Articles by Rita Charleston

When the fur goes flying

If you’re looking for a little out-of-the-ordinary family entertainment you will find it when Gregory Popovich and his adorable rescued pets from animal shelters take center stage for two shows at the Keswick Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 17.

The role of a lifetime

Peter Lockyer, a long-ago young Marius in the original Broadway and touring productions of Les Miserables, has graduated to the role of heroic patriarch Jean Valjean in the new 25th anniversary revised edition of the international hit musical, on stage at the Academy of Music through Sunday.

The role of a lifetime

— Peter Lockyer stars as Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miz,’ now at the Academy of Music.

A strange case

When Constantine Maroulis was on American Idol, his image was that of a bad boy rocker. So now, stepping into the lead role of Jekyll & Hyde, making its Philadelphia premiere Dec. 26 to 30 at the Forrest Theatre, he seems a natural choice. 

An anthem for peace

Hailed by many as a piece of theatrical magic, War Horse, the powerful story of young Albert’s beloved horse, Joey, who has been enlisted to fight for the English in World War I, will come to the Academy of Music on Nov. 20 and play through Dec. 2.

Her own true Love Story

— A play of passion awaits hopeless romantics at the Walnut Street Theatre.

A tasty treat

Idol times for Joshua Ledet

Past tours have featured such stars as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, Scotty McCreery and others. Now this year’s American Idol Live! Tour, set for Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Friday, features first-place winner Phillip Phillips and the season’s talented runners-up, including a Louisiana native who took the No. 3 spot, Joshua Ledet.Ledet, a preacher’s son, said this isn’t the first time he tried for a top spot on the popular TV show.“Actually, I auditioned for season ten as well and didn’t make it, doing the exact same thing and singing the exact same song,” he said. “This time, I think I was more like myself and not as shy as I was last year. That’s the only difference I can think of this time around.”Growing up in a large family where the focus was on “food and fun,” Ledet said that, when he was an 11-year-old, he watched another Southern soul singer, Fantasia Barrino, sing I Believe in the final show of American Idol’s third season and be declared the winner.“That really inspired me, and I hoped I could do the same thing one day,” said the 20-year-old.“But even though I grew up singing in my family’s church, I was painfully shy, embarrassed to sing in front of everybody. And although my mom was a great musical inspiration to me, she thought because of my shyness I’d never make it as a professional singer, let alone get anywhere on American Idol. But my dad encouraged me, telling me to believe in myself and do what I wanted to do.”Before entering and capturing a top spot in the competition, Ledet said he thought about becoming an actor, taking part in his high school’s theater program for all four years of school. But singing finally won out and he’s now touring the country with the other Idol winners.During his many performances on American Idol, Ledet received a number of standing ovations, including one for his rendition of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg by the Temptations, and the Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody. In fact, each week the Idol contestants were made to sing in a certain style mandated by the judges. And it wasn’t always an easy thing to do, said Ledet. “One of my hardest weeks was singing a Billy Joel song,” he recalled. “That was a very uncomfortable week for me because I really never listened to his music and I got stuck with the very last song up for grabs. I tried to sing to the best of my ability, but I don’t think the judges liked what I did too much.” Another difficult challenge Ledet faces today is all the traveling it takes to get through this tour.“It’s tough not being able to rest like you want to or the way you normally do,” he said. “And having to deal with going from a totally different lifestyle to becoming famous overnight with lots of people wanting to see you and touch you is strange. It becomes very tiring and very weird. But we all signed up for this, and for the most part, I do enjoy it. I just have to learn to get used to it.”With Michael Jackson and Beyonce two of his own idols, Ledet said he hopes to wind up in the recording studio making great music for everyone to hear.“Someone once told me that the way Michael and Beyonce, and even Carrie Underwood made it, was by never taking a break,” Ledet pointed out. “And so, if that’s what it takes, that’s exactly what I plan to do, too.” For times and ticket information, call 1-800-736-1420.