by Sylvie Drake
With the release of the film made of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and considering that musical’s 33-year record run on stage, one has to ask: Why? Why does this show never seem to lose its luster? Is it the pathos? The action drama? The deep well of sentiment (as opposed to sentimentality) on which it draws? The pervasive heroics and genuine heroism of the piece?
The answer is all of the above, as well as producers—chiefly Cameron Mackintosh—who are good at keeping the production strong and fresh.
But hang on to that word heroism.
In this second decade of the 21st century there is a hunger within for genuine heroes or, as Maya Angelou so wisely put it, she-roes. Les Miz has more than one of each, whereas our modern world is pretty much devoid of larger-than-life characters. It is a world where the late Joseph Campbell found “every last vestige of the ancient human heritage of ritual, morality and art… in full decay.”
Strong condemnation, but it is true that we have lost our dragon-slayers. We re-invent them in comic strips, on You Tube, film and television—or substitute a cult of celebrity in their stead. Thin gruel by comparison.
The English language classifies hero as masculine, but Angelou was more than half-right. The word is in fact derived from a woman’s name: Hero, the legendary Aphrodite who threw herself into the sea when her lover Leander drowned swimming the Hellespont just to be with her. Granted, that was more of an emotional than a moral response, and not all of Webster’s definitions of heroism are particularly exalted. The one that comes closest to paydirt is this: “Bravery, nobility, fearlessness, valor.”
Apply these words to Les Miz and you feel the richness—in Jean Valjean’s innate nobility and valor; in that half-pint Gavroche’s fearlessness; in Fantine’s bravery in the face of overwhelming odds or Eponine’s readiness to take a bullet if it can save Marius for whom she has an unrequited love—and even in the final act of Inspector Javert who can no longer bear to live with what he has become.
In the end, it is the totality of Hugo’s massive canvas that works—the contradictions of its operatic scope and its intimate humanity in a marriage of social, political and emotional upheaval with intensely personal stories of private pain and struggle.
And what stories they are. Not content to spin strictly subjective tales, Hugo wanted his entire world to reverberate through his writing. He said he wanted to be the écho sonore or “loud echo” of his day. Although he ostensibly belonged to no church, a religious thread frequently ran through his work. He claimed Les Miz as “religious.” But it is an eloquent compassion, wedded to innate wisdom and a sense of balance that are at the core of the grandeur of his prose.
Les Misérables was a very long book, full of plots and subplots, and took years to complete, but it was only following the accidental death by drowning of his grown daughter Léopoldine—a terrible blow—that he immersed himself in earnest into the writing of it. Memories of his daughter probably informed the character of Cosette, just as memories of his own student days informed that of Marius. Aside from his phenomenal agility with language, Hugo’s genius was a transcending talent for getting to the universal through the particular, weaving the smaller human tales into the sociopolitical fabric of his day.
Les Misérables was published in 1862 and took France and all Europe by storm. It was immediately translated into several languages. The author was astounded by the novel’s success. Even if people rarely plough through its almost 2,000 pages any more, it remains his best-known work, largely because its popularity has been re-ignited by the musical’s charismatic appeal.
Toward the end of the novel, Hugo writes this: “The book which the reader has before him at this moment is, from one end to the other, in its entirety and details…a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from corruption to life, from bestiality to duty, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God…”
So much for the lofty ambitions of the book. But one cannot discount the contributions of the team that created the musical, from bookwriter Alain Boublil’s ability to condense and adapt such a massive epic for the stage, to Herbert Kretzmer’s superlative English translation of the original French, to the stirring anthems by Claude-Michel Schönberg who created a score that seems drawn from the novel’s rib.
More than 150 years after the novel’s publication, we still thrill to this account of an escaped convict’s struggle for a chance at redemption because its sensibility is true to any age. Hugo’s gift for evoking an ambience of mystery, his operatic characters, the quest for justice where none exists, the depiction of a people in revolt, all contribute to this modern attraction. Jean Valjean may have all the earmarks of a hero but he goes them one better: he is a flawed, deeply injured and profoundly moral man who, in his vulnerability and compassion, becomes the idealized model of a person with whom we all want to identify.
