Broadway & American Idol Stars, Plus Tributes to Willie Nelson, Amy Winehouse & Nina Simone
Ocean, NJ — The Axelrod Performing Arts Center (APAC) introduces the Anne & Sheldon Vogel Virtual Concert Series, Thursday evenings at 7 p.m., beginning on July 16, streaming on Facebook Live. Co-produced by Remember Jones and Andrew DePrisco, this summer series includes a lineup of Broadway stars, American Idol alumni, and up-and-coming young artists.
As APAC continues to bring the arts into our community’s homes, this virtual concert series is free to the public. With a team of professional sound and video technicians, these concerts are performed and livestreamed from the theater. Donations will be accepted to help support the theater and compensate the singers, musicians and technicians who make these livestreams possible. APAC is also raising funds for two community outreach organizations, the Loveland Foundation and Encircle.
The series begins on Thursday, July 16, with New York jazz artist and Bistro Award winner Gabrielle Stravelli performing from her most recent album “Pick Up My Pieces: Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson,” accompanied by Art Hirahara, piano; Pat O’Leary, bass, and Eric Halvorson, drums. The set includes reinventions of such Nelson standards as “Crazy,” “Always on My Mind,” “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces,” and “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.” The Wall Street Journal described Stravelli’s new album as “her most remarkably transformational.”
On July 23, Remember Jones will pay homage to Amy Winehouse on the ninth anniversary of her death, performing the artist’s “Back to Black” album with a full band. “Remembering Amy: The Songs of Amy Winehouse” will feature Kristin Cochran, Molly Dorsman, Stevi Incremona and Taylor Tote.
On July 30, Tony Award nominee and Broadway star Constantine Maroulis will perform his favorite rock songs plus songs from his brand new album, “Until I’m Wanted.” Maroulis, known for his star turns on Broadway in “Rock of Ages” and “Jekyll and Hyde,” performed in the Axelrod’s 50th Anniversary Concert of “HAIR” in 2018.
Two more American Idol finalists take the stage on Aug. 6: Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo. Young portrayed Radames in Axelrod’s production of “Tim Rice and Elton John’s AIDA” last summer. Young and DeGarmo starred opposite each other while performing on Broadway (and subsequently married). Both artists, currently living in Nashville, have released new albums within the past year.
On Aug. 13, APAC pays homage to Black chanteuse and civil rights activist Nina Simone with a new show, “To Be Free: The Sound of Nina Simone,” featuring Amma Osei (Broadway’s “Rock of Ages”), Fredi Walker-Browne (Broadway’s “Rent”), and recording artist JaQuita May with special guests.
Last summer at APAC, Osei played the Narrator in “Joseph…Dreamcoat” and JaQuita played the Acid Queen in “The Who’s Tommy” concerts. A portion of the tribute’s proceeds will support the Loveland Foundation, an organization committed to showing up for communities of color, especially Black women and girls. Their “resources and initiatives …prioritize opportunity, access, validation and healing.”
On Aug. 20, APAC presents New York singer-songwriter Joey Contreras, whose first album “Love Me, Love Me Not” featured multiple Broadway singers and earned him international attention. He is the composer of two-stage musicals and a Disney short film. Contreras will be performing his songs alongside Brian Russell Carey and Mia Gerachis.
Remember Jones returns on Aug. 27 for a new installment of his popular virtual show Cocktail Hour, which will feature several special guests from the local music scene.
THE ANNE & SHELDON VOGEL VIRTUAL CONCERT SERIES SCHEDULE:
July 16: The Willie Nelson Songbook with Gabrielle Stravelli
July 23: Remembering Amy: The Songs of Amy Winehouse, hosted by Remember Jones
July 30: Tony Award Nominee Constantine Maroulis
Aug. 6: American Idol’s Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo
Aug. 13: To Be Free: The Sound of Nina Simone
Aug. 20: An Evening with the Music of Joey Contreras
Aug. 27: Cocktail Hour with Remember Jones
About the Axelrod Performing Arts Center
The Axelrod Performing Arts Center is one of New Jersey’s newest professional theaters. It is a regional theater located on the Jersey Shore that focuses on musicals, original concerts, ballet, film, arts education, and more. The Axelrod is the home of the Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater, Monmouth County’s only professional ballet company, and the Axelrod Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program, which presents fully staged musicals and workshops and classes throughout the year. As one of Central Jersey’s fastest-growing cultural hubs, bolstered by artistic excellence and an eye toward educating and developing tomorrow’s talent, the Axelrod continually works to create original programming for diverse communities. The Axelrod PAC is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that relies on community support for its continued success. For more information, visit www.axelrodartscenter.com.