Results tagged “Suzy Conn” from Blogway Baby
I am thrilled to announce that Myrna Conn will be starring as Little Voice ("L.V.") in Artswest's Seattle premier of THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE by Jim Cartwright, running March 7 to March 31, 2012.
Rehearsals have finally started and ArtsWest has put together a stellar cast: Myrna Conn, Peggy Gannon, Pat Haines-Ainsworth, Daniel Reaume, Jesse Smith, and Travis Tingvall.
Christopher Zinovitch is directing, and Kim Dare is Music Directing.
From the Season Brochure:
I first fell in love with this story when I saw the 1998 movie starring Brenda Blethyn, Jane Horrocks and Michael Caine.
I'm also excited for this production because I wrote the song that LV sings at the end of the show!
Stay tuned for more info, and get your tickets now before they sell out!
I know where I'll be in October! At The New York Musical Theatre Festival watching The Broadway Dolls amazing show TOUR DE FIERCE!
And spoiler alert -- there might even be a song or two of mine in the show!
From the NYMF website:
TOUR DE FIERCE
GIRL GROUP MEETS BROADWAY
Tuesday, Oct 11th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Thursday, Oct 13th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Friday, Oct 14th, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Friday, Oct 14th, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Saturday, Oct 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm
Sunday, Oct 16th, 2011 at 5:00 pm
Girl Group meets Broadway in the event of the season, Tour de Fierce! This ambitious new stage production mixes elements of Broadway, Cabaret, Fashion, Performance Art and Film, in a non-stop song-and-dance concert. Starring The Broadway Dolls, a girl group featuring five of the most fiercely talented, sexy, and intelligent triple-threat ingénues of the Broadway Stage – accomplished and contemporary women who tell the stories of their road to Broadway in a surprising, moving and often hilarious evening of theatrical fabulousness. In a word, FIERCE.
The cast includes Tracee Beazer (Memphis, Hairspray, Good Vibrations, The Wedding Singer), Hollie Howard (Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Anie Get Your Gun, A Chorus Line), Tracy Jai Edwards (Legally Blonde, Hairspray), Robyn Hurder (Grease, Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang, The Wedding Singer, Spamalot), Chelsea Morgan Stock (The Little Mermaid, Baby It's You) and Gabrielle Ruiz (In The Heights, A Chorus LIne).
Approximate Running Time: 2:00; with intermission
You can buy tickets here .
Last weekend I went back to Phoenix for the first time in 42 years! I went to see Arizona Theatre Company's BACKWARDS IN HIGH HEELS at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. I also went to visit David Ira Goldstein, Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company. David directed PLANE CRAZY at the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals this past August.
It was so exciting! Last night was the start of the 10th Annual Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals! Every year the Festival kicks off with a Preview Party, held in the lobby of the Village Theatre in Issaquah. There is delicious food catered by Lombardi's and a musical preview of all but one of the shows of the festival. The first show of the festival (IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU) didn't participate because their cast was getting ready to perform their show at 7:30pm!
The lobby of the Village Theatre is packed with Village Original Members and the performers and musical directors perform on the staircase, giving everyone a good view, and great sound! Each show is introduced by their director (PLANE CRAZY was introduced by David Ira Goldstein from the Arizona Theatre Company) and the director tells the audience a little about the show, and about the background on the number they are about to hear. First off was BUDDY'S TAVERN, and then LINCOLN IN LOVE. PLANE CRAZY was third and we did a number with all the "stews", "I Wanna Get Married/Mr. Right Now", with Billie Wildrick as Janet Jones and Jennifer Weingarten as Faith Hope. Singing back-up were all the stews (Natalie Moe, Megan Chenovick, Kristin Culp, Mara Solar, Lindsey Larson and Bryan Tramontana). Our musical director Kim Douglass was rockin' the keyboard! The stews totally rocked the song! Yay!
Following PLANE CRAZY, came IN YOUR EYES and then CLOAKED. It was so great to hear songs from the other shows since rehearsal schedules don't allow us to see the shows until after we have performed ours. So I will be able to see IN YOUR EYES, LINCOLN IN LOVE and CLOAKED.
After the preview performance it was back to rehearsal in Room B. Everybody is doing such an amazing job, I can't wait for Saturday at 2:00pm, when PLANE CRAZY flies at the Festival!
Look Ma, I'm on Playbill!
How exciting -- only 9 days until the 10th Annual Festival of New Musicals at Village Theatre begins in Issaquah! And only 11 days until PLANE CRAZY takes off on August 14 at 2:00pm! And only 11 days until you can see my daughter Myrna Conn in the Brian Yorkey/Tom Kitt musical IN YOUR EYES at 7:30pm!
Oh, and did you happen to catch this fabulous article on Playbill:
By Adam Hetrick
02 Aug 2010
In Your Eyes, the 2002 high school-set musical by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, will be developed during the Village Theatre's Festival of New Musicals in Issaquah, WA.
Running Aug. 12-15, the 10th annual private showcase will develop six new musicals as part of the Village Originals series. Yorkey and Kitt previously developed their hit musical Next to Normal at the Village under the working title Feeling Electric. Yorkey previously served as associate artistic director of the Village Theatre and will also direct Jesus Christ Superstar there in June 2011.
Here's a look at the 2010 Village Originals works:
In Your Eyes
Book and lyrics by Yorkey; music by Kitt
"The students of Lakeshore high school are sent into a full-blown lock down (not to mention a flood of animosity, fear, and insecurity) when a plot of gun violence is suspected. As a group of unsupervised students attempts to make sense of the chaos, they end up learning more about themselves and their classmates—from the troubled rocker spitting lyrics, to the sarcastic fashionista pointing fingers from her pedestal."
Book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove; music by Barbara Anselmi
"What begins as a typical wedding, replete with indecisive mothers and jealous siblings, escalates to new levels of hysteria in this outrageous new musical comedy. As dissatisfied mothers fire snide comments at one another and ex-boyfriends make unsolicited appearances, arguments arise and secrets unfurl. With an uproarious score, It Shoulda Been You is a rollercoaster of laughs full of shocking twists that will leave your head spinning."
Book by Raymond De Felitta; music by Kim Oler; lyrics by Alison Hubbard
Based on the movie "Two Family House," written and directed by Raymond De Felitta
"Despite a pattern of failed professional endeavors, ambitious Buddy Visalo refuses to accept defeat. The year is 1956, and much to the chagrin of his wife, Buddy is setting out to open a flourishing bar where he can pursue his true passion: singing. Unfortunately, nothing ever seems to go quite as planned for Buddy, whose dreams are smothered by financial woes, his wife’s doubts, and, to add to the chaos, an Irish American tenant with a mixed race child. Torn between his conscience and the pressure of his peers, Buddy is transported onto a road of twists and turns that just might lead to everything he’s ever wanted."
Book, music and lyrics by Suzy Conn
"Attention, attention please. Now boarding is Faith Hope, winner of the Miss Teen Toledo pageant and recent graduate of the Venus Airlines Stewardess Academy. It’s 1965, and Faith is about to learn that being a stewardess is more about girdles and groping hands than onboard meals and emergency exits. Just as Faith enters the fray, Venus Airlines takes on a bold, new advertising symbol of the living breathing example of blossoming female sexuality…the stewardess. Little do they know that their chosen 'Miss Venus,' the once naïve Faith Hope, will soon become their worst nightmare: empowered. This quirky and upbeat new musical is an uplifting and hilarious story about fighting back and demanding respect."
Book by Michelle Elliott, music by Danny Larsen; lyrics by Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen
"In this potent new musical, a young girl and a heroic knight venture into the woods in search of love and identity…but who are they, really? In the online world, you never know. This tantalizing tale will lead you deep into the dangerous, yet extraordinarily alluring landscape of the internet, where you can escape from reality and create a different life…but what happens when right and wrong become blurred and you lose yourself in the fantasy? With a modern, innovative score that blends computerized tones and haunting melodies, this intriguing story explores the reality of what the internet has become: a wilderness that can be your best friend or your worst nightmare."
Lincoln In Love
Book and lyrics by Peter Kellogg; music by David Friedman
"Step into history and watch as the young Abraham Lincoln dips in and out of trouble and makes his way as a future political leader. In the year 1842, young Abe is found slipping into the shoes of an aspiring lawyer, not to mention serving as a comedian among the townspeople. Enter the fervent and beautiful Ms. Mary Todd, who sends the young men of Springfield into a romantic flutter. This whirlwind new musical will take you through a witty and inspirational adventure as this future President grapples with his everyday ways and takes on his first real defense trial—while fumbling with the temptations of love and marriage."
Click here for information on how to see these shows at the Festival by becoming a Village Originals Member!
Now Boarding: Venus Airlines Flight 2010 from Gate Issaquah…
With rehearsals starting in only two weeks, I'm thrilled to announce the cast for my musical PLANE CRAZY at the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, which runs the weekend of August 13 to 15, 2010.
PLANE CRAZY will feature Jennifer Weingarten (Faith Hope), Billie Wildrick* (Janet Jones), Megan Chenovick (Holly Banks), John Bogar* (Sam Crenshaw), Michael Cimino (Clive Miller), Ian Lindsay (Brett Mansford), and Vince Wingerter (Larry Stevens). Our amazing ensemble will include Kristin Culp*, Lindsey Larson, Natalie Moe, Mara Solar*, Bryan Tramontana, Jordan Delp, Michael Ericson*, Aaron Shanks* and Troy Wageman*.
* = member of Actors' Equity Association
The show will be directed by David Ira Goldstein (Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company) and the Music Director is Kim Douglass. Book, Music, and Lyrics are by Suzy Conn.
PLANE CRAZY will run on Saturday, August 14 at 2pm. The show will appear on the Village Theatre Mainstage (Francis Gaudette Theatre), 303 Front Street North, Issaquah, WA, 98027.
To see the PLANE CRAZY, you must be a “Village Originals” member. To join Village Originals, go here – on that Web page there are links to the membership form (or you can just call the Village Theatre box office at 425.392.2202). The great thing about joining Village Originals is that it’s a one-year membership that entitles you to see all six shows in the Village Theatre Festival of New Musicals, as well as other Village Originals readings and specials events throughout the year.
Yes, it says "musicals" not "musical". Of course I'm very excited that PLANE CRAZY is in the 10th Annual Festival of New Musicals at Village Theatre in Issaqauh, but it turns out PLANE CRAZY isn't the only musical in the festival - who knew?
In fact, there will be six new musicals! And more importantly, five parties!
Here's the festival line up from the Village Theatre website:
Thursday, August 12, 2010 6:00 PM – FESTIVAL PREVIEW
Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:30 PM - IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU
Book & Lyrics: Brian Hargrove
Music: Barbara Anselmi
Friday, August 13, 2010 7:30 PM - BUDDY’S TAVERN
Book: Raymond De Felitta
Music: Kim Oler
Lyrics: Alison Hubbard
Based on the movie TWO FAMILY HOUSE, written and directed by Raymond De Felitta
Saturday, August 14, 2010 2:00 PM - PLANE CRAZY
Books, Music & Lyrics: Suzy Conn
Saturday, August 14, 2010 7:30 PM - IN YOUR EYES
Book & Lyrics: Brian Yorkey
Music: Tom Kitt
Sunday, August 15, 2010 2:00 PM - CLOAKED
Book: Michelle Elliott
Music: Danny Larsen
Lyrics: Michelle Elliott and Danny Larsen
Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:30 PM - LINCOLN IN LOVE
Book & Lyrics: Peter Kellogg
Music: David Friedman
Pretty cool bunch o' musicals, huh?
To partake of this musical-palooza all you have to do is buy a Village Originals membership.
I am thrilled to announce that my musical PLANE CRAZY will be in the Village Theatre 10th Annual Festival of New Musicals!
That's right, on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm at Village Theatre in Issaquah, PLANE CRAZY will fly again.
PLANE CRAZY will be directed by David Ira Goldstein (Artistic Director of Arizona Theatre Company), with musical direction by Kim Douglass!
I've been reworking the show over the past couple of months, and I had a "test run" reading of it on Monday. First of all, thank you to everyone involved, you guys were amazing! Secondly, it was so incredibly helpful and I've been madly rewriting ever since. I'm so excited to see the show up again, since the show has changed immensely since it first premiered off-Broadway in New York at NYMF in 2005. New scenes, new music, new lyrics, new structure!
PLANE CRAZY is a musical comedy about the emergence of the modern women's movement in the swinging ‘60s Jet Age. A time when the stews were sexy and the world was sexist. PLANE CRAZY is the story of three stewardesses who go on a journey to find their own voice and is set during an explosive time in history: The intersection between the dawn of the Jet Age, the introduction of the Pill, the genesis of the modern Feminist Movement, and the Golden Age of Advertising.
For more information, check out the Village Theatre website.
Stay tuned, and fasten your seatbelts!
It is hard to believe it has been 5 years since PLANE CRAZY appeared at the New York Musical Theatre Festival on 42nd Street in the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row. What a great, crazy experience that was! I'm still in touch with, and working with people who worked on that production, like Hollie Howard and Seth Weinstein. Since then PLANE CRAZY has had productions in Oklahoma City, Toronto and a reading in New York.
After moving to the great Pacific Northwest, I got involved writing for The 5th Avenue Theatre's Adventure Musical Theatre Program, and acting as the writing mentor/lyricist for the Village Theatre Kidstage Company Originals program and working on other new projects. So I put PLANE CRAZY on the back burner (or in the hangar, to use a more appropriate metaphor.)
But recently I read about British retailer Primark selling padded bikini tops to 7 year olds and t-shirts for young girls that say "So Many Boys, So Little Time", and it reminded me of a passage from Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (first published in 1963) - " Manufacturers put out brassieres with false bosoms or foam rubber for little girls of ten. And an advertisement for a child's dress, size 3-6s, in the New York Times in the fall of 1960, said: "She Too Can Join the Man-Trap Set."" . Hmmm, the more things change...
So I got to thinking about PLANE CRAZY. Perhaps it was time to dust off the script, say hello to those characters again and get PLANE CRAZY flying again! To be honest, I missed the characters!
So now I'm go-go boot deep in rewriting. New scenes, new songs, new takes on old songs...it's good to be back in 1965!
That's all for now...
New York, New York! It's a helluva walk-on!
Well, okay, I wasn't exactly "asked back"...
Grad and I successfully bid on a dual walk-on role at last year's Gala at the 5th Avenue. We even snagged the closing show! I had a blast last year, but sharing the spotlight with my husband was even more fun. Although, I did have to share my dressing room with him...
We received the usual top notch star treatment - photos at the stage door, photos by the show bricks, big gold stars on our dressing room doors, a goody bag, flowers, chocolate, posing with the stars of the show...you know, my usual treatment.
