The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 20, 2011

Broadway's best coming back to Pasquerilla

BY TOM LAVIS
TLAVIS@TRIBDEM.COM

— Composer and producer Neil Berg is bringing Broadway back to Johnstown, and this time the showcase will be tailored for Christmas.

Berg’s “Broadway Holiday” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.

When asked why he enjoys bringing the best of Broadway to Johnstown, Berg’s answer was to the point.

“We keep getting asked back,” Berg said during a telephone interview from his Nyack, N.Y., home.

“We are thrilled because it’s the ultimate compliment for any performer, and we want to be there because the people want us there.”

And with good reason, because Berg and his group of Broadway stars deliver the best that the Great White Way has to offer.

Michael Bodolosky, execuvite director of the arts center, said he is pleased that Berg will be returning for the third time.

“Make no mistake, this is the real deal,” Bodolosky said.

Berg’s format for “Broadway Holiday” is similar to his highly acclaimed “100 Years of Broadway,” which is touted as the No. 1 touring Broadway concert in North America.

He has brought Broadway’s finest stars and greatest songs together for what he said will be an unforgettable holiday event.

“These artists are not just Broadway performers, they each were stars of their respective shows,” Berg said.

“To see these stars on Broadway would cost about $120 a ticket, and we have them at a fraction of the cost for our audiences.”

The credits of the five singers in the show are impressive.

The performers who will be in Johnstown and the shows in which they starred are:

Andrea Rivette, “Les Miserables,” “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Miss Saigon."

Natalie Toro: “Tale of Two Cities,” “Les Miserables” and “Cats.”

Grant Norman: “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Beauty & the Beast.”

Lawrence Clayton: “Dreamgirls,” “Les Miserables” and “The Civil War.”

Danny Zolli: “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Audiences will enjoy a journey through Broadway history with the music of Kander and Ebb, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.

“Broadway Holiday” features hits ranging from classic shows such as “My Fair Lady” and “South Pacific,” through groundbreakers “West Side Story” and “Chicago,” to current blockbusters such as “Jersey Boys” and “Wicked.”

“Our playlist, including several medleys, will have between 25 to 30 songs,” Berg said.

“In addition, these five incredible Broadway stars will  present a number of holiday songs.

“Few people realize that many of the Christmas songs that are considered holiday standards today were first introduced in a Broadway show.”

The more mature members of the audience will recognize many of the holiday hits that date back to the 1940s.

Berg cited two of those songs on the program as Berlin’s memorable “Count Your Blessings” and “White Christmas” from the musical of the same name.

While sets will be minimal in the fast-paced production, Berg said new, special lighting techniques and performers who are dressed elegantly will appeal to audiences.

“We have a show that parents and grandparents will have no qualms about bringing children to see,” Berg said.

Berg is eager to get back onstage after completing work on his new Broadway-bound musical “Grumpy Old Men,” which is based on the Warner Brothers movie classic starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.

“We recently returned from  Winnipeg,” he said.

“No matter how good things look on paper, when you put it onstage for the first time, there are bound to be changes.”

 As owner of Leftfield Productions Inc., Berg has produced more than a thousand Broadway concerts worldwide.

“Broadway Holiday” opens Nov. 27 in Atlanta and will tour throughout the country before arriving in Johnstown.

“This show is a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season,” Berg said.

Ticket prices are $39 and $35.

Tickets are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling        269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.org.

Festive show

What: Neil Berg’s “Broadway Holiday.”

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6.

Tickets: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at the box office or by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or visit www.upjarts.org.

Cost: $39 and $35.

Information: 269-7000.

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