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Broadway rocks the Gracie

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Local group to celebrate the rock and roll side of musical theatre

BANGOR When people think of the songs of Broadway musicals, they tend to think of that vast, yet nebulous category of 'showtunes.' However, there's a group of local performers who are offering up the opportunity for audiences to discover that a tune in a show does not necessarily a showtune make.

Local music lovers got their first glimpse of Broadway Rocks Bangor as part of the city's Cool Sounds Summer Concert Series. The response was such that the group decided to get the band back together for another go-round.

This time, they'll be gracing the stage of the Gracie Theatre on the campus of Husson University. The show is taking place on Oct. 9 starting at 7:30. Tickets are $15.

Performers include Dominick Varney, Brianne Beck, Heather Astbury-Libby and Ira Kramer as vocalists, while the band is made up of Phil Burns (piano), Josh Kovach (guitar), Thomas Libby (drums) and Richard Kenefic (bass).

Varney is one of the organizers of this concert as well as one of the performers. The show's origins spring from Varney and company's desire to show the public a different side to musical theatre.

'Brianne and I wanted to put together a show that was musical theatre, but pulled from a rock and roll side of Broadway,' Varney said. 'When people hear Broadway' or musical theatre,' they don't automatically think guitar riffs, heavy bass, sick beats and crazy vocals. But they should!'

Varney also made mention of the perhaps-unexpected types of music that would be performed in a show such as this one. He talked about the variety of rock and pop singers whose songs have made appearances on the Great White Way; the show features songs from luminaries such as Elton John, Queen, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel among many others. They also pull from a number of prominent rock musicals shows such as 'Rent,' 'Hair' and 'The Rocky Horror Show.'

The success of that summer show led to the opportunity to bring it to a different venue.'After such a positive response from our show at the Cool Sounds Summer Concert Series downtown this summer,' said Varney, 'Jeri Misler, managing director of Gracie Theatre, approached the group to do a full show on their amazing stage at Husson University.'

As for what people can look forward to with regards to this show? Quite a lot, it turns out.'Audiences can expect two full hours of ear popping vocals,' Varney said before going on to share just a few of the songs from the set list.

Astbury-Libby will offer her rendition of 'Holding Out For A Hero' from 'Footloose: The Musical.' Kramer fresh from his turn as part of Penobscot Theatre's 'Ring of Fire' will perform Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody' from that band's musical 'We Will Rock You.' Beck will be letting loose on the iconic "Out Tonight" from 'Rent,' while Varney takes on the titular track from Green Day's 'American Idiot.'

All that, plus a whole lot more.'There really is something for everyone at Broadway Rocks Bangor,'' said Varney. 'Rock and roll music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond all of it showcased in award-winning Broadway musicals. The Who, Dolly Parton, Whitesnake and even Dusty Springfield!'

In short this ain't 'Oklahoma.' Make no mistake the heart of rock and roll is still beating even on Broadway.

(For more information about Broadway Rocks Bangor, check out their Facebook page. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by calling the Gracie Theatre box office at 941-7888.)

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