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Category: Entertainment

KHS chums are ‘The Cartwheelers’

Photos courtesy Facebook Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.

Photos courtesy Facebook
Kevin McSorley (l.) and Stephan Dias performing at a recent gig.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Looking to follow in the success of other two-piece bands such as The White Stripes, Kearny’s own duo The Cartwheelers is looking to take on the local music scene by storm.

Comprised of fellow Kearny High School classmates Kevin McSorley on guitar and Stephan Dias on the drums, The Cartwheelers formed two years ago, hoping to create a larger band.

“We were looking for a bassist, but it was hard to get people to come in,” McSorley said. “It just didn’t work out.”

More than up for the challenge, McSorley and Dias formed The Cartwheelers and began working on the band’s first LP, “Hot Socks! It’s The Cartwheelers.”

McSorley said that the lack of a bassist made writing songs for the LP tough, with many original cuts of the song not deep enough.

“We were going for a raw sound,” McSorley said. “You have to try a little harder to make it sound fuller. Without a bass, it’s tough writing songs.”

McSorley said the band made up for it with a clearer sound with “a lot of reverb and delay.”

Friends told Mc- Sorley that the band sounded like, “surfing through dirty water,” explained later as being clean, but with a rough edge to it.

The duo’s closest popular comparison would be the once-married husband and wife duo of Jack and Megan White of the White Stripes.

While none of The Cartwheeler’s songs on the “Hot Socks” album is as hard hitting as The White Stripes hit “Seven Nation Army,” several of the Stripes’ songs, including “Fell in Love With a Girl,” are similar to The Cartwheelers.

On “I’ll Never Never Never Never See You Again,” McSorley’s guitar playing makes up for a lack of a bass guitarist. With a quick tempo and a clear, but crunchy guitar rhythm, the song provides an adrenaline rush from start to finish.

In other songs, such as “Latina Bus” and “Birds,” the band reverts to a more “California” style, with a relaxed rhythm similar to that found in a Sublime song. Dias’s drum play and McSorley’s simple guitar rhythm combine to make a track that is impossible not to bob your head to.

McSorley said that while performing without a bass player is certainly a challenge, it also creates its own set of advantages.

“It’s definitely a lot easier because we don’t have to worry about what the bass player is doing,” Mc- Sorley said. “I can just show (the songs) to Stephan and we can perform it.”

McSorley started playing guitar after he received the instrument for Christmas. After a short period, McSorley picked the instrument back up and self-taught himself.

“I was just kind of fiddling with it,” McSorley said. “I kind of taught myself, just only some brief lessons. No real formal schooling, just reading books and searching online.”

While the band has only played local smaller venues such as Donegal Saloon in Kearny and the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, they have taken crowds by surprise.

“People are shocked to see us two little guys up there,” McSorley said. “It’s nice to know that people like our music.”

The duo’s next goal is to work on a fulllength album, all the while having loftier goals in mind.

“We’re shooting to perform in Madison Square Garden, but that’ll probably take a while,” McSorley quipped. “Right now we have six unrecorded songs, but we’re shooting for like 10 to 12. It’d be cool to be playing festivals and stuff too.”

To listen to The Cartwheelers, visit their website at thecartwheelers.bandcamp. com. For more information, including future show dates, visit facebook.com/ TheCartwheelers.

Tuning in to Cicada Radio

Photos courtesy Mike Keefe CENTER: Cicada Radio during a performance last summer.

Photos courtesy Mike Keefe
CENTER: Cicada Radio during a performance last summer.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

With alternative and indie rock roots, Kearny’s own Cicada Radio took Donegal Saloon by storm this weekend.

Composed of brothers Pat and Mike Keefe on guitar, Josh Bartsch on drums and Chris D’Ambrosio on bass, Cicada Radio is one of the area’s up and coming bands.

The band got together in 2009 when the brothers were students at Kean University.

