On Stage: Linda Gail Lewis makes long awaited return to area

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Linda Gail Lewis

It’s been almost a year to the day since Linda Gail Lewis had a show scheduled show in the area.

On August 22, 2021, Lewis was slated to perform in Kennett Square at Kennett Flash’s Rooftop Series.

The shows in that series were staged on a rooftop of a parking garage in downtown Kennett Square.

Lewis and her band of local all-stars were all set to perform when Mother Nature stepped in.

“We didn’t get to play the Kennett Flash show,” said Lewis, during a phone interview Monday from a tour stop in Branford, Connecticut. “The show got rained out. I felt bad for the people who bought tickets.

“But it was in the middle of a really grueling tour. In a way, I was really happy the show got cancelled because I was so tired. I thought to myself – thank God for the rain.”

Now, Lewis, who is the younger sister of rock/country/rockabilly legend Jerry Lee Lewis, is coming back to the area on August 25 when she brings her “Family Jewels Tour” to Dobbs on south (304 South Street, Philadelphia, www.eventbrite.com/e/linda-gail-lewis-danny-b-harvey-annie-marie-lewis-the-family-jewels-tour-tickets-403760296917).

Joining her on stage and as a supporting act will be her daughter Annie Marie Lewis and son-in-law, Danny B. Harvey. Both are also part of her upcoming release, “Family Jewels,” on Cleopatra Records. “Family” Jewels is a live recording and DVD that captures a powerful 2015 performance to a 10,000-person audience in Arzon, France. The DVD will be available for purchase in October and is available for pre-order now.

“I’m so excited,” said Lewis. “I’m 75 now and never really had a record company that believed in me.”

Lewis’ most recent album was made with Robbie Fulks and released in 2018.

“Without us having a record company, Robbie had to put out his own money for the album. Now, I have a record company that really believes in me – and promotes me. For a long time, different record companies just worked with me because of my brother’s name.”

If Jerry Lee Lewis is “The Killer,” then Linda Gail Lewis is his accomplice – his partner in crime.

Their “crime” is making roof-raising music – top-caliber, rockabilly, country, rock-and-roll, boogie-woogie music.

Linda Gail is Jerry Lee’s sister, and both are rockabilly royalty. Additionally, country star Mickey Gilley and gospel artist Jimmy Swaggart are her cousins.

“My brother’s name is so big, and I have a reputation of doing his kind of music,” said Linda Gail Lewis. “I do his kind of music and some Elvis and some Texas rockabilly. I’ve been working really hard on it for the last 34 years.”

Cleopatra Records brought Lewis on board not because of her family heritage but rather because of the exciting and refreshing music she makes.

“Cleopatra Records has been around for a long time,” said Lewis. “Brian Perera (founder of the label) even came to see me play in a small club in Palacios, Texas. It was a small dive, and I was playing with my trio.

“We recorded the album at a festival in France in front of 10,000 people. The festival had a big sound truck and a film crew with four cameras. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever done in my life – maybe the best.

“My son-in-law Danny B. Harvey has been working with Cleopatra for a long time. They were doing a tribute album to the Cramps and brought me in to do a song. It was a thrill.”

Lewis has been making music for a long time – a really long time,

“I started my solo career when I was 40 when I left my brother’s band. I’m 75 now. The Lord has blessed me with good health and the ability to keep playing my music.”

Lewis is an American singer, songwriter and pianist. She has recorded with Stephen Ackles, Van Morrison, Robbie Fulks, and, of course, her brother, Jerry Lee Lewis. She also has recorded with her two daughters, MaryJean Ferguson and Annie Marie Dolan, in a group called the Lewis 3.

Like her brother Jerry Lee, Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Linda Gail Lewis soaked up the sounds of hillbilly music and rhythm and blues in the rural areas of Louisiana. The siblings grew up in Ferriday, Louisiana.

