The Beach Boys in Schenectady 11/17

When We Were Kings

I recently noticed that The Beach Boys will be in Schenectady at Proctors Theatre on Sunday, November 17, 2023, at 3 pm. While I am not planning to attend, it renewed that long-time debate about the legitimacy of that band, or ultimately any band, to use the name.

Yes, I understand that Mike Love has the legal right to the group name. But the last Beach Boys album I bought was 2012’s That’s Why God Made the Radio. It featured Love, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine (all original members), David Marks (who replaced Jardine briefly early on), and Bruce Johnston (a long-time member who replaced Brian on the road early on.) That group’s tour was presented on the album Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour in 2013.

These guys, with Brian, Mike, and Al, are the Beach Boys, to my mind.

That’s Why God Made The Radio – the Beach Boys Bandsintown notes the band members as Love, Ricky Fataar, Marks, Blondie Chaplin, Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson, Brian Wilson, Jardine, and Johnston, all of whom were in the group at one point, although Dennis and Carl are deceased.

The Proctors site notes: ” The Beach Boys are led by Mike Love, who, along with longtime member Bruce Johnston, musical director Brian Eichenberger, Christian Love, Tim Bonhomme, Jon Bolton, Keith Hubacher, Randy Leago, and John Wedemeyer, continue the legacy of the iconic band.” 


I guess the Rolling Stones, without the late Charlie Watts but with the Glimmer Twins and long-timer Ronnie Wood, are. Wait, Bill Wyman is on the new album Hackney Diamonds!

Angry – the Rolling Stones

But Paul and Ringo, reportedly also playing on the Stones’ album, couldn’t front their old group. When people speculated about Lennon, Harrison, and Starr playing with Billy Preston and Klaus Voorrman, they wouldn’t have been accepted as the Beatles.

Real Love – The Beatles

The Who are Daltrey and Townshend? I guess so.

All This Music Must Fade – the Who

I’ve long insisted that The Temptations are a lineage group. David Ruffin replaced Elbridge Bryant, Dennis Edwards replaced Ruffin, Ricky Owens then Damon Harris replaced Eddie Kendrick, et al. When Otis Williams, the remaining original member, retires, it’ll still be The Temptations, unless the group ends. Otis and the estate of Melvin Franklin control the group. Oddly, I think of them like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Or maybe Menudo.

When We Were Kings – The Temptations

It appears that any group with Chrissie Hynde can be The Pretenders, with or without co-founder Martin Chambers.

A Love – the Pretenders

Frankie Valli has a quartet that might as well be Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

What are your criteria for whether a group is still “the group”?

Morissette and the Temps

Otis Williams

In May 2023, my wife and I attended two musicals at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. The first was Alanis Morisette’s Jagged Little Pill: the Musical, based on her 1995 album and more of her songs. The second was Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.

The Morissette piece was interesting because it had a narrative not driven by the songs. Instead, Diablo Cody wrote the book and seemed to plug in the appropriate tune for that narrative arc.

The story revolves around a Connecticut woman named Mary Jane Healy. She’s writing the annual Christmas letter. She brags about her husband Steve’s work promotion and son Nick’s early admission to Harvard. And, oh yeah, her adopted daughter Frankie’s art. Things are not so perfect in suburbia, however.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Electrifying, visceral and stunning. JAGGED LITTLE PILL takes a stand against complacency.”

The review headline in the Albany Times Union by Steve Barnes calls the show “pushy, overambitious, loud.” The last sentence and a half: “The show, in its own weird way, has the integrity of committed beliefs. Whether that’s your kind of theater is another matter.”

It is undoubtedly MY kind of theater, a narrative that hits on several hot-button topics, including prescription drug addiction and rape by a familiar. I accept “pushy” and even “loud.” But it was clear that the Thursday matinee audience, except for an older couple who walked out after the first song in the second act, You Oughta Know, was enthralled by the material and the actors performing it.

