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WICKED RETURNS HOME MUCH MORE GROUNDED AFTER 10 YEARS

Posted by: Showbiz Chicago (November 6, 2013)

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Alison Luff and Jenn Gambatese  (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Alison Luff and Jenn Gambatese Photo by Joan Marcus)

It has been ten years since Wicked parked itself at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, and from almost the moment the Time Dragon clock starting counting box office receipts, the juggernaut has done over a million dollars a week and shows no signs of any decline.  After a three year run in Chicago (and two tours later) Wicked returns to is other home, the Oriental Theatre.

 

Not to have any bias, but architecturally, the Oriental seems to have been built forWicked, more so than any other theatre the show may play.

After ten years of continual play (this marks my 22nd time seeing the show), many lesser musicals would begin to show some wear and tear.  Not so with Wicked, which is adapted from the novel by Gregory Maquire with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman.  In fact the cast of this national tour, which skewers to the younger side, gives us performances that are always of the moment and and notwithstanding the fantasy element, ring very true.

Wicked is billed as the “untold story of the Witches of Oz”.  But it is so much more.  Wicked stands for the notion that what we are taught to be the truth, the black and white of a matter, is always scattered with matters of gray.  It is filled with life lessons for both young and old told with iconic characters that have been part of our social demographic for almost 80 years.

Curt Hansen as Fiyero (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Curt Hansen as Fiyero (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Alison Luff brings down the house as Elphaba, the phosphorescent academic whose tragic childhood leaves gives her a outlook on life that will end up changing way Oz is governed.  Ms. Luff is at all time connected with the piece which in turn makes her fellow actors all the more connected because of her performance.   Her first act closer, ‘Defying Gravity’, not only is a show stopper, but becomes almost menacing, which is the original intent of the song, and the first time I have seen it delivered as it was meant to be.

Jenn Gambatese’s Glinda, though a bit over the top sometimes, is a perfect foil/friend for Ms. Luff’s Elphaba.  The two have a great on stage chemistry where the friendship is real and never forced. Moreover, vocally, the duets these ladies have  blend beautifully together.   There was not a dry eye in the house after their parting song ‘For Good’.

The entire cast of this Wicked know how to sell a song, with many of cast as strong if not stronger then their current New York counterparts.  Curt Hansen gives us a much more rounded Fiyero then is actually penned; Emmy Award winner Kim Zimmer is again connected character wise more than most who have donned the wig prior.  In fact it is the first time I have seen a Madame Morrible as engaged during “Thank Goodness”.    Television (and stage) icon John Davidson, who I last saw on tour in State Fair, is a competent wizard, however, his vocals seemed a bit affected.

Alison Luff_2013 (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Alison Luff (Photo by Joan Marcus)

After recently attending a three day seminar with the composer and book writer, I spent much of this Wicked outing just listening.  It is there that I found the key to the show’s success.  It is at all times smart and never takes its audience for granted.  Mr. Schwartz’ music and lyrics are so spot-on that some songs are near perfection.  I’m not talking of the show stoppers.  Take for instance “I’m Not That Girl”, which for my money is best song in the show.  The music and lyrics become seamless in a song that both defines a character and a moment in the show.   There are many examples of this throughout Wicked, but this is a prime example (as is Popular).

With a film version on the horizon, Wicked is sure to be around in this current manifestation for another ten years, and maybe ten after that.  Like Phantom and Les MizWicked transcends the mere four walls of a theatre and is able to penetrate the human soul.  That, as Glinda would proclaim, is GOOD.

Wicked plays through December 21, 2013 at the Oriental Theatre.  Tickets start at $40.  A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 20 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. For calendar information visitwww.TheatreInChicago.com

ONCE UPON A DREAM Starring THE RASCALS Is Full of Good Lovin!!

Posted by: Showbiz Chicago (November 6, 2013)

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http://showbizchicago.com/category/reviews/#.Unq4AJSuNh

DSCN3723-725x380The impact that great musicians have on one another is said to be spiritually inspirational.  So it must be as Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano’s right hand man) embarked to give the 1960’s chart topping The Rascals another moment in the spotlight of fame.  Not many bands deserve it more than this foursome, Felix Cavaliere (keyboard & vocals), Eddie Brigati (vocals), Dino Danelli (drums) and Gene Cornish (guitar), who overcame a myriad of personal and professional hurdles on their way to becoming an “overnight” success becoming one of the few American bands to survive the British invasion.

