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Archive for January, 2012

Beauty and the Beast Makes Headlines…

Beauty and the Beast is making headlines in 2012! First, we had the re-release of the original Disney movie in 3-D, starring the voice-over cast of Paige O’Hara, Richard White, Robby Benson and Jerry Orbach. Next, we’ve just learned that the ABC television network is ordering a Beauty and the Beast update for TV in the spirit of “Once Upon a Time”, another modern fairy tale. Third, we’ve also learned that the CW is also ordering a Beauty and the Beast TV project, this one based on the 1980s CBS drama starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton. And who could forget the 2011 film adaptation of the 2007 novel, Beastly? (Er, probably a lot of people)

That’s why we can’t help but think that the true spirit of Beauty and the Beast is heard loudest and clearest on Broadway. Ever since 1994, the stage musical has been playing in some way or another. Though the original Broadway run ended in 2007 (after 5,464 performances), there are various international and amateur productions still running.

In addition, there are also U.S. national tours that you can still catch in your own home town. Most recently, a fourth national tour in the U.S. began in 2010 and actually features the original Broadway creative team, though with all new sets and costumes.

All of your favorite songs from the original movie have been kept in the play, including “Belle”, “Gaston”, “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast.” In addition to the original film, new songs have been added, such as “Me” (sung by Gaston), “No Matter What” (sung by Belle and Maurice), “Home” (sung by Belle) and “If I Can’t Love Her” sung by the Beast.

One of the reasons the score and lyrics are so perfect is because they were done by the brilliant Broadway pairing of Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. Alan Menken is still alive and well, and most recently scored the successful Disney movies Enchanted, Tangled and the upcoming Mirror, Mirror in 2012.

Nothing quite measures up to the Beauty and the Beast mythology as imagined by Disney, as it was truly a rare achievement–a full operatic cartoon that managed to effectively combine drama, comedy, terror and tragedy. No wonder it was the first cartoon ever nominated for Best Picture. (And the only cartoon to achieve the final five in 1992!) See this classic love story in person with or without the kids!

Get your Beauty and the Beast tickets today!

Bruce Springsteen is Taking His New Album on the Road!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are going back on tour, and it all begins just weeks after the release of Springsteen’s 17th studio album, “Wrecking Ball” is released on March 6.

The tour, that bears the same name as the album, will begin its American leg on March 18 in Atlanta and wraps up in Bruce’s home state of New Jersey on May 2. On April 29, Bruce and the Band will perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which is currently the only stop on the tour for which tickets are currently on sale. Ticket sales for the majority of the other 18 stops on the tour begin on Saturday, January 28. Once done in the United States, they will head to Europe for a much lengthier 32-stop tour.

Many fans have already gotten a glimpse of what to expect from the album, as Springsteen performed the title track at Madison Square Garden for a 5-night stint just before it was demolished. And, with the news that he also has guests such as Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello from the Machine; and Matt Chamberlain from Pearl Jam, it’s also said that the album will have a much heavier and more intense feel than any of Bruce’s albums in the past. And his manager, Jon Landau, has been quoted as saying, “Bruce has dug down as deep as he can to come up with this vision of modern life.” The album has also been said to tackle major issues such as social injustice.

This is the first tour in which the band will travel without saxophonist and founding E Street member, Clarence Clemons, who passed away after suffering from complications of a stroke last summer. Springsteen has announced on his official website that the band will not be replacing Clemons and will be traveling without a saxophonist. You can also find on the website a complete listing of tour, as well as ticket sale, dates.

Is There a “Phantom” Sequel Coming to Broadway?

It was over 25 years ago when “The Phantom of the Opera” opened in London’s West End at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Now, the long awaited sequel “Love Never Dies” has made its debut; but will it ever make it to Broadway?

Just like its predecessor, the show opened in London; unfortunately though, audiences were not nearly as receptive, and neither were the critics, who started calling the show “Paint Never Dries.” After the show made its final bow, producers and directors knew that change was needed before the show moved onto Melbourne, Australia, and so changes they made. The show opened in Melbourne, was much better received, and has now gone onto Sydney to capture audiences there. But still, will it ever make it to Broadway?

That’s what Andrew Lloyd Webber is in New York trying to find out at this very moment. Webber has fully admitted that the show wasn’t working in London, but also said, “I don’t want to second-guess it right now, but I think there’s a strong probability that we do have a chance. The fact that it has been got right, that the Australians have got it right, could make all the difference.

In the sequel, heroine Christine Daae is back and the Phantom is running a carnivalesque show to which he invites Christine to sing. It takes place ten years after the conclusion of “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Would you like to see “Love Never Dies” on Broadway?

