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Queen tribute headed to Symphony Hall in Springfield

March 31, 2012
(As originally seen on MassLive by Keith O'Connor)

Gary Mullen never got to see his musical hero Freddie Mercury and the enigmatic band he led perform live.

Now, for those who also missed seeing the popular British rockers on stage, Mullen has transformed himself into Mercury creating the show "One Night of Queen" with his band The Works.

On Wednesday, Mullen will bring his popular tribute show – now celebrating its 10th anniversary – to Springfield's Symphony Hall.

"We'll be putting on a two-hour long, live rock concert, and we do our best to create what it was like to be at a real Queen show ... all the excitement and energy. And we try to get the audience involved as much as possible, clapping, dancing and going crazy, pretty much as they did back then when Freddie was with them," Mullen said.

Queen was formed in 1971 and in 1973 signed a recording contract with EMI releasing their first self-titled album. One of the world's best-selling musical acts, Queen released some 18 albums spawning an equal amount of hit singles including "We Are the Champions," "We Will Rock You," "Another One Bites the Dust," and many others. The band originally consisted of Freddie Mercury on lead vocals backed by band members Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor.

Considered by critics as one of rock's most versatile performers, Mercury is most often remembered for his flamboyant style as the band's front man and for his mock operatic masterpiece, "Bohemian Rhapsody."

On Nov. 23, 1991, Mercury announced to the world in a prepared statement that he had AIDS, then died at home the next day surrounded by family and friends.

"I never got the chance to see Queen live. They were the total package, great accomplished musicians who wrote amazing songs and who had a front man with an amazing vocal range. Freddy could be singing in a football stadium or a smaller theater, and wherever you were sitting in the audience, it felt as if he was singing directly to you. Their stage productions always had a 'wow' factor to them and they were one of those bands who were more exciting to see live," Mullen said.

Mullen's career as Freddie began 12 years ago, when his wife and mother secretly entered his name into the popular Granada television reality show called "Stars in Their Eyes."

He sang Queen songs and won the final competition, polling 864,838 votes, more than double the runner up and setting the all-time record for votes on the show. As the top winner, Mullen was featured in the "Stars in Their Eyes" video, compact disc and book, and he has represented the United Kingdom on "Euro Stars in Their Eyes."

After the television experience, Mullen performed as a solo artist and the positive reviews he received encouraged him to go on to create "One Night of Queen" forming his band The Works.

For the past five years, Mullen and his band have performed over 150 shows each year around the world. Mullen was personally invited by Brian May to attend the Queen and Paul Rodgers show in Cardiff and was introduced to May backstage after the show.

"After Freddie passed away, I had the opportunity to meet a few of his friends and get a take on the man himself. He was totally unsurpassed as one of rock's front men. He had the ability to not take himself too seriously with his costumes and all. He had an amazing voice and connection with his audience, and while he was very lively on stage like a party animal, offstage he was quite shy. You wouldn't have even known he was in the room," said Mullen said.

Mullen also stays busy recording voiceovers for radio, television and computer games. He is currently recording an album of original material with songwriting partner Barry Kelly.

View the original article here.

Country Royalty Review

March 29, 2012
(As originally seen on In the Spotlight by R.E. Smith)

"Country Royalty" is billed as a 'tribute" show, but it is more than just a standard greatest hits review. In addition to singing the "role" of Hank Williams, Sr., performer Jason Petty acts as lecturer, evangelist, and unabashed admirer of the "Father of Country Music." Consequently, the show succeeds on many levels.

Dedicated fans are obviously quite pleased with Petty's portrayal, lavishing him with generous applause, as if he was the legend himself. The uninitiated come away with a richer understanding of a talented man with the added bonus of a toe-tapping soundtrack. Williams was influenced by and wrote in a variety of styles, from honky-tonk rave-ups to spirituals. Even those who are not country music fans have undoubtedly heard "Hey Good Lookin', "Move It On Over" or 'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".