“I was always singing at home when I was young,” said Lewis. “I first came onstage with my brother when I was 10 years old in a concert he played with Johnny Cash in Monroe, Louisiana.

“We lived in Ferriday and music was always in our family. From age 14 on, I was always on the road with Jerry Lee.”

In addition to having her brother as an influence, Lewis also drew inspiration in the early days from Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, and Lavern Baker. Her official recording debut came when she performed as Jerry Lee’s duet partner for Sun Records in 1963 on a song called, “Teenage Letter.”

Recording with her brother, she scored a Top 10 country hit in 1969 with a version of Carl and Pearl Butler’s “Don’t Let Me Cross Over.” A rousing duet remake of Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven,” a staple of her act, followed it onto the charts the same year.

The Lewis duo’s 1969 Smash LP “Together”, featured their rowdy duet style on a variety of country standards and rockers. This led to Lewis’s debut solo album for the label, “The Two Sides of Linda Gail Lewis” in 1969. Lewis also won an ASCAP award for her song “Smile, Somebody Loves You,” a Top 40 country hit in 1972.

“I stopped touring with my brother’s band in 1977,” said Lewis. “I wanted to take time off to have a family. I came back in 1987 and then started on my own in 1997.”

Lewis is a popular touring act in the states and an extremely popular touring act in Europe – especially Scandinavia. Top-flight rockabilly acts always draw well across the European continent.

“I always try to tour Norway and Sweden in the summer,” said Lewis. “I also play a lot in Denmark and Finland – and quite a bit in Germany and Austria. And I do festivals in France.”

England also figures in the picture.

Lewis met Van Morrison at a Jerry Lee Lewis convention in England. After a sound-check jam session, Morrison proposed the collaboration, which resulted in the Pointblank/Virgin duet album, “You Win Again,” which was released in 2000.

In 2014, Lewis met rockabilly guitarist Danny B Harvey (Headcat, Rockats) who introduced her to Lanark Records. During four extremely creative days at Lanark Studios in Lancaster (PA), Lewis, Harvey, and her daughter Annie Marie Lewis, along with producer/bassist Quentin Jones and drummer Blair King cut 12 tracks for an album called “Hard Rocking Woman,” which was in 2015 by Lanark Records.

In 2018, Lewis recorded a duo album with Grammy nominated singer/guitarist Robbie Fulks. It was recorded and produced by Robbie Fulks who wrote most of the songs.

“Robbie is a great songwriter and a really great producer,” said Lewis. “And he’s a great entertainer.

“I do some writing. I just wrote my new single – a pandemic song called, ‘Oh Pandemic.’ I usually have one or two originals on each album.”

Lewis also spoke about her brother Jerry Lee, who is recovering from medical problems.

“He’s doing really well and almost completely recovered from the major hemorrhagic stroke he had,” said Lewis. “He’s living in Southaven, Mississippi, which is just outside Memphis. “He’s doing so well. I think he’ll go back onstage – but not with the heavy schedule he used to have.

“Myself, I am touring a lot. Sometimes, I do have a set list. Most of the time, I just go on and play. I choose the songs by the reaction I’m getting from the songs I’ve played.”

Fortunately for Lewis’ fans, a new album is on the horizon.

“We’re doing an album in October,” said Lewis. “I’m doing a lot of new songs. This will be my first studio album for Cleopatra.”

Video link for Linda Gail Lewis — https://youtu.be/8pl5n4-81EA.

The show at Dobbs on south on August 25 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) is presenting Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars Experience on August 27.

Best Friend’s Girl recreates the timeless hits of The Cars, whose 35-year career featured more than 23 million albums sold and more than 22 songs on the Billboard top 100.

The Cars carved out their own niche in pop music with hits such as “Best Friends Girl,” “Shake It Up,” “Magic,” “Let’s Go” and “Moving in Stereo” (which gained attention from its placement in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”).

Best Friend’s Girl is comprised of professional musicians whose goal is to keep the music of The Cars alive with every performance.