Attending the opening night performance of Once Upon A Dream at the Cadillac Palace, all four of the Rascals seemed to be in their glory.  As big screen images and video of pre-recorded backstories of the boys flowed, the audience was instantly engaged and the Rascals had us once again eating out the palm of their talented hands as they performed hit after hit of their amazing repertoire including “It’s Wonderful”, “I’ve Been Lonely For Too Long” and closing the first act with the mega hit “Good Lovin”.  The second act featured the classics, “Love Is A Beautiful Thing”, “A Beautiful Morning” and “Groovin”, with the audience on their feet, not letting the band off the stage.

Once Upon A Dream is one of the shows that is critic proof.  The audience is in attendance for one thing only, and that is to see The Rascals.  Any theatrical obstacles the show encounters really doesn’t matter because  producers Steven Van Zandt, Maureen Van Zandt and Marc Brickman have a bigger goal in mind.  To pay respect to four artist to helped change the landscape of pop music as we know it.  For that reason, Once Upon A Dream succeeds on every level.

ONCE UPON A DREAM STARRING THE RASCALS plays through November 10, 2013 at  Cadillac Palace Theatre. The performance schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 9, 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 10, 2:00 p.m.

Please note: Ticket prices and performance schedule are subject to change.

For more information visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com For calendar information visitwww.TheatreInChicago.com

WICKED RETURNS HOME MUCH MORE GROUNDED AFTER 10 YEARS

Posted by: Michael Roberts (November 6, 2013)

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http://showbizchicago.com/2013/11/02/wicked-returns-home-much-more-grounded-after-10-years/#.Unq0bpSuNh4

It has been ten years since Wicked parked itself at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, and from almost the moment the Time Dragon clock starting counting box office receipts, the juggernaut has done over a million dollars a week and shows no signs of any decline.  After a three year run in Chicago (and two tours later) Wicked returns to is other home, the Oriental Theatre.

 

Not to have any bias, but architecturally, the Oriental seems to have been built forWicked, more so than any other theatre the show may play.

After ten years of continual play (this marks my 22nd time seeing the show), many lesser musicals would begin to show some wear and tear.  Not so with Wicked, which is adapted from the novel by Gregory Maquire with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman.  In fact the cast of this national tour, which skewers to the younger side, gives us performances that are always of the moment and and notwithstanding the fantasy element, ring very true.

Wicked is billed as the “untold story of the Witches of Oz”.  But it is so much more.  Wicked stands for the notion that what we are taught to be the truth, the black and white of a matter, is always scattered with matters of gray.  It is filled with life lessons for both young and old told with iconic characters that have been part of our social demographic for almost 80 years.

Curt Hansen as Fiyero (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Curt Hansen as Fiyero (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Alison Luff brings down the house as Elphaba, the phosphorescent academic whose tragic childhood leaves gives her a outlook on life that will end up changing way Oz is governed.  Ms. Luff is at all time connected with the piece which in turn makes her fellow actors all the more connected because of her performance.   Her first act closer, ‘Defying Gravity’, not only is a show stopper, but becomes almost menacing, which is the original intent of the song, and the first time I have seen it delivered as it was meant to be.

Jenn Gambatese’s Glinda, though a bit over the top sometimes, is a perfect foil/friend for Ms. Luff’s Elphaba.  The two have a great on stage chemistry where the friendship is real and never forced. Moreover, vocally, the duets these ladies have  blend beautifully together.   There was not a dry eye in the house after their parting song ‘For Good’.

The entire cast of this Wicked know how to sell a song, with many of cast as strong if not stronger then their current New York counterparts.  Curt Hansen gives us a much more rounded Fiyero then is actually penned; Emmy Award winner Kim Zimmer is again connected character wise more than most who have donned the wig prior.  In fact it is the first time I have seen a Madame Morrible as engaged during “Thank Goodness”.    Television (and stage) icon John Davidson, who I last saw on tour in State Fair, is a competent wizard, however, his vocals seemed a bit affected.

Alison Luff_2013 (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Alison Luff (Photo by Joan Marcus)

After recently attending a three day seminar with the composer and book writer, I spent much of this Wicked outing just listening.  It is there that I found the key to the show’s success.  It is at all times smart and never takes its audience for granted.  Mr. Schwartz’ music and lyrics are so spot-on that some songs are near perfection.  I’m not talking of the show stoppers.  Take for instance “I’m Not That Girl”, which for my money is best song in the show.  The music and lyrics become seamless in a song that both defines a character and a moment in the show.   There are many examples of this throughout Wicked, but this is a prime example (as is Popular).

