The 25-year-old Bucks County music and theatre tradition is in a new virtual format after COVID-19 prevents in-person attendance
Bristol Riverside Theatre brings this year’s 25 year-old Summer Music Fest to a close with a huge celebration of the music of Broadway. While Broadway itself is still dark, BRT brings local favorites and Broadway voices into your home for the theatre’s annual Broadway Summer Spectacular. All Summer long, the show has gone on from Bucks County to the world. This popular, annual summertime music series is a highlight for one of the region’s beloved theatres. This summer, performances can be watched anywhere with a solid internet connection and a music lover singing along behind the screen. The series closes with the annual Broadway Summer Spectacular September 2, 4 and 6, 2020. This final show will feature local favorite Keith Spencer, Broadway and TV actor Telly Leung, Broadway actor Derrick Cobey, and BRT audience favorite Jessica Wagner who recently toured with The Phantom of the Opera across North America. Tickets for Broadway Summer Spectacular are on sale now. Each performance is pre-recorded. The band is led by BRT Artistic Director Keith Baker, who also serves as the host and Music Director for the show.
“We heard raves about the first concert. One patron called me in the middle of it to tell me that she was unexpectedly crying because she hadn’t realized how much she missed theatre” said BRT Co-Producing Director Amy Kaissar. “What we’ve heard more than anything is how surprised folks were that it really felt like we were all together watching a concert and how much it reminded them of everything they love about BRT.”
Tickets from the series help keep the theatre’s doors open and raise funds to help the theatre reopen later this year. Tickets to the show cost $35. After each purchase, the buyer will be sent a YouTube Link prior to the performance. Tickets are available online now at BRTstage.org or over the phone at 215-785-0100. The Summer Music Fest is sponsored by William J. Salerno, Esq. and Juniper Communities with special thanks to The Grundy Foundation.
“We wanted to find a way to keep a connection to our audiences,” said BRT Artistic Director Keith Baker. “I hope audiences continue to enjoy our Summer Music Fest — this time from the comforts of wherever they are. The show must go on and we can’t thank everyone enough for their ongoing support of our work.”
Summer Music Fest finishes with the annual Broadway Summer Spectacular. Once again, BRT will bring Broadway to Bristol in one sensational concert. It will be an evening packed with Broadway’s best from composers like Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers, and George Gershwin.
With the first concert the company learned a lot of technology. They have shifted the concerts from Zoom to YouTube. “It’s essentially a new frontier of concert making and the learning curve has been steep.” said Ken Kaissar, BRT Co-Producing Director. “We learn more per day doing this than we normally learn per year making theatre. I think the most exciting thing to discover has not been technical, but rather that it really is possible to create shared live experiences this way.”
This exciting journey through some of Broadway’s greatest hits runs Wednesday, September 2 at 7:00pm, Friday, September 4 at 7:00pm and Sunday, September 6 at 3:00pm. Audiences can expect songs from Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, Aladdin, Kiss Me Kate, Guys and Dolls, Company, The Secret Garden, My One and Only, and others. Broadway Summer Spectacular features the talents of Bristol Riverside Theatre favorites Derrick Cobey, Keith Spencer, and Jessica Wagner. The theatre is welcoming Telly Leung of Broadway’s Aladdin, Allegiance, Godspell, and others, for his BRT debut.
Jessica Wagner, who wowed BRT audiences twice as Patsy Cline and has appeared in many Summer Music Fest concerts returns to this annual summer event. Derrick Cobey, from Broadway’s Kiss Me Kate and Scottsboro Boys, as well as Ragtime at both BRT and The Arden Theatre Company, returns to the BRT stage. BRT favorite Keith Spencer, who has appeared in the other Summer Music Fest shows will bring down the house in this final concert.
For all shows this year, Baker hosts the Summer Music Fest live from his own living room. Baker is a triple threat here as he will be the conductor/band leader and play the keyboard. His band includes: Robert Garguillo (bass), Kathy Goff (percussion), Neil Nemetz (guitar), and Claudia Pellegrini (violin).
Habib Azar, a six-time Emmy Award-winning television director, is the Broadcast Director and Editor. Hiram McLaren Becker is the Technical Director. BRT Resident Costume Designer Linda B. Stockton is the Costume Designer. Charles S. Reece is the Master Electrician and Brett Pearson is the Audio Engineer.
Keith Baker and Founding Director Susan Atkinson created the Summer Music Fest 25 years ago to offer programming in the summer at the theatre. The concerts were a way to excite the audience during a time when the theatre was dark, and each year the audience has grown and turned the concerts into one of BRT’s most popular events.
“We’re so proud to bring this music tradition back and lift everyone’s spirits,” added Baker. “When our production of Cabaret was cut short at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and theatre stages everywhere went dark, we lost a bit of joy, creativity and hope in the world. We want to bring back the sound of music to theatre lovers everywhere and keep the 25-year-old tradition alive. I hope the Summer Music Fest continues as long as we have audiences to see them.”
Tickets are on sale now for the final concert. Tickets are $35 and available online at BRTstage.org or over the phone at 215-785-0100.
ABOUT BRISTOL RIVERSIDE THEATRE
Since 1986, BRT has continued to bring critically acclaimed professional theatre to Bucks County. The theatre is the recipient of over 71 Barrymore Award nominations for Excellence in Theatre, given annually by Theatre Philadelphia. Under the direction of Artistic Director Keith Baker, Founding Director Susan D. Atkinson, and General Manager David J. Abers, the theatre serves as a cultural hub for the community. In addition to its Mainstage productions, BRT offers four concerts, including the holiday tradition An American Christmas Songbook, the new play development series America Rising, and the summer theatre arts camp ArtRageous. For information, visit www.brtstage.org.