Video link for Best Friends Girl — https://youtu.be/LRPohN3hc-c.

The show on August 27, which has Roberta Faceplant as the opener, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com)

is a prime destination to hear folk, jazz and blues music every Thursday through Sunday.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

The headline acts this weekend are DRIVETIME on August 26 and a twin bill on August 27 featuring Deni Bonet & Chris Flynn and Bruce T Carroll.

DRIVETIME, known for making original jazz music, features Bernie Capodici (Congas/Percussion/Producer), Jimmy Dell’Orefice (Keys), Gene Terramani (Guitar), Nick Terramani (Bass), JJ Zeller (Drums).

The band’s new single, “Un Domani Migliore (A Better Tomorrow),” was released on April 29. It features contributions from Philly’s legendary saxophonist Andrew Neu.

Video link for DRIVETIME — https://youtu.be/8IfC4SMoKbg

The show at Jamey’s on Friday will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Deni Bonet

Deni Bonet is a U.S. born singer/songwriter, electric violinist, and multi-instrumentalist. Bonet has performed and recorded with Cyndi Lauper, R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan and many others. Her previous appearances include Carnegie Hall, The Great Wall of China, the United Nations, and the White House for President Obama and President-elect Biden. She has recently been a soloist with the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Pops of Long Island, and the Danbury Community Orchestra.

For the past several years, Bonet has been touring in the U.S. and Europe. She was awarded a grant in 2019 through the Arts Envoy Program of the U.S. Government to spend a month’s residency in Africa teaching violin, songwriting, and rock ’n roll at a music college in Zanzibar. She also performed concerts for the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Bonet has released several CDs of her own music, including the critically acclaimed “Bright Shiny Objects” on Sony/RED.

Video link for Deni Bonet — https://youtu.be/AOyCCY_kE6I.

The show at Jamey’s on Saturday will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

The “Thursday Night Jazz Jam” and the “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” are regular features on Jamey’s calendar while Friday and Saturday night shows feature national and regional acts.

Jamey’s has started a popular “Guest Singer Series” featuring many of the best singers in the region performing a set from 7-8 p.m. with the backing of the Dave Reiter Trio and occasional guest musicians.

This week’s featured performer on August 25 will be Maci Miller. The show will start at 8 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.

“Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” is a favorite of Jamey’s regulars because Jamey Reilly and his band the Philly Blues Kings (www.phillyblueskings.com) are the performers each week.

The Philly Blues King are a veteran outfit comprised of David Reiter on guitar, keyboards and vocals, Maci Miller on vocals, Bill Marconi on drums and vocals and Reilly on bass guitar. They have performed together for 15 years (except for Miller) and are the house band for Jamey’s House of Music. They are well known for tight, jazz inflected classic blues.

Reiter performs on a seven-string guitar and Reilly plays a fretless five string bass and that sets the group above the ordinary. The three veteran musicians have each spent decades playing the blues professionally and have backed many well-known national artists. Maci Miller, an internationally recognized jazz singer based in Philadelphia, joined the Blues Kings and quickly established herself as a top-flight front woman.

Video link for Philly Blues Kings — https://youtu.be/bAnBVLc7Wsg.

The show at Jamey’s House of Music on August 28 will start at noon. Admission is free.

At The Gates, a Swedish death metal band headlining a show on Union Transfer (1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, www.utphilly.com) on August 28, disbanded in 1996 – not long after the group released its fourth album, “Slaughter of the Soul.”

Back then, no-one would have believed you is you had said that At The Gates would be touring in 2022 – and playing all the songs from “Slaughter of the Soul.

But that’s exactly what is happening right now with the band from Gothenburg, Sweden.

The band — Tomas Lindberg (Vocals), Jonas Björler (Bass), Martin Larsson (Guitars), Adrian Erlandsson (Drums) – was a five-piece when it disbanded with Anders Björler (Guitars) as the fifth member.