“We had a garage at our house and we just started playing in there,” Mike Keefe said. “We were a trio at first, then (our old drummer) stepped in and we became a foursome.”

After a year of playing together, the band got its big break when Kearny recording label Killing Horse Records picked up its four-track LP “Imposter.”

“It helped us out a lot,” said Keefe of signing with Killing Horse. “We started to get a lot more shows and finding friends in the scene. ‘Imposter’ was where it started.”

In December 2012, the band released its first full-length album “No Fate But What We Make,” an eight-track compilation with quality from the opening track to the final song.

Shortly after the release of “No Fate But What We Make,” Cicada Radio’s drummer left the band and was replaced by Bartsch, which forced the band to rebuild its chemistry.

“Right now, we’re playing a few shows here and there to get chemistry with Josh,” Keefe said.

While the new chemistry will take time to jell, Keefe feels that Bartsch has already helped out the band.

“(Bartsch) plays every instrument,” Keefe said. “We all have the perspective to contribute and provide what you think will sound the best.”

Keefe said that all members in the band can play multiple instruments, and that helps provide inspiration.

“It gives you better perspective as a songwriter,” Keefe said. “You know what you want to go for.”

Keefe also credits the band’s early success to a selfless attitude held by all of the band’s members.

“We all think, ‘What could I add to make the song better,’” Keefe said. “You have to know what you would want to hear in a song and just play it.”

Despite changing drummers shortly after the release of “No Fate But What We Make,” the band’s chemistry and selfless attitude shine through their performance.

Right from the first few moments of the lead track “Insecticide,” Bartsch’s drumming along with Keefe’s guitar sets the tone. Sounding similar to fellow Jersey-rockers Thursday, Pat Keefe’s echoing voice combines with the guitar play almost seamlessly.

True to Keefe’s word, no one instrument stands out above the others. While the guitar sounds are complex, and the drum beats difficult, there are no solos, and the band members complement one another – a trait not many bands today can claim.

Since Bartsch came into the band, Cicada Radio has been out on the road, trying to play as many shows as possible to work on their chemistry and get their name out in the music scene.

“We used to play Maxwell’s (in Hoboken) a lot before it closed and a few places in Jersey City,” Keefe said. “We play all over. A lot of places around Hudson County.”

For Keefe, the best place to play has been the Court Tavern in New Brunswick.

“I feel like it’s been a good music scene for New Jersey,” Keefe explained. “To have a venue that treats its bands well and has lots of people that show up for the shows.”

Keefe said that while there are certain great places to play, the audience is what really matters.

“It’s more about the show (then the venue),” Keefe said. “You could play (your music at any bar) and it’ll be great as long as the people are great.” Looking ahead, Keefe said the band is hoping to escape the cold weather and continue to play more shows.

“We just want to try and get out there more,” Keefe said. “A lot of people feel cooped up with this winter and people are anxious to get out there and play more shows.”

For more information on Cicada Radio, visit cicada-radio. bandcamp.com or visit the band’s Facebook page. Their CDs, including “No Fate But What We Make,” can be found on their website.

Lots of ‘Love’ from Bloomfield singer

Photos courtesy Karen Luschar Karen Luschar’s new album, “It’s Love” features 14 tracks from a recent performance at Lincoln Center.

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar
Karen Luschar’s new album, “It’s Love” features 14 tracks from a recent performance at Lincoln Center.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Using a lifetime of passion and love for performing as her inspiration, Bloomfield resident Karen Luschar has released her much-anticipated third CD “It’s Love.”

“I just realized that a lot of the songs that I sing revolve around love,” said Luschar, explaining how the CD began. “I just wanted to look at (love) from many different ways.”

Recorded live at Lincoln Center, the new CD brings 14 of Luschar’s best live performances to listeners at home.

Narrowing down to just 14 songs was no easy task for the Bloomfield resident.

“When I started to do this show, I started typing out names of love songs I could think of,” Luschar explained. “I came up with 450 and that was just a drop in the bucket. There are thousands of songs written about love. It’s just a theme people love to sing about.”

