With the reopening of theaters and the return of live shows, this summer is offering not just a variety of performances by top Broadway talents, but also the opportunity to see your favorites on day trips or weekend getaways to destinations outside of NYC. One of those, located off I-95 South in beautiful Bucks County, PA, is the award-winning Bristol Riverside Theatre, presenting critically acclaimed professional theater to regional audiences since 1986.
On Friday, June 18, and running through Saturday, August 28, BRT continues the 2021 version of its popular Summer Music Fest at Bristol Township’s brand-new outdoor amphitheater. Sponsored by William Penn Bank, the three-month-long series of themed concerts, which kicked off on June 11-12, with multi-platinum-selling multi-Grammy-winning a cappella legends Take 6 (Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley), features a line-up of Broadway luminaries performing hits from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, from Broadway and beyond.
“Last spring, we discovered this new amphitheater right in our backyard,” said BRT Co-Producing Director Ken Kaissar. “And then our good friend Mandee Hammerstein introduced us to William Penn Bank CEO Ken Stephon, who had always wanted to sponsor an outdoor Music Fest and was eager to help make it happen. It was a win-win! With the lineup and new location we wanted to celebrate coming back together for live performances and simultaneously expand our offerings so that there’s something for everyone. It’ll be fun to see how the concerts grow and change outdoors. As great as the summer concerts have always been in our theater, there’s something about listening to Broadway hits, under the stars, on a summer evening, that sounds about as great as it gets right now.”
Amy Kaissar, Ken’s partner in BRT’s Co-Producing Directors team, added, “We are beyond thrilled to begin producing in-person shows and concerts again . . . The William Penn Bank Summer Music Fest is like an instant cure for the COVID blues.”
Next up on the schedule is Broadway Memories (June 18-19, at 8 pm, and June 20, at 3 pm), as Derrick Cobey (The Scottsboro Boys; Kiss Me, Kate), Rebecca Robbins (The Phantom of the Opera), Sean Thompson (Sunset Boulevard), and South Jersey native Elyse Langley, along with Artistic Director Keith Baker and the BRT Concert Band, take fans on a trip down memory lane with a selection of Broadway’s greatest show tunes from My Fair Lady to Wicked.
Derrick told me, “After a year and a half of Zoom concerts, auditions, etc., I have to admit that the first time I got back in the room with this fabulous group of singers and this awesome band, I had a few moments of happy tears. There’s nothing like LIVE music and creating art in person, together. It’s also been fun and interesting to find my voice again.” There’s no doubt that audiences will agree whole-heartedly, as they have the pleasure of sharing his excitement and listening to his rich vocals and vibrato, back live on stage.
Upcoming concerts in the William Penn Bank Summer Music Fest line-up are:
Totally Awesome 80s (July 16-17, at 8pm, and July 18, at 3pm), as Cobey and Thompson return with Keith Baker and the BRT Concert Band, Demetria Joyce Bailey, and Laura Giknis, to revisit the decade that brought us Madonna, Tina Turner, and Foreigner;
70’s Flashback (July 30-31, at 8pm), presenting the soundtrack of a generation, as the retro-group sings the music of Carole King, Three Dog Night, The Doobie Brothers, and Led Zeppelin, and dance tracks from Studio 54 and CBGB;
Broadway Ahead (August 13-14, at 8pm, and August 15, at 3pm), featuring songs from Broadway shows just waiting to shine again, including Come From Away, Moulin Rouge, Company, and more; and
The Doo Wop Project (August 27-28, at 8pm), comprised of stars from the Broadway hits Jersey Boys, Motown: The Musical, and A Bronx Tale, tracing the evolution of Doo Wop from the classic sound of the Crests, Belmonts and Flamingos, through the vocal artistry of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, and The Four Seasons, to their original DooWopified version of modern hits from Michael Jackson, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5, and Sam Smith.
Bristol Riverside Theatre’s Summer Music Fest plays weekends through August 28, at Bristol Township’s outdoor amphitheater, 2501 Bath Road, Bristol, PA. For tickets, ranging from $35-55 for each individual show, go online, or call the box office at (215) 785-0100. All seating is general admission and is socially distanced, and masks are required when not seated. Food trucks will be on-site; no alcohol is permitted. Chairs and blankets are available for purchase at the venue and on the website, or you are welcome to bring your own.