The year of ELTON JOHN


It still seems kind of amazing that Elton John played in Youngstown this year.

There are only a handful of musical acts in his stratosphere, and they don’t usually play small markets. But Sir Elton did indeed show up at Covelli Centre with his full band for a May 1 concert and played for nearly three hours.

It was a rare and memorable event — and The Vindicator’s top entertainment story of the year.

Here’s a look at the rest of The Vindicator’s top-10 arts/entertainment stories for 2010:

  1. Ronnie Wood art exhibition: The past year also brought a second visit by rock royalty — Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. The famed guitarist is an accomplished artist, and his portraits of his band mates and other celebrities highlighted the show. Wood made a brief appearance at the Butler for the opening reception Sept. 21.
  2. “Chicago” at the Youngstown Playhouse: On the brink of extinction just three years ago, the Youngstown Playhouse returned to profitability this year in an amazingly quick turnaround. It received two major donations and upgraded its building. But nothing underlined its achievements and screamed “We’re back!” like the seven sold-out performances of “Chicago” in September.
  3. “Youngstown: STILL STANDING”: This documentary film produced by Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and directed by John Chechitelli uncovers Youngstown’s rollicking past. It premiered at the Butler museum March 23 and a few days later at the Cleveland International Film Festival.
  4. Soulages Gallery opens: The Butler museum’s new $300,000 gallery, designed specifically to house a masterpiece mural by French artist Pierre Soulages, opened Oct. 10 at the Howland branch.
  1. Chris Brubeck and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra premiere new work: Modern string ensemble Time for Three and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra delivered the world premiere of “Travel in Time for Three,” composed by jazz great Chris Brubeck (who attended the premiere), March 20 at Powers Auditorium. The suite was commissioned by a consortium of orchestras, led by Randall Craig Fleischer, music director of the YSO.
  2. Victorian Players dominate Marquee Awards: Never more than an also-ran, The Vic stunned the theater community by piling up 16 awards in the ceremony that honors the best in local community theater. The Oakland finished second with 13.
  3. Two new theaters open: Robert Joki, one of the pillars of the local-theater community, launched his Rust Belt Theater Company this summer at the Calvin Center in Mahoning Commons. In Columbiana County, East Palestine Community Theater began its inaugural season in the spring. And in Columbiana city, the beautiful Main Street Theater closed its doors in May, only to reopen in November.
  4. Youngstown Jazz Festival: Hard to imagine how the inaugural Jazz Fest — the newest addition to the city’s list of outdoor festivals — could have been more successful. On July 15, about 4,000 people paid $15 apiece to sip wine and listen to Spyro Gyra, David Benoit and others on a mellow summer day at Central Square, downtown.
  5. Butler museum releases “Masterworks”: The beautiful and weighty book highlights dozens and dozens of the museum’s masterpieces. A team of professionals spent hundreds of hours on the project, which drew notice from the art world. The Butler last published a similar scholarly tome on its collection in 1992.

Other highlights: The exquisite Riverdance comes to Powers Auditorium on Feb. 23-25 as part of its farewell tour; the historic Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park, which had been out of service for two years, reopens after a renovation project; the pipe organ at Stambaugh Auditorium is returned after a $1.4 million refurbishing and will be used in its first public concerts in 2011; “Preacher’s Kid,” a movie made by Youngstown native Stanley Foster, is released nationally Jan. 29; Walking with Dinosaurs, the international hit, comes to Covelli Centre on May 4-5; Rosetta Stone Restaurant and Wine Bar, always on the vanguard of the downtown nightlife renaissance, abruptly closes Aug. 26, taking with it The Vault, a rock and dance club in the building’s basement that the owners created but never got to open.

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