try to strike a balance between what is wanted by hard-core fands and casual fans. Beatles filler is like any other band’s greatest hits.”

“Satisfaction/The International Rolling Stones Tribute Show” looks at the Stones career from the early 1960s to the start of the 1980s.

“Our first set in the 1965 era with Brian Jones in the band,” said LeGrand. “The next set is 1969-1972 – the Mick Taylor years. The third part is the Ron Wood era from 1975-1981.

The show offers fans a chance to travel back in time to London in the 1960s and 1970s. During the two-hour show, the bands perform three sets each, trading places in quick set changes and ending the night with an all-out encore involving both bands.

According to LeGrand, “Music fans never had a chance to see the Beatles and the Rolling Stones perform on the same marquee. Now, music aficionados can watch this debate play out on stage.”

Video link for “Beatles vs. Stones – A Musical Showdown” — https://youtu.be/ibGtk0WbDbY

The show at the Keswick will start at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $38.50.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting The Cartoon Christmas on December 6, and The Last Big Band Holiday Show on December 20.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is hosting Dead Flowers on December 3, and Bryan Tuk Project on December 10.

Phantom Power (121 West Frederick Street, Millersville, www.phantompower.net) will have Local H on December 3, Maya de Vitry on December 9, and Aunt Mary Pat on December 29.

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