French playwright Paul Claudel called Hugo’s vision his “panic contemplation” of the universe. Writer Léon Fargue called him “un poéte d’avenir” or a poet of the future. That future is now and Hugo’s masterwork remains as fresh, provocative and rousing as ever.
Spamalot uses 30 wireless microphones and consumes more than 2000 AAA batteries per month and runs over 1 mile of cable.
Among the props is a cow that weighs 45 pounds and it takes two stagehands to catapult it over the castle.
Spamalot uses approximately 40 coconuts per month, supplied by the Coconut King in Florida.
The set utilizes 25 line sets, 20 chain motors, and more than 10,000 pounds of stage weight.
It takes more than 60 people on stage and off to run each performance.
The Electrics Department uses 6 tanks of liquid carbon dioxide per week to create the low-ground fog effect and uses 8 fire extinguishers per week for the Feet of God “blast off” effect.
The orchestra uses a Spama-horn, an instrument specially developed for and used only in Spamalot.
There are more than 75 wigs (including facial hair) in the show, all hand-tied and made of human hair, yak hair, and synthetics supplied from New York, California, and London.
The mud make-up is a formula specially designed for Spamalot.
The poorest peasants’ costumes in the show are actually made of raw silk.
3 feet of “blood” has to be ironed prior to each performance.
There are over 100 undergarments in the show, including 30 pairs of men’s fishnets and 56 cod pieces.
The Lady of the Lake’s costumes are all comprised of hand-strung glass beads.
The costumes are not only made of a wide variety of fabrics, but many are made of molded ABS plastics, and even nuts and bolts. You are as likely to see a costumer with power tools as you are a sewing machine.
It’s a guarantee that one knight will lose their head every night.
Frank Abagnale Jr. is an expert on fraud, scams, deception and beating the system. Between the ages of 16 and 21, he forged and cashed $2.5 million worth of bad checks in the United
States and 26 other countries, while successfully passing himself off as an airline pilot for Pan Am, a doctor, a college professor and a lawyer. He was ultimately caught, as he always knew he would be, and served time in French, Swedish and American prisons.
Abagnale’s adventures were immortalized, and somewhat fictionalized, in Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as the young con man and Tom Hanks playing the FBI agent who pursued him. The movie, based on a ghost-written autobiography, inspired a 2011 Broadway musical of the same name – score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, book by Terrence McNally, direction by Jack O’Brien and choreography by Jerry Mitchell – which is now touring the country.
It’s easy to understand why great storytellers have been attracted to this period in Abagnale’s life. His capers were colorful, improbable, glamorous, ingenious and exciting. With each chase, with each con, there also was the element of suspense: Would he get away with it? How would he get away with it? It’s a tale that practically begged to be told on screen and on stage.
Abagnale’s life on the lam is the most entertaining part of his story – but it’s not the best part of his story. It may not even be the most remarkable part of his story. What Abagnale has done since leaving behind his life of crime is both mind-boggling and inspiring. He has used his knowledge as a counterfeiter and scam artist to stop criminals and protect law-abiding citizens, initially working with the FBI – which was part of his parole agreement – and then by developing a host of fraud prevention programs that are used by more than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies. “Those are the amazing things to me about my life,” he says, “not what I did so many years ago.”
He didn’t set out to be a con artist when he ran away from home to New York City following his parents’ divorce. “It started out as survival,” he says. “I was 16 and tried to get jobs working in a store, like a delivery boy, and I realized they weren’t going to pay me anything. I knew I looked older, and I thought that if I lied about my age, if people thought I was ten years older, they’d pay me more.”
