HENDERSON, Ky. – Take a song, any song, from the last 25 years. Keep the words but take the music out. Then perform this song in a style from 50 or 75 or even 100 years ago.
That’s a way to describe Postmodern Jukebox, the genre musical collective that will be arriving on stage at the Preston Arts Center on Friday, October 18, as the second show of the 2019-2020 season from the Henderson Area Arts Alliance.
Performer Therese Curatolo has another way of describing what fans call PMJ, which is the creation of Scott Bradlee, 38, a pianist and arranger who enjoys old jazz and swing music.
“It’s kind of like ‘Back to the Future’ which is his favorite 90s movie,” Curatolo said.
“It takes Top 40 hits and takes them back in time,” reimagining them as a Vaudeville song, a smoky showroom standard or a doo-wop number, she said.
“It’s almost like he’s rewriting them,” Curatolo said. “You recognize the song but it’s like hearing it for the first time.”
Imagine U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – a rock song that reached number 1 in 1988 and was nominated for two Grammys – was performed as a gospel / soul cover. Or not; Scott Bradlee has done it for you before, and there’s a good chance Rogelio Douglas Jr. – the whirlwind singer who will serve as emcee for the Henderson show – will perform it.
In total, there will be 11 performers here – four singers and seven instrumentalists – and they will be bursting with talent and musicality (several PMJ singers were finalists for “American Idol”).
“So much so that I’m overwhelmed by the talent on stage,” said Curatolo, who is new to the company. The Reno, Nevada native won the PMJ Search karaoke contest in 2018, earning her a place in the cast at a series of shows in California last summer.
Bradlee obviously liked what he saw and heard; he extended his contract for the current fall tour, including the Henderson show.
No wonder: Curatolo may only be 5ft 3in tall, but the blonde dynamo has some oversized talents. She sings opera, plays guitar, does comedic prints and improv comedies, performs Shakespeare, has appeared in three movies – oh, and she can sing like a torch singer.
That’s what she did in her first issue: “Misery Business,” the groundbreaking hit from alternative rock band Paramore, which Curatolo performs as a 1940s jazz club singer. the evenings is the most amazing thing, ”she said.
This mix of eras is what makes HAAA Executive Director Alex Caudill think that Postmodern Jukebox is an ideal show for a wide range of audience members’ ages.
“It’s definitely unique,” he said, “mainly because the older people will enjoy the older style of music, but the younger ones will know the songs, so they have a great crossover appeal. really cool; it’s so much fun.
“People might not be fans and may not be familiar with the name Postmodern Jukebox, but they will love the series,” Caudill said. “I saw them live and this is one of the funniest bands you can see.”
It’s not just that singers and musicians are good at their craft; in PMJ, they are performing artists. In “Misery Business,” Curatolo plays a sassy, sassy club singer, winking at the audience and swaying her hips. You can imagine that if she was in an intimate nightclub, she would be the type to walk up to a table, grab a husband’s tie, bring him closer and leave a big red kiss mark on her. plays while his wife watches in shock.
“We are encouraged to really showcase it, to take artistic and character liberties vocally (and in) style and stage presence,” said Curatolo. “There is an incredible sense of spectacle on this stage. “
She comes naturally to the scene. She comes from a family of musicians and her father, Paul Curatolo, stars as Paul McCartney in the tribute act Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, singing and playing bass, piano and guitar.
There will be a lot going on behind the scenes at the PMJ show. The singers undergo a series of costume changes between their respective numbers. “You’ll never see me twice in the same thing, which is fun for us women,” she said.
“They could go from a 1950s costume to a 20s-style flapper dress,” changing costumes multiple times to match the era of each song’s musical style, Caudill said. “It adds a cool aspect to the show.”
Postmodern Jukebox is not a single group. There are several groups – or, as PMJ would say, “mind-blowing musical collectives” – that travel the world. The same evening that one group performs in Henderson, another will entertain an audience at the Opera House in Wellington, New Zealand. PMJ ensembles will also be touring Europe and South America later this fall.
The 2019 tour is named “Welcome to the Twenties 2.0 Tour” in honor of the approach of the 100th anniversary of the early 1920s, the decade in which jazz burst onto the American music scene.
“When creating a touring version of the Postmodern Jukebox concept, we are working to pair the right talent with the right material and create a unique and amazing experience for Postmodern Jukebox fans,” said creator Scott Bradlee in a Press release. “Get ready for the most sensational party of the 1920s on this side of ‘The Great Gatsby’.”
If you are going to:
What: Postmodern jukebox
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday October 18
Or: Preston Arts Center, 2660 S. Green St.
Tickets: $ 40 for orchestra seats ($ 15 for students with student ID), $ 30 for the balcony ($ 15 for students) at www.HAAA.org or 270-826-5916 or at the office ‘Arts Alliance at 230 Second St. (9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Fri) or at the door.