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Sat, Oct. 19

Divas doo-wop at Elks Saturday

Courtesy photos<br>Melissa Alejandra. Erin Helm, Heather Dispensa and Crystal Start are the Doo-Wop Divas, who will perform at the Elks Opera House Saturday.

Courtesy photos<br>Melissa Alejandra. Erin Helm, Heather Dispensa and Crystal Start are the Doo-Wop Divas, who will perform at the Elks Opera House Saturday.

Prescott's grand dame of theater - the Elks Opera House - will celebrate its 108th anniversary at 7 p.m. Saturday in the midst of a "Doo-Wop Divas" concert on its historic stage.

Doo-wopper pop music took its place in the limelight beginning in the U.S. in the 1950s, and the Doo-Wop Divas will perform tunes extracted from all-female groups, such as the Supremes, the Chantels, the Shangri-Las, The Shirelles, the Crystals and others popular entertainers during the genre's heyday.

The audience can look forward to hearing "Can't Hurry Love," "Mr. Sandman," "The Name Game," "Baby Love" and "Mr. Postman" from the golden years of doo-wop and early rock and roll.

The divas are Heather Dispensa, Erin Helm, Crystal Start and Melissa Alejandra.

Alejandra is new to Lonely Street Productions, the company putting on the show. She has been involved in the arts since her childhood, beginning with dance and then acting, still part of her repertoire, she said.

Singing became a focal point of her career when she was a teenager and tried out for a part in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" at a Tucson theater.

People told her, "You have a huge voice," which persuaded her to take lessons for the first time in her life. "I started singing a bit more seriously rather than just singing around the house," she said.

Of Saturday's concert, "We will be singing from beginning to end, all four of us," Alejandra said. "It will definitely be a great show and super entertaining. Even if you're not familiar with the genre, you'll have a blast. It's really a fun show."

Helm has been a part of Lonely Street Productions for three years and had always wanted to be a performer.

She attributes her love of theater to her grandfather, Angelo Di Girolamo, now 91, owner of the Wharf Theater in Monterey, Calif., who introduced her to the stage when she was very young. "He loves classical musical theater," Helm said. "That's why I love it."

"'Doo-Wop Divas' has something for everyone. The themes and the music speak to everyone," Helm said. "I think the entire era of doo-wop is magical."

During intermission, the Elks Opera House Foundation will pay tribute to its guild members for their mission "to preserve, promote and support" the vintage theater.

"When the theater is open, the docents are there," docent coordinator Maxine Dillahunty said. These volunteers, both men and women, give time selling tickets, ushering and answering questions about the opera house.

They are always dressed in period attire, dating from Arizona Territorial days of 1864 to its statehood in 1912.

The anniversary celebration will include presentation of the Elisabeth Ruffner Service Award to Marilyn Henze and raffles for three packages of prizes. First prize offers a bronze replica of Bill the Elk that stands atop the theater and work of fiction, "Elk in the Attic"; the second prize is tickets for two to 10 local venues or events; and third prize is an original photo floral on canvas by Deanna Hendrickson. Raffle tickets are $10 each or three for $25.

"Doo-Wop Divas" tickets are $22 to $25 and are available by calling 777-1370 today and Friday or by logging onto www.elksoperahouse.com.

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