Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Heavenly Night for One Fanadu

The New York Times says Xanadu is "Heaven on Wheels!"  We caught up with our Video Contest Winner before her big night, and we're pretty sure she agrees!

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Roll With It Dude

This past weekend? The Center’s community plaza? Was, like, transformed into a totally free roller skating rink to celebrate the hit musical Xanadu, which kicked off its national tour here. Dozens of roller skaters had, like, a blast strutting their stuff around the outdoor “rink.” The music was the soundtrack of the most tubular songs from the ‘80s. Some of the rad participants even skated their way to the Center while others, like, rented skates from the fine folks at Down & Derby. Check out more photos below of the roller skaters having a totally ultimate time! The ‘80s-inspired Xanadu continues through December 27. (Photo above: Deanna and Nia Lambert from Costa Mesa.)

Photo above: RJ and Shannon Smith from Huntington Beach
Photo above: Makenzie Gomez from San Pedro and Jill Herrera from Long Beach

Photo above: Michele Morris from Orange
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Rave Reviews for Xanadu

Center Scene blogger Jacob weighs in on Xanadu below. And it seems the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram, SoCalThrills and StageSceneLA all agree with Jacob's review. What did you think about the musical? We'd love to know if you think the critics get it right or wrong. (Photo: Elizabeth Stanley and company in Xanadu (c) Carol Rosegg.)

Jacob writes:

Xanadu is/was…
A.) The summer capital of Kublai Khan’s Yuan empire
B.) The subject of a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
C.) A 1980’s cult classic starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly
D.) An irreverent musical based on the 1980’s film of the same name
E.) All of the above

If you selected choice E.) you are correct. And if you happen to have the chance to glide on over to the Orange County Performing Arts Center between now and December 27, you’ll have the chance to check out this incredibly wacky, yet disarmingly endearing musical.

Centering on the story of a muse and a lost artist, Xanadu the musical is itself based on the 1980’s film described above. A cult classic, and one that I was introduced to at an early age, the film is corny, campy, and fun.

Xanadu the musical looks to capture the same level of “cheesiness” and build on it with a dizzying mix of sequins, glitter, dancing, and, of course, roller disco. It definitely succeeds in this respect and one can’t help but exit the theatre humming an ELO tune.

Much as if you saw Wicked without first seeing Wizard of Oz, without first seeing the Xanadu film you may find that some jokes are bit over your head. But fear not. The show is packed with enough jokes targeted at the 1980’s, musical theater, the arts, and Los Angeles that even a Xanadu novice will find themselves laughing hysterically.

A perfect cure for a dull winter evening, Xanadu is 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated entertainment. The cast is so committed that even the corniest gag solicits roars of laughter. The show is just plain ri-dic-u-lous. But I promise you’ll love it.

So skate – don’t walk – on over to OCPAC before it’s too late. Much like any good muse, Xanadu won’t be around forever.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Xanadu Cast Party

They danced onstage and through the night – the cast of Xanadu were the guests of The Shark Club in Costa Mesa following the December 17th performance. Cast members mixed and mingled and greeted fans and guests – and they treated the crowd of Wednesday night revelers to “Evil Woman” and “Party All Over the World.” Xanadu is making its first stop on a national tour at the Center’s Segerstrom Hall through Sunday, December 27.

Below: photo of Clement Gosch and Albert Ramos with Elizabeth Stanley

Below: photo of Lance Perkins, Elizabeth Stanley and Leo Buck

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All About the Kids

Local families came to the Center last night to enjoy the first of three special Kids’ Night on Broadway for the hit musical Xanadu, which is kicking of its national tour in Orange County. In keeping with the show’s ‘80s theme, kids and their parents participated in fun retro activities, including disco dancing with cast members, playing video games and dress-up and much more before curtain time. As the pictures show, it was a groovy night. Kids’ Night on Broadway is being presented in collaboration with The Broadway League to help introduce young people to the excitement and wonder of live Broadway entertainment. The program offers parents who purchase one full-priced ticket a second free ticket free for a child between the ages of 8 and 18. Xanadu Kids’ Night on Broadway goes through Thursday, December 17. For more information click here.

