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Archive for June, 2011

Barney the Dinosaur is Alive and You Can See Him on Stage!

No, a meteor didn’t hit the “backyard gang.” Contrary to what you’ve heard, Barney the Dinosaur did not go extinct in the 1990s. While the PBS show Barney and Friends has been off the air since 2009, the friendly Tyrannosaurus Rex puppet is still alive and well. However, due to recessionary worries and the fact that puppet dinosaurs cannot live on peanut butter and jelly alone, Barney has had to hit the road and travel directly to his fans for a live stage show.

The Barney: Live in Concert tour is a Vee Corporation production and is currently celebrating Barney’s birthday. You may remember the name Vee Corporation as the producer and operator of Sesame Street Live. So you can be sure that Barney and friends will have a respectable and “in character” type celebration. This production includes all of the show’s favorites including the proverbially happy Barney, the precocious Baby Bop, B.J. and Riff.

What kind of birthday is Barney having? His birthday shows features new material, an interactive format, and 25 sing-along tunes. The show is written for children and emphasizes important lessons about sharing, caring and friendship. No chance of Barney doing any “blue” material, although he is known to write a lot of purple stuff sometimes.

The producers are definitely pushing this event as an educational show, more so than even the original PBS series. The producers advise parents to explain to young children the difference between live entertainment and entertainment on a TV or computer display. It will truly be a jaw-dropping experience for children who are only use to seeing Barney on TV or on home video.

The show even received a favorable review by the usually cynical Star Telegram publication out of Dallas/Fort Worth for its heartfelt sentiments. Naturally, many of the children who first fell in love with Barney in the early 1990s have grown up. However, some of these youngsters have now grown up and have become parents themselves, and are no doubt looking for wholesome and educational shows for their children. Barney: Live in Concert is not just a show…it’s a live and interactive experience that will make a major impression on your children.

Remember, this production is from the producers of Sesame Street: Live, who know how to create a Broadway-style show that has educational value as well as lots of peanut butter and jelly jamming fun.

See the Magic of Penn and Teller and a Few Magic Tricks Along the Way!

If you’ve ever seen Penn and Teller on television before, then you know it’s not just about the magic. It’s about the show, as Penn Jillette and Raymond Teller have a rather bizarre yet monstrously entertaining comedy act. Their chemistry is a classic, with Penn doing most of the talking and joking, and Teller acting the mime, hardly even speaking.

The duo specialize in unorthodox Las Vegas magic tricks, the likes of which include gory stunts, revealing the “secrets” of old magic tricks, and plenty of pranks. Classic tricks of the duo usually involve Teller subjected to life-threatening situations, including hanging upside down over a cushion of spikes (while confined in a straitjacket), being submerged in a tank of water, and being run over by a tractor-trailer. The “gore” is not real and of course, Teller is never in danger. However, the Python-esque shock value of what is happening is part of the duo’s shtick and it’s a killer of comedy.

What is the secret to Penn and Teller’s success? One of the reasons is the fact that they are a Vegas show, and everything in Vegas is memorable because it becomes part of the Las Vegas allure and identity. Penn and Teller have immortalized themselves as Vegas performers, and have a wonderfully receptive audience every time they take the stage. Their unique and anarchic comedy approach to magic has to be another factor, in an industry of hammy magicians who do traditional standup or no comedy at all.

Penn actually told Larry King that he believes they are successful because of the fact that they are not close friends. He told King that besides the magic, they don’t have much in common and rarely socialize outside of work. Penn and Teller most recently crashed the Daytime Emmy Awards and did yet another gore trick: the duo announced they would “stab” the correct name for Best Supporting Actor. Teller, with a blindfold, then stabbed a knife into a table of cards and then…whoops, into Penn’s hand! The best part was all those worried looks from the Emmy-nominated audience.

If you’re heading over to Las Vegas, Nevada don’t miss an opportunity to see a Penn and Teller show live and in person. It’s so much more enjoyable when you can hear the duo up close (or at least hear Penn) and see the fake blood splatter. Penn and Teller are the most popular magic act in America today and they have a loyal Vegas following to thank for it!

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The Tony Award Winners for 2011 – The Book of Mormon Scores!

Less than 7 million people tuned into the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 12, 2011 (we’re guessing most Nielsen families were watching Dallas trounce Miami) but it was still a great show overall, and great publicity for some of the best musicals and plays of the year. Many A-list celebrities showed up for the event including Al Pacino, Brooke Shields and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The Best Play Award went to War Horse, while the Best Revival of a Play went to The Normal Heart, it also picking up Best Actor and Best Actress. Anything Goes won Best Revival of a Musical as well as Best Actress, while Mark Rylance took home a Best Actor Lead Award for his performance in Jerusalem. Frances McDormand not only made news for her win in Good People, but also made media waves by showing up to the event looking intentionally “good”, by wearing a red-and-black striped maxi dress and a cropped denim jacket. She attended the event without makeup and with a rather “wash and wear” haircut. Frances McDormand is a smart woman; she’s married to director Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men), which tells us her “look” was an act of fashion rebellion.

All that said, the biggest winner of the night came from the least likely to succeed in Broadway, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. No one would have believed you in the year 1999 if you said that the South Park creators would go on to win Tony awards for Best Musical, Best Musical Book, Best Original Score (with Robert Lopez of Avenue Q fame), Best Director (Trey Parker with Casey Nicholaw), Best Orchestrations, best Scenic Design, and Best Actress (Nikki M. James). Not for South Park of course, but for The Book of Mormon, a similarly facetious satire inspired by the Mormon faith.

The biggest loser of the evening was no doubt the Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, a very troubled production that went home empty-handed, and bore the brunt of Neil Patrick Harris’ smarmy comments. (“Pretty soon they’ll be turning its name to ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Lawsuits.”)

Last but not least, we have to give a shout-out to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, a musical inspired by the movie, which took home a Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical, credit going to Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.

Which musical have you seen this year? Did the Tony Award go to right production?

A Reboot of the Underground Classic “The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert”

In 1994, a little Australian film called The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert debuted to little noise but high critical acclaim. It was the first of its kind, and the first movie compared to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of course, in 1994, that was quite a bold comparison. (Nowadays, every movie is calling itself the next Rocky Horror.)

However, for its time, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a revolutionary movie that influenced many other drag queen and GLBT movies, such as To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, and most recently, Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

How do you follow up a movie made 17 years ago? And with no video cameras or working vans? You have to bring it to Broadway, and that is what precisely what the producers of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the musical have done. The musical features the same characters of the movie, including the tough but vulnerable Bernadette Bassenger, the confused but caring Anthony “Tick” Belrose and the obnoxious Adam Whitely.

One of the most interesting elements of the movie is the quirky choice of soundtrack (as the characters’ show consists of lip-syncing in drag costume), which is also present in the musical production. Favorites include “I Will Survive”, “I’ve Never Been to Me” and “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

Amazingly, the production actually recreates the beauty of the Australian Outback on stage, even while finding the time (and the costumes!) to do 20 full-scale production numbers. The costumes are arguably the most amazing element of the production, as the cast slips into new designs by Academy Award winning designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner.

Some elements of the musical have been redone since the production’s 2006 debut, such as a new cast (Will Swenson, Tony Sheldon and Nick Adams) and a few new songs like “It’s Raining Men” and “Finally.”

If you remember the original film then you will be astounded by the Broadway reimagining of this contemporary classic about a few cross-dressing blokes and a magical bus. Get your Priscilla Queen of the Desert tickets to see the event in a city near you!