“Anders caused the breakup in 1996 and we didn’t want to go on without him,” said Larsson, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Lawrence, Kansas. “We kind of felt bad – all those years with no closure.”

At The Gates broke up in 1996, reformed in 2007 for a reunion tour before breaking up once again in 2008. Then, they got together and reunited for a second time in December 2010. Since then, they have stayed the course as a recording act and a killer live band.

“In 2007, Anders contacted us because he was the guy who left the band in ’95,” said Larsson. “He wanted a proper closure for the band. So, we got together.

“We went on tour in 2008 and played some newer songs. “After that, everyone stayed in music and did his own thing. We stayed in contact and were friends in the years that followed.’

Eventually, At The Gates resumed touring and recording. When the band came back to life a few years ago, the result was its first album in 19 years — “At War With Reality.”

“In 2014, we made that new album,” said Larsson. “It was fun, but it also was intense. It was our first time to record together in 19 years.”

“At War With Reality” ranked high in the majority of metal media’s 2014 year-end lists, earning “Best Metal Album of the Year” at iTunes (USA/UK), plus a nomination for a Swedish Grammy (“Grammis”) in the category “Best Hard Rock / Metal Album. It also received the National Swedish Radio “P3 Guld” award and the Swedish independent music award “Manifest.”

The band entered the studio to begin recording an album in November 2017, titled “To Drink from the Night Itself,” which was released through Century Media Records in May 2018. At the Gates released their seventh studio album, “The Nightmare of Being,” in July 2021.

“‘The Nightmare of Being’ was recorded during the pandemic,” said Larsson. “We recorded the drums in November 2021 in a studio in Stockholm and then did the guitars at King Diamond’s studio. The vocals were done in Gothenburg. Then, we did strings and other overdubs in a studio in the middle of Sweden.”

“The Nightmare Of Being” was released last summer worldwide via Century Media Records. It scored impressive chart entries worldwide upon initial release in July such as: Germany: #8, Austria: #18, Switzerland: #12, Sweden: #20, Sweden (Physical): #1, Sweden (Vinyl): #1, Sweden (Hardrock/Metal): #2, The Netherlands: #77, Belgium: #84, Finland: #21, Finland (Physical): #5, UK (Rock): #3, USA (Current Hard Music Albums): #1, USA (Current Rock Albums): #4, USA (Current Album Sales): #14. USA (Album Sales): #28.

American audiences will get to hear some of that album played live for the first time on this tour.

“We’re playing ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ in its entirety,” said Larsson. “We’ll also play some older songs and some newer ones at the start. Then, we’ll walk off and come back a few minutes later to play ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ from start to finish in the order of the album.”

Video link for At The Gates — https://youtu.be/oNKxMkHavAw.

The show on August 28 at Union Transfer, which has Municipal Waste and Enforced as opening acts, will start at 9 p.m. Tickets are $35.

Other upcoming shows at Union Transfer are Peter Hook & The Light on August 26, Los Campesinos on August 26, Boris & Nothing on September 1, and Movements on September 7.

When folk-pop singer/songwriter Lauren Balthrop headlines a show at Zoetropolis (112 North Water Street, Lancaster, www.zoetropolis.com) on August 30, it will be a significant event.

Balthrop, who has been performing and recording for more than 20 years – solo, as part on the Bandana Splits, under the pseudonym Dear Georgiana and as part of the band Balthrop, Alabama –has never played a show in Philly or southeastern Pennsylvania.

Now, she is visiting the area on a support tour for her new album, “Things Will Be Different.”

“The new album came out on August 12,” said Balthrop, during a phone interview Monday en route from Nashville to a tour stop in Boston.

“It was recorded during the pandemic. We did the tracking in October 2020 and then did more tracking last year. And we actually did it in person.

