On Stage: Ellis Paul overcomes challenges to return to the stage

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Ellis Paul

When it comes to Ellis Paul’s desire to keep making music despite severe challenges, you have to give him a hand.

Paul, who will be bringing his “30th Anniversary Tour” to The Lounge at World Café Live (3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, www.worldcafelive.com) on March 25, has been battling Dupuytren’s Contracture for almost a decade.

Dupuytren’s Contracture is a painless condition that causes one or more fingers to bend toward the palm of the hand. The affected fingers can’t straighten completely.

Knots of tissue form under the skin. They eventually create a thick cord that can pull the fingers into a bent position. The condition gradually gets worse with time.

Dupuytren’s Contracture most often affects the two fingers farthest from the thumb. This can complicate everyday activities such as placing your hands in your pockets, putting on gloves or shaking hands – or playing guitar.

There’ is no cure for Dupuytren’s Contracture but treatments can relieve symptoms and slow how quickly the condition gets worse.

The affliction had settled into both of Paul’s hands in 2020. In December 2022, when he could play guitar and piano no longer, Ellis underwent successful surgery to free the fingers of his left hand. He could form chords again.

His right hand remains affected, but less so. He’s soldiering on, performing shows with the newfound thrill of being able to play again. He plans on surgery for the right hand in 2024.

“The hand is doing great,” said Paul, during a phone interview last week from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Actually, I have it in both hands. I just had one hand done and I’m going to physical therapy every day.

“It’s genetic. It’s also called Viking disease. It was pretty scary when it started getting worse.

“I had it in my right hand for about eight years. Initially, it just appeared as a callous. Then, my fingers got closed down like a fist.

“It’s not cancer but it grows like cancer and comes back 50 per cent of the time. Ronald Reagan Had it and Bill Clinton has it.

“Now that my left and is done but I can fret. I can play all the songs I’ve ever written.”

Dealing with life during the COVID shutdown and having Dupuytren’s Contracture provided inspiration for Paul’s latest album, “55,” which will be released in June.

“The first single is the title track and it’s coming out on March 31,” said Paul. “The album will be released on June 9.”

The album title – “55” – looks at what life can me like when you hit that age.

“I’m 55 and it’s about looking at the things I outlived,” said Paul. “Cassettes, milkmen, DVDs, Sears catalogues, highway maps.

“It’s also all about the things I survived. — stupid things like late night partying, strange situations with strangers, drinking a lot. I could have killed myself many times doing studio shit — but I’m still here.

“All the songs were written during COVID – with Dupuytren’s. I recorded about 60 per cent of the album at my home studio and 40 percent at Mark Dann’s studio in Woodstock. I worked with him on my last record. He has great ears.”

There are times when the trajectories of our lives can be drastically altered but what seem to be small things. Paul’s career path is a good example.

Paul, who has performed at just about every club in the Delaware Valley – including Kennett Flash in Kennett Square and Steel City Coffee House in Phoeninxville, has been a folk musician for more than 30 years. It was never something that he had planned to do.

The veteran singer-songwriter-guitarist was a top track athlete when he was younger. He was a state champion distance runner in high school. He then went on to major in English at Boston College, which he attended on a track scholarship. Paul still has one of the team’s five best times in the 10,000-meter run.

But it was track that sidetracked him. A knee injury ended his career as a runner and forced him to find another avenue to channel his energy. His girlfriend’s sister gave him a secondhand guitar and the rest is history — a history that includes more than 20 albums.

“I knew I wanted to be involved in the arts,” said Paul. “Guitar seemed to be where I fit at that point.”

Paul is recognized as one of the genre’s top songwriters — and an artist who has excelled at teaching the art of songwriting to fortunate pupils.

“Songwriting is always easy for me because I love it,” said Paul. “Sometimes, a song comes in five minutes and is pretty much done. Sometimes, a song can take five months for me to finish. They all have their own ways.

