Musical tributes fill PPAC season
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
The new mainstage season at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center (PPAC) will commence Oct. 12 with a tribute to Carole King.
In total, there are 11 performances scheduled for the 2019-2020 season. Unless otherwise noted, all shows are to begin at 7:30 p.m.
“This is such a great, diverse season,” said Michael Bodolosky, PPAC executive director. “There is something for everyone. We’re excited to welcome back many previous performers, as well as some new ones.”
Tickets for each of these shows are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased in person at the box office inside the PPAC, at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown campus; online at www.upjarts.org; or by calling 814-269-7200. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
The Carole King show that kicks off PPAC’s 2019-2020 season of live entertainment is titled “Tapestry, The Carole King Songbook,” and it stars Suzanne O. Davis as the American singer-songwriter responsible for hits such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move.”
Davis will pay tribute to King’s musical career, during which King released 25 solo albums. Of these, 1971’s “Tapestry” was the most successful, having stayed on the Billboard Charts for over 300 weeks. During “Tapestry, The Carole King Songbook,” Davis aims to “recreate the sound and energy of a 1970s Carole King concert experience.”
Fans of “America’s Got Talent” may have seen Johnstown native Jonathan Burns audition in front of the celebrity judges this past season. On Oct. 27, he’ll bring his comedy show, “Flexible Comedy,” to the PPAC. At the end of August, Burns posted on Twitter that he’s been “flooded with requests to come home to Johnstown.”
Throughout his career, Burns has performed on a variety of TV shows, including “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” His interest in magic and entertaining people of all ages begin at the age of 12. He’s been performing ever since — juggling, stand-up comedy, contortion and sideshow stunts.
On Nov. 13, John McEuen and The String Wizards will present a concert titled “Will the Circle be Unbroken.” McEuen is perhaps best known as a founding member of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He began performing as a solo artist in the early 1960s; he plays guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin. Two years ago, Deering Banjo company debuted the “John McEuen model” in order to help celebrate McEuen’s induction into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame.
McEuen’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album was inducted into the Library of Congress. During this show, he’ll pay tribute to not only the music on this album, but also to the fans who made it a huge success.
Local singer-songwriter duo Walt Churchey and Jackie Kopco will return to the PPAC to present a new holiday show titled “Hometown Holidays” Nov. 24. Their performance is to begin at 3 p.m., and it is being sponsored by Em’s Subs.
Churchey and Kopco have been performing together for almost a decade. Their first album, “Bare,” was released in 2012, followed by the holiday album “Take Time” in 2013. Once again this year, their setlist will feature familiar holiday songs and originals. They’ll be joined on stage by some of their beloved musician-friends; together, they’ll present a holiday show meant to inspire kindness, compassion and love during the holiday season.
Two more holiday shows will take place in December: “River City Brand Band Presents: Christmas Brasstacular” and “Jim Brickman Presents: A Christmas Celebration.”
The first show is scheduled to take place beginning at 3 p.m. Dec. 15. River City Brand Band’s Christmas show has become a holiday tradition, as they’ve been bringing this show to PPAC for many years. Audiences can expect to hear Christmas carols, holiday movie music and collaborations with local choirs.
River City Brass Band formed in 1981. Ever since, they’ve been entertaining audiences of all ages; they’ve performed not only across Pennsylvania, but also New York, Michigan and Indiana. They’ve also appeared on “The Today Show” and NPR’s “Performance Today.” Last summer, they toured in Italy. This concert is being sponsored by Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber.
Brickman’s “A Christmas Celebration” is scheduled for Dec. 17. Described as an “uplifting” concert, Brickman will sing holiday favorites and his own No. 1 hits. The pianist and songwriter has 21 No. 1 albums to his name and has sold over eight million albums. The Grammy nominee and winner of gospel music’s Dove Award has performed with Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Michael Bolton, Donny Osmond, Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis and Kenny Loggins.
The mainstage season will resume in 2020 with a tribute to Patsy Cline. “Walkin’ After Midnight — A Tribute to Patsy Cline” is scheduled for Feb. 12. Carter Calvert will bring her vocal and acting talents to the stage in order to pay tribute to Cline, the country star who is known for songs such as “Crazy,” “I Fall To Pieces” and “She’s Got You.”
Calvert, who has performed on Broadway and in the Broadway show “Always . . . Patsy Cline,” will present a tribute show that is described as “captivating, charming and fast-paced.”
The Golden Dragon Acrobats are to take the stage March 5. Known as the world’s leading Chinese acrobatic troupe, The Golden Dragon Acrobats bring both artistry and athleticism to the stage.
The group has toured worldwide and has earned two New York Drama Desk Award nominations for their Broadway performances at New Victory Theater. Audiences can expect to see award-winning acrobatics, dances and elaborate costumes while ancient and contemporary music adds to the excitement of their performance.
“From Galway to Broadway Starring Ciarán Sheehan and Friends” is to be performed March 19. Sheehan last performed at the PPAC in 2016 as part of the performance by renowned tenor group Tres Voce. This performance will bring Dublin-born Sheehan back to the PPAC with an eclectic group of friends in tow; together, they will perform a variety of musical selections that show off their vocal talents.
Sheehan performed in “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway. As a solo artist, he has sold out four performances at Carnegie Hall. He’ll be joined onstage by vocalist Sarah Pfisterer (who was also cast in “The Phantom of the Opera”), solo violinist Heather Martin Bixler and multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Donahue.
On April 16, “Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll” will be presented. The cast is to include Broadway stars who have performed in popular rock musicals and have recorded with well-known rock ‘n roll recording artists. Audiences can sit back and enjoy listening to Berg tell the story of rock ‘n roll through his compelling narrative, and also with the help of five singers and a five-piece band.
Berg’s story will begin in the 1940s. The show will include fun facts, fascinating stories and the recreation of iconic performances by Church Berry, Elvis Presley, Eagles, Aerosmith and Journey.
The final show of the 2019-2020 season will pay tribute to legendary pianist and performer Elton John. “Bennie and the Jets: The Premier Elton John Tribute” is scheduled to take place May 8. Greg Ransom will sing many of John’s greatest hits — all while wearing some elaborate costumes designed to make audiences feel like they’re watching John himself.
Ransom began playing the piano at age 10. Eleven years later, he was “discovered” in a hotel bar when the owner requested an Elton John song. After he finished singing “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” the owner told Ransom that he sounded remarkably similar to John, and that’s when Ransom’s career began. Since then, he has toured throughout the world.
Please note that all shows are subject to change. Visit the PPAC website at www.upjarts.org throughout the 2019-2020 for the most up-to-date information.
“This whole season is family friendly,” Bodolosky said. “Each show makes for a great night out at a great price. It’s going to be a fantastic 28th season. This season, we like to say, ‘We’re 28 and still great.’”