Tri-State Theater

Let's discuss upcoming shows, secrets behind the scenes, things you never knew about the theater and why live theater is so darn entertaining.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

On Stage This Weekend - "Cinderella"

You have just two more chances to catch "Cinderella" at Huntington High School this weekend - namely, tonight and tomorrow afternoon. Remember, Jack Welch loved it - so you will, too!

Coming up this week I'll have a preview of the shows you can look for in the month ahead. There are quite a few good ones on tap, and it's the last rush of shows before summer, so enjoy 'em while you can. I'll also have some more behind-the-scenes stories for you - so keep checking back with us. We get lonely without you!

Friday, March 30, 2007

More "Cinderella"

My pal Jack Welch got to see "Cinderella" at Huntington High School last night and called me to give his review. He had nothing but nice things to say - he said it's a great show, with lots of talented young performers. He said the sets were great and the costuming really impressive, and that the band did a great job. He gave high marks to Britanny Hazeldine, who plays the title role (that's her picture on the right), and Finley Hammond, who plays the Prince. He said the stepsisters were hilarious and that the whole cast did a great job. So it's a rave review from Jack - and he can be a tough critic, so take it as a strong recommendation to check out "Cinderella." You can catch shows tonight, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

You can also see a video clip here on the Herald-Dispatch web site.

"Cats" By The Numbers

I just got an email from my pal Elaine Young, one of the producers (along with Loretta Hayes) of the recently-completed "Cats." In the email she ran down the numbers from the show, and it gives a good indication of the kind of work and dedication it takes to put on a show as massive as "Cats."

"We went through 48 individually hand designed/painted costumes, 26 hand painted wigs, 240 tubes of makeup, 500 bottles of water, 164 leg and arm warmers, 300 bobby pins, 6000 miles of travel time by cast to and from rehearsals and performances, 40 ankle wraps, 40 pairs of false eyelashes, 2000 programs, 350 kids at our school show, 3000 people in our audiences, 20 cans of colored hair spray, 250 mic batteries, 220 feet of dance floor, 20 strands of Christmas lights, and 2 fire department visits!!!"

I'll resist the urge to add, "And a Partridge in a Pear Tree."

Oh, and it goes without saying - that's just a partial list. For one thing, it leaves off untold hours on the cell phone working out problems, and the thousands of hours donated by parent volunteers! But this gives you an idea of what goes into the job - it's not one for the faint of heart!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Stage Tonight - "Cinderella"

My pal Stephen Vance sends along a partial cast list for "Cinderella" (Thanks!):

Cinderella - Brittany Hazeldine
Prince - Finley Hammond
King - Dylan Clark
Queen - Caitlin Irr
Fairy Godmother - Josie Landgrave
Wicked Stepmother - Sable Blevins
Stepsisters - Laura Benson & Jynnea Shropshire
Herald - Owen Reynolds
Baker - Ryan Jackson
Minister - Robert Kirby
And a terrific ensemble!

You can also see some photos from the production at the Herald-Dispatch Photo Galleries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On Stage This Weekend - "Cinderella"

Here's one that almost slipped past me - Huntington High School will present "Cinderella" starting tomorrow evening. You can get the details right here.
I don't have a cast list, but I do know that the title role is being played by the wonderfully talented Brittany Hazeldine (fresh off a star turn in "Cats"), and the Prince is being played by Finley Hammond, another outstanding performer who has starred in quite a few First Stage shows, including the lead in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." I can recommend it just on their talents alone!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"High School Musical" Update

It's been a while since I updated our progress on this front. For those who came in late, First Stage Theatre Company is planning to stage "High School Musical" in the fall, with yours truly directing. We've been assembling the directing team, and we're very close to a deal that will help make this show truly memorable. I hope to be able to share that exciting news very soon.