“Usually, it starts with an idea — something people say or a line from a book. Once I start, I have an idea of where the song is going. Then, I let the song go where it wants to go. Songwriting is still work but I’d rather be doing it than anything else.

“I was 19 or 20 when I started writing songs. It was in my DNA — part of who I am. I’ve always been creative — writing stories, playing trumpet, writing songs, playing guitar. When you’re young, you have these big hopes. That’s the kind of blind faith you need to keep going.

“I’m always writing new songs. I’ve also written children’s books and CD package called ‘The Hero in You.’ That was a lot of fun, but my bread and butter is my adult music.”

Video link for Ellis Paul – https://youtu.be/G49R7P2Wk2c.

The show on March 25 at the World Café Live will start at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25.

Other upcoming shows at the World Café are The Soul Rebels on March 23, WXPN Black Opry Residency Showcase on March 24, Sophie B. Hawkins on March 28 and Elise Trouw on March 29.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985, www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) continues its tradition of presenting top quality blues music this weekend.

Jamey’s House of Music is a prime destination to hear folk, jazz and blues music every Thursday through Sunday.

Bruce Katz

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.

On March 24, the headline act will be the Bruce Katz Band and the March 25 show will feature Bill Toms and Hard Rain.

Bruce Katz is a legendary keyboardist (Hammond B3 and Piano) who has released 11 albums as a leader and has appeared on over 75 other CDs with the likes of John Hammond, Delbert McClinton, Ronnie Earl, Little Milton, Butch Trucks, Duke Robillard, David “Fathead” Newman, and many, many others.

He has also had a strong musical connection with the Allman Brothers Band and was a member of Gregg Allman’s band for six years (2007-2013), Jamoe’s Jasssz Band (2010-2015), Butch Trucks’ Freight Train Band and Les Brers (2015-2017). Bruce also occasionally toured with the Allman Brothers as well. Bruce is a six-time (2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2019, 2020) Nominee for the Blues Music Award (W.C. Handy Award) for “Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year”, selected by the Blues Foundation of Memphis, TN. He won the BMA for Acoustic Blues Album of the Year in 2019 for his collaboration with Joe Louis Walker and Giles Robson for Journeys to the Heart of the Blues and is nominated again in 2020 for the same award for his acoustic piano album Solo Ride. He was also nominated for “Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” by Living Blues Magazine in 2015 and 2019.

He is a unique player and composer who combines Blues and American Roots music with elements of jazz, and improvisational rock music that creates a signature sound that is all is own.

Katz was an Associate Professor at the Berklee College of Music for fourteen years (1996-2010), teaching Harmony, Hammond organ labs, Blues History and Private Piano Instruction.

He began playing piano at age five and has a lengthy background in classical piano. After hearing a Bessie Smith record when he was 10 years old, he started teaching himself blues and early jazz on the piano. He then heard boogie-woogie and swing music and continued his musical journey into more aspects of jazz and American roots music. Bruce attended Berklee College of Music in the mid-1970s, studying Composition and Performance.

For the next 15 years, he performed with many of the leading musicians in New England, and played “on the road” for long stretches of time. In the early 1980s, Bruce played with Big Mama Thornton on her East Coast tours and this experience revived his desire to play Blues Music as a primary focus.

After a particularly long stint of touring in the late ’80s with Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, he decided to come off the road and enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Performance and studied with Geri Allen, Paul Bley, Cecil McBee, and George Russell. It was during this time that he conceived of and started writing music that became the Bruce Katz Band.

In 1992, he met Ronnie Earl, who soon invited him to join his band, The Broadcasters. During his nearly five-year stint with Earl, Katz toured the world and performed on six albums, writing and co- writing many of the tunes, such as “The Colour of Love,” “Ice Cream Man,” and “Hippology.” The album “Grateful Heart” (Bullseye) won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Blues Album of 1996.

In 1992 as well, Katz debuted his first solo album, “Crescent Crawl”, on the AudioQuest label. He released “Transformation” the following year. Just before the release of “Mississippi Moan” in 1997, his third solo album, Katz left the Broadcasters to concentrate on a solo career. At that point, the Bruce Katz Band began touring the U.S. and Europe, and has been his ongoing focus, in addition to his many other projects.