Above: Playing dress-up were Carla, Camryn, Britney and Derek Hamaguchi from Aliso Viejo. Photo by Kevin Bohn.

Below: Cast member Kevin Duda taught Leslie and Heather Fiebleman of Newport Beach how to dance a routine from Xanadu.

Below: Siblings Jonny and Mackenzie Gomez from Rancho Palos Verdes hammed it up in the Xanadu cut-outs.

Below: Teresa and Taylor Troyer of Lakewood show off some artwork.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Take a Trip Back to the ‘80s

Click on the video above to watch a fun shoutout from Xanadu leads Elizabeth Stanley and Max Von Essen. Starting tonight, they’ll be performing in the smash-hit roller skating musical adventure, which runs here through December 27. With popular tunes such as “Magic,” “All Over the World,” “Suddenly,” “Have You Never Been Mellow” and “Evil Woman,” Xanadu is a welcome blast from the past. Good luck tonight, Elizabeth, Max and the rest of the cast and crew!

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Ortega is In the Heights

Variety reports that Kenny Ortega will direct the film adaptation of the Tony Award winning Best Musical In The Heights.  This connects Ortega to two musicals on the current Broadway season, as he was also the choreographer of the original movie of Xanadu.
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disco Fever!

This year's Candlelight Concert was an homage to the '70s disco era with Donna Summer headlining the gala fundraiser. Mirrored disco balls lit the stage as revelers grooved to Summer's classic hits such as "Last Dance," "Love to Love You Baby," "Bad Girls" and "Hot Stuff." And a few lucky party-goers were chosen by Summer herself to be back-up singers.

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Top 10 for '10

BroadwayWorld profiles 10 theater projects and artists to watch in 2010. Works by a few on the list will be seen at the Center in the coming months, including In The Heights' Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julie Taymor.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009


In case you missed it, here's a clip of Dreamgirls stars Syesha Mercado and Moya Angela performing on The Early Show on CBS this morning. 

Watch CBS News Videos Online

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Dreamgirls on the Small Screen Part Two

Remember - if you're up at 7 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday), check out the cast of the new production of Dreamgirls as they perform the show's title song and "Listen" on CBS' The Early Show. The show is currently running at New York's historic Apollo Theater and will hit the road soon, stopping in at the Center April 20 - May 2, 2010.

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News from Broadway: Frasier star to take his place in la Cage

Playbill confirms reports that Kelsey Grammer, best known for his Emmy winning role on the hit sit-com Frasier, will star as Georges when Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein's hit musical La Cage aux Folles comes to Broadway from its London triumph at the Menier Chocolate Factory.  Grammer will play the role of Georges, the owner/emcee of the St. Tropez nightclub, and Douglas Hodge will re-create his London turn as Albin, who headlines the nightclub as the fabulous Zaza. This reconceived production opened to rave reviews in London and won the 2009 Olivier Awards for Best Musical Revival and Best Actor in a Musical, for Hodge.  La Cage will open April 18, 2010, at Broadway's Longacre Theatre.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obama's First State Dinner features Jazz Singer Kurt Elling

Guests to President and Mrs. Obama's first state dinner honoring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and his wife, Gursharan Kaur were entertained by a mélange of musical entertainment.  The evening included performances by the National Symphony Orchestra; the Oscar winning star of Dreamgirls, Jennifer Hudson; A. R. Rahman, the Indian composer who wrote the score to the movie Slumdog Millionaire and jazz singer Kurt Elling, who is well known to Center audiences.  Elling returns to the Center April 24th as part of the all star Monterrey Jazz Festival on Tour.

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New Broadway Raves for Spring Awakening's Choreographer

Spring Awakening's Tony winning choregrapher Bill T. Jones has a new Broadway triumph with Fela! which he directed, choreographed, co-wrote and helped conceive.  You can read a selection of reviews here:  The New York Times, New York PostVariety, The Hollywood Reporter.  Jones' Tony for  Spring Awakening's choreography was one of eight that the musical won in 2007.  Spring Awakening plays at the Center through Nov. 29.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dreamgirls on the Small Screen

