Friday, October 30, 2009

In the Heights Hits a High Note as it hits the road

Tampa Bay Tribune gives In the Heights a rave review for the opening of the tour at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the Heights Hits the Road

The touring production of the Tony®-winning musical In the Heights opened last night in Tampa, Florida. Before the first performance in Tampa, the cast was photographed during their final rehearsal. Scroll down to see more behind-the scenes photos of the show's creative team and cast perfecting every line and move for the national tour. In the Heights comes to the Center August 3 - 15 to take audiences on an exhilarating journey into a vibrant Manhattan community. Click here to watch a video of the reheasal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Musicals on film: a new My Fair Lady in the works

Hollywood continues its love of musicals with many stage works currently being developed as films (Nine opens Dec. 25.)  Now, London's Telegraph reports that My Fair Lady is set to join that growing list.  The paper reports that Keira Knightley will star as Eliza Doolittle, with Daniel Craig rumored as a possible Henry Higgins.  Emma Thompson is taking on the screenplay.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The "ballet world's Cary Grant" arrives with ABT next week

With the much anticipated arrival of American Ballet Theatre's Giselle next week, audiences will have ample opportunities to see many of ABT's greatest star dancers, including Julie Kent, Xiomara Reyes, Jose Manuel Carreño, Herman Cornejo, David Hallberg and many more. 

Audiences will have two opportunities to see Marcelo Gomes as he partners Paloma Herrera (at the Nov 4 & 7 evening performances).  Gomes was featured in a New York Times article this past summer which said  Gomes "is like the ballet world’s Cary Grant: he has all the urbane charisma in the world, but pushes it aside in favor of making his partner look good."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jacob Measures RENT: The Broadway Tour

Did Jacob Matsumiya, our guest blogger, turn into a RENThead after seeing the show on Wednesday night? Read his review below to find out. RENT runs through this Sunday, Oct. 25.

Many, perhaps too many, of the musicals I’ve seen recently have been something akin to candy. Sweet and enjoyable, but full of empty calories. Like I asserted in a previous post, there is really nothing wrong with candy, but a diet full of it leaves you feeling empty, bloated, and unsatisfied. It leaves you craving for something more substantial. Something you can really sink your teeth into. Something worth eating for.

In musical theater, meals of the latter kind are rare and they are becoming exceedingly so. Mainstream theater that appeals to the masses is much easier to sell in candy form. Really we are all to blame for the recent glut of nothing musicals that blow through town, amuse us, and then are forgotten as quickly as the trucks pull away from the theater. We love these musicals because they are easy. Work is hard. Raising a family is hard. The economy is hard. Life is hard. Musicals should be easy. You sit down for an hour or two, check your brain at the door and just enjoy. Nothing more.

I don’t think I realized how much my musical theater life of late has been filled with these types of shows until the cast of RENT: The Broadway Tour took to the stage last night. The spotlight pulled tight on Anthony Rapp and his camera, the band played those first electric notes, and sitting in my seat as goose bumps filled my arm I remembered what a musical could be.

Rare as they are there are musicals that transcend their medium in such a profound way that they change the landscape of musical theater forever. RENT is such a show. When it burst on to the scene more than a decade ago it took the theater world by surprise. Filled with real life, raw emotion and flawed, dare I say, damaged characters it showed life as it was not as musicals thought it should be. RENT wanted to be more. To show us more. Tell us more. Beg us to find something, anything more in our lives.

Watching the show last night I was reminded that a show doesn’t have to sacrifice entertainment to be something more. RENT in my mind is perfection. The songs are stick in your brain soulful, yet every line and every note begs to be analyzed. The cast of this current touring production is perfection. I do not hesitate to say the best touring cast I have ever seen. It helps that three original cast members – Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, and Gwen Stewart – are among them. All three are still in perfect voice and to see them there to hear their voices last night was like having the CD I’ve played so many times in my car come to life before me. It was as if I had never experienced it before. It moved me in ways I can only begin to express in words and reaffirmed my belief that musicals need not sacrifice an audience’s enjoyment for a higher purpose.

And let me tell you the audience was loving it. Every time a song began applause erupted in the theater. Every moment was cherished that much more. From the front row to the back of the third tier the frenzied excitement was palpable. RENT my friends is so much more than a musical. It is what art should be. A doorway for us to discover the things in life that are so easily overlooked and forgotten.

