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The Story



Philly and the Dreamer

  Based On A True Story...

It's 1979, and the bright lights of the “big time” are seemingly unattainable from the low-income neighborhoods of Yonkers, NY. However, that doesn't stop Johnny Calacucci from dreaming.  A bright, undaunted optimist, Johnny believes he has what it takes to be a songwriter, but after four years of college, declining to pursue a "real" career and consequently being dumped by his long-term girlfriend, he's back working at the family butcher shop with a plan that's going nowhere.  Johnny definitely has the passion, talent, and drive, but something's missing.  Then one night at a very unusual demo session Phyllis, a gregarious young woman with a special voice, lets go.  Musical sparks fly, and Johnny sees it all, a bigger and better dream, his songs, her voice, and an incredible band named after the hairdresser he thinks could be a star…"Philly."

Johnny’s plan to make it is simple: write great songs and record them. The record companies will love his new sound. Together with his best friend Ronnie Thompson, a girl-challenged classically-trained keyboardist, they discover JoJo Perez, the hyper, tattooed drummer; Scot "Chainsaw" McCray whose guitar playing cuts to the heart; Debbie Fein, a girlish, sexy soprano powerhouse; the quiet Vinnie Moreno and his guitar "Famous;” and Lita Santos, a tough, hard-working woman of color with a soulful voice who is determined to build a better life for herself and her family.

With the band complete and demo tape in hand, Johnny heads to the record companies only to discover they won't even take his tape let alone listen to it.  He needs a connection.  And in the most unusual way, Johnny finds one--his mom's high school friend, Erwin Getz.  A big man and an ex-prizefighter, Erwin's legitimate business is a concrete company, but he's actually a high-level collector for the mob. Feared on the street, he's got money, and for sure he's heavily connected, but to whom? Erwin puts Johnny to the test and eventually decides to help "the kid" out by offering to manage the band. It all starts as planned, but Johnny's Nana warns everyone that the seedy world of the mob brings all kinds of trouble, and she was right. Mobsters don't mind stealing, even from each other.

Driven by youthful passion and a whole lot of heart, Johnny, Phyllis and the band press forward, and what starts out as "all about the music,” following your dreams, and making it to the “big time” becomes terribly complicated for everyone.  The good news is what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; the bad news is not everyone survives. And at a time when all seems to be lost, it's the strength of family, friends and the unlikely legacy of one good-hearted, karma-believing mobster that triumphantly emerge to save the day. 

In both a heartwarming and electric manner, Philly and the Dreamer delivers a fun, multi-generational, family show loaded with entertaining elements and infused with an inspiring message of love and music. It's about believing that with a plan, hard work, and determination, you can achieve what others told you was impossible. Energized with unforgettable, uplifting, and touching original music, Philly and the Dreamer delights all and reminds you to never stop believing in yourself.

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