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Posts tagged: musical

Cheyenne Jackson goes all ‘Mad Men’

Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson, product of Newport and Spokane, will get in touch with his inner Rat-Packer for a concert with the New York Pops on Thursday.

He's headlining a show called “Cheyenne Jackson's Cocktail Hour: Music of the 'Mad Men' Era.

Read all about it in this Playbill interview.

‘Sperm! The Musical’? Really?

 “Sperm! The Musical” is on the way to the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint.  No, I don't think this is a joke.

It's an original musical comedy set in that most romantic of settings, a sperm bank.

It's about “sperm radiation therapy, and killer mutant sperm monsters,” or, to put it more directly, about a couple named Willy and Delouise Johnson who are having trouble conceiving. It's written by Sandpoint playwright Ben Olson with music by Brian Hibbard and directed by Andrew Sorg.

If it's anywhere near as entertaining as Olson's press release, this show could be a hoot.

One example: “Brian's songs are so catchy, you'd hum them all day if they weren't written about sperm.”

Another example: “This play is going to make you laugh, shout, blow milk out of your nose, cover your children's ears and rush home to tend to your lover, all at once.”

You probably shouldn't take the above sentence literally. First, the play is R-rated, so there probably won't be any children present  to require ear-covering. Second, you probably shouldn't be drinking milk during a play anyway. As for tending to your lover, well, the “all at once” part may be ill-advised.

It will run Aug. 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $15 at the door, but a couple of bucks cheaper if bought in advance at Eichardt's, Eve's Leaves, Main Street Music. Pack River Potions and other spots around Sandpoint

A great and powerful ‘Oz’

The opening show at the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, “The Wizard of Oz,” which runs June 9-19, has had a robust pre-sale – just 300 tickets behind the theater’s all-time biggest seller, last year’s “Cinderella,” at a comparable date.

That’s a good harbinger going into the season. Executive director Laura Little said “The Sound of Music” (Aug. 11-21) is also selling well, because – well, because it’s “The Sound of Music.”

The other two shows – Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” (June 30-July 10) and “Once Upon This Island” (July 21-31)  – may not be quite as well-known but are just as promising – at least, from a theater critic’s viewpoint.

Be warned: The CDA Summer Theatre has reduced the run of each show this year from nine performances to eight, which increases the risk that procrastinators will have trouble finding good tickets.

Call (208) 769-7780 for tickets.

Is it a giant bat? Or a dragon?

I received an e-mail from a reader pointing out that what I called a “a giant dragon looming over the proscenium” in “Wicked” was, in fact, a giant bat.

“Don't you remember the bats in the 'Wizard of Oz?” she asked.

I was ready to kick myself for my poor bat-identfication skills, but I decided to do some research.

You know what? I think it is a dragon, something called the Clock of the Time Dragon, an apparition which comes right out of Gregory Maguire's book.

For one thing, it has a pair of horns. I am clearly not a bat-identification expert, but I dont think bats have horns. They do have bodacious ears, however.

What do you think? Is it a bat, or a dragon?

The full ‘Wicked’ review

 

Here's my unedited review of “Wicked.” It will appear in Saturday morning's print edition, after more editing and refinement:

“Wicked,” Thursday night, INB Performing Arts Center, continues through May 29, tickets available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)

 

The first thing a newcomer to the “Wicked” phenomenon will notice is that this production has a great “eye” — a rich visual style, all gears, cogs, clock-faces and Emerald City glow.

And then, as the story unfolds, you’ll find that “Wicked” also possesses — unlike certain Oz denizens — a heart and brains.

Brains, because this “Wizard of Oz” spin-off has a funny, first-rate script by Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life”) that brilliantly distills Gregory Maguire’s novel into its essence. It’s the story of the fraught love-hate relationship between Elphaba and Glinda (the Wicked One and the Good One, respectively). They’re more than just Oz witches; they’re universal archetypes, familiar to everyone over age 8.

Heart, because Holzman and composer Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Pippin”) make us sympathize deeply with Elphaba – yeah, the Wicked One. The last thing I expected from “Wicked” was to be moved emotionally by the plight of a green-skinned witch on a broom. But I was.

This is all delivered nearly flawlessly by a tremendously talented cast, led by Anne Brummel as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda (or Galinda — the two spellings are actually a plot point).

 “Wicked” has a rich cast of characters ranging from talking goats to flying monkeys to surprisingly tall Munchkins. There’s a side-plot, lifted from the novel, about animal liberation. There are many, many nods to the great 1939 film, some of them sly, others earnest and some of which will take you by surprise.