But first, I'm thrilled to announce that two more team members signed on this evening. Amy Browning has agreed to be on the team, although we never got around to deciding exactly what her title will be. Until we find out otherwise, I'm assuming she'll be the Assistant Director and Choreographer, and I'm thrilled to work with her. We've worked on several shows together, including "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Les Miserables: School Edition" and many others. What can I tell you? She's awesome!

Also joining the team is Jeanette Bills, who'll be heading up costuming. She's another veteran of numerous shows, a longtime board member for First Stage, she's incredibly talented and a heck of a hard worker. I'm glad to have her on the team!

I love it when a plan comes together!

Monday, March 26, 2007

“Cats” - The Finale

A few last comments about “Cats”:

-Kudos to the cast, the directing team and the parents and volunteers who tackled this show - one of the most ambitious community theatre productions in memory. Truly an outstanding job.

Among the performers who shined in the performance (but whose names were left out of my review last week because I didn’t have a cast list - hey, it’s tough to figure out which actor is which, especially when they’re hiding behind makeup, wigs and a cat suit):

- Macy Idzakovich played Bombalurina, and what an amazing talent! An outstanding singer and dancer, she’s a senior and plans to study theatre - I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see her on Broadway one day.

- Clay McKnight, who played Mr. Mistofolees and Quaxo. I believe someone told me that Clay never studied dancing until starting on this show - which means he must be incredibly talented, because he was doing some amazing leaps in this show.

- Ryan Jackson played Old Deutoronomy, sort of an elder statesman for the cats. He has a fantastic voice and made great use of it.

- Maggie Saunders played Jennyanydots and provided a wonderful turn as “The Old Gumbie Cat” - which is especially impressive since she’s so young!

- Chris Crawford has been in quite a few shows, but turns in what may be his best work yet as Growltiger, with Amanda Harris doing an outstanding turn as Lady Griddlebone.

- Nathan Mohebbi takes a star turn as the bad boy of the stage, McAvity - very impressive!

- Among the other outstanding performers in the dance ensemble were: Scott Burner as Alonzo; Angela Pino as Cassandra; Thomas Rice as Coricopat; Raven Idzakovich as Etcetera; Rachel Spoor as Exotica; Amy Klim as Rumpus Cat; Candace Imperi as Sillabub; Lexi Smith as Tontomile; Alex Bolano as Tumblebrutus; and Caleb Donahoe as Victor.

One of the interesting twists First Stage put on the show was to add a group called The Jellicle Ensemble - a talented bunch that added a lot of skill and energy to several numbers. That group included: Elijah Boyles; Chad Arthur; Bronson Bush; Levi Kelley; Raice and Shane Stevens; Blaine Roberts; Shila Arrowood; Katy, Becky and Betsy Pettit; Madison Perry; Kristin Caviani; Sarah Clark; Nikki Coughenour; Sydney Jacobson, Elizabeth Schmitz, Emily Dennison; and Casey Homonai.

Hope I didn’t miss anyone this time around - the whole cast did a terrific job, and deserves one more bow. Bravo!

March Winds Down

OK, so let's see - I still owe you all a final "Cats" commentary (that'll be coming along later this evening); I'll have a post later this week about what shows to look for in the month ahead (some goodies are on the way); and I managed to avoid watching that terrible "Grease" TV finale last night, but my pal Angela suffered through it and offers a recap right here on her "Stay Tuned" blog. Thanks, Angela! Note that Max won the competition - which just proves that Angela and my pal Denise are much better at picking winners than yours truly. This should surprise no one.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tuckered Out

The last performance of the First Stage Theatre production of "Cats" was held this afternoon - hope you were part of the sold-out crowd who saw it!

After the show was over, the last order of business (as always) was to strike the set - in other words, tear it down and store away the pieces until the next show. It's a big job, including lots of cleaning and carrying. Somehow I ended up driving the truck to the storage building, but the cast and their parents did most of the heavy lifting - luckily for me and my ever-aging physique.