Luschar’s CD explores a wide spectrum of the experience of love.

“Whether you’re in the midst of falling in love or losing love, it’s still the subject of love,” Luschar explained. “It’s looking at love from all the different angles because songwriters have written about love more than any other subject.”

She continued, “This is a show that can look at love from enduring the years, hopefulness, frustration. It encompasses many feelings.”

Luschar’s career in music started at the tender age of 2 and developed with aspirations of performing on Broadway. Over the course of her career, Karen has been able to achieve her dream, performing on the Great White Way and global venues spanning from Canada to Japan.

“I have been fortunate to follow that dream and get to Broadway,” Luschar said. “When you plant a dream in your heart and in your mind, it’s so great – that feeling — when it comes to fruition.”

Luschar credits her mother – a dancer and a violinist – for pushing her toward her dream.

“She was nice enough to start me singing and dancing when I was very small,” Luschar said. “I knew (performing was) what I wanted to do. I wanted to dance and I wanted to sing.”

Luschar’s experience from a lifetime of performing certainly shows in her latest work on “It’s Love.”

Unlike some artists who can over-perform a song, Luschar’s experience allows her to put her creative take on a song while maintaining the song’s true meaning and style.

Luschar’s adaptation of “My Sunny Valentine” showcases that exact trait.

While the song has been covered by many A-list stars including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Michael Buble, Luschar’s version ranks among them.

While Luschar takes a more Broadway approach to the song – as opposed to Buble’s crooning version – the singer still brings out the meaning to the song and conveys the love created by the song.

Luschar also performs a brilliant version of the Barbra Streisand hit “My Man,” which is featured on the “It’s Love” CD.

Luschar stays true to the Streisand version of the song, standing toe-to-toe with the hit singer’s full-bodied sound while not over-singing the body of the song.

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar

Photo courtesy Karen Luschar

 

With her third album now in the books, Luschar continues to perform across the nation, but always is looking towards the future.

“I want to perform more overseas,” Luschar said. “There’s one company that has been talking about the idea of bringing me over and I hope that happens. I’d really love to do that.”

Luschar said that above all, she’d love to take her shows to France and England, especially her World War II-themed show “Singing for Victory.”

“I was there a year ago and I feel very drawn to that show and I feel it’s very viable there,” Luschar said. “When I traveled through France, I told people about the show and the war is still very imprinted in those people’s lives. I’d love to perform that there.”

For more information on Bloomfield’s resident Broadway singer Karen Luschar, visit her website at www.KarenLuschar.com. Her newest CD, “It’s Love,” can be found on her website, and can be found on Amazon and CD Baby later this month.

C.O.A.L.G. coming to Centanni’s

Photo courtesy Wayne Bilotti Andre Lahr (l.) and Wayne Bilotti at a recent C.O.A.L.G. gig. The duo’s stage name is a shorthand combination of previous band names.

Photo courtesy Wayne Bilotti
Andre Lahr (l.) and Wayne Bilotti at a recent C.O.A.L.G. gig. The duo’s stage name is a shorthand combination of previous band names.

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

While the heavy snow and frigid temperatures don’t exactly inspire memories of the Jersey Shore in the summer, frostbitten summer-lovers can escape the winter with the help of C.O.A.L.G.

C.O.A.L.G., an acoustic guitar duo who frequently plays at Spicy’s Cantina in Seaside Heights in the summers, will perform a set at North Arlington’s Centanni’s on Feb. 28.

“We play everything from the Beatles up until today’s stuff and everything in between,” said singer/guitarist Wayne Bilotti.

Bilotti started his music career in high school, when he began playing the guitar with friends.

“I had the opportunities to play since high school and it sprung from there,” Bilotti said. “It’s just a passion to play. I was just fortunate enough to make a living doing it.”

Bilotti’s style, with musical influences ranging from Paul Simon to Roger Waters, came from being exposed to varying styles of music.

