On Stage: Ringling Bros. roars back to life, minus animals & clowns

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Ringling Bros.

Imagine having lost contact with a dear friend and assuming that he/she had gone away forever. Then, out of the blue, the person from the past made contact and suggested getting back together again.

That’s pretty much what happened to Maria Pontigo Lopez.

Lopez is part of The Lopez Family, one of the best and most innovative highwire acts in the world.

Beginning in 2008, The Lopez Family was one of the showcase acts in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Then, in 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had its final performance — 146 years after it was founded in rural Wisconsin.

In the 2010s, Ringling Bros. attendance plummeted, impacted by alternatives such as Cirque du Soleil and allegations of animal abuse. The latter was never proven.

Last year, the only animal that could be associated with Ringling Bros. was the phoenix, a mythical bird that returns from the dead.

In 2023, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came back to life – changing its name to Ringling Bros. and presenting a show without live animals or clowns.

The circus, which has long been billed as “The Greatest Show On Earth,” visits Philadelphia this weekend for a four-day, seven-show run from February 16-19.

“When the circus closed a few years ago, I was heartbroken,” said Lopez, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.  “We could not believe it. It was like a family tragedy.

“Last year, we got a call from them asking us to join. I said – are you serious? I can’t describe how happy I was.

“We told Ringling Bros. that we were happy to come back. It was an honor. Ringling Bros. is not for just one age group. It’s for the entire family.”

The Lopez Family is a “Triangular Highwire” act featuring Maria Lopez, her husband Jonathan Lopez, his brother Johann Lopez and fourth member Deyse Locada.

Sixth generation circus artists, the Lopez Family, which hails from Mexico and Chile, is no stranger to Ringling audiences.

After joining Ringling in 2008 as part of the “Zing Zang Zoom” U.S. Tour, the Lopez family was featured in the “Fully Charged Gold Edition” and “Super Circus Heroes” tours where they have performed daring feats of human spectacle including Highwire, Globe of Steel, and headlined the Closing Act of the entire show.

“I’m from Santiago, Chile and Jonathan is from Mexico City,” said Lopez. “I met Jonathan in 1998 and we fell in love. In 2002, we decided to get married. The Lopez show is a family show that has been around for 22 years.

“We’re in our fourth generation. Jonathan and I have three boys. The 19- and 21-year-olds are in college and the little one has one more year of high school. At some point, they will decide if they want to join the act or do something else.”

Maria Lopez is part of the only triangular highwire act in the world performing daring stunts like headstands, leapfrog, shoulder jumps and more.

The Triangular Highwire introduces a modern twist to a classic with three very thin wires connected in a triangular formation, creating the ultimate chandelier in the air 25 feet above the ground.  Four performers take on incredible feats including jumping over their partner’s shoulders and riding a bike on the thin wire – all while another performer does a handstand on top of the moving bike.

According to Lopez, the danger level is ramped up for performers with this type of set-up because the vibration from one performer’s wire can reverberate on a nearby wire.

“This is the first time ever that high wires are in a triangular shape,” said Lopez. “We’ve had the idea for more than 10 years but didn’t have the place to do it. When Ringling contacted us, we knew the time was right.

“We needed another female highwire artists. We contacted Deyse and she was super happy to be part of the group.

“The whole weight is on only one thin wire. We create a perfect balance – not just to walk but to jump rope, ride a bicycle and support another person.

“The triangular shape is more difficult than the traditional highwire with only two people. The performers have more open space and more stunts. It’s more difficult because of the vibrations that are caused by all the wires being connected.

“At one point, I’m on the wire holding my weight and Deyse is going to stand on my shoulders. At the same time, the brothers are going to be doing the same trick.

“On another trick, Johann is going to be riding two mini-cycles and Jonathan is doing the same. Both will be connected by a bridge and I’m going to go on top of the bridge. I’m going to be doing a handstand on the bridge will both of them are riding.

“On another part, I’ll be with my pole balance, and my partner will try and jump over my shoulders. As circus performers, you always want to be creating something new.”

Ringling Bros. has created a new show that is so dazzling that no one will miss the animals or the clowns.