The show was a terrific success, and I'll have some final thoughts about it - but they'll have to wait 'til tomorrow. I'm too tired to type. (But it's a good tired.)

A Word to the Wise...

I finally got to see "Cats" again, as my wife and youngest son joined me at Saturday night's show. I had hoped to see it again before now, but a battle with the flu kept me away from the public until now.

I am so glad to have seen it again - if anything, it's even better than when I saw the dress rehearsal last week. The minor technical problems have been cured, and the cast is even sharper than ever - just a tremendous achievement in community theatre!

By the way, my family agrees with my assessment - they loved the show! That's also true for the audience - a sold-out crowd roared their approval through the show, and I wasn't sure they were going to let the cast off the stage - the cheers were loud, long and well deserved.

I'll have a complete recap tomorrow, but a word to the wise - don't miss tomorrow's final performance at 2:30 p.m. at Huntington's City Hall - and go early to get your ticket, because this one might sell out, too.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

On Stage Tonight - Guess What?

Yep, it's "Cats" again. The show's been getting rave reviews (which should surprise no one who reads this site), and you have two more chances to see it.

There's a show tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall Auditorium, and the last show is Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Don't miss it!

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Cats" Heats Up The Stage

In fact, things got a little too hot before last night's performance of "Cats," and the fire department had to check it out. Actually, a fog machine apparently set off a smoke detector before the show. Once the all-clear was given, the show went off without a hitch.

To catch the hottest show in town, pay a visit to the Huntington City Hall auditorium tonight or tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. or Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Of "Cats," Video and Seniors

Yes, still more about "Cats," which returns to the stage tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium.

There's a nice story about the seniors in the show in today's edition of the Herald-Dispatch - you can read it right here. The story is written by First Stage veteran Sam Yates, who would no doubt have been in "Cats" if not for a scheduling conflict. Also a senior (and planning to study journalism), Sam does a nice job on this story.

You can also see video from "Cats" right here on the Herald-Dispatch website. The sound isn't the best, but you get the idea. Also, there are some nice comments on the video from McKenzie Young and John Wolfe, two incredibly talented young performers from the show who are also seniors.

You can also catch "Cats" Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and the final show is Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Singing Cats

Here's another video from the "Cats" DVD. This one is for all the guys out there who think dancing shows are boring. If this number doesn't get your attention, you might want to check your pulse. It's all about Macavity: The Mystery Cat, and it raises the age-old question: why do some girls just like the bad boys? Oh, and Trish, if the video doesn't link for you, here's the site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFPKbg_dKyg.

(Service with a smile, that's our motto.)

Those "Cats" Are Everywhere!

Or at least it seems like it sometimes. I stepped out to "Jim's" for lunch today (always a good idea) and found the place packed with "Cats" performers, catching their breath after this morning's school show.

A school performance is a relatively new addition to First Stage Theatre, where they offer one or two shows during a weekday morning and/or afternoon and sell discounted tickets to area schools. It's a great way for kids who might not otherwise get to see a live stage show to get that theatre experience, and it's great for the performers to get to demonstrate their talents to an audience of their peers.

Tomorrow night, the last group of performances for "Cats" will begin - don't miss it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Does a Director Do?

Responding to my recent review of "Cats," the director (and my longtime friend) Clint McElroy wrote:

...let me second your accolades to Mary, Lara, Elaine, Loretta, Travis, Skosh...they along with all the volunteer parents and friends gave the kids a platform on which to perform... and man-oh-man, are they PERFORMING! This is remarkable. One more weekend is all people have to see what is going to go down as one of the most amazing theatrical events ever in the Tri-State. No exaggeration. Me? I did what any good director does: I just got out of the way.
Now, I just can't let Clint get away with that comment. For any theatre performance to succeed, it requires assembling a great team (including directors, producers, cast, tech crew - basically, everyone), and that job starts with the director. (And there's no doubt that Clint has assembled a terrific team for "Cats.")

