OFFBEAT: 'Jersey Boy' headlining Sept. 5 St. Jude House benefit

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-08-28T00:00:00Z 2014-09-04T18:52:18Z OFFBEAT: 'Jersey Boy' headlining Sept. 5 St. Jude House benefitBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Organizers for St. Jude House in Crown Point have netted actor and singer John Michael Coppola to headline next week's wine tasting charity event at Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake.

Coppola (no relation to the famed director of the same last name) earned some great notice in 2009 while with the Chicago cast of the hit Broadway musical "Jersey Boys." He's a man with many talents and managed to impress audiences and critics alike while cast as the swing understudy for that Windy City run, which required him to have to step in for any number of roles, including playing Frankie Valli and Joe Pesci.

He also went on to appear with the "Jersey Boys" company playing a standing run in Las Vegas at Paris Hotel and Casino.

In October 2011, he was featured in the world premiere of the stage musical "For the Boys" at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Ill. Earlier this year, the William Street Repertory production of the Stephen Sondheim-George Furth musical "Company" starred him as lead Bobby for the February run at the Raue Center for The Arts in Crystal Lake, Ill.

He credits one of his favorite career highlights appearing on the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as sharing stages with Tony Award winners Patti LuPone and George Hearn. When not working as part of a theater production cast, he enjoys applause from touring with his solo concert "A Jersey Voice: Sinatra to Springsteen...and Everyone in Between."

His show at next week's St. Jude House charity event is Thursday, Sept. 5 at Lighthouse Restaurant, 7501 Constitution Ave. in Cedar Lake. The event's theme this year is "St. Jude House Summer Wine Down Wine Tasting and Suds Sampling." Doors open at 6 p.m. and the entertainment is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50, which includes eight samplings of your choice (with additional tastings available), hors d'oeuvres and a cash raffle, with all proceeds benefiting St Jude House, the family violence prevention center and shelter in Crown Point. For tickets and more info, call Mary McShane at (219) 662-7066, Ext. 15 or visit

St. Jude House has a long and rich history, and ranks itself as "the first shelter in the State of Indiana to publish its address in recognition of the fact that victims of domestic violence are more likely to access a shelter's services if the shelter is visible." It was dedicated on Sunday, Oct. 29, 1995.

Crown Point businessman Donald J. Burrell helped make the dream a reality with a vision he had and help he sought from St. Jude, the patron saint of those in need or desperate situations. He said helping establish this organization, completed the promise he made to St. Jude many years ago, that if St. Jude would help him in his business venture, Mr. Burrell would do something to honor St. Jude. To finance his business venture, Burrell had sold his car for $700 and used the proceeds to start a darkroom in the basement of the Gary Catholic Diocese offices with the support of Bishop Andrew G. Grutka. That basement business is now a nationwide, renowned professional color-processing laboratory known as Burrell Professional Labs.

During its first two years in operation, St. Jude House operated primarily from community donations and funds given by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago. The shelter currently serves over 650 women and children a year and provides a full component of services including housing, food, toiletries, counseling for adults and children, case management, legal advocacy, liaison with Child Protective Services and other social service agencies, and educational programs concerning abuse.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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