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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Camelot," "A Chorus Line" and "Footloose"

You have three shows to choose from this weekend:

- Camelot - The beloved musical will be presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium. It stars Marina Jurica, Mark Baker and Todd Preston in the story of King Arthur, Queen Guenevere and Sir Lancelot.

- A concert version of A Chorus Line will be presented by the MU Theatre Workshop Class of the Marshall University Theatre Department today and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Francis Booth Black Box Theatre at the Joan C. Edward Performing Arts Center. For more information, please call 304-696-6395.

- Footloose will be presented by the Huntington High School Theater Department tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Check 'em out - you'll see a great show and provide support for your community theatre!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Local Actors and Their Summer Jobs

This comment came from Josh Meredith, who's a theatre student at Marshall University who starred in dozens of community theatre shows locally, and I wanted to post it out here for everyone to see:
Thanks for the nod to A Chorus Line!

I wanted to say that I think a great part of community/college theatre around here (and I'm sure you'll agree) is that it prepares young people to work professionally. I thought you might be interested in the students that I know of who will be getting paid to work in theatres this summer.

As for me, I will be working at the Independent Theatre Collective in Wheeling, WV opening Jeremy Richter's new musical [best imitation] that appeared at the New Works Fetstival at Marshall last year.

This production will have a four-week run in Wheeling starting June 4, and will tour to FestivALL in Charleston on June 21 and 22. After that, the production will head up to Washington, DC, to do a five-performance run at the Capitol Fringe Festival! It's going to be a new, exciting experience! Also working at ITC this summer are Liz Pollack and Ethan Treutle, both from Marshall as well.

Nathan Mohebbi and Scott Burner will be working at Jenny Wiley Theatre all summer long in their season, which includes Cinderella and Joseph and the Amazing, Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Lots of exciting things happening for the students at Marshall! Those are the only ones I know, but I'm sure there may be a few others!

This Weekend - "A Chorus Line" Concert

My pal Elaine (via another pal, Sam) sends along this info about a free concert this weekend at Marshall University:
The MU Theatre Workshop Class of the Marshall University Theatre Department will present the staged concert version of A Chorus Line Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1 at 7 p.m. in the Francis Booth Black Box Theatre at the Joan C. Edward Performing Arts Center.

Under the direction of Bruce Rous, these theatre students have workshopped the concert version of the musical with staging since January. This performance will mark the end of their class. Among those performing: Josh Meredith, Nathan Mohebbi, Scott Burner, Mary Kate Young and Maggie Saunders.

For more information, please call 304-696-6395.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coming Soon - the Busy Month of May

I'm working on the list of community theatre shows for May (I try to post a list of each month's shows on the first day of each month), and I'm surprised by how many there are.

Usually, May is a slow month, as most theatre groups wind down their Spring season and get ready to turn the summer over to the outdoor theatre groups. But there are some interesting shows coming up next month.

One that I'll talk more about next week is The First Day of Summer, which takes the stage at the Huntington Museum of Art the second weekend in May.

It's an original show written by local playwright Jonathan Joy, and he's directing it for the First Stage Theatre Company.

It's the final show in the 20th season celebration for the children's theatre, and it's exciting to wrap up the occasion with the group's first original show.

I've talked to some of the young actors involved and they've been having a terrific time working on this new show and helping to fine-tune it, as rehearsals take the shape of an actor's workshop.

The show is about two young people who become friends one summer, and vow to meet again when they're older. It's funny, it's touching and well worth checking out. It'll only run one weekend, so watch out for it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Enjoying Some "Down Time" in "Camelot"

The cast of Camelot has been enjoying a couple of days off - always welcome after the hectic tech week, which leads up to the dress rehearsal, which leads up to the actual performances. Last weekend the first three performances were presented, so we're at the halfway mark.

It's been a heck of a lot of fun and a real learning experience for me - after all, this is just the second show I've been involved with as an actor - and I've only stabbed myself with my dagger once so far, so I consider that a success (it was merely a scratch).

Joking aside, it's been a breeze, thanks to an outstanding team effort by the cast and crew, and terrific performances by the actors, including Marina Jurica (Queen Guenevere) and Mark Baker (King Arthur), pictured here.

If you haven't caught it yet, you have three more chances. Camelot is being presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Company at Huntington's City Hall auditorium at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with the final performance being a matinee at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $12 and $10 for children 12 and under.

I'm obviously prejudiced, but it's a great show - hope to see you there!

Monday, April 26, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Footloose"

From my pal Lisa Williams:
The Huntington High School Theater Department is inviting the community to its upcoming performances of Footloose.

Performance dates are April 29, 30 and May 1 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a Sunday matinee performance May 2 at 3 p.m.

Ticket prices are:

Adults- $7.00
Students - $5.00
Age 3 & Younger - Free

The high-energy musical is being directed by Helen Freeman and is based on the 1984 film of the same name. It is the story of a big city kid who moves to a small town and shakes up the status quo with his love of music and dance.

