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Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

You’re Off to See the Wizard of Oz

You probably know where to find the Yellow Brick Road. It’s over there, just beyond the Rainbow in the magical and magnificent land of Oz. People young and old know the story of Dorothy, the young girl swept away to Oz. She meets a cast of colorful and crazy characters, including the Munchkins, Glenda the Good Witch, the Wizard, and of course, the Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man. Based on the screenplay from the movie, rather than a direct adaptation of the book, The Wizard of Oz, this new production from Andrew Lloyd Webber will delight everyone who sees it.

Just like the movie, you will get to watch Dorothy while she is at her aunt and uncle’s farm in Kansas before the tornado comes along and sweeps her away to Oz, where the house lands on and kills the Wicked Witch of the East. In order to get home, Glenda the Good Witch and the Munchkins tell Dorothy that she must follow the Yellow Brick Road. It’s along that road that she meets all of her other friends, including Scarecrow. Follow along as she meets the Wizard and has her confrontation with the Wicked Witch of the West.

There have been other adaptations and takes on the story, such as Wicked, and the recent movie The Great and Powerful Oz, but this is the classic everyone knows and wants to see. If you’ve watched the movie, and most people have, then you probably know some of the songs you get to hear in the musical. Some of the numbers you will hear include “Nobody Understands Me”, “Over the Rainbow”, “If I Only Had a Brain”, and “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead”.

You don’t need any magical ruby slippers to see the show. Just check out the areas where the tour is coming and find something near you! You and the entire family can have a great time. If you are bringing some youngsters to see the show and they’ve never seen the movie, this can be a wonderful introduction to Oz for them. Go on and get some tickets. Isn’t it about time that you’re off to see the wizard?

“Rocky” is Going to Broadway!

They’ve done it with “Footloose,” and they’ve done it with “Annie.” Now Broadway producers are hoping that they can take all the magic of the big screen once again and translate it to the stage. And they’re going to do it with a most unlikely film — “Rocky.”

The stage production follows closely along with the film, keeping true to the story of Rocky Balboa, the boxer who just wanted to be the best there ever was; and yes, all the while still trying to win over Adrianna, known better to Rocky as simply Adrian. But this time, it’s all set to music so that audience-goers can really feel the adrenaline of “Eye of the Tiger” and “Gonna Fly Now.” And they’ll also see some dance numbers unlike any of they’ve ever seen before. Instead of kick lines there are beautiful spars and fights, all in perfectly choreographed movement.

That choreography will be done by Steven Hoggett, while the score was written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The story was written by Thomas Meehan, while the original screenplay was written by Sylvester Stallone. The Broadway show is also being produced by Stallone and Stage Entertainment USA.

This version of the show has already been tested in Hamburg, Germany, and was met with high success. Drew Sarich took on the role of Rocky for the German production, although no casting has been announced for the Broadway musical. Producers are hoping that the musical will be running at the Winter Garden by February of next year.

What are the Biggest Shows on Broadway Right Now?

If you’re planning on heading out to Broadway and catch one of the best shows on Earth, you’ll have plenty to choose from. There are tons of plays and musicals currently dominating the box office, giving you the pick of the litter. Here are some of the biggest shows playing on Broadway right now.

Matilda just opened earlier this month on Broadway, after making the move over from London. The play, which is about a young girl who lives with vicious parents and an even worse headmistress, has grossed over $20 million in ticket sales in just its first few weeks. This week it took in $1,129,419.

With many of the same themes of Matilda running throughout, and the nostalgia that the title of this musical brings, it’s no surprise that Annie ($813,203 this week) is another Broadway favorite that’s still going strong. When it first opened, the box office was immediately sold out. And while sales have been dipping a bit for this classic, they’re sure to get another boost when Glee’s Jane Lynch takes on the role of Miss Hannigan.