In an unusual twist on the tribute show format, the second half, focusing on Patsy Cline, is also narrated by Petty, albeit as himself. Carolyn Martin's remarkable voice is well suited to all of Cline's hits, from "Walking After Midnight" and "Crazy" to "Sweet Dreams." In fact, her strong voice seems to be taxing the sound system at CityStage to the limits, causing some distortion. Though Cline's career was shorter than Williams own brief career it did seem her story was given a shorter shift .

Backing both performers is the "The Country Royalty Orchestra," a talented, tight, and polished ensemble of piano, drums, bass, slide guitar, and fiddle. It is unfortunate that they are not given named credit in the program insert. Their authentic sound is every bit as important to the success of the show as the remarkable talent of the leads.

"Country Royalty" is a unique, educational, and entertaining night of music, bringing to life two important and historical figures in a vibrant, compelling way.

View the original article here.

'Country Royalty' tribute to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline headed to Springfield

March 24, 2012
(As originally seen on MassLive by Keith O'Connor)

They never shared a stage together, but country legends Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, or as Jason Petty refers to them, "country royalty," will be brought back to life at CityStage this week.

"Country Royalty: Jason Petty and Carolyn Martin's Musical Tribute to Hanks Williams and Patsy Cline" will show audiences how country music used to be played beginning Wednesday for five performances through April 1.

"We decided to do the single greatest male influence in country music, Hank Williams, Sr., and the single greatest female influence in country music, Patsy Cline, and combine them into one show," said Petty, originator of the show.

"Hank was 29 when he died and Patsy was 30 when she died. Together they left a lasting legacy and it just seemed right to combine the two. I always say he helped to invent country music and she helped to save it," he added.

Petty said it wasn't his goal when creating the show to impersonate Williams on stage.

"This is less acting and more a presentation of the artists and their style. On stage, I speak as Jason Petty, welcoming the audience to the show and going on in the first act to talk about how Williams helped to invent country music, his lasting influence, and what he was going through when he wrote his many classic songs," said Petty.

"He was the first to write songs for the common man, themes from everyday life that people actually went through themselves, and that resonated with his audience," he added.

As for the second act focusing on Cline, Petty said he narrates between songs but "doesn't tell as much about her as I do for Hank."

"Hank had just passed away, and when Patsy got a record deal, rock and roll came along and stole the spotlight away from country. That left Patsy with the challenge of having to come up with a new sound, since the twangy, honky tonk style wasn't selling records anymore. So, Patsy developed a style to satisfy both country and pop fans, something we would call 'crossover' music today," said Petty.

"Patsy was the first to have a presence on the pop charts with a sound that featured more strings and more background vocals. The Jordanaires, who sang backup for Elvis, sang on her records giving them a deep, velvety sound. So, Patsy got country back on its feet and saved the industry at a time when it looked like all or nothing for it," he added.

With a five-piece band sharing the stage, Petty and Martin will perform the legends' greatest hits, including "Crazy," "Hey Good Lookin'," "Sweet Dreams," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Walking After Midnight," "I Saw The Light," "I Fall To Pieces," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

"Carolyn does a fantastic job of emoting Patsy's voice," said Petty about his co-star. Martin is an award-winning singer who has gained national notoriety from the PBS special, "The Time Jumpers."

Petty began his own career at Nashville's Opryland music park. Performing four shows a day, seven days a week, he caught the attention of the director of an upcoming musical at the Ryman Auditorium. He was hand-picked for the starring role in "Hank Williams: Lost Highway," and he hasn't left the stage since the show's 1966 debut.

"Hank Williams: Lost Highway" went on to play to sold out audiences in New York City at the Little Shubert Theater. Since then, the veteran actor and singer has performed in theaters across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe, while appearing in the national tours of "Lost Highway" and "Hank and My Honky Tonk Heroes," a musical revue which Petty authored and starred in.

View the original article here.

Larry Miller visits Ray and Shannon at WGGB to chat about COCKTAILS WITH LARRY MILLER.


Comedian Larry Miller in Studio 1A

Comedian Larry Miller in Studio 1A: wwlp.com

Cocktails with Larry Miller - Review

March 22, 2012
(As originally seen in The Reminder Publications by G. Michael Dobbs)

I saw Larry Miller's show last night and here are some thoughts.