In these years, Bruce played with Duke Robillard (2001-02), John Hammond (2005 – present), Gregg Allman (2007-13), Delbert McClinton (2011-2014) and many other high profile roots, blues, and rock performers, while continuing to tour and record with his own band.

Video link for Bruce Katz — https://youtu.be/1Kohsv7EOhs.

The show on March 24 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

On March 25, the stage at Jamey’s will belong to Bill Toms and Hard Rain.

While it’s hard to put a finger on any one sound that defines “American music,” the compositions of Bill Toms are as close a template as any. The Pittsburgh native, along with his band Hard Rain, delivers a sound that takes the greatest of America’s most beloved genres and melds them into a poetic representation of the best the country has to offer. Bill Toms captures the American conscious with thoughtfulness, honesty, and a groove that keeps the tail feathers moving.

Bill Toms

Toms launched his musical career in 1987 as lead guitarist of Pittsburgh’s legendary band Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, During that period, he opened for and played with such legendary names as The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. While playing guitar, co-writing, and adding backup vocals for the Houserockers, Toms and the band recorded six studio albums and one live concert album. In 1995, The Houserockers released American Babylon, which was recorded and produced by Springsteen.

As a solo artist, Toms has opened for the likes of Buddy Guy, Levon Helm, Marshall Crenshaw, , Steve Forbert, and Dan Baird. He’s plotting a string of regional east coast dates to support “Keep Movin’ On”, as well as a full European tour in 2022.

Video Link for Bill Tomas and Hard Rain – https://youtu.be/OpBiTGNPqwA.

The show on March 24 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

Jamey’s features a popular “Guest Singer Series” on Thursday 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.

The Dave Reiter Trio lays down the backing for some out of this world jazz to happen, and you never know who might show up to join in. Reiter is a long-time jazz pro and is equally at home on the seven-string guitar, Nord keyboard or the venue’s top of the line Hammond organ setup. Bill Marconi is on drums; his name is known to jazz aficionados around the world. Holding down the bottom is first-call Philly bassist, George Livanos.

The “Guest Singer” for March 23 is Geri Oliver.

Geraldine (“Geri”) Oliver is a vocalist whose singing reaches deep down and touches your heart, taking you on a journey to a place inside your soul, called “reverie.”

With an uncanny ability to hold you captive, her instrument of voice weaves a lyrical and melodic story that colors the atmosphere with healing hues. Add the live, fluid, dynamism of jazz tones emanating from the band, and you become engulfed in a must hear and must feel, musical mosaic.

Doors open at 6 p.m. on March 23. Oliver will perform from 7-8 p.m. followed by an “Open Mic Jazz Jam” from 8-10 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge.

The “Sunday Blues Brunch & Jam” is scheduled for every Sunday from noon-3 p.m. with the host band’s set from noon-1 p.m. followed by an open mic from 1-3 p.m.

The first, third, fourth and fifth Sunday sessions are hosted by the Philly Blues Kings while the hosts for second Sunday sessions are the Girke-Davis Project.

The exciting new addition is the newly formed all-star band, the Girke-Davis Project, featuring international artist Roger Girke on guitar and vocals, Dukes of Destiny front man John Colgan-Davis on vocals and harmonica, Hammond organ ace Glenn Bickel, drummer extraordinaire Fred Berman, and Reilly on bass.

Colgan-Davis started playing the harmonica in local blues and folk clubs back in the late 1960s while he was still a high school student. He played and recorded with Philadelphia singer-guitarist Jesse Graves and played with Bonnie Raitt when she lived in Philadelphia in the early 1970s.

Through Raitt, he had the opportunity to meet and play with Mississippi Fred McDowell, Arthur Crudup, Buddy Guy, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and others. He has also jammed with James Cotton, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, Bill Dicey, and Louisiana Red.