With a film version on the horizon, Wicked is sure to be around in this current manifestation for another ten years, and maybe ten after that.  Like Phantom and Les MizWicked transcends the mere four walls of a theatre and is able to penetrate the human soul.  That, as Glinda would proclaim, is GOOD.

Wicked plays through December 21, 2013 at the Oriental Theatre.  Tickets start at $40.  A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances. Tickets are available now for groups of 20 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.  Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com. For calendar information visitwww.TheatreInChicago.com

 

ONCE UPON A DREAM Starring THE RASCALS Is Full of Good Lovin!!

Posted by: Michael Roberts (November 6, 2013)

Comments (0)

he impact that great musicians have on one another is said to be spiritually inspirational.  So it must be as Steven Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen and Tony Soprano’s right hand man) embarked to give the 1960’s chart topping The Rascals another moment in the spotlight of fame.  Not many bands deserve it more than this foursome, Felix Cavaliere (keyboard & vocals), Eddie Brigati (vocals), Dino Danelli (drums) and Gene Cornish (guitar), who overcame a myriad of personal and professional hurdles on their way to becoming an “overnight” success becoming one of the few American bands to survive the British invasion.

Attending the opening night performance of Once Upon A Dream at the Cadillac Palace, all four of the Rascals seemed to be in their glory.  As big screen images and video of pre-recorded backstories of the boys flowed, the audience was instantly engaged and the Rascals had us once again eating out the palm of their talented hands as they performed hit after hit of their amazing repertoire including “It’s Wonderful”, “I’ve Been Lonely For Too Long” and closing the first act with the mega hit “Good Lovin”.  The second act featured the classics, “Love Is A Beautiful Thing”, “A Beautiful Morning” and “Groovin”, with the audience on their feet, not letting the band off the stage.

Once Upon A Dream is one of the shows that is critic proof.  The audience is in attendance for one thing only, and that is to see The Rascals.  Any theatrical obstacles the show encounters really doesn’t matter because  producers Steven Van Zandt, Maureen Van Zandt and Marc Brickman have a bigger goal in mind.  To pay respect to four artist to helped change the landscape of pop music as we know it.  For that reason, Once Upon A Dream succeeds on every level.

ONCE UPON A DREAM STARRING THE RASCALS plays through November 10, 2013 at  Cadillac Palace Theatre. The performance schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 8, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 9, 8:00 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 10, 2:00 p.m.

Please note: Ticket prices and performance schedule are subject to change.

For more information visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com For calendar information visitwww.TheatreInChicago.com

"Stranded" in a Bad Script

Posted by: Rodney Robbins (September 4, 2013)

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I love science fiction movies. (I've seen what good lighting designers and set makers can do, and I'm CONVINCED I can write a supercool science fiction stage play.) So, when a new space thriller comes out, I like to see it. I tried to watch Christian Slater's movie "Stranded," but couldn't make it to the end. Why not?

The opening set the tone, and then it got worse. 

A space ship, or space station. We've seen it before, but a good haunted house is always a fine place to start. No people around. Even MORE lonely and dangerous and spooky. Suddenly an alarm goes off, and no one answers. Eventually Christian Slater draaaaaags his lazy butt out of bed to see what ELSE has gone wrong that doesn't freaking matter!

So, big problem number one, no one in the movie cares that they are in danger, so why should I. (Maybe this was an editing mistake, but I think it was written that way.)

Then there were the big plot holes like a year long mission with only four people. Not likely. Too small a group. Never work. And the "scientist" who is exposed to alien spores who hides her condition. And the spores multiplying without taking in any kind of food or energy--not even human brains! Physically impossible. And the accelerated alien pregnancy, and ALL the highly trained experts breaking quaranteen and the ... well, you get the idea.

What happens in the story has to matter to the people in the story, or we ... just ... won't ... care! And the story has to at least kinda, sorta, make sense. At least a little. 

That's $3.75 down the drain and my sci-fi dreams crushed, again! Ah, well. I'll just have to write my OWN science fiction space thriller for the stage. 

Why buy when you can rent?

Posted by: Donna Wymore (July 18, 2013)

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Backdrops are expensive! When you factor in the cost of materials, the cost of labor (even if it's volunteer) and the cost of renting a workshop space that's suitable to paint in, you're investing hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars - and all for a show that runs a couple of weeks. And then what do you do with the backdrop once the show closes? Try to rent it out to others? Store it in a basement? Throw in the dumpster?