I wore a fabulous kelly green (emerald green?) forties dress, gloves, hat, and my very own character shoes. Grad looked very cute in his forties suit and fedora. Then it was off to tech talk on stage. Boy ON THE TOWN is tech-intensive! And don't even get me started on the huge dinosaur hanging from the ceiling. We even got our picture taken in front of the cave man statue! Cast member Gabriel Corey gave us the run down on our scene - we were going to be part of the museum tour with Rich Gray as museum curator (in one of his many wigs!). Then as the show started it was off to hair and make up! I got to wear a red wig this time! And Grad got the old Brylcreem treatment. We watched a bit of the show backstage and then it was showtime!
We walked on and followed Rich, looking at all the amazing museum sights! We even laughed at Rich's jokes on cue! As we appeared on stage I could hear the chuckling from the audience in Row M, where my daughters Myrna and Trinity sat with their friends.
Much too soon it was over. Back to reality and the show! We got to watch the rest of the performance and meet up with everyone at intermission.
I hadn't seen the show since opening night and it was a magical performance! What a talented, funny company. I had actually just been reading about World War II that morning before the show (coincidentally), so I was watching it with new eyes! I got chills when they sang "We'll catch up some other time".
Thanks to everyone at the 5th Avenue Theatre for a thrilling afternoon!
ON THE TOWN was another fabulous production by the 5th Avenue Theatre!
A new musical in six months... What were we thinking?
As we head into the final week of rehearsal I'm taking a moment to catch my breath and reflect back on the craziness that has been the last six months.
This is my second year as writing mentor/lyricist for VIllage Theatre's Kidstage Company Originals program. Last year we wrote SAVE AS... and did a full production at the soon-to-be-renovated First Stage. This year we are focusing on doing readings, partly because of space issues, but also because when you are writing a new musical, quite frankly, it makes a lot more sense to do readings first!
I started with the writing team, which consisted of four teens, in October 2009. We worked on the principles of dramatic writing, and developed the themes,
storyline and characters before the actors auditioned in December. Then our cast of fourteen actors joined the process in January and we held our first reading of Act I in February, our second reading in March of the whole show (the first time it had been read all the way through!) and on Monday April 12 we'll be doing our third and final reading of the whole show. We've been getting feedback from the audiences along the way, which has been very instructive.
Kathryn Van Meter is directing, and Orlando Morales is the musical director/composer and Helen Voelker is the stage manager. Luckily for me, they've been with the process since the beginning, so the addition of the actors and the evolution of the piece has been seamless. We also got some wonderful help from Eric Jensen who stepped in to direct for a couple of weeks in March while Kathryn was busy. I have to say, working with those guys has been a blast!
THE LAST SHOT explores how the healing power of art can help people overcome fears and find strength and peace, while telling the story of a high school senior/aspiring filmmaker who takes a cast of fellow students to shoot a movie over Memorial Day weekend. When the filmmaker's best friend screws-up, the group has to relocate to an old, abandoned, and possibly haunted hotel. The students are forced to confront their worst fears about the future, while still trying to complete the film.
THE LAST SHOT is a full length musical with brand new storyline, intriguing characters and 15 new songs plus reprises! The readings have been very helpful in cutting the show down to a respectable two and a half hours of tasty musical goodness. It is playing one night only at the Village Theatre mainstage, so get your $10 tickets now before they sell out and help us make musical theatre history!
A production of the musical THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND (book and lyrics by moi, Suzy Conn, and music by Mitchell Kitz) just finished at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri. They performed for over 4,600 during their week of productions for the public and area elementrary schools.
THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND, adapted from the Beatrix Potter book, tells the story of a young pig who is forced to find his way in the world - a classic coming of age pig story! And remember: Always cross that bridge when you come to it!
Eric Yazell, the director of the show (he is also the Speech & Theatre Instructor at The Stauffacher Center for the Fine Arts at State Fair Community College) sent me some wonderful pictures of the production:
Clang, clang, clang went the Trolley!
Last night I had my walk-on role in Village Theatre's production of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. Last May when I bid and won the walk-on role at the Village Theatre Gala, the show seemed so far away. Suddenly it was November and time for me to face the music.
A couple of weeks ago I went for a costume fitting and wig fitting. I was to be dressed in a beautiful coral and creme dress, big hair, big hat and lace up boots.
The wonderful and talented Bobbi Kotula was my contact throughout all this organizing dates, fittings etc. Paulette Buse, the stage manager, was my backstage contact and the one who scheduled my "put in rehearsal" for 6:30pm last night. Louise Kincaid was my "wrangler".
I arrived at 6:30 pm thinking I would just be shown when to walk across the stage and wave. Never assume anything!
Steve Tomkins welcomed me with a warm handshake and went about fitting me into the finale. The entire finale. I even had choreography and music to sing! Luckily I'm very well aquainted with both The Trolley Song, and Meet Me In St. Louis, and generally never need much convincing when asked to sing.
I enter with the cast on the trolley, sitting smack in the middle and singing my little heart out! "The day was bright, the air was sweet..." etc. Then I get escorted off the trolley and back to chat with Henry Nettleton and Bill Williams, also in the cast. Then it's back on the trolley, holding on for dear life as it goes off stage. Then grab an ice cream and run on with Bobbi to look at the World's Fair and see the fireworks and sing the last line - "So won't you Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair!"
I even got to take a bow with the female ensemble members! And then with the rest of the company! Woot Woot!
I was able to watch Act 1 in the audience with my family and then I went backstage at intermission to get dressed, and get my wig on. I had my own little space in the women's dressing room. Waiting for me was a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I got dressed and chatted with everybody and waited for the finale.
My performance went off without a hitch! I even got to watch some scenes in Act 2 from the wings with Bobbi. After the show they took picture of everyone in the cast, and moi, on the trolley. Then off to meet my fans (my family) backstage. Rave reviews all round!
Then the clock struck midnight and my carriage once again turned into a pumpkin. Back to life "behind the scenes" as a writer!
MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is a fabulous show (even when I'm not in it) and the cast is wonderful. Go get your tickets now!
Go, go, go Trinity!
And it's not just because the show is super fun, and I've watched the Donny Osmond DVD a thousand times.
And it's not just because Anthony Fedorov (former American Idol runner-up) is playing Joseph.
And it's not just because the cast will be wearing spandex unitards and golden cow heads (I hope!).
No, no, no it's because my daughter, Trinity is in the children's choir! How cool is that! Over 150 kids auditioned and Trinity got in!
She's been in rehearsals twice a week since August... and things really heat up next week. Soon she'll be rehearsing every day! Luckily she has a few friends in the choir and we've put together a massively intricate carpool (actually the other moms have done most of the organizing, I just try to remember to show up when it's my turn!)
So, when JOSEPH starts, three out of four of the Conns will have been on the 5th Avenue Theatre stage -- Myrna was a performance intern in HELLO DOLLY, I had a walk-on in HELLO DOLLY, and of course, Trinity is in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.
Now if I can jut get my husband Grad up there...
Stay tuned for more posts!
Yes, following last year's smash hit SAVE AS... (I get so many comments on that darn sweatshirt!) The Village Theatre's KIDSTAGE Company Originals program will be back for another exciting year of writing and performing an original musical! And I am pleased to announce that I will be back as Writing Mentor/Lyricist!
Here is the 411 from Suzie Bixler at The Village Theatre:
We are currently seeking writers and composers (ages 16-20) for our Company Originals program.
Company Originals is a program functioning out of Village’s KIDSTAGE division that produces theatre for young people by young people. For more than six years, Company Originals has produced shows using the best young talent in the area as writers and performers. Company Originals is also seen as a breeding ground for tomorrow’s top talents. In the last few years, Company Originals participants have gone on to college at Boston Conservatory, University of Washington, Tisch School of the Arts, University of Southern California Writing Program, Biola Film School, Cornish College of the Arts, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, University of Arizona, College of Sante Fe, Occidental, Point Park, and many more, several on performing scholarships. Past participants have also performed locally at venues such as Village Theatre Mainstage, Seattle Children’s Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Showtunes, The Paramount Theatre, Civic Light Opera, Seattle Public Theatre, and ACT.
KIDSTAGE Company Original productions are original musicals written by a student writing team, advanced performers, and emerging theatre artists. After a competitive audition process, students will create and perform their own original musical material under the mentorship and guidance of a professional writing, composing, and directing team. The program will culminate in a one night workshop to be performed on the Village Theatre Francis J. Gaudette Theatre. The process will also include additional workshop readings with musical theatre professionals and a Seattle school. The Company Originals production is written by, for, and about teens, and it addresses some of the most important issues facing teens today. Past original teen works include: trust me., Last Exit, In Your Eyes, A Perfect Fall, and Save As.
We are specifically looking for very committed writers and composers or those that are interested in learning more about these disciplines.
Writers will meet twice weekly (Mondays & Fridays) after school starting in October. Actors will join the process in January and a series of workshop readings starting with Seattle musical theatre professionals and a Seattle school will occur in February and March. The project will culminate with a staged reading of the musical on the Francis J. Gaudette Stage on Monday, April, 2010.
Tuition for the program is $500 (scholarships and work-exchange available for those who qualify.)
The application is due on September 18 and can be found on our website.
If you are interested in being an actor in the program, auditions will be in late November. Information will be posted on our web-site soon.
KIDSTAGE Programs Manager
303 Front Street North
Issaquah, WA 98027
Office: (425) 392-1942 x147
Wake Up and Smell the Bacon in Missouri! Or is that show me the bacon....
I am please to announce the production of THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND at the State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri! Yes, this November 2009 will see the return of Pigling Bland, Aunt Pettitoes and the whole crazy gang! This will be the third production of the musical that I (I being me, Suzy Conn) wrote (book/lyrics) with Mitchell Kitz (music), following a debut in Toronto (at the Toronto Fringe Festival), and a second production in Chicago at Theatre Building Chicago last summer.
THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND, based on the book by Beatrix Potter (no relation to Harry Potter), tells the story of the adventures of a young pig (Pigling Bland) who sets off to market with his younger brother, is interrogated by a policeman, pignapped by a farmer, teased and tormented by a cat and dog and eventually falls in love with a beautiful female pig . The two escape and....well... I can't give away the ending, now can I?
THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND will be directed by Eric Yazell, and is scheduled to run from November 16 to November 21, 2009 at the Stauffacher Center for the Fine Arts in Sedalia, MO!
And here's a bit of trivia -- turns out Sedalia, MO hosts the annual Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival!
More posts to come... oink!
Dear Mister Mercer...
The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theatre (AMT) program put on a performance of my musical THE MERCER GIRLS for donors at Downstairs at the 5th on Tuesday May 12. Very, very exciting! The 5th Avenue Theatre commissioned me (Suzy Conn) to write the book, lyrics and music for a new musical based on the true story of The Mercer Girls, eleven women who travelled from the east coast to Seattle in 1864.
THE MERCER GIRLS is still on tour around Washington state schools, but the cast (Charissa Bertels, Jason Kappus, Christian Duhamel, Jon Lutyens, Anne Kennedy, Sara Parish, Elise Campello, and stage manager Jen Geisler) made a pit stop at DAT5 to do their 95th performance of the show!
We started with a lovely wine and cheese reception beforehand, and then David Armstrong and Bill Berry introduced the show, talking a bit about the AMT program in general, and THE MERCER GIRLS specifically. This is the 15th year of AMT, and in their first year they only performed at 20 schools!
It was great to see the amazing set again, and marvel at how the cast sets it up and packs it away after every performance and stuffs it into a van with all the costumes and props!
The show was awesome! The last time I saw THE MERCER GIRLS performed was back in the first week of the tour, and the show has gotten so much tighter and everything is humming along like a well-oiled musical machine! It was extremely rewarding to see the show so beautifully performed. They only have two more weeks of shows before the run is over. I’m going to miss this cast, so I’m definitely going to catch another school performance!
Thanks to the cast, crew and everyone involved at The 5th Avenue Theatre for making THE MERCER GIRLS a success!
Next year AMT will be touring JOURNEY WEST (the Lewis and Clark story) in rep with BEST OF NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF. I am proud to say that my musical version of LARRY GOT LOST IN SEATTLE made the cut and will be part of BEST OF NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF!
For more information and to book an AMT show at your school, contact Anya Rudnick at The 5th Avenue Theatre.
An evening of song and dance with the fabulous Krystle Armstrong!
Krystle Armstrong is holding a “THOROUGHLY NEW YORK” evening of song and dance on Monday April 27th at 7:30pm at the Broadway Performance Hall (get your incredibly cheap $20 tickets now here ). Krystle, who most recently played Ermengarde in the 5th Avenue’s production of HELLO DOLLY, and also Belle in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at Village Theatre, is a fabulously talented triple threat! She sings, she dances, and she acts (all for one low ticket price of $20)!
I first met Krystle when she taught my daughter Myrna tap, and then went on to work with her in the week long MERCER GIRLS workshop I did last Fall (she played Miss Annie May Adams). Krystle will be accompanied at the piano by Christian Duhamel another amazing performer who did the MERCER GIRL workshop, and is currently on tour with the Advenutre Musical Theatre production of MERCER GIRLS!
From her poster:
“Krystle Armstrong has performed at many of Seattle’s finest venues, including The 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. Come join her in an evening of story, song, and dance, with musical numbers from some of Krystle’s favorite roles, including “Gimme Gimme” from the hit show THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, “Someone To Watch Over Me”, a classic Gershwin favorite, and many more! This evening will be topped off with a surprise raffle, with items from from show tickets, to dinner for two at some of Seattle’s best restuarants!”
Krystle is trying to raise money to go to New York to pursue her dream of being on Broadway. So buy your tickets, and bring some cash to buy raffle tickets and have a ball!
Dolly'll never go away again... Well, it's over folks. My time as a Performance Intern in the 5th Ave Theatre's production of Hello, Dolly! officially ended on March 29, 2009... Sad panda. However, it was a hectic and amazing month of performances that I will always remember!! I have learned so much from this experience, and I felt so privileged to be able to share the stage with some of Seattle's best talent :) Unfortunately, it was such a busy time that I was not able to make daily accounts of my adventures, but here is a wrap-up post that will summarize the crazy month I just had...
So, the day after opening night, I wasn't feeling so well. It wasn't until after Sunday Clothes that it got really bad, and sure enough, I got sick backstage. :( It was so bad that I didn't go on stage and was sent home at intermission! It was very very sad to hear MY song!!! go by without me there on stage to enjoy it... Sigh. But that's show biz. Fortunately I felt better the next day, and was able to go back to doing my thang on the 5th Ave stage =)
One of the most special performances would probably have to be when my mom went on for her walk-on role! April 26th, Suzy Conn graced the stage as train rider/waver/kiss blower in Put on Your Sunday Clothes. She looked awesome in her white costume, big hat, and lace up boots :) A post from her point of view to come, stay tuned!!!