“The show has 75 performers from 18 nationalities,” said Lopez. “One act features a three-story-high unicycle.”

There is the Double Wheel of Destiny with two spinning spheres rotating side by side that performers jump between and a Spanish troupe that specializes in Korean teeterboard dramatics.

The roster of international entertainers includes Troupe Bothers (Mongolia), Argendance (Argentina), Duo Dust in the Wind (Cuba), Equivokee Comedy Trio (Ukraine), Giulia and Mattia Rossi (Italy), and Troupe Ethio Salam (Ethiopia).

“This new edition is really cool,” said Lopez, whose husband is a supporter of Mexican football team Club America while she is a fan of Santiago club Universidad de Chile.

“There is a lot to see – new acts and new technology. The stage is totally different. The stage changes for different parts of the show. There is full activity for every moment of the show. It really is the ‘The Greatest Show On Earth.’”

Video link for The Lopez Family — https://youtu.be/ZxdhhsRHU4E.

Video link for Ringling Bros. —  https://youtu.be/UnhchhczhYo.

Ringling Bros. Circus will have performances on February 16 at 7:30 p.m., February 17 at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m., February 18 at noon and 4 p.m. and February 19 at noon.

Ticket prices start at $35.

The No Name Pops

The No Name Pops, which was founded in 2023, is a new, versatile ensemble composed of the former musicians of The Philly Pops with a mission to deliver authentic, exceptional musical experiences in the Philadelphia region. Drawing from Philly’s rich symphonic pops legacy, melding tradition with an innovative approach unbound by musical genre for concert experiences that will entertain and empower the entire community.

The No Name Pops respects the rich legacy of the music of Peter Nero, Grammy Award-winning pianist and conductor who launched Pops music in Philadelphia for over three decades. Led by accomplished conductors and featuring world-class soloists, The No Name Pops continues to captivate audiences with its vibrant and diverse repertoire.

On February 17, The No Name Pops is bringing their music outside of the city with “Broadway in the Burbs.” The concert will be performed in Alumnae Hall at Immaculata University (145 W King Rd, Malvern, nonamepops.org).

“Broadway in the Burbs” will be conducted by Broadway’s Evan Roider, with guest conductor Joe Gehring and pianist Dr. Bill Carr. The show, featuring music from “Gypsy,” “Sound of Music,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “A Funny Thing Happened” and more, will take place on February 17 at 3 p.m. Roider currently serves as Music Director/Conductor for the National Tour of “Wicked” and has also toured with “Les Miserables” and “Cats.”

Additionally, Immaculata’s Music Department Chair and Assistant Professor Joe Gehring will bring a personal touch to the performance as guest conductor for Steinway artist Dr. Bill Carr, professor of music at Immaculata, as they perform the third movement of Leroy Anderson’s “Piano Concerto in C Major.”

Serving as Music Director of the Immaculata Symphony since 2011, Gehring has infused innovative programs that emphasize music education for all ages. Gehring also conducts the Concert Band and directs ensembles like the West Chester Band and Chesco Pops Orchestra, teaches music courses, and serves as Director of Music Ministries at the Exton United Methodist Church. He holds a Master of Music Performance degree in Orchestral Conducting from West Chester University and is pursuing a doctoral degree in higher education with a focus on music performance anxiety at Immaculata.

“My brother Jack is a board member at No Name Pops,” said Carr, during a phone interview Monday morning from his home in Malvern. “They were talking about doing a fundraiser. Matt, the orchestra manager, asked if I’d like to play something. Chair Joe Gehring will conduct the piece I play.”

Carr is a Malvern guy through and through. A Malvern native, he graduated from Malvern Prep in 1968 and is currently a Scholar/Artist in Residence there. Now, he is also a major figure at Immaculata in Malvern. But he has travelled the world in his musical pursuits.

After receiving degrees in piano performance from Temple University, Carr received a graduate scholarship in the Professional Studies Program in piano performance at the Juilliard School. There, he studied with the world-renowned pedagogue, Adele Marcus.