Renting a backdrop is considerably less expensive and a lot less hassle. Sure, you may not have the exact look or theme that you had planned on or dreamed of but, considering costs, dollar for dollar, renting a backdrop is more affordable. It comes in a box, you hang it for your show, you put it back in the box and return ship it. How easy is that?

Here at Cobalt Studios, we've spent over 25 years in the world of backdrops. If we don't have what you need, we are always happy to point you towards a company that does have it. We also know that not everyone deals with backdrops on an every day basis so we are happy to answer any questions about backdrops. Visit: www.cobaltstudios.net or Call: 845-583-7025 or Write: rentals@cobaltstudios.net.

"The Freddie G Experience" ....The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Posted by: Cindy Ripley (July 15, 2013)

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You know those kind of gifts……..nothing like the new shirt from Macys or an Amazon gift card.   I’m talking about the kind the kind of gift that engulfs you in the ambiance of the time and place it was given.  Maybe it was from a person that is the love of your life, or a gift of health, or advice that changed your life.  Whatever yours is, these gifts are rare and never forgotten.  Mine was the day Freddie Gershon sat across from me in 1995 and said “Cindy, tell me what we need to do to make musicals work for teachers and school age children”.   Freddie listened, really listened to what a teacher from “the trenches” had to offer from the experience with a first cut of “Annie JR” with kids.  From then on, it is history. He was the force, the brains and the passion to make it happen amid the complex world of copyright, authors, composers and schools!

This weekend was the 4th annual Freddie G Experience in NYC to celebrate 8 teachers who have gone above and beyond with kids, community and Music Theater with kids, many in unconventional situations.  Through the generosity of Freddie and Myrna Gershon, it was complete with Broadway performances, celebrations, master classes, student workshops and a memorable camaraderie. Yup…an absolute nirvana for those of us who geek out on music theater and kids.  That’s right, a pat on the back for teachers.  Really? In these “art starved” times? Honest, and that gift will inspire them and their students for the rest of their lives.  It certainly has for me.

 

 

Why rent if you can buy and own puppets for Avenue Q?

Posted by: Sam Fuentes (June 13, 2013)

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We are now accepting orders of puppets, mascots, and other stage props for your theater requirements.  Drop us a message.

backstage preparing the puppets I built for the opening night of Avenue Q in Singapore

Avenue Q Puppet Camp

Posted by: Avenue Q Puppet Camp (May 31, 2013)

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Avenue Q Puppet Camp Trained by the original creative team of Avenue Q!

Experienced & expert instruction for your cast with the truly unique style of Avenue Q puppetry. Avenue Q Puppet Camp's exclusive curriculum is crafted from experience dealing directly with the show's original creative team, members of the original cast as well as experience since then with the Henson Company.

Avenue Q Puppet Camp's exclusive curriculum is designed around the specific demands of Avenue Q.  All the things we take for granted as living, breathing actors must now be made manifest in a performance that is channeled through your arm.  Our most popular service is a 5 day course that covers arm rod manipulation and principles of live hand puppetry as they apply to the unique puppetry style of Avenue Q. 

Learn your puppetry first hand from the authority in the marketplace with the longest list of clients in the country.  Other clients include, Alief Kerr High School (Houston, TX), Los Angeles Valley College, Ti-Ahwaga Community Players (Owego, NY), Calabasas High School (School Edition West Coast Premiere), Lone Star College - Montgomery (Conroe, TX), Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts (Los Angeles, CA), Tabb High School (Yorktown, VA), High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (Houston, TX), Cohasset Dramatic Club (Cohasset, MA), Blessed Cardinal Newman High School (Toronto, ON CA), Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and a full director/choreographer credit at Santa Monica Theater Guild/Morgan Wixson Theater.  For more details, go to http://www.AvenueQPuppetCamp.com

Shrek the Musical!

Posted by: Pierre's Costumes (May 23, 2013)

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It's the year of building new shows for Pierre's Costumes!  

We are so excited to have the opportunity to build a complete set of costumes for Shrek the Musical! We are set to begin construction in June so we can make this fairytale come to life! 

If you are in need of these costumes for your production please give Liz a call in our Theatre Office! (215) 925-7121

shrek the musical

(Pierre's Costumes does not own this photograph, it is just an example of Shrek the musical)