“I just grew up listening to a lot of different types of music,” Bilotti said. “I was more into song writers than just random artists.”

Bilotti’s guitar career soon took him to many of the notable venues throughout the area, including the now-closed CBGB in Manhattan. However, as time passed, Bilotti found that playing acoustic guitar allowed him more opportunities to work.

“I think it has a lot to do with the scene changing,” Bilotti explained. “A lot of the old rock venues like CBGB are gone. There’s not a real scene out there for original rock music anymore.”

Looking to keep with the times, Bilotti and C.O.A.L.G. bandmate Andre Lahr kept playing acoustic shows.

“The acoustic leaves you more versatile to do different types of music,” Bilotti explained. “It allows you to fit into more venues. It’s the one scene that kind of didn’t go away.”

With over a decade in the music business, Bilotti said that the duo’s success is derived from keeping tabs on their audience and their ability to play several varieties of music.

“What’s good is good,” Bilotti said. “We always had our ear out and we’re kind of out there in the (music) scene ourselves. The Beatles were way before I was even born, but they’re such a great band. There’s always a call for (the modern scene) too.”

C.O.A.L.G.’s wide array of musical styles is evident through performances of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and the famed Beatles track “Don’t Let Me Down,” which have made their way onto YouTube.

C.O.A.L.G.’s rendition of “Hotel California,” taken from a July 2013 performance at the Spicy Cantina, is everything music lovers could hope for out of a cover. Trying to match Don Henley’s vocals on the track is no easy task, yet Bilotti and Lahr maneuver their way through the song, enough to get a crowd full of musiclovers singing along with their rendition.

In another cover, Bilotti’s cover of “Don’t Let Me Down” with guitarist Norm Dodge again provides another singalong anthem for the audience.

While Bilotti has not had optimal success with original songs, just the ability to play music for a living is exhilarating.

“All you can do is love what you do,” Bilotti said. “I’m glad to make a living as I do with (playing music).”

While the summer is several months away, Bilotti said C.O.A.L.G. has already booked many appearances for the warmer months.

“We just booked our summer schedule, we’re just looking forward to that,” Bilotti said of his hopes for the future. “We’re always willing to travel, maybe some nice climate weather stuff.”

One of Bilotti’s main goals is to show the Jersey Shore’s music scene, and disprove stereotypes that the Shore music scene revolves around electronica and dance.

“The shore has a misconception that it’s just like the TV Show (MTV’s Jersey Shore),” Bilotti explained. “We’ve been playing there for 10 years. It’s still the shore. There’s lots of acoustic bands and plenty of rock music going on down there.”

C.O.A.L.G. will perform at Centanni’s at 35 River Rd. in North Arlington on Feb. 28. For more information on the band, visit their website at www.coalg.com.

Out of the East comes … Country!

 

Photos courtesy JD Klossek Bob Rogal (top) and JD Klossek team in Brick City Cowboys gig.

Photos courtesy
JD Klossek Bob Rogal (top) and JD Klossek team in Brick City Cowboys gig.

BC_web2

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

About a year and a half ago, JD Klossek started the band Brick City Cowboys, with hopes of creating a complete CD and beginning a career as a country singer.

Midway through that first year, however, other priorities emerged, making Klossek change his thoughts about the first CD.

“We had plans to finish the other three songs and do a complete CD, but before you know it, a friend of mine and I started hearing about people being evicted in Jersey City,” Klossek said.

Looking to help out those people, Klossek hoped to release an LP – – a seven-song album – with most of the profits going to charity.

“I got in touch with other band members and explained it to them, asked them if we could just release an LP now,” Klossek recalled.

“They thought it was a good idea.” With the LP’s release, Klossek created the Bands Against Tragedy charity, an organization he hopes will grow with time.

“We’re hoping to raise $5,000 for a particular family with two children family in order to get them into a new apartment,” Klossek said, adding that the family has ben staying in multiple shelters for the homeless.

