When David-Michael Kenney returned to Philadelphia from California, he walked down the Avenue of the Arts past the "Walk of Fame" plaques. He noticed the nameplates of the local music greats were quite tarnished.
So, says Kenney of Community Outreach at the International Association of Theatrical Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) Local 8, “I thought this would be the best opportunity for the stagehands, who are often backstage in the dark, to come out and make the stars shine.”
In October 2016, the Philadelphia Music Alliance honored the musical legacy created by WRTI Jazz Host Bob Perkins. Meridee Duddleston spoke with Kenney and stagehand Harris Levine on the day of his induction. This year, Joe Baliski of the Stagehands Local 8 will be organizing the polishing effort.
The 2017 class of honorees includes vocalist Jill Scott and the late gospel singer-songwriter and guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A public induction ceremony takes place in front of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4.
Meridee Duddleston: A local kid ended up living in California for a while as an adult and brought back an idea.
David-Michael Kenney: Of course, I went to Hollywood and walked along Hollywood Boulevard, and I came back and I said, 'Well, we have something similar in nature, but truly unique, because these are Philadelphia talent and they deserve to be honored.’
MD: That’s David-Michael Kenney of the Stagehands Local 8. He’s standing in front of the Kimmel Center on South Broad Street as stagehands pack equipment into a truck.
DMK: And to honor them is to polish their plaques so that they shine, and they look appropriate, and other people visiting look and go, ‘Oh my goodness, I didn’t know, he, or she, or they, were from here.'
MD: Jazz legend Stan Getz, pop artists Hall and Oates, and opera star Anna Moffo who, like Kenney, graduated from Radnor High School.
Kenney corralled volunteer Stagehands to restore the shine on the 130 plus plaques along Philadelphia’s Walk of Fame stretching from the Academy of Music, past the front of the Kimmel Center. This October morning, the stars shine as the Walk of Fame induction ceremony begins and a jazz combo plays. How did they do it? Stagehand, Harris Levine.
Harris Levine: And we got on our hands and knees. A lot of us wore kneepads. Some of us didn’t. And we got on our hands and knees with Brasso and polishing pads and we polished up all the plaques on Broad Street.
MD: Since 2014, in the fall as the theater and concert season heats up, the stagehands kneel down and restore luster to the Walk of Fame.