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Archive for March, 2012

Come Hear Real Soul with Diana Krall in Concert!

Who says the heart and soul of Jazz can only come from the American South? Diana Krall, a Canadian born jazz singer, is showing everybody that even the Canucks can really belt one out.

Her velvety voice and smooth piano playing have made her albums a major hit, selling more than 15 million copies worldwide. In fact, she is the only jazz singer to land eight different albums on the top of the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. Diana Krall is one class act worth seeing live and in person.

In case you’re wondering where Diana gets her talent from, know that her father enjoyed playing the piano in his day and her mother actually sang in the local choir. It seems that music just runs in the Krall family. By the age of four, Diana was already playing the family piano and by age fifteen, she already had gigs at local restaurants. Today her amazing talent has won her the honor of being named the second best jazz artist of the decade by billboard magazine, as well as having albums go gold, platinum and even seven albums going multi-platinum.

The singer’s album “When I Look In Your Eyes” won best jazz vocal performance and best engineered album at the 2000 Grammy’s and had hits such as “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”, and “Let’s Fall in Love” among many others. In 2003, the singer’s album “Live in Paris” won the Grammy for best jazz vocal album. In 2010, the singer’s newest album “Quiet Nights” won for best instrumental arrangement accompanying a vocalist.

While you may love Diana Krall, you can’t love her too much–she is married to another famous musician, one Elvis Costello! The couple was married on December 6, 2003 at Elton John’s home near London. They have twin sons, Dexter and Frank.

What’s Krall up to lately? She’s getting ready for her “Summer Nights” tour in 2012! She is ready to sing her heart out for a 40-city tour that begins March 22, 2012 and continues from the spring into the summer. Why not make plans to hear this wonderful voice in person?

The 90s are Back with Everclear, Gin Blossoms, and Sugar Ray!

Why is it that the 80s is the decade to get all the nostalgic attention? The 90s were a time of patent leather shoes, ripped denim before it became known as “deconstructed,” and some of those great classics that many of today’s generations grew up on — and who doesn’t want to relive all that? Now you can, for a little while anyway, by enjoying some of the 90s biggest musical acts that will be touring around the nation this summer.

The tour, appropriately named “The Summerland Tour 2012,” will take the Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit, and Marcy Playground around the States in what Everclear frontman, Art Alexakis, is calling a “huge summer party.” The tour will begin on June 28 in Saratoga, California at the Mountain Winery, and it will wrap up on August 4 in Duluth, Minnesota at the Bayfront Festival Park. There are many huge stops along the way including those in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York, and Detroit, but none are set to be bigger than the performance given on July 4 at the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso, Texas. This show will be one that’s free for fans to attend, an event sure to draw fans from all over the country!

Alexakis has also posted on Twitter just recently that the band will be putting out a new album in June, called “Welcome to the Drama Club.” That sounds hopeful for fans attending the show, and maybe they’ll be able to hear some new tunes, mixed in with the old!

“Rock of Ages” Hits Pantages Theater

It’s time to get out your hair scrunchies and your slouchy socks! The “Rock of Ages” has come to the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, and it’s there for this weekend only; so if you loved the 80s and are always looking for a chance to relive the unforgettable era, now is the time!

The show is back after its L.A. premiere last February and it’s already been getting the same great reviews it did last time around. Peppered with guitar solos, head-banging, and all the lights and glitz of the 80s, the story stays true to the original. Sherrie Christian, a small-town girl that’s played by actress Shannon Mullen, finds her way into a popular L.A. nightclub where she meets hard rocker Drew Dillenbeck, played by Dominique Scott who, along with being a musician, also works at the club.

The pair, taking on corporate execs together, must fight to save the club that brought them together, all the while singing and dancing to some of the decade’s best songs. Those songs include I Wanna Rock, We’re not Gonna Take It, and the appropriate show-stopping finale, Don’t Stop Believin, which leaves audiences on its feet and believing that it will come back for yet another year.

The Rock of Ages musical is based on the script in a book written by Chris D’Arienzo, and the arrangements are done by David Gibbs from the Counting Crows. Now is the time to relive all the greatness of Journey, the Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, and more.

Broadway’s “What About Dick?”

Say what? No, it’s not What About Bob? and it’s not as shameless as you think. Or at least, not as shameless as you’ve heard. It’s Eric Idle’s follow up to the award-winning Spamalot production, entitled very drolly What About Dick? Eric Idle, of course, is the driving force behind all of Monty Python’s recent activity. Along with Neil Innes and Idle, he also created the music behind Spamalot, as well as other Python productions, like the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and the stage production of Not the Messiah.

