The Mendel Center and Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra to present Piano Men – A Tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel starring Craig A. Meyer and Donnie Kehr with the SMSO on Saturday, September 29

April 12, 2018



For a second year, The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra are co-presenting the season opener for both performing arts organizations. This year, on Saturday, September 29, at 7:30, Piano Men – A Tribute to Elton John and Billy Joel starring Craig A. Meyer and Donnie Kehr with the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra will be on The Mendel Center Mainstage for a special engagement


Current Mendel Center Mainstage series members and SMSO 2018-2019 Series subscribers can purchase tickets during a special pre-sale beginning Friday, April 13, at 10 am. Tickets go on sale to the public beginning Wednesday, June 13, at 10 am.


“Last year’s partnership with Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra was a hit. Because of positive response, we’ve decided to follow up on that success this year with a show that will immerse the audience in the Grammy Award-winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame magic of Elton John and Billy Joel,” stated Mike Nadolski, executive director of The Mendel Center.


Broadway veterans Craig A. Meyer and Donnie Kehr bring these amazing Piano Men to life in an unbelievable concert featuring the legendary songs of BILLY JOEL and ELTON JOHN! Their hits include “Piano Man,” “Crocodile Rock,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Rocket Man,” “You May Be Right,” “Saturday Night’s Alright,” “Movin’ Out,” and many, many more.


The SMSO, led by Maestro Robin Fountain, will provide orchestral accompaniment for Piano Men. Fountain commented, “We look forward to the opportunity to play the music of two towering creative figures of our time, especially in collaboration with such a superb group.”


Sue Kellogg, SMSO executive director, stated, “Orchestral music is so versatile and adds such depth to melodies that we were thrilled to collaborate on this performance. The audience will truly be swept away in this dynamic, interactive concert celebrating two giants of pop music.”


Craig A Meyer has traversed all four corners of the entertainment industry, making strong impressions in theatre, film, television, and music.


On Broadway, Meyer created the role of Clinton Badger in MGM’s classic Meet Me in St Louis and toured nationally in Cats as Skimbleshanks, The Red Caboose in Starlight Express, and Mike Nulty in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.


Television and film appearances include guest-starring roles on “Necessary Roughness,” “Will & Grace,” “Good Morning Miami,” “Family Law,” “General Hospital,” and “Fernwood 2nite” as well as working with Alan Menken on Disney’s Aladdin, and with Tim Rice and Elton John on The Lion King. Film credits include Leatherheads with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger, Joyful Noise with Dolly Parton, and Queen Latifah and Identity Thief with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.


In music, Meyer has toured internationally and recorded with music legends Barry Manilow and Frankie Valli and has headlined for Princess Cruises around the world.


Throughout Meyer’s busy career, he was repeatedly approached about his striking resemblance to Elton John and his uncanny ability to sound like the rock and roll legend. Meyer was eventually persuaded to expand his repertoire and began impersonating Sir Elton John. Today, he is considered to be the best Elton John tribute artist in the market whose strong vocals, striking resemblance, and amazing talent on the piano has audiences everywhere remembering when rock was young.


As an actor, Donnie Kehr, created roles in landmark musicals Jersey Boys, The Who’s ‘Tommy,’ Billy Elliot, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Human Comedy, and others. His film credits include Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, and Chaplin with Robert Downey Jr. On television he has guest stared in House of Cards, Gotham, and Quantico.


A musician and singer, Kehr as performed on two Grammy Award-winning albums for Best Theatrical Recording in 1993 for The Who’s ‘Tommy”’ and Jersey Boys in 2006 He recently produced the album Comfortable for Tituss Burgess, two-time Emmy Award nominee for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


Kehr has been directing live concerts and theater for many years. His work includes each edition of the Rockers On Broadway concert series since 1993 and most notably the 15th Anniversary Reunion Concert of The Who’s ‘Tommy’,’ featuring the entire original cast and band. Other notable events include The Opening Ceremonies for the 2009 JCC Maccabi Games at Madison Square Garden, the finale performance at the 2011 UN Women Launch Event in the UN General Assembly Hall, and

2013’s Motel Rasdell, winner of “Best Musical” at The Midtown International Theatre Festival.




Pre-sale tickets for current Mendel Center Mainstage Series members and Economic Club of Southwest Michigan Speakers Series members will be available 24/7 at and through The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700, option 1, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, beginning Friday, April 13, at 10 am.


That same day, pre-sale tickets for current Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra 2018-2019 Series subscribers will be available through the SMSO office at (269) 982-4030, and in person at their St. Joseph office.


Beginning Wednesday, June 13, at 10 am, tickets go on sale to the public at, through The Mendel Center Box Office, and through the SMSO office.


While discounts are not available for this special engagement, ticket purchases will count toward the needed number of show purchases for Mendel Center Mainstage series member status for the 2018-2019 season.


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