If each member of the team does their part (from the stars to the actor with the smallest part), then you have a great show. But theatre isn't a democracy - someone has to be the captain of the ship - the one who makes the tough decisions (and there are hundreds in each production), the one who makes sure everyone is doing their part, who gives encouragement when it's needed, soothes bruised egos, offers advice and keeps a hand on the rudder, making sure the show arrives safely at its final destination.

Clint's one of the best community theatre directors in the Tri-State (Lord knows I steal ideas from him all the time), so don't believe him when he says he "just got out of the way." Lots of people deserve credit for a successful show, but don't leave the captain out of the picture.

OK, end of rant.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lots of Theatre News

Lots of theatre news to be found online today, which is always good.

At the Herald-Dispatch's site, you can read about the boffo opening weekend "Cats" enjoyed right here.

Lots of photos from "Cats" and there should be some showing up soon of Fairland High School's weekend production of "The Music Man" on the H-D Photo Galleries.

To read more about Derek Keeling's unfortunate elimination from "Grease," go here. Also, my pal Angela has a great overview of the show on her "Stay Tuned" blog.

Lots of local reaction to last night's vote on WSAZ-TV's web site.

To get the professional view of who's going to win, check out Paul Wontorek's comments at Broadway.com.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Derek's Run Is Over

Somewhat shockingly (at least to me), Derek Keeling received the fewest votes after last week's show and was voted off the "Grease: You're the One That I Want" show tonight.

I loved the reaction shot as one of the judges, with a shocked look on her face, said, "Wow." Perhaps she realizes they just lost the guy who should have won. (Well, that's the way I'm reading it.)

None of this should hurt Derek, though - the show has at least given him lots of exposure and should provide a good launching point for his career - I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him soon.

You can read a good recap of the show on Angela's "Stay Tuned" blog - the link is over there on the right.

The real winner tonight is me, because with Derek gone, I no longer care about this show at all and don't have to sit through it again (the things I do for you, dear readers). Sorry, but as far as I'm concerned, it's just an ultra-cheesy version of "American Idol." (Don't get me wrong - I enjoy "Idol.")

"Cats" On Video

In case you've never seen "Cats," here's sample of the opening number from the video of the Broadway performance.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Never Before

Today the First Stage Theatre Company does something that, as far as I know, it has never done before.

Right in the middle of the run of "Cats," for Saturday only, they’re going "dark" (which in theatre talk, means they’re not doing a show tonight). It’s unusual because Saturday night is traditionally a big audience night. So why are they shutting down tonight's show?

Well, it goes back to the fact that First Stage is a children’s theatre, and it was originally started 17 years ago because there were so few opportunities for local kids to get on stage. These days, that’s not the case - schools have show choirs, band competitions, lots of sports events, all-county competitions, dance classes, acting classes, and on and on.

When a show is scheduled, the directors try to take all that into consideration and try to work around the schedules of their actors as much as possible, though invariably there will be conflicts.

When you put on a show you have to choose your performance dates well in advance, and when “Cats” was put on the schedule at Huntington’s City Hall, the directors didn’t realize that the first Saturday performance conflicted with a big Show Choir competition. Because many of the show’s leads are also in show choirs, something had to give.

With the children’s theatre, the rule is simple: School is more important. After all, if a student skips a school event, it can hurt their grade - and First Stage’s goal is to help the young performers, not hurt them.

So the directors of “Cats” did the only thing they could do - cancel Saturday’s performance.

I ran into a similar problem when I directed “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” several years ago. We didn’t realize that the second night of our tech rehearsal, just a couple of days before the first performance, was at the same time as All-County Chorus rehearsal - and once again, virtually all our leads were in All-County. So we did the rehearsal without them (although they arrived later), and the directors - including me - got on stage and served as “stand-ins” so the rest of the cast could prepare. Just one of the hazards of children’s theatre.