Closing Night (or should I say...day...hehe) was unbelievably bittersweet. It had been such a crazy, tiring night... 8 shows a week and then getting up early to go to a full day of school the next day? Not to mention homework? Yikes. But even when I thought I might not make it to the curtain call, it was worth it, for the audiences always went crazy at the end! What can I say, who doesn't like Hello Dolly? :D The closing party was at Palomino, and I definitely had enough pizza to last me for the rest of the year :P It was nice to be able to say some last goodbyes before the inevitable post-show depression :S
To sum it up, I had the best experience of my life doing this show. I learned so much from watching and performing, and I hope this isn't my last show at the 5th Ave Theatre! I hope all who were able to got the chance to come see this amazing production with the most amazing cast ever, and I will never forget how nice everybody was to this little intern! Speaking of, shout-out to the brilliant interns :D
TOTAL (goal=150): 202 HOURS
Lock up your chandeliers!
I’m especially excited to see this production since my friend, Richard Todd Adams, will be playing the Phantom! Rick played Raoul in the national tour almost ten years ago. Rick is an amazing performer – not only does he have a gorgeous voice but he is a master on the piano as well. He toured with 2 PIANOS, 4 HANDS (the hilarious Canadian musical that indeed involves not only two piano, four hands, but four legs as well) as well as appearing in THE WOMAN IN WHITE and THE PIRATE QUEEN on Broadway.
I got this great comment from “Diane” on my Braniff post (Braniff Airlines: The World's Greatest Airline?), so I thought I’d share it with y’all:
WHAT A GREAT SURPRISE! I WAS SEARCHING FOR A POSSIBLE "ALUMNI" OF BRANIFF EMPLOYEES BUT FOUND YOUR SITE INSTEAD.
I BECAME A RESERVATIONIST IN KANSAS CITY FOR BRANIFF, TRAINED AT LOVE FIELD IN DALLAS FOR FIVE WEEKS BEGINNING JANUARY, 1967. WHAT A JOURNEY IT WAS. BEFORE COMPUTERS, WE USED A BUNKO-RAMO MACHINE IN AN OFFICE WITH NO WINDOWS NEXT DOOR TO TWA. A YEAR LATER WE MOVE TO A NEW BUILDING WITH IBM AND HAD TO LEARN TO USE THE NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM IN ONE WEEK.
OUR UNIFORMS WERE THE FUSHIA, POLYESTER, WITH A FRONT ZIPPER, MATCHING FUSHIA PANTYHOSE & THE FAMOUS PUCCI SCARF. AND THEY WERE MINIS.
WHEN OUR ROUTE TO HONOLULU WAS APPROVED, I HAD THE UNBELIEVABLE EXPERIENCE OF FLYING FIRST CLASS IN A 747. SHERATON GAVE EMPOYEES A WEEK'S FREE STAY AND I THINK MY FLIGHT PASS WAS $30.00 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
MY GIRLFRIEND AND I USE TO TRADE DAYS SO WE COULD GET THE SAME FOUR DAYS OFF AND FLY TO ALCAPULCO WITH MAYBE $40.00 EACH FOR EXPENSES. SOMETIMES WE'D BRING OUR KIDS WITH US. FUN! FUN! FUN!
YOUR ARTICLE HAS REALLY BROUGHT BACK GREAT MEMORIES. IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES AT THE WORST OF TIMES. THE LAST TRIP I TOOK WAS WITH MY SON, MOTHER AND BROTHER. WE HAD JUST ARRIVED IN DENVER FROM COLORADO SPRINGS WITH 3 DAYS OF ADVENTURES AHEAD OF US. THE NEXT MORNING WE WOKE UP TO THE NEWS THAT BOBBY KENNEDY HAD BEEN SHOT AND KILLED. WE FLEW BACK HOME TO KANSAS CITY THAT DAY.
What a time to fly!
I’m super excited to see the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Rodgers and Hart’s PAL JOEY, which begins performances November 14 at Studio 54. I’ve never seen PAL JOEY on stage, only the film version with Frank Sinatra. And I love Christian Hoff! He totally rocked in JERSEY BOYS. Of course I’ve loved Stockard Channing ever since I saw her in the 1973 movie “The Girl Most Likely To…”.
Do you need another reason? Well here’s one – my friend and performer extraordinaire, Kathryn Mowat Murphy is also in the cast! Kathryn was the assistant choreographer and part of the ensemble in the 2005 NYMF production of PLANE CRAZY! Boy, can that girl dance! Congrats Kathryn!
Complete casting has been announced for the Roundabout Theatre Company's new fall production of Rodgers & Hart's Pal Joey, already set to star Tony Award winners Stockard Channing and Christian Hoff and Tony nominee Martha Plimpton.
Directed by Tony winner Joe Mantello, with a revised book by Tony winner Richard Greenberg, the musical, produced in association with Marc Platt, will begin performances Nov. 14 at Studio 54 toward a Dec. 11 opening.
Creating a population of Chicagoans in the John O'Hara-inspired tale of a heel who dreams of owning a nightclub will be Robert Clohessy (as Mike), Mamma Mia! veteran Jenny Fellner (as good girl Linda English), Urinetown alumnus Daniel Marcus (as Ludlow), Wicked actor Steven Skybell (as Ernest), Timothy J. Alex, Brian Barry, Bahiyah Sayyed Gaines, Lisa Gajda, Anthony Holds, Nadine Isenegger, Mark Morettini, Kathryn Mowat Murphy, Abbey O'Brien, Hayley Podschun, Matthew Risch, Krista Saab and Eric Sciotto.
The 1940 musical — with a score by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart — is considered one of the landmark "link" musicals between fizzy old-fashioned musicals of the 1920s and '30s and more psychologically charged shows in which darker colors of characters were revealed. Pal Joey is a sort of musical comedy character study about an ambitious performer, Joey Evans, played by Jersey Boys veteran Hoff, who seeks the affection of a married woman in the hope that she'll fund his dream of owning a nightclub (Channing plays older, richer Vera Simpson, who dryly sings "Bewitched" and "What Is a Man?" as well as the duet "Den of Iniquity"). He loses his soul along the way.
The score also includes "A Great Big Town (Chicago)," "You Mustn't Kick It Around," "Take Him," "Zip," "Plant You Now, Dig You Later," "I Could Write a Book," "I'm Talking to My Pal" (a song that had been dropped from the score during its out-of-town tryout, but is now restored), and more.
Shout out to my friend and composer extraordinaire Seth Weinstein who has just released a new CD!
Here is the email I received from Seth:
I'm delighted to report that my CD of solo piano music, CONVERSATIONS WITH CHAGALL, is now available at CD Baby.
The 62-minute CD contains two of my original compositions: CONVERSATIONS and THE CHAGALL SUITE. CONVERSATIONS, a musical meeting between the Belarusian painter Marc Chagall and Elvis Presley, is a synthesis of Russian-style classical themes, Jewish klezmer music, romantic ballads, rock, blues, and gospel. THE CHAGALL SUITE is an eight-movement contemporary classical piece inspired by eight different themes of Chagallian artwork.
More information about the CD, including sound samples, track listings, and explanations of the music:
Get the CD now - only $15!
Also, I'll be performing the Chagall pieces this fall in Germany, Wisconsin, and New York:
9/18 - Osnabrueck, Germany - Lutherhaus
9/23 - Mainz, Germany - Erbacher Hof
9/26 - Siegburg (Bonn), Germany - Siegburger Stadtmuseum
10/25 - Appleton, Wisconsin - Appleton Art Center
10/30 - New York City - Museum of Biblical Art
Road trip to Germany! (I guess technically it would be a boat or plane trip…)
The 5th Avenue Theatre’s new downstairs education and rehearsal space, which has been officially named “The Marilyn Sheldon Rehearsal and Education Center”. Marilyn Sheldon (second bio) is the Managing Director, and the heart and soul of The 5th Avenue Theatre. For those "in the know," it's called DAT5!
From the evening’s keepsake program:
“Because The 5th Avenue Theatre was constructed in the 1920s to be a vaudeville house and was later converted into a motion picture theatre, there weren’t backstage needs and technical space wasn’t required. As a result, backstage at The 5th Avenue lacks virtually all of the trappings of more modern musical theater venues.
The Board of Directors, under the leadership of Norman B. Rice, authorized a plan to consolidate all production-related activities, known as Downstairs at The 5th. This plan includes a full-sized mainstage rehearsal hall, education center, maintenance building and inventory facility.
Downstairs at The 5th makes the overall operation more efficient, produces a substantial yearly cost savings, and provides a more focused work environment, allowing us to fully invest in the artistic product.”
I’ll drink to that! The 5th Avenue has used Theatre Puget Sound (TPS) over at the Seattle Center for rehearsing all their shows. Don’t get me wrong, TPS is great, but there was always the problem of never having a room big enough to match the size of the actual stage, so they always had to reblock everything once they got to the theatre!
And I can speak with some authority that the heating and cooling systems in TPS are due for an overhaul!
When Eddie Bauer moved out of their basement space, The 5th Avenue Theatre suddenly had a viable option to solve their logistical nightmares! After a lead donation by Sheryl and Peter Neupert of $1.22 million, the renovations were underway!
The opening celebration was so much fun! Not only was it so exciting to finally see the space finished (love the big “5th” on the glass doors facing the food court!) but there was yummy nibbles and of course, a wonderful musical performance. Martin Charnin’s great song “Upstairs at O’Neills” was given new lyrics by Rich Grey and became “Downstairs at the 5th”. With Resident Musical Director Ian Eisendrath on piano, Billie Willdrick, Chad Jennings, Carol Swarbrick and Eric Polani Jensen sang up a storm. Then Patti Cohenour sang ‘Take Care of This House” from the show 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
All in all, a wonderful celebration of a great space. I’m looking forward to doing the workshop of THE MERCER GIRLS there in September!
The above video is THE WORLD ANTHEM, created by Christopher Judges in an effort to save the world morally, psychologically, and environmentally. The slideshow that accompanies the song is touching, with pictures that encourage you to reach out with love and care for everyone. Especially the one that appears at 3 minutes and 18 seconds. 'Tis no other than our good friend Hollie Howard, in a Venus Flytrap-licious pose, in the NYMF 2005 production of Plane Crazy! w00t!
Starting this Tuesday, August 5, the A Chorus Line national tour will open at the Paramount Theatre as part of its Broadway Across America series (I saw Avenue Q there in June). I saw the 2006 Broadway revival when I was last in New York (agh too long ago), and I've seen various community theatre productions + the movie. I love this show, it is so funny, smart, and fabola. I can't wait to see it.
Extra bonus - long time friend of the show, (and by the show I mean PLANE CRAZY, as she played Holly Banks in Plane Crazy's NYMF production), Hollie Howard is starring as Maggie in the national tour! Yay, happiness! She is just amazing. Talk about your triple threat! And on top of that, she has the best head shot in the world. I can't wait to see Hollie in the show!
For ticket information, visit here. Quickly, A Chorus Line will only be at the Paramount Theatre until August 10!!! =S
For those of you who have been waiting for hours for the past three days, refreshing the BlogwayBaby home page every 5 minutes in the hopes that a new post would appear, I'm very sorry. My mother and I went to San Jose to see Wishful Drinking (post to come), Carrie Fisher's one-woman show about her life and such. 'Twas excellent.
We stayed at the Fairmont San Jose, which was the best hotel ever. It was across the street from both the San Jose Museum of Art and the Tech Museum of Innovation. It was also walking distance from many restaurants and stores and such. There was a Starbucks 2 minutes (walking) away, and the San Jose Repertory, where the show was, was probably 4 minutes (walking) away. I definitely recommend this hotel if you plan on staying in San Jose, and want to have a good time.
We got room service by the pool (delish chicken and cheese quesadilla) and read historical fiction novels about the Tudors... :D Plus, we definitely saw Carrie Fisher. Like at the pool. No jokes. So we stared at her as she walked into her hotel room which had a patio that opened out onto the 4th floor pool. Mark Hamill/Marie Osmond moment...... for Suzy Conn =O
So, I will be posting again this week. I know you missed me >:-)
A pig, a spider and a lamb walk into a barn…
I’m so excited to see the play CHARLOTTE'S WEB at Youth Theatre Northwest on Mercer Island, running August 1 to August 10.
Of course, I'm a wee bit biased, since my daughter Trinity is in the play! She's the Lamb, as well as a Spectator and a Fair-Goer. They're in pretty seriously intense rehearsals right now and they open next Friday.
For tickets to CHARLOTTE'S WEB call 206-232-4145, or visit their website.
Here I go again!I get it! I finally get it! I saw Mamma Mia yesterday and absolutely loved it. I can't wait to go back and see it again. Meryl Streep is my favorite superhero this summer! Take that Batman!
As background, I was a gigantic ABBA fan when I was a teenager (I also loved disco, there I said it). My best friend was Swedish and she introduced me to ABBA and she always got the latest album ahead of everyone else. I was hooked. ABBA was standard fare at sleepovers, and we'd dance around the pool table in her basement (I always wanted a pool table!) to Mamma Mia. Yeah, yeah, the cooler kids hated ABBA, but I've never considered myself cool. I liked all kinds of music, but there was something about those arrangements, those voices, those melodies, those cute Swedish inflections that just made me get up and dance, and sing along.
So of course I was excited about the stage musical production of Mamma Mia when it came out in the early 90s. However, when I actually saw the musical in Toronto, with Louise Pitre as Donna, I really didn't like it. Maybe it was because the decibel level was so high it made my ears bleed, or maybe because the arrangements sounded different. Or maybe it was the silly storyline. I don't know but I never bonded with the musical for some weird reason.
For some reason I'd been really excited about the release of the movie. Maybe because I heard that two of my cuties, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, were cast in the movie. I love Meryl Streep but I was skeptical about her vocal prowess. But the trailers looked really exciting and fun, so the girls and I went today.
I totally loved it. I laughed, I cried, I boogied.
I finally felt the feeling of twirling joy I used to feel when listening to the ABBA records. The Greek island setting was perfect, the colors, the sun, everything. Meryl Streep is amazing as Donna Sheridan, and she has a great voice and totally inhabits the character. It's like she's dancing around inside an ABBA song. I don't mind the silly story line, and I love the way the movie is a musical, full stop. No apologies needed for breaking out into song and dance, whether you are a main character or part of the "greek chorus" of villagers. I mean, isn't that why you do musicals in the first place?
And let me just say that Colin Firth has a great voice. Very folky, but with a surprisingly high level of musicality to my ears. Pierce Brosnan isn't a singer per say, but Remington Steele slash James Bond can do no wrong in my ears. (Hmmmm, I think I know what age group this movie is targeted at…). I'm not as familiar with Stellen Skarsgard who played the third "dad", but he was good too!
