Pendleton still coming for reception

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l Casting issues thwarted Trumbull New Theatre’s plans to stage a musical co-written by Warren native Austin Pendleton.

The Niles community theater, which was co-founded by Pendleton’s mother, Frances, was going to do the musical “A Minister’s Wife” in November. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Candida,” the show had a book by Pendleton with music by Joshua Schmidt and lyrics by Jan Levy Tranen.

According to director Ron Sinesio, the lack of men at auditions forced TNT to replace “A Minister’s Wife” with the musical “Always … Patsy Cline,” which now will open Nov. 3 for a three-weekend run.

And no worries about a lack of men for this one. The musical built around the songs popularized by the country singer who was killed in plane crash in 1963 only has two characters, and they’re both women — Cline, who will be played by Connie Cassidy; and Louise Seger, a Houston housewife who befriended the singer. Louise will be played by Marcella Fields.

Pendleton, who will be directing Opera Western Reserve’s production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” at Stambaugh Auditorium on Nov. 10, still will attend a reception at TNT at 6 p.m. Nov. 3 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the TNT’s performance space at 5883 Youngstown Warren Road.

Tickets for the reception are $10.

l A month ago, I wrote about “Worst. Christmas. Ever.,” a film written by Austintown native John Chechitelli that was competing in a “Hometown Heroes” contest sponsored by the website Seed & Spark, a combination crowdfunding site and subscription service specializing in independent films.

Chechitelli needed to raise $7,500 and attract 500 followers by Oct. 13 to have a chance at acquiring additional funding and assets from the contest, including pitching the project to indie filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass and having the pair sign on as executive producers of the film, which will be shot in the Mahoning Valley.

With a week to go, “Worst.Christmas.Ever.” (the story of a 15-year-old girl who discovers on Christmas Eve that she is pregnant) has surpassed both goals — $7,875 raised and 854 followers as of Wednesday afternoon.

But that doesn’t mean the film still doesn’t need support. More than a dozen of its “Hometown Heroes” competitors have more than 1,000 followers. The movie needs to finish in the top 10 in order to have a chance for Chechitelli to pitch it to the Duplass brothers.

Following doesn’t cost you anything. It just means you’ll get an email every couple of days or so. Go to to become a follower. And if you’re feeling generous, contributions to the project still are being collected.

l Tom Petty’s death this week at age 66 was a real shock this week.

I don’t have a great Tom Petty story. I never met or interviewed him. He never was my favorite artist, but for all of my adult life, he was in that top tier of performers whose music I regularly listened to and revisited.

His songwriting was so solid. He was able to pare a lyric down to its essence. He made his tales of ache and restlessness seem simple, and the precision of his words was unrivaled.

I saw Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at least a half dozen times over the years, and I never left disappointed. He also seemed to go out of his way to bring great opening acts on the road with him and expose their music to his larger audience. As much as I fondly remember Petty’s performances, I also remember seeing folks like The Replacements, Lucinda Williams and the Drive-By Truckers open for him.

Warren Zanes’ 2015 book “Petty: A Biography” is a great place to turn for those who want to learn more about the artist. It’s one of the best music biographies I’ve read.

And for those who want to dive a little deeper than the hits, check out Petty’s 1985 album “Southern Accents.” It was a commercial disappointment when it was released. But as someone who grew up in southern Ohio, where it feels as if the dividing line between the North and the South definitely is somewhere north of the Ohio River, that album always has resonated with me.