New Musical Revue Promises Surprises for Chapin Fans
by Bill Hornung
Rarely a week goes by when Act II theater supporters inquire when Lies and Legends, the musical revue of Harry Chapin music, will return to the theater. It was the smash hit when the Ambler, Pennsylvania, theater first opened its doors just outside of Philadelphia in 2001.
"It was a great show. Everybody loved it," said Artistic Director Alan Blumenthal. "But I had this idea that we should do something a little different."
So, Blumenthal and Director William Roudebush teamed up to develop a new production called Harry Chapin: Remember When The Music. With the blessings of the Chapin family and the record label, Blumenthal said the new show weaves together a story that loosely follows Chapin's life.
News of the show has traveled fast through the Chapin underground. About 10 performances from the May 7-June 6, 2004 run already are sold out. Blumenthal said more show dates might be added.
With Remember When The Music as the central theme throughout the show, much of the production is based on several medleys that revolve around favorite Chapin themes of love, loneliness, children and tragedy.
"Some of his songs just really tie together, and obviously his songs tell stories," Blumenthal said. "It was easy to take parts of songs and mix them together.
"We had our first sing-through with the cast not long ago, and it gave me goose bumps," he said.
Three of the five cast members are former members of the L&L cast. The production also includes a five-piece band. Blumenthal promises some surprise effects during the show that Chapin fans will love.
As unabashed Chapin fans themselves the theater's motto is "A Better Place To Be" the Act II directors hope the new show will instill the same spirit among the crowd that L&L did. Blumenthal still remembers how the songs brought together an audience evenly divided between senior citizens and high school students during one Wednesday matinee.
"The elder people to a great extent knew Chapin; the kids had never heard of him," he continued. "It was just something great to see these two groups interact and talk about the music."
L&L also helped raise $3,500 for World Hunger Year (WHY) through concessions, including $1 bananas. The theater placed a "keep the change" sign near the bananas and theater-goers would frequently toss in $20 to support WHY. The banana concession and other WHY fundraisers will return with the new show.
staging the production takes on a special meaning because one of Chapin's
last performances was in the Philadelphia area. "He played to a crowd
of maybe 400 to 500, but probably 3,000 to 4,000 people now claim they
were there," Blumenthal muses.
Watch for the Next Issue of Circle! on June 7