The whole cast rocked (Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Julie Walters) but one of my favorites was Christine Baranski. She was hilarious.
And did I see cameo shots of Benny and Bjorn in the movie? Methinks I did!
Make sure you stay for the credits!
THE SHOW GIRL MUST GO ON!
As I write this post, I’m wearing my super cool "Bette Midler The Showgirl Must Go On" T-shirt! My husband and I finally got away on a much deserved "awaycation" (we already had a "staycation" with the kids earlier in the month. The final leg of our "Hot and Sweaty 08" tour was Las Vegas (following triple digit weather in Palm Springs)) to see Bette Midler in concert at The Coloseum at Caesar's Palace, as well as Donny & Marie (yes, I'm over 40, duh!) at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre. But more on D&M in another post…
We don't smoke or gamble, so there is really only two other (legal) things to do in Vegas - see a show and hang out by the pool. Friday night we sent to see Bette Midler in The Coloseum, the ginormongus 4,000 seater theatre that was built for Celine Dion. It is currently being shared by Elton John and Cher. You can't get more seventies than that! We had bought our tickets a while back, so we had awesome seats, although there was a large screen for those seated in the nosebleed seats.
What an awesome show! Bette started with "Big Noise From Winnetka" and "The Show Girl Must Go On" and came out in a sparkly silver pantsuit, very Vegas. She had three amazing back up singers (The Staggering Harlettes) an amazing band, and a great line up of chorus girls (The Caesar Salad girls, with as little dressing as possible!). It's hard to believe she is 60 years old, running back and forth across that huge stage, and jumping up and down in a mermaid costume while singing and dancing! She is so funny, and so much fun to watch. Of course, no body sings with such emotion as Bette. She's the only singer I know who can make me cry just by singing. She did a crowd-pleasing set of her hits:
In The Mood, From A Distance (which she sang barefoot, in contrast to her usual six inch heels!), Do You Wanna Dance, The Rose (which included audiences waving their cell phones back and forth like lighters), Hello in There, and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
She also did wonderfully zany segments as the finned "Dolores Delago" and "Soph", the oldest living showgirl -- "they gave me a f%@#$%ing chihuahua?"
Bette closed the show with Wind Beneath My Wings. I could listen to her forever!
Shout out to my friend Seth Weinstein, who wrote the music for HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE IN 90 MINUTES. I met Seth when he did a fabulous job musical directing my show PLANE CRAZY at NYMF in 2005. I loved HOW TO SAVE THE WORLD AND FIND TRUE LOVE when I saw it in New York. I saw Hollie Howard (who played Holly Banks in PLANE CRAZY) in the role of Violet Zipper and she was amazing. It's really a great show, so go get your copy today!
A cast recording of How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes, which played Off-Broadway's New World Stages/Stage 5 Nov. 4-Dec. 31, 2006, is now available.
The recording features the original Off-Broadway company, including Michael McEachran as Miles Muldoon, Anika Larsen as Julie Lemmon and Nicole Ruth Snelson as Violet Zipper with Stephen Bienskie, Natalie Joy Johnson and Kevin Smith Kirkwood as The Greeks.
The CD, which was recorded January 2, 2007, at Avatar Studios in Manhattan, also features conductor Seth Weinstein on keyboards, Jonnah Speidel on piano, James Bettincourt on bass and Greg Germann on drums.
The complete track listing for How to Save the World follows:
Love or Fear
I'm Afraid of Everything
The Country Song
The Melon Ballet
Why Are All the Good Men Unconscious?
The Voices in My Head
I'm in Love With a Terrorist
Who I Am Matters Not (I)
Love Is Violet
Yoga Class/Fifteen Minutes
I Want to Know You/Read My Mind
He's a Pussy
When the Music Played
We Can Save the World and Find True Love
Save the People
Who I Am Matters Not (II)
Oh, God The Company
Read My Mind
With book and lyrics by Jonathan Karp and music by Seth Weinstein, How to Save the World. . ., according to press notes, is set at the United Nations and concerns "a cowardly bookshop clerk, a sexy diplomat and an idealistic slacker [who] confront their deepest fears when an office romance leads to international crisis."
Christopher Gattelli directed and choreographed the Off-Broadway run. The creative team comprised Beowulf Boritt (set design), David Murin (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design) and Peter Hylenski (sound design).
The CD, priced $14.95, includes a 16-page color booklet with lyrics and photos. For more information visit www.howtosavetheworldandfindtruelove.com.
Today, July 11, musical theatre writer Suzy Conn (PLANE CRAZY, THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND, BECKY AND THE BOOGER, THE MERCER GIRLS) and her husband Grad Conn are celebrating 21 years of marriage! Wow! Now that's something to write about!
Here are a few other notable historical theatrical events for July 11…
1915 A King is born today... in the form of Yul Brynner. Brynner will, of course, go on to star as one half of the title of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King And I, opposite Gertrude Lawrence. Brynner will go on to play the role in numerous incarnations of the production, as well as in the film version (for which he won the Academy Award), and a short-lived, non-musical 1970's sitcom called "Anna and the King."
1985 Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings, a comedy about a family's reunion for a traditional English Christmas, opens at the Joyce Theatre. The American Theatre Exchange production was helmed by Pat Brown. The play ran previously in London and then made its American premiere at Houston's Alley Theatre in Texas before making its way to Off Broadway.
1989 Sir Laurence Olivier dies today. The celebrated actor of stage and film was 82 years old. Olivier appeared on Broadway and in the West End in a large array of roles, ranging from Shakespearean tragic heros Hamlet and Caesar to lighter fare like No Time For Comedy. As a stage director, Olivier staged the London bow of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring his wife, Vivien Leigh. Film credits include his Academy Award-winning version of "Hamlet," which Olivier also directed, and "Clash of the Titans."
1998 After playing 12 previews and 240 regular performances in William Luce's Broadway bio of John Barrymore at the Music Box Theatre, actor Christopher Plummer will kick off an eight-city tour of Barrymore tonight. The Broadway production closed Nov. 2, 1997, but Plummer took some time off to rest from the role which won him the 1997 Best Actor Tony Award, as well as a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award.
2002 Comedian Robin Williams hones a new standup act in Robin Williams Live on Broadway, which plays a 3-performance limited run at the Broadway Theatre, starting today.
Here's the next 21 years of marriage!
I've been commissioned to write next spring's AMT (Adventure Musical Theatre) show for the 5th Avenue Theatre. I'm really excited about this project because I had a blast working on this year's show, NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF 2, which incorporated two of my pieces, LARRY GETS LOST IN SEATTLE, and DAISY THE FIRECOW. I also had the great pleasure of attending a number of performances at elementary schools around Seattle. It was so incredibly rewarding to sit and watch the kids watch the show. Everyone should visit a school during one of these performances, and then they'd realize how important musical theatre is to education. In case your school missed it, they are touring NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF 2 again, this fall. Check out the 5th Avenue's website for more information.
When the 5th Avenue Theatre approached me about writing a musical about "the Mercer Girls" I was immediately interested. After all, who didn't love Bobby Sherman in "Here Come The Brides", that cheesy tv series supposedly based on the story of the Mercer Girls. And Perry Como singing "Seattle" as the theme song was a total plus! Turns out, it wasn't totally historically accurate! Well knock me over with a feather!
Needless to say I spent a great deal of time researching the Mercer Girls, ordering out of print books from Amazon, and renewing books from the Library several times over. It really is an incredible story, especially when you realize a) how young these women were, and b) how different life on the two coasts really was. It wasn't the same as flying from New York to L.A.!
One particular woman, Elizabeth Ordway, was especially interesting to me. She was a true suffragette, and didn't let the fact that she was an unmarried woman get in her way of pretty much shaping education in the Northwest. Of course, she often used her initials, L. M. Ordway, so that people wouldn't know she was a woman!
And Asa Shinn Mercer was quite the character. We sometimes forget that the government hasn't always been involved in everything aspect of our lives. Back in the 1860s, sometimes you just had to go and "do it" if you wanted to get it done! And Mercer was definitely a "don't ask permission now, beg forgiveness later" type of guy.
We're doing a table read in August, and a workshop in September, and starting rehearsals January 2009! Hmmm, I wonder if Bobby Sherman is available…
I'll keep you posted!
A Brand New Musical... THE MERCER GIRLS
February 2-May 29, 2009
On May 16, 1864, the first eleven "Mercer Girls" reached Seattle. The women were recruited by University of Washington President Asa Shinn Mercer and sailed to the Puget Sound area from the East Coast to work as teachers and to increase the population of women in the Washington Territory. The cost of the trip was $250 and the people of Seattle were eager to welcome the women into their community while finding them new homes and jobs in various schools. The women were full of hope and aspiration, but life in the new city was often difficult. This original musical follows the journey of the Mercer Girls and their experiences in the fast growing town of Seattle.
Your students will travel on an unforgettable journey from Massachusetts to Washington during a time when the city of Seattle was new and hopes were high. Enjoy a lively, entertaining musical and learn about the women who became the teachers, as well as the wives, mothers and grandmothers of the founding families of the Puget Sound area.
50 minute performance, plus a 5-minute question-and-answer period.
Maximum attendance is 300 students per performance. For a larger number of students, schools must book a double performance.
Western Washington locations: Single Performance - $600 Double Performance - $800
Outside Western Washington locations: Single Performance - $875* Double Performance - $1,150*
Payment may be made in advance or at the time of the performance. * Share the news! Get another school in your area to book a show and receive a $100 discount! Book both Northwest Bookshelf 2 and Mercer Girls and receive a $150 discount.
To schedule a performance
The AMT Touring Company visits schools throughout Western Washington, and in select locations throughout Central and Eastern Washington. For more information and to book a performance, please call 206.625.1418 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Available dates fill fast, so we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible.
I'm very excited about the opening of my kids show THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND at Theatre Building Chicago on Wednesday July 9!
I (Suzy Conn, in case you didn't already know) wrote the book (adapted from the Beatrix Potter book) and lyrics, and Mitchell Kitz wrote the music. It's a really fun, coming of age pig story. THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND first appeared at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Theatre Building Chicago is putting on our show as part of their "New Musicals for Kids" series.
Here are the details of the TBC production of THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND:
Director: Jenny Stafford
Music Director: Brandon Magid
Choreographer: Anthony Apodaca
Stage Manager: Garrett Stibb
Set Design: Julie Eberhardt
Costume Design: Andrea Davies
Pigling Bland: Andrew Redlawsk
Pigwig: Casey Whitaker
Cat/Aunt Pettitoes/Policeman: Caitlainne Rose Gurreri
Dog/Alexander: Christian Vernon
Piperson: Anthony Apodaca
THE TALE OF PIGLING BLAND runs at Theatre Building Chicago until July 24.
For more information and to order tickets, check out the TBC website:
What a party!
I took my oldest daughter Myrna to see the Seattle Men's Chorus "Funniest Songs" concert with special guest star Leslie Jordan (better known as Beverley Leslie, the hilarious nemesis of Karen Walker on Will & Grace). His Seattle Men's Chorus appearance is one of the first stops on his book tour for "My Life on the Pink Carpet" (we bought a signed copy of course!).
Seattle Men's Chorus is a wonderfully large choir complete with upper first tenors, lower first tenors, upper second tenors, lower second tenors, upper baritones, lower baritones, upper basses and lower basses! Whew! Talk about trying to find your note!
Dennis Coleman is the artistic director, Eric Lane Barnes is the assistant artistic director and Evan Stults is the accompanist of the Seattle Men's Chorus. This concert was choreographed by Kathryn Van Meter, who directed Myrna in LAST EXIT at the Village Theatre. Before I go any further I have to mention Kevin Gallgaher, the ASL interpreter for the Seattle Men's Chorus. While all ASL theatre interpreters do a great job, Kevin is in a class by himself. Not only was he signing, but he did it in a very uniquely rhythmic, theatrical way. We found ourselves listening to the choir, but watching Kevin! He was aweseome.
The evening was fantastic. They started with "Comedy Tonight" and ended with an encore of "Dancing Queen" and Leslie Jordan dressed in gold, go-go dancing on a pedestal. How they got there resulted from a combination of wonderfully funny renditions of wonderfully funny songs like "He Vas My Boyfriend", "Deep Love", "Every Sperm is Sacred", "Be a Clown" and "Sordid Lives", and the hilarious, sometimes touching anecdotes of Leslie Jordan -- growing up in Tennessee with a penchant for bridal dolls and football captains ( along with a father in the military)! He even had a funny story about Debbie Reynolds.
And speaking of Debbie Reynolds, she will be the guest star at the Seattle Men's Chorus "Singing in the Rain" concert in March 2009.
I'm going to get my tickets for that now!
Well, they got their act together and now they are taking it on the road! That's right, I saw the first public performance of Northwest Bookshelf 2 at Maple Elementary a couple of days ago. I think that the word "adventure" in the title "Adventure Musical Theatre" actually refers to the adventure that the actors are on! Every school is a different adventure. Sometimes they perform in a big gym, where there is lots of room, but the sound is really boomy. Sometimes they perform in a multipurpose room where the space is a lot smaller and there are stairs to contend with -- there goes the original blocking! Sometimes the musical director (Danny Sullivan) doesn't always have a clear view of the actors. I like to call it "guerrilla musical theatre". Either way, the actors, musical director and stage manager are up for it, and quickly adapt.
The performance at Maple Elementary was great. The whole student body (K-5) was there. It's fun to watch both the students' and the teachers' reactions to the shows. Kids especially love the visual gags, and outrageous costumes. The shows are written as real musicals with lots of word play, but are based on simple stories, so they appeal to both the teachers and the kids. The next performance I saw was at Sanislo Elementary. It was a much smaller school, in a smaller space, so it felt like a more intimate performance. These kids really liked it and like the Maple Elementary kids, asked lots of questions (there's always a question about costume changes!).
This is such an amazing program that the 5th Avenue runs. Watching the kids' reactions is so rewarding as a writer because you know you have made a positive difference in a child's day. And hats off to the troupe -- not only do they give 100% at each performance, they have to set up and break down the set themselves (with the help of Sara Barnes the stage manager) before and after every performance and load it back in to the van!
Roy Scheider, who starred as Bob Fosse in one of my most favorite movies ever, All That Jazz, has died. I know he wasn't a musical theatre performer but he did such an amazing job in that film. Whenever I'm tired, I still look in the mirror and say "It's showtime!"
Roy Scheider, a character actor who in the 1970s found an unlikely career as a leading man, died on Sunday afternoon in Little Rock, AR, the New York Times reported. He was 75 and lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y.
