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Arts | Coolture

What was your first concert? The cast of ‘Almost Famous’ shares its memories

solea-pfeiffer.jpg
Solea Pfeiffer plays Penny Lane in the stage version of “Almost Famous”
(Courtesy Old Globe Theatre)

Director Cameron Crowe isn’t the only one with rock ‘n’ roll stories

Theater critic James Hebert asked key cast members and the director of “Almost Famous” to name the first pop/rock shows they attended, and talk about what diving into the new musical has been like.

Solea Pfeiffer (as the “Band Aid” Penny Lane)

First concert: Stevie Wonder, Cleveland, Ohio.
Quote: (Commenting on a photo shoot at the former San Diego Sports Arena): “It was like magic, getting to be there in the costumes. This was where not only Cameron (Crowe) had the experiences he wrote about, but also where the actors were who did the movie. It feels like this kind of passing of the torch — this legacy surrounding the whole story.”

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Colin Donnell (as Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond)

First concert: Sting, Lyle Lovett and Lucinda Williams, St. Louis, Mo.
Quote: “Cameron has the greatest vibe about him, so it’s hard not to try and suck all that up when you’re in a place with him that meant so much to him as a kid. One of the greatest treats has been to pick his brain and get to talk to him about his experiences. In his heart of hearts, he’s a fan of so many things, but music is his first love. You just want to listen and soak it up.”

Rob Colletti (as the rock critic Lester Bangs)

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First concert: The Eagles, Chicago, Ill.
Quote: (On playing the late critic): “He definitely has this rough exterior, and you can feel not just in his words but in his behavior that he’s a rough-and-tumble guy. But it’s the shell of a man who has been through a lot in his life. He carries so much more than he lets people see. We’re fleshing out this version of Lester that I would like to think is as true as can be. I hope he would be proud of it if he were here.”

Casey Likes (as the young writer William Miller)

First concert: Young the Giant, Phoenix, Ariz.
Quote: “I can’t think of a better opportunity than this show for anyone starting out. It’s a very rare occurrence to get into a show like this, with the people that it has behind it. It’s going to do great things, and it already has taught me so much. It absolutely mirrors what’s happening (with my own life). I even put in my original announcement on Instagram: I’m dreaming to be a part of this company of my personal rock stars.”

Jeremy Herrin (director)

First concert: Dire Straits, London.
Quote: (On shaping “Almost Famous” for the stage): “It’s not just a movie, it’s an autobiography. So you’ve got the movie to refer to, but you’ve also got the real guy. And sometimes when we hit a moment where we don’t quite know how to do it onstage, I’ll say to Cameron: ‘What do you think?’ And he’ll say, ‘Well, here’s what we did in the movie, and then here’s what happened in real life.’ And so that feels like we can go deeper into the subject. We’re not just doing a carbon copy of the movie. Why would we? That exists anyway. So let’s really get into it.”


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