Review: Being Barry Manilow

Mark Bezos, left, and Jeff Bezos seen on day two of Summit LA17 in Downtown Los Angeles’s Historic Broadway Theater District on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Last night, CNN aired a one-hour, in-depth interview with Barry Manilow, the 78-year-old pop sensation who has garnered countless hits and millions of fans over the span of nearly 60 years. So, did this profile about “The Showman of Our Generation,” the man who Frank Sinatra said, “He’s next!” when referencing, live up to the iconic star’s blinding luminescence? Read on for my thoughts.

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Rent 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour Comes To Philly

The Kimmel Cultural Campus will present the return of the RENT 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour, back by popular demand, in the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Merriam Theater on March 4 – 6, 2022. Additionally, former Kimmel Education student and Philadelphia native Shafiq Hicks, a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and a voice major at Temple University, will star in the role of ‘Tom Collins.’ Read on for more details.

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Review: Anastasia

Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

Last night, I attended my first musical since seeing Hello, Dolly! in February 2020. I saw Anastasia at the Merriam Theater, here in Philadelphia. Running from November 23 through November 28, this Broadway hit musical is based on the 1997 film of the same name, which is based on a 1956 movie, also of the same name. So, you could say that this is a story that’s been told for 65 years and still going strong. Read on for my thoughts on Anastasia and whether or not you should buy a ticket.

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Audible Review: Driving Miss Daisy

I had the honor of seeing Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones act together, live on stage, in Gore Vidal’s The Best Man on Broadway in 2012. It was a spectacular show, and both actors, as well as the rest of the star-studded cast, were incredible. Having had this experience, I was eager to listen to the Audible Original production of Driving Miss Daisy, narrated by Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones.

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Joey Cassata on Wrestling, Music, & Acting

Joey Cassata is a multi-talented artist. He’s a gifted musician, actor, and writer. He wrote Wrestling With Joeylicious, which is the novelization of an upcoming TV series that all wrestling fans will love! I had the chance to interview Joey about this project, as well as his time touring with KISS, being part of a major Broadway production with Josh Groban, and more. Enjoy!

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Review: Cats Comes to Philly

From June 18 through June 30, Cats, the award-winning and record-breaking Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, is in Philadelphia. I had the opportunity to see the show and it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I love cats (my wife and I have two that we adopted), and I love musicals. I also adore Barry Manilow’s interpretation of the signature song from this show: “Memory.” However, I found this show to be one of the weirdest musicals I’ve ever seen.

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Patti LuPone: Don’t Monkey with Broadway

Patti LuPone brought her one-woman show, “Don’t Monkey With Broadway,” to Verizon Hall in Philadelphia on June 9 and it was phenomenal. The two-time Tony Award winner performed classic Broadway show tunes by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Jule Styne, Stephen Schwartz, Charles Strouse, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. She also told stories in between songs about how her life-long love affair with Broadway began and her concern for what the Great White Way is becoming today.

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Review: Aladdin The Musical

Disney’s Aladdin, the musical, is currently at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Performances run until July 1, and I highly recommend that you go. I went to a performance last night and the nearly sold-out crowd ate it up from beginning to end. Having watched a clip of this show from the Tony Awards a few years back, I knew that the Genie was going to be the star of the show and he was. Michael James Scott, who plays the role of the Genie and was the understudy for the Genie during the original Broadway run, is fantastic. Just watch him sing and dance to “Friend Like Me” and you’ll be blown away by his stamina and unending charisma. He’s the heart and soul of the show and made it a blast to watch.

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A Conversation With Dennis DeYoung, Former STYX Vocalist

dennis-deyoungI had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite singers and one of the greatest voices in the history of music: Dennis DeYoung, lead vocalist of STYX hits “Come Sail Away,” “Babe,” “Mr. Roboto,” “The Best of Times,” “Don’t Let It End,” “Show Me The Way,” and “Lady.”

Our discussion lasted for more than an hour and we covered a myriad of topics, including Barry Manilow, Journey, what DeYoung misses most about being in STYX, the state of the music industry, politicians using music without the permission of the artists, and much more. DeYoung was funny, charming, smart, and easily one of the most enjoyable interviews I’ve ever conducted.

Make sure to visit DeYoung’s website for the latest tour dates. He has two performances in the Philadelphia/New Jersey/New York area coming up in October. I’m attending his show on October 8 at The Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa. For those of you closer to New York, DeYoung has an October 21 performance scheduled at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island, with special guest Steve Augeri, former lead vocalist of Journey.

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I Am What I Am

Yesterday I decided to drop my pseudonym from my blog, and buy a domain in my real name. Why? Well, I originally wanted to write under the name M.C. James because I thought it would be more easily searchable than Michael Cavacini. However, I realized that David Baldacci and Lisa Scottoline became bestselling authors with their Italian last names, so why can’t I?

Of course, this reminded me of a song: “I Am What I Am,” from La Cage aux Folles. This song seems apropos because, beyond its original meaning, the lyrics can speak to anyone questioning his or her identity in an artistic medium. It’s not always easy figuring out who one should be or what works best. But sometimes simply saying, “I am what I am” and going with it makes the most sense. Many people have covered this song, but one of my personal favorites is by Dame Shirley Bassey. Below are the lyrics as well as a video of Bassey performing it live. Enjoy!

I Am What I Am

I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It’s my world
That I want to have a little pride in
My world
And it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a damn
Till you can say
I am what I am

I am what I am
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
Till you can shout out
I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life so it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a damn till you can shout out
I am what I am