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Wizard World summoning celebs to Cleveland

3/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

Peter Tork of the Monkees will appear at Wizard World Comic Con, which will take place March 17-19 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.
Photo courtesy of Wizard World
CLEVELAND — You may soon find your Facebook page filled with friends posing with superheroes, rockers and wrestlers. The Wizard World Comic Con is taking place March 17-19 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, and a bevy of stars are scheduled to appear.

The lineup features Gene Simmons of Kiss, actor Anthony Mackie (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) and cast members of TV shows “Dexter” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Nichelle Nichols (“Star Trek”), Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”) and wrestler Kurt Angle are also among the more than 20 luminaries appearing.

Also scheduled for Wizard World are Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, whose songs and infectious spirit have not lost their appeal over the decades.

“It’s really amazing the range of fans we have,” said Tork, 75. “We have 6-year-olds mouthing the lyrics to both (our latest album) Good Times! and to the original albums from the early days. And also 13-, 15-year-olds, all the way up to the grandparents and even great-grandparents.”

Good Times! was the Monkees’ acclaimed 2016 album, released to coincide with the band’s 50th anniversary celebration. Top songwriters contributed tunes, including Ben Gibbard of the band Death Cab for Cutie, who wrote the moving “Me & Magdalena.”

On the album, the song was sung by Dolenz and Mike Nesmith. But with Nesmith not joining his bandmates on the 2016 tour, Tork sang his part. (Davy Jones, the other member of the band, passed away in 2012).

“I changed the key a little bit because our ranges are different, but singing that song every night was really something,” said Tork. “I don’t know if we ever got it perfectly right, but just trying was glorious. It certainly was a joy for both Micky and me and the band ... and the audience, I guess. Nobody left the house while we were singing the song, so it must not have been too bad.”

The band received glowing reviews on the tour, which included shows in New Zealand and Australia.

“New Zealand was on my bucket list,” said Tork. “I didn’t get to see everything I wanted in New Zealand, but I got to hang out a bit here and there.”

As far as future Monkees performances, Tork said, “We have no plans at the moment. That’s not to say it won’t happen.”

While you won’t hear Tork and Dolenz, 72, singing their hits, Wizard World offers you the chance to enjoy the Monkees in their natural habitat, entertaining an audience. According to the event’s website, www.wizardworld.com, “A Conversation with Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork of the Monkees” will take place March 19 at 11:30 a.m. There is no cost to attend panel discussions with your admission ticket. (The same cannot be said for autographs and photo opportunities. The website has the details of what each celebrity is charging and the days they are appearing.)

The hours of the event, which also will feature cosplay activities, comic artists and animation voiceover artists, are tomorrow, March 17, from 5 to 10 p.m., March 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland is located at 300 Lakeside Ave. E.


Craig Marks is a cartoonist and editorial, sports and entertainment writer for the West Side Leader.

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