BEST BETS: The Rock Orchestra salutes Springsteen at Milton Theatre

Joe Trainor leads The Rock Orchestra for a night celebrating the first three albums of Bruce Springsteen Saturday night at The Milton Theatre. (Submitted photo by Marc Clery)

The Milton Theatre is gearing up for a Boss time Saturday night as The Rock Orchestra salutes Bruce Springsteen by performing his first three albums in their entirety.

The night starts with “Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey,” released in January of 1973, continues with “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle” released in September of that same year and then winding up with the seminal 1975 “Born to Run” record, which put Mr. Springsteen on the musical map.

The Rock Orchestra, from Wilmington, is led by music director and co-artistic director Joe Trainor. Mr. Trainor, who plays keyboards and is the lead singer, is known to area music fans as the leader of the piano-rock group Joe Trainor Trio.

He has also had bands such as the Genesis tribute group Keep It Dark and In The Light, which performed tributes to Pink Floyd and The Eagles in recent years at the currently closed Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover.

His Joe Trainor and Friends group has played tributes to Billy Joel in front of audiences at the Smyrna Opera House, Rehoboth Beach Bandstand and The Milton Theatre.

The Rock Orchestra is a 14-piece ensemble, which started late last year with a tribute to The Beatles at The Queen theater in Wilmington.

Mr. Trainor said moving from In The Light to the new Rock Orchestra was a practical matter.

“Being in a band is hard. Whoever is the primary driving force needs the confidence in the other band members to support the vision,” he said.

“With a tribute group, people need to agree on what they are going to be doing next and pick an artist. With a (Delaware) band like Echoes, they are fantastic, but all they do is Pink Floyd.

“After five shows that everybody could agree on, (co-artistic director and drummer) Matt Urban and I share some influences that we’d love to do together and we wanted to put together a band that could be more fluid. You may have a guitar player that plays great for Led Zeppelin but not so great for Van Halen or Peter Gabriel or The Police.”

To that end, only four of the same musicians will have played both The Beatles and Springsteen shows.

The Springsteen salute made its debut last Saturday night at The Queen. Mr. Trainor said it was a complete success.

“It was amazing. We had 500 strong in the house. The response was unlike any show I’ve ever done,” he said.

“It was unbelievable how involved everyone was in the show. Everyone was present, which speaks to the material. When there were singalong moments, they knew the words and most people sang.”

Mr. Trainor said he had some reservations about doing Mr. Springsteen’s first three albums on stage rather than a mix of the well-known hits.

“I was a little concerned about it. Part of me thought it would be limiting the audience. The big selling point is ‘Born to Run.’ It’s a pretty well-known record. And I thought they would know enough of the first two albums, that it would appeal to even casual Bruce fans,” said Mr. Trainor pointing to songs such as “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night,” off of “Greetings” and “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and “Rosalita” off of “E Street Shuffle.”

One thing Mr. Trainor said Milton audiences should not expect is a full re-creation of a Bruce show.

Matt Urban, co-artistic director of The Rock Orchestra, will play drums for Saturday night’s show. Tickets are $20-$30. (Submitted photo by Marc Clery)

“For me the whole concept is not aping the artists. We aren’t dressing like them. We’re presenting the music as it mostly appears on the record. I’m not Bruce. I’m still Joe Trainor,” he said.

“If the songs are good and performed well, audiences will enjoy them.”

Mr. Trainor said doing a night of Springsteen music takes a particular kind of artist.

“I’m a huge Yes fan. Guess what band’s music I’ll never do? I’ll never sound like (former Yes lead singer) Jon Anderson,” he said.

“You have to be a very specific style of singer to pull this off. With songs like these, with such intricate word play, you can’t just robotically sing the words. The audience will not connect with you and audiences respond best when they can connect with the band performing.”

With a 14-piece band, the biggest challenge to the show was getting everyone in the same room together to rehearse, which is Mr. Trainor’s favorite part of the process.

“Once you blast through the song once, finding the nuance and the dynamics is the fun part. All my fun is in the rehearsing. Hearing it come alive gives you the satisfaction,” he said.