This holiday weekend if you find yourself in front of the TV, be sure to catch cast members from Dreamgirls perform in the traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS. Dreamgirls Syesha Mercado, Moya Angela and Adrienne Warren will sing the title track from the musical under the famed Apollo marquee. And on Tuesday, December 1 Mercado and Angela will perform the song "Listen" on the CBS Early Show. Dreamgirls makes its way to Orange County April 20 - May 2.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

A Glee-ful Spring Awakening Cast Party

After Thursday's performance of Spring Awakening, cast members and lucky guests partied at the Sports Club/LA in Irvine to celebrate the show's Orange County engagement. There was even more to celebrate when two former Spring Awakening alums, Jenna Ushkowitz who currently stars in the hit television show Glee and Skylar Astin who played Georg in the musical, stopped by to hang with their stage friends (both are pictured above with Lucas Wells). A big thanks to everyone at the Sports Club/LA in Irvine for hosting a rockin' evening.

Pictured above: Krystina Alabado, Krista Pioppi, Christy Altomare

Pictured above: Freddy Hall, Alon Bisk, Marques Walls, Ben Fankhausen
Pictured above: Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Steffi D
All photos by Joesan Diche.

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Dreamgirls opens at the Apollo

Live from the legendary Apollo Theater...Dreamgirls!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spring Awakening Takes on Bloomingdale's South Coast Plaza

Yesterday, lucky shoppers at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza were treated to a free performance by Spring Awakening cast members Steffi D and Taylor Trensch. Afterwards, Steffi and Taylor stuck around to greet fans and sign posters. Click the video above to watch Steffi and Taylor sing “Don’t Do Sadness” and “Blue Wind.” A big thanks to Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza for hosting the performance. There’s still time to catch Steffi and Taylor in Spring Awakening – the show runs through the 29th.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fans Meet Stars of Spring Awakening

Nearly 200 audience members stayed for a special post-performance Talkback with members of the cast of Spring Awakening on Wednesday, November 18. Almost a third of the fans were members of the Center’s Guilty Ones, a street team who helped us to share their passion and excitement about Spring Awakening with the community. The cast answered questions about their theater training, the audition process with the producers and composer, rehearsing for the tour and future dreams. Talkbacks are a great behind-the-scenes experience, and the Center looks forward to doing more with other shows and artists. A second Spring Awakening Talkback is scheduled for the Tuesday, November 24th performance.

Photos by Joesan Diche. Cast photo ids from l to r: Steffi D, Taylor Trensch, Andy Mientus, Krista Pioppi, Christy Altomare.

Spring Awakening Lights it Up

Jacob Matsumiya, Center Scene's guest blogger, is back with his review of Spring Awakening. Glee fans may be able to figure out Jacob's inspiration for his review. Spring Awakening continues through Sunday, November 29.

Jacob writes:

“We light a candle and hope that it glows…”

Emanating from the stage last night was a mixture of exuberant joy, an illuminating spectrum of bright lights, and pangs of pure sadness. Yup. Spring Awakening has finally arrived.

Based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play, Spring Awakening is a musical that combines the universal and timeless emotions of youth with modern musical sensibility. The result is nothing short of pure genius.

Had the creative team updated Wedekind’s play to modern times, though the themes might have resonated, the plot would have seemed out-of-place. Had they styled the music to be of the 1890’s time period it would have felt distant. But in fusing together the groundbreaking play (which has lost none of its relevance nearly 100 years later) with music that speaks to today’s youth they have crafted Spring Awakening to truly convey and express the dreadful desires and frustrations of youth. All of us have experienced the intense emotions associated with first loves, self-discovery, repression, denial, abuse, or rejection. The score of Spring Awakening so wonderfully and poignantly captures these emotions through the magic of musical theater.

In musical theater, when a character has no other way of expressing their emotion they begin to sing. Songs have the ability to say things we can’t, shouldn’t, or don’t know how to say. It fulfills that burning need in all of us to express something so powerful that it gnaws at the very fiber of our being. The characters in Spring Awakening do so with such brilliant accuracy that one can’t help but be moved. For me Spring Awakening is pure joy and pure sadness. The exuberance of youth personified mixed with the utter sadness that can haunt us all. It is the very essence of classic musical theater storytelling. Like the characters that inhabit it, Spring Awakening is dying to share with you its wisdom, if you only open yourself up to hear it. It dares to shed light on the darkness of emotions repressed. And I applaud them for their sheer tenacity and brilliance.