Michael Grief, the show’s director, wrote in the Playbill for the show’s final Broadway performance, “Everyone who gets to work on RENT grows personally and artistically. Our hearts get bigger, more open. Our minds get sharper. We’re better equipped to take care of our children and our parent and our friends and the world. We’ve learned to measure our lives in love, and take no joy or sorrow for granted.”

The same can be said I believe of every audience member who sees RENT: The Broadway Tour and opens their heart to what it is dying to tell you. Open your heart my friends. See RENT.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Look Familiar?

The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall was recently used as a location for one of Intel’s television commercials. Click on the video below to see if you recognize the space. Designed by architect César Pelli, the Concert Hall’s distinctive curves and stairway in the lobby are easily distinguishable . The Center has also been in ads by car makers Toyota, Nissan and Ford.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stars of Broadway's Spring Awakening reunite on Glee reports that Tony nominee Jonathan Groff will again join forces with his Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele on upcoming episodes of the hit Fox musical series Glee.  The national tour of Spring Awakening plays the Center November 17 - 29.

Broadway's Rock of Ages headed to big screen

Variety reports that the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages is headed for the big screen.  Adam Shankman, a judge on TV's hit So You Think You Can Dance and director of the film Hairspray, is set to direct and choreograph. 

Rock of Ages tells of two people who meet at the Sunset Strip club Rock of Ages, fall in love and try to stay together amid '80s rock anthems made popular by Journey, Twisted Sister, Joan Jett, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar and other groups. Since opening at , Rock of Ages is currently playing at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theater and plans to launch a national tour in the coming year.

Monday, October 19, 2009

John & Jessica are a hit at the Carlyle

Center favorites John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey began a month-long engagement at New York's fabled Café Carlyle.  And the New York Times' Stephen Holden is so smitten, he wants to be part of the family.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have Fun With Pasta

Children attending the family show Strega Nona: The Musical on October 24 and 25 are in for a special treat – they will get the chance to make their own magical pasta dish. Strega Nona, based on the children’s book by Tomie dePaola, tells the tale of a good witch who tries to cure an Italian town of its ills. One of the town’s problems is an uncontrollable pot of pasta that threatens to engulf the town in noodles.

To celebrate the story’s Italian heritage, Maggiano’s South Coast Plaza will host a Make Your Own Official Strega Nona Pasta contest. Each child will receive a chef’s hat to decorate and the ingredients needed to create their pasta. The boy and girl who create the most delicious dish and have the most fun will be crowned King and Queen Pasta Chef by Maggiano’s. The winners will also receive a crown, apron and gift certificate to dine at Maggiano’s. The contest will start an hour before each performance on Saturday and Sunday in the lobby of Samueli Theater. Other activities such as coloring, games and puzzles will also be available for children and families to enjoy together. Click here for more information on Strega Nona.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

Monty Python member and Spamalot creator Eric Idle appeared on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and performed the classic 'Always Look At The Bright Side Of Life' with Late Night house band the Roots.

Monty Python members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Eric Idle came to Studio 6B, and reminded us why they are comedy legends. The legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail will be told for the last time Sunday, October 18th, 2009 in Costa Mesa. Monty Python's Spamalot, the 2005 Tony Award winner for Best Musical will end its reign on the road at the Center.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

See Who’s Guilty

More than 1,300 local fans of the musical Spring Awakening have signed up for the Guilty Ones – that’s more Guilty Ones than any other city in the country! Part fan club, part street team, Guilty Ones have been busy sharing their love of the show by blogging, recruiting friends, creating online videos and many other creative ways to generate buzz about Spring Awakening’s debut in Orange County November 17 - 29. For all their hard work, Guilty Ones will have the chance to win free tickets to the show, autographed swag and a meet and greet with cast members. If you’d like to join, click here.

The Guilty Ones had a rockin’ kick off party earlier this month. Click for photos of everyone in their free Spring Awakening t-shirts. Also below are some links to fun videos and photos.

Click to see a video of "Mama Who Bore Me"
Click to see a video of "My Junk"
Click to see photos of Guilty Ones out and about

Can’t wait for more! Thank you Guilty Ones!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kelli O'Hara starts washing that man right out of her hair again

Three-time Tony Award nominee Kelli O'Hara returns to the Tony Award-winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater tonight.  The actress departed the production March 7 in anticipation of her first child, Owen James, who was born on June 27 to O'Hara and her husband, Greg Naughton. 

