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The Smithereens

Off the tops of our heads, we’re hard pressed to think of another band who have managed to achieve significant popular success with albums of original material and have also recorded multiple full-length cover albums. But power-popsters the Smithereens have done just that.

Formed in 1980, the New Jersey band combined early ’60s influences—such as the Beatles, the Who and the Kinks—with barroom bravado for a sound that straddled Brit Invasion and American classic rock. It might not be too much of a stretch to say the muscular songcraft of the Smithereens in the mid- and late 1980s helped pave the way for the alternative and grunge megastars who—some speculate—contributed to the band’s own diminishing fame.

Since their chart peak in 1990, though, the band have continued to gig (maintaining a rep as a top-notch live act), and record: notably, two full albums of Beatles songs (including Meet the Beatles in its entirety) and, last year, their own version of the Who’s rock opera Tommy.

Tomorrow (Friday), the Smithereens will perform songs from that album, as well as from their Beatles’ tributes and songs from their own impressive catalog, at the Colonial Theatre (111 South St., Pittsfield, Mass.). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $45 and $22 and can be purchased by calling (413) 997-4444.

Hairspray

Who would have thought, lo those 23 years ago, that a charming, quirky little John Waters comedy with an unknown lead (Rikki Lake), a legendary cult performer (Divine) and a pop star soon to become a politician (Sonny Bono) would someday be transformed into a smash Broadway musical, and, again, into a smash movie musical? Not us.

But the kids know what they like, and teenagers love the musical Hairspray as much as their theatergoing parents do. And why not? It has good songs, a funny story and showstopping numbers—in short, it delivers what a musical should. And the current national touring company production is coming to the Palace Theatre stage this week.

Hairspray will be performed Wednesday (Jan. 27) at 7:30 PM at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany). Tickets are $29.50 to $59.50. For more info, call the box office at 465-4663.

Grease

Thanks to a hugely successful Broadway revival in 2008, “grease” is still the word. But the 1950s-flavored musical sensation of the 1970s never really went away, did it? It continues to strike a nostalgic nerve with older audiences, and younger audiences respond to its teen setting—and catchy tunes.

This company, which settles in for a six-day run at Proctors this week, includes silver-haired American Idol winner Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel.

Grease opens Tuesday (Jan. 26) and runs through Jan. 31 on the mainstage at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, and Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are $20 to $65. For more info, call the box office at 346-6204.


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