According to Carr “I can think of no one more important to my musical development than Adele Marcus. During my 11 years of study with her, both at Juilliard and Catholic University of America, she was an inspiration, a mentor, and the most extraordinary musical figure that I would ever know. She understood each of her students individually and, in turn, inspired them to reach their potential.

“Her greatest gift for me was teaching me how to listen. I will be extremely grateful to Ms. Marcus for my years of study with her and for her warmth, friendship and love. Few musicians who are outstanding performers have the capacity to inspire students as did Adele Marcus. I think of her every day and strive to share her incredible gifts with my own students.”

During the 11 years he studied with Ms. Marcus, Carr earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from The Catholic University of America and postdoctoral performance certificates from the Munich Conservatory in Chamber Music and from the Liszt Weimar Conservatory through studies with concert pianist Paul Badura-Skoda in Germany and Austria.

“I was at the Liszt Weimar Conservatory when Weimar was in East Germany under Communist rule,” said Carr. “It was a lot different in Munich when I studied chamber music there.”

Carr has performed in Master Classes of Claudio Arrau, Joerg Demus, Leon Fleisher and Horacio Gutierrez. Mr. Carr has performed throughout the U.S. and in many European cities including solo recitals at the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in 1988, the main stage of the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall in 2002 and 2005, Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in 2003 and 2004, and Philadelphia’s Academy of Music in 2008.

As a concert pianist, Carr continues to perform with area orchestras including the Ocean City Pops Orchestra, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, the University of Pennsylvania Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Doctors Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Classical Symphony Orchestra. Because of his reputation as performer and teacher, he often adjudicates in piano juries and competitions.

In May of 2005, Carr was honored with the esteemed title of Steinway Artist. Acceptance into the worldwide Steinway Artist roster indicates not only the highest levels of musical performance achievement, but also reflects the artist’s dedication to and confidence in the Steinway piano as an instrument without equal for artistic expression and technical excellence in craftsmanship and performance.

Stating that “Steinway & Sons is proud to have named William B. Carr, DMA to its worldwide artist roster,” the Steinway organization also noted that such immortals as Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Vladimir Horowitz, Cole Porter and Sergei Rachmaninoff have been included on this prestigious roster. Today’s roster includes international stars such as Van Cliburn, Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock, Peter Nero, Roger Williams, Randy Newman and Harry Connick, Jr. – and Bill Carr.

“Immaculata became a NASM (National Association of Schools of Music) school in 1972,” said Carr, who has five degrees in music. “As a Steinway school, it has 38 Steinway pianos. It became all-Steinway in 2012.”

This weekend, Carr will use a Steinway to perform Anderson’s “Piano Concerto in C Major.”

Anderson’s première performance of the piece was with the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago, Illinois on July 18, 1953. Later, Anderson decided to withdraw the work. He did not publish or record the concerto and never performed it again. He told his wife Eleanor Anderson in the early 1970s that he wanted to rework the concerto.

Although he started to make changes to the work, Anderson died in 1975 before completing the revision. Following Anderson’s death, Eleanor Anderson brought the concerto to the attention of conductor Erich Kunzel. Kunzel performed the concerto on November 6, 1989 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

“I’m performing the third movement,” said Carr. “I came across this concerto in 2012 with the Immaculata Symphony. It’s a beautiful concerto. The third movement is very Copland-esque. There are themes that are easy listenable and themes that are thoughtful.”

“Broadway in the Burbs” will be presented on February 17 at 3 p.m. It’s a 90-minute show with no intermission.

Ticket prices are a suggested donation of $50.

In its early days, Poolside was described as “an American nu-disco and chillwave band from Los Angeles.” The band featured Jeff Paradise and Filip Nikolic.

The duo didn’t endure – but Paradise did.

The current version of Paradise will bring its “Blame It All On Love Tour” to Philly on February 18 for a show at Brooklyn Bowl (1009 Canal Street, Philadelphia, www.brooklynbowl.com/philadelphia).

Poolside’s debut single, “Do You Believe,” was released in 2011 and positively received. Dazed & Confused praised the song for its “pop-tinged disco, brimming with optimistic vocals and retro acid synths,” while NME lauded its “supremely casual decadence.”