“During the shows, I’m nervous, wondering if I’m going to be able hit those wails in ‘Jungleland.’ It’s after the show that I can relax.”

Next up for The Rock Orchestra is a tribute to Peter Gabriel May 12 at The Queen. A Downstate venue has not yet been booked.

Tickets are $30-$20 and available at MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038, or at the door.

The Milton Theatre is at 110 Union St.

‘The 39 Steps’

“The 39 Steps,” a fast-moving physical comedy spoof based on the movie by Alfred Hitchcock opens tonight at Riverfront Theater in Milford, presented by the Second Street Players.

The story begins with Canadian Richard Hannay, a visitor to 1930s London, becoming unsuspectingly involved with a glamorous mysterious woman while attending the theater. This chance meeting leads him into a series of adventures involving trains, planes and automobiles, hiking across moors, eluding the police, using false identities and confronting villains as he tries to unravel the mystery of The 39 Steps.

Actors playing multiple characters, quick scene changes and mixed Hitchcock references abound.

The cast includes veteran Second Street Players Jose Bernard, Carol Torrey, John Moller, Phil Staley, Lezlie Eustis and Tommy Tritely supported by Glenn Outten and the Harbeson women, Mary, Naome and Emily.

The play is directed by Tommye Staley.

Show dates are today through Sunday and Feb. 2, 3 and 4 with Friday and Saturday curtain times of 7 p.m. and Saturday matinees at 2 pm.

Riverfront Theater is located at 2 S. Walnut St. on the south bank of the Mispillion River in downtown Milford.

All tickets for the Main Stage shows are reserved seats and are priced at $17 for straight plays and $20 for musicals A $1 discount is offered to senior citizens (65 and over) and students (18 and under) for Sunday matinees only.

Tickets are available at BrownPaperTickets.com or at the box office on day of show.

Stars shining

Saturday night sees the big Dancing with the Delaware Stars event at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.

The competition, modeled after the hit TV show, pairs local celebrities with professional dancers to see who will bring home the mirror ball trophy.

Proceeds benefit Mom’s House of Dover and the Greater Dover Boys and Girls Club.

Dinner and event tickets are sold out but after-party tickets and voting for your favorite couple is still available by visiting www.dancingdestars.org.

Off the Wall

Get ready to laugh tonight as Stanton’s 4th Wall presents “S4W Off The Wall” at the Smyrna Opera House.

This sketch show is a tribute to television comedy, which will feature comedy bits from classic television to the present and from all over the world.

The show is at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6:15.

Tickets are $16 for general admission; $14 for Smyrna Opera House members, senior citizens 65 years and older and students; and $8 for children 12 and younger.

They can be purchased by visiting http://www.smyrnaoperahouse.orgwww.smyrnaoperahouse.org, by calling 653-4236 or at the door.

The Smyrna Opera House is at 7 W. South St.

Chowdown for Charity

The southern chapter of The Next Generation (Next Gen South) of the Delaware Community Foundation is gearing up for Chowdown for Charity, hosted at Maple Dale Country Club, at 180 Maple Dale Road, Dover, on Feb. 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Guests will enjoy beer and wine while local restaurant chefs prep gourmet signature dishes to sample. The restaurants with the most votes will be crowned the “2018 Chowdown for Charity Chefs Champion”.

DJ Jammin Jeff will be playing all the favorites while attendees get to bid on auction items. Attendees will also be able to give their luck a chance in the Wall of Wine, which holds a variety of red and white wines disguised in foil. One lucky winner will take home the hidden bottle of Dom Pérignon.

Next Gen South, a giving circle of the Delaware Community Foundation, is a philanthropic organization that was created and is directed by young professionals living and working in Sussex and Kent counties.

Next Gen South is raising funds to support grants for programs providing addiction and support services for families in Southern Delaware.

For more information about Next Gen South or to participate in Chowdown for Charity, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TNGSoDel.

Tickets to the event can be purchased by visiting Eventbrite.com and searching using the keyword: Chowdown for Charity.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Western drama “Hostiles,” the fantasy film “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” and the romantic comedy “The Competition.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2” and the drama “Last Flag Flying” with Bryan Cranston, Steve Carrell and Laurence Fishburne.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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