Yet the “Wicked” creative team never lost sight of the key arc of the story, which goes like this: Elphaba, the green-skinned outcast, and Glinda, the blonde popular girl, are thrown together at school. They loathe each other. I mean, really loooathe each other. Then, slowly, they learn to understand each other. A deep friendship forms. That friendship is stretched and broken by events. But even in the darkest times, that bond never completely dies.

It’s no coincidence that the most entertaining musical number is “Popular,” in which Glinda tries to do a makeover of Elphaba. Daradich, an expert comic actress, flounces around the stage, tossing her blonde locks, flinging herself petulantly on the bed and cooing adoringly at her own face in the mirror.

Brummel is equally funny and charming as she tries gamely to learn the art of feminine lock-tossing. This is an impressive acting feat, since her character is not naturally funny and charming. Elphaba is brilliant and talented – yet also glum and resentful over the fact that in Oz, as in our own world, happiness is easier to achieve by the shallow and superficial.

Ultimately, Brummel delivers the show’s most emotional moments, the most amazing of which is the first-act closer, “Defying Gravity.” It’s a stirring anthem of empowerment, conveyed through Brummel’s strong, controlled voice and through some astonishing lighting and technical legerdemain. I won’t give it away except to say you’ll be left with a bright and uplifting image at intermission.

The design team deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the success of this show. Even before the show starts, your eyes can feast on the curtain-sized map of Oz and the giant dragon looming over the proscenium. Once the show starts, we get a dizzying array of sets, most of which share a common circular theme. There are many toothed gears, a number of gigantic clock-faces, enormous round windows and immense green-lit arches Emerald City arches.

The costumes owe a debt to the movie, yet they are endlessly imaginative. Think “Harry Potter” crossed with “Alice in Wonderland.”

And finally, this show delivers some true surprises at the end, the kind that will make you ponder what really happened at the end of that 1939 movie. It’s a complete package of comedy, song, creativity and emotion.

No wonder this show will draw somewhere around 40,000 people over its two-week Spokane run. My guess is that the majority of those 40,000 people will file out of the INB Performing Arts Center feeling the way I did – satisfied, happy and yes, even a little bit uplifted.

 

A ‘Wicked’ quickie review

Just got in from 'Wicked' and I will write a full review for Saturday's print edition. But here's my quick initial reaction:

“Wicked” is a feast or the eyes, with exceptionally creative sets, costumes and lighting. And it works for the heart and the brain, as well. I was affected, sometimes deeply, by the story, about the stormy relationship between Elphaba (“The Wicked”) and Glinda (“The Good”).  The acting talent is first-rate.

I approached this musical with some trepidation, since I was not a big fan of the book. Yet “Wicked” does an outstanding job of distilling the novel to it's essence. The musical is clearer, more focused, and altogether more fun.

I'll post a fuller review on Friday morning.

Robert Cray, John Prine booked into Spokane

Two new shows to report:

  • The Robert Cray Band, an old favorite among Spokane blues aficionados, will play the Knitting Factory Concert House on July 2, 8:30 p.m. Cray was a fixture in Spokane clubs before he broke out and became an international star. Tickets will be $25 general admission in advance, on sale Friday through Ticketfly outlets, or $27.50 at the door, day of show.
  • John Prine, one of America's premier singer-songwriters, will play the Bing Crosby Theater, on Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $53.50, on sale Friday through TicketsWest.

Going to ‘Wicked’? Read this first

The people at WestCoast Entertainment have a few important reminders for people who have tickets to “Wicked,” which opens a two-week run Wednesday.

Those are:

  • Leave the babies and toddlers with the sitter. No one under 4 will be allowed in the theater. And although 'Wicked” is family entertainment, it is recommended for ages 8 and above.
  • Get to the show on time, preferably at least 10 minutes before show time. If you arrive late, they're not going to let you in to the performance until after the first number, nine minutes after the show starts.
  • People with Saturday (May 21) tickets will really have to plan ahead. Here's what the West Coast people say:

    “Saturday, May 21 is an exciting day in downtown Spokane with two sold-out performances of WICKED and the annual Spokane Lilac Festival Parade.  Please allow extra time to find parking downtown as some congestion is expected. 

    Spokane Falls Blvd. will be closed at Browne Street. Guests who need to drop off theatre attendees will be allowed access to drive to the front of the INB Performing Arts Center, drop off guests, and will be rerouted to Bernard.  If you need this access, please advise the police officer at Spokane Falls Blvd. and Browne that you need brief access for WICKED theatre attendees.”

