Get ready Rochester! The premiere of ‘Two Tickets To Paradise: The Musical’ hits the stage on Valentine’s Day for five performances at the Kodak Center (formerly Theatre On The Ridge), from Wednesday, February 14th through Sunday, February 18th. The play, of course, takes its title from the iconic song by Eddie Money, as it focuses on Money’s extraordinary life from his youth to the pinnacle of his career and beyond.
Produced by the Rochester Association of Performing Arts (RAPA), the show promises to be a great experience for audiences. It will revolve around many of Money’s chart-topping hits along with original music written by Eddie himself. The Money Man will also be part of the performance, serving as narrator and providing musical contributions on the saxophone and harmonica. The young Eddie is portrayed by Alec Nevin, who learned his craft at Ithaca College and has numerous New York City theatre credits. The cast includes a mix of veteran and upcoming actors from Western New York theatre, NYC shows, and grads from excellent college theatre programs.
Eddie Money was born Edward Joseph Mahoney in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island. He comes from a family with deep roots in law enforcement and was himself an NYPD trainee for a couple of years before moving west to pursue his passion for song. Eddie is a singer, songwriter, and plays multiple instruments. His champion on the professional music scene was none other than the legendary promoter and manager Bill Graham (played by Shawn Gray in the production).
Through the 1970s and 1980s, Eddie was a steady fixture on the music charts. Money had a special ability to write both popular and meaningful songs. While some were excellently crafted pop-rock love songs – “Two Tickets To Paradise,” “Baby Hold On,” “Think I’m In Love” – others pushed the boundaries of usual popular hits. “Gimmee Some Water” is told from the viewpoint of a man gone wrong who is trying to stay ahead of a posse that wants to hang him. “No Control” is a personal reflection on Money’s brush with death by drug overdose. The central character in the song “Shakin’” is a young woman who stole her father’s car and famously “blew out the speakers on her daddy’s radio.” It was Money’s ability to create memorable characters in his songs that so many people around the world gravitated toward, as well as the performer himself who was always accessible to his fans and maintained an aura of a regular guy rather than a haughty rock star. These same traits are what promise to make ‘Two Tickets To Paradise: The Musical’ a hit with audiences.
The success of Money Man’s career was not trivial: numerous Top 10 smash hits including a couple of chart-toppers, double-digit Top 40 triumphs, many more tunes in the Top 100, a Gold Record, three Platinum Albums, and one Double-Platinum disc surpass the achievement of about 99 percent of acts that ever sniffed the charts.
The production by RAPA is in good hands under the skillful guidance of director Eric Vaughn Johnson who is well known for his deft touch in musicals at the Kodak Center such as “West Side Story,” “Mary Poppins,” “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Spring Awakening,” and the first Rochester production of “Sister Act,” just to name some recent efforts. The steady and talented Jim Vollerston is producing, and musical and vocal director Yunjin Audrey Kim, who debuted at Carnegie Hall in 2013, will assure high-quality music from a blend of rockers and Eastman School of Music Orchestral performers. (We like to humbly refer to the Eastman School of Music as the very best music school in the world, btw.) Set design is by Rochester favorite Jack Haldoupis who was the Artistic Director at Blackfriars for 35 years.
So the pieces are in place for a memorable show! What you have to do to make that memory complete is to get yourself to the Kodak Center at 200 West Ridge Road sometime between Valentine’s Day opening performance (tickets are going fast for opening night) on the evening of February 14th and the Sunday the 18th’s 2:00 p.m. matinee show. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday all have evening shows. Guys, forget the chocolate and flowers this year – take your significant other to a great musical and one that you’re guaranteed to enjoy, too!
Tickets are available online at RAPA Theatre (www.rapatheatre.org) or by phone at 585-254-0073. The Rochester iconic music emporium Record Archive also has tickets. There are hotel specials available as well as other Eddie mementos. The Money Man loves Rochester, so let’s show him some love back at the world premiere of “Two Tickets To Paradise: The Musical!”