Mr. Scheider, who was born in Orange, NJ, in 1932, was imbued with a naturalistic, rough-hewn intensity, and a lean, masculine face which suited the film industry of the 1970s, when experimental directors were searching for actors with greater street authenticity. His breakthrough came in 1971 when he played a pimp in "Klute," and, the same year, was Det. Buddy Russo, Gene Hackman's partner in the brutal police thriller "The French Connection." The latter part earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
He won international stardom as the police chief of a small harbor town trying to grapple with the arrival of a killer shark in the blockbuster "Jaws." Playing opposite Robert Shaw's deranged seaman and Richard Dreyfuss' excitable scientist, Mr. Scheider's realistic performance anchored the horror thriller in a humane reality. He also appeared in "Jaws II" three years later.
His second and last Oscar nomination came for Bob Fosse's autobiographical movie musical "All That Jazz," in which Mr. Scheider, lean, bearded and clad in black, played an onscreen version of the self-destructive choreographer-director as he veered toward professional and personal disaster. The film called upon Mr. Scheider to sing and dance, as well as act; his success in acquitting himself in these fields surprised many critics.
Following youthful forays into the military and sports (his broken nose was the result of the New Jersey Diamond Gloves Competition), he moved to New York to try acting. His professional debut was at Joe Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival, playing Mercutio in a production of Romeo and Juliet. He won an Obie Award for his appearance in the play Stephen D in 1967, and made his Broadway debut in 1965 in a William Ball-directed production of Tartuffe at the ANTA Washington Square. Other theatre credits include The Alchemist and The Year Boston Won the Pennant.
Mr. Scheider returned to the theatre in 1980, appearing with Blythe Danner and Raul Julia in Harold Pinter's backwards-traveling play about infidelity, Betrayal. It was directed by Peter Hall and played 170 performances.
In 2003, he starred in the title role in Christopher Trumbo's work Trumbo at the Westside Theatre.
He continued to work in films into the 1980s and 1990s, but his opportunities were not as memorable as his landmark '70s movies. Among his credits of this time were "Blue Thunder," "2010," "52 Pick-Up," "The Fourth War" and "Romeo Is Bleeding."
Or, Is this thing on?
BlogwayBaby is back baby! For all of you wondering where heck I've been I apologize. I moved from Toronto to Seattle this summer with the whole fam damily, and it consumed my every waking moment (other than when I saw the pre-Broadway tryouts of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and LONE STAR LOVE, but more on those shows later). On top of it all I sprained my ankle the day the truck arrived at our new place. No, I wasn't carrying a sofa upstairs on my own - I stepped off a curb looking up when I should have been looking down. I really have to work on that whole walking-and-chewing-gum-at-the-same-time thing.
So now that the kids are back at school, I've learned all the state capitals, my ankle is healing, and I don't have to travel from Starbucks to Starbucks like a gypsy to get my internet access, Blogwaybaby is back.
I'm blown away by the quantity and quality of theatre out here in the Pacific Northwest. They like it, they really like it! But seriously, theatre (or should I say, theater) is just a regular part of life here. It's amazing! I'm looking forward to seeing and being involved in lots of truly great theatre.
And on top of all of that, I can buy wine and beer at the drugstore!
I got an email from my friend Randall David Cook, who wrote SAKE WITH THE HAIKU GEISHA (see my previous post ), who has written a new play called FATE'S IMAGINATION which is being produced by Gotham Stage Company.
Here is the info from the email:
I'm sending this notice out later than I had intended, but I wanted to let you know about the new play I have opening Off-Broadway. It's a sexual and political drama titled "Fate's Imagination," and previews start this Friday (May 25th) and the show opens officially next Thursday (May 31st). Right now the play is scheduled to run through June 17th (with a possible extension to June 30th).
The cast is great, the director's done a wonderful job, and the designers are first-rate. (The sound designer, in fact, won an Obie two nights ago!)
This play is quite a departure from "Sake with the Haiku Geisha," and I'm very excited to be presenting such different work to the theater-going community. I feel very fortunate to be having my second Off-Broadway show open just a year after the first, and one reason that is happening is because so many of you, my friends and supporters, came to see the show and talked about it with your friends. Word-of-mouth helped sell out the last week of the run of "Haiku Geisha," and once again I am hoping that the play being presented will be worthy of discussion.
Below is all the basic information about the play, but I'd like to specifically invite you to two important performances next week: Tuesday, May 29th and Wednesday, May 30th. Those nights are critics' nights, so it's imperative to have a decent-sized house so reviewers can see and feel how an audience responds to a work. So if you can come next week on one of those two performances, please do so!
At the end of this e-mail I've provided $20 discount codes for all preview performances and $30 for all tickets thereafter. A limited number of $45 tickets are also being sold for opening night, and those tickets include invitations to the opening-night party for cast and crew and friends.
Many, many thanks! Hope to see you at the theater!
Randall David Cook
PS. The play contains strong sexual situations and nudity, so better not to bring any child who hasn't at least reached puberty!
Gotham Stage Company presents The World Premiere of FATE'S IMAGINATION
A limited engagement running May 25-June 17 *****
LILAH: I'm old enough to be your mother.
BROCK: I know.
LILAH: Does that turn you on?
A Presidential candidate on the verge of making history… A young reporter on a path of discovery… And a teacher desperate to escape from self-imposed isolation
Three unique individuals, three different paths, one point of intersection
Last year Gotham Stage Company teamed up with playwright Randall David Cook for its inaugural production, "Sake with the Haiku Geisha," resulting in a bold production embraced by audiences and critics alike. Now Gotham is back Off-Broadway with another daring play by Cook. A searing sexual and political drama, "Fate's Imagination" is directed by Hayley Finn. The talented cast includes: Donna Mitchell ("Mona Lisa Smile", "Syriana", "Pollock", "The Ice Storm"), Elizabeth Norment ("A Touch of the Poet" and "Plenty" on Broadway, last year's Off-Broadway critical darling "Dead City") and Jed Orlemann (Jack O'Brien's Tony-winning "Henry IV" at Lincoln Center and "The Normal Heart" at the Public).
--Please note: This play contain strong sexual situations and nudity.--
Where: The Players Theatre 115 MacDougal Street New York, NY 10012 (West side of MacDougal Street, between West 3rd Street and Minetta Lane)
By subway: Closest subway: A, B, C, D, E, F, Q to West 4th Street. Walk south on 6th Avenue to West 3rd Street, then east to MacDougal Street, then south to the theatre.
Showtimes: Tuesday-Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m.
Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission
To purchase tickets: Please call 212-352-3101 or visit www.gothamstage.org
Discount codes and specials: Preview week (May 25-May 30): use GSC1 for $20 tickets Opening night (May 31): $45, includes invitation to opening night party June 1-June 17: use RDC01 for $30 tickets to any show
Congrats Randolph and Break a leg!
Well, I completed my off-Broadway trilogy last night by seeing SAKE WITH THE HAIKU GEISHA, a play written by Randall David Cook, at The Perry Street Theatre. I really enjoyed this show, and it has inspired me to see more off-Broadway productions.
Randall David Cook's new play, "Sake With the Haiku Geisha," a collection of five anecdotes inspired by the playwright's own experience as an English-language teacher in Japan, is an often observant, witty evening about the ways in which other cultures can unexpectedly impinge on our own individual experience.
This elegant and precise production by the Gotham Stage Company, staged by Alex Lippard, combines Western realistic and Japanese Noh theater techniques. It is at its best in the first half of the 100-minute, intermissionless evening, as three 20-something English-language teachers are invited to share their stories on the last night of their visits to Japan. The uptight British graduate of Oxford, the gay but virginal American Southerner, and the hostile and sarcastic Canadian woman reveal small epiphanies that have affected their ways of dealing with loss, isolation and death, epiphanies that have their origins in the confusing culture in which they find themselves.
The three instructors are in Japan because they are "running from themselves," but the grace of the playwright's language and observations happily obscures this pedestrian insight. The other two anecdotes of the evening are less fortunate. As the Japanese host tells the story of his own family's decision to embrace English as a second language, Mr. Cook's powerful description of the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs becomes lost in a vague if well-intentioned plea for communication. The anecdote about the Haiku Geisha herself, a traditional hostess who speaks only in the poetic form most associated with Japanese culture, turns out to be a predictable tale of true love confronting the threat of an arranged marriage.
As a hostile and sarcastic Canadian woman myself (tee hee), I enjoyed the bizarre, funny, and touching honesty of the westerner's vignettes.
The actors were incredible as well, playing a wide range of characters, all completely believable. I love it when a piece is written so you are not only entertained, but you get the feeling that you are getting a glimpse behind the closed door of personal experiences.
I'm just watching High Society right now and WOW...what a great movie. I've seen it a million times on afternoon TV in the '70s, but I haven't caught it in a while.
In 1940, Katherine Hepburn's movie career was in desperate condition. Her 1938 film BRINGING UP BABY, although recognized as a Howard Hawks's masterpiece today, was at the time a box office failure. The failure signaled the temporary end of demand for her talents in Hollywood, although she had HOLIDAY in the can (and costarring, like both BRINGING UP BABY and THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, Cary Grant). So, she went back to the stage, in a play written specifically for her, and the subsequent hit was an unexpected and triumphant return to the screen for Hepburn. Her career never looked back again, especially when two years later she teamed with Spencer Tracy for the first time. Ironically, she originally requested that Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy play the Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart roles.
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is such an extraordinarily well-done film that one can watch it repeatedly, reveling each time in new and hidden details. It strikes the perfect balance of being spectacularly well-acted, hysterically funny, and delightfully silly while maintaining an elegant veneer. The cast is nearly overwhelming in its quality, with Hepburn and Grant turning in especially fine performances. Jimmy Stewart is also superb, though he won an Oscar for this year that he probably didn't deserve. The Academy in 1940 may have been giving him the award as an apology for not having won the year before for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. Unfortunately, this meant that Jimmy Stewart's best friend Henry Fonda failed to win for one of the finest performances in the history of American cinema, as Tom Joad in THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Still, although the Oscar clearly should have gone to Fonda, Stewart manages a great turn. He and Grant manage a great moment when Stewart adlibbed a hiccup, and Grant, not batting an eye, adlibbed, "Excuse me." The rest of the cast is flawless. Too many excel to mention, but special mention must be made of Roland Young as Uncle Willie, Virginia Weidler in a marvelous turn as Tracy Lord's precocious younger sister, and the erstwhile Errol Flynn nemesis Henry Daniell as the devious and unscrupulous Sidney Kidd.
Although this film holds up magnificently upon reviewings, there is nothing like seeing it for the first time. I remember vividly how exciting it was to watch this in the lamentably demised Lincoln Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, having absolutely no idea how the film was going to end only five minutes before the closing credits. Who will Tracy marry? Will she marry? How will the film managed to tie up all the loose ends.
I have a list of my all time favorite lines from films. One of my favorites comes from this one. On the morning after Tracy has gotten rip-roaringly drunk, she has almost no memories of what happened, but what she does recall makes her fear that she might have been in a compromising situation with Jimmy Stewart. After Stewart assures the confused and fearful Tracy Lord that nothing happened because she was drunk and "there are rules about that sort of thing," the infinitely relieved Tracy says, "I think men are wonderful."
The film has managed to permeate our culture in subtle ways, from inspiring musical remakes, to providing famous adult movie stars with their names, to providing foundations for jokes (in the Rocky and Bullwinkle adventure "The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam," whenever Bullwinkle sees his jewel encrusted small boat, he mutters under his breath, "Yar, yar").
First of all, Grace Kelly is GORGEOUS. I don't think there's anyone like her today...the only person that approaches her in the looks department is Nicole Kidman, but Grace Kelly is much more natural to watch (prolly 'cause she's not fighting off an Australian accent while she's acting), more graceful, and more naturally beautiful.
Celeste Holm (who originated the role of Ado Annie -- singing "I Cain't Say No" -- in Oklahoma on Broadway, and who is still alive) and Frank Sinatra do a fantastic number with all the wedding gifts called "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" It is a wonderfully inventive number where they use the different pieces of wedding silverware to modify their voices and to create sounds and movement to punctuate the song. Pure movie musical magic.
As an aside, there's a big "hangover" scene near the end which makes me think "I'd hate to be hung over in the '50s"...all those tight dresses and formal clothes don't make a hangover look like much fun. Track pants are the only way to go if your head's on fire...
Great seat -- S2 -- the last row of the orchestra on the center aisle. The theater is so intimate that I felt incredibly close and the sightline was great. I really think that is part of the reason for the early demise ofThe Producers in Toronto. I saw it there on opening night and I was up in the nose bleed balcony of theCanon Theatre and you miss so much of the business and energy on stage. My new policy is, if you can't see the actors spit come out of their mouths, you're sitting too far back! Ideally, you can feel it too!
I loved the show! Richard and Roger were AWESOME. Richard Kind played Max Bialystock. He really harkened back to Zero Mostel's Max in the1968 movie. He had a nice combination of decrepitness and lovability. He was loud, brash and very commanding on stage. And great facial responses and business throughout the whole show -- he could really milk a moment.
Everyone knows I love Roger Bart. But really, he was great as Leo. His physical and vocal humor is great and his singing chops are perfect for the role. The two had a really nice energy between them as well. The blue blankie stuff was hilarious, not cloying and forced as it had been in Toronto.
There was one moment when Roger Bart almost lost it in the scene where he is quitting his clerking job and tries to hand over his visor. It was stuck, and he kept tugging at it. You could see the smile forming on his face. I love stuff like that. Also the scene in Roger Debris apartment when he is interacting with Carmen Ghia (played very campily by Brooks Ashmanskas) there was a neat positive energy between the two of them, since Roger Bart had been nominated for a Tony for the Carmen Ghia role!
And the little old ladies were fab!
The whole thing clocked in at almost three hours, but didn't feel long to me. Interestingly, they've cut the little dialogue bit that Roger Debris has during "Springtime for Hitler" when he is sitting on the stage a la Judy Garland. But they did do the tap challenge.
I just love this show. I know not everyone does but the music and lyrics are great and I've always had a soft spot for Mel Brooks' humor since my dad was a big fan. People say the reason it didn't run in Toronto, was that it is a "New York" show. I guess, but the audience (which was packed) appeared to be mostly tourists.
Did I mention I had a good time?
The musical adaptation of The Color Purple is winding up a summer workshop with its star La Chanze before its upcoming Broadway run this season.
Production spokespersons previously confirmed (May 3) to Playbill.com what a casting notice revealed -- a June 13-July 12 workshop was being held in New York City with a projected production on Broadway this fall.
The new musical based on the well known Alice Walker novel (which inspired the better-known film) made its world premiere at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in fall 2004 and is readying its New York debut. With a number of theatres now becoming available, an announcement regarding dates is expected shortly.
The story of "The Color Purple" centers on Celie, a woman who endures insurmountable hardships within her own family and struggles to find her identity and love. The production warns that it "contains adult situations."