At any rate, don’t worry - “Cats” will be back tomorrow (Sunday) and all through next weekend at the Huntington City Hall auditorium. Sunday’s show is at 2:30 p.m., and there are shows next Thursday (March 22), Friday (March 23) and Saturday (March 24) at 8:00 p.m., and the last show is Sunday (March 25) at 2:30 p.m. So you still have lots of chances to see the show.

But if you were planning to go tonight, be warned - your plans are going to change.

Friday, March 16, 2007

On Stage Tonight - "Cats"

Oh good, Blogger is letting me load photos again.

Anyway, "Cats" continues tonight at 8:00 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Free Publicity for Your Show

This information is from my editor Andrea, who asked me to pass this along to you, dear readers - and let me say, I'm glad to see the Herald-Dispatch reaching out to local theatre groups like this.


Get extra publicity for your upcoming production on www.herald-dispatch.com by sending in photos of your rehearsals. Yep, it’s that easy.

They’re looking for several photos (at least 10 and as many as 50) that show different aspects to your productions (actors rehearsing, building sets, etc). The photos should be up close and well-lit.

Simply send the photos as high-quality JPG attachments to news@herald-dispatch.com with the subject line “Theater photo gallery” (you can usually fit about 10 photos per e-mail). Be sure to include the production’s basic information (who, what, where, when, how much) and your phone number in case they should have any questions.

Also, thanks to their new calendar database, you don’t have to wait until a couple weeks before your production starts in order to get into the online calendar. As soon as you set the details for your production, send them in to news@herald-dispatch.com! The earlier they get in, the more likely they are to run multiple times.

“Cats” - The Review

First, a full disclosure - I’m a member of the board of First Stage Theatre Company, the group that is staging “Cats” this weekend and next at the Huntington City Hall auditorium. However, my only involvement was unlocking the doors at Pea Ridge United Methodist Church, where the group rehearsed. I’ll try to apply my objectivity to this review - but it’s such a great show, there’s not much there to criticize. On with the review:

I can only offer raves about this production - in fact, “Cats” is one of - if not THE - best community theatre productions I’ve ever seen.

The story (such as it is) is based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot. Andrew Lloyd Webber used that as the foundation and built a show that's become a theater legend. The show ran for 18 years on Broadway, holding the record for longest-running show - until “The Phantom of the Opera” set a new record recently.

There’s not really much in the way of plot, other than a group of cats gathering for a special occasion. But what the show does feature is some amazing songs and brilliant choreography.

The show features the best dancers and singers from local high schools and middle schools - some from as far away as Portsmouth. And the beauty of the production is that it’s an ensemble performance, so quite a few performers get their chance in the spotlight.

It’s especially rewarding to see several of the seniors in the production getting to show off their skills. John Wolfe and Shane Gue have both grown up on stage, playing a number of leads, and in this show they get to demonstrate their considerable talents as both actor, singer and dancer. Allie Harrison and McKenzie Young also get the chance to step into the spotlight and shine. Clint Wilson provides a hilarious turn as a cat with a large appetite, and Owen Reynolds has a show-stopping number that includes the creation of a train on stage.

And the seniors aren’t the only ones out there - there’s a lot more amazing talent, including solos by the incredibly talented Brittany Hazeldine, Jordan Sager and Eric Newfeld - oh, and I can’t forget a great song-and-dance number by Mary Kate Young and Josh Meredith.

One performer who’s impossible to overlook is the incredible Sarah Hayes - dressed all in white, she dazzles with her dancing and her presence - truly impressive.

There are many other great performers in there that I’m overlooking because I don’t have a cast list in front of me, and because of the makeup and costuming, I’m not exactly sure who was doing which number. (For example, the actors playing Old Deuteronomy and Mr. Mistoffelees are amazing.) How’s this: as I see the show again (and I will be seeing it more than once), I’ll make notations of the ones I’ve overlooked and mention them in updates.

