On Stage: Step back in time this weekend

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Nicky as Carol Channing, a Musical Revue

Entertainment history will be on display this weekend at a pair of live shows at the Rrazz Room (6426 Lower York Road, New Hope, 888-596-1027, www.TheRrazzRoom.com).

One show will feature a live performance by a multi-faceted entertainer who has been plying his trade for more than 50 years. The other show will have a talented Broadway veteran performing a tribute show to a still-living entertainer whose first job on stage was at the beginning of 1941.

On September 15, Nicky Ciampoli will present his one-man show – “Nicky as Carol Channing, a Musical Revue.”

Ciampoli’s show recreates moments from Carol Channing’s iconic career from Broadway to Nashville to television and film. Audiences can expect their favorite songs from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “Show Girl,” “Hello, Dolly!,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and more.

Ciampoli creates a nostalgic evening that pays homage to the performances and personal quirks of one of Broadway’s brightest lights. Everything is performed live – with no lip-synching. Each show is a spontaneous, fun-filled spectacular honoring Channing.

The talented singer-actor offers audiences an up-close and personal look at Channing – gained by his time when he actually was “up-close and personal” with Channing.

“I worked with Carol Channing for several years as her assistant,” said Ciampoli, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Palm Springs, California.

“I knew of her previous to that, but I didn’t know the extent of her career. I went to work for her in my early 20s and was her personal assistant. She was 86 at the time and still doing shows.”

Channing, now 97, has retired from her stage and screen career.

“Being around her all the time, I picked up on all her idiosyncrasies,” said Ciampoli. “It was a great experience to work with her — and I’m still in touch with her family.”

Ciampoli, who grew up in New Port Richey, Florida, has been active in music and theater from grade school through high school. By the time he graduated, Ciampoli was a proficient pianist and had developed several routines — including one where he imitated Liberace.

“I used to impersonate Liberace, but I never did female illusions,” said Ciampoli. “I began with Carol Channing and stuck with it. It started when I went up and sang ‘Hello Dolly’ at a piano bar and got a great response. I’ve been doing it ever since.

“I stuck with doing Carol Channing because it’s more personal. I’ve been doing my show about her for 11 years now.

“Everything I do on my show is something that Carol has done throughout her career. Everything is Carol Channing. My shows range from 60-120 minutes. The show at the Rrazz Room is 75 minutes so I won’t be doing a costume change. But, I do bring props.

“I do around 15 stories about Carol and her working with other artists such as Sophie Tucker and Marlena Dietrich – and about fictional characters Carol has created. I talk about Carol Channing when she played the Grand Ole Opry.”

Ciampoli’s show features many songs made famous by Carol Channing.

“Obviously, I do ‘Hello Dolly’,” said Ciampoli. “Some of the other songs that are fan favorites are ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,’ ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ ‘Jazz Baby,’ ‘Before the Parade Passes By,’ and ‘I’m Just a Little Girl from Little Rock.’”

Video link for Nicky Ciampoli — https://youtu.be/0nV4qEl8ywo.

The show at the Rrazz Room on September 15 will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30 and $35.

John Davidson

On September 16, the Rrazz Room will host “An Evening With TV, Broadway, Film & Concert Star — John Davidson.”

“This will be my first time to play the Rrazz Room,” said Davidson, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in the woods in the lake District of New Hampshire. “I was scheduled to play there last year and then I got a Broadway show.

“I did three National Tours of ‘Wicked.’ I’d go back-and-forth between theater and solo shows. I played the Wizard in ‘Wicked.’

“Then, I got ‘Finding Neverland.’ I played Charles Frohman/James Hook – the role Kelsey Grammer played on Broadway. It’s the best role I’ve ever had.”

After earning a B.A. in Theater Arts from Denison University, Davidson took his naturally-gifted baritone voice to the musical stage and made his Broadway debut with Bert Lahr and Larry Blyden in the short-lived musical, “Foxy,”, in 1964 at the Ziegfeld Theater. TV producer Bob Banner, who discovered such other formidable talents as Carol Burnett, Dom DeLuise and Bob Newhart, caught Davidson in one of his performances and immediately took him under his wing.