Wow. Adult situations...I wonder if that means there will be a scene about
Celie going to the airport only to find her flight has been cancelled and she has to wait hours in line to re-book and then finds out she won't be able to fly home for two days 'cuz everything is booked. That's the situation this adult found herself in at La Guardia tonight!
Also, I can just imagine the Variety headlines:
If The Color Purple loses money: "The Color Purple is in the Red!"
If The Color Purple makes money: "The Color Purple is in the Black!"
Suzy Conn turns 29...yet again!
To quote the infamous Holly Banks"...and that's why I'll stay 29 'til I die..."
Here I am in New York City, working on my musical...is there a better way to spend your birthday? Well, I guess if my family were here it would be better, but it's pretty darn good! And my friend (and New York producer on Plane Crazy) just treated me to a lovely continental breakfast (which included two much-needed Americanos). Now it's off to Midtown for more meetings...
I'm in training for theLOTR musical!
I went to the TKTS line in New York on Friday in the blazing heat and sun and thankfully most of the tourists were absent, the smarter ones staying cool in theHershey Times Square store or Virgin Megastore. I was able to quickly score a ticket for Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Longacre Theatre on 48th.
The play stars Bill Irwin (who won a Tony for leading actor in a play) as George; Kathleen Turner (who was nominated for a Tony for leading actress in a play) as Martha; Mireille Enos as Honey; and David Harbour as Nick.
This was my first play that had three Acts with two 12-minute intermissions! Act 1 is "Fun and Games", Act 2 is "Walpurgisnacht" and Act 3 is "The Exorcism".
Wow was it ever long -- it started at 8 pm and ended at 11 pm (way past my bedtime...). I kept myself alert and awake by changing seats after each intermission until the last hour found me in the Second Mezzanine with a handful of other people (it was cooler up there for some reason) with my legs comfortably draped over the empty chair in front of me. Those New York theaters are a bit hard on long-legged knob-kneed gals like me!
Don't get me wrong -- I loved it! The whole cast was great. My favorite was Bill Irwin -- he has such great body language that he uses to define a character, and so many levels of intensity -- you are always working to see if he is being jolly, sarcastic, furious or whatever, as you would if you were meeting someone for the first time, as his guests in the play were. My second fav was Mireille Enos. Honey is the smallest role as the somewhat proper wife of Nick, who gets drunk on Brandy and spends a fair bit of time vomiting in the bathroom. My guess is it's a hard role to play (doing drunk realistically is never easy) and make an impression amidst Irwin and Turner, but she did.
Kathleen Turner was great, a real powerhouse. But I found she sort of blustered through at one level of intensity.
Although the play is long, it doesn't feel draggy. There is a lot of repetition in Albee's dialogue but it doesn't feel repetitive. Instead, it feels natural, the way people would actually talk to one another. Especially between the the old married couple George and Martha.
In the Playbill programme, Bill Irwin describes it this way:
Edward Albee is an alchemist. If his scripts were to show up without his name on them at a regional theatre, the dramaturg would probably say, "This is a talented guy, but we've got to get him to cut back." He repeats himself. But an alchemic magic happens. You feel it onstage. There's mundane back and forth language, and then it will elevate -- and then suddenly some storytelling revelation has taken place.
If you get the chance, go see Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf -- soon.
We'll be appearing atThe Beckett, which is located in Midtown as part of the Theatre Row complex on 42nd Street. It's a great theater, and it will be a great venue for Plane Crazy. The new Beckett Theater is located on the lower level of the Theatre Row complex. Housing 99 seats, this intimate space features fixed, plush seating as well as heat and air conditoning. Although it has the same name, this is not the same old Beckett Theater. This brand new, state-of-the-art theater has a wide stage and great sightlines in every part of the house.
Here are the details:
410 West 42nd Street
South side of West 42nd Street, between 9th & Dyer Avenues.
Directions: Closest subway: A, C, E to 42nd Street. Walk west on 42nd Street to the theatre.
Performance times are:
Thursday, September 15 at 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 17 at 4:30 pm and 8:00 pm
Wednesday, September 21 at 1:00 pm
Friday, September 23 at 4:30 pm
Sunday, September 25 at 1:00 pm
Tickets will go fast. Many of last year's shows sold out within days of the Festival's opening. In fact, Festival-wide, 85% of all tickets were sold! Since we expect Plane Crazy to sell out quickly, you might want to consider becoming a member of NYMF to guarantee a seat at Plane Crazy and all of your favorite shows.
When you become a member you will be the first to have access to NYMF '05 passes and tickets.
Passes will go on sale to members only on August 1st before being made available to the public on August 15th.
Individual tickets will go on sale September 1st.
Only members can take advantage of this opportunity so click here to join!
To read more about tickets to NYMF 2005, you can click here.
I've just had the pleasure of meeting (well not quite face-to-face yet) actress Leslie Becker.
Actually she's more like a quintuple threat -- writer, actress, singer, dancer, life coach...
Speaking with Leslie on the phone, I wasn't surprised to learn she wrote The Organized Actor, a best selling day/life planner for working actors. As Leslie says on her Web site:
It's hard to believe 10 years have passed since I pioneered the idea of a day planner for an actor. Little did I know back then, that my book would remain the #1 selling organizational tool for actors for all these years. As a working actress myself, It's been a dream of mine to have a site where actors can come to get resources, products and services for their acting career. OrganizedActor.com is the fulfillment of that vision!
Acting may be what I do. But inspiring others, and empowering them to achieve their dreams really pumps me up! It's never been enough for me to learn something for myself. I LOVE sharing what I've learned with others so that they can learn from the mistakes and pave their own path to success. I hope you'll use my products and services. I use them all myself to keep me organized and on top of my game. They can do the same for you while also inspiring and empowering you to take control of your career and to guide you on a path of career and life fulfillment! I hope you enjoy the site. Be sure to check back periodically as the site will continue to grow and grow. And don't forget to sign up for my FREE monthly newsletter Work IT! It's packed with great tips for workin' your acting career and your life!
Impressively, Leslie has been seen most recently on Broadway in Nine and she received critical acclaim for originating the role of The Queen in the new Broadway tour of Cinderella starring Eartha Kitt. She has also recently appeared as Mary Canty in the off-Broadway production of The Prince and the Pauper and as Meredith Parker in Bat Boy. She also starred in Private Lawrence, a one-woman play inspired by the life of Gertrude Lawrence in NYC. She’s also been featured in Hal Prince's Show Boat, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and as Mrs. Claus in the Radio City Christmas Show.
Now that's an organized actor!
A loyal Blogway Baby reader asked me to suggest some books on writing and producing musicals. There are a million books out there and lots of ways of going about writing new musicals, but I thought I'd give a sampler of some of the books I've read along the way.
First off, listen to as many cast recordings, read as many librettos, and see as many shows on stage as you possibly can. I am a firm believer in learning through osmosis. Learn what you like and what you don't like and why. That will help guide you when start writing.
Secondly, if possible, find someone with whom you can collaborate. I know I wrote the book/music/lyrics to Plane Crazy, but every book you pick up will tell you to avoid that at all costs. I agree. Musicals are collaborative by nature so you can't avoid it, so get a good relationship going early. Even if its just someone to give you pep talks now and then and talk you down off the ledge!
Thirdly, find a topic/story/idea (preferably original or in the public domain!) that you really care about and have a great depth of interest in. This is a long, long process and you can't afford to get sick of your own material early on!
Fourthly (fourthly?) get into a musical theater writing program. BMI holds one in New York, Theatre Building Chicago holds one in Chicago, and more and more colleges and universities are offering workshop writing programs. Educate yourself.
Finally, be prepared to write, write, and rewrite. 'Nuff said.
Here are some of my fav books (inspiring and educational) that I've read (and re-read) along the way:
The Making of Series: The Great Broadway Musicals (My Fair Lady, Gypsy,West Side Story, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls). These books by Keith Garebian are golden. Not only are they full of great insider anecdotes and hilarious stories, they also show you firsthand that musicals are an evolutionary art and "classics" don't happen overnight. As they say, plays with music go into rehearsal and musicals come out of rehearsal.
Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies by Ted Chain. This is about the making of Sondheim's Follies and is considered a must-read.
Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theatreby Tom Jones. This is by the lyricist/librettist of The Fantasticks, and is charming, funny, and very accessible for a beginner.
Also, Lehman Engel has a few on both writing and producing. Browse bookstores (Theatrebooks in Toronto is fab!), go online and just start reading! I always like to read as many as I can so I can start to see the similarities and universalities and weed out the personal biases or angles.
Most of all, enjoy what you are doing! Remember, "there ain't nothin' like a musical...nothin' in the world!"
Written by the original Annie team of Thomas Meehan (Book), Martin Charnin (Lyrics), and Charles Strouse (Music), Annie Warbucks opened July 6, 1993 and ran for 200 performances and 38 previews, all Off-Broadway. Although it wasn't the blockbuster of the originalAnnie which opened April 21, 1977 and ran for 2,377 performances, Annie Warbucks was favorably reviewed and has had a great second life in licensing because smaller regional theaters like to put Annie and Annie Warbucks on back-to-back, like an old-fashioned serial.
In the story, the action picks up right where Annie leaves off, when Child Welfare Commissioner Harriet Doyle arrives on the scene to inform Daddy Warbucks he must marry in sixty days so the newly adopted Annie can have a proper mother. In the end, Daddy Warbucks' whirlwind search for a fitting bride uncovers not only a plot by Doyle and her daughter to strip him of his fortune, but also his true feelings for Grace Farrell.
Full of peppy melodies, plenty of laughs, marvelous choreography, smart sets, bright lights and snappy costumes"
--The New York Times
"ANNIE WARBUCKS is an enormously entertaining evening!"
--The New York Daily News
"Surefire family fun! Charles Strouse's tunes are charmers. Well worth catching"
--New York Magazine
The production will be staged in late November at the Vaughn City Playhouse...stay tuned to Blogway Baby for dates and ticket information!
Well, the Ticket King of Broadway did not disappoint. We had incredible seats for the Saturday show of The Light in the Piazza. TheVivian Beaumont at Lincoln Center is such an intimate theater anyway, but being so close and central really was the icing on the cake.
The sets are breathtaking and really did deserve the Tonywin for Michael Yeargan. The costumes by Catherine Zuber were gorgeous too -- love the pumps!. Overall I'm glad I saw it. The whole production makes you fell you are in Florence in 1953, you really do feel the romance.
The cast is amazing. Such beautiful voices, such effortless, glorious sounds. Victoria Clark is great and did deserve the Tony. But the whole supporting cast is amazing. Kelly O'Hara as the daughter is wonderful. I heard that in the out of town tryout that Celia Keenan-Bolger (who was nominated for Spelling Bee) was the original daughter but was dropped before they came to New York because she didn't have the Broadway look! Pretty interesting that they were both nominated in the same category!
Matthew Morrison was a great lovesick passionate Italian puppy. Michael Berresse (who plays his brother) who I saw in Kiss Me Kate and who directedTitle of Show in NYMF last year was great, although I would have liked to see him do more. And Mark Harelik who plays Fabrizio's father was superb. I recognized him from Will and Grace where he plays Jack's boss at the gay TV network!
The book was charming and a lot funnier than I expected, although it got a bit weighted down in the Second Act. There was one weird departure of tone that came when the mother of Fabrizio (played by Patti Cohenour) breaks the fourth wall and translates the Italian "because I thought you should know what was going on". It was comic schtick that belonged in a musical likeDirty Rotten Scoundrels, not The Light in the Piazza, and was totally unnecessary. Victoria Clark narrates the story, but that works because you feel like she is writing in a diary and it is done with a tone consistent with the whole production.
I can honestly say I didn't love the music. It felt like wallpaper without strong melody, almost like movie scoring. It wasn't unpleasant, but I didn't connect with the show at a visceral level and so I haven't any great desire to see it again. It's interesting that Adam Guettel's style is such a departure from his mother's style (Mary Rodgers wrote Once Upon a Mattress and The Mad Show) and his grandfather's style (Richard Rodgers who wrote (duh!) Sound of Music, The King and I, Oklahoma, and many other classics!)
"Odd Couple" may sell entire run to AmEx cardholders
If you don't have an American Express credit card, you might not be able to see "The Odd Couple" on Broadway starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.
Earlier this week, pre-sale tickets for the show were made available for American Express cardholders, but "none" were held back for the general public, a spokesperson for the production told NewYorkology Travel.
Broderick and Lane were the stars of Mel Brooks' blockbuster "The Producers" when it opened on Broadway in 2001. A massive hit, tickets were almost impossible to buy. But still, the frothy anticipation was was nothing like this.
Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" was originally staged in 1965 with Art Carney as uptight nearly divorced Felix Unger and Walter Matthau as his roommate Oscar Madison the sloppy sports writer. Matthau won a Tony for his role, as did Simon, scenic designer Oliver Smith and director Mike Nichols, (who won another Tony a week ago for "Monty Python's Spamalot.")
The show, scheduled to begin previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on Oct. 4, has already sold $11 million worth of tickets. The tickets now on sale are for performances through Feb. 5, 2006 only. Some of those tickets are still available through Ticketmaster (212-307-4100) but if you're looking for a pair in the orchestra section, you're already too late; there are only singles remaining.
On June 20 at 10 a.m., a new batch of tickets will go on sale -- for performances from Feb. 7, to April 2, 2006. Lane's and Broderick's contracts run through April 2, the spokesperson said.
After all that, if there are tickets remaining, the general public will be able to buy them starting July 5.
When those tickets are gone, cancellations and standing-room-only tickets will be among the remaining options. The spokesperson for the show said it's "more than likely" that SRO tickets will be available for "The Odd Couple." At the Brooks Atkinson Theatre today -- where Hal Holbrook is starring in "Mark Twain Tonight" -- the gentleman at the box office said the theater usually makes about 20 SRO tickets available for each performance. Also, see Playbill's guide to standing-room-only tickets.
The schedule and prices for "The Odd Couple" are available at Ticketmaster. Orchestra and front mezzanine seats are going for $100 each while rear mezzanine seats are $60.
But with demand this high, you shouldn't be surprised that the tickets are already on eBay -- and bidders are driving up the prices. A pair in the orchestra, row J for Jan 29, is now going for $355; a pair in the mezzanine for Oct. 5th for $260; or how about a pair front-row center for $1,048 -- on Nov. 25, right after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Another route is through a broker where a pair in the orchestra during reviews will set you back about $600.
Thanks Amy! And NewYorkology is a great site! It was really helpful for quick info on today's Puerto Rican Day Parade (I need to cross Fifth to get to see Captain Louie, which I've talked about in this previous post) because, of course, my concierge knew nothing...
From this article in Playbill, four of the season's 11 new Broadway musicals were scored by songwriters making their Broadway debuts. It is so great to see new writers being welcomed on Broadway. As a writer myself (Plane Crazy) it holds out great hope that there is room for new voices and new styles.