For more information contact Helen Freeman by calling 304-528–6435.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Stage Today - "Camelot"

There's only one show to catch today: Camelot is being presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Company at Huntington's City Hall auditorium at 2:30 p.m.

It is, of course, the classic musical about King Arthur and the creation of Camelot. It's loaded with great songs and terrific performances.

If you can't see it today, there are three more shows next weekend: at 8 p.m. Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 2.

Tickets are $12 and $10 for children 12 and under.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Camelot," "Our Country" and "Purple Sage"

You have three great shows to choose from this weekend:

- Camelot - The beloved musical will be presented by 5th Avenue Theatre Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium.

- Our Country's Good - Marshall's Theatre Alliance presents this outstanding drama Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

- Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage - The comic horror/western will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Center Theatre in Charleston.

So get out there and support your community theatre!

All About "Camelot"

Hey, my pal Dave Lavender has a great write-up in today's Herald-Dispatch about this weekend's production of Camelot, which takes the stage for its first show tonight at 8 p.m.

You can read the story right here - or right here:
Over at Huntington City Hall, they've gone ahead and crowned themselves king.

Blow out the torches anti-government grumblers, the royal party is happening on stage upstairs at the stately Jean C. Carlo Stephenson Auditorium where Fifth Avenue Theatre Company presents its version of the classic 1960 musical, Camelot.

Director Eddie Harbert has turned back the clock to the original flavor of the 1960 musical that shows bursts of magic and fun before the storyline slips into sadness.

Directed by Harbert, with music by Mike Campbell, choreography by Coni Anthony and set design by Todd Preston, Camelot opens this weekend with shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 23-24; 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 25. The show also runs next weekend.

Tickets are $12 and $10 for children 12 and under.

Harbert, who is now working on his sixth show with Anthony, said that while today's versions of Camelot have been seen through a glass darkly, he's brought back more of the light-hearted fun of the original 1960 Broadway production that became associated with the ideals of the Kennedy administration.

Armed with a cast of 35, and such veterans as Mark Baker (Arthur), Marina Jurica (Guinevere), Danny Ray (Pellinore), Nancy Jackson (Morgan Le Fey) and Chuck Minsker (Sir Lionel), Camelot recaptures some of that vocal magic that helped the original show run for 873 performances on Broadway, win the show four Tony Awards and hold the No. 1 spot on the U.S. album charts for 60 weeks.

"Lately Camelot has been done darkly and very depressing," Harbert said. "It isn't supposed to become tragic until the end. It's really very light-hearted and fun. Marina as Guinevere is full of fun and life, which is the way that Julie Andrews portrayed her in the 1960s version. I felt that Camelot should be a magical, fun place, and so we put an emphasis on the comedy and a put a lot of the magic back into the show."

Harbert said in addition to adding more of the magic, which has been cut from many modern productions of the show, they also added some of the original tunes such as "Take Me to the Fair," because it is so funny.

In addition to comic relief of a dancing Chuck Minsker (as Sir Lionel), Harbert said veteran stage personality Danny Ray, who is usually directing productions these days, is on stage as King Pellinore.

"It's kind of a cameo role because he isn't on stage the whole time but once he comes out it is pretty regularly, and he is the comedy of Camelot," Harbert said.

Based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from T.H. White's novel The Once and Future King, Camelot follows the legend of King Arthur and his perfect kingdom that was shattered because of the tragic passion between Queen Guinevere and the Round Table's bravest knight Lancelot.

That story will unfold in costumes handmade by cast member Jennifer Scott, and on a stage set designed and built by Todd Preston, who is also in the production.

"Half the set is the castle and the other half is the forest with the forest going into the castle with a path going down from a cliff to the ground and another path that leads from the other side," Harbert said. "We have trees that people can climb in and so it is very magical, mystical and regal looking at the same time."

Harbert said it should be a lot of fun revisiting Camelot, which hasn't been done in Huntington since Marshall University performed it about 30 years ago.

"It's very fun and it is a kind of different Camelot," Harbert said. "I think it is the Camelot that many people, and many older people will remember -- that is why I brought it back."
(The lovely photo of Marina is by Mark Webb.)

I started to protest the line in the story about my dacing being 'comic relief,' but not because I disagree - it's because equal credit should go to my fellow knights Ron Short and Erik Weingardt - we're a team, after all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Stars of "Camelot"

While it takes a big cast to create a show like Camelot, it's a show that really revolves around four stars. Yesterday I promised to talk about the stars of the show, which "include an old pal, a veteran of the stage, a well-known TV anchor, and one of my co-workers in the real world."

So let's identify those mysterious figures. The veteran of the stage I referred to is Mark Baker, who plays the part of King Arthur. It's a demanding role that calls for equal skill with comedy, drama and music, and Mark manages it all with great talent and authority. It doesn't hurt that he has a wonderful singing voice and commands the stage. It's been almost a decade since I first saw Mark in a local production of Into the Woods - he was great then and he just keeps getting better and better.