Nickelback Announces a Huge Tour

With two years having passed since they were last on the road, Nickelback is now making up for their absence by traveling around North America this spring. Trying to reach as many fans as possible, the band has crammed 39 stops into just over two months in order to promote their seventh studio album, “Here and Now.”

The tour begins on April 10 in Moline, Illinois and stops from there will include Detroit, New York, Montreal, and Toronto. Nickelback will wrap the tour in their homeland of Canada on June 26 in Vancouver, British Columbia. But as they travel, Nickelback won’t be alone. To accompany them on the tour are the esteemed rock band, Bush; Seether; and Toronto’s own, My Darkest Days.

Nickelback has always been known for putting on an unforgettable rock concerts, but even they have admitted that this one’s going to be their “biggest, baddest, most over-the-top show yet!” And when speaking about the album the tour is promoting, lead singer Chad Kroeger has said, “When you listen to this record, it sounds like it could be from four different artists.” While we think all Nickelback albums come from four unique and talented artists, it should be interesting to see these four culminate in a way they never have before.

Tickets for the “Here and Now Tour 2012” went on sale Sunday, January 13 for fan club members; they’ll be on sale for the general public on January 21.

Rubio and Irving, the Two Best Rookies in the NBA

If you’re wondering what players you can expect to see at the NBA All Star Rookie Challenge on February 24, 2012, you can bet on at least two – Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers. These two young guys are undoubtedly the best rookies in the NBA today, and are making the very most of their first season.

Ricky Rubio has put up some amazing numbers for any rookie in the league, working the backcourt along with Luke Ridnour. Rubio is in second place for the rookie to have the most total number of steals in the league and is the first rookie overall in total assists on the board. Along with those stats, Rubio has also had 108 assists in 13 games, and let’s not forget that those games are the only ones he’s ever played in the NBA. And if that’s not enough for you, only five players overall have ever had more than that in the league, showing that Ricky Rubio has tremendous talent and a great deal of promise for the Timberwolves.

Meanwhile over in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving is doing big things for the Cavaliers. Irving’s stats all the way across the board continue to climb up, up, and up — but it’s his shooting percentages that are particularly impressive. During his last five games, Irving has made over 50% of his shots, and he only has two games behind him where his percentage was less than 42%. Those are good numbers for any point guard, but for a rookie? Nearly unheard of. Just compare where the Cavaliers were this time last year (5-8) and where they are now (6-7,) and you can see the difference Irving has made to this team.

Are Boston Theater Audiences Getting Ripped Off?

Look around the theaters of Broadway the next time and count how many shows playing actually originated on Broadway. Maybe there will be several, maybe just a few, depending on the night that you go. Shows come from areas like London and Toronto, and Boston. In fact, this latter is one of the biggest areas to ship their shows to Broadway, and that’s caused quite a stir in the theater world recently.

Currently there are many shows playing in New York, but recruited from Boston, including “Stick Fly,” “Porgy and Bess,” and “Once,” (the only one of the handful not actually playing on Broadway but in New York.) While this would usually be good news for the arts and the actors in the show as they bring culture to the nation, there are some who feel Boston audiences are the ones suffering from it.

First there’s the matter of Boston audiences being used as guinea pigs, with only the best shows going to New York. That was the case for “Stick Fly,” as the director said, “What ultimately got the play to New York was that folks came to see it in Boston, in a sold-out theater.”

Then there’s the matter that some shows are actually changed during the transition of those many miles from Boston to Broadway. And that’s a fact that now has Boston audiences really up in arms. This happened most recently with the play, “Sons of the Prophet.” It was shown to a Boston audience first last spring, and has just wrapped up on Broadway. But once the Boston showing was over, writer Stephen Karam went back and rewrote the play, dropping an entire storyline from the play and the characters along with it.

Karam has said that he never went into it “thinking it was a half-finished play,” and that he “wishes [he] had seen those things sooner,” but that doesn’t change the fact that two audiences are seeing two different plays. And the first can’t help but feel a little ripped off.

But is it really all that bad? The understanding with Boston shows traditionally, was that they were shows originally aiming for Broadway. Now though, as theater-goers develop more intense loyalties to their own local theaters, this seems to be a hot topic among today’s theaters.

Is it so bad for plays to shoot for the Great White Way?

Start the Year Right with a Live Performance from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Most of your favorite rock bands from the 1970’s can only be enjoyed with recordings these days as they have long since broken up or stopped touring altogether. Not so for the unstoppable Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers! The band was formed in 1976 and is still touring the world today. The band is made up of lead singer Tom Petty, and the Heartbreakers, currently consist of Mike Campbell, Scott Thurston, Ron Blair, Benmont Tench, and Steve Ferrone.