My favorite line comes from Eric Idle, co-author of Spamalot, who describes the musical's success as follows: "It was a process, not a miracle," Idle says of the show's evolution. "Every day you move a little pebble."
How true that is...
"The Song That Goes Like This" may be delighting Spamalot audiences, but its songwriters, Eric Idle and John DuPrez, are actually part of something which, for champions of the musical theatre, is even more joyous. Four of the season's 11 new Broadway musicals were scored by songwriters making their Broadway debuts; seven songwriters in all. Joining Idle and DuPrez are Jason Howland and Mindi Dickstein of the recently closed Little Women, Barri McPherson and Mark Schoenfeld of Brooklyn, and 2005 Tony Award winner Adam Guettel of The Light in the Piazza.
Two other shows are second efforts, and a further two are musicals compiled from pop songbooks, also representing a kind of Broadway debut.
Here are the stories of the first-timers' creative collaborations, and their first taste of being produced on Broadway.
Music by Jason Howland
Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein
Akin to his Broadway debut, Jason Howland's first musical score was adapting a classic. "In the eighth grade," he said, smiling. "Jack & the Beanstalk." The first song? "Jackie Can You Hear Me?," Howland says, laughing, "...in the key of F."
And while Mindi Dickstein wouldn't begin writing lyrics until adulthood, "I wrote my first play in the fourth grade," she proudly declares, "The Case of the Missing Jewels."
Joking aside, Howland and Dickstein's early works actually illustrate a dramaturgical instinct each brought to their five years composing Little Women -- a dedication to character and narrative drive. "It's all about telling a great story," Howland insists, "while fully integrating it with music. That's at the heart of the experience which I gained as a music director on Broadway for ten years."
In fact, Howland says his role as conductor and/or musical director of Jekyll & Hyde, Les Misérables and Taboo, among others, was invaluable to understanding how to make Louisa May Alcott's novel sing. For Dickstein, who received her MFA from NYU's Musical Theater Writing Program, collaborating with Howland was "a joyous journey." Further finessing Dickstein's abilities as a lyricist was the show's exceptional cast. "Having people like Maureen McGovern and Sutton Foster -- with these incredible voices -- didn't change the nature of what we were writing, but it certainly made it more specific."
Speaking of specific, Dickstein admits one of her favorite moments of the Little Women experience occurred on opening night. "I was sitting in the fifth row center, and Sutton is singing 'Astonishing.' And suddenly I hear my mother's voice -- who'd first heard the song at a reading and told me afterwards, 'it's you at 16!' -- and I just started bawling. Cause here was this wonderful actress singing this song I wrote that expressed the essence of who I was at that age. And I thought, here I am now, a grown-up person -- realizing that dream."
BROOKLYN, THE MUSICAL
Music and Lyrics by Mark Schoenfeld & Barri McPherson
After years of pitching a film concept of "Brooklyn to Hollywood," creators Mark Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson found themselves broke, bitter and back on the streets of New York. Soothing their Tinseltown wounds, the duo sat in Central Park, boom box in tow, singing Brooklyn's songs to passersby. Like a showbiz fairy tale, one of those who stopped was an aspiring theatre producer. "Scott Prisand heard us there," recalls McPherson, referring to the man who'd eventually become one of Brooklyn's lead producers. "He said, this is a Broadway musical!"
Confessing that "my dream was to write and sing in any genre I could find," the willowy McPherson says, "where ever it took me, I was willing to go." Via Prisand, it took the team -- who'd been writing partners since 1991 -- to "the best thing in the world that could've happened to us," she says: Jeff Calhoun.
Forever grateful to the director/choreographer's guidance, Schoenfeld describes their segue from street singers to Broadway composers. "Jeff would mold what he saw as the lyric of the song, and John McDaniel was excellent with the arrangements because he knew what was right for Broadway. Now that we're here," Schoenfeld chuckles, "we don't want to leave!" And despite a birth-by-fire reception from critics, the duo agree they'd do it again in a second. "The riches you get out of Broadway," Schoenfeld says, "is when people come over to you at the end of the show. They get its humanity, its spirituality. That's the currency Barri and I go home with. It's the greatest part of the whole process. I can't even imagine why other writers are not in the theatre enjoying that!"
THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
"I had a love song that had no title," says Adam Guettel of a composition he'd written for his best friend's wedding in the late nineties. "And that music just kept circling around me. I knew I wanted to write more music that could express the sound of being in love -- and of losing love, which is pretty much the same sound. So I started looking for a vessel for a love story, and came upon The Light in the Piazza."
Based on the same-titled 1959 novella by Elizabeth Spencer, the lushly romantic musical still holds the seed of Guettel's original inspiration, as the show's title song is the music from that wedding composition. Five years, three book writers, two workshops and two regional productions later, Piazza opened at Lincoln Center this spring. "And we're very lucky to be here," says the Yale graduate of his show's producing organization. After good reviews at the Goodman, Guettel recalls a slew of New York producers "came flooding into Chicago saying, 'We should take this to Broadway!' And I thought, 'Wow, wouldn't that be wonderful?' Interestingly," he says with a sly laugh, "they all sort of dropped away. But Lincoln Center pulled through."
Like with Guettel's 1996 break-out musical Floyd Collins at Playwrights Horizons, "because of the way you get threaded through the process at a not-for-profit," says the composer of his experience with developing Piazza, "it's so much more wholesome for the storytelling, for the growth of the score -- you're really able to maintain its singularity, its signature, its thumbprint. You're not always being asked to amp everything up, 'Bigger! Faster! Funnier!'"
As for making his Broadway debut, Guettel says, "in the most excited and positive way," he laughs, "I'm freaking out. I guess because, for my entire adult life, it's something I've hoped to achieve. And so I'm not able to forget, in a titular sense, that I have achieved that goal."
Guettel also has family history to help him through. His mother, composer Mary Rodgers, made her Broadway debut with Once Upon a Mattress in 1959, and his grandfather, Richard Rodgers, took his first Broadway bow with Poor Little Ritz Girl in 1920.
MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT
Lyrics by Eric Idle
Music by Eric Idle & John Du Prez
"There's no solid set piece," says Eric Idle of his manner of collaboration with John Du Prez. "We've worked together so long we can do just about anything." Indeed, since meeting on the 1978 movie "Monty Python's Life With Brian," their talents have fueled more than two decades worth of Python films, TV programs, LPs and live concert shows. Was Broadway inevitable? "It was a process, not a miracle," Idle says of the show's evolution. "Every day you move a little pebble."
Three years, 12 drafts and 40 songs later, Idle says he believes their ability to straddle the cult material with the musical theatre structure rested in the score. "If you've got a wasp-ish lyric," Idle explains, "and you put a wonderful melody to it, you've got two things happening at once: The sentiment and the sentiment being mocked at the same time." In short, he says, "you get to an emotion, while taking all the laughs en route."
The latter, says Du Prez, is what differentiates their work from the satires of Gerald Alessandrini. "To set the record straight," Du Prez says, "I had never seen or heard of Forbidden Broadway until it appeared in the [pre-Broadway] Chicago reviews in December 2004. I had to ask what it was. Please note that Python has been spoofing songs since at least 1969."
Meanwhile, both Du Prez and Idle are honored to be making their Broadway songwriting debuts. "One of my proudest moments," Du Prez recalls, "was when the doorman of my hotel said, 'Thank you for coming to Broadway, we need good new work to keep us employed!'"
As for writing another show -- or perhaps performing in one, as Idle has done on tour -- "I'd love to," Idle admits. "But since Spamalot kept me on the road the past six months, I can't be absentee-dad any more. There's no total rush," Idle ponders, with a laugh. "'Cause the great thing about Broadway is you can be older on it."
With 11 new musicals having opened on Broadway in the 2004-05 season, it has been a boom year for the art form. Of course, any time new works are offered by Stephen Sondheim, Frank Wildhorn and William Finn there is reason for excitement. Also extremely welcome back are David Yazbek, making a timely return with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels after his Tony-nominated debut four years ago with The Full Monty, alongside the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang brothers, Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman -- whose previous Broadway score premiered in the Tony-nominated 1974 musical, Over Here!. Add to the mix a couple of Top-40 songbook shows featuring tunes made famous by The Beach Boys and "The King," and -- as Fats Waller once said -- this joint is jumpin'.
I must admit I was a bit tentative about seeingDirty Rotten Scoundrels. The movie starringMichael Caine and Steve Martin has become a standard around our house, and Ruprecht is often quoted around our table.
I am happy to report I had an extremely enjoyable evening and left the theater humming (not hummer, humming) the last song "Dirty Rotten Number" which is the acid test for me. Finally a song I'd like to get up on stage and perform! I've found a lot of new shows have pleasant enough, but forgettable scores. But nothing that touches the performer in me and makes me want to BE in that number (Sweet Charity of course is filthy with them...) Not every number in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was wildly memorable, but every number was fun.
I kinda felt it as soon as the orchestra started playing. The spirt of the piece said classic musical comedy, which I also like. So when they did break the fourth wall now and then it didn't bother me, because it didn't feel like the whole piece was one giant "nudge nudge, wink wink" parody. I even liked the "Great Big Stuff" pseudo rap number that Norbert does (and does really well!) despite my best intentions to hate it! The "Love Is My Legs" number (a big audience fav) almost crossed the line for me though, since it is a parody of a big Celine Dion ballad, but it managed to stay on my good side. Maybe because Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott are such fabulous performers and they do it with such heart.
John Lithgow, although not a great singer, has amazing charisma and is a joy just to watch, even "if he were reading the phone book", as they say.
The book was very close to the movie and very funny and moved along nicely. They did a nice job of embellishing Muriel Eubanks of Omaha's role for Joanna Gleason and the police chief's role for Gregory Jbara. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, I won't give away the ending!
The set design was wonderful as was the staging. When it's just John and Norbert on a bare stage in lounge chairs at the end singing the "Dirty Rotten" number it worked so beautifully.
The girls wanted t-shirts and I want to go out and buy the CD, and those are both good signs too.
There's a new man in my life: "The Ticket King of Broadway". He's opening my eyes to all sorts of new experiences -- cheap ticket buying experiences, that is...
Quite frankly, Broadway tickets have been a bit of a mystery to me over the years. Here's what I've learned from the "King":
1. You've gotta follow the release of house tickets like the stock market;
2. Wait for house tickets to be released, then book them instantly;
3. Use discount codes from "Broadway Box" to get the best price on tickets; and
4. Buy the tickets at the theater to avoid service charges.
Now, can the "Ticket King of Broadway" get me closing night tickets to La Cage Aux Folles? Inquiring minds want to know...
For years, New York's "I can get it for you wholesale" boast rarely applied to Broadway theater tickets. Apart from a few longstanding discount options, an out-of-towner's chances of scoring an orchestra seat at balcony prices were about as slim as a chorus girl's waistline.
But the Internet, helped by a floundering economy, a post-Sept. 11 tourism slump and a growing reluctance to plan vacations months in advance, is fueling a greater reliance on the airline model of demand-driven pricing -- and a growing number of theater discount sites aimed largely at bargain-hunting travelers...
The traditional, and most popular, way to nab a Broadway or off- Broadway discount is still by standing in line for a same-day show at one of New York's two TKTS booths, located at Times Square and South Street Seaport (which also offers matinee tickets for next- day performances). Operated by the non-profit Theatre Development Fund, the 30-year-old TKTS program sells seats at 25% or 50% off face value, plus a $3 per-ticket service charge.
But the hassle factor can be formidable. Payment is by cash or traveler's checks only, and the average wait ranges from 15 to 30 minutes but can often stretch more than an hour. Theatergoers intent on seeing a specific show may be disappointed: As the Theatre Development Fund's Web site notes, "changes in availability can occur on an hourly basis as cooperating theatres supply or withdraw tickets, depending on box office demand."...
By contrast, travelers who want to nail down a show before they leave home can browse among more than a dozen Internet sites that supply coveted discount codes -- theater-issued deals of 25% to 50% off.
Armed with the codes (typically a combination of letters and numbers), they can then buy through Telecharge or Ticketmaster, or at the theater box office when they arrive, thus avoiding service fees and handling charges when purchasing online or by phone...
Among those generating the biggest buzz is BroadwayBox.com, a reader-driven effort that collects and posts advance-purchase discount codes of up to 50%. This week, the site listed 22 discounted Broadway shows and 22 off-Broadway shows, from Mamma Mia! (tickets for $75 at select performances in September, down from $98.75) to Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Celebration ($20 or $32 per seat through October, vs. a published price of $55 to $57.50).
Yeth, of courth!
I saw Spelling Bee just before the Tonys and I had a B-L-A-S-T! With Book byRachel Sheinkin (who won the Tony!) and music and lyrics by William Finn,Spelling Bee has made an extemely successful transfer to Broadway.
Spelling Bee is playing in the Circle in the Square theater (right next to the Gershwinwhere Wicked is playing). You actually go downstairs to get into the theater, and the whole lobby and inside of the theater are decorated like a school gymnasium, with handmade signs -- very charming.
There is even a registration area for "new spellers". That's where you can apply to be one of the audience participants (if you get there early enough, which we didn't, but will make sure we do next time or else my daughters won't speak to me again). About 10 minutes before show time they come out and announce the four names who will be coming up on stage. Disappointed spellers get a piece of free wacky taffy as consolation!
We were seated in the floor section, which is right in the middle of the action. They aren't tiered seats, so if you go with small kids (which you may or may not want to do after listening to the soundtrack...) it might be hard to see. All the tiered seats have a good view. But the cast was singing right at us, they were running around us (lots of stuff takes place in the aisles and at the back -- as one of their songs says "Life is Pandemonium"), imparting a wonderful feeling of organized chaos.
The book is frikkin' hilarious and very clever and James Lapine's direction is fab. This book evolved with many contributors and was based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E, an original play by The Farm. I understand that the actors brought their specific characters (already named in some cases) to the project. They all have such specific "ticks" and characteristics that you can't really separate them from the book. My favs were Wiliam Barfee (rhymes with parfait, for heaven's sake!) and Leaf Coneybear. I won't divulge their specifics since the joy of discovering the characters is part of the joy of the evening. The actors themselves are fabulous and so very appealing The audience even gave a spontaneous "ahhh, too bad" sound when one of the contestants lost.
The construct of having the words defined and then used in a sentence guaranteed you laughed every minute of the show's 1 hour and forty five minute (no intermission) running time. Although I do remember seeing a similar bit on the Will and Grace show when Jack is at the gay spelling bee! Hmm...
I was suspicious of the audience volunteer bit, but it does work without being too cutesy...