The well-known anchor is, of course, Marina Jurica, one of the meteorologists for WSAZ-TV. She's also a terrific actress and an amazing singer, and this is a show that puts her to the test. Playing the part of Queen Guenevere, she sings (I think) eight songs and is on stage almost constantly, running offstage a few times just long enough to make a quick costume change. Her character is at the heart of the show's love triangle, and she turns in an amazing performance.

The 'co-worker in the real world' is Todd Preston, who works in the same building as yours truly (although in a different department - he's a Structural Engineer). He's a triple-threat in any production - he not only designed and built the set, but he also plays the part of Sir Lancelot, the third corner of the love triangle. He's perfect for the part, with a terrific bass singing voice and great stage presence. Of course, his love scenes with Guenevere are easy for him, since he's actually married to Marina.

The 'old pal' is actually younger then me - I mean 'old' in the sense that I've known him a long time. Danny Ray is a native son and theatre pro who plays the part of Pellinor, and provides the vital comic relief the musical needs. He absolutely kills in this show, and the audience will be howling every time he's on stage - especially when he has his "assistant" with him. Danny's a terrific talent and I'm thrilled to get to work with him again - he also had a starring role in the only other show I've done, 1776.

So there are the stars of the show, and four good reasons to check out Camelot when it takes the stage Friday night at 8 p.m. at Huntington's City Hall auditorium. The show also runs Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and then does it all over again April 30, May 1 and 2.

Friday Night, It's "Chocolate Jazz!"

Here's an event that serves up some tasty sounds:
The Cabell-Midland jazz band - the Jazz Knights - will be sponsoring Chocolate Jazz. It's melding smooth sounds and scrumptious desserts in an evening of smooth jazz featuring top-of-the-charts artists David Wells.

Enjoy a variety of chocolate while listening to the smooth jazz sounds of trumpeter David Wells on Friday, April 23, 2010, in the Cabell-Midland Auditorium. David Wells has performed many times in the Huntington area, especially at community events and area churches.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and are available in advance by calling 304-634-2797 or 304-419-4524. For more information call Rhonda Smalley at 304-743-7426.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting Closer to "Camelot"

So yesterday I talked about the set construction for Camelot, the show that starts Friday at 8 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium (it's the classic musical based on the story of King Arthur).

Today let me give a quick tip o' the hat to the 30 (or so) members of the supporting cast.

Acting is as much a team activity as any sport - it takes everyone doing their job well to make a show possible. Each show has its stars (the featured performers - I'll talk more about them soon) but it also needs supporting players, all doing their job and making the show possible.

It's like a football team - the quarterback is the star, but he can't win the game on his own. And the team only succeeds when everyone does their job.

Luckily, Camelot has a terrific supporting cast. Some of them are longtime theatre veterans, and for some it's their first show ever. But they all pitch in, learn their part and make the finished show the spectacle it is (and I mean that in a good way, of course).

There's a lot to be said for being in a supporting role - there are far fewer lines to memorize and a lot less pressure on your performance - but that doesn't make it any less vital to the goal, which is putting on a great show!

I'm proud to be part of this cast - they're a dedicated, talented crew, and lots of fun to hang around (and work) with.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the stars of the show - which include an old pal, a veteran of the stage, a well-known TV anchor, and one of my co-workers in the real world.

Taking Lessons from "The Lord of the Dance"

Some amazingly talented dancers will take the stage tomorrow night in Huntington as part of The Lord of the Dance - and local dancers will get a chance to learn from the pros. Here's the story:
Local dancers are invited to take part in a master’s class taught by the company of dancers from Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance.

The master class is $20 and scheduled for 3:30-4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 22, in room 224 of the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Space is limited, and reservations are being taken by calling 304-696-3326.

Following the master class, Michael Flatley’s dancers will perform his newest masterpiece, Lord of the Dance, based on Irish folklore, at 7:30 p.m., at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are available at the Marshall Artists Series Box Office located in the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Ticket are $45, $50 and $55 for adults. Youth, ages 17 and under receive a 20 percent discount. For more information, call 304-696-6656 or visit online at www.marshallartistsseries.org.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Camelot" Rehearsals Continue

It's been a busy couple of weeks as the final preparations are made for this weekend's performance of Camelot at Huntington's City Hall Auditorium.

It takes a lot of work to put on a show like this - weeks of rehearsing lines, learning songs and dances, making costumes and other preparations.

But I wanted to pay special tribute to one of the unsung heroes of any production - the set design and construction team.

Camelot's set is big and involved, placing the castle of King Arthur alongside an enchanted forest. The job of designing the set fell to Todd Preston, who also plays the part of Sir Lancelot.

He's done an amazing job not only in planning the set but also in building it. Lots of people have helped out (including Arthur himself, Mark Baker), but the two who have worked the hardest are Todd and his co-star (and wife), Marina Jurica, who spent countless hours building and painting the walls of the castle, the covering for the trees and the rocks - they even built chairs and created decorations for the castle.