Kinky Boots (grossing $1.056,926 this week) is still showing as well, and it grossed nearly as much as Matilda. These two musicals are also said to be the front-runners for the Tony award for Best Musical this year. However, Motown, which made just about $100,000 more than Kinky Boots ($1,151,759) could give it a real run for its money.

And if it’s plays rather than musicals that you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with Bette Midler’s one-woman show, I’ll Eat You Last. With seven sold out performances, $686,031 grossed last week, and breaking the record at the Booth Theater, it’s clear to see why audiences just can’t wait to Eat!

Harry Connick Jr. is Going on Tour!

We’ve become more accustomed to seeing him on the Broadway stage or taking up various roles on television and the silver screen. Now though, Harry Connick Jr. is going back to his roots with a new music album, and it’s the most personal he’s ever written. To promote the album, and give his fans a chance to see him for just who he is, the megastar is also taking the album out on the road this summer!

The album will be his seventeenth studio album and it’s titled, Every Man Should Know. It will be out on June 11, and the singer said in a press release that it’s his most personal album yet.

“No rules, no limits,” Connick says. “I used to be more comfortable writing…ideas that intrigued me but didn’t necessarily come from personal experience. It’s one thing to assume the role of a storyteller — it’s quite another when the story is your own. I felt ready to explore some of my personal experiences in some of the songs this time around.”

He also says that while it’s the most personal, it’s also the most eclectic album he’s ever made. While it does largely stick to his roots in jazz, the album also contains “straight-up country” and guests such as trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and vocalist Kim Burrell.

The tour to support the album will be almost a month long, beginning on June 19 in Baltimore and wrapping up on July 17 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In between Connick will also be stopping into Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Pennsylvania, to name just a few of the tour stops.

Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ Opens at McCarter Theatre

Last night audiences at McCarter Theatre were privy to a very special treat — Rebecca Taichman’s take on Shakespeare’s Winter Tale. Taichman has done plays before, both taking on Shakespeare and being done at McCarter. But, this being a play that “has everything, really,” as lead actor Mark Harelik puts it, people were doubly excited, and doubly as anxious to see if Taichman could pull it off. Turns out she can, and with flying colors, too.

The Winter’s Tale is a story about King Leontes, and how he believes that his wife, Hermione, is having affections for his best friend. Acting upon his jealousy he imprisons her, leaving her to give birth to their child in her jail cell; and then later having that child abandoned. Only after he can no longer have Hermione at all, and after she starts haunting his dreams, does he begin to realize his deep love for her, and need to be reunited with her once again.

Taichman has only a small cast for this production, so many characters assume many different roles — and many, many different costumes — throughout the play’s entirety. Mark Harelik takes on the main role of King Leontes, while Hannah Yelland (Tony-nominated for 2011’s Brief Encounter) will be playing the part of Leontes’ wife, Hermione.

The play, directed by Taichman, eliminates parts of the script that are difficult for audiences to follow; and set after intricate set by Christine Jones pulls this great show together from beginning to end. Opening night is over, but you can catch The Winter’s Tale at McCarter Theatre in Princeton until April 21.

Cinderella Hits Broadway for First Time

For the first time ever, Cinderella is on Broadway in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which began previews just over a month ago at Broadway Theater. The stage adaptation of the story was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein III in 1957 for television and a new book was written by Douglas Carter Beane for this version of the show.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella opened on March 3rd and stars Laura Osnes as Cinderella and Santino Fontana in the role of The Prince. Osnes prior credits include as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde in 2011, Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease in 2007 through 2008 and two runs as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific in 2009 and 2010.

Now she follows in the footsteps of Julie Andrews, Lesley Ann Warren and Brandy as prior actresses to star as Cinderella in a film or stage adaptation of the classic fairytale.

Fontana has worked as a director and composer in addition to his acting. His work on Broadway includes playing Tony Elliot in Billy Elliot the Musical in 2008, Stanley Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs in 2009 and Rodolfo in A View From the Bridge in 2010. He also played Algernon Montcrieff in 2011 in The Importance of Being Earnest.

