Easy Street ponders ‘Pump Boys’ without Sanders

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l This week’s Ticket cover story is about Easy Street Productions’ holiday show “Miracle on Easy Street” and the death of musical director Jeff Sanders.

His loss will reverberate with the theater company well beyond the Christmas show.

Sanders was an original cast member in the musical “Pump Boys & Dinettes,” which ESP planned to bring back in the spring. Easy Street co-founders Todd Hancock and Maureen Collins said this week they were still were deciding how to proceed.

“Miracle” draws big crowds annually, but “Pump Boys” is the show that built Easy Street. It premiered at the original Oakland Center for the Arts (which is now Easy Street’s studios on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown). Its popularity enabled the theater company to move the show to Youngstown’s Uptown Theater, where it ran for two years and 200 performances until 1991.

Plans already were under way for Don Creque to return from Las Vegas and Robyn McCamy from Nashville for a 2018 revival with Collins, Hancock, Sanders and Rick Blackson, reuniting the original cast.

That cast never missed a performance during the Uptown Theater run. There have been replacements since then. David Jendre filled in when Blackson was unavailable for a revival in 2000 at Powers Auditorium, and Mary Jo Maluso stepped in when McCamy was unavailable for a later run. But Hancock and Collins both said this time it feels different.

As with “Miracle,” the theater motto “the show must go on” likely will prevail, but Hancock said they haven’t decided who will be manning the pump — and the lead guitar — when the Double Cupp Diner reopens.

l For those who saw former ESPN personality Roy Firestone last month at Packard Music Hall, one of the highlights was a song he created about Warren and the State of Ohio sung in the style of Johnny Cash to “A Boy Named Sue.”

Firestone sang about Paul Warfield, Dave Grohl, the Warren Community Amphitheater, Sunrise Inn, the Hot Dog Shoppe and more, complete with video accompaniment.

For those who missed it or for those who want to relive it, Firestone has posted a video of the performance on YouTube. It can be viewed on the site by searching “Roy Firestone Tribute to Warren.”

l Bon Jovi won the fan vote among the 2018 nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The New Jersey band collected 1.6 million votes, about 700,000 more than the Moody Blues, who came in second with 947,000. Rounding out the top five is Dire Straits (613,000), The Cars (552,000) and Judas Priest (538,000).

About 6.8 million votes were cast in all for the 19 nominees, and Bon Jovi will get an extra vote in the Official Induction Vote count for winning the fan ballot.

Since they instituted the fan vote, its winner has been one of the inductees, so there’s a good chance Bon Jovi will be one of the names announced when the Class of 2018 is revealed at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Past fan vote winners are Rush, KISS, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chicago and Journey.

The 2018 induction ceremony will be April 14, 2018, at Public Hall in Cleveland.

l The LaureLive music festival in Russell Township will announce its 2018 lineup this weekend, but a couple of names already are known.

Red Wanting Blue, which played the first year of the fest in 2016, will perform on Saturday, June 9. Elevation Group, which stages the festival on the grounds of the Laurel School, is promoting RWB’s New Year’s Eve show at the Goodyear Theater in Akron and offered a ticket package that included a Saturday LaureLive ticket to see the band again.

And the female foursome The Aces, who’ve been getting a lot of exposure with the single “Stuck,” also will be on the bill either June 9 or 10. That was announced when the group played a live Studio C session last month on The Summit (90.7 / 91.3 FM).