“When Filip and I started Poolside, we thought it would be a weekend project,” said Paradise. During a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in Toronto.

“With our first two records – ‘Do You Believe’ and ‘Take Me Home’ – we were just having fun in the studio. Nothing worked all through the 20s and then the world decided that they liked it. We thought it would go away but it never did. It’s been a wild ride.”

In 2011, Poolside set out to produce appropriately chill music for summer soirees, a light but danceable kind of music with sunny vibes and liquid rhythm that Paradise dubbed “Daytime Disco.”

Since then, Poolside has released three acclaimed albums — “Pacific Standard Time” (2012), “Heat” (2017), “Low Season” (2020), “High Season” (2021) and “Blame It All On Love” (2023). It has also remixed countless high-profile acts such as Billy Idol, Jack Johnson & Milky Chance, DRAMA, Miami Horror, L’impératrice, Purple Disco Machine, Big Wild and more. Poolside has also recently collaborated with Todd Edwards, Neil Frances, Brijean and Buscabulla.

Following Nikolic’s departure in 2017, Poolside became an augmented solo project that could become a muti-player band when needed.

The current “band’ version of Poolside features Vito Roccoforte (drums), Mattie Safer (bass, vocals), Casey Butler (saxophone, lap steel, percussion, vocals), Alton San Giovanni (guitar, vocals) and Paradise (guitar, vocals, synth).

“‘Blame It All On Love’ was recorded over the course of one-and-one-half years,” said Paradise. “It wasn’t a long time. We had been working on it pretty diligently. I have a home studio in Topanga Canyon and Vito has a studio in New York.

“We started this band in 2018. It’s had a lot of twists and turns but it’s a pretty solid five-piece now. It’s great to have a band that fits.

“I mostly do it in my studio. When I need something, I call up somebody. It’s a lot different than performing live.

“When we go to rehearse, we’re like a cover band covering our own music. I write it and put it out and then decide how to do it live.”

Paradise spent the latter half of 2022 and the early part of 2023 making the record.

“I thought it would be a lengthier process,” said Paradise. “I just wanted to write music and see how it came out. A lot of the songs sounded like they’d be good for Poolside.

“I worked on some of them with my friend Ben Browning from Cut Copy. He’s just a great Macca type. It’s fun to work woth  people with different skill sets.”

Video link for Poolside – https://youtu.be/ZbTxsqCFtfI.

The show at Brooklyn Bowl on February 18 will start at

Tickets are $35.50.

Other upcoming shows at Brooklyn Bowl feature Umphrey’s McGee on February 16 and 17.

Deap Vally

Over the last 12 years, Deap Vally have amassed a large number of fans both in America and in Europe.

If any area fans want to see the veteran rock duo from Los Angeles perform live, they should make sure to attend Deap Vally’s show on February 16 at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, http://undergroundarts.org).

More than just an opportunity to see the band perform live, it will be the last opportunity to see Deap Vally — Lindsey Troy (guitars, vocals) and Julie Edwards (drums, vocals) — play. This is the duo’s final tour before it disbands later this year.

“It’s getting hard with each of us having two kids,” said Troy, during a phone interview Wednesday from a tour stop in Cleveland. “Julie wants to go back to school to get her masters. I’m going to do solo stuff.”

Edwards said, “I graduated from New York University 25 years ago. Now, I want to go back and get a master’s degree in forensic psychology.”

The tight-knit duo reminisced about the band’s origins when both were living in San Fernando Valley – the place where they grew up.

“I owned a knitting store – the Little Knittery – in Atwater Village,” said Edwards. “It’s still there.

“Lindsey came in and wanted to learn to knit. She had a tee shirt with a stain and no bra. I didn’t know what to expect. She bought something and then signed up for a class.”

Troy said, “During the lessons, there were three of us and we just would keep talking. Julie and I really hit it off. I had been a solo artist for years and wanted to play in a group.”

Music entered the picture.

“My previous project was The Pity Party with my friend Marc Smolin,” said Edwards, who went by the name Heisenflei back then.