Jagged Little Pill played on Broadway from December 2019 to March 2020, then from October to December 2021. It’s been touring since August 31, 2022, and will be touring in Buffalo, Boston, KC, and elsewhere at least through September.


Ain’t Too Proud is a standard jukebox musical. It tells the story of Motown’s leading male singing group from the point of view of Otis Williams, the only remaining member from their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

Before the program began at our Saturday matinee, my wife asked if the group had stayed with its original members. Er, no. Indeed, the group’s evolution drove the narrative: Elbridge Bryant was replaced by David Ruffin, who was replaced by Dennis Edwards et al.

The music and the performances were top-notch. The TU’s Barnes calls it a “resplendent cavalcade of Temptations’ hits,” even as he questions the jukebox musical genre.

My issue was more prosaic. The show takes some liberties with the facts, probably to trim a full show. For instance, I would have concluded from Ain’t Too Proud that the Temptations reunion show took only a couple of years after Eddie Kendricks left the group in 1971.

Actually, it took place in 1982, and I attended it at the Colonie Colosseum in Albany County, NY. Glenn Leonard was one of the seven, not Damon Harris, who left the group in 1975.

I had to actively say to myself, “Self, these details don’t much matter to the audience.” And there were things the show got correct, such as Berry Gordy refusing to let the group release War as a single; it became a #1 hit for Edwin Starr.

Like JLP, Ain’t Too Proud’s run (Mar 21, 20190 -Jan 16, 2022) was interrupted by COVID. The show has been touring since December 2021. It’ll be touring the US Midwest, South, and Western Canada, among the locales, through February 2024.

Once On This Island- tour and Jr.

Jr. edition March 8 at First Pres

Once On This IslandMy church is performing Once Upon This Island Jr. It is a simplified version of the musical set on an island in the French Antilles at night during a storm.

Once On This Island ran from October 1990 to December 1991 (19 previews, 469 performances). It was Tony nominated for Best Musical; Book of a Musical; Original Score (Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, Music by Stephen Flaherty); Featured Actress in a Musical (LaChanze); Costume Design; Lighting Design; Choreography and Direction in a Musical, the latter two by Graciela Daniele.

Revived for one day, May 12, 2002, it was as a Benefit for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. In December 2017 to January 2019, it returned again for 29 previews and 457 shows. This time it was nominated for eight Tonys, winning as Best Revival of a Musical.

It toured nine months in 1992. The current tour started in October 2019 and runs through July 2020. It’ll be all over the country. The show we saw at Proctors in mid-January was very good. It featured Tamyra Gray, from the first season of American Idol, as Papa Ge, the demon of death.

Why not?

The weather forecast was rather dodgy. My wife recommended that we take the bus to Schenectady and back. This notion did not appeal to either our daughter or myself. It would mean taking a bus home at 10:30 p.m. If we missed the last connecting bus, we’d be stuck downtown Albany in the cold. I suppose we could have taken an Uber or something that point, but would one come in such nasty weather?

The solution was absurdly extravagant. We left c 2:30 p.m., just as the snow began. We checked into a hotel in downtown Schenectady, only a few doors from Proctors, and hung out in the room for a couple of hours. Then we went out to dinner with one of our Jr. cast members and his parents at a newish restaurant called Grano. It was nice, and more importantly, it was within walking distance.

The next morning, we went down to breakfast. My wife was talking to a woman who had a young girl. It turns out the girl was Mari, who played the young Ti Moune in the production we saw the night before. Her mom left briefly and brought back a We Dance knit hat and gave it to our daughter. Then we drove directly to church, the nasty weather having passed.

The Once On This Island Jr. edition that our church is performing March 8 contains some alterations. It cuts some verses in songs and eliminates a couple of tunes altogether, notably The Sad Tale of the Beauxhommes.

The production also alters dialogue to accommodate multi-ethnic productions. “The original cast was chosen along racial lines with darker-skinned actors portraying the peasants and lighter-skinned actors portraying the upper-class landowners.” The altered script preserves the differences about class distinctions.

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