Do I have any complaints about the show? The closest I can come to one is that, in a couple of places, I had trouble understanding the words - but that can be attributed to the fact that they were still fine-tuning the audio (remember, I was at a dress rehearsal) and the rapid-fire lyrics Webber is known for. And even that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this incredible show.

Special props go to the set design by Travis McElroy (assembled by a small army of parents and actors), and superhuman efforts to arrange for costuming, wigs and makeup (and a thousand other details) by producers Elaine Young and Loretta Hayes.

My hat is off to the directors, who tackled an incredibly difficult show - one that many theatre groups have tried to stage and backed away from because it’s such a huge undertaking - and created a production that is both excellent and unforgettable. From the music direction of Laura Donahue to the incredible choreography by Mary Smirl and under the direction of Clint McElroy, it’s a real accomplishment in community theatre, and a show not to be missed!

On Stage Tonight: "Cats"

I watched Wednesday night's dress rehearsal of "Cats," and hope to have a complete review posted sometime Thursday, but let me just say: what an amazing show! And what an incredibly talented group of young people in it!

Gotta run, but to sum it up in one word: Wow!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Cats" Countdown - One Day to Go!

The long wait is almost over, as the "Cats" take over the City Hall stage tomorrow night.

My pal Dave Lavender has a nice preview of the show here, and there are lots of pictures in the photo gallery to tide you over until showtime.

As I've been telling you for months now, it's going to be an amazing show. I hope to have a full review posted ASAP. We'll see if I can get through it without writing a single "Cat" pun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

More "Cats"

OK, I'm still terribly busy but I wanted to point out that you can see some rehearsal photos from "Cats" here on the Herald-Dispatch web site.

These photos feature the actors in costume, but without the extensive makeup (hey, they have to save a few surprises for the performance).

Continuing the "Cats" Countdown

A hectic day for me, so here's today's post: only two days left until "Cats" hits the stage! (Sorry, I'll try to do better tomorrow.)

Monday, March 12, 2007

"Cats" Countdown at 3 days

Don't be so glum, calico! There are only three days left until "Cats" hits the stage in Huntington.

(By the way, this photo is from a practice session where the cast was learning how to apply the full makeup needed - thie finished product is amazing!)

First Stage Theatre Comapny is the first local theatre group to present the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The shows start Thursday at 8:00 p.m. at Huntington's City Hall.

Don't miss it!

Another Vote for Derek

It's always nice to find out you're not the only one - over at the Broadway.com website there's a commentary about last night's showing of "Grease: You're the One That I Want," and the author picks Derek (and Laura) as the ones who should win.

Go here to read the article (you'll have to scroll about halfway down the page).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Derek's in the Top Two

For this week, at least - so he heads into the semi-finals next week, still vying for the part of Danny in the upcoming Broadway production of "Grease."

Angela offers a great wrap-up of the show on her "Stay Tuned" blog (which you should be reading daily anyway - the link is over there on the right). I enjoyed the comment by one of the judges on tonight's show that the "Grease: You're the One That I Want" show is much more difficult than any Broadway audition. I'm sure that's true, since most auditions only require you to sing and/or dance and/or act a couple of times - not several times every week in front of a live audience.

I predicted last week that it would come down to Derek and Austin for the final spot, but I'm beginning to believe America is actually voting on the basis of talent - in which case, it'll come down to Derek and Max. I stick by my conviction that, all prejudice aside, if I was making the choice, I'd pick Derek. If the selection was on voice alone, maybe Max would win - but you have to cast the person who "is" the character (or at least comes closest to your vision of the character), and that's Derek.

Next week, the one eliminated is chosen strictly by the votes. We'll see if America agrees with me!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

“High School Musical” - The Review

Well, this is a review that does you no good - because the final showing of “High School Musical” this evening is sold out. Still, I managed to see the show last night with my lovely wife, and we enjoyed it. (Tip to theatre fans - buy those tickets early! I ordered mine last week and was seated halfway up in the balcony.)