Your best options for ‘Wicked’ good tix

Here are the “Wicked” performances in Spokane that have the best ticket availability:  May 18, 7:30 p.m., May 19, 2 p.m., May 24, 7:30p.m.,  May 25, 7:30 p.m., and  May 29,, 1 p.m..

Many of the other “Wicked” performances are already sold out and  many others have only a few tickets left. So if you want to catch “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center (and it appears that 40,000 people will), you might want to start with the above dates.

Go to the Ticketswest site for tickets.

‘Aladdin’ and ‘Narnia’ in Children’s Theatre lineup

The Spokane Children’s Theatre has announced its 2011-2012 season:

  • “Disney’s Aladdin,” based on the popular movie.
  • “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” the classic holiday comedy.
  • “Go Dog Go,” an Inland Northwest premiere of a Seattle Children’s Theatre favorite.
  • “Miss Nelson is Missing!” another Inland Northwest premiere.
  • “Narnia,” a musical version of the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

These shows will be held at SFCC, in either the Spartan Playhouse or the new Music and Performing Arts building.

And don’t forget about this season’s finale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a reprise of the SCT’s inaugural production in 1946.

“Snow White” runs May 14 through May 29, at the Spokane Masonic Temple’s Commandery Room, 1108 W. Riverside. Tickets are available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

While you’re at “Snow White,” you can purchase discounted tickets to the new season. Check www.spokanechildrenstheatre.org for more details.

‘Michael Jackson Immortal’ tribute adds second show

A second show has been added to “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 13, 4 p.m.

The original show was scheduled on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. and it has evidently sold well enough to justify another date. This is a Jackson tribute and celebration, presented by Cirque du Soleil.

Tickets to the second show range from $50 to $250, on sale Monday at noon through TicketsWest.

‘Spamalot’ comes to Spokanalot

I  taunt you not — “Monty Python's Spamalot” is returning to the INB Performing Arts Center for a one-night-only performance on Nov. 11.

This will be an add-on show to the Best of Broadway series, announced earlier. Subscribers can now add it on to their ticket package. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, to be announced.

This show, based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” did a week long run in Spokane in 2009. It was, without a doubt, the funniest musical I'd ever seen.

Win the $25 ‘Wicked’ ticket lottery

If you can’t afford to pay full price for tickets to “Wicked,” May 18-29 at the INB Performing Arts Center, here’s a way to get your witch fix.

On every performance day, a $25 “Wicked” ticket lottery will he held.

Here’s how it will work. Show up two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. Your name will be placed in a lottery drum. A half-hour later, a limited number of names will be drawn from the drum.

If your name is chosen, you can purchase up to two tickets at $25 apiece. You must be there in person and you must pay cash.

These tickets will be a bargain, since tickets normally sell for $42.50 to $142.50. And these tickets are in the orchestra section, i.e., the main floor.

‘Poppins’ and ‘Frankenstein’ booked for Best of Broadway

The 2011-2012 Best of Broadway season will feature the Chairman of the Board, an English nanny and a guy with a bolt in his neck.

Here’s the lineup of touring shows for next season, announced Thursday by WestCoast Entertainment.

“Come Fly With Me,” Nov. 17-20 – The Frank Sinatra musical revue, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.

“Young Frankenstein,” Dec. 15-18 – The musical version of the great Mel Brooks movie comedy.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Jan. 26-29 – One of the most popular and successful stage adaptations of a Disney animated film.”

“In the Heights,” April 12-15 – The 2008 Tony-winner for Best Musical, filled with the music and dance of New York’s Dominican community.

“Mary Poppins,” June 12-17, 2012 – The popular stage version of the classic Disney musical film about a magical governess and her charges.

WestCoast Entertainment also announced a few “specials” – shows that are not part of the regular subscription package, but can be added on: “Defending the Caveman,” Oct. 8; “The Official Blues Brothers Revue,” Nov. 13; The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jan. 14; and the “New Shanghai Circus,” Feb. 18.

Season tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com). Individual on-sale dates will be announced later.  All shows will be at the INB Performing Arts Center.

A Best of Broadway teaser

WestCoast Entertainment will announce its 2011-2012 season at an event on April 21, 4 p.m. at the INB Performing Arts Center.

No, I have no inside information about the season. However, the WestCoast people say that they are “flying in a lead actress to perform a selection from one of the productions.”

The last time they flew in a performer for a season announcement was in 2008 — and that was to announce the return of “Phantom of the Opera.”

So I suspect the season might include a show of that magnitude..

Anybody have any guesses about what's coming?

‘9 to 5’ rolls in

Diana DeGarmo, former “American Idol” finalist, and the rest of the “9 to 5” cast and crew will soon be pulling in to the INB Performing Arts Center for a Thursday-through-Sunday run.

