Helen Welch Stars in SUPERSTAR: THE CARPENTERS STORY
While the string of new megahits by The Carpenters ended with the 1983 death of Karen Carpenter, the catalog of songs by the Grammy-winning brother-sister duo have become classics.
Now Richard Carpenter has given his blessing to greenlight the new docu-musical SUPERSTAR - The Songs. The Stories. The Carpenters. The production will star West End/Broadway artist/producer Helen Welch and make its Playhouse Square debut Sun., March 31 at 3:30 pm in the Ohio Theatre. (Tickets are $35 & $25, on sale at playhousesquare.org, 216-241-6000 and the Playhouse Square Ticket Office.)
As a docu-musical, Superstar is not a "tribute" concert, but an original, fresh perspective of songs peppered with vignettes that finally captures the true quality and essence of The Carpenters in and uplifting and respectful manner. This one-of-a-kind show features Helen Welch and her world-class musicians reliving more than 20 of the Carpenter's timeless hits.
Helen's distinctive, alto voice settles in perfectly amidst precise, lush new arrangements of songs such as: Close To You (The Carpenters' most popular song), We've Only Just Begun, On Top of The World, Rainy Days and Mondays and more, as well as the title song Superstar. The hits are intertwined with Helen's cheeky British humor, stage presence and fascinating, unheard backstage stories.
(At this writing, Helen is in the studio completing a "Superstar" album that will be launched and available at her March 31st Playhouse Square performance. "Superstar" will join Helen's list of CDs that include "Spellbound" (which made the 2016 Grammy nomination round), "Home For Christmas", "Forever No" and "One Dream".)
Helen (who has produced shows based on music from The Beatles, the Great American Songbook and leading women of jazz) began to craft her "Superstar" production in 2010 when she received Richard Carpenter's blessings to proceed. She would perform the prototype show in a few places until she realized something was missing. She shelved the project until approached by a Los Angles publicist in 2016 who suggested she revamp the show. With renewed energy, Helen delved into more research on The Carpenters, gathered stories and made script revisions. The test markets of the revised "Superstar" validated Helen's efforts with sold out performances.
In a manner, "Superstar" has brought Helen full circle to the Karen Carpenter she listened to as a youth growing up in England. Helen notes that when she was young and learning to sing, she felt very inadequate because she wasn't a soprano. "Karen Carpenter sort of gave me permission to feel good about being an alto," she confesses.
That confidence led Helen on a career path beginning in her native England, first on TV's Romper Room and on to performing in the UK's most prestigious venues from The Ritz to The Savoy and headlining with world-class organizations like the BBC Big Band, Glenn Miller Europe and then London's West End, starring in such musicals as Hello, Dolly! ,Barnum, Carousel, 42nd Street, Calamity Jane and Oliver Twist.
With her marriage to a Northeast Ohioan, Helen relocated to the U.S. and went on to guest star in the Broadway musical Smokey Joe's Café. She was soon a sought-after fronting vocalist performing for The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago's Grant Park Symphony, The Florida Symphony and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.
As a producer-performer Helen's various productions (some based on The Beatles, the Great American Songbook and leading women in jazz) have played in theaters and performing arts centers across the country, including Playhouse Square.