“I wanted to do a project that was only women. Lindsey gave me her CD and it was good. I already had a project planned. I had a bass player – Ashley — but she left.”

Troy said, “When I was younger, I had a band with my sister. Julie had her shit together. We started playing together. Our first gig was at the Silverlake Lodge in L.A. in 2011.

“Making music with just guitar and drums wasn’t a challenge. I was already used to playing in a two-piece. I did learn about splitting the amps to get bigger tones.”

In July 2012, they released their first single, “Gonna Make My Own Money,” on Ark Recordings and they made their London debut in the same month. They played Latitude and Leeds Festival and Reading Festival during the summer. In August 2012, the band signed to Island Records.

Their first single on Island/Communion, “End of the World,” debuted as Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record In The World on BBC Radio 1 on October 3, 2012. In April 2013, the duo released the four-track EP “Get Deap,” which was produced by Lars Stalfors.

Deap Vally’s debut album, “Sistrionix,” was released by Island Records/Communion in June 2013.

“Sistrionix” is playing a major role on this tour which is billed as, “Live For The Last Time — Farewell Tour — Performing Sistrionix and More!”

On February 1, Deap Vally released “Sistrionix 2.0,” a re-recorded version of the band’s debut LP on the band’s own Deap Vally Records. The double LP includes demos, previously unreleased covers, re-recordings of limited release B-sides and rarities.

“We realized that we had never seen a cent from the original release of our ‘Sistrionix’ album,” said Troy.

“Island wanted to do our second record. We walked away because they wanted to reshape us into something we didn’t want to be. They wanted us to be another Joan Jett. I love Joan Jett. She’s great but we didn’t want to be another Joan Jett.

“I tried to renegotiate with Island Records on the music from ‘Sistrionix’ but got no co-operation. The only way we could honor the record was to re-record it on our own. We had to retake control over our music.”

The audiences will get a full dose of “Sistrionix” on this tour.

“The shows will have two acts,” said Troy. “The first set is ‘Sistrionoix’ in its entirety from front to back. This will be the first time for us to do this. The second act will be deep cuts and other fan favorites.”

Video link for Deap Vally – https://youtu.be/1LXexdZT4Sg.

The show at Underground Arts on February 16 will start at 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25.

Abbie Gardner has a lot of fans in the Delaware Valley and she rewards them with shows in this area every few months.

One of those perks is scheduled for this weekend when Gardner visits Chester County for a return visit to Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org)

Gardner has performed in the area in a variety of ways – as a solo act, as one-third of Red Molly and as part of a duo project with Jesse Terry.

Gardner posted this message on her Facebook page – “The Subaru is all gassed up and ready to hit the road this month. My life is forever changed by heated seats. I will hit the ground running with a live videotaped show at the Fallout Shelter in Norwood, MA on February 9. After Valentine’s Day I’m hitting up New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for shows in Brooklyn’s Art Haus, the infamous Kennett Flash, and back home to the Fox and Crow in Jersey City.”

The veteran musician has played many venues in the tri-state area and Kennett Flash is at or near the top of her list of favorites.

“I’m coming back to the Flash,” said Gardner, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from her home in Jersey City. “I really like that club. It’s a great place to play.”

Gardner, the fiery dobro player with an infectious smile toured with Americana darlings Red Molly for 11 years. The band took an indefinite hiatus in 2015, so Gardner started doing gigs with different bands, backing up her friends and stepping out into the spotlight for her own gigs.

“The first time I did a full-time solo show – a show with just me on dobro and vocals was a few years ago at Kennett Flash,” said Gardner. “Now, I’m doing a solo show again.

“The first time I did it, I had been doing solo stuff but only as part of the show. Then, I was doing a lot of solo stuff.  It was different because my guitar player Jeff Ruggieri moved to Nashville. It used to be two of us but now I’m onstage by myself – just me and my dobro.

“That gave me the kick that I needed. I was a little nervous but that’s part of the excitement. You have to go outside your comfort zone if you want to grow.