As presented by the Backstage Players, “HSM” is based on the Disney TV movie, and it tells the story of basketball star Troy and his brainy girlfriend Gabriella. They’re both interested in trying out for the school play, but their friends try to keep them trapped in the “status quo.” It’s a fun, sweet story with lots of great music.

The actors did a great job, playing the familiar characters from the TV movie and throwing in a few new characters for the stage version. There are a couple of new songs, too.

Even the crowd was entertaining! Sitting right behind me were a couple of preschool girls who sang along with the actors on virtually every song - it was sweet, and kept me and my wife smiling throughout. (Ordinarily I don't encourage that kind of thing - but I'll make an exception in this case. It's the Dad in me.)

If I wanted to be picky, I’d point out some audio problems that made some lines hard to hear, and I’d note that the production was done with a minimal set - but those were minor problems.

Thanks to the energetic efforts of the cast and crew, they sent a sold-out audience home happy, singing that “We’re All In This Together” - as for a few hours last night, we were all brought together by “High School Musical.”

Friday, March 09, 2007

"Cats" - Getting Ready

The musical "Cats" takes to the stage next week, and it's a show that's very makeup intensive. In recent weeks the cast members have been designing and learning how to apply the distinctive makeup which transforms their appearance.

There's a photo gallery here showing the performers working on their look (just click on the link on the Photo Galleries page).

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will be presented by First Stage Theater Company.

Shows are set for 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, March 15-16; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18; 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 22-24; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 25, at the Jean Carlo Stephenson Auditorium at Huntington City Hall.

Reserved tickets are now on sale. For more information, call (304) 416-KIDS or (304) 525-6132.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Stage Tonight - "High School Musical"

The Backstage Players present Disney's "High School Musical" tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Ky.

You can read about it right here - and you can see some photos from the performance here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Stage This Week - "High School Musical"

No doubt there are plenty of adults out there who have never heard of "High School Musical" - but ask any kid and they can tell you about it.

It's a Disney TV movie about true love and daring to go against the "status quo" and follow your dreams. It's a fun show, and has become a real phenomenon - and as a result, it's now available as a stage show.

As I posted here, First Stage Theatre Company will be presenting it this fall - but if you can't wait that long, you can catch it this weekend at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, Ky.

The Backstage Players will present the show March 8, 9 and 10 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students, and may be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The High Cost of Community Theatre

The big secret about local theatre is that it costs a lot of money to put on shows. A great example is the Backstage Players’ production of “Disney’s High School Musical,” which takes the stage at the Paramount Arts Center later this week.

According to a recent story, the show is the group’s most expensive yet, with a budget of $36,000!

Yep, $36,000!

That’s been a growing trend in local theatre in recent years. I’ve read reports of high schools (in larger cities) spending up to $100,000 on a single production. It’s easy to see how a bill like that could happen – if you hired professional carpenters to build your set, rented all your costumes and had to pay top dollar for a performance hall, along with the other costs involved, like rights fees, props, makeup and so on – it would be easy to get into the 100K range.

To curb costs, most local groups rely on volunteers to get the work done – but even then, some costs are inevitable.

The most expensive show I’ve been involved with was last year’s “Les Miserables: The School Edition,” and it came out to about $20,000 total – not exactly pocket change. Thankfully, ticket sales covered that expense and First Stage actually made a little bit of money – which makes it easier to do the next show in line.

That’s why many groups rely on sponsorships to help deal with those rising costs. Or they can charge more for tickets. Or they can hold fundraisers. Or, in most cases, they can do all of the above.

Hey, the theatre is no place for the faint of heart.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Cats" Poster

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the poster for "Cats." I think that cat is looking at us.

Derek Gets Some Support

Derek had some local support at the live broadcast of "Grease: You're the One That I Want" last night - you can read about it in this story in today's Herald-Dispatch.

