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‘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?

Mamet’s ‘Race’ hits hot buttons

I was out of town last week, and got back in time to catch David Mamet's “Race” at Interplayers on Saturday. Here's an advance look at the review, which will run Tuesday or Wednesday in print:

This riveting Interplayers production of David Mamet’s “Race” jams both index fingers down hard on two of the hottest of hot-button issues – racial relations and sex — and doesn’t let up for 90 minutes.

Make that both middle fingers. This being a Mamet play, “Race’s” tone is one of incessant, startling, foul-mouthed cynicism. Ideals of justice, fairness and equality will be brusquely shot down, scorned and dismissed as naïve.

“The whites will screw you,” says the white lawyer Jack to the black lawyer Susan. “Any chance we get. We cannot help ourselves.”

That’s just one of several signature Mamet lines, others of which we can’t print, which all amount to the characteristic Mamet messages: People are out solely for themselves. Money and power always win. The truth belongs to whoever crafts the most cynical lie.

Clicke on “continue reading” to see the rest of the review:

‘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.

  

“Nunsense” already sold out

The news came out even before the first wimple-wearing nun hit the stage: The entire run of “Nunsense” at the Spokane Civic was sold out.

Theater head Yvonne A.K. Johnson delivered the announcement before the opening curtain of the opening performance. This continues a remarkable run for the Civic, which also sold out “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at its Studio Theatre this month. The Civic has already sold out many other runs this season, including “Buddy” and “White Christmas.”

But what about the show itself? Did “Nunsense” live up to expectations? 

Is the Reverend Mother Catholic?

Look for my full review in Sunday's Spokesman-Review.

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).

A ‘Wicked’ ticket warning

The tickets to the Spokane engagement of “Wicked” goes on sale March 5, and the people at WestCoast Entertainment want to warn people about the perils of third-party tickets.

Ticket agencies and brokers will probably snap up a number of tickets right away. So then, when people search for tickets online, they will often be shunted to those third-party sites. The problem: These brokers often sell the tickets way above face value.

A number of people were burned by this problem during the run of the Spokane Symphony's “Nutcracker” in December. Some people bought tickets that were twice as expensive as they should have been — for not very good seats. Other people bought tickets that were completely bogus.The Symphony was able to get those people into the ballet anyway, but only because the show wasn't sold out.

So the WestCoast Entertainment people want to remind people that the only legitimate source for tickets are: TicketsWest outlets, and the WestCoast Entertainment Best of Broadway website.

Also, tickets go on sale first, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on March 5, in person at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. At 10 a.m., on the same day tickets go onsale online and by phone through TicketsWest.

At that point, beware of any other site, even one that has made itself to look like a site for the INB or the show itself. Stick with TicketsWest.

A David Mamet coup in Spokane

Spokane’s Interplayers Professional Theatre has scored a significant coup: It will stage one of the first productions anywhere of David Mamet’s “Race” since it closed on Broadway in August.

This controversial play, about a white businessman accused of raping a black woman, will run March 31 through April 16, replacing the musical “Cotton Patch Gospel” on the Interplayers calendar. “Cotton Patch Gospel” will return on next season’s list.

The only other production opened Jan. 21 at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The last time a Spokane theater landed such a new Broadway play would be – well, never, as far as I can recall.

How did Interplayers pull this off? Read on …

‘Opus’ review

As you may have noticed from the review in Sunday's print edition (Jan. 23) , I loved “Opus” at Interplayers. I thought it was a fascinating and well-acted look at the art of creating music.

Actually, I liked it even more than the print review indicated. A large section of the review was lopped off for space, including a discussion of the acting ensemble. They all deserve attention, so I am posting the full uncut review below, with apologies to the actors who were nowhere to be seen in the print review. Click on “continue reading” below to see the full review.