R&B and Doo Wop vocal harmony fans, get ready for the musical we’ve been waiting for all our lives! This is how our music began back in 1948, all set to a Broadway-style musical. Now, we’ve seen every musical from Jersey Boys and Beautiful to Motown The Musical and Rock & Roll Man. and while all those made us smile, none, until now, have told the story of how Rhythm & Blues vocal group harmony began. Pam and I traveled to Portland, Oregon, a couple years ago, to see an early production of Soul Harmony. It was both incredibly entertaining and accurate in how it traced the Orioles beginnings and rise to stardom. In fact, the musical is based, in part, on my (Charlie’s) research and interviews with Deborah Chessler and Sonny Til. The musical co-stars De’Sean Dooley, Sonny Til’s grandson, playing the part of his grandfather along with Monica Rodrigues as Deborah Chessler and features classic R&B songs by Deborah Chessler. Book, Music and Lyrics by Michael Allen Harrison, Alan Berg and Janet Mouser. It’s about time our music got the respect it deserves.
Local Celebrities in the Cast
In addition to the regular cast, Soul Harmony will also feature: Classic Urban Harmony’s Charlie Horner playing himself interviewing Sonny Til and Deborah Chessler; Joel Katz playing Jubilee record label owner Jerry Blaine, Ali Hackett playing NYC radio personality Willie Bryant; Deborah Charleston playing Faye Adams.
Soul Harmony: The Story of Deborah Chessler, Sonny Til and the Orioles will have its National Premier at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 226 N. High Street, West Chester, PA, (20 minutes southwest of Philadelphia), running for 10 shows in June 2018.
June 20 – 22, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 2 PM
June 27 -29, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 30, 2018 2 PM & 7:30 PM
Sunday, July 1, 2018 at 2 PM
The Orioles “Crying in The Chapel” soared up the charts in 1953 becoming an unforgettable #1 hit and just one piece to an unforgettable story. In the late ‘40s a young Jewish woman, Deborah Chessler partnered with a dynamic black vocal group, The Orioles. Their history making hit “It’s Too Soon to Know” gave birth to a new genre of music that ignited a generation and still does today, Rhythm and Blues. Deborah, Sonny and The Orioles – Tommy Gaither, Johnny Reed, Alex Sharp and George Nelson were ahead of their time. They were trailblazers of modern music and of a larger movement that confronted a divided country. Soul Harmony not only chronicles The Orioles rise to music nobility, but reveals the role they and their music played in challenging segregation and Jim Crow, and ultimately in bringing people together all across America.
Tickets $40-$55 / VIP Premium Seating $100 – $250
“High Fly’n with the Orioles” $250
Special VIP Seating includes a special limited edition Soul Harmony program with historical photographs; the Original Cast Recording signed by the creators of Soul Harmony; & a CD of never before released performances from the newly opened Sonny Til Archives and a sponsorship of two student seats. 10% of ticket price goes to a local food bank. CD of the show!
“Friends of Soul Harmony” – $100
Includes premium seating and the Soul Harmony Original Cast Recording, signed by the creators of Soul Harmony. 10% of ticket price goes to a local food bank. CD of the show!
In connection with Soul Harmony, Classic Urban Harmony is proud to present “Extreme Doo Wop Means Acappella,” an all acappella doo wop concert starring De’Sean Dooley, star of Soul Harmony, singing Orioles songs acappella backed by the outstanding vocal group, Quiet Storm. Also on the concert are doo wop acappella groups, A Perfect Blend, Reunion, Joel Katz & the Dynamics, the Copians and Quiet Storm. The concert takes place at 7 PM, Saturday evening, June 23, 2018. Attendees are encouraged to stay over that night and catch the 2 PM Sunday matinee of Soul Harmony on June 24. For more details on the acappella concert, click Acappella Concert.
Special Offer in Combination with June 23 Acappella Concert
For those wishing to stay over Saturday night after our June 23, “Extreme Doo Wop Acappella Concert,” there will be a 2 PM June 24 Sunday Matinee performance of “Soul Harmony”. There’ll also be a special reception with the cast members after the performance. Just show your ticket stubs from both performances to get in.
The Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center is located at 226 N. High Street, West Chester, PA. West Chester is a charming college town, located about 20 minutes southwest of Philadelphia, in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. The Uptown Knauer PAC is in the center of town, surrounded by shops and many restaurants. The theatre just opened in January 2017 after a $5 million renovation of a previous armory. Recommended parking is the multi-story Bicentennial Parking garage at 20 S. High Street, an easy walk to the theatre. There are more than 65 eateries in downtown West Chester. We enjoyed the Iron Hill Brewery (corner of High and Gay Streets), but there are many great restaurants we haven’t yet tried.
For those staying overnight in West Chester PA, here are four hotels close to the theatre. There are several others a short drive away.
Microtel Inn & Suites, 500 Willowbrook Ln, West Chester, PA 19382 – A great choice if available. 3 miles from the theatre. Rates approx. $120 includes breakfast.
Hotel Warner, 120 N. High Street, West Chester. Highest rated – a block from the theatre. Rate approx. $160 includes breakfast.
Quality Inn West Chester, 943 S. High Street, West Chester – about 10 blocks from the theatre. Rate approx. $108 includes breakfast.
Holiday Inn Express West Chester. 1310 Wilmington Pike, West Chester. about 4 miles from theatre. Rate approx. $140 includes breakfast.
Watch a promotional video for Soul Harmony.
Photos from Soul Harmony
Below are some photos from an early version of Soul Harmony two years ago in Portland Oregon. Click on the photos to enlarge. If the photos appear very dark on your computer, it is a difficulty with our website that we are working hard to correct. Please check back soon.