One of the things I liked the most was the way the kids would be up at the mic getting ready to spell and then they would flash back to a family/home moment, with the other spellers taking on new roles (say, of a father or a mother). It was seemless, and crystal clear.
The music is fine, but not wildly memorable. My two fav numbers are "Life Is Pandemonium" and the "Goodbye" chorus that is sung whenever someone is kicked out of the Bee.
It was a fun, refreshing evening of theater and we all left smiling. Moreover,Spelling Bee was my youngest daughter's pick for best musical. It didn't win, but at least Dan Fogler won for best featured performer.
Antihistamine -- luck of the draw!
I was taking a little walk down Memory Lane last night, and I ran across this great shot of a Plane Crazy poster in Times Square, circa 1965. How cool is that? I especially enjoyed the floods on the guy in the foreground of the picture...
In other Plane Crazy news, things are moving rapidly toward the NYMF 2005 staging. We're close on a Director, and lots of other pieces are falling into place.
The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) has a new Web site, which is a lot more elaborate than last year. Check it out!
Here's the latest press release on Plane Crazy:
The swinging 1960s Jet Age returns to New York: "Plane Crazy" to debut at World's Premier Musical Theatre Festival
Out of more than 400 submissions, Suzy Conn's "Plane Crazy" is among 18 jury-selected musicals chosen for the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival
May 24, 2005
"Plane Crazy", a musical comedy about the emergence of feminism set against the glamour and sex appeal of the swinging '60s Jet Age (http://planecrazythemusical.com), has been accepted into the Next Link Project at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (http://nymf.org).
"Plane Crazy" is set during an explosive time in history: The intersection of the dawn of the Jet Age; the introduction of the Pill; the genesis of the modern Women's Movement; and the Golden Age of Advertising.
"Plane Crazy" explores these clashing values in an engaging story that follows two young stews who are learning about love and life in the high-flying airline business circa 1965: A time "When Stews Were Sexy and the World Was SexistTM".
"Plane Crazy" has been reviewed as:
"...it was fantastic: funny, catchy, engrossing, with a really authentic sixties-kitsch feel: like Hair at 30,000 feet, with seasonings of Jesus Christ Superstar and Germaine Greer."
-- Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing.net
Suzy Conn, author (Book/Music/Lyrics), says, "My favorite shows have always had some innately non-commercial element, and I think that all theater needs that element of uniqueness for it to be commercial. With "Plane Crazy", I'm talking about feminism, which sounds like a real drag, but I've done it in a really fun, sexy way that will be entertaining for everyone. This is part of what makes the show different, and really worth seeing."
Suzy also outlined her personal goal for theater: "I want to make going to the theater groovy again, and write shows that seem retro, but are relevant to today. I'm happy with where I ended up with "Plane Crazy" because I feel that I've been able to accomplish that goal."
Suzy divides her time between New York and Chicago, where she is enrolled in the Theatre Building Chicago Musical Theatre Writer's Workshop.
Suzy is also the editor of Blogway Baby (http://blogwaybaby.com), one of the leading blogs on the Broadway scene.
"Plane Crazy" will be produced in late September, in New York, as part of the Festival.
The Producer for "Plane Crazy" at NYMF 2005 is Michael Rubinoff (email@example.com), and the Associate Producer is Kendra Bator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
According to the NYMF press release:
The New York Musical Theatre Festival has announced the 18 jury-selected musicals that will be part of the Next Link Project of the fest, to be held Sept. 12-Oct. 2 in midtown Manhattan.
After reviewing almost 400 scripts -- nearly double last year's submissions -- the NYMF selection committee has chosen a fresh, diverse collection of 18 new musicals to be presented September 12 - October 2, 2005 in Manhattan's Theatre District, alongside more than 100 invited shows, concerts, and other special events still to be announced.
Our jury included Rob Ashford (Tony winning Choreographer for THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE), Thomas Cott (former Artistic Director of Musical Theater Works), Joanna Gleason (Tony winner for INTO THE WOODS, Tony nominated for DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS), Kevin McCollum (Producer of AVENUE Q and RENT), Susan H. Schulman (Director of LITTLE WOMEN, THE SECRET GARDEN and THE SOUND OF MUSIC), and Jack Viertel (Jujamcyn Theaters Creative Director, Encores! Artistic Director).
Last year more than 20% of the shows were optioned for commercial productions - including ALTAR BOYZ (2005 Outer Critics Circle Award) and Stephen Schwartz's CAPTAIN LOUIE (currently at the York Theater), as well as the forthcoming commercial productions of TITLE OF SHOW, SHOUT!, and THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL -- an incredible record for a first year! Keep your eye on this year's crop to see the best and brightest new musicals.
Glad you asked.
My daughter Myrna is involved withCamp Broadway. Last year she spent a week at Camp Broadway taking dance, singing, and acting classes in the heart of the theater district and getting backstage looks at the workings of musicals such as Wickedand Fiddler on the Roof (how cool is that...).
Every year Camp Broadway runs a great Tony Master Class weekend. Sunday started with a two-hour dance class where they study the different dance styles from nominated shows (dancing like the Cagelles from La Cage Aux Folles, like Fosse fromSweet Charity, or hoofing it fromSpamalot). Then it's back to the hotel to get glammed up for the mocktail party at Alfredo's of Rome at Rockefeller Center.
Myrna looked amazing in a brand new pink dress from Camari, with black crinoline and two little black bows (very Sarah Jessica Parker, very New York). She wore sparkling little sandals and looked gorgeous. They had a group of about 20 kids at Alfredo's all dressed up, all very excited to be going to the Tonys. They offered a limited number of tickets to the parents -- so motherhood paid off big time and I got a ticket to the Tonys as well!
Even the tickets are classy -- all silver and black and glossy -- not yer average theater ticket, my friend. And it does say black tie only!
So my husband took Myrna over in style, in a pedicab, at 4:30pm while I started to get ready (the parents don't get dinner -- just the kids). I wore my best fancy black gown with my black pumps and sparkly black handbag. The best part of meeting the kids at 6:30pm is all the tourists looking at you, trying to figure out if you are somebody famous!
We filed in (squished in, really) to Radio City, opening our handbags to security. Once inside my daughter spied the I LOVE HUGH (I HUGH) t-shirts for sale. We went up to the second mezzanine where we bought one of those t-shirts and got our program. They are special bound versions -- one ticket, one program. We tentatively went to our seats and discovered all of Camp Broadway was front row second balcony -- w00t! Awesome seats! And there were two very large TV screens on either side of the stage. Myrna went nuts with excitement.
The beginning of the untelevised portion of the show was already in progress as we took out seats. Immediately we went on "celebrity watch" with our binoculars, scoping out famous people in the orchestra. Myrna "eagle-eye" Conn found Marcia Cross sitting in the front row and we followed her every move the whole night (stalkers anyone?). It was so much fun picking out the celebs -- including Kathleen Turner, Billy Crystal, and Matthew Broderick.
Then it started!! Of course the bit between Billy Crystal and Hugh Jackmanwas hilarious. We furiously passed the binoculars back and forth the whole night. The sound was awesome. Hugh sounded amazing in his opening number. The live numbers from the musicals were great, lots of energy and electricity. And of course nothing was bleeped out, so we were able to hear the lyrics "Hummer in my Hummer" sung by Norbert Leo Butz!
During commercials Hugh Jackman would come out and chat with the audience, occasionally bringing a seat filler or crazed audience member up on stage for some schtick. That man is so damned charming! Also, they played video bits (a la Letterman) after every show performance where a Tony reporter would be out on the streets of Manhattan asking questions (after Dirty Rotten, the intrepid reporter asked people what they thought of Norbert Leo Butz's name, and how would they rearrange the letters to come up with a new name!).
I thought it was an interesting choice to sing "Somewhere" from West Side Story to honor Sondheim's 75th...didn't it always bug him that he was only asked to do lyrics and not music as well on that project? And thank God he wasn't?
Myrna and I screamed and hooted and then hooted and screamed. And then we did it again, even louder. And then we got up and shook our respective booties! What a night! And I've already told you in another post about how Hugh Jackman confessed his love for Myrna.
It was kind of cool sitting up high. We could see the "Christina Applegate" stunt woman fall onto a mattress and then watch the real Christina crawl out of the pit.
Walking out after it was over we rubbed elbows with Celia Keenan-Bolger ofSpelling Bee and Adam Guettel who had won for Light in the Piazza (Myrna thought it was supremely cool that he was not only the grandson of Richard Rodgers, but the son of Mary Rodgers who had written the music for The Mad Show!)
Of course we took a pedicab home, pointing out all the celebrities and producers as we drove by, so elegantly outfitted in our Sunday finest.
It was an honor just to be there!
OK, that's enough on the Tonys...for now...
Back to my latest favorite obsession:My Fur Lady. I now have a couple of albums whisking my way, I can't wait to hear it and give everyone my feedback. I'm also looking forward to re-aquainting myself with my turntable...I hope it still remembers how to turn!
Well, I'm still flying high from the Tony Awards last night...although I'm crushed that Sweet Charitydidn't win anything: They was robbed! In fact, having seen bothLa Cage and Sweet Charity, I would respectfully submit that the Tony voters made a mistake:Charity was a much stronger show.
Anyway, I've got a ton of things to report on last night's festivities, but let me start with a round-up of the winners and nominees:
So here's a quick look at the nominees and winners of the 2005 Tony Awards, which were presented June 5 at Radio City Musical Hall in New York City.
Winners below are indicated by boldface type and an asterisk:
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
The Light in the Piazza
*Monty Python's Spamalot
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Gem of the Ocean
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Hank Azaria, Monty Python's Spamalot
Gary Beach, La Cage aux Folles
*Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Tim Curry, Monty Python's Spamalot
John Lithgow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Christina Applegate, Sweet Charity
*Victoria Clark, The Light in the Piazza
Erin Dilly, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Sutton Foster, Little Women
Sherie Rene Scott, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
*Cherry Jones, Doubt
Laura Linney, Sight Unseen
Mary-Louise Parker, Reckless
Phylicia Rashad, Gem of the Ocean
Kathleen Turner, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A LEADING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Philip Bosco, Twelve Angry Men
Billy Crudup, The Pillowman
*Bill Irwin, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
James Earl Jones, On Golden Pond
Brían F. O'Byrne, Doubt
BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY
Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
*Glengarry Glen Ross
On Golden Pond
Twelve Angry Men
BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL
*La Cage aux Folles
BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL
James Lapine, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
*Mike Nichols, Monty Python's Spamalot
Jack O'Brien, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Bartlett Sher, The Light in the Piazza
BEST THEATRICAL EVENT
Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance!
Whoopi, the 20th Anniversary Show
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
*Dan Fogler, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Marc Kudisch, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Michael McGrath, Monty Python's Spamalot
Matthew Morrison, The Light in the Piazza
Christopher Sieber, Monty Python's Spamalot
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Joanna Gleason, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Celia Keenan-Bolger, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Jan Maxwell, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Kelli O'Hara, The Light in the Piazza
*Sara Ramirez, Monty Python's Spamalot
BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY
John Crowley, The Pillowman
Scott Ellis, Twelve Angry Men
*Doug Hughes, Doubt
Joe Mantello, Glengarry Glen Ross
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek
*The Light in the Piazza
Music & Lyrics: Adam Guettel
Monty Python's Spamalot
Music: John Du Prez and Eric Idle; Lyrics: Eric Idle
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music & Lyrics: William Finn
Wayne Cilento, Sweet Charity
Jerry Mitchell, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
*Jerry Mitchell, La Cage aux Folles
Casey Nicholaw, Monty Python's Spamalot
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL
Jeffrey Lane, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Craig Lucas, The Light in the Piazza
Eric Idle, Monty Python's Spamalot
*Rachel Sheinkin, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Mireille Enos, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Heather Goldenhersh, Doubt
Dana Ivey, The Rivals
*Adriane Lenox, Doubt
Amy Ryan, A Streetcar Named Desire
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Alan Alda, Glengarry Glen Ross
Gordon Clapp, Glengarry Glen Ross
David Harbour, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
*Liev Schreiber, Glengarry Glen Ross
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Pillowman
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, Monty Python's Spamalot
Rumi Matsui, Pacific Overtures
Anthony Ward, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
*Michael Yeargan, The Light in the Piazza
BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY
John Lee Beatty, Doubt
David Gallo, Gem of the Ocean
Santo Loquasto, Glengarry Glen Ross
*Scott Pask, The Pillowman
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY
Pat Collins, Doubt
Donald Holder, Gem of the Ocean
Donald Holder, A Streetcar Named Desire
*Brian MacDevitt, The Pillowman
BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
*Christopher Akerlind, The Light in the Piazza
Mark Henderson, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Kenneth Posner, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Hugh Vanstone, Monty Python's Spamalot
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY
*Jess Goldstein, The Rivals
Jane Greenwood, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
William Ivey Long, A Streetcar Named Desire
Constanza Romero, Gem of the Ocean
BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL
Tim Hatley, Monty Python's Spamalot
Junko Koshino, Pacific Overtures
William Ivey Long, La Cage aux Folles
*Catherine Zuber, The Light in the Piazza
Larry Hochman, Monty Python's Spamalot
*Ted Sperling, Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin, The Light in the Piazza
Jonathan Tunick, Pacific Overtures
Harold Wheeler, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
SPECIAL TONY AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE
REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD
Theatre de la Jeune Lune
The total number of awards received by each production:Monty Python's Spamalot - 3
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - 1
The Light in the Piazza - 6
Doubt - 4
Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - 1
Glengarry Glen Ross - 2
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - 2
The Pillowman - 2
La Cage aux Folles - 2
The Rivals - 1
700 Sundays - 1
I love reading about the behind the scenes stuff of Broadway andthis article onPlaybill talks about performers first auditions. It's very heartening to know famous stars had less-than-illustrious first auditions!
My first high school audition for a leading role was greeted the comment: "Are you sure you don't want to try out for the chorus? You're such an animated chorus member. We really need you there..."
My first university audition (for Gladys Hotchkiss in The Pajama Game) went much better. Wearing my Commerce 86 jacket I overacted and undersang my way through "Adelaide's Lament" for the director (Michael Stotts) and the choreographer (David Ivey). I even brought a book (a prop!) to read from. They smiled and applauded -- bless their hearts. And I got the part.
Gary Beach, the drag-diva old-married of La Cage aux Folles, drove up from school in North Carolina in the late '60s for his first audition when he read that Lincoln Center was reviving Oklahoma! "I walked into a cattle call and waited around for hours. Finally I had to use the facility so I went to the men's room. I was standing at the urinal whistling, for some strange reason, 'Pore Jud Is Daid,' and I looked to my left and there was Richard Rodgers staring me in the face, like, 'Have you lost your mind?' Needless to say, I didn't get into the show. My fate, you could say, was met there at the urinal at Lincoln Center."