Articles by Rita Charleston

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.

The legendary Manhattan Transfer will blossom at Longwood Gardens

It’s been nearly 40 years since Tim Hauser helped form a vocal quartet so authentic in its musical abilities and harmonies that it still stands out today in the field of American popular song.

Dave Attell is a ‘Comedian’s Comedian’

He admitted that his original motivation to perform stand-up comedy was attributed to his indecisiveness as to what he should do after college. Graduating from New York University with a degree in film and television, Dave Attell said he realized he’d probably never go on to become an actor or a director.“And so that’s when I started hanging around comedy clubs in New York during open-mic nights, although I never thought I’d actually become a comic either,” said Attell, 47, who did become a performer and will appear at the Helium Comedy Club on Sansom Street in Center City this Friday and Saturday.During the late 1980s, Attell worked at menial jobs during the day and at comedy clubs on nights and weekends.“I was a kind of a loner, a shy kind of kid who could make his inner circle of friends laugh,” he recalled. “So that’s what sort of kept me going. At home, I loved listening to the records of comics like George Carlin, and I couldn’t stop laughing myself. I loved to laugh, but it took a long time to convince people I was a comic.”After years of honing his craft, and “totally bombing often,” he eventually found himself being described as a “comedian’s comedian.” And while audience members didn’t always follow his delivery, fellow comedians were refreshed by his originality.One of his biggest breaks came in 1993 when he made his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. That appearance was seen by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, who recruited Attell to be a writer and occasional performer. He gladly accepted, and two years later found himself featured on two HBO specials, with a half-hour comedy special all his own in 1997.But perhaps he is best known as the host of his own show titled Insomniac with Dave Attell, which ran from 2001 to ’04 on Comedy Central. For that show, Attell went to a particular city at night, starting out with a minute or so of his performance at a comedy club, and then to various bars, landmarks, clubs and so on. The thrill of the show revolved around the bizarre denizens of the night that he encountered, mostly while wandering cities in America and abroad.During most interviews, Attell said he is asked about that part of his life, but never gets tired of talking about it.“To be honest,” he said, “it was such an easy show to do, that there’s not much to talk about. But I do talk about it over and over and over again. It’s kind of my Abu Ghraib prison.“The point is,” he added, “that I came up with the idea for the show, which originally was just supposed to be a fun travel show. It was totally unscripted, with the whole idea behind it being that no one sleeps.”In 2008, Attell began hosting another show, The Gong Show with Dave Attell for Comedy Central. Like the 1970s version, the show had a rotating panel of celebrity judges grading unusual people and their acts — something that Attell was more than familiar with.Today, Attell is the creator and host of Dave’s Old Porn on Showtime, featuring legends of the adult industry, along with such talents as Chelsea Handler, Adam Carolla and Daniel Tosh, who discuss the flicks. The second season will begin airing this fall.Still, he admitted, he loves doing stand-up and appearing at comedy clubs around the country.“Over the years, I’ve been in four films, but I’m not an actor, and I’m not a very good sitcom guy — as producers come to find out,” he said. “Of course, if something came along, I’d jump on it, but I love just being out there, being funny and entertaining people. For me, that’s the best.” For show times and ticket information, call 215-496-9001.

Dave Attell is a ‘Comedian’s Comedian’

He admitted that his original motivation to perform stand-up comedy was attributed to his indecisiveness as to what he should do after college. Graduating from New York University with a degree in film and television, Dave Attell said he realized he’d probably never go on to become an actor or a director.