My hat's off to both of them - they've worked tirelessly on this show. I hope, gentle reader, you'll see the show and appreciate all the hard work they and the rest of the cast have put into the performance!

Monday, April 19, 2010

This Week - "Camelot," "Purple Sage" and "Our Country's Good"

This week there are three shows taking the stage - all well worth your time!

Opening Friday is Camelot, the beloved musical about King Arthur, Genevere, Sir Lancelot and the knights of the Round Table. This one's of special interest because it stars Mark Baker as Arthur, WSAZ-TV meteorologist Marina Jurica as Genevere, and her husband Todd Preston as Lancelot. Oh, and, uh, I'm in the cast, too (in a thankfully small role), along with about 30 other wonderful and talented performers.

So drop by and see the show - it will be presented by 5th Avenue Theatre April 23, 24, 30 and May 1 at 8 p.m., and April 25 and May 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium.

Also on stage this week is Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage, a comic horror set in the wild west. It will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company April 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Center Theatre.

The third show out this week starts on Wednesday. Our Country's Good wraps up the latest season for Marshall University's Department of Theatre. The show will be presented April 21 - 24 at 8 p.m. at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

From today's paper, here's a story written by my pal Angela Henderson:
The power of creativity to help find the humanity in the most inhuman of conditions is the powerful theme with which the Marshall University Theatre will close its 2009-2010 season.

Our Country's Good, the Tony Award-winning play by Timberlake Wertenbaker will be performed at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, April 21-24 at The Playhouse at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and Marshall faculty. Admission is free to full-time MU students with a valid ID. The play contains strong language and adult themes.

"Good" is a piece of historical fiction based on the journals of Lt. Ralph Clark, a British military officer. Clark was part of a group sent to New South Wales (now Australia) in 1787 to form a new penal colony. To find a suitable diversion for the prisoners and to improve morale in the colony, Clark decides to stage a play with the prisoners as the cast.

Director Jack Cirillo said the play has been challenging for the students participating.

"As is always the case, I'm very proud of our students. They give 110 percent all the time. The subject matter of the play is very challenging as it sometimes reflects man's inhumanity," he said. "There is a hodgepodge of dialect work being done as many of the characters come from a variety of areas of the British Isles. So coupled with the acting work comes a fair amount of dialect work as well."

One of the themes of the play is that theater is a humanizing experience -- an idea with which Cirillo completely agrees.

"Live theatre is communal," he said. "When we watch live theatre there is an interaction between performer and audience member. That interaction is multiplied by how many actors there are on stage and how many people are sitting in the audience. It is a shared experience that is organic. It happens in a moment in time and changes constantly. The entire theatre experience is a magnificent collaborative dance. I can't imagine a more humanizing art form."

Before the play each night at 7 p.m. will be "Coffee and Conversation," with complimentary coffee and chocolate and a presentation by a member of the production's creative team. The event is free to anyone with a ticket to the show.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What's Up With "Annie?"

On the notice last week that Huntington Outdoor Theatre was holding auditions for Annie, I added this note:
(I hear you saying, "Hey, Chuck, didn't you post a while back that First Stage Theatre Company would be doing Annie next year?" Yes, I did - but plans have changed. I'll have more on that in an upcoming post.)
So here's the deal. First Stage Theatre Company (on whose advisory board I serve) chooses its shows well in advance.

We do this for several reasons: it makes it easier to plan the year ahead; it allows us to find theatre space for our shows; and it notifies other theatre groups about our plans.

Apparently at the same time First Stage decided to do Annie, HOT decided to do the same show. It happens quite often in community theatre - great minds tend to think alike.

None of us on the board of First Stage were aware of this, although we heard some rumors to that effect a few weeks after we had announced our season.

The fact is, any group can decide to do any show - if your group has the funding to pay for the rights to the show, and if the show is available to be rented, then your group can do that show.

First Stage intended to do the show in the Spring of 2011, but since HOT is staging it in the Summer of 2010, First Stage has dropped Annie from its schedule for next season.

In its place we have a show that's going to be very exciting. In fact, the only show comparable to it is High School Musical, which was a huge event for First Stage two years ago.

I can't tell you what that show is yet - we still have a few details to work out - but the members of the board are excited about it, and we think it's going to be huge.

More importantly, the young actors are going to love it. More on that show... soon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Stage - "Copacabana"

Hey, there's only one show to see this afternoon - Copacabana, which is being presented by ACTC.

The musical is based on songs by Barry Manilow, and the final show is Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre.

Check it out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - Four Shows!

You have four great shows to choose from this weekend, with two in Charleston and two in Ashland. Here's the rundown:

- Copacabana - ACTC presents the musical based on songs by Barry Manilow April 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and April 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre.

- A Raisin in the Sun - the Kanawha Players present this classic April 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theatre.

- Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage - A western / comedy / horror, it will be presented by the Charleston Stage Company April 15-17, 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Center Theatre in Charleston.

