Many productions have gotten more music-based at Theatre at the Center in Munster. The TATC team has stepped things up in an effort to woo local music fans who once frequented the now demolished Star Plaza Theatre.
They've enlisted the help of show producer Michael Ingersoll's "Artists Lounge Live" (michaelingersoll.com), which creates and delivers what I call "legacy shows" paying tribute to many of the great artists of the past who may have long ago shuffled off this mortal coil but whose music still appeals to so many people.
The shows feature the music of artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and Bobby Darin whose musical biographies have already been featured on the TATC stage this season.
This current season at TATC features many more live music events on the schedule, balanced with some great theater performances. In addition to the "Artists Lounge Live" shows that regularly play there, upcoming shows readers of The Local Scene column may be interested in catching are Chicago blues guitar great Wayne Baker Brooks on Aug. 17 and the Earth, Wind & Fire tribute Shining Star on Aug. 24. Eclectic Americana/Folk/Gypsy music group The Trouble Notes stars on Oct. 26 before things wrap up with a pair of performances by the popular Beatles tribute band American English on Dec. 28 and 29.
The season ends on Dec. 31 with a New Year's Eve Ingersoll-produced show, "Unforgettable: Falling In Love with Nat King Cole," starring Evan Tyrone Martin as the timeless crooner responsible for such standards as "Smile," "Straighten Up and Fly Right," "L-O-V-E" and the show's title song, "Unforgettable."
Away from the music scene, I attended the opening night of "The Lady With All The Answers" at Theatre At The Center over the weekend. The show stars Janet Ulrich Brooks.
Though not sure this one-woman show about late newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers would be to my liking, Brooks quickly won this writer over in the first five minutes of her performance. She was brilliant in the role and delivered an engaging performance.
Information and tickets for any of the shows at Theatre at the Center can be found at theatreatthecenter.com or 219-836-3258.
• While in town from his home base of New Mexico to visit family in the area, East Chicago native Jamie M. Harrison (jamiemharrison.com) -- a gifted nationally touring entertainer who sings, plays guitar and writes songs -- will perform a live mini-concert at The Record Bin (218 Main St.) in downtown Hobart this Sunday. Harrison is the son of international music icon Jim Skafish and music fans can keep up with him at: facebook.com/Jharri86. The store's live music room has very limited space, so entry to this intimate 4 p.m. solo performance is strictly on a "first come, first in" basis with entry starting at 3 p.m. Those unable to attend can hear some of the performance broadcast live in real time via the in-store internet radio channel at RegionRadio.Live. All ages are welcome to attend. More: 219-945-9511.
• M&R Rush -- a local music force in the Region since their hit single "Rock & Roll Chicago" hit the #1 radio spot in 1979 -- do their official Illinois side of the state line CD Release Party on Saturday with an 8 p.m. performance at Cheers (4660 147th St.) in Midlothian. More: 708-385-9200 or mandrrush.com.
• This is the weekend the rock rolls and the tents rise at the Rising Sun Campgrounds (7510 N. 250 E.) in Monterey, Indiana as several regional artists gather to perform at the "Soulshine Music Festival." The three day music festival runs July 20-22 with camping, fire dancers, a drum circle, yoga, and a bevy of regional music groups, such as Hurricane Reggae Band, Chris & Lou Band, Phil N The Blanks, The Highway Band, The Unstoppables, Dave's Envy, The Healers and The Righteous Hillbillies. More: risingsuncamp.com or 574-542-4780.
• Northwest Indiana club perennials PAWNZ will be performing an 8 p.m. show filled with classic rock and dance tunes on Saturday at Buddy & Pals Place (1206 Summit St.) in Crown Point. More: 219-662-0088 or buddyandpals.com.
• Gene Stewart -- longtime member of The Spaniels Forever and The Soulstirrers -- steps out to perform his Sam Cooke Tribute show this Friday at the Bendix Theatre (120 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.) in South Bend with accompaniment by Sheryl Youngblood's Say Yes Band. Showtime is 7 p.m. with $20 general admission tickets. More: 269-362-0026.
• Leroy's Hot Stuff (333 West U.S. Hwy. 20) in Porter welcomes the blues of C Mo' Blues Unlimited on Friday at 8 p.m., followed on Saturday by the brassy sounds of the horns-heavy group, Tonal Attitude at 9 p.m. More: leroyshotstuff.com or 219-926-6211.
• The weekly Wednesday evening Music & Market band performances in downtown Highland's Main Square Park are being replaced for the weeks of July 25 and Aug. 1 with the live musical "Sleeping Beauty," featuring a cast of 29 mostly teenage singer/actors, and directed by Whiting's April Vargo, the owner of Sing.Play.Act. Sound for the tale about the slumbering princess, is being provided by engineer and musician John Huber of The Spot Studio in Schneider. “It’s not the Walt Disney version. It's based more on the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale, but with a more modern, contemporary style,” said Vargo, who along with cast members will guest Friday at noon on the 89.1FM-Lakeshore Public Radio program "Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges" More: 219-838-0114 or facebook.com/highlandparks.