Klossek, a lifelong fan of country music, started the Brick City Cowboys to follow a childhood passion.

“I wrote some songs, sent some demos to Nashville and the folks over there were pretty helpful,” Klossek said. They set me up with some musicians and we got together and we clicked right away.”

Klossek, a Newark native who lived in both Kearny and North Arlington before settling in Jersey City, said that he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t listening to country music.

“It was always around, it was always surrounding me,” Klossek said. “I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there.”

Klossek said it was his family that inspired his career choice.

“It was a natural progression for me,” Klossek said. “There were a few musicians in my family. I never knew a time when I wasn’t interested in trying to write or play music. It’s something that I love.”

Klossek’s music choice comes from inspirations of older country legends such as Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Eddie Rabbit and Johnny Cash, and folk singers such as Bob Dylan.

However, Klossek acknowledges that his style differs markedly from many of today’s than that of many modern country artists, such as Keith Urban and Brad Paisley.

That difference is shown all throughout the Brick City Cowboy’s LP “A Cold Hard Winter.”

On the title track, “It’s Been a Long Cold Hard Winter,” the band’s slow tempo goes well with Klossek’s southern draw, a trait not commonly found with Newark natives.

The Cowboys also feature the song “She Don’t Want to Be Found,” which tells the tale of the singer’s lost love and how she “don’t want to be found.”

On the track, the band mixes Klossek’s southern twang with an uptempo – almost happy – style, not something often found in country music.

As for the future of his band, Klossek hopes to continue to grow and record more songs.

In addition, he would also like to be able to do more for Bands Against Tragedy.

“There just really is a huge need,” Klossek said. “Whether it’s a few concerts or helping out with rent or food drives. (The charity) can really go in so many directions.”

For more information on the Brick City Cowboys, visit their website at www.brickcitycowboys.com. Their first EP, “A Cold Hard Winter” can be found on iTunes or on Amazon for $7.99.

Klossek said that after a percentage of the profits goes to iTunes and Amazon, about $5 goes to the Bands Against Tragedy charity.

Look for ‘Creepoid’ to break out soon

Creep_web1

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski
Observer Correspondent

When many people think of music coming out of West Philadelphia, the first song that comes to mind most likely will be Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”; the rock band Creepoid looks to change that.

Creepoid was formed during a snowstorm in 2009, when Sean Miller, Pete Urban IV, and Patrick and Anna Troxell had a jam session to fight off boredom and cabin fever.

“During one of the snowstorms (in 2009), we all got together and ended up jamming,” Patrick Troxell said. “Now we’re at the point that we’re about to put out our second LP.” Read more »

Wax Darts, always changing, to fit mood

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook Wax Darts at a recent performance.

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook
Wax Darts at a recent performance.

 

By Anthony Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

Sometimes in the music industry, keeping it simple is the easiest way towards having success. Larry Brinkman and the Wax Darts are hoping that approach leads to their own success.

“When we started the band, we said, ‘Let’s be a band that if you showed up at a bar, I’d be really psyched to hear,” Brinkman said. “That was the goal from the beginning. We don’t need to change everybody’s life, but let’s just be a really fun and dynamic band.”

The Wax Darts was founded in 2012 with Brinkman and drummer Jahna Rain performing with several bass guitarists before Courtney Thornbird joined the band in 2013.

Brinkman founded the band hoping to return to the music industry following a divorce.

“I just wanted to start a band that sounded like whatever the hell I wanted it to sound like,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman said that his divorce affected the earlier songs written by the band.

“The songwriting from some of those early songs its pretty obvious,” Brinkman said about the divorce. “Some of those songs still are really good.”

With influences tied to country, blues, funk, 70s pop and the early punk scene, Brinkman and the band had the unique challenge of combining all those different styles into one, a marriage not so easily made.

“We started talking about the bands we liked and they were just so weird within themselves that it was impossible to cover them,” Brinkman explained.