In this era when fart jokes and F-bombs dominate comedy, Larry Miller's witty observations of life come as a breath of fresh air.

Miller is appearing at CityStage in Springfield through Saturday in his one-man play "Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery and Other Bad Ideas."

The veteran comic and busy character actor brings all of his talents to the production. There are elements of theater, stand-up and music – Miller studied music as Amherst College – and the result is a very funny and fast-moving two hours of laughs.

Although Miller steers clear of what used to be called "blue" material, that doesn't mean his humor isn't adult or engaging. It is. Like the very best comedians, Miller is a writer and he clearly prizes language, making sure to use just the right word to put across the intended comedic punch.

This is a show not to be missed. Go see it. And if you give Miller a rousing round of applause, perhaps he will perform his signature piece, "The Five levels of Drunkenness," perhaps one of finest stand-up bits this side of "Who's on First."

Larry Miller set to bring his one-man show to CityStage

March 5, 2012
(As originally seen in The Reminder Publications by G. Michael Dobbs)

Larry Miller is a guy with a lot going on. He's not complaining, though. He loves it.

The stand-up comedian, actor and writer recently finished a role in a film, writes and records a weekly podcast and is a doting father. He has developed the creative vehicle that intrigues him perhaps more than any other of his show business endeavors: a one-man show.

"Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery and Other Bad Ideas" is coming to CityStage from March 21 through 24.

Speaking to Reminder Publications last week, Miller said his one-man show "is something I will do the rest of my life."

He explained that while being alone on stage is nothing new for a veteran stand-up comic, "a one man show is different than stand-up. There are pieces [in it] that wouldn't function as stand-up."

The show combines several of Miller's interests: comedy, acting and music. He was a music major at Amherst College and the show features several original songs he has written as well as several parody songs.

His acting roles started with a smarmy salesman in "Pretty Woman," and have included additional movies such as "The Princess Diaries," "The Nutty Professor," "Best in Show" and "The Mighty Wind." On television, he's had dramatic assignments such as an unrepentant wife killer on "Law & Order."

Miller explained that having acted on stage, he knows that "once a play gets locked, even if it's a great play, it's locked in. You don't feel the need to grow."

"Cocktails," though, allows him the ability to alter the material as he sees fit.

"I expect to live another 300 to 400 years and will continue to work on it," he quipped.

He added, "Walking out on stage and doing a lighting check [for 'Cocktails'], now that's a good place to be."

Miller said that he recently completed a role in a new film by director Michael Polish — best known for the film "The Astronaut Farmer" — and the day after he wrapped his footage he was performing "Cocktails" in Stowe, Vt. He then brought the show to a theater in Queens, N.Y.

He likes having a varied career like that, but he corrects this reporter when the word "fallback" is used to describe "Cocktails."

"It's not a fallback," Miller said. "It's a fall-forward."

When asked about his writing regime, Miller said with his trademark timing "I'm desperately scratching for more time."

He said when he hears about an author going "to a cabin in the woods for a year and half to write," his reply is "Who does that?"

Miller explained he got up at 6 a.m. on the day of this interview so he could get an hour to write before he woke up his wife and children. Once breakfast, making lunches for his children and getting them to school was completed, Miller said he had the "great luxury" of writing from 9 a.m. to noon, although he said this time was punctuated by answering emails and taking phone calls.

"I'm not complaining. I love every minute of it," he added.

He also loves recording his weekly podcast, "This Week with Larry Miller," which is available on iTunes. "There are no guests. It's just me telling stories," Miller explained.

He said he usually writes down 10 subjects and manages to talks about two of them in the half-hour recording.

Speaking of his career he said, "I was made to do this. I'm a story teller."

View the original article here.

Larry Miller's Shout Out to Springfield

'Cocktails with Larry Miller' headed to CityStage

March 18, 2012
(As originally seen on MassLive by Keith O'Connor)

No one knows comedian and actor Larry Miller better than his own son.

In a recent telephone interview about his one-man show, which comes to CityStage this week, Miller was talking about some of his strengths, citing acting, writing good character pieces, music, but before he could finish, his young son yelled in the background – "cocktails."