“My career has been crazy,” said Davidson. “I started on Broadway in the 1960s. Then, Bob Banner discovered me and brought me into television.”
On television, Davidson co-starred as “Matt” in a 1964 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of the classic musical, “The Fantasticks.” He also appeared as a regular on “The Entertainers” in 1964 and then hosted “The Kraft Summer Music Hall” in 1966. Back on stage, he won a Theater World Award in 1965 for his role as “Curly” in “Oklahoma!”

Davidson earned his own daytime talk show, “The John Davidson Show” in 1969. He sang on his own TV Christmas specials and guested in episodes of “The Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island.” He hosted “That’s Incredible!,” was a cast member on “The Hollywood Squares” and took over as host of “The New Hollywood Squares” in 1986. He also took over Dick Clark’s emcee post on the syndicated game show, “The $10,000 Pyramid “ during the 1992-1993 season.

Music, however, has always been first and foremost for Davidson.

In addition to recording 12 solo albums in both the pop and country music genres, he plays the guitar and banjo and has sung in English, French and Spanish. A perennial nightclub and concert favorite, he has starred in many national tours and stock productions including “The Music Man,” “Camelot,” “Carousel,” “Will Rogers’ Follies,” “Paint Your Wagon,” “High Infidelity,” “State Fair” and his one-man show, “Bully” as Theodore Roosevelt.

“What I love to do best is what I’m doing at the Rrazz Room,” said Davidson. “I’m a singer/songwriter and a storyteller. I do a little bit of Broadway stuff – and a lot of songs people over 40 will know. I also do some originals including my song ‘70s Suck,’ which is about being in your 70s. I’ll turn 77 in December.

“It’s an entertaining show. I’m not a song stylist. I started off as a theater arts major playing musical theater. Then I discovered who John Davidson was.

“I’ve come a long way. It’s been a great 50 years, but it’s also been a confusing 50 years. I’ve always loved the live aspect of my career – especially Broadway.”

Video link for John Davidson — https://youtu.be/rpJgrv2sHNU.

The show at the Rrazz Room on September 16 will start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $45.

On September 15, metalheads will be flocking to South Street in Philly when “The Rise of the Underground Tour” touches down at the Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011,http://www.lnphilly.com).

The all-ages show, which starts at 7:30 p.m., features Silvertomb, Life of Agony, and Year of the Knife.

Silvertomb will be a big draw for fans of metal music – even though the band has yet to release an album.

With a line-up that features former members of Type O Negative, Danzig and Agnostic Front, the band has a built-in cadre of fans.

Silvertomb

Silvertomb is the latest musical endeavor of guitarist-vocalist Kenny Hickey (Type O Negative, Seventh Void), drummer Johnny Kelly (Type O Negative, Danzig), bassist Hank Hell (Seventh Void, Inhuman), guitarist Joseph James, (Agnostic Front, Inhuman) and keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Aaron Joos (Awaken The Shadow, Empyreon).

“This band formed out of the ashes of Seventh Void,” said Hickey, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from his home in Staten Island, New York.

“Matt Brown left Seventh Void after we had done a lot of hard touring. I looked and said the hell with this – I can’t do it anymore. Joseph James from Agnostic Front came in. I had written a lot of material and we were still calling it Seventh Void. But, there was never an album.

“Then, I came up with a couple songs on which I heard orchestration in Type O style. Type O Negative was long gone by then.

“I started writing songs with strings, so we needed a keyboard. That’s when we got Aaron Joos. Some of the older songs were written as original Seventh Void songs but the band has evolved since.”

The new band – Silvertomb – exists on a plane where metal music crashes into prog rock…where Danzig gets in the sack with King Crimson.

“There is definitely a prog rock influence,” said Hickey. “It developed naturally. The album is done, and every song segues into the next one. When I write – a lot of time, it’s fragmented ideas. That led me to doing the segues.

“Heaviness and darkness come naturally to me, so heaviness is still number one. I also wanted to add other elements of favorites like Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath – stuff I wanted to play and stuff I wanted to hear.

“My taste is very broad – from the Beatles to the blues…especially the blues. The blues element has to be there. We’re going to spread out and stretch limitations.”

Video link for Silvertomb – https://youtu.be/hqBI-lMZ9Ts.

The show at the TLA, which features features Silvertomb, Life of Agony, and Year of the Knife, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $23.

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