Eric Idle describes the production as a “comedy writer’s wet dream”, as he has assembled quite an impressive cast. Comedy superstar Russell Brand plays Dick, a philosopher and gynecologist, while veteran TV performer Tracey Ullman plays Aunt Maggie. Jane Leeves of Frasier fame plays his cousin Emma, and Sophie Winkleman plays his sister Helena. Tim Curry (who’s played every British psychopath you’ve ever seen) shows up as Reverend Whoopsie and Billy Connolly plays Inspector McGuffin.

Though the show is imagined as a radio play (with actors reading from scripts), it is much more sinister than polite comedy. Idle describes the production as “Oscar Wilde on acid, or like Downton Abbey, only even funnier.” One can only imagine the comic potential here, as Python scribe Eric has a gift for intellectual gags, not to mention cheap one liners–nudge nudge, wink wink. If the cast doesn’t sound promising enough, then consider the plot: the story begins with the birth of the personal vibrator, invented in Shagistan in 1898 by Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley (played by Eddie Izzard), and then tells the tale of how the British Empire declined shortly after. If that’s too hard to follow, then consider the entire story is witnessed through the eyes of a piano.

Wait don’t call the Colonel yet. As silly as this may seem, Eric Idle’s musical is a splendid follow-up to Spamalot. Eight new songs are included in What About Dick? and Idle himself shows up as the voice of the narrator. If you have been going through Spamalot withdrawals this bizarre production is just what you need to feel complete again. Like a complete fool perhaps, but complete nonetheless. Come experience the merriment in person!

What is Peyton Manning’s Future?

Peyton Manning is one of the biggest names in the NFL and a household name even to viewers who don’t obsessively remember names, dates and stats.  Manning earned his fame through hard work as he led his team the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl championship at XLI and also scored an MVP title.  He has also won eleven Pro Bowls, six AFC Player of the Year awards and is also the Colts all-time leader in total career wins, passing touchdowns and passing completions.  Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated even named him the NFL player of the decade.

In addition to his quarterback performance, Manning has also appeared on TV commercials, hosted Saturday Night Live and guest-starred on The Simpsons.  You would have thought Peyton Manning would have stayed with Indianapolis for his entire career (if not his entire life) but then something unexpected happened.

The disastrous year that was 2011.  Actually, for most of 2011 things were going well, and Manning even signed a new contract for 90 million dollars to play five years as a Colts quarterback.  However, in May 2011, he underwent neck surgery to alleviate longstanding neck pain and arm weakness.  By September, he had to undergo another surgery: a level one cervical fusion procedure.  This caused Manning to miss the entire season of 2011–a disastrous season for the Colts, one that ended with only two wins and fourteen losses.

Manning went from never missing an NFL game to missing an entire season of play–and the Colts responded in un-kind, by releasing him from the team on March 7 of this year.  However, Manning is far from retired.  In fact, he is itching to get back into the game, and has been visiting teams across the NFL.  The latest team to receive a visit will be the Tennessee Titans this week.  He has also visited Denver and Arizona in a short period of time, and has also expressed interest in Miami.

However, Tennessee is the only team of that lot that had a winning record last year.  Might this be significant in Manning’s decision?  What do you think?  Where will Manning sign?  Will he bring the team to greatness or did Indianapolis make the right call?

Broadway at War Brings some of the Best

Wouldn’t it be nice if all wars could be as nice as the one that begins honoring Broadway tonight? Broadway at War! is a revue show playing in Florida that includes only the most popular past Broadway shows, allowing audiences to clap and cheer along, and truly get swept up in their magic all over again.

True to its name, Broadway at War! will include songs from past Broadway shows that have focused around war and conflict. Shows that are said to have songs included are South Pacific, Hair, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Miss Saigon, and The Scarlet Pimpernel, along with many others as well. The two-hour long show includes a cast of more than 20 talented singers and dancers; and will be directed by Joshua Bramkamp, with Angelyn Rhode taking over the choreography.

The show has different dates and viewing times over its five-day stint at The Princess Theater in Downtown Sanford, Florida. It opens tonight, March 16, at 8:00 pm and will run at the theater throughout the weekend until March 18, on which date it will have a 3:00 pm showing time for the Sunday matinee. It will also be playing at the theater next weekend, March 23 – 25, with show times again beginning at 8:00 pm, except for the Sunday matinee which will again show at 3:00 pm.

“Animal House” Coming to Broadway, with the Bare Naked Ladies!

“Animal House” may be one of the crassest and rudest films ever made, so it’s only appropriate that it’s soon going to be heading to the Broadway stage. Given that it’s also one of the most iconic and beloved films of its time also makes it seem especially right for one of the greatest theater districts in the world.

There’s no word yet on who will play the classic characters of Bluto, Flounder, Pinto, Otter, and Boon, but the show does already have a ton of big names attached to it. The team of producers from Universal Stage Productions includes Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and James L. Nederlander. Casey Nicholaw, who co-directed and won an award for Book of Mormon, will be directing the movie-turned-musical as well as choreographing it; and Michael Mitnick will be writing the book from which the script will be derived.

