The Sentinel-Record

Dionne Warwick staying busy with musical, more


CLEARWATER, Fla. — With a stunning musical career already spanning decades, Dionne Warwick couldn’t be blamed for slowing down a bit at age 82. That is nowhere near happening.

The Grammy-winning, multimilli­on-selling singer has a soonto-be released duet with Dolly Parton and a new biographic­al documentar­y now streaming on HBO Max. That’s not all.

Her latest project with music producer son Damon Elliott and others is an upcoming 50-city live touring show called “Hits! The Musical” with performers ranging in age from 10 to 22.

This week at a rehearsal space in Clearwater, Florida, it was time to hear the kids sing and dance, the first chance for Warwick to see the “Hits!” revue in person. It’s set to begin performanc­es Feb. 23 in Asheville, North Carolina, and end May 8 in San Francisco.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Warwick said she did not hesitate when the opportunit­y arose to be an executive producer of the show.

“Anything that deals with children is an automatic yes for me,” Warwick said. “These babies are amazing. They’ve proven what music can do, bring joy, happiness, inspiratio­n, ability — just life, you know?”

Warwick said she had “an amazing experience” after watching the group run through high-energy medleys of everything from Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” to “Where Is The Love?” by the Black-Eyed Peas to a mashup of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” and “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

“I’m really at a loss for words and I’m never at a loss for words,” Warwick said. “To see this kind of brilliance.”

One of the youthful 29-member cast, 15-year-old Matthew Jost, said he’s thrilled to be part of the show even after playing guitarist Zack in “School of Rock” on Broadway. The show runs through key eras of music over three acts, from rock to pop to hip-hop.

“It’s just music that means a lot to me. For this year, we’re all over the place,” Jost said, adding that he hopes the audience “just gets that we’re kids, we’re here, and music brings people together.”

Warwick’s rehearsal show Wednesday capped a week in which she attended the Grammy Awards, performed at a MusiCares dinner honoring Motown greats Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson and then flew to Nashville, Tennessee to shoot a video with Parton for their new tune.

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