- Allocating Annie - Presented by the Blazer Theatre Arts Society April 15, 16 and 17 at The Millennium Center, Paul Blazer High School in Ashland, Ky.

So get out there and support your local community theatre!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Interview About "Copacabana"

Time for an e-interview with my pal Zach Davis, who happens to be one of the stars of Copacabana, which runs this weekend at Ashland Community and Technical College.

Here's what he had to say:

Q: For those who haven't seen it, what is the musical Copacabana about?

Zach: Copacabana is a musical based on the famous song by Barry Manilow. The story is about a young song writer named Stephen who tells the a love story of a young couple to his wife Samantha. The story dates back to 1947 in the glorious Technicolor world of the famous Copacabana Night Club. Stephen tells the story of Lola La Mar and Tony Forte.

Q: Why did you want to be part of this production?

Zach: I wanted to take part in this production because it isn't a typical musical and it has never been performed in the Tri-state area by any community theate group. It did come through several years ago on a national tour at the Paramount. I saw an opportunity for growth as an actor in the production as well. I also took part as a tribute to my late Nanny who loved Barry Manilow's music. She lost the fight to Lung Cancer in June.

Q: What part do you play in the show?

Zach: I play the male lead - Stephen / Tony Forte, a young struggling songwriter.

Q: Why would you recommend this show to our readers?

Zach: I recommend the show because: 1) It's a high energy show that is new to the area; 2) the orchestra is dressed and on stage and they are the best sounding band I have heard in a play in years; 3) the costumer has created such amazing masterpieces for the actors.; 4) it is a musical comedy and those just simply need an audience; 5) how can one go wrong with music by Barry Manilow! His work is incredible; and well, last but not least, I have to say 5) IT'S ME! I MEAN I HAVE TONS OF COSTUMES AND DANCE! Seriously though everyone needs to just help support the local Arts!

Q: Tell us the facts about the show - when and where it's staged, etc.

Zach: Copacabana the Musical by Barry Manilow has one weekend left. Runs Friday, April 16 and Saturday, April 17 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 18 at 2:30 p.m. at Ashland Community and Technical College, J.B. Sowards Theatre. Tickets are $6 for Adults, $4 for kids and Seniors, and $2 for ACTC and Morehead Students.

Monday, April 12, 2010

HOT Announces Auditions for "Annie"

The Huntington Outdoor Theatre is getting geared up for its summer production of Annie.

Auditions will be held Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 18 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Callbacks will be held May 8 and 9.

Auditions will be at Trinity Episcopal Church on 5th Ave and 11th Street in Huntington. Enter through the 11th Street side.

All auditioners must prepare a 30-second selection of music and be prepared to dance. Actors are needed from age 7 through adult.

Shows will begin July 2 and run each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through July 25.


(I hear you saying, "Hey, Chuck, didn't you post a while back that First Stage Theatre Company would be doing Annie next year?" Yes, I did - but plans have changed. I'll have more on that in an upcoming post.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Stage Tuesday: Nickelodeon's Storytime Live

Some famous faces are coming to town Tuesday, all of them stars on Nickleodeon. Here's the story from today's Herald-Dispatch:
Some of your preschoolers' favorite television characters will take the stage at the Paramount Arts Center in two shows Tuesday, April 13.

Nickelodeon presents Storytime Live, the latest musical adventure featuring four of its top-rated shows - Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans, Ni Hao, Kai-lan and Wonder Pets! in shows at 4 and 7 p.m.

Some of your preschoolers' favorite television characters will take the stage at the Paramount Arts Center in two shows Tuesday, April 13.

Hosts Moose and Zee will take audiences through four musical adventures.

In Ni Hao, Kai-lan, Kai-lan and her friends meet their favorite superhero, the Monkey King, and agree to help bring all the pandas to his Panda Party.

In The Backyardigans, Mayor Stinkypants (Austin) has forced the dirty townspeople (Tasha, Tyrone and Uniqua) to take part in the annual Festival of Dirt. Journey through Purewood Forest as Robin Hood the Clean (Pablo) helps clean up the village of Filthingham.

In Wonder Pets!, teamwork works. The Wonder Pets gather Ollie, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts for a special celebration.

In Dora the Explorer, a witch has placed Boots under a sleeping spell that can only be broken by a true princess. Dora magically turns into a princess and saves Boots from the sleeping spell.

The show, which will feature well-known songs from the shows as well as new songs produced exclusively for the stage show, is 1 hour and 30 minutes and includes a 15-minute intermission.

Tickets are $10, $20, $25 and $30. Tickets can be purchased at the Paramount Arts Center box office, online at ticketmaster.com or by calling the box office at 606-324-3175.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Busy Day!

Whew! Started out this morning working with several cast members on construction of the Camelot set - it's going to be a large set, but the design by my pal Todd Preston looks awesome! Now, if we can just manage to get it finished in time...

Then this evening my lovely wife and I attended the performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. It was presented by the Marshall Artists Series at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center, and the large crowd was treated to some amazing music, including Mozart, Bernstein and Dvorak.