Amidst all those big names that are extremely well known in and around Broadway, this musical has another big name that’s known around the world — award-winning musical artists, Bare Naked Ladies will be creating the score.

The fact that such a raw and uncut story is coming to the Broadway stage shouldn’t be too much of a shock to anybody. With recent plays such as Ghost, Book of Mormon, and Magic/Bird, this play falls right in line with the modern direction Broadway’s been heading.

And besides, who isn’t already imagining the “Shout!” number playing out on stage?

Brandy and Monica, Together Again!

Before there was Britney and Christina there was Brandy and Monica, the two pop artists that exploded onto the scene in the late 90s when hair was still in rat tails and grunge was just making its way into wardrobes. Like so many artists that happen to come out at the same time, rumors started instantly that there was a feud between Brandy, singer of “Best Friend,” and Monica, who spawned “Don’t Take it Personal,” just a year later.

If talk of the feud bothered Brandy or Monica, neither showed it. In 1998 they put out a song called “The Boy is Mine,” in which they physically fought over a man, which only fueled rumors further. As each has grown and seemed to have gone their separate ways, talk has died down and now they’re back to prove once and for all, there was never anything to talk about.

In a highly anticipated reunion, Brandy and Monica have recorded their first duet since that song back in the day. In the new “It All Belongs to Me,” video though, they’re fighting against the boy, rather than for him; and they’re fighting together. After showing clips of Brandy buying a guy (mostly seen through windows,) new cars, watches, and other expensive gifts, it then shows them taking all of it back after the boy wrongs her. With each item they sing about how it “belongs to me.” You can watch them take it all back in the full-length video here.

The video shows just how grown up the girls have become, and it’s nice for fans to be able to see them teaming up once again. This song’s grown up too though, with a curse word here and there, it’s not one for the kids but rather, those who grew up with the girls!

Justin Long Debuts on Broadway in April!

Whether you know him from He’s Just Not That Into You, Dodgeball, any of his other numerous roles, or just his tumultuous relationship with Drew Barrymore, Justin Long has been a household name for a long time. He’s come a long way from the awkward teenager with a crush on his English teach, Miss Vessey, in Ed. He’s all grown up now and his career has too — he’s now headed to Broadway!

Long will make his first Broadway appearance at The Golden Theatre on April 3 when he steps into the role of Martin from Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar. Long is going over for Hamisk Linklater, who will continue playing the role until April 1. Leaving the stage with Linklater will be Alan Rickman, who has played the role of Leonard since the show began. Running for eight weeks only, the show will be a good chance for Long to get his feet wet on the Great White Way and see if he enjoys it; and for audiences to see if they enjoy watching him.

While he has come a long way from the clumsy roles that he played in the beginning of his career, the role of Seminar’s Martin is that of a young writer who’s attending a seminar by angry editor, Leonard; it’s somehow not hard to imagine Long easily stepping into the role.

Relive Some Muppet Magic with Avenue Q and Sesame Street Live

After enjoying Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog’s bit at the 84th annual Academy Awards (as well as the Oscar winning song from The Muppets film, maybe you’re in the mood for some live Muppet action. Indeed, these wonderful creatures from Jim Henson’s workshop are all the more amazing when you can enjoy them live. The Muppets have been working consistently since the 1950s!

Of course, the Muppets from Sesame Street are “official” Muppet canon, while the rebellious puppets from Avenue Q have sort of been disowned by the Henson team so that they can do their thing without worrying about politically correct dialog.

The Avenue Q puppets are actually parodies of Henson’s Muppets, specifically some very well known characters on Sesame Street, like Cookie Monster and Bert and Ernie. More to the point, Avenue Q is a wicked little commentary on the values of Sesame Street; if you will, a cynical rebuttal of all the promises Sesame Street made. Avenue Q features Muppet-like characters that live in a sort of collaborative misery, barely tolerating other humans and puppets who co-exist. In the Avenue Q production, you can hear such hilarious and yet very truthful songs such as “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist”, “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?”, and “It Sucks to Be Me.”

Meanwhile, Sesame Street is keeping things wholesome with its productions of 123 Imagine, Elmo Makes Music and Elmo’s Super Heroes. At the Sesame Street Live touring shows, you and your kids can expect performances by all your favorites such as Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and of course, that prima donna Elmo.

Naturally, Sesame Street caters to a younger and learning audience, while Avenue Q appeals to somewhat jaded adults that don’t mind adult humor and cynical observations about life. Ironically enough, Avenue Q might be an educational show to adults who are feeling a bit angst-ridden about the whole midlife crisis thing.

Either way, what better way to cheer you up for spring then enjoying a live Muppet show? You can buy Avenue Q tickets or Sesame Street now!