But as the film and musical indicate, Abagnale was resourceful and very smart, and he began to figure out ways – none of them legal – to make great sums of money, more than he ever dreamed. “I’ve always said that the two reasons for my success were that I was very creative and very observant,” he says. “I saw things that no one paid attention to. I was able to look at things and figure out ways around them. I think I got away with a lot of things because I was an adolescent; I had no fear of being caught. And like most adolescents, I wasn’t thinking about the consequences.”
He didn’t have nearly as much fun as the Frank Abagnale of stage and screen. “It’s a very lonely life,” he says. “Everyone you meet thinks you’re somebody else. I couldn’t confide in anybody. I was this teenage boy out on his own, and I cried myself to sleep many nights. Everyone I associated with thought I was their peer, but they were ten years older than I. So I was constantly having to act like an adult.
“I was also being chased, and I knew I had to stay one step ahead,” he continues. “At one point it became a game between me and the FBI agent as to who was going to outsmart who. But you grow up and mature and you realize you don’t want to live the rest of your life like that. I always knew I’d get caught: I didn’t have it in me to give myself up, but I knew it was a matter of time before they would catch up with me. And there’s great relief when you’re caught because it’s over. When I look back on my life, even knowing where it has brought me, I would never want to have to live that over again.”
Abagnale was 21 years old and living under an assumed name in France when the French police caught him and imprisoned him for six months under horrific conditions. He then spent six months in a Swedish jail, and was subsequently deported to the United States. Before American authorities could take him into custody he ran away again, escaping through the service area of the plane – not by disemboweling a plane’s toilet, as in the movie. “I was desperate, but not that desperate,” he says. He was desperate because he was terrified. “I thought I might go to prison for 20 years or for the rest of my life. Having experienced prison, I got very scared, and that’s why I tried to escape. I had no idea whether American prisons were like French prisons.”
He was eventually caught and sentenced to 12 years in jail. But after four years he was paroled, on the condition that he would use his expertise teaching and working undercover for the FBI. “I didn’t come out of prison saying, ‘I’m a changed person, I will never do this again,’” he says. “The truth is that this was a way to get my freedom. I didn’t know what I would do, or whether I would go straight.”
It was during one of his undercover assignments that Abagnale met Kelly, the woman who would become his wife. “She was working on her master’s degree, writing a paper and doing an internship at this institution where I was undercover,” he says. “I met her under this phony name, and started dating her. On my last day, I took her to the park and said, ‘I would really like to continue to see you, but I have to explain that I’m not this person, this is not what I do for a living. I work for the government and I’ve been here on assignment.’ I broke protocol, which you’re never supposed to do. But she listened to me, and she literally changed my life. She believed in me, she had faith in me, and she married me against the wishes of her parents, who eventually came to love me. She saw something in me that other people probably never saw. She gave me three beautiful children. I am who I am and I am and where I am because of the love of a woman, and the respect three sons have for their father. “
With Kelly in his life, Abagnale’s redemption truly began. When his obligation to the FBI was completed, he was asked to remain on. “I didn’t want to stay on as an employee of the government, because there were things I wanted to do that I’d be restricted from doing, like writing books and educating people about crime,” he says. “I also had a lot of technology ideas that I wanted to develop, but I knew that if I did them while working for the government, the technology would become government property.” So he became a contract employee, working as a consultant and teaching at the FBI Academy – where one of his students was his oldest son, now an FBI agent.
Abagnale works with the FBI to this day, and became lifelong friends with the agent who relentlessly pursued him, Joseph Shea – known as Carl Hanratty in the movie and the musical – who died in 2005. He has his own business, Abagnale & Associates, a security consulting firm, and is considered to be a leading authority in the field. He is a dynamic, much sought-after lecturer, and a self-made millionaire – legitimately. Just as surprising, he serves on the advisory board of Wild Wings International, the philanthropic organization of former Pan Am flight attendants. “Who would have dreamed that?” he says. “Only in America could something like this happen.”