Gardner has released seven albums — “Abbie Gardner” (2000), “My Craziest Dreams” (2004), “Honey on My Grave” (2006), “Hope” (2011), “Wishes on a Neon Sign” (2018), “Live at Arcata Playhouse” (2018) and “DobroSinger” (2022).

Gardner’s latest recording, “DobroSinger,” was released May 13, 2022. It’s intimate, real and raw – her dobro and voice recorded at the same time at home, without a band or any studio tricks to hide behind. You can hear every breath, every chuckle, as if you are in the room with her.

“I recorded the album at home in Jersey City,” said Gardner. “I recorded it in my closet with Logic, two microphones and a laptop. I wanted to get live takes of singing and playing at the same time.

“Originally, I put ‘DobroSinger’ out on Bandcamp by myself – only dobro and vocals. I wanted to establish my new self.”

Gardner has been in writing mode lately.

“I’ve been getting some new songs together – including some cover songs,” said Gardner. “They can come from anywhere. I’m doing a ZZ Top cover – ‘Sharp Dressed Man.’ It lays out really well on dobro.

“I’ve been writing new songs and I’ll be playing one of them at the gig. I have a lot of songs that are in the works – a lot of first drafts.

“For me, songwriting comes in all different ways. Often, I’ll have a melody. I love when a melody comes first and then changes with the lyrics. I need to let songs come on through over time.”

There is no way Gardner will let her songwriting get locked in a recurring pattern.

“Every time I sit to write a song, it’s a different way,” said Gardner. “With ‘Burn in the City,’ I came up with the riff first. Then, I brought it to Will Kimbrough, and we put the words on. Other times, the vocal melody came first – like on ‘Three Quarter Time.’

“The biggest challenge is rearranging songs so they sound full. The exciting part is that when I play this way, I find myself wandering from one song into another. There’s more room for improvisation.

“Instrumentally, I’ll be sticking mostly to dobro. I used to do guitar, but dobro now is my main instrument. I love it. It frees me up for vocals and melodic lines.

“My main dobro was made by Paul Beard. I play a Hipshot dobro which is like two instruments in one. You can pull a lever and change the tuning. I put everything through a compressor microphone. It’s a throwback sound.”

Gardner’s songwriting has brought her much acclaim including 2008 Lennon Award Winner (folk) for “The Mind of a Soldier” and 2008 American Songwriter Magazine Grand Prize Lyric Winner for “I’d Rather Be.” Her song “Honey on My Grave” was also published in Sing Out! Magazine in 2008.

“In my set lists now, I tend to not put too many jazz tunes,” said Gardner. “I still do songs from my first solo album – ‘Honey on My Grave,’ which came out 20 years ago.

“I’m bringing three of my dobros on tour. I’ll use a National Steel Square Neck – vintage 1936. I’ll have my regular Beard model as well.”

Video link for Abbie Gardner – https://youtu.be/7ccuxKT5wMo.

The show at Kennett Flash, which has Sug Daniels as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $20.

On February 18, Kennett Flash will present Melody Trucks with the Fitzkee Brothers. Trucks is the daughter of the late Butch Trucks (founding co-drummer of the Allman Brothers Band).

On February 16, the Colonial Theater (227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, thecolonialtheatre.com/events) will present The Police Experience, globally renowned as the most authentic tribute to The Police.

Jamey’s House of Music (32 South Lansdowne Avenue, Lansdowne, 215-477-9985,www.jameyshouseofmusic.com) has a pair of attractive main stage shows on tap for this weekend.

On February 16, the Delaware County venue will present Onyx&Honey

Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

The show on February 17 will feature Slim & The Perkolators with Ryan Hartt.

Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

Every Sunday, Jamey’s presents “SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH & JAM” featuring the Philly Blues Kings. Another weekly event at the venue is the “THURSDAY NIGHT JAZZ JAM” featuring the Dave Reiter Trio.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” is an American comedy-drama film that was one of the most popular films in the 1990s – especially because of the comedic brilliance of Robin Williams.

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Williams was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

The film grossed $441.3 million on a $25 million budget, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1993.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” has remained a fan favorite for more than three decades – because it is a really funny story and because of the comedic acting by Williams.