Bravo to the cast, crew, and creators of Spring Awakening. Your candle is still very much burning brightly some 3,000 miles from Broadway.

(Photo: Christy Altomare and Jake Epstein by Joan Marcus )

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Bolshoi Ballet and Lady Gaga?

That's right! It's an unlikely match but the Bolshoi Ballet and Lady Gaga performed together this past weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art's 30th anniversary gala in Los Angeles. Click on the video below to see the performance of "Speechless." The Bolshoi Ballet will make its highly anticipated visit to the Center February 24 - 28.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You Won't Read This in the L.A. Times.

The Los Angeles Times profiles performer Katey Sagal, who's well known to television audiences from her many starring roles in such shows as Married... with Children, 8 Simple Rules, Futurama and Sons of Anarchy.  She also confesses that one of her favorite things to do is to perform her music, which the paper describes as her "first love".  What the Times didn't tell you is that she'll do just that in the Center's Cabaret Series December 10 - 13.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jupiter Aligns with Mars

London's Daily Mail reports that the Broadway smash hit Hair is coming to the West End.  Oskar Eustis, artistic director of New York's Public Theatre, tells the paper the plan was to bring the cast of the Tony winning revival of Hair running at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre to the Gielgud Theatre, where previews will begin on April 1.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Addams Family Portrait

The December issue of Vanity Fair has a sneak peek at the new Broadway musical The Addams Family starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth.  The show has its pre-Broadway world premiere in Chicago with previews beginning (appropriately) Friday, November 13. The Addams Family will open on Broadway Thursday, April 8, 2010 at The Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Here's a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot by Mark Seliger for Vanity Fair.

Alvin Ailey on SYTYCD

Watch Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's appearance tonight (Wednesday) on So You Think You Can Dance on the FOX network. Company dancers Clifton Brown, Linda Celeste Sims (pictured above) and Constance Stamatiou will perform an excerpt from Ulysses Dove's Espisodes. And be sure to catch Alvin Ailey when they visit the Center March 2-7, 2010. (Photo credit: Andrew Eccles.)

Reality meets Fantasy as Dreamgirls opens at the Apollo

The New York Times takes a behind the scenes look at the new production of Dreamgirls.  The revival premieres at New York's legendary Apollo Theatre which is also the opening setting of the show.  You can also check out slide shows of the opulent new production, which features more than 580 costumes and 184 wigs.

"Spring" Time at Bloomingdale's

Save the date! Cast members from the Tony®-winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening will give a free in-store performance at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza on Thursday, November 19 at 3 p.m. The performance will take place at the cosmetics entrance on the second level of the store. Cast members will sing "Don’t Do Sadness” and “Blue Wind.” The original cast recording of Spring Awakening won the 2008 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album.

Additionally, anyone who spend $200 in the store's Y.E.S. Contemporary Sportswear Department between Saturday, November 14 and Thursday, November 19 will receive a 50 percent discount coupon for selected performances of Spring Awakening. The musical makes its Orange County debut November 17-29. (Photo credit: Paul Kolnik.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Heights is a Hit in the ATL

The Tony-winning best musical In the Heights paid a visit to Atlanta's Fox 5 during its run at the Fox Theater. The musical continues its acclaimed National Tour and makes its way to the Center August 3 - 15.

Early Morning Hair

The entire cast and all-star band of HAIR, currently playing Broadway's Al Hirschfeld Theatre, visited CBS's "The Early Show" this morning, Friday, November 6th. Hair won the 2009 Tony-Award for Best Musical Revival.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Giselle’s Super Boys

Four local young gentlemen are part of the cast of American Ballet Theatre’s production of Giselle, now being performed at the Center through Sunday, November 8. They appear as local village children in non-speaking and non-dancing roles. The theatrical term for such cast members is “supernumerary.” Each auditioned and were then fitted with their own costumes. Pictured from left are Nikos Mynhier from Anaheim Hills, Giancarlo Fazzi from Encino and Tristan and Noah Epstein of Costa Mesa. Three perform nightly, and on this evening, Noah was a standby in the event one of the other boys was unavailable.