Colgan-Davis has toured nationally and has recorded two CDs — “Cold and Lonesome on a Train” and “Heroes and Hard Times.”

Colgan-Davis and the harmonica have a long history together.

“I started acoustic harmonica when I was in high school at Philadelphia’s Central High School,” said Colgan-Davis. “Central High had a folk music club, and we had a budget big enough to being Skip James and Son House to play at our school.”

Colgan-Davis’s introduction to the blues came when he was in high school and saw the Rolling Stones performing with Howling Wolf on the “Shindig” TV show. Howlin’ Wolf, whose real name was Chester Burnett, was an American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player who was one of the premier Chicago bluesmen.

“When I saw Howlin’ Wolf on that TV show, I jumped up and said — this is what I want to do,” said Colgan-Davis. “I started playing blues when I was 16. My dad gave me a grab bag for my birthday and a harmonica was in it.

“I started listening to blues records a lot — players like Muddy Waters and James Cotton. I was really into Chicago blues of the 1950s and 1960s when I started. Then, I got into guys like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. One of the first bands I played in was a Philly blues band called Sweet Stavin’ Chain.”

A while later, the Dukes of Destiny became the main musical vehicle for Colgan-Davis. He also performs in the Two Johns with Johnny Never, who attended West Chester Henderson and graduated from Westtown School.

“Both guys – John and Roger – are regular performers at House of Music,” said Reilly, owner and proprietor of Jamey’s House of music, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

“After shows, we talked about how wonderful it would be to do something with each other.”

Colgan-Davis has been staying busy.

On March 24, Colgan-Davis will bring the Dukes of Destiny to the Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org).

The Dukes of Destiny are an exciting five-piece blues and old school soul band that has been playing the Philadelphia area for over 37 years. Their repertoire includes a mix of adaptations of blues and soul standards as well as many original compositions. They have released four recordings that get regular play on area radio stations, including WXPN’s The Blues Show.

They have also regularly appeared at many of the area’s finest clubs including Jamey’s House of Music, The Kennett Flash, The Sellersville Theater, and The World Cafe. Festival appearances have included The Philadelphia Folk Festival, The Chestnut Hill Garden and Fall for the Arts Festivals, The Turk’s Head Festival, The Paoli and Phoenixville Blues Festivals, and The River Blues Fest.

Originally an 8-piece band, The Dukes are currently a dynamic five-person band led by original member and ace harmonica player and singer John Colgan-Davis. They feature excellent instrumental work, passionate singing, and great musical interplay. They work well with an audience and get everyone involved in dancing and having a great time. The Dukes of Destiny continue to be Philadelphia’s longest lived and best loved blues band.

According to Colgan-Davis, “We are happy to return to the wilds of Chester County and to one of our all-time favorite places. Kennett Square is a great town in which to wander, with wonderful craft and food shops and a variety of great restaurants.  The Flash is a marvelous BYOB venue with great seats, room to dance, a great sound system and tasty after dinner snacks. This is our first time here since before the pandemic, so come welcome us back; we are so looking forward to enjoying the vibe and the beauty of Chester County and its people.”

Video link for Dukes of Destiny — https://youtu.be/OGUnLJLwz6I.

The show on March 24 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Other upcoming shows at Kennett Flash are Singer-Songwriter Showcase 2023 featuring Sydney Kyle, Meg Russell, Jac Conner, and Sharon Bousquet on March 25 and Jazz Jam featuring Dave Mattock on March 26.

Colgan-Davis’ weekend also includes a Two Johns show on March 25 at The Bellefonte Café (804 Brandywine Blvd, Wilmington, Delaware, www.thebellefontecafe.com).

“The Two Johns” is a duo featuring John Colgan-Davis and Johnny Never.

East Coast bluesman Johnny Never has a mission to deliver pure, unadulterated vintage blues to those who already love the blues as well as those who have never heard it. Whether solo or with accompaniment, Never has energized audiences in Northern Maryland, Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey from small bars and restaurants to music halls such as the MAC Concert Series, The Mainstay, the Kennett Flash and Jamie’s House of Music.