In 2021, “Mrs. Doubtfire” had its Broadway premiere. The show closed on Broadway in May 2022 and then embarked on a National Tour in September 2023 – a tour that is the middle of a two-week run in Philly.

Ensemble Arts Philly and The Shubert Organization are hosting the First National Tour of “Mrs. Doubtfire” at the Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets, Philadelphia, ensembleartsphilly.org) now through February 18 as part of its 2023-24 Broadway Series.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” is a musical based on the 1993 film Mrs. Doubtfire, which in turn is based on the 1987 novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” follows a recently divorced actor who disguises as an elderly female housekeeper to be able to interact with his children. The film addresses themes of divorce, separation, and the effect they have on a family.

Out-of-work actor Daniel Hillard will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the kindly alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives.

As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father. This is a hysterical and heartfelt story about holding onto your loved ones against all odds.

Philadelphia local, Rob McClure, is reprising his Tony Award® nominated dual roles of Daniel Hillard and Euphegenia Doubtfire alongside his co-star and real-life wife, Maggie Lakis, who plays Miranda Hillard in the U.S. National Tour.

Another member of the cast with local connections is ensemble member Alex Ringer, who was a student at the University of the Arts.

“This is a great family show,” said Ringer, during a recent phone interview. “It doesn’t go blue and there is not a lot of harsh language.

“It speaks to families – especially the ending speech. It shows that families can still be families after divorce.”

Video link for “Mrs. Doubtfire” – https://youtu.be/jco5i0plzRo.

“Mrs. Doubtfire will run now through February 18 at the Academy of Music. Ticket prices start at $20.

There are just two weeks left to catch a performance of the Candlelight Theatre (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) production of “Hello Dolly!”

The musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Matchmaker,” which is a comic and romantic story of the exploits of Dolly Gallagher-Levi, a matchmaker and “woman who arranges things,” will run now through February 25.

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

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

The cast at Candlelight features Rebecca Schall as Dolly Gallagher Levi, Johnny Fernandez as Horace Vandergelder, Jared Calhoun as Cornelius Hackl, Neena Boyle as Irene Molloy and Shawn Weaver as Barnaby Tucker.

“Hello Dolly!” tells the story of widow Dolly Gallagher Levi, a strongminded matchmaker who arrives in New York to “help” Horace Vandergelder, a curmudgeonly and very wealthy widowed shop owner, find a new wife — while secretly plotting to marry him herself.
Meanwhile, two of Vandergelder’s comedically enriched employees leave the shop abandoned and head out to the city in an effort to find adventure. Often referred to as “Broadway’s Greatest Musical”, “Hello, Dolly!” features sweeping dance numbers, hilarious missteps, endearing chaos and, of course, love.

Schall gives a spellbinding performance in the title role – exhibiting the vocal chops and acting skills to capture the spirit of Dolly. Weaver, a Lincoln University graduate, and Calhoun sparkle in their roles as Vandergelder’s store employees from Yonkers who experience the Big Apple for the first time.
“Hello Dolly!” became one of the most iconic Broadway shows of the latter half of the 1960s, running for 2,844 performances, and was the longest-running musical in Broadway history for a time.

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

“If anything, we’re still focused on the stage version rather than the film version,” said Schall, whose television credits include “Boardwalk Empire,” “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “In Case of Emergency,” “Julie and Julia,” and “Petuna.”

“There definitely is a difference between stage and film.”

Audiences love the character Dolly, and Schall offers her take on why.

“Dolly is happy, exuberant and effusive,” said Schall. “She knows what she wants, and she goes for it. She’s a bundle of energy – and a good person.

“I bring a sense of quirkiness to the role. I agree one thousand per cent with her passion for helping others – for helping other people get better.

“One reason audiences love the show is the music. They know all the songs. The music is unbelievable – and the script is very well-written. This show is fun. It’s just a beautiful show.”

“Hello Dolly!” is running now through February 25 at the Candlelight Dinner Theatre.

Tickets, which include dinner, beverage and free parking, are $70.50 for adults and $35 for children (ages 4-12).

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