So is Derek the best? The last post has stirred up some comments - join in and cast your (non-binding) vote!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Dialing for Derek

You can read a great recap of tonight's edition of "Grease: You're the One That I Want" by my pal Angela Henderson at the "Stay Tuned" blog (the link is over there on the right of this page), and let me just say that I completely agree with her analysis.

Derek Keeling (who, as you should know by now, is from Scott Depot, W.Va.) did a much better job on tonight's broadcast, but he still had one minor warble in his song (and it was a ballad - why don't they have these guys singing songs from Broadway shows?). Still he was easily the second-best singer (out of four), and the guy with the strongest vocal doesn't really "look" the part at all.

Still, it's up to the viewers to vote for their favorite. If I was casting this show - all local prejudice aside - I'd probably choose Derek. He has a strong voice, great stage presence and the right look (let's face it, everyone thinks of John Travolta when they think of Danny - and Derek bears a strong resemblance to the film star).

We'll see what America thinks next week. My guess is that it's going to come down to Austin and Derek for the role - but that's just a guess at this point.

The Last Word on Menopause

The last show of "Menopause the Musical" starts at 3:00 p.m. today at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center at Marshall University.

Sadly, I didn't get to catch it. However, a couple of friends did see it, and I asked them to let me know what they thought. Here's what they said:

<< From 2 Women of a CERTAIN age,
We laughed from beginning to end - it's really nice to know we are NORMAL. Totally identified with the characters. I didn't think there would be any men there but the few that were appeared to be with their wives. Highly recommended! >>

So there you go - if you missed it this time, keep an eye out for it. It was popular enough that I'm sure it'll swing around this way again soon.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Cats" Countdown Continues

So this morning I dropped by my church to unlock the doors to allow for a (rare) Saturday rehearsal for a local show - in this case, it was for "Cats," which First Stage Theatre Company will be presenting at Huntington's City Hall in a couple of weeks.

Since I'm not directly involved with the show (other than unlocking the door for rehearsals), I've tried to avoid watching the auditions - it's much more fun to be surprised by the finished product on stage. However, what I have seen looks amazing. These young dancers are amazingly talented and are tackling routines that would be difficult for the most experienced dancers. But I shouldn't be surprised - these young performers are the top talents from several local schools.

I've seen some of the makeup designs and a few of the costumes, and I'm amazed at the high quality - they're truly outstanding.

I've never seen "Cats" before, except for a number or two on video - which doesn't count, since a live performance is so much more entertaining - and it's been a long time since I looked forward to seeing a show as much as I'm looking forward to this one.

Better reserve those tickets now - this is a show you'll want to see more than once!

Friday, March 02, 2007

That's What We Want - More Menopause!

OK, the title of this entry is a joke (and a bad one, though not as bad as the entry before it), but there's truth in it - tickets sales have reportedly been very strong for "Menopause the Musical," and I hear the show is very funny and well worth watching. Some friends have offered to share their thoughts - I'll post them as soon as they arrive.

If you haven't seen it yet, luckily, there are still several chances - the show goes on at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

It's rare to get a chance to catch a professional touring show like this - don't miss it!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Man Who Paused

Even though it's not exactly aimed at my demographic, I thought I'd go see "Menopause the Musical" last night - though I admit I was on the fence. I thought, "I'll leave it to fate. If tickets are still available, I'll go. If it's sold out, obviously, I won't."

So I called the number to order a ticket, and sure enough, there were still some tickets available. But then fate stepped in and I was disconnected before I could place an order. Well, you don't have to drop a house on me - obviously a higher power (namely, the phone company) was telling me to stay home. So I spent a relaxing evening enjoying "American Idol" and "Lost" instead.

However, if you want to learn more about the show, check out this story, or take a look at the Herald-Dispatch's Photo Galleries (the source for this photo).

I haven't given up yet - maybe I'll take in a matinee. If the phone company is willing.