“We formed a COVID pod. We stayed masked indoors and nobody got COVID. We were all vaxxed for the second session. At the time of the first session, there was no vaccination. We recorded it at Chicken Shack – a studio in a big open-air barn.”

“Things Will Be Different” is a dynamic folk-pop collection of 11 songs that examines nostalgia in all its brutal and benignly beautiful forms. The album came out two weeks ago via Nashville’s newly minted Olivia Records.

The album was produced by Nick Kinsey (Waxahatchee, Kevin Morby) and features musicians Ellen Kempner (Palehound), David Lizmi, James Paul Mitchell, Matt Combs, Jared Samuel (Invisible Familiars), Matthew Douglas (Mountain Goats), Kevin Copeland, Steven Bernstein and Maya DeVitry.

“Nick Kinsey is a pretty well-known drummer,” said Balthrop, who now lives in Nashville. “We travelled around together in 2019. We also lived in the same part of Brooklyn.

“I wrote some of the songs prior to the pandemic. Th others were written from March 2020 to October 2020. There definitely was some influence by COVID on the songs on an interpersonal level.

“There was definitely an element of reflecting on the past – nostalgia for past memories and hope for the future. Things will get better.”

A career as a singer/songwriter was not something Balthrop initially envisioned.

“I grew up doing theater,” said Balthrop. “I also took music lessons and watched my brother play with his band.”

Born and raised in the south, Balthrop has lived in Mobile (AL), Brooklyn and Nashville, developing a distinctive, folk-infused style that blends a mellow, downtown lucidity with pangs of Southern charm. She began playing music at an early age, drawn to the gypsy swing style popularized by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, who inspired her to take up violin.

She later gravitated toward artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who influenced her narrative songwriting style and penchant for open guitar tuning. She took voice and piano lessons, sang in the church choir, taught herself to play guitar, and actively participated in musical theater.

“I studied theater at Florida State University and then moved to New York,” said Balthrop. “When I got to New York, I lost interest in theater. Instead, I was in my brother Pascal’s band – Balthrop, Alabama.

Prior to moving to Nashville, Balthrop lived in Brooklyn for more than a decade and was a member of numerous bands (Balthrop, Alabama / The Bandana Splits / Elizabeth & the Catapult / and Dear Georgiana). She sang on records by Bob Weir, Kevin Morby, Benjamin Booker, and Elizabeth and the Catapult. In recent years, she has toured and performed with Kevin Morby, Lucius, Sara Bareilles, Bob Weir, Benjamin Booker and Michaela Anne over the last few years.

“On this tour, it’s just me and a guitarist – James Mitchell from Nashville,” said Balthorp. “We’re touring on a co-bill with Violet Bell.”

Video link for Lauren Balthrop — https://youtu.be/s8WbpmbGYB8.

The show at Zoetropolis on August 30 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Opera Philadelphia (www.operaphila.org) is getting ready to embark on its 2022-2023 season. In addition to live performances, the season will include a multi-day film festival devoted to opera.

When Opera Philadelphia’s renowned Festival O returns this September for the first time since 2019, it will spawn a new film festival within the opera festival, composed of some 30 cinematic operas over 12 screenings at the Philadelphia Film Center.

Patrons can get their first look at the new season with a special concert on August 25 at Dilworth Park’s Greenfield Lawn (1 South 15th Street, Philadelphia).

Opera Philadelphia and East Passyunk Opera Project (ePOP) will present a concert starring soprano Ashley Marie Robillard (Musetta in 2019’s La bohème), tenor Aaron Crouch (Gondolier in September’s production of Rossini’s Otello), and baritone Benjamin Dickerson, accompanied by pianist Aurelien Eulert.

The performance, which is free and open to the public, will start at 6 p.m.

