Contact: David Jwanier, media relations associate, 610-740-3790



Allentown, PA (January 9, 2009)—Cedar Crest College Stage Company presents “Leader of the Pack,” featuring the music and lyrics of Ellie Greenwich and book by Anne Beatts, from February 26 through March 1 in the Samuels Theater of the Tompkins College Center on campus.

Subtitled “The Ellie Greenwich Musical,” the Tony-Award nominated play is a song and dance review showcasing the hits of the singer/songwriter, as well as the ups and downs of her personal and professional life. Greenwich’s rise to fame and fortune is punctuated with the virtual hit parade of her music: “Chapel of Love,” “Da Do Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby,” “And Then He Kissed Me,” “River Deep, “Mountain High” and the title song, which were recorded by some of the biggest names of the time in music. She was inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame in 1991.

The show is directed by Clair Freeman, a member of the board at the Pennsylvania Playhouse who most recently directed the Playhouse’s productions of “Miss Firecracker Contest” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Freeman directed several children’s shows at Cedar Crest nearly a decade ago, and he’s happy to make his return in this particular show. 

“I’m thrilled to be back at Cedar Crest—that’s from the heart. I enjoy the atmosphere and level of professionalism the department demands,” he said. “I think it’s important that Cedar Crest is doing the show. Greenwich was one of the few successful female songwriters of 1960s. She was a groundbreaker in terms of breaking into the business and the influence she had on it.”

Freeman started the drama program a few years ago at Blue Mountain High School in Schuylkill Haven, and he expressed surprise at how well many of his students know Greenwich’s songs. For him, they bring back memories of his childhood growing up in small town America.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where the homes were very close together, and the house next to me had five teenage girls in it,” he recalled. “In the summer when the windows were open, I used to hear this music over and over. These songs reach kids as they’re moving from adolescence to adulthood. Whether it’s the 1960s or 2008, they have a universal appeal to them.”

The cast of “Leader of the Pack” includes Cedar Crest College junior Michelle Schmidt of Sinking Springs, Pa. as Ellie, and Gene Connelly as her one-time husband and writing partner, Jeff Barry. Other cast members are senior Jennifer Smith of Effort, Pa.; junior Mariah McMullen of Franklin, Pa.; junior Sarah Wessells of Allentown, Pa.; freshman Victoria Schupp of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; senior Heather Pullins of Langhorne, Pa.; junior Molly McPherson of Glen Lyon, Pa.; junior Jennifer Bonetti of Kingston, N.Y.; freshman Young Choi of South Korea; sophomore Nora Allen of Bethel, Conn.; and freshman Lilly Harper of Sterling, Mass.

Set/lighting design is by Roxanne Amico, and costume design is by Pamela Dillenbeck. Musical director is Dorothea Hemerly, and stage manager is Roxanne Holowienka. Choreographer is Jennifer Dorn.

“Leader of the Pack” runs February 26-28 at 8 p.m., and March 1 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students with I.D. For more information or tickets call the box office at 610-606-4608.




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