Never, who has also performed in variety of music festivals, delivers his take on the blues as a solo performer as well as with a duo and a trio.

Often referred to by blues enthusiasts as “the real deal,” Never pays homage to, but does not mimic, the vast array of original bluesmen that gave birth to the genre more than a century ago. He is known for his covers of artists like Son House, Robert Johnson, and Charlie Patton.

His original compositions possess the qualities of the genuine article, delivered through deft finger-style guitar work and a voice that reeks of authenticity.

These qualities have earned him recognition by blues and folk music societies from Memphis to Philadelphia. In 2014, Johnny was a quarterfinalist in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Johnny Never – a.k.a. John Dorchester — is a multi-discipline artist/creator who grew up in West Chester and attended West Chester Henderson before graduating from Westtown School.

Colgan-Davis, harmonica and vocals, started playing the harmonica in local blues and folk clubs back in the late 1960s while he was still a high school student. He played and recorded with Philadelphia singer-guitarist Jesse Graves and played with Bonnie Raitt when she lived in Philadelphia in the early 1970s.

Through Raitt, he had the opportunity to meet and play with Mississippi Fred McDowell, Arthur Crudup, Buddy Guy, Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and others. He has also jammed with James Cotton, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, Bill Dicey, and Louisiana Red.

Colgan-Davis has toured nationally and has recorded two CDs — “Cold and Lonesome on a Train” and “Heroes and Hard Times.” A founding member of The Dukes of Destiny, John also taught social studies at Friends Select School in Philadelphia for 29 years and has written articles and supplements for The Philadelphia Inquirer on Blacks in the American West, Black Literature, the History of Black Philadelphia, and other topics.

For a long time, the two Philly area blues aces were aware of each other and their talents. A few years ago, their paths came together.

“About four years ago, Johnny and I were at the same gig and started talking,” said Colgan-Davis.

“We started hanging out together. Then, I sat in with him at a mini-festival bit I can’t remember where. It was somewhere out in the country. He also had a bass player with him – Dave Young who since has moved to Colorado.”

In a phone interview, Never said, “John is a great harmonica player. I’ve been playing blues for decades and had a parting of ways with my previous harmonica player. I called John up to see what would happen.”

Colgan-Davis said, “For the past few years, we’ve been playing as The Two Johns. Our first real show was at Hummingbird on Mars in Wilmington.

“I love playing acoustic again. There are things you can do as an acoustic harp player that you can’t do with a loud band.

“Johnny is a very good picker and a great slide player. He’s also a great Piedmont Blues player.”

Colgan-Davis and the harmonica have a long history together.

“I started acoustic harmonica when I was in high school at Philadelphia’s Central High School,” said Colgan-Davis. “Central High had a folk music club, and we had a budget big enough to being Skip James and Son House to play at our school.

“With The Two Johns, we play a couple songs I played in high school – including Son House’s ‘Death Letter Blues.’ We play a lot of Piedmont Blues, ragtime and some 1920s jazz ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ a Fats Waller song. We do things I haven’t found a way to do with the Dukes of Destiny.”

Never said, “Music is about feel. When you play with somebody, you need to make sure you can connect with the feel. John’s playing works very well with old blues – especially Piedmont style. I play guitar almost exclusively acoustic. Early blues didn’t have electric guitar.

“I got attracted to early acoustic blues as a young person. It was a slow evolution. As a teenager, I heard recordings by Charley Patton and Son House. It hit me – and really stuck with me. When I was in my late 30s and early 40s, I really started working at it.”

As an adolescent, Never had a keen interest in landscape painting and filmmaking — studying painting with Nantucket artist, Warren Krebs, and filmmaking with Earl Fowler, whose famous brother, Jim, made nature films for Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.”

