The Story

The Story


(Now titled, Philly and the Dreamer)

Based on the true story…

It's 1979. The bright lights of the big time are seemingly unattainable from the low-income neighborhoods of Yonkers, NY, but that doesn't stop Johnny Calacucci from dreaming.  A bright undaunted optimist, Johnny's believes he has what it takes to make it as a songwriter.  However, after four years of college, declining to get a "real" job and subsequently being dumped by his long-term girlfriend, he's back working at the family butcher shop with a plan that's going nowhere.  Then one night at a very unusual demo session Phyllis, a gregarious hairdresser with a special voice, lets go.  Musical sparks fly, and Johnny sees it all -- a bigger and better dream -- his songs, her voice, and an incredible band named after the singer he thinks could be a star…"Philly."

Together with his best friend Ronnie Thompson, a girl-challenged classically-trained keyboardist, they discover JoJo Reed, the hyper, tattooed drummer; Scot "Chainsaw" McCray whose guitar playing cuts to the heart; Debbie Fein, a girlish, sexy soprano powerhouse; the quiet Vinnie Moreno and his guitar "Famous;” and Lita Santos, a tough, hard-working woman of color, with a soulful voice, determined to build a better life.

​With the band complete and their demo tape in hand, Johnny realizes he needs help.  No one gets out of the neighborhood without a connection.  And in the most unusual way, Johnny finds one -- his mom's high school friend, Erwin Getz.  Erwin's legitimate business is a concrete company, but he's actually a high-level collector for the mob. Feared on the street, he's got money, and for sure he's heavily connected, but to whom? Erwin puts Johnny to the test and eventually decides to help “the kid" out by agreeing to manage the band. Johnny's Nana warns everyone that the seedy world of the mob brings all kinds of trouble, and she's right. Mobsters don't mind stealing, even from each other. And what starts out as "all about the music," following your dreams, and making it to the big time, becomes terribly complicated for everyone. The good news is what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; the bad news is not everyone survives.  And at a time when all seems to be lost, it's the unlikely legacy of one good-hearted, karma-believing mobster that emerges to save the day.  ​

In both a heartwarming and electric manner, Philly delivers a fun, fascinating, yet poignant story about the dangers of ambition in a world driven by money and power. It embodies the contrast between working class life and the dream, the beauty of naiveté, and most of all, the discovery, that real love, in itself, is enough.  Energized with unforgettable, uplifting, and touching original music, Philly will delight all and will remind you to hold tight to those you love and to never stop believing…

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