The show runs approximately two hours and 20 minutes at Broadway Theater at 1681 Broadway in New York, one of the few “Broadway theaters” to actually have an address on Broadway. The historical theatre opened in 1924 and underwent significant renovations in 1956 and 1986. It often plays host to the most successful shows on Broadway due to its large seating capacity.

So far, the early reviews of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella have been positive. Critics also say the new show moves away from the original storyline often enough that it feels fresh and new, and you may not always know what’s coming next even if you’ve read the story or seen prior adaptations.

So get your tickets right away before Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella becomes one of those hot Broadway shows that are nearly impossible to scoop up tickets for without spending an arm and a leg.

Cirque Du Soleil – A Show for Everyone in Vegas

If there’s one Las Vegas performance you don’t want to miss, it’s a Cirque du Soleil show. Whether you choose the magical “O” or the saucy “Zumanity,” you’re going to leave the theater in awe.

If you’re not sure which Cirque Du Soleil show to see, here’s a quick synopsis of the latest productions taking place on The Strip.

O – Bellagio – “O” is a permanent water based show at the Bellagio. The show began in October 1998 and features a 1.5 million gallon pool of water that features amazing synchronized swimming acts, as well as aerial and ground acts.

– MGM Grand – is the first Cirque du Soleil production to feature a full storyline rather than abstract visuals. The production takes place on two giant moving platforms and five other smaller lifts that appear to float. The show opened in October 2004 and has been seen by more than a million people. The story is about conflict and love between imperial twins that must undergo a rite of passage and tells the story of their encounters with Kà.

Zumanity – New York New York – Zumanity was unveiled in September 2003 and is a cabaret-style show. This show features the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil and is designed for mature audiences only, as there are some erotic songs and dances.

MystereTreasure Island – Mystere’s debut performance was on Christmas in 1993. The show is in a circus style with a mix of dance, circus skills, opera, world beat music, and street style comedy. This show was also seen in the movie Knocked Up when the main characters visit Vegas.

The Beatles: Love – Mirage – Love opened in 2006 and combines the artistry of Cirque du Soleil with The Beatles music. The Love Theater features 6,431 speakers and 2,013 seats around a central stage allowing audiences to absorb all of the music and performances.

Zarkana – Aria – Zarkana was originally a travelling show that had great success in New York City, Madrid and Moscow. It is now a permanent show at the Aria Resort and Casino and replaced Viva Elvis. The show is the story of a magician in an abandoned theater who has lost his love as well as his magic and is plunged into a world of surreal creatures.

Criss Angel Believe – Luxor – This show features 40 illusions from Criss Angel in combination with the artistry of Cirque du Soleil.

When it comes to Cirque du Soleil, there truly is something for everyone. You can find tickets to all Cirque du Soleil shows on!

The Best Oscar Moment from the 85th Academy Awards!

Every year there’s always that one film heading into the Academy Awards that everyone knows is going to clean up. On Sunday night, that movie was Ben Affleck’s Argo, and while it may not have experienced a Titanic-like sweep, it walked away with three awards, including the all-coveted “Best Picture” award. And while Life of Pi actually scored one more than that, today it’s “Argo” that people can’t stop talking about!

The evening started off with Seth MacFarlane providing the obligatory jokes that walked a fine line and provided for the even more obligatory controversy afterwards. Touching on the fact that Affleck was “unknown to the Academy,” and that John Wilkes Booth did a better job of “getting into Lincoln’s head” than Daniel Day Lewis, MacFarlene was then joined by a ton of big name talent on stage. Daniel Radcliffe, Charlize Theron, and Channing Tatum all joined in sweeping Hollywood ballroom dancing along with MacFarlane — and William Shatner even joined in via a large TV screen (and from the future, apparently.)

