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heart-and-music

Join two of Philadelphia’s favorite daughters, Jean Brooks and Debra Leigh Scott, for their new show, “Love Sucks. Let’s Sing!”, a cabaret song cycle about the beautiful, the poignant, the funny and the just plain awful aspects of love.

Jean Brooks (www.jeanbrooks.net), is a multi-faceted artist whose many talents have been seen in theatre, film, and television. “My favorite theater role was Vivian Bearing in “Wit”,” Jean says. “The complexity of the character and the honesty of the play made it a great challenge. I’d happily shave my head again if given an opportunity to reprise the role.” Her preferred acting medium, however, is film, where her favorite role was playing a drug dealer named Chico Slime! She had a small role as a ghost in “Sixth Sense”, with one of Philadelphia’s most famous filmmakers, M. Night Shyamalan. This was her first major motion picture and the experience helped her finally understand why movies cost so many millions to produce.

Jean started singing at the age of three when her mother stood her on a piano bench so the people could see her. So singing in a cabaret is rather a natural progression! She has performed as a cabaret artist over the years on a variety of stages, and considers the “here and now” to be the best. “I think it takes maturity and experience to sing cabaret. These songs have to have been lived. They can’t be just sung.”

In addition to her work in the arts, Jean has designed a program called Retire To Life®, aimed at helping Boomers rediscover lost passions in order to create vibrant and exciting lives in retirement. “I developed this workshop as the result of a conversation I had with a former college roommate who told me she was afraid to retire because she didn’t know what she was going to do with her time! I always knew I would go back into the arts fulltime, and wanted to be able to help others find an equally exciting path.”

Debra Leigh Scott (www.debraleighscott.com), is a writer, playwright, educator and documentary filmmaker who has recently returned to singing after years of art-making off-stage. Her short story collection, Other Likely Stories, was published by Sowilo Press in 2010. She has a few collections of short stories in progress as well as several novels in the works, including her first YA novel about her own Mayflower ancestor, Elizabeth Tilley. Her plays have been performed at The New Light Festival, the Shubin AprilFest, and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Her documentary, ‘Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed. In America, is in post-production. Clips can be viewed at 2255films.com, and portions will be screened at this year’s Left Forum, on Saturday, May 21, at the John Jay College in NYC. “I’ve never stopped singing – but for years it’s been at home, behind closed doors. I have returned to singing publicly only in the last few years,” Debra Leigh said. “since performance and travel are difficult when raising a family.” Her family grown, she’s been able to turn her attention back to theatre, and to her own performance work. Before her marriage and family, she toured with Eastern Jam, a jazz/rock fusion band, as their lead singer. “Even after I had the freedom to do it again, I was a little fearful – it had been so long! It took a little bit of time, and the encouragement of good friends, for me to get back to a microphone. I had become used to being behind the scenes – to writing and directing.”

Jean and Debra Leigh met years ago at a cabaret workshop, with long-time Philadelphia and New York cabaret professional, Doug Anderson. They have worked together since on a variety of theatrical projects, including several of Debra’s own plays, in which Jean had leading roles.

“As we got to know each other better and better, we were stunned at the many ways our lives paralleled each other. Jean was, literally, a farmer’s daughter from Nebraska, and I was the typical child of the suburban East Coast. But our experiences, especially in marriage and love were shockingly similar.” So, they started brainstorming, and collecting some of their favorite music, to create a story cycle which eventually became their two-woman show. “The title was the easiest part,” Debra Leigh said.

“Love Sucks. Let’s Sing,” is a wry look at the many experiences of romance and love, exploring the beautiful, the poignant, the funny, and the just plain awful aspects of it all.

“I love the theme of the show,” Jean said, “because I feel that it is a familiar story to so many people; they can relate to the ups and downs of relationships. At the same time, it’s very personal to us; it gives folks a look into our souls.”

Jean and Debra Leigh plan to open the show with a few performances in their hometown of Philadelphia, and then to begin traveling the many cabaret festivals around the U.S. The venue for their first two shows is L’Etage Cabaret, a very popular nightclub spot in the Queen Village area of Center City Philadelphia, which has become something of a hot spot for cabaret in the last few years. After that, the plan is to launch the show by touring the various cabaret festivals through the U.S.

Jean said, “My hope for the show is that is reaches a wide audience, and that people will realize that regardless of their individual stories, we all have pretty much traveled the same rocky road of love.”

Dates and Times for the Show: Friday, June 10, 2016 and Friday, July 22, 2016. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00.
L’Etage Cabaret is located at 624 S. 6th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Tickets for both Philadelphia performances can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets, at the link: LoveSucksLetsSing.brownpapertickets.com

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Please join us on Sunday, November 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Rigger Room of Cavanaugh’s Head House Pub in Society Hill, 421 S. 2nd Street, to celebrate the publication of our first two Eludia Award Winners. Both authors will be present for reading, discussion and book signing. We’ll also welcome the very talented young musician, Monique Canniere, who will be performing for us and talking about her work in the music community.

Tree Riesener, our first Eludia winner, is a very popular — dare I say beloved — writer and poet from Bryn Mawr. She has long been a well-loved reader on the poetry circuit, and will be reading from her winning story collection Sleepers Awake. 

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Christine Whittemore, our second Eludia Award winner, will be here all the way from the UK — Gloucestershire, England to be exact — where she has received quite a bit of popular attention already – giving readings and signings in a variety of book stores, festivals and gatherings. Christine is also a poet and an essayist as well as a writer of fiction. She will be reading from her novel, Inscription.

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Monique Canniere is a singer, violinist, guitarist — a multi-talented musician who has performed in a variety of venues locally, including the Ethical Society, the Ardmore Music Hall, the Tin Angel….and the “Concert Atop the Crypts” at the famous Laurel Hill Cemetery! She has also appeared at Kimmel Center, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, World Cafe Live, the Trocadero, the Liacouris Center with Kanye West. Monique released her first solo album project, “Preachin’ to the Choir,” in June 2015.

We’ll be gathering at Cavanaugh’s Head House Pub, which was originally The Dickens’ Inn, owned by a relative of Charles Dickens, and an absolutely wonderful and charming place in Society Hill, Philadelphia. Cavanaugh’s has been a wonderful host to our arts events and our writers’ workshops now for several years, and we are ever-grateful to them!

Please join us for a lovely evening of good literature, good music and great company! The event is free and open to the public. All are welcome!

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Hidden River Arts will host a Live Arts Event on Sunday, July 26 at 2 p.m. at Cavanaugh’s Head House Tavern, 421 South 2nd Street in Philadelphia. We will be celebrating the wrap-up of our summer writers’ workshop, and our workshop members will be offering some readings of their work. We’ll also be celebrating the work of our first Eludia Award winner, Tree Riesener, who will be reading a bit from her winning collection of short stories, Sleepers Awake, which is forthcoming on our Sowilo Press imprint.

We’ll also be having some live music — more details on that as they are available!

We’ve had some wonderful live arts events both at Cavanaugh’s and at other venues around the city. Terrific readings and wonderful musicians, like Rosa Diaz at Live & Lit, or Alex Kruchoski and Zeke Francis, or Teresa McCann. It’s always a joyous event, with a focus on celebrating art and artists.

This event is free and open to the public. Come, and bring friends!

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