Afterwards, a lovely meal and now home to rest. Tomorrow, more rehearsals... and more construction!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

On Stage This Weekend - "Copacabana," "Raisin in the Sun" and the Symphony Orchestra

You have three great shows coming up this weekend to choose from - one in Huntington, one in Charleston and one in Ashland:

- Copacabana - ACTC presents the musical based on songs by Barry Manilow April 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and April 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre.

- A Raisin in the Sun - the Kanawha Players present this classic April 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theatre.

- Marshall Artists Series presents the National Symphony Orchestra April 10 at 8 p.m. at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Coming Soon - "Allocating Annie"

My pal Jane sends along this info about this year's third production by students at Paul Blazer:
Blazer Theatre Arts Society presents Allocating Annie, a comedy by Rick Abbot.

Performances are Thursday-Saturday, April 15-16-17, 2010
The Millennium Center
Paul Blazer High School
Ashland, KY
(606) 327-6040 ext. 3326

Tickets: $5.00/adults and $3.00 students/seniors

Tracy Tucker - Abbey Craig
Cliff Tucker - Corey Vasvary
Jake Putnam - Haven Martin
Bobbi Ralston - Heather McDowell
Langdon Barnett - Shane York
Annabel Fesco - Sarah Stephens
Rebecca Ralston - Ashley Baldwin

When Cliff Tucker inherits an orphan on the eve of his wedding to wealthy Bobbi Ralston, he figures he can handle matters until the foundling turns out to be full grown and gorgeous with an infant in her arms. While Cliff is fielding this disaster, his lawyer, who is in love with Bobbi, plots to scuttle the wedding. Plans backfire when a struggling actor arrives and Cliff's housekeeper/sister lets him move into the apartment Cliff is vacating. Three convoluted romances culminate in a climactic engagement party in the final act, which includes a dress that looks like a Christmas tree, a stuffed monkey subbing for the baby, a telltale birthmark and a startling dinner entree called "Penguin Wellington."

Hope you can join us for a really fun evening of theatre!

Monday, April 05, 2010

On Stage This Week - "Curious George"

Here's an awesome show for young ones hitting Huntington this week - and here's the story by my pal Dave Lavender:
Move it on over Jamie Oliver, there's a new cook in town and he's on a mission to create the world's best meatball.

Chef Pisghetti gets a little help in the kitchen as Curious George tries to help him save his restaurant by winning, the Golden Meatball Contest, a world-famous meatball contest in Rome.

The food and the fun will be flying Tuesday and Wednesday, April 6-7, as the inaugural tour of Curious George Live! swings on the stage at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

Tickets are $12 and $18. A limited number of $25 premium seats and $32 gold circle seats are also available. For more information, call 304-696-4400.

The Broadway-style musical that features multiple color-splashed sets and a non-stop flow of 16 songs, lands at the Arena right in the middle of a super-busy April.

Danny Moser, a California native who got his musical and theater training at the California Institute of the Arts and at The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Scotland, said it has been amazing to be out on the road with this brand new show that is a VEE Corporation Production in association with Universal Pictures Stage Productions and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Moser, who has been in dozens of musicals, is the Man in the Yellow Hat.

No, really, he is the Man in the Yellow Hat.

The night before the audition Moser was putting up glow-in-the-dark stars in his room, and guess who loves glow-in-the-dark stars also?

"Yeah, that was weird when I found out he loved glow-in-the-dark stars," Moser said laughing. "... Well, it's all been kind of funny because I was like let's see, they're looking for a man, over 25 years old, at least 6-foot or taller, lanky and somewhat goofy, and I read that and said, 'Oh, no,' out loud. That's like my resume."

Tall and skinny at 6-3, Moser said the rest of the cast is equally suited for bringing alive one of the most beloved children's book series.

"I think everyone in the cast is so amazing," Moser said. "So many times when people hear our show they think we are lip-synching. We're not. We sound very much like our characters, and it is funny to see pictures because we do really look like cartoon characters. Everyone really puts a lot of energy into the characters and making them come to life."

Moser said he loves the show, which he tabs as a great family Broadway-style musical -- and not just a kids show.

"For age-wise the show's creators originally thought the shows would be for kids 3 to 5 but it's really like 3 to 10 because there is a lot of color and characters that the young kids will have fun with," Moser said. "But there is enough plot and story and enough details that older kids and parents can enjoy when they follow along. We get school groups of older kids and they will have a whole sheet to fill out about going to Rome, and about how to make meatballs. So it is really educational in that sense."

The hour and 40-minute show (which has a 15-minute intermission), is, of course, based on the timeless book series created in 1941 by Margret and H.A. Rey. It has provided the inspiration for books, a television series and most recently a 2006 animation feature starring Will Ferrell as the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Moser said not unlike the best animated features out today, the show also is sprinkled with lots of humor for all ages.

"There's a lot of humor that the adults will appreciate, and so because of that I wouldn't say it is just a kids show but truly a great family show," Moser said. "It is a brand new show and that's been really exciting to be on board with something just being written and produced and worked."

