Ah, the beauty of a dream fulfilled. In many ways each of the artists we catch up with this week has joyfully realized longtime goals
Baltimore native Aliyah Caldwell dishes on making her Broadway national tour debut in “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” and fulfilling a longtime dream of performing on the Hippodrome’s stage.
We also go behind the scenes with Peter Wood, local “collector of the impossible,” who is celebrating a second chance at a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to showcase his magic on national television.
Then we talk to Russ Causey, who realized his lifelong dream of performing and now plays in a band and raises money for a good cause.
Baltimore native performing at Hippodrome in ‘Tina’
After appearing in four cities in the Broadway national tour of “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” Aliyah Caldwell is excited to be showcasing her talents in her hometown.
Though the 28-year-old has performed worldwide, when “Tina” opens at the Hippodrome on Nov. 15, Caldwell will be making her childhood dreams come true.
“It’s just a full circle moment. My younger self looked at that stage and said, ‘I want to do that. I want to dance at the Hippodrome.’ And to see that actually come true, has been a blessing. I’m definitely excited,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell majored in dance at Baltimore School for the Arts, where she graduated in 2012, and then went on to graduate in 2016 from Towson University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in dance performance and a minor in business administration.
Since then, Caldwell has been performing in musicals on cruise lines, teaching dance and continuing to train in her craft. She is making her national our debut with “Tina” in the role of an Ikette, one of the background singers who was instrumental in not only supporting Tina Turner’s moves and tunes, but also introduced her to Buddhism, which eventually was life changing for the iconic star.
The artist said the process of getting “Tina” on its feet was “intense.”
“We had rehearsals in New York City for five or six weeks, Monday through Saturday,” she said. “The first day of rehearsals the choreographer and associate choreographer were like, ‘OK here we go, 5, 6, 7, 8… We were moving and grooving. We had to learn this show.”
She said Tony-nominated director Phyllida Loyd and the creative team were intentional about doing justice to the singer’s journey and caring for the cast’s emotions and needs, particularly considering the show’s sensitive content surrounding abuse.
Since the tour kicked off, Caldwell said D.C. crowds have been the most fun and active, so she’s looking forward to performing the show in her hometown.
“They had commentary, they were gasping, they were crying, they were talking back. It was so funny. So I think Baltimore will definitely top that… I think they’ll be ready to accept it and come along the journey with us.”
“Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” runs at The Hippodrome Theatre Nov. 15-20. For tickets and more information visit baltimore.broadway.com.
Local magician makes bid to fool Penn & Teller
National audiences are getting a second chance to catch local magician Peter Wood in CW’s “Penn & Teller Fool Us,” airing Friday
Wood, 38, describes himself as a “collector of the impossible,” who showcases “amazing artifacts and impossible things.”
“It makes it less about me and almost like a museum curator excited to share these things with an audience,” the Maryland native said.
When Wood first appeared on “Penn & Teller Fool Us,” the world was very different.
“I still traveled to Las Vegas to record the show in October of 2020. I wasn’t doing live shows out in the world and going to Las Vegas, completely shut down was also sort of an eerie, creepy experience,” Wood said.
“And so I was really excited to get on the show and I was very happy how it all turned out. But the double edged sword was ‘Good news, you get to be on national television, bad news, people are only booking virtual shows right now.’
The last time Wood appeared on the show, he brought a newer addition to his collection — a painting that gave show host Allison Hannigan X-ray vision.
“This time, I’m bringing something that I’ve had in my collection for a long time and I’m really excited to share it with ‘Penn & Teller,’ as well as a national TV audience,” he said.
The show airs Friday at 8 p.m. on the CW, and will stream starting Saturday on CWTV.com.
After the show airs, Wood plans to share a YouTube video showing behind the scenes of his encore performance. Wood said he will chronicle “the very earliest idea of getting this on television, all the way through recording it in Las Vegas and some things I had to work on after the fact.”
Hoodstock XIX offers music, fun and a chance to support a good cause
When Russ Causey first started Hoodstock in the backyards of Otterbein in 2004, he was just hoping to showcase his new guitar skills.
“It was in our neighborhood and we played a lot of Woodstock era music at that time, so that’s how the name came to be,” Causey, 64, said. “I was, at that time, on the Board for United Cerebral Palsy, which has since become Unified Community Connections and I thought well, next year, let’s make this a charity event for them.”
The first charity event brought out about 70 people and raised $1,500. By 2007, Hoodstock was becoming too much for Causey and his wife Jennifer to underwrite on their own, and that’s when their organization officially partnered with Unified Community Connections.
With a catered, casual concert hosted at larger venues, including B&O Railroad, the American Visionary Art Museum and now The Winslow, Hoodstock brings out audiences of about 400 and raises more than $80,000.
Since its inception, Causey said about 25 local bands have performed. Causey’s band Roses n Rust is the mainstay headliner.
However, performing and fun aren’t the only priorities for Causey, who calls himself “head hippie.” Hoodstock’s cause is close to his heart, he said, because of his late sister who had severe disabilities.
“I saw first hand how a family dealing with all the issues that come with assisting someone with significant disabilities, how difficult it is on that family,” Causey said. “And if you do not have additional resources to draw from, it sometimes becomes overwhelming.”
Causey said the money raised through Hoodstock provides services for individuals with disabilities to help make their lives more inclusive.
Tickets for Hoodstock XIX are $45 and all proceeds go directly to Unified Community Connections.
“I don’t know where anyone’s going to go, spend $45 and have a great meal, all the beer and wine they can drink, tequila, and hear live music for that kind of price, and that is going toward doing good.
Where is the downside to any of that?”
Hoodstock XIX is Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. For more information visit: unified.org.