O'Hara received critical praise and her third Tony nomination for her performance as Ensign Nellie Forbush in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. South Pacific also stars Paulo Szot, who earned a Tony Award for his performance as Emile de Becque in the revival.

Both O'Hara and Szot make their Center debuts in the Samueli Theater Cabaret later this season.  O'Hara appears January 21-24 and Szot comes April 8-11.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Broadway News: Harry Potter means Business

Variety reports that Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame will head a December reading of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  Radcliffe made his Broadway debut in the 2008 revival of Equus, which transferred from an earlier run in London's West End.  "How to Succeed" chronicles the rise of a crafty window cleaner as he follows the advice of a self-help manual to connive his way up through the ranks of the World Wide Wickets Co. and get the girl in the process.  Future production plans will be worked out following the success of the reading.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is 2009 Theatre Hall of Fame Inductee

The 2009 inductees for the Theatre Hall of Fame were announced today and include award-winning composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, fellow composer Stephen Schwartz, actors Jim Dale, Jon McMartin and Lynn Redgrave and the late playwright and actor Charles Ludlum. This year's class will be honored at the 39th annual Theatre Hall of Fame ceremony on January 25, 2010. Click here to read the full story on

And more news for Andrew Lloyd Webber fans - a spectacular stage show of his biggest and most memorable hits from musicals such as The Phantom of the Opera, Whistle Down the Wind, Starlight Express, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sunset Boulevard and Evita is coming to the Center February 15 - 21, 2010. The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber has been personally devised by the composer and will feature an onstage symphony and a cast of Broadway headliners.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For the Love of Spam

Guest blogger Jacob Matsumiya attended Tuesday's opening night of Monty Python's Spamalot. Read Jacob's "freeform riff" of a review below to learn his thoughts on the show, which plays here through October 18. Tell us if you agree with Jacob or not.

Jacob's review:
The Orange County Performing Arts Center kicked off its 23rd season last night with the touring production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. I am not sure if it is due to the fact that I was raised on the comedy of Monty Python or if a love of spam is in my blood based on my Hawaiian heritage, but I found this musical thoroughly enjoyable. In honor of this irreverent production I have decided to forgo the normal structure of my blog in favor of a more freeform riff on all things Spamalot.

Here goes….

S is for Special Effects. From legless knights to rocket-powered limbs of God, Spamalot is packed with acts of theatrical magic. It does not rely on them however, but instead uses them tongue-in-cheekily as a knowing wink to the theater-going audience. Also starting with the letter “S” and worth mentioning are the colorful and enchanting sets. Spamalot seems to spare no expense in the sets department and I was really happy to see a full-scale touring production complete with its own custom deck or stage floor. Something about not having to watch cleverly staged ensemble members stealthy move set pieces on and off stage makes the theater nerd in me very, very happy. And for my fellow theater nerds out there, I have to share that the production utilizes 35 line sets, 30 chain motors, 13,000 lbs. of stage weight, 25 crew members, 6 tanks of liquid carbon dioxide and 8 fire extinguishers a week, and 6 lbs of confetti per performance to create the magical world of the Britons.

P is for Plot. Or really a lack there of. If you find yourself walking out of the theater saying, “I’m not exactly sure what just happened, but it sure was hilarious,” then I think the creative team did their jobs. Spamalot doesn’t attempt to be anything it’s not and I say thank the Lord for that.

A is for Absurd. Enough said.

M is for Merle and Matthew. As the riffing diva, the Lady of the Lake, Merle Dandridge turns in a superb performance of epic proportions. She does her best to blow the roof off Segerstrom Hall with her coloratura runs, vocal acrobatics, and multi register belting. Not to be outdone, Matthew Greer in his various roles, notably Sir Lancelot, The French Taunter, Knight of Ni, and Tim the Enchanter, hands down steals the show. Taking on these iconic roles from this cult classic is no small feat, but trust me Mr. Greer does not disappoint. He too attempts to bring the house down, but unlike Ms. Dandridge, he does so by making the audience quake with laughter. One of the funniest parts of the evening was what appeared to be an improvised joke by Mr. Greer that sent not only the audience in to a collective belly laugh, but also the others actors on stage as well. Priceless.

A is for Asinine. I say this with all due respect and love, but the comedy of Monty Python is completely silly, stupid, and idiotic. And yet it was performed with such earnestness by the creators then and by the cast now that it is nothing but pure comedic genius. And yet when ones digs deeper, you start to discover the jokes are more than they appear. They are actually satirical jabs at history, popular culture, and modern life. So really, A isn’t for Asinine, it’s for Astute.