Produced by VEE, creators of Sesame Street Live, the impressive stage and lighting are trucked cross-country in three tractor-trailers.

"The show by its very nature is very colorful. From the moment you walk in there is a giant Curious George Live! backdrop with a big sky and surrounded by a rainbow and George lit up in the corner. That gets kids excited just coming into the show," Moser said. "Then all the characters come out and there are construction workers with red and blue and yellow shoes, and then I come out and I look like a 7-foot tall banana walking on stage. There's so many colors and everyone is talking and singing and all the pieces roll around. We have a giant yellow scaffolding that George and the actors climb around on."

Moser said the energy in the show is amazing. He loves the opening when he is off-stage and can hear the kids' reaction to Curious George.

"One of my favorite parts of the show is in the very beginning and I can just hear all the kids reacting to what they are seeing immediately," Moser said. "When I come on stage they're like, 'There he is,' and the moment George comes out on stage, it turns into a rock concert, and it is just fun to hear and to see that."

If you go:

WHAT: Curious George Live! produced in association with Universal Pictures Stage Productions and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

WHERE: Big Sandy Superstore Arena

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 6 and 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 7.

HOW MUCH: $12 and $18. A limited number of $25 premium seats and $32 gold circle seats are also available. There's a facility fee of $2.

GET TIX: To charge tickets by phone, call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com.

ON THE WEB: Go online at www.bigsandyarena.com. Go online at www.curiousgeorgelive.com.

ABOUT THE SHOW: This brand new, original live stage musical visits 40 cities throughout the U.S. during its 2009-2010 inaugural touring season. Curious George, the world's favorite mischievous monkey, comes to life on stage in a 90-minute dazzling production filled with 16 original songs, dancing and good wholesome fun. The storyline features lessons of friendship, loyalty and helping each other.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Broadway in Columbus

Happy Easter, everyone!

My pal Len sent along this information recently about some big shows coming to Columbus, Ohio, including Mary Poppins, Legally Blonde, Jersey Boys, Les Miserables and Wicked!

It's an impressive lineup, and he thought local theatre fans would be interested - and he was right! It also talks about the positive financial impact shows have on the commuity - something every town in our area should think about.

Here's the press release with all the information:

The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) and Broadway Across America (BAA) today announced an eight-show, 14-week Broadway season for 2010-11. This is the first full season under the new partnership agreement between the two organizations, and is the first time a Columbus Broadway season has offered two multi-week engagements — Mary Poppins and Jersey Boys.

“Broadway Across America has a long history in Columbus and we welcome our new partnership with CAPA,” stated Broadway Across America CEO Miles Wilkin. “The 2010-11 season lineup is a strong start for that new relationship, and we look forward to many more successful years of bringing the best of Broadway to Columbus.”

The 2010-11 Fifth Third Bank Broadway Series combined with the upcoming August engagement of WICKED has a gross potential of more than $21 million in ticket sales and more than $65 million in economic impact for Columbus.

“We applaud the new partnership between CAPA and Broadway Across America,” stated Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer. “The positive economic impact Broadway has on Columbus is significant, and this season will more than double the number of visitors to our downtown.”

Visiting cast and crews will generate in excess of 6,500 nights of room rental for downtown hotels, and receive more than $400,000 in per diem funds.

“Broadway will have an important impact on the city’s economy both because of the huge amount of spending by cast and crew on everything from hotel rooms, food and beverage, transportation, retail, attractions, and entertainment during their stays in Columbus. Add to that the thousands of people attracted to downtown for the shows, and you can see why we’re so excited to have these events in our city,” said Paul Astleford, President and CEO of Experience Columbus. “CAPA is an important part of the Experience Columbus family.”

The season will also create $1.2 million in local employment revenue for stagehands, musicians, and front of house personnel.

“CAPA has been a wonderful partner to the City of Columbus, stepping up to oversee the funding, renovation, and management of the Lincoln Theatre, produce Festival Latino, and now design and operate the new Columbus Commons’ band shell,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Partnering with Broadway Across America is further evidence of CAPA’s dedication to this city and its service to the people of this community.”

The 2010-11 Fifth Third Bank Broadway Series subscription is a 5-show package which includes:

Legally Blonde the Musical
September 28–October 3, 2010
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
It's here, and it's "AN ELLE OF A SHOW" (TIME Magazine). The hilarious MGM film
is Broadway's new smash hit musical, and now Legally Blonde the Musical is coming to Columbus. Legally Blonde follows sorority star Elle Woods, an underestimated blonde who doesn't take "no" for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more "serious," Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before—Harvard Law. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style. After turning Broadway and MTV hot pink, this “Feel-Good Song and Dance Juggernaut” (New York Magazine) is “The Best New Musical Around!” (WOR).