To try and rectify that problem, the band followed the same mantra, keep it simple.

“I don’t write stuff that’s four bars (in tempo),” Brinkman said. “So we try to do things different. Sometimes it’s three bars, sometimes it’s seven. We just try to work more with feeling (than structure).”

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook  From l., Larry Brinkman, Jahna Rain and Courtney Thornbird.

Photo courtesy Wax Darts Facebook
From l., Larry Brinkman, Jahna Rain and Courtney Thornbird.

 

The approach has worked out for the band and can be heard from the first seconds of any of their songs.

On the song “Different,” the elements of the early punk movement can be heard moving along with a hard, crunching notes played from Brinkman’s guitar.

Adding to the song’s uniqueness is the harmonizing of Brinkman, Rain and Thornbird, a simple quality that the trio has perfected, creating a controlled craziness for the song.

The band’s simplicity has been well received by both fans and by local music outlets.

“It’s been going great,” Brinkman said. “We did a live recording on WFMU (radio) a few months back and it’s been really fun.”

Part of the band’s approach to playing live music has been to just play what they like, as opposed to guessing the crowd’s favorite style.

“We play exactly what we want and not what we think is going to please a crowd,” Brinkman said. “In the long run, that usually pleases a crowd because we’re not trying to please anybody but ourselves.”

“We have a thing we say, ‘If it’s gonna be weird, just make it weird.’ ”

As for the future of the band, Brinkman said that he hopes for the band to continue to play more live shows and to further expand their horizons.

“The biggest question is what can we get out of what we have and how can we move forward,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman hopes that the band will get a chance to travel more as well.

“I love getting out of town,” said Brinkman, a Jersey City native. “We’ve played Brooklyn once. When you’re a local person, I’d love to go out of town and surprise a crowd (with our performance).”

The Wax Darts will play Donegal Saloon in Kearny on Friday, along with The Everymen and Creepoid. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $5.

Out & About: Cooky teen ‘Family’ in the making

Photos courtesy Joseph Ferriero Various scenes from last year’s Teen Drama

Photos courtesy Joseph Ferriero
Various scenes from last year’s Teen Drama

 

By Anthony J. Machcinski

Observer Correspondent

With Teen Drama celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer, the local theater group is commemorating the event with a performance of the well-known creepy comedy “The Addams Family.”

“I’ve been a fan of (“The Addams Family”) for a couple of years,” said Teen Drama Co-Director Joe Ferriero. “(Michelle Sarnoski and I) saw this and said, ‘This is perfect for our kids.’

“We saw ‘The Addams Family’ and it’s the perfect mix for the talent that we have.”

“The Addams Family”, taken from the hit television show, will feature an original story and the Teen Drama performance will be the first non-professional debut of ‘The Addams Family’ in New Jersey.

The story revolves around a grown-up Wednesday Addams, who has fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man – whom her parents have never met. Wednesday and the rest of the family then host a dinner for her ‘normal’ boyfriend and his parents.

While the opportunity to become the first nonprofessional debut of “The Addams Family” is certainly exciting for the group, it brings many challenges to the group and its teachers.

“The major challenge – its brand new,” Ferriero said. “There’s nothing else to compare it to. A lot of the songs (in the Broadway performance) aren’t in the new version. There’s no, ‘Let’s pop the CD in.’”

To tackle the challenge, Ferriero said the teachers will put in extra time to master the ins-and-outs of the performance themselves.

“We have to do our research,” Ferriero explained. “We have to map out every moment of the show because it is so new and so fresh. We have to make sure that we do it justice.”

While the teachers will certainly have their work cut out for them, Ferriero believes that the students will be more than prepared for the challenge.

“(The students) feed off the audience and they put 110% into the show,” Ferriero said. “They have a chance to take a character and develop it. This is where they can grow.”

Ferriero said the biggest challenge for the students will be breaking out of their comfort zones.