The band has had a number of hits including the well known “American Girl”, “Breakdown”, “Learning to Fly”, and “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. There may even be new hits in the bands future as they are still recording albums so that they can play their new songs for adoring fans. Their latest album is entitled Mojo and was released in 2010.

Besides numerous Grammy Awards, the band has certainly had a number of honors bestowed on them over the years. In 1999, the band got their very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were honored as they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They have also received the Billboard Century Award and the keys to the city of Gainesville, Florida (where Tom Petty and many other band members are from).

If you are dying to hear your favorites sung live once again, then you will be happy to know a tour is scheduled for 2012 across the United States as well as Europe, and is supposed to start in April. A special performance with a number of popular bands will also be played at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in April 2012. The tour starts out in Colorado, and from there moves on to Arkansas, Florida, Texas and other states. The band may just be heading to a town near you!

In 2006, the band celebrated their 30th Anniversary! Think they can make it to their 40th? They just may, as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are still belting out their best tunes for old fans and new generations of fans alike with no signs of stopping. Why not come hear them play your favorite songs live and in person?

Who Advanced to the Top of the Class in the NFL?

A few quality NFL teams have already advanced to the top of their league, though no one’s really turned in a dynamite performance as of yet. We do know that the Baltimore Ravens advanced and clinched the AFC North by defeating the suddenly chilled Cincinnati Bengals. The New England Patriots may be headed back to the spotlight, as they defeated the Buffalo Bills, which helped them clinch the division as well as the home field advantage.

In the AFC South, the Houston Texans graduated “top of the class”, though they have actually lost their last three games. Credit their league-best record of 10-6, which helped them coast to the end. Over in the AFC West, things are looking ghastly, as most teams are 8-8, and the Denver Broncos just barely clinched the division over the Chargers.

The New York Giants amassed the best record in the NFC East and enjoyed some impressive wins, but their 9-7 record isn’t much compared to NFC North leader the Green Bay Packers who are holding onto their near perfect 15-1 record. The NFC South is dominated by New Orleans, who has an impressive 13-3 record, and has clinched their division over the Falcons. Lastly, there is the NFC West, and it has been claimed by the San Francisco 49ers, with an equally impressive 13-3 record, besting Arizona, Seattle and St. Louis.

It’s also time to review coach casualties, which say a lot considering that the season isn’t even over yet! As of early January, the St. Louis Rams have fired head coach Steve Spagnuolo and General Manager Billy Devaney, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dumped head coach Raheem Morris. That’s a lot of coaches axed, considering other casualties like Tony Sparano of Miami, Todd Haley of Kansas City and Jack Del Rio of Jacksonville.

Ultimately it’s winning that decides your job stability. This has been a lackluster season and most teams have fallen short of expectations – except of course power teams like Green Bay, New Orleans, Baltimore and San Francisco. What do you think? Is this Super Bowl going to be a Green Bay party day or is there an upset in the making?

Jesus Christ Superstar Returns to the Stage

No, this isn’t a Google News Archive article…you are actually reading about Jesus Christ Superstar in the year 2012. This rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, loosely based on the gospels, but highly embellished to include details about political differences between Judas Iscariot and Jesus, not to mention plenty of over-the-top pop songs.

While the musical has been in production for quite a while (it played at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario during early 2011, and then to La Jolla Playhouse in late 2011. The latest news is that the legendary musical will be moved to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, starting on March 22, 2012.

The musical features Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene and Josh Young as “Judas Iscariot. The director on board as early 2012 is Des McAnuff, with Lisa Shriver as Choreographer. If that’s not enough to make you stand up and sing then how about the latest plans for a musical? Yes, a third film adaptation is scheduled for release in 2014. The new movie will be directed by Marc Webb who previously directed (500) Days of Summer and the upcoming The Amazing Spiderman reboot.

In case you never saw the original Jesus Christ Superstar on stage or on the screen, just know that it is probably as unorthodox an experiment as you will ever see, and certainly the boldest biblical translation, even in this bizarre age of Harry Crumb-drawn bible graphic novels.

The musical incorporates 1970s slang and some very modern attitudes into the dialogue and music, and there are actually many ironic allusions to 20th and 21st century life. In fact, fans of the original 1973 movie may remember that many modern images were interspersed with the “passion play”, including a surfing Herod and a Roman army sporting purple t-shirts.

Regardless of satirical or religious themes, it’s hard to deny that this production has brought us some of the most beautiful music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s career, including “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Everything’s Alright.” In 2012, it may not be the end of the world, but it is the return of the Christ–or at least the musical hippie version on Broadway!