Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Arrives Early for Celtic Woman

Celtic Woman has been named Billboard’s #1 World Artist of the Year for the fifth time and has received its eighth #1 World Album for Home for Christmas. Center audiences can catch a bit of the group’s elaborate new stage presentation in Segerstrom Hall on April 1 when The Emerald Tour arrives at the Center. The concert will combine longtime fan favorites with new musical gems (possibly emeralds?) written specifically for Celtic Woman under the direction of Emmy-nominated music producer David Downes. 

For anyone searching for that last minute holiday gift, a Center gift certificate might be just the thing to finish your gift list. For more information about the Celtic Woman engagement, click here.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

OC Weekly Picks Reggie Watts as One of 2013's Best

It was hip, it was happening and it was in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during the Center’s Off Center Festival last January. OC Weekly picked Reggie Watts’ concert that helped to open the Center’s second Festival as one of Orange County’s top concerts of 2013. That’s just the kind of high voltage place the concert hall is – from Andre Watts to Reggie Watts – as the late acoustician Russell Johnson said of his design, the Renée and Henry should work for everything. 

Reggie Watts at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for the 2013 Off Center Festival.
Photos by Doug Gifford.

“As he stood underneath the glaring spotlight on the massive stage at the Segerstrom Hall for the Arts for the 2nd annual Off Center Festival, Reggie Watts was instantly struck by the size and grandeur of the nearly 2,000-seat capacity concert hall, one befitting of its illustrious founder...Bob Seger. Well, that's how Watt's described it anyway after walking onstage to a fiery applause from a decent crowd of giggly twentysomethings. Many of them, like us, had been smiling as they walked up to one of OC's classiest venues to see a man who's coined such trademark songs as "Fuck Shit Stack" and "What About Blowjobs." (Nate Jackson – OC Weekly)

The 2014 Off Center Festival Opens on January 23. Click here for more information.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Everyone's Cheering for Them, Orange County!

Desi Oakley and Caroline Bowman at Dream Wall 
Caroline Bowman, who stars as Eva Perón in the current run of EVITA at the Center, and Desi Oakley, who performs in certain performances, popped up to the audience engagement displays in the Segerstrom Center lobbies on Wednesday evening. They stepped into the balcony setting to give the signature Eva salute, posted their own dreams on the Dream Wall and posed next to vintage photographs of the former first lady of Argentina. 

Caroline Bowman and Desi Oakley at balcony photo opportunity
Special exhibits, interactive activities and photo opportunities are planned for nearly every Broadway show. Previously, patrons have had the opportunity to pose with members of The Addams Family, ‘get splashed’ in Flashdance and have their photos taken aboard the bus from Priscilla Queen of the Desert

EVITA continues through December 22. To order tickets click here.

Caroline Bowman and Desi Oakley
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Up for Jazz Grammys

McCoy Tyner photo by John Abbott (left) and Joe Lovano photo by Jimmy Katz (right)

Many past – and a couple future – Center favorites are nominees 

by Cristofer Gross 

Nominations for the Grammy® Awards were announced on December 6, and among the nominees in Jazz categories are Segerstrom Jazz Series favorites, including two with upcoming shows. 

Fred Hersch photo by David Bartolomi
Saxophonist Joe Lovano, nominated in the Large Jazz Ensemble category for his guest work on the Brussels Jazz Orchestra's "Wild Beauty" CD, is here this weekend as a special guest with the McCoy Tyner Trio. (Don't miss it: tickets here.)

Fred Hersch, nominated in the Soloist Category for "Free Flying," will make his Center debut May 2. His CD is a duo with Julian Lage, who was here in February 2008 with pianist Taylor Eigsti. 

Hersch is competing against four-time Center visitor Terence Blanchard, whose last visit, in April 2011, was a memorable double bill with Branford Marsalis' quartet. 

For Best Jazz Vocal Album, two-timer Tierney Sutton (2004, 2007) is our favorite for "After Blue," a Joni Mitchell collection. In 2007, when asked about singer-songwriters in general and Mitchell in particular, Tierney told me, "Joni is a genius. I love her. There may come a time when I can figure out something honorable to do with something of hers." 

The nomination makes "After Blue" officially "honorable!" 

Instrumental Competition
Terri Lyne Carrington photo by Tracy Love

In the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category, vibraphonist Gary Burton, who joined Chick Corea for a dazzling duo here in March 2011, is nominated for "Guided Tour," competing with drummer Terri Lynn Carrington, who was just here in ACS with pianist Geri Allen and bassist Esperanza Spalding. She is nominated for a reworking of Duke Ellington's "Money Jungle," called "Provocative In Blue." 

Bassist Christian McBride's trio is also up for "Out Here." Christian is another three-time Center visitor, most recently with Blanchard as part of the Ivan Lins tribute in 2007. 

Best wishes to all Jazz nominees (full list). The awards will be announced in a live CBS broadcast on January 26. 

Cristofer Gross writes jazz features for Center publications. His interview with Joe Lovano is here.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Great Ladies – One Great Show

Left, a portrait of Eva "Evita" Perón and right, Caroline Bowman as Eva 
in the National Tour of EVITA. Photo by Richard Termine.

EVITA was the first British show to win a Tony Award® for Best Musical. It is possible that more people today know who Eva “Evita” Perón was because of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, but how many people know who ‘Tony' was?

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, was named after Antoinette Perry, actress, director, producer and wartime leader who co-founded the American Theatre Wing. The Tonys recognize achievement in live Broadway theater. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. 

Antoinette "Tony" Perry
Toni, as she originally spelled her nickname, scored an enviable list of hits and became one of theater’s most influential women. Well into the 1970s, she was the only woman director with a track record of Broadway hits. At the peak of her acting career, she married Frank Frueauff, vice president of Denver Gas and Electric, which he merged with Cities Service (now CITGO). Unbeknownst to Mr. Freuhauff, his wife had not put aside her passion for dabbling in theater. She invested in a production by Brock Pemberton – a comedy by Zona Gale called Miss Lulu Bett – which won the Pulitzer Prize and become a huge hit. 

Antoinette "Tony" Perry
Perry, who by then had changed the spelling of her name to Tony, continued to support the theater, including such philanthropic gestures as providing financial assistance to actors and playwrights who had fallen on rough times. In 1939 she helped to found The Wing, which operated the famed Stage Door Canteen in the basement of the (now razed) 44th Street Theatre, where stars worked as dishwashers, waiters, waitresses, and entertainers for the armed forces. The sale of film rights for a story about the canteen, and a six-figure check from Perry along with support from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, provided USO tours of shows to overseas troops. During and after the war, The Wing, under her leadership, underwrote auditions for 7,000 hopefuls. Perry was also president of the National Experimental Theatre and financed, with Actors Equity and the Dramatists Guild, the work of new playwrights. 

Perry died suddenly just short of the age of 58. Pemberton suggested the name for the award when they made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.

To learn more about Ms. Perry, please visit

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