“I’ve had a bunch of different jobs,” said Never/Dorchester. “I started as an AFA painter and then got into commercial filmmaking from 1993-2014. Now, I’m back to being a fine artist working in oils”

He is also back to being a fine musician who has teamed with Colgan-Davis to keep early acoustic blues alive.

Video link for The Two Johns — https://youtu.be/ny2EmfXYMR0.

The show at the Bellefonte Café will run from 7-9 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

Just as last weekend marked the end of one season and the approach to the start of another, one area theater production (“SIX”) entered the final stretch of its run while another (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) kicked off a six-week run.

“SIX” is a musical that has reached legendary status in just a few years.

Now through April 9, the Kimmel Cultural Campus is presenting “SIX” at the Academy of Music as part of its 2022-2023 Broadway series, (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia,www.kimmelculturalcampus.org).

“SIX” is a British musical comedy with music, book, and lyrics by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss. It is a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII, presented in the form of a pop concert. In the show, each of the wives (Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anna of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) takes a turn telling her story to see who suffered the most because of Henry VIII.

The musical premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017, where it was performed by students from Cambridge University. “SIX” premiered on the West End in January 2019, and has since embarked on a UK tour, been produced in Australia at the Sydney Opera House in January 2020, and premiered on Broadway in March 2020.

After the break for the COVID pandemic, it officially opened at the Lena Horne Theatre in October 2021. Now, “SIX” is out on two North American national tours — the “Aragon” and “Boleyn” tours, both of which began in 2022.

“SIX” tells the story of the six wives of Henry VIII in a very different way. At the beginning of the show, the six women argue with one another as they try to claim that they had it worse. But as they listen to their stories, they open their hearts to each other and realize it’s better to stick together.

Marlow and Lucy Moss came up with the idea to create a musical based on Henry VIII’s wives while studying at the University of Cambridge – and then bring the characters to life based on the personas of current pop divas.

Catherine of Aragon, who was Henry VIII’s first wife, was married to Henry VIII from 1509-1523. Their divorce led to the creation of the Church of England. Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez inspired the Catherine of Aragon character.

Anne Boleyn, who was the King’s second wife, was married to him from 1533-1536 when Boleyn was beheaded on accusation of incest and adultery. Avril Lavigne inspired the Anne Boleyn character.

Jane Seymour, the third wife, was only married for one year, but she did provide Henry VIII with his first son, Edward. Jane Seymour died in childbirth. Adele inspired the Jane Seymour character.

Anna of Cleves was Henry VIII’s fourth wife, and they were only married for seven months in the early part of 1540. Rihanna and Nicki Minaj inspired the Anna of Cleves Six character.

Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife, married days after and were wed from July 1540 to February 1542. She was beheaded because of her extramarital affairs. Ariana Grande and Britney Spears inspired the Katherine Howard character.

Catherine Parr, the King’s sixth and final wife, got married in 1543 and stayed together until 1547 when Henry VIII passed away. Alicia Keys inspired the Catherine Parr character.

The show in Philadelphia is the “Boleyn Tour,” which features Gerianne Pérez as Catherine of Aragon; Zan Berube as Anne Boleyn; Amina Faye as Jane Seymour; Terica Marie as Anna of Cleves; Aline Mayagoitia as Katherine Howard; and Sydney Parra as Catherine Parr.

Both Pérez and Mayagoitia have Latin roots.

“I was born in Mexico City,” said Mayagoitia, during a phone interview Wednesday morning from a tour stop in Pittsburgh.

“We moved to Austin, Texas when I was 10. Then, I studied musical theater at the University of Michigan. I was also interested in comedy.

“Mexico City still feels like home. My mom is a theater director in Mexico City and I’m still very connected. I’m still a fan of  UNAM (one f Mexico’s top soccer clubs) along with the rest of my family.”

Pérez said, “I was born in Tampa. I was an Army brat and we lived in Massachusetts, Washington State, Georgia and Kentucky. New York and Florida are the main places I call home.”

For Pérez, it’s also an opportunity to integrate her Puerto Rican heritage into the role – especially with the Jennifer Lopez aspects of the role adding to the Boricua vibe.

