The Doo Wop Project in Live Concert – Background
Yes, that’s right. Your eyes are not deceiving you. This article is about a live concert held a few nights ago, Thursday, Oct. 22 to be exact. It featured The Doo Wop Project and it was held outdoors at Kean Alumni Stadium in Union, New Jersey. The concert was a part of Kean Stage’s Fall 2020 programs. Kean Stage is finding ways to keep live theater and shows going during this time of the CoVid pandemic.
How are they able to do these shows? The answer is they follow guidelines for safety and they stick to what they need to do to keep their performers and audiences as safe as possible.
This was my second experience in a week attending a live event through Kean Stage. Being honest about it, I’m very careful to follow protocols and guidelines because I’m in a potentially higher risk group. The proper administration and adherence to these protocols by Kean Stage allows me to feel comfortable to go to their shows. After 8 months of no live theater, it was grand for me to have these opportunities.
What happens when you sign up for an event? After you purchase a ticket, you get an email confirmation and you need to send back some basic information like your name and address and the same for people attending with you. When you arrive, you are greeted by the nicest people helping you through the process. The police officers helped me find the right parking lot where I had a temperature check which took maybe 5 seconds! Again I got the Voting sticker to show I was ready to enter the venue.
All people attending and working are required to wear masks the entire time they are there. And great care is taken to allow plenty of social distancing with seating.
Now let’s proceed on with the review of the show.
The Doo Wop Project in Live Concert – A Review
The Doo Wop Project is a group of performers whose love of Doo Wop style music brought them together. Their desire to preserve this sound and share it with audiences of all ages guides the development of their shows. The group is made up of five outstanding performers, all of whom have extensive performance experience and all have appeared in Broadway shows. They are:
There was a band who played under the direction of The Doo Wop Project’s Musical Director Santino Paladino. Mr. Paladino recently was the Musical Director for Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812.
All of this group’s training and performance experience comes through in grand way because the sound that the group produces is smooth listening. I dare say there is not one note out of place. They move around their stage with great expertise. They make the dance moves look easy and yet we know in reality that is not the case for those of us who are not trained.
But one thing stands out above all else and that is the pure joy that comes from their performance to the audience. There is no doubt that this group loves performing and they do all they can to entertain their audience. No doubt that they love the genre and are great caretakers of all that makes it so special.
It was a special moment in the night when the group announced that because of the CoVid pandemic, this concert was the first one they have done for a live audience in eight months. They said this audience would always be one they would remember because of this.
This also marked the first concert for Kean Stages in 8 months. The Manager of Kean Stage, Steve Cochran, opened the evening by welcoming everyone and saying how encouraging it was to see people out. It seemed to me that the audience enjoyed the outing as well judging by the enthusiastic applause throughout the evening and the people bopping along in time the music.
A Fun Evening
The original Doo Wop songs from the 50’s and and early 60’s are remnants of a more innocent time in America. There is no real message that comes from these songs like the folk and protest songs of the mid and later 60’s So to hear them now is a chance to listen to light music that is good fun to hear.
The show provides a type of walk though the history of the genre with sidelines that demonstrate how it affected later music. So it is appropriate that the first song was “Remember Then” made famous by the group called The Earls. A group of classic Doo Woop style songs followed including “That’s My Desire”(described as a rite of passage for any doo wop group), “Baby Come Back to Me,” and “Little Bitty Pretty One.”
One of my favorite sections was a tribute to the legendary Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. A favorite “make out” song from the movie The Bronx Tale, “I Only Have Eyes for You” was beautifully performed. And a tribute to the Four Seasons included songs from their catalog including “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man.”
One of the unique features of this group is that they take songs from modern day and transform them into a Doo Wop format. They include songs from groups like Maroon Five and even a country song. But one of the big highlights of the night was their remarkable rendition of “The Impossible Dream” from the show Man of La Mancha.
The final song was the Four Seasons’ hit “Oh What a Night.” The Doo Wop Project opens and closes with songs that fit the story line so well.
Yes indeed – oh what it a night it was!
A big virtual pat on the back goes out to Kean Stage for all their work and dedication to theater and live performances that they are doing. This organization is working hard to keep theater accessible through this difficult time.
I don’t know if it was a coincidence but driving to Kean and upon my arrival, it was a cloudy evening. I felt good when I saw the very bright lighting on the field and in the Stadium. When the show began, most of the lights went out. As the live music poured over me, I looked up and lo and behold, the clouds had separated and the stars were visible. Oddly, the cloud cover was back as I left after the show ended. What made that happen like it did? I like to think it was the power of live theater and live performance. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Photos by K. Nowosad