Yet he lives with his past everyday. And although three presidents have offered to pardon him, he has turned them down. “I respectfully declined,” he says, “because I truly believe that a piece of paper cannot excuse my actions. I don’t think it works that way. I made some mistakes in my life and I have to live with them. I know people are fascinated by what I did between the ages of 16 and 21. But what amazes me is where my life went when I came out of prison. I try to do the right thing, and I hope that in the end I’ll be judged for that.”
Catch Me if You Can plays Denver’s Buell Theatre Feb 26-March 10. Tickets: 303.893.4100.
It’s been a while since Denver had a taste of the mad science inherent in Jekyll & Hyde, the killer musical perhaps more suited to Halloween than the advent of spring. It is now back at The Buell Theatre, better than ever, and drumming up a few extra chills before the imminent demise of winter.
One of New York’s enduring hits, Jekyll & Hyde, which features a book and lyrics by two-time Academy Award-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse and a score by Grammy Award-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn, is based as we all know on Robert Louis Stevenson’s infamous tale of a decent scientist’s wild experiment gone bad. A whirlwind odyssey pitting man against himself is set in motion when the brilliant Dr. Jekyll’s medical fooling around backfires, giving life to his evil—and increasingly uncontrollable—alter ego Edward Hyde.
The musical spent some four years on Broadway and on multiple worldwide tours, but the production currently in Denver is an arresting pre-Broadway reinvention. It has a revised script, a slightly different song list, new orchestrations and an impressive new look.
Aside from the central battle between good and evil, this moody musical is loaded with romance, to be introduced this time by a new pair of stars. Tony Award-nominee and “American Idol” sensation Constantine Maroulis joins Grammy Award-nominee and Canadian R&B superstar Deborah Cox to handle the romantic aspects of this haunting tale, as well as inject robust new life into the Stevenson classic scheduled to make a return appearance on Broadway in April.
Maroulis, who shot to fame on “American Idol” and received a 2009 Tony Award nomination for his work in Rock of Ages, plays the dual title role. He is not shy about sharing a life-imitates-art event that he claims instantly connected him to Dr. Jekyll. Dr. Jekyll’s scientific experiment was undertaken in an attempt to help his ailing father; by coincidence, Maroulis’ own Dad was gravely ill when he, the son, was offered the role last year. Playing Dr. Jekyll only strengthened his resolve to give the musical his all.
“I feel you should approach every role with the passion and desire to find everything you need to find as an actor and artist,” he told Playbill at the start of rehearsals last summer. “That’s how I approached Rock of Ages, and that’s how I’d approach Hamlet, which I’d love to do one day. I go about everything the same way.”
Jekyll & Hyde previewed in La Mirada, CA, in September before kicking off its 25-week Broadway-bound national tour in October. The talented Jeff Calhoun is the director/choreographer of this new edition; among Calhoun’s many varied credits are such admired and well-received musicals as the Tony-nominated Newsies, Big River and Grey Gardens.
The original Jekyll & Hyde saw the dark of night in 1990 at Houston’s Alley Theatre, breaking box office records and playing to sold-out houses. At that time, a recording of the musical score yielded all the hit songs that continue to have a strong hold on listeners (“This is the Moment,” “A New Life,” “Someone Like You”), transforming Jekyll & Hyde at the time into something of a theatrical phenomenon.
Despite a mixed critical reception for its original New York run, a 1997 revival at Broadway’s Plymouth Theatre turned things around. It played to sold-out houses and nightly standing ovations, breaking box office records several times and spawning legions of repeat visitors who became known as “Jekkies.” (Some “Jekkies” claim to have seen this show more than 150 times.)
This success is a testament to its creators’ persistence in their pursuit of perfection. When such stars as Liza Minnelli and The Moody Blues began performing and recording its songs, the show gained even greater traction.
While the look may have changed, the mood and the music that first grabbed audiences by the throat are very much there and ready to do it again.
