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Lionel Richie, Diana Ross given loving, skilled, high-energy salute
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 20:53
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HENDERSONVILLE —It was definitely a case of “Endless Love” during a tribute show,  “The Music of Lionel Richie and Diana Ross,” which had many in the audience dancing at Flat Rock Playhouse’s downtown Hendersonville venue during its Sept. 30 performance.

For the encore, the duet of Donny Sykes (as Richie) and Ebony Blake (as Ross) performed “All Night Long,” leaving the crowd begging for more, but the house lights were turned up and the performers left the stage.

Among the hits — besides “Endless Love” and “All Night Long” — that stirred the crowd most were Richie’s “Brickhouse” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

A major disappointment was the omission of Richie’s biggest hit (when he was lead singer for the Commodores), “Three Times a Lady.”

The show saluted five-time Grammy Award winner Richie, as well as Ross, who was the lead singer of The Supremes, which FRP billed in a promotional flyer as “Motown’s most successful act.” (Others might argue that The Temptations were Motown’s biggest act.) Ross left the Supremes (formed in 1959) in 1970 to to go solo.

Richie came to fame as the lead singer for  The Commodores, all of whom attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The group reportedly was formed in 1968 — initially — simply to play music as a pastime ... and to meet girls.

“Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, both American singers, songwriters, actors and record producers in their own right, remain two of the most celebrated and bestselling artists or all time in their group and solo careers,” FRP noted in a promotion.

It also reached No. 7 on the U.K. charts.

Interestingly, “Endless Love,” written by Richie for the movie with the same name (that sadly bombed), was performed by Ross and him during the 54th Academy Awards in 1982.

“According to showbiz legend, Diana refused to have a run-through of the song beforehand as she prefers to be spontaneous, so Lionel was a little nervous, but the performance is completely electric!

Alas, the song lost out to “Arthur’s Theme” for “Best Original Song.”

The Richie-Ross tribute show at FPR ran from Sept. 28 to Oct. 8.

And even though slightly more than half of the 250 seats in the playhouse were filled, the enthusiasm of the performers and the audience  made it seem like a full house.

Among the other memorable songs performed were “Say You, Say Me,” “Stuck on You,” “Love Hangover” and “Truly.”

The band’s music director was Will Moss, who played synthesizer. Other band members were Casey Cramer, guitar; Daniel Ianucci, bass; Nathan Hefner, keyboards and sythesizer; and Phill Bronson, drums.

The FRP’s downtown Hendersonville venue will feature one more 2017 tribute show, “The Women of Woodstock,” which will be presented Nov. 1-11. Showtimes will be 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.



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