“They’re high school students and they’re always trying to have this persona to conform to what they believe is cool,” Ferriero said. “They’re always thinking inside of the box and these shows allow them to be who they really are.”

“They’re yearning to do something a little more serious, but this is where they can grow.”

Teen Drama started in 2009 after Ferriero and Sarnoski were approached by a group of parents who sought to find a summer activity for their theater-centered children.

“The parents said, ‘there’s nothing for these theater kids to do in the summer,’” Ferriero explained. “We started with a core group of students and we created a program that was pretty successful.”

Since that first summer, Teen Drama has seen its numbers grow from a community intrigued by the theater.

“Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger,” Ferriero said. “When it came support from everywhere, just to work with the students. do something like this, it.”

As the program has grown exponentially from its 2009-roots, Ferriero said that he, too, has grown from the experience.

“I think I’ve learned that the students in the program can teach me more about theater than I’ve already known,” Ferriero said. “The kids just look at (these performances) and go, ‘How am I going to have fun with this.’”

He added, “They’ve taught me how to have so much more fun. There’s all these bumps in the road but to hear their excitement… they love every minute of it.”

Ferriero believes that Teen Drama has only begun to grasp its full potential.

“I think the company itself has a future,” Ferriero said, adding that they’ve extended and opened a branch in Paramus. “We’re looking at theater companies throughout the state that may be interested. More people want to be a part of it.”

Registration for Teen Drama’s 2014 Summer Program begins in a few weeks, but those searching for early registration can visit teendrama.org/early to get the information emailed to them before it is open to the public.

Teen Drama runs from late June and ends with the performance of “The Addams Family” in the first week of August. For more information, visit www.TeenDrama.org/TD.

Take a quick trip to Manhattan, and you’ll love ‘The Gong Show Live Off Broadway’

Leslie Gold ‘The Radiochick’ brings it to New York with all trimmings of old TV show

gong_web

By Ryan Sloan

Observer Correspondent

Several years ago, while Leslie Gold was hosting her wildly popular show on Sirius-XM Satellite Radio — you know Leslie as “The Radiochick” — she landed a guest she’d always wanted on the show: “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris. She always admired his show — “I loved his kooky genius and fatherly way,” Gold says.

And she was hardly the only one who loved Barris and the show.

During its run, it had a cult-like following, with around 8 million regular viewers. But after the show went off the air, that was it for “The Gong Show,” despite some reruns on GSN and other networks.

So Gold had this idea — let’s bring the show back for live performances. Sony owned the show’s trademark, and after some negotiation — and a really good lawyer — Gold had permission to bring the show back.

And thus, “The Gong Show Live Off Broadway” was born.

Ahead of its time

Gold puts it well when she says “The Gong Show” was well ahead of its time as a TV reality show. In truth, it was one of the first shows — much like some of today’s reality programs — that allowed everyday folks with (or without) talent to audition to be on TV to perform. But it’s a lot different now.

While there are indeed regular Joes who audition for Gold’s version of the show, it is the professionals who make up the majority of the cast. In fact, more than 1,000 professional performers have auditioned for the show over the last few years. They’ve already been on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” “30 Rock,” “The Late Show with David Letterman” and “Conan” on TBS.

“They’re just really great performers,” Gold says.

In the new show, there are 30 total core acts. But they’re rotated so 14 perform each month.

If one were to go to see the show three times in three consecutive months, chances are you’d never see the same show twice.

There are also celebrity judges, too. Gold is one of them. So is her former radio sidekick Chuck Nice, who you’ll often see guest hosting on “The View” or doing segments on “The Today Show.” Comedians Carey Reilly, Dan Naturman and Danny Cohen judge, as does Q-104.3’s Ken Dashow.

Comedian Ray Ellin is the host.

Gold says Ellin does a magnificent job of playing Barris’ role.

“Ray has the charm of Chuck, and you’ll always find him on the side of the performers — good or gonged,” Gold says. “He’s a real champion for the acts and he’s extremely fast on his feet.”

