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Friendly City Is The Place To Be!

April 11, 2010

The Friendly City will soon be the "It" place to be! Plans are being formulated for the next "Broadway Cares" benefit performance in Wheeling.

Organizer Justin Misenhelder said the event, dubbed "Broadway Cares: The It Factor," will take place in the Phyllis A. Beneke Theater at Wheeling Park High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 14. Tickets will go on sale at the door at 6 p.m. that day.

Misenhelder, a Wheeling native who's pursuing a theatrical career as a singer and actor in New York and with touring companies, explained that this year's show is "basically a competition," in the style of a "faux 'American Idol'" event.

Auditions for "The It Factor," will be conducted at the Phyllis A. Beneke Theater from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, May 9. The contest is open to performers of high school age or older. Finalists selected during the audition process will be competing during the May 14 show, with the winner receiving a $500 cash prize, Misenhelder related.

Judges for the competition will include Misenhelder, Wheeling native singer-performer Chelsea Keding and Wheeling actor-director Jeremy Richter.

Misenhelder explained that performers who are auditioning should bring a song on compact disc as a karaoke track. If selected to compete, singers must have three rounds of songs prepared: an oldies number, with a two-minute cut; a Broadway selection, also a two-minute cut; and a song of their choice, with a five-minute limit.

As with the previous events held in Wheeling, all proceeds from the show will be donated to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Music lovers throughout the region were treated to an outstanding performance by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling Tuesday evening, April 6. It was the first performance of the National Symphony's week-long residency in West Virginia.

The Capitol and the Keith-Albee Theatre in Huntington were the two largest venues on the National Symphony's concert tour in the Mountain State. Other performances were slated on university campuses and in community performing arts centers.

It was good, too, to see a large audience at the Capitol for this prestigious event. Initially, city officials were concerned about slow ticket sales, but after a push by Wheeling civic leaders and the media, the sale of tickets picked up, and a good-size crowd was on hand for the concert.

For the Wheeling appearance, the National Symphony played a jazz-infused group of selections from Leonard Bernstein's Broadway musical, "On the Town," and classical works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Anton Dvorak. After a sustained standing ovation, the orchestra playing a rousing encore, John Phillip Sousa's popular march, "Stars and Stripes Forever."

According to the concert booklet prepared for the West Virginia tour, the National Symphony's principal percussionist, F. Anthony Ames, is a Wheeling native. He joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 1968.

With the arrival of the National Symphony Orchestra came the news that violinist Keith Michael of Wheeling Park High School has been chosen to attend the elite summer music program of the Kennedy Center and National Symphony Orchestra's national trustees' Summer Music Institute.

Michael and violinist James Worley, a home school student from Berkeley Springs, will join student musicians from around the country for the month-long Summer Music Institute.

They were selected by the National Symphony Orchestra from 13 West Virginia high school and college students who were nominated for the program by the Appalachian Education Initiative.

This year's institute runs from Monday, June 28, through Monday, July 26. Each student attends the institute on full scholarship for housing, food and local transportation in Washington, D.C., officials stated.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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