Attendees can also stop by the Air Grille for a bite to eat or a cold beverage, including this year’s opera-themed beer, Hopera Philadelphia, a hazy IPA from Conshohocken Brewing Company.
Opera on Film, presented from Tuesday, Sept. 27 through Sunday, Oct. 2, is a big-screen binge of the operatic art form’s cinematic possibilities, gathering both feature-length and short-form films featuring an array of artists crossing time and genres: artist and director William Kentridge; opera singers Patricia Racette, Karen Slack, Zachary James, Lester Lynch, and NBC’s The Voice finalist John Holiday; film directors James Darrah, Pedro Almodóvar, Joseph Losey, Mary Birnbaum, and E. Elias Merhige; composers Tyshawn Sorey, Rene Orth, Missy Mazzoli, Terence Blanchard, Paola Prestini, and Amanda Feery; drag superstar Sasha Velour; actress Tilda Swinton; and pop superstar Beyoncé.

According to David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia. “As we return to Festival O, we’ve created a series to celebrate this unprecedented period of artistic achievement by performers, directors, and opera producers across the globe, screened alongside classic opera films and films inspired by opera. Whether you’re an opera buff or a film buff, “Opera on Film” is six days of binge-worthy art that we can experience together on two screens at the Philadelphia Film Center, the city’s premiere hub for film.”

The company received more than 800 submissions to Opera on Film via FilmFreeway. Opera Philadelphia chose 20 official selections to screen alongside special presentations and films.

Audiences can enjoy the entire series for just $25 with an Opera on Film badge. Festival packages, film badges, and performance tickets are now on sale at operaphila.org, or by calling 215.732.8400 (Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Tickets for individual film screenings will go on sale through the Philadelphia Film Center box office in September.

Some of the featured films are “Soldier Songs,” “The Human Voice,” “Rumspringawakening,” “Don Giovanni,” “TakTakShoo,” “The Copper Queen,” “Polia & Blastema,” “Carmen: A Hip Hopera,” “La voix humaine,” and “Obscura Nox.”

Video link for Opera Philadelphia — https://youtu.be/ttPH-2Tnj-s?list=PLpbhbGwbWvNKh_AzHTw-Mnvz7cPhwHE24.

There are two good productions of Broadway shows in the area that are well worth seeing – but remember…”if you snooze, you lose.”

This is the final weekend for both shows.

“Dear Evan Hansen,” which is billed as a “deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it,” is making its Philadelphia premiere at the Forrest Theatre (1114 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, www.kimmelculturalcampus.org) now through August 28.

This touring production is being presented by the Shubert Organization in partnership with the Kimmel Cultural Campus.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is a musical with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and a book by Steven Levenson. The musical follows Evan Hansen, a high school senior with social anxiety “who invents an important role for himself in a tragedy that he did not earn.”

The musical opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in December 2016 and received critical acclaim. At the 71st Tony Awards, it was nominated for nine awards, winning six, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor for Ben Platt, and Best Featured Actress for Rachel Bay Jones.

The Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of “Dear Evan Hansen” was released in February 2017 and made an extraordinary debut on the Billboard 200 — entering the chart at #8, the highest charting debut position for an original cast album since 1961. A remixed cover of “Waving Through a Window” can also claim a rare first for a Broadway show – as a number one hit on Billboard’s Dance Club chart.

Basically, Hansen is a geeky high school student who spends much of his time in front of a computer screen – cut off from the world. His mother is on his case all the time – exhorting him to interact with his peers.

In the summer prior to his senior year, Hansen broke his arm and had to start the school year wearing a cast. His mom suggests that he gets people to sign the cast.

At the same time, Hansen is assigned by his therapist Dr. Sherman to write letters to himself detailing what will be good about each day. His overworked mother Heidi suggests that he ask people to sign the cast on his arm to make friends. Meanwhile, Cynthia and Larry Murphy struggle to connect with their son Connor, a sullen drug user.

The only one to sign the cast was the school bully Connor Murphy – mockingly in big letters that leave hardly any room for other signatures.

Hansen wrote a letter that expresses his loneliness. He printed the letter out in school but Murphy grabbed it from the printer tray and refused to give it back.