“I first heard the ‘SIX’ album in 2019,” said Pérez. “It’s an incredible concept album. The second I heard it, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It’s a musical like no other. I get to play the role in a very concert style.”

One by one, the queens take the stage in a solo song, each wife channeling a different modern pop act as she makes the case that her trauma was the worst trauma. Even when Six’s song pairings don’t make much historical sense, they can still be fun.

“Catherine of Aragon was his first wife,” said Pérez. “The pressure of her not giving the King a male child fractured their marriage. She was a spectacular woman – very fiery. She was a badass woman. Henry couldn’t outsmart her.”

In this play, all the queens are color-coded.

“I play the King’s second wife, Katherine Howard,” said Mayagoitia. “I’m color-coded and I wear pink. The color is based on the vocals but mainly the vibe.

“The show was written by history students at Cambridge. What my queen is known for is being promiscuous — but she was groomed for it when she was 14.”

The play deals with abuse, feminism, women’s rights and the trials women faced back in the Tudor age. In that respect, it has a lot of similarities to the present time.

“Sometimes, it’s sad that a lot of things women dealt with then are still happening now – assault, harassment, problems in the workplace,” said Mayagoitia.

“It’s 2023 – why are we still putting pregnant women at risk? Looking at these problems is sad but it’s also healing.”

“SIX” is a combination of a high voltage pop music show and an intriguing history lesson.

“It’s incapable to do this show at less than 90 percent,” said Pérez. “With some Broadway shows you can do 70 per cent and it still works — not this show. Everything is high energy. We break the fourth wall.”

Video link for “SIX” – https://youtu.be/Tucw-hVaU3o.

“SIX” will run from March 21 through April 9 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices start at $35.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) had opening night for its production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” – a show that will run through April 29.

The show is billed as “A musical presented in the form of a series of vignettes, connected by a central theme of love and relationships. Everything you have secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit! For mature audiences. Adult content.”

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is a musical comedy with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music by Jimmy Roberts. It is the second-longest running Off-Broadway musical. The musical was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award as Outstanding Off-Broadway musical in 1997.

The musical premiered Off-Broadway on August 1, 1996 and closed on July 27, 2008, after 5,003 performances. It was first produced in the town where playwright Joe DiPietro was born, Teaneck, New Jersey. This production ran from February 24 to March 12, 1995 at the American Stage Company Theater.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is presented in the form of a series of vignettes connected by the central theme of love and relationships. The play’s tagline is “Everything you have ever secretly thought about dating, romance, marriage, lovers, husbands, wives and in-laws, but were afraid to admit.”

With few exceptions, the scenes stand independent of the others, but progress in a fashion designed to suggest an overall arc to relationships throughout the course of one’s life. A first date, for example, comes before scenes dealing with marriage, and scenes dealing with marriage come before those dealing with childbearing.

Despite the large number of characters, the show is typically done with a comparatively small cast: the original Off-Broadway production uses a cast of four.

The production at the Candlelight features a standout cast of Jessica Ball, Jared Calhoun, Tori Healy and Max Redman.

“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” is running now through April 29. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $69.

This weekend, The Crossing (www.crossingchoir.org) will present a concert featuring the world premiere of Martin Bresnick’s “Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished.”

On March 24, it will be a world premiere with PRISM Quartet at Church of the Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square presented by Penn Live Arts.

The Crossing is conducted by Donald 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 120 commissioned premieres address social, environmental, and political issues. With a commitment to recording its commissions, The Crossing has received several Grammy Awards for Best Choral Performance.

According to Nally — Martin Bresnick has taught many, many of The Crossing’s composers – Michael Gordon, Julie Wolfe, Judd Greenstein, David Lang, Michael Gilbertson, and on and on…. We’ve spent years performing their works. Finally, we have a new work from their mentor.

“Self-Portraits 1964, Unfinished” features settings of Melville, Hopkins, Joyce, and Hardy  with Bernd Franke’s “On the Dignity of Man.”