L is for Last Chance. This touring production of Spamalot has been on the road since early 2006 and OCPAC serves as the final stop on this tour. So basically, this is your last chance to see Spamalot for anytime in the foreseeable future. So in other words, “what are you waiting for?”

O is for Original. Ignoring the fact that this show is “lovingly” ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot is an incredibly original production unlike any other show you have or are likely to see. Of the screen to stage transfers that have become so popular of late, Spamalot is by far the best. With love in their hearts, the creative team set out not to simply put the film on stage, but to turn the film in to an actual musical comedy worthy of being staged in the first place. And based on some recent shows, that in and of itself appears to be another original idea all together.

T is for Tony Awards. Spamalot is the winner of the 2005 Tony® Awards for Best Musical. So if I haven’t given you enough reason to see it already and you happen to be some sort of theatre elitist then perhaps this accolade will be enough to get you to see this show. Believe me, your funny bone will be glad you did.

Finally, with Spamalot opening a new season at the Center, I just wanted to express my anticipation for this upcoming Broadway Series. Four of my all-time favorite musicals, Spring Awakening, Rent, Hairspray and In the Heights, will be making their way to the Center over the course of this year. I am also highly anticipating the new production of the iconic musical Dreamgirls. Sure-fire crowd pleasers Young Frankenstein and The Lion King will also be making tour stops. So really, this is bound to be one of the Center’s most hit-filled seasons in years. For what it’s worth, I highly encourage everyone to go out and get a subscription. I personally guarantee you will not regret it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inside and Outside with Trey McIntyre Project

Six thousand dance fans on October 2 and 3 enjoyed five works performed by Trey McIntyre Project, including two West Coast premieres and a world premiere commissioned by the Center for the occasion. McIntyre’s vision used several features of the Center’s campus, beginning in Segerstrom Hall, transitioning through the lobby and then out to the community plaza. It became dance meets performance art as the dancers continued to perform individually in specially created kiosks topped with video screens while other images were projected onto the side of Segerstrom Hall. The audience mingled and moved about from one location to another to observe each dancer’s individual character. The performances were the climax of an unprecedented week-long residency by TMP, during which time they also held master classes, free public performances, a bus-in for 1,500 students and company classes with local dancers and dance schools. All photos by Doug Gifford

Photos below: World premiere of The More I See You started on stage and moved outside to the community plaza.

Photos: The More I See You on the community plaza.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall on the Record

Herb Alpert is a music industry legend and his wife, Lani Hall, is a Grammy®-winning vocalist who found international fame with Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66. Last year, these music icons teamed up to perform a series of concerts which were recorded. Some of the songs from the shows ended on their newly-released album, Anything Goes. The Huffington Post caught up with the busy duo to find out why they decided to collaborate together and what fans can expect from their new record and performances. To read the full interview, click here. The husband-and-wife pair will make their debut at the Center on December 5 in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for a not-to-be-missed evening of American jazz and Brazilian rhythms.

Christine Ebersole featured in new Broadway Legends book

Robert Viagas, the founding editor of and host of Playbill Radio, profiles many of Broadway's greatest performers in "I'm the Greatest Star: Broadway's Top Musical Legends From 1900 to Today". The book profiles many celebrated stars from Broadway's Golden era including Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Jerry Orbach, Zero Mostel and Gwen Verdon along with some wonderful backstage stories. Two-time Tony winner Christine Ebersole, who opens our 2009-2010 Cabaret Series in Samueli Theater this Thursday, is featured as well. Anyone who has seen this incomparable talent knows why she's considered a legend.

You can read more about the book here or buy a copy at

Friday, October 2, 2009

Trey McIntyre Project Draws 1,500 School Children to the Center

More than 1,500 youngsters, many of whom have never seen a professional dance performance, attended a special preview at the Center by Trey McIntyre Project on Friday, October 2. Some are seen walking around the set and equipment for the World Premiere piece, "The More I See You," which will be unveiled during the Friday and Saturday evening performances (upper right image).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Day in the Life of Trey McIntyre Project

Click above to see a video of Trey McIntyre Project’s busy first day in Orange County. The video includes a visit by Trey and Brett to the University of California, Irvine to work with graduate students in Professor Naugle’s choreography composition class and a spontaneous dance event at Huntington Beach Surf City Nights open market. These activities are part of the dance company’s week-long residency at the Center which were designed to expand the artistic experience beyond the stage.