Days later, Hansen is called to the principal’s office, where Murphy’s parents tell him that their son had died by suicide. They found Hansen’s letter in their son’s pocket, and mistakenly believe it was written by their kid — indicating a close friendship between them. Murphy’s signature on his cast strengthens that belief despite Hansen’s fumbling attempts to explain.

The Murphys invite Hansen to their house for dinner, where he is awkward and uncomfortable, so he tells them what he thinks they want to hear, pretending that he and their son had secretly been best friends.

The plot then deals with how the lie continued to grow.

Hansen spends an increasing amount of time with Murphy’s family — fabricating details about his “friendship” with Murphy. The Connor Project is launched, along with a fundraiser to create a memorial space in an orchard.

The National Tour cast features Anthony Norman as Evan Hansen, Alaina Anderson as Zoe Murphy (Connor’s sister and Evan’s crush), Colleen Sexton as Heidi Hansen (Evan’s sister) and Lili Thomas as Cynthia Murphy.

In a recent interview, Thomas said, “Audiences really relate to this show. There is a character in this show for everybody to relate to. The message of this show is mainly about connection.”

Video link for “Dear Evan Hansen” — https://youtu.be/6GzU40h_kO8.

The show will run now through August 28 at the Forrest Theatre. Tickets prices range from $59-$177.

The Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting an all-time classic musical as its fourth production run of 2022. The lively comedy “Sweet Charity” is running now through August 28.

“Sweet Charity” is a musical with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Dorothy Fields and book by Neil Simon. It was directed and choreographed for Broadway by Bob Fosse starring his wife and muse Gwen Verdon alongside John McMartin.

It is based on the screenplay for Federico Fellini’s 1957 Italian film, “Nights of Cabiria.”

Besides the obvious major change of resetting the story from Rome to New York, the biggest change is Cabiria/Charity’s occupation. Cabiria is a “hooker with a heart of gold.” This had to be softened for American musical audiences in 1966, so Charity works instead as a taxi dancer at the Fandango Ballroom.

In the early 20th century, men could go to dance halls and pay to dance with the woman of their choice, usually for 10 cents a song (thus the famous Rodgers & Hart song “Ten Cents a Dance.”) However, by the1960s, taxi dance halls were not nearly as common. It’s suggested, at least in “Sweet Charity,” that most of the women who were still taxi dancers were willing to do more than just dance, if the price is right.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1966, where it was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning the Tony Award for Best Choreography. The production also ran in London’s West End as well as having revivals and international productions.

The musical was adapted for the screen in 1969 with Shirley MacLaine as Charity and John McMartin recreating his Broadway role as Oscar Lindquist. For Bob Fosse, who directed and choreographed, the film was his feature-film directorial debut.

The production at the Candlelight features stellar performances by Phoebe Gavula on the title role of Charity Hope Valentine. The other main character — Oscar Lindquist – is performed admirably by Jared Calhoun.

Other key performers are Gabrielle Impriano as Helene, Beth Dugan as Nickie, Tess Sinatra as Carmen, JJ Vavrik as Herman, Joe Falcone as Vittorio Vidal, and Rebecca Schall as Ursula March.

The production at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre is directed by Jessica Bostock with choreography by Jody Anderson and musical direction by Christopher Tolomeo.

“Sweet Charity” is running now through August 28.

Tickets, which include dinner, non-alcoholic beverages and free parking, are $65.50 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) is presenting The Real Diamond on August 27 and Jazz Jam on August 28.

Concerts Under the Stars (Upper Merion Township Building Park, King of Prussia, concertsunderthestarskop.com) will present Devon Gilfillian on August 25, Brett Dennen on September 14, David Bromberg on September 23, and The Wailers on September 30.

Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts (9 South Bryn Mawr Avenue, Bryn Mawr, brynmawrtwilightconcerts.com) will present The Dirty Grass Players on August 28.

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