This is the Broadway musical version of the fine 1980 comedy of the same name. This is an Actor's Equity (union) tour, which generally translates into high production values and an experienced cast. That's certainly true of this cast, which also includes Dee Hoty and Joseph Mahowald.

Watch for a full preview story in Thursday's edition of The Spokesman-Review. Tickets are available through TicketsWest.

Spokane Civic on the way to nationals

Once again, the Spokane Civic Theatre has advanced to the national community theater competition finals.

The Civic’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” won first place in the state festival, held here last weekend. Idaho, Oregon and Alaska did not have state festivals due to lack of participants – times are tough for community theater – which means that Washington’s state festival was, de facto, the regional competition.

So the next event will be the American Association of Community Theater Festival in Rochester, N.Y., June 20-26.

Going to nationals is nothing new for the Civic. In fact, the Spokane Civic Theatre has won the national competition twice and finished second once.

The Civic also won a slew of other awards last weekend. Here’s the list:

WSCTA Magic Moment Award: Lacey Bohnet singing “The I Love You Song.”

Oustanding Performance: Mark Pleasant.

Outstanding Costume Design: Jan Wanless.

Outstanding Ensemble Performance.

Oustanding Choreography: Kathie Doyle-Lipe.

Outstanding Design and Production Team.

‘Wicked’ run is 80 percent sold

About 80 percent of the tickets for the 16-performance run of “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center have already been sold, as of Monday.

 There's no way to predict how long the 40,000-plus tickets will last — some performances are nearly gone. But indications are that it will sell out early. The national touring production plays Spokane May 18-29.

Individual ticket sales began on Saturday. Jack Lucas of WestCoast Entertainment and TicketsWest said that about 650 people bought tickets in person at the INB box office on Saturday morning and many more bought tickets by phone and online over the weekend. He called the turnout “just amazing.”

He also said that group sales have been about three times stronger than expected..

Buy tickets through TicketsWest here.

Wicked fun in the ‘Wicked’ ticket line

If you're one of those people who will be standing in line (or camping) for “Wicked” tickets on Saturday at 7 a.m. at the INB Performing Arts Center, the people at WestCoast Entertainment say they will try to make it worth your while. Here's how:

  • The first 100 customers will receive a “Wicked” gift — some kind of souvenir, I presume.
  • Free coffee will be provided by Craven's Coffee.
  • Free donuts.
  • Everyone in line will be entered into a contest to win a pair of emerald earrings provided by Dodson's Jewelers.
  • KZZU (92.9) will be on hand with contests and prizes throughout the morning.
  • Northwest Photobooth will be providing free photos with a “Wicked” logo, of you and your friends, .

I should point out that this “fun” may be the only true reason for standing in line on Saturday. Tickets have already been available for months for subscribers and for groups. Also, an online pre-sale has been going on for almost a week for those who received the pre-sale code from TicketsWest. And finally, there should still be plenty of good tickets left even when “official” on-line and phone sales start on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Just to remind you about how this works: Tickets will be sold in person only at the INB box office from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. Saturday. Then, at 10 a.m., all remaining tickets will go on sale through TicketsWest outlets (www.ticketswest.com, 800-325-SEAT). There's no way of predicting how fast tickets will get snapped up, but with a 16-show run, “Wicked” will probably not be an instant sellout, a la Elton John.

By the way, tickets will run you between $37.50 and $142.50, with the mid-level seats running about $77.50 or $82.50.

  

An “Idol” name in “9 to 5” cast

The cast of the touring show “9 to 5: The Musical,” which hits Spokane on March 24-27, won’t feature the same household names as the 1980 movie – but it will have a few significant Broadway names and an “American Idol”:

Diana DeGarmo – A runner-up on the third season of “American Idol” and a veteran of Broadway’s “Hair” and “Hairspray.” She’ll play Doralee (the Dolly Parton movie role).

DeeHoty – A three-time Tony nominee and star of Broadway shows “Mamma Mia!” and “Footloose,” among others. She plays Violet (the Lily Tomlin role).

Mamie Parris – A veteran of Broadway’s “Ragtime” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” She plays Judy (the Jane Fonda role).

Joseph Mahowald – He played the title role in Broadway’s “Jekyll & Hyde” and Javert in “Les Miserables.” Mahowald has appeared frequently on many TV soap operas including “Another World,” “Guiding Light” and “All My Children.” He plays Franklin, the Dabney Coleman role.

Tickets for the INB Performing Arts Center performances are available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

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