Drinks just happen to serve as part of the inspiration behind Miller's current one-man show which he calls, "Cocktails with Larry Miller: Little League, Adultery & Other Bad Ideas."

"The show is actually about real life, and the word cocktail becomes a metaphor for everything that happens in life. It's not really about drinking too much, but about saying a little of this and a little of that ... everything I have had a chance to do and observe in life. It's not topical in the sense you won't find me talking about the presidential race, that's not my style of comedy," Miller said.

If you don't recognize the name Larry Miller, then just take a look at a photograph of him. As one of Hollywood's most recognizable faces, Miller has amassed an impressive list of performances in over 100 film and television shows. He began his career with a memorable scene alongside Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the blockbuster film, "Pretty Woman," as well as roles in such films as "The Princess Diaries," "The Nutty Professor," "Bee Movie" and "Ten Things I Hate About You."

Miller has made dozens of appearances on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "Real Time with Bill Maher." He has also starred in his own HBO comedy specials and on Broadway in Neil Simon's play, "The Dinner Party." His other television credits include "Desperate Housewives," "Medium," "Burn Notice," "Law & Order" and "Seinfeld," in addition to a recurring role on "Boston Legal." Miller is the also the only "bad guy" to return on "Law and Order" as an unrepentant and uncatchable wife killer.

And, he recently made guest appearances on the HBO show "Curb Your Enthusiasm," CBS television's popular "NCIS" and was in the Garry Marshall film, "New Year's Eve."

Miller hosts the podcast "This Week with Larry Miller" for the Ace Broadcasting Network, where he unleashes a barrage of humor about the absurdities of daily life. He can also be heard weekly on the most downloaded podcast on iTunes, "The Adam Carolla Show." He is also a contributing humorist to The Huffington Post and The Weekly Standard, as well as the author of the best-selling book "Spoiled Rotten America."

With an impressive list of performances on television, the big screen, and on the theater stage, you have to really love what you do, and Miller literally "gushes" about his job.

"I may sound like a nine-year-old, but the truth is that I have the best time on every acting job, even those that didn't work out quite like I had hoped. Performing is everything that I love ... it's my home away from home when I'm on a set, just like when a baseball player steps up to the plate and says to himself 'this is where I belong,' that's exactly the way I think about a set," Miller said.

And, the popular comedian and character actor feels even stronger about performing live in theaters, and that applies to touring his "Cocktails with Larry Miller" in theaters across American and Canada.

"I love doing stand-up comedy, and still do it in its purest form on shows like Letterman and Leno. But, a good one-man show is as different from stand-up as a flute is from a trumpet. If well conceived and grows over time, it becomes theater on its own with different characters, music, original songs, sets and costume changes and, of course, is funny," Miller said.

Miller, who attended nearby Amherst College where he majored in music, said while growing up in Long Island, his family vacationed twice each year in Springfield.

"I asked my mother, 'Why Springfield?", and she didn't really know other than to tell me my dad picked it and that was our trip to enjoy. Even my uncle told me he always loved our trips to Springfield, but he didn't know why we went there so often," Miller said.

View the original article here.

Midtown Men WGGB Story

March 12, 2012
(As originally seen on ABC40/Fox 6)

Casino Royale night to raise funds for CityStage and Symphony Hall

March 4, 2012
(As originally seen on MassLive by Keith O'Connor)

You don't have to wait until Massachusetts opens its first casino to place your bets.

On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Springfield, patrons of the arts can roll the dice at the annual Casino Royale fundraiser to benefit CityStage and Symphony Hall in Springfield.

"We would love to be able to say the cost of show tickets covers our entire operating budget, but it doesn't, and so we need to fundraise. And, when we do, we like to have fun," said Tina D'Agostino," interim president of CityStage and Symphony Hall.

She added, "Many people think that we are funded by the state and the city, but that's not the case. We rely on fundraising to bridge the gap between the cost of shows and our overhead expenses like utilities, insurance, supplies and other operational costs. We raise funds through special events like Casino Royale and we also conduct an annual appeal, solicit sponsorships and write grants."

There won't be any "one arm bandits" to take your money at the fun Saturday night event, but gamblers helping to support CityStage can belly up to the Wheel of Chance or take a seat at one of the many tables featuring Black Jack, Roulette and more.

