Throughout 2020, live performances were one of the most missed aspects of “normal” life. But now, as COVID-19 cases drop to record lows in Bucks County and across the state, they’re finally making a resurgence.
On June 11, Bristol Riverside Theatre is commencing its three-month-long William Penn Bank Summer Music Fest, which is slated to feature hits from Broadway, the doo-wop era and more. After offering the popular concert series at the theater prior to COVID-19, and via an online streaming platform last year, BRT is bringing it to a fresh venue, Bristol Township’s outdoor amphitheater, located at 2501 Bath Road.
Kicking off the Summer Music Fest, which is being sponsored for the first time by William Penn Bank, is acapella sextet Take 6.
Comprised of Mark Kibble, Claude McKnight, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley, Take 6 has 10 Grammy Awards, two NAACP Awards, a Soul Train Award and nearly 20 albums to its name. Praise has been received from industry giants like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Whitney Houston.
Ahead of Take 6’s two shows on June 11 and 12, at 8 p.m., The Times caught up with Mark, who is eager to bring the group’s tight harmonies to live crowds again.
“COVID hit us hard just like it hit most performers. Because we couldn’t perform live in front of anyone, that pretty much shut down our touring. We were able to still do virtual shows,” he said. “But it’s good to be back out in front of an audience. It’s such a refreshing experience and so we’re definitely looking forward to coming to your area to do this.”
Take 6 has been in existence professionally since 1987 and attracts fans of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds with its wide-ranging music. From a jazz cover of The Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Take 6 does it all.
“We do gospel, jazz, R&B. Our show is full of all kinds of different music that hopefully will jar your memory. And if you never heard it before, hopefully it will blow your mind. We have some of our own authentic material that we always had if you’ve been a fan since the 1988 debut album, which is probably our most well-known project,” Mark said. “What we intend to do is make something that’s unforgettable and that you’d want to hear again.”
At each Take 6 show, the guys always promote the same theme – “spread love” – which Mark said is needed now more than ever. He promised that attendees will be smiling and (if they choose) standing up and dancing.
“Come out and enjoy,” he said. “It’s an awesome thing to be a part of it [the Summer Music Fest]. We intend to start it off with a big bang.”
Following Take 6, the series continues with Broadway Memories on June 18-20; Totally Awesome ‘80s on July 16-18; ‘70s Flashback on July 30-31; Broadway Ahead on Aug. 13-15; and The Doo Wop Project on Aug. 27-28. Upholding tradition, several shows will spotlight Keith Baker and the BRT Concert Band.
BRT co-producing director Ken Kaissar is thrilled to welcome back patrons for in-person entertainment, even if it’s not at the 120 Radcliffe St. theater just yet.
“Last spring, we discovered this new amphitheater right in our backyard. And then our good friend Mandee Hammerstein introduced us to William Penn Bank CEO Ken Stephon, who had always wanted to sponsor an outdoor music fest and was eager to help make it happen. It was a win-win,” Kaissar said. “It’ll be fun to see how the concerts grow and change outdoors. As great as the summer concerts have always been in our theater, there’s something about listening to Broadway hits under the stars on a summer evening. That sounds about as great as it gets right now.”
Tickets and more information are available at brtstage.org or by calling the box office at 215-785-0100. Tickets for individual shows range from $35 to $55, depending on the show. Seating is socially distanced and masks are required when not seated. Food trucks will be on-site. No alcohol permitted. Chairs and blankets are available for purchase at the venue and online. All seating is general admission.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com