Broadway’s Phantom Joins the Philly Pops for a Show Tunes Series

Hugh Panaro sings with the Philly Pops during the orchestra's 2014 Christmas Spectacular.

Hugh Panaro sings with the Philly Pops during the orchestra’s 2014 Christmas Spectacular.

Hugh Panaro played the title role in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway more than 2,000 times, and somehow he never got tired of it.

“The thing that’s so great to me about theater is it’s a living, breathing organism. The variable that’s always different is the audience,” Panaro says. “There are nights that you might not be feeling well, you might be sick or physically tired, but there were never nights were I was like, ‘oh gosh, I have to do this again.’ I always was excited to do the show, and I think you have to have a certain amount of gratitude, to realize how lucky you are to have this role.”

The Philly native grew up in East Oak Lane and went to Temple before making his Broadway debut as Marius in Les Miserables. When he later joined the Les Miz cast at the Walnut Street Theatre, earning a Barrymore Award in the process, it was as Jean Valjean. But Panaro is best known for The Phantom of the Opera: He’s been cast as both Raoul and the Phantom, the latter on and off over 15 years. Read more »

Music: 5 Shows to See in Philly This Week

The Philly Pops start their season with the songs of Elvis Presley.

The Philly Pops start their season with the songs of Elvis Presley.

Esperanza Spalding @ TLA | Tuesday, October 18
Jazz songwriter, singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding is on tour for Emily’s D+Evolution, which Pitchfork named a Best New Album.

Lalah Hathaway @ Tower Theatre | Wednesday, October 19
Stressed about…everything? Relax to the smooth sounds of soul singer Lalah Hathaway, daughter of musicians Donny and Eulaulah Hathaway.

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Broadway’s Allison Blackwell Comes Home to Sing With the Philly POPS

Allison Blackwell will join the Philly POPS for two July 4th concerts. Photo by Bachrach Photography

Allison Blackwell will join the Philly POPS for two July 4th concerts. Photo by Bachrach Photography

Allison Blackwell doesn’t find herself in Philadelphia very often anymore. The Montgomery County native has been in New York for more than a decade, performing on Broadway in shows like The Lion King. But she came home this past February to slay “Natural Woman” during the Philly POPS’ Carole King Songbook concert — fitting, since Blackwell was Aretha Franklin on Broadway in A Night With Janis Joplin. Read more »

I Survived the Philly POPS—and I’m Under 50!

Philly Pops Header

From the minute some of my friends heard I was going to the Philly POPS, the jokes came rolling in. Most had to do with how many blue-hairs I’d be mingling with before, during, and after the show. A few asked if the ghost of Lawrence Welk would haunt the concert. Some wondered what I would think of the entire experience, given that I lean much more toward the classical music end of things when it comes to live performance. Read more »

11 Things to Do in Philly This Week: Science Meets French Fries, Get Tanked With Santa, Nutcracker Market Opens and More

14 Philly Holiday Shows: Philly Nutt Crak-Up, Ariana Grande at Jingle Ball, David Sedaris’s Holidays on Ice and More


Don’t miss “George Balachine’s The Nutcracker” at the Academy of Music this month. | Photo via Facebook.

With all the concerts, cabarets, plays, and ballets on stage this holiday season, there are plenty of performing arts to see on a special night out.

Down Home Holiday
A holiday hoedown from the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus filled with fiddlers, line dancers, classic holiday tunes and Dolly Parton jams. Thursday, December 4th through Saturday, December 6th, $30-55, Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, 2110 Chestnut Street.

Philly Nutt Crak-Up
The Rappin’ Sugar Plum Fairy is back for another “nutty” take on a traditional holiday tale thanks to ContempraDANCE Theatre. Friday, December 5th through Sunday, December 7th, $35, Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street.

The Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular
Celebrated conductor David Charles Abell leads this popular sing-along of holiday favorites with the help of Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, Hugh Panaro, and the POPS Festival Chorus. Saturday, December 6th through Saturday, December 20th, $40-131, Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street.

George Balachine’s The Nutcracker
Join the 46-year-old tradition by seeing this classic holiday show in Philadelphia with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Boys Choir and awe-inspiring sets and costumes. Saturday, December 6th through Tuesday, December 30th, $50-125, Academy of Music, 240 South Broad Street. 

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Second Annual POPS Ball: “Pops of Gold”


The Second Annual POPS Ball took place Wednesday night at the Hyatt at the Bellevue. The black-tie gala started with an hour-long cocktail party, with passed hors d’oeuvres and souvenir photos being taken.

Governor Tom Corbett stopped by and greeted the guests. At 8 p.m. guests sat down for dinner in the Grand Ballroom where Frank Giordano, president of the Philly Pops, welcomed the guests before the Philly Pops took the stage. Maestro Michael Krajewski conducted a 45-minute Philly Pops concert that highlighted the season, with guest pianist/singer Tony DeSare performing a selection from his “The American Songbook Then and Now,” which will be performed in its entirety in March with the orchestra.

After dinner there was dancing as the 65-piece orchestra performed for another hour, featuring fun numbers like “Bandstand Boogie” and “Mack the Knife” and concluding with “In The Mood,” which had the dance floor packed. Proceeds from the evening go The Philly Pops concert series and educational programs. The emcee for the evening was Pat Ciarrocchi, CBS 3 Philly

Photos after the jump »

Plaques Along Avenue of the Arts’ “Walk of Fame” to Get a Good Polishing Next Week

philly-s-walk-of-fameTo kick off the start of the fall arts season in the city, the Philadelphia Music Alliance, Avenue of the Arts, and the I.A.T.S.E. Local Union 8 will polish the plaques along the Walk of Fame in honor of our rich musical culture.

Next Tuesday, September 23rd, with help from local volunteers and Philadelphia’s music community—including Walk of Fame honorees Chubby Checker, Dee Dee Sharp, Charlie Gracie, Jerry Blavat, and more—Making The Stars Shine will clean and polish the 121 bronze plagues along the Walk of Fame. The Walk spans the Avenue of the Arts from Walnut Street to Spruce Street, honoring Philly’s musical history and esteemed legends.

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PHOTOS: Philly POPS Pays Tribute to Composer Marvin Hamlisch

Shortly before his death in August of 2012, legendary American conductor and composer Marvin Hamlisch was supposed to take over The Philly POPS. That never came to be, but this past weekend the POPS paid homage to his legacy in a show featuring three of his favorite singers: Donna McKechnie, Jodi Benson, and Doug LaBrecque. The trio summoned his memory by singing some of his most memorable tunes from The Way We Were, They’re Playing Our Song, A Chorus Line, and other shows. Guest conductor Lawrence Blank was in charge of all the songs except the final number, “One,” from A Chorus Line. That was conducted by Don Pippin, who led the original cast in the 1975 A Chorus Line on Broadway.