Rock of Ages
December 7-12, 2010
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
In 1987 on the Sunset Strip, a small town girl met a big city rocker in LA’s most famous rock club, and they fell in love to the greatest songs of the ‘80s. It’s the five-time 2009 Tony® Award nominee Rock of Ages, an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Night Ranger, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake, and many more. Don’t miss this awesomely good time about dreaming big, playing loud, and partying on! (Will your kids love Rock of Ages as much as you will? We think they’ll have a great time, but you should know that some of the costumes, dancing, and language may not be appropriate for kids under the age of 14.)

Les Misérables
March 15-20, 2011
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, Les Misérables, with glorious new staging and spectacular, reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. This new production has already been acclaimed by critics, fans, and new audiences, and is breaking box office records wherever it goes. The London Times hails the new show, “a five star hit, astonishingly powerful and as good as the original.” The Western Mail says, “an outstanding success – the best version yet.”

Mary Poppins
April 20–May 8, 2011
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
Combining the best of the original stories by P. L. Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film, the Tony® Award-winning Mary Poppins is everything you’d hope for in a Broadway musical and more. Produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, the show includes such wonderful songs as “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” and of course, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” The NY Daily News hails Mary Poppins as “a roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza!” Let your imagination take flight at this perfectly magical musical!

Jersey Boys
August 17–September 4, 2011
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
“Too good to be true!” raves the New York Post) for Jersey Boys, the 2006 Tony® Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons — Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds, and sold 175 million records worldwide—all before they were 30! Jersey Boys, winner of the 2006 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album, and most recently, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh, What a Night,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” “It will run for centuries!” proclaims Time Magazine.

Special add-ons for the 2010-11 season include:

November 19-21, 2010
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
There's no better way to introduce your family to the wonders of live theater than with the magic, the mystery, the memory of CATS. What began as a musical about cats after Andrew Lloyd Webber picked up a book of poems in an airport bookshop has become one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. Winner of seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, CATS features 20 of Webber's timeless melodies, including the hit song, "Memory."

January 14-16, 2011
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
STOMP is explosive, provocative, sophisticated, sexy, utterly unique, and appeals to audiences of all ages. The international percussion sensation has garnered an armful of awards and rave reviews, and has appeared on numerous national television shows. The eight-member troupe uses everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, lighters, hubcaps – to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms.

February 18-20, 2011
Palace Theatre (34 W. Broad St.)
Riverdance, the thunderous celebration of Irish music, song, and dance that has tapped its way onto the world stage thrilling millions of people around the globe, will play five farewell performances in Columbus. “A Phenomenon of Historic Proportions!” raves The Washington Post. “An explosion of sight and sound that simply takes your breath away,” cheers The Chicago Tribune. “A family
evening unlike anything else!” exclaims The London Times. Discover why nothing in the world compares to The Original International Phenomenon! Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, you won’t want to miss these farewell performances of Riverdance!

Tickets for CATS, STOMP and Riverdance will be sold individually, with season subscribers being given the opportunity to purchase tickets prior to the general public.

Additionally, new subscribers who purchase before April 23 will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to WICKED prior to the general public.

July 28-August 29, 2010
Ohio Theatre (39 E. State St.)
Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkinland, two girls meet in the land of Oz. One—born with emerald green skin—is smart, fiery, and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious, and very popular. WICKED tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch.

Subscriptions range from $128-$501 per person and are now on sale. They can be purchased by phone at (800) 294-1892 or at www.broadwayacrossamerica.com.

Friday, April 02, 2010

On Stage in April

Wow, April already? Here are the shows coming up this month (as always, let me know if I missed any - email info to TheMinskers@aol.com):

- Romeo & Juliet
- CYAC presents a musical version of the classic Shakespeare play tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre in Charleston.

- Copacabana - ACTC presents the musical based on songs by Barry Manilow April 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and April 11 and 18 at 2:30 p.m. in the J. B. Sowards Theatre.

- Our Country's Good - Marshall's Theatre Alliance presents this show April 21 - 24 at 8 p.m. at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center.

- A Raisin in the Sun - the Kanawha Players present this classic April 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and April 11 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Center Little Theatre.

- The Wizard of Oz - The touring show based on the classic film will be staged at the Clay Center April 5 at 7:30 p.m.

- Flaming Guns of the Purple Sage - Presented by the Charleston Stage Company April 15-17, 22-24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Center Theatre in Charleston.

- Camelot - The beloved musical will be presented by 5th Avenue Theatre April 23, 24, 30 and May 1 at 8 p.m., and April 25 and May 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the Huntington City Hall auditorium.

- Curious George Live!
- Swings onto the stage April 6-7 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena (read more about it right here).

- Marshall Artists Series wraps up its season with the National Symphony Orchestra April 10 at 8 p.m., and Lord of the Dance April 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

On Stage Tonight - "Romeo & Juliet" (the musical)

My pal Mel sends along this reminder:
Speaking of sending out the word, don't forget the last three performances of CYAC's Romeo & Juliet!

They're tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday (4/1 - 4/3) at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre in Charleston. Curtain time is 8 p.m.
I hear great things about the show - check it out!