The evening's festivities will also include a variety of food stations, live entertainment by DJ Tony Long, and a cash bar.

D'Agostino said all of the food for the evening is being prepared by chefs at the Springfield Sheraton, including several food stations featuring Mediterranean and traditional antipasto displays, a Mardi Gras station with jambalaya and chicken etouffee, and a Mexican Fiesta station with tacos and fajitas. There will also be assorted pizza flats and mini desserts later in the evening.

Tickets are available in a variety of options. A single ticket priced at $50 includes admission and food. Tickets priced at $100 will also include $400 in gaming money. And for a group of 10 guests, a special $900 ticket admits all and includes $400 in gaming money for each person.

Additional play money can be purchased at a 4:1 ratio. For example, for $25 attendees will get $100 in play money.

To raise additional funds during the special evening, there will be a live auction featuring four box seats for the Red Sox vs. Oakland, four suite tickets for the Knicks vs. Cleveland, four suite tickets for the Rangers vs. Boston, and four tickets for the Celtics vs. the Spurs. And, for those who make the most out of their play money, there will be prizes for the top three chip holders, including $1000 and $500 travel vouchers from AAA, and a Mohegan Sun Casino package including a room and $100 gaming chip.

View the original article here.

Thru 3/4 - Review - Forever Kings

March 2, 2012
(As originally seen on DidYouWeekend.com by Eric Sutter)

What a lucky day to view not one but two tributes to popular music with the bravado of Matt Lewis in tribute to Elvis Presley and the soul of Edward Moss with tribute to Michael Jackson. Phenomenal dancers superbly complimented both performers. Matt Lewis began with a clutch of older Elvis tunes interspersed with period pieces. Fun was the word from the get go with "Blue Suede Shoes" which thrilled the audience as Ed Sullivan show clips enhanced the sensuality. By "Love Me Tender" chests were heaving from heated audience interaction. The "Jailhouse Rock" scene spelled trouble as four dancers synergized with prison uniformed Lewis with jazz hands all around. In the '68 comeback in black leather Lewis rocked blues tune "One Night."

A nice ballad, "If I Can Dream," prepared the way for Edward Moss as Michael Jackson who upped the energy with his "Dangerous" persona on songs "Stop Pressuring Me" and "You Want To Be Starting Something." "Thriller" took the swagger right to the top with a climax that produced four ghoulish dancers who groped on to the stage awkwardly around Moss' center stage gyrations. A soulfully sung "Man In The Mirror" featured a backstage Moss surrounded by dancers up front.

Act II captured the white jump suited King in Vegas with a fiery medley of old and new. The cabaret style slickness of C.C. Rider exhilarated towards the time period…he supplied a lingering warmth to "Are You Lonesome Tonight" which fueled a swampy "Polk Salad Annie" which satisfied. A bluesy update of "Houndog" packed an emotional punch that set up the thrill of a dramatic take of "Suspicious Minds." The energy was exciting by the patriot's dream of "American Trilogy."

Moss danced back to the 70′s with the Jackson oldie "The Love You Save." More tricky dancing brought "Beat It" center stage with a simulated fight scene that simmered hot. The uncanny resemblance to Michael Jackson was strongly evident on "Billie Jean" and it's smooth moonwalk dance. The great entertainment in the heart of downtown Springfield ended with a "Black and White" finale which featured both performers in traded vocals on the chorus line. See this show… it will bring you up!

View the original article here.

News Directory Queen tribute headed to Symphony Hall in Springfield

Country Royalty Review

'Country Royalty' tribute to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline headed to Springfield

Larry Miller visits Ray and Shannon at WGGB to chat about COCKTAILS WITH LARRY MILLER

Comedian Larry Miller in Studio 1A

Cocktails with Larry Miller - Review

Larry Millers Shout Out to Springfield

'Cocktails with Larry Miller' headed to CityStage

Midtown Men WGGB Story

Casino Royale night to raise funds for CityStage and Symphony Hall

Thru 3/4 - Review - Forever Kings

The Midtown Men headed to downtown Springfield

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