Chelsea Natives Highlight 1960s Brill Building Musicians at Performance Network Theatre
Frank Allison and Phil Powers star in the Performance Network Theatre's latest stage production.
ANN ARBOR — Chelsea natives Frank Allison and Phil Powers bring the world premiere of Brill by David Wells to the Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor.
The story follows a washed up big-band musician (Powers), whose office in New York City’s world-famous Brill Building in 1959, is infiltrated by a young female singer/songwriter.
Brill is not the first collaboration between Powers and Allison. They each performed in the Chelsea Area Players’ production of The Music Man opposite Hollywood actor Jeff Daniels in the mid-1970’s.
Brill on Broadway and 49th Street in New York City. The Brill Building was the epicenter of some of the most popular and influential music in the western world, fostering the works artists such as Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Carole King, and Neil Diamond. The Brill Building was so spectacular because these artists could write, promote, and produce an album within one building.
The Brill Building’s name has been widely adopted as a shorthand term for a broad and influential stream of American mainstream popular song (strongly influenced by Latin music and rhythm and blues), which enjoyed great commercial success in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s.
Many significant American and international publishing companies, music agencies, and recording labels were based in New York. Although these ventures were naturally spread across many locations, the Brill Building was regarded as the most prestigious address in New York for music business professionals.
Powers was last seen at the Performance Network Theatre in God of Carnage and his award-winning performance in The Drowsy Chaperone. He faced the challenge to learn the piano in order to perform Allison’s legendary music. In the past, Powers has learned to play the spoons and the accordion for specific characters, but claims this has been his greatest music challenge.
A local celebrity and recipient of the Indie Fest Award of Merit and first prize in the 2012 Manchester Riverfolk Songwriting Contest, Frank Allison of Frank Allison and the Odd Sox, teamed up with Wells to tell the story of an unlikely musical duo. Allison continues to perform and write music and runs the Clinton Theater with his family.
Tickets for Brill can be ordered by calling Performance Network’s box office at 734-663-0681, online, or at Performance Network Theatre, 120 East Huron St., Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tickets are $22-$41 with discounts available for seniors, members, students and groups.