The song and dance was never really over throughout the night, as this was the first Oscars that included a theme, that being music in movies, but it did take pause throughout the night so awards could actually be handed out. Daniel Day Lewis also made history as the first actor to pick up his third Oscar for best actor in a lead.

Jennifer Lawrence did not make history, but she was incredibly surprised by her win. So much so that she tripped on the stairs on her way up to accept the award, and had to be rescued by the dashing (and nearby) Hugh Jackman. While he did not walk away from the night as a winner, his co-star, Anne Hathaway, did after she picked up her Oscar for best actress in a supporting role.

Of course the grand finale of the evening is always when the award for “Best Picture” is presented, and it was no different this time around. However, the Academy did up the ante a bit when they had none other than First Lady Michelle Obama presenting — adding another bit of history to this particular Oscars Eve, as it’s the first time to ever happen.

The Inspiring History of the Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet brings an edge of modern style to the age-old discipline of Ballet. Going even further to stretch the very boundaries of the most elegant of the arts, the Joffrey Ballet reaches even further than the New York City Ballet, begun by Russian immigrant George Balanchine.

From a very modest beginning in 1956 in New York City, the Joffrey Ballet was first known as the Robert Joffrey Theatre Ballet. It was renamed simply the Joffrey Ballet when it opened a West Coast branch in Los Angeles. In 1995, founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino decided to make a permanent move to the city that had first welcomed its traveling troupe in the very early years. Renamed the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago until 2004 when it once again reverted to its former Joffrey Ballet name, the company continues to dance in Chicago and tour the world. It has grown from two directors with a passion for modernism in a classical world and six talented dancers to a world-renowned company. The company now has forty-two dancers that perform a regular season from October through May at their home theater at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theater in Chicago.

The beautiful and stylish Joffrey Ballet was founded with a pioneering spirit, and as such is known as a company of firsts. The first ballet company to perform at the White House, the first to incorporate rock music into ballet performances, the first to perform a rock music based ballet in Russia, and the first to be on the cover of Time Magazine. “The Company” was also the very first major movie to revolve around a ballet company.

You can see the magnificent Joffrey Ballet for yourself with tickets available for their American Legends performance of four wonderful ballets, one of which will premiere in Chicago in February. The others are Joffrey Ballet standards: Interplay by Jerome Robbins, Sea Shadow by the original artistic director of the Joffrey, Gerald Arpino and Nine Sinatra Songs created by Twyla Tharp and made famous by the great Mikhail Baryshnikov when he performed with Joffrey Ballet.

Cirque du Soleil Entertains with Their Colorful and Imaginative Performances

Cirque du Soleil was founded in 1984 by street performers Guy Laliberte and Gilles Ste-Croix. A Canadian entertainment company self-described as a mix of circus arts and street entertainment, the first toured Quebec in 1980.

In 1983, they received a grant from the government of Canada and their Le Grand Tour du Cirque du Soleil was a success. Once they received another year’s worth of funding, they recreated their show as a proper circus, though their lack of animals and character driven performances define the Cirque du Soleil as a contemporary circus.

Every show combines different styles of circus performing from across the globe around a central theme and story with continuous live music, while performers change out the props and backdrops instead of traditional stagehands.

Growth and Popularity

The Cirque du Soleil had a period of rapid growth and expansion in the 1990s and 2000s, going from a single performance to performances on nearly every continent – the exception being Antarctica. With a permanent show in Las Vegas getting 9000 visitors per performance, more than 90 million people from around the world have experienced the Cirque’s unique blend of art and performance.

And the Cirque du Soleil continues to grow, with plans for shows the world over, and new residency shows in the planning stages. A television deal is also in the works, along with a clothing line and other ventures. With all this going on, the award-winning Cirque du Soleil shows no sign of slowing down.

Tickets are on sale now for their many upcoming performances in 2013, so grab a few tickets and take your family and friends to see one of the most unique and entertaining shows on the planet.