‘The Greatest Piano Men’ to capture rock n’ roll keyboard legends

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Think of the legendary rock and roll piano players of the rock n’ roll era — Billy Joel, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, even Liberace. Which would you pick to hear in concert?

With “The Greatest Piano Men,” you don’t have to. You’ll get them all with performers portraying those icons and others to play their biggest songs in a unique concert experience at 8 p.m. Friday at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

This is the final show of the season of the Springfield Arts Center’s Showtime season. Tickets are still available.

“It’s not really a tribute, it’s a concept show where four piano players come together and use our superhero power for what we do,” said David Maiocco, who portrays Liberace in the show. “It’s a rock n’ roll salute to the great piano icons who moved us with their fingers on the keys.”

Donnie Kehr, who portrays Billy Joel, Bill Connors as Elton John, Pete Peterkin as Little Richard and Ray Charles and their full backing band bring a wealth of experience from performing on Broadway, in films, television and shows like “America’s Got Talent.”

“We’re not pretending to be anybody we aren’t, but we transform into characters to put on a feast for the eyes and ears,” said Maiocco, who dons a 40-pound sequin and fur cape to become Liberace.

Although Liberace may seem like the odd man out in this company, he was a classically-trained pianist who chose showmanship and made a career of playing others’ music, but also loved boogie woogie piano.

Maiorocco said Liberace was ahead of his time, helping invent the resident Las Vegas spectacle show and inspired Elton John to go big and flamboyant in his shows with colorful, outrageous costumes.

Other piano legends to get a shout out include Stevie Wonder, Jerry Lee Lewis, Barry Manilow and The Beatles.

Although there aren’t as many popular artists who use a lot of piano in this Instagram era — Springfield’s own John Legend and Lada Gaga are exceptions — Maiocco said in many ways, this show is for everyone, especially those born between 1940 and the 1980s as it gives a nostalgic feel to those who grew up with these artists.

After his part as Liberace, he joins the band on synthesizer and has fun watching the audience, especially those in their golden years, from the stage and hopes the Performing Arts Center crowd will join in.

“We think of the audience as our friends and we love seeing people standing and dancing in the aisles. This is a chance to get away from the world for an evening with four guys and a great band doing this music that is such a legacy,” he said.


What: “The Greatest Piano Men”

Where: Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 South Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Friday, April 19

Admission: $35.50-51.50 (not including convenience or handling fees)

More info: www.springfieldartscouncil.org/event/piano/

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