Local theaters remember El’Hatton

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

l Two local theaters will pay tribute on Friday to Youngstown actor David El’Hatton, who died in October at age 47.

Both Youngstown Playhouse and the Oakland Center for the Arts will dim their lights before opening night of the Playhouse’s “Mamma Mia” and the Oakland’s “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Trinity Fellowship Church in Boardman.

“It’s a tradition in New York when a luminary passes, but I don’t know of an instance when it’s been done here,” said James McClellan, Playhouse operations manager. “Knowing it’s a tradition, we decided to do it here. We’ll dim the lights, both in the theater and outside.”

El’Hatton gave many memorable performances at several area theaters, but few matched his work on the Playhouse stage in the title role of “Sweeney Todd.”

Brendan Byers, vice president of the Oakland and artistic director for its Kids First Initiative, said, “He was involved in four of the last things we did, and our kids absolutely fell in love with him. When he was in the hospital, during rehearsal they’d ask, ‘Can we hold hands and send positive energy to Dave?’ He made a big impact on them. I can’t say enough good things about that kid.”

The Oakland also plans to start a scholarship program in El’Hatton’s name.

l Foo Fighters have only one 2019 U.S. festival date on its tour schedule so far, and that fest is in Ohio.

The band led by Warren native Dave Grohl will be one of the headliners for the Sonic Temple Art & Music Festival at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. The new event takes the place of Rock on the Range and will run May 17 to 19.

System of a Down and Disturbed are the other two headliners, and the lineup of nearly 60 musical acts also will include Bring Me the Horizon, The Prodigy, Ghost, Halestorm, Lamb of God, Chevelle, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, The Cult, The Struts, The Hives, The Distillers, Action Bronson and Tom Morello.

The comedy / spoken word tent boasts Henry Rollins, Andrew Dice Clay and Pauly Shore, with more acts to be announced.

Tickets go on sale at noon Friday at www.sonictemplefestival.com and weekend passes start at $99.50 for stadium GA, $199.50 for field GA and $379.50 for VIP.

l John Cusack is coming to the Akron Civic Theatre on Feb. 16 for a Q&A following a screening of his 2000 film “High Fidelity.”

The actor will participate in a moderated conversation about the film and his career as well as taking questions from the audience.

Tickets range from $49.75 to $69.75 or $150 for VIP seating and a post-program photo op. I’m guessing he won’t pose for photos while holding a boombox over his head.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday through Ticketmaster.

As his “High Fidelity” character Rob Gordon might ask, “What are Cusack’s top five reasons for doing this?,” The answers would be: 1. Money; 2. Cash; 3. Dinero (not to be confused with De Niro); 4. Moola; 5. It’s all about the Benjamins.”

Hey, more power to him. I know all the women in my house have said tickets would be the perfect Christmas gift.

l Back in February, I wrote a column about classic rock Rubik’s Cube — acts from the 1970s and ’80s that used to be able to fill outdoor amphitheaters on their own trying different combinations of touring partners to accomplish that goal in today’s marketplace.

Apparently, Styx has run out of potential partners, at least musical ones.

This week the band announced a seven-city co-headlining tour with comedian Larry the Cable Guy.

Comedians often open for musical acts in places like Las Vegas, and it was somewhat common in the ’70s and early ’80s for rock acts to have comics open for them on the road. A single comedian is cheaper than a band in many cases and doesn’t have any equipment on stage that needs to be removed before the headliner.

But I can’t think of too many joint music-comedy tours involving acts who are on the same level as far as drawing power.

The closest date on the tour is in Champaign, Ill., but if the pairing proves successful, look for Carrot Top and REO Speedwagon or Joan Jett and Ellen DeGeneres at a venue near you.

Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribtoday.com

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