Gamble pays off

Initially, Gold had hoped a three-engagement run a few years ago at BB Kings in Manhattan would be enough to turn “The Gong Show Off Broadway” into a monthly affair. And it did.

Each month, at the Cutting Room in Manhattan, you’ll find Gold and the crew putting on the show.

Gold says she has a few favorite acts, including the 80-year-old contortionist and Amazing Amy, a woman who can put her head up to her own buttocks.

“Amy wears a Star Trek outfit,” Gold says. “And the band plays the Star Trek theme as she performs. It’s perfect.”

Great for groups

In addition going in small groups, there are also large group rates — so if you’re looking to put together a night out for the office or social group you might belong to, here’s one fantastic and hilarious way to do just that.

“We went, my husband and I did, and we had such a good time, I can’t even explain it right,” says Jean Walker of Bloomfield. “I think what made it even more enjoyable is that we went, laughed our rear ends off and still didn’t have to part with a lot of cash to do this. If you’re looking for a great night out, not too far from home, and you’re not so willing to part with a lot of cash, you’ve got to go see this show — that’s how good it is.”

The bottom line is “The Gong Show Live Off Broadway” is a magnificent night out for the family, and is just a few miles away in Manhattan. And it’s all at a reasonable price.

If you don’t leave the theater with pains in your stomach from laughing out of control, chances are something’s seriously wrong with you.

If you go…
What: The Gong Show Live Off Broadway
Where: The Cutting Room, 44 E. 32nd St., New York City
When: 7:30 p.m., Jan. 9, April 3 (check website for other dates/times)
Ticket prices: $49 for reserved center-stage seats; $35 for general admission
To buy tickets or for more info: Visit www.gongshowlive.net

‘Cinderella the Musical’ at W.H.A.T.

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The West Hudson Arts Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) kicks off its third season with Disney’s “Cinderella the Musical,” a classic fairy tale brought to life through song and dance. Performances are Friday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16, at 1:30 and 4 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1:30 p.m., at the W.H.A.T. Theater, 131 Midland Ave., Kearny. All tickets are $8. Tickets for all performances are available online at www.whatco.org or by calling 201-467-8624.

Cinderella is W.H.A.T.’s first family friendly musical. Young theatergoers are encouraged to wear their best Prince Charming and Princess costumes to the performances, said W.H.A.T. artistic director and Cinderella director Joe Ferriero.

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The company includes Noelle Haefner (Old Woman/ Fairy Godmother), Michelle Almeida (Cinderella), Michael Antonelli (Prince Charming), Paula Reyes (Stepmother), Joan M. Hemphill (Drizella), Jennifer McCarthy (Anastasia); Robert Strauch (Gus), Jimmy Smores (Jaq), Brianna Dickinson (Perla), Alyssa Schirm (Suzy), Richard Dwyer (The King), and Jonathan Pinto (The Grand Duke).

Disney’s “Cinderella the Musical” is directed by Joe Ferriero; choreography by Michele Sarnoski; music direction by Scott Burzynski; music by Mack David and Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston; original book adaption by Marcy Heisler; music adapted and arranged by Bryan Louiselle.

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The following special events are planned for “Cinderella”:

*Royal Tea meet – Saturday, Nov. 9, at noon, at the W.H.A.T. Theater, before the 1:30 p.m. show. Tickets for the tea and show are $12. Seating is limited for princesses and princes (must be accompanied by an adult); advance online ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets for the Royal-Tea are available online at www.whatco.org or by calling 201-467-8624.

*Cinderella crafts – A free program held at Kearny Main Library, 318 Kearny Ave., for ages 3 to 6, co-hosted by W.H.A.T. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 4:30 p.m. Children may create their own royal crowns along with either a magic wand or a shield. Register in advance at the library. This activity is limited to 50 participants. Call the library for additional information and registration 201-998-2666.