A co-commission with PRISM Quartet; a joyful reunion, revisiting our combination of saxophones and voices in a work that sets the two groups in a sustained, engaging dialogue, as Martin ponders his life from the vantage point of age.

The work has a refreshing trajectory; though it begins in a dark place (Herman Melville broods and lays his wisdom writing on us), it gradually moves from dark to light (James Joyce has a dream of young love, and birds remind us of dawning days); there is more life to come, more songs to sing.

The program opens with a shorter work of Bernd Franke, “On the Dignity of Man,” setting an excerpt from Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s De hominis dignitate (1486/87). Bernd places the two complementary, breath-dependent ensembles of saxophones and voices in highly contrasting languages. The saxophones are earthy and uber-rhythmic, while the voices have a certain freedom and declamatory flexibility, reflecting the free-will granted the first human.

Video link for The Crossing — https://youtu.be/cQ8R_jCivyI.

The show on March 24 will start at 7 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Church (Rittenhouse Square, 1904 Walnut Street). Tickets are $40.

The mission of Piffaro, The Renaissance Band (www.piffaro.org) is to delight audiences with historically informed performances of music from the late Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque periods, in the manner of the civic, court and chapel wind bands, which existed roughly between the years 1450-1650.  We aim to entertain and educate others in the music itself, in its role in the culture of those periods, and in its link to music of our day. To that end we conduct extensive research and inquiry into the music, history, and performance practices of the Renaissance period. Our ever-expanding instrumentarium includes shawms, dulcians, sackbuts, recorders, krumhorns, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion — all careful reconstructions of instruments from the period.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Priscilla Herreid, the world renowned pied-pipers of Early Music present an annual subscription concert series in the Philadelphia region that also reaches an international audience online; tour throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and South America; and appear as performers and instructors at major Early Music festivals. Recordings are a significant part of the ensemble’s work, and 18 CDs have been released since 1992, including 4 on the prestigious label Deutsche Grammophon/Archiv Produktion.

From March 24-26, Piffaro is presenting “In-Person: Music from Austrian Court and Countryside” with special guest Matthew Glandorf on organ.

Audiences will be able to travel back in time to the Austrian cities and villages that resounded with music in the 16th century. They can enjoy the fruits of a flourishing musical community of composers, from little known masters of sacred and secular forms to famed composers of the illustrious court of Archduke Ferdinand II.

As a special treat, Glandorf rekindles the spirit of celebrated organist and improviser Paul Hofhaimer, “First Organist to the Emperor.”

The playlist features compositions by Heinrich Isaac, Alexander Utendal and Jacob Regnart; four-part ​​Gesellschaftslieder; and Italian dances including the Balletto Austria Gonzaga.

Video link for Piffaro — https://youtu.be/rOUGT5eZMz4.

The concert on March 24 will be held at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral (19 South 38th Street, Philadelphia) at 7:30 p.m. The concert on March 25 will be held at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill (8855 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia) at 7:30 p.m. The concert on March 26 will be held at Christ Church Christiana Hundred (505 Buck Road, Wilmington, Delaware) at 3 p.m. Ticket prices for all three concerts start at $29.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 North High Street, West Chester, www.uptownwestchester.org) will present Better Than Bacon on March 23, Sharon Sable on March 24 and Alexandra Kay on March 25.

Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, www.ardmoremusic.com) will have Countdown to Ecstacy on March 23, Quinn Sullivan and Veronica Lewis on March 24, Splintered Sunlight on March 25, Dustbowl Revival on March 29, Avery Sunshine on March 30 and Shawn Mullins and Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams on April 1.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present The Furious Bongos on March 23, Boris Garcia on March 24, Mikey Junior on March 25, Hotel California on March 28 and 29, Marcia Ball and Tinsley Ellis on March 30, Spyro Gyra on March 31, EXTC on April 1, Leo Kottke on April 2 and Chris Knight on April 4.

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