“Any time you have a title with such history and recognition, it’s important to take a fresh look at it,” said Maroulis, who admits to never having seen the musical before being cast in it. Neither, incidentally, had director Calhoun.
“I feel like I’m creating a new role,” Maroulis told Playbill. “We feel we have a really lean and mean script…. Jeff is a very meticulous, detail oriented director. Our approach is very grounded and very real, not over the top.”
This story was assembled from website materials and the Internet
Tony-Award winning stage spectacle moves families, audience members to tears
By David Freeland
War Horse, the astounding theatrical experience opening this week at The Buell Theatre, exerts its pull from the moment the title character, Joey, first trots on stage as a foal, petted by his owner and best friend, 15-year old Albert. The audience gasps, aware that Joey is a puppet, not a real horse, but captivated by the way he shudders and whinnies at Albert’s loving touch. Joey’s lifelike eyes, shining and reflective, draw us into the soul of his journey; as the evening progresses, and Albert sets out to rescue Joey after he has been sold to the English cavalry, we find ourselves carried along and hoping for Joey to make it home.
It’s that kind of emotional power that has made War Horse an international phenomenon, sweeping up audiences and awards on both sides of the Atlantic and even inspiring an Oscar®-nominated film directed by Steven Spielberg. War Horse won five 2011 Tony® Awards (including Best Play) for its New York premiere plus a Special Tony® Award for Handspring Puppet Company for creating the 11 puppets at the heart of the show.
“One of the things we like to imagine,” observes Basil Jones, who runs Handspring with co-founder Adrian Kohler, “is people in the audience nudging the person next to them, saying, ‘did you see that?’”
Set during the First World War, War Horse combines a powerful story with thrilling stagecraft and music. In addition, it showcases what may be the most inventive use of puppetry ever seen on stage. Soon after meeting him as a young horse, we watch in amazement as an adult Joey, seven feet tall, materializes before our eyes. Two puppet masters working inside Joey’s frame (built of light, malleable cane) raise and lower his torso, letting out forceful breaths, while a third manipulates his ears, lifting and pulling them back to register tender shades of emotion. Spielberg’s film version of War Horse employed real horses, but these onstage creations fully personalize equine ideals of courage, strength and loyalty in ways that reinforce the themes of the story.
“Spielberg made a terrific film,” enthuses Michael Morpurgo, upon whose beloved novel War Horse is based, “but cinema has its limitations. It isn’t live, and that’s the difference. What’s amazing about the stage show is that, whether it’s the music, design, or lighting, the puppets, the quality of acting or direction, it’s ingenious and unique. It’s a theatrical event.”
During World War I, more than one million horses were conscripted by the British military alone; of these, only 62,000 returned. As Joey is forced into battle, serving in both the British and German armies, we are moved by his bravery and the trust he places in those who exploit his strength. His innocence makes him seem above the fighting: in War Horse, animals behave with a dignity that humans do not always achieve. Still, Joey is unprepared for the true brutality of 20th century warfare. In a brilliant scene that defines the excitement of Act Two, he faces a new kind of foe: a massive tank rolling his way, prepared to flatten everything in its path. The scenic design is so visceral that we are rushed into battle alongside Joey, enveloped in the sound and smell of combat. Joey rears on his hind legs as the tank pitches toward him and the stage goes black.
“The First World War is emblematic,” suggests Mervyn Millar, War Horse’s puppetry director, “in the way the possibilities of destruction changed. You see Joey standing, looking at the tank, which advances without logic, without thought. Joey tries to work out what it means, what it wants, and it doesn’t want or mean anything. It just destroys.”
Joey’s plight resonates with anyone who has ever loved an animal or taken a pet into the family. As Albert continues his search, we are reminded of the ways in which animals remain with us through many stages of our lives, giving much and asking for little.
“People emotionally invest in animals,” Millar believes. “I think everyone can empathize with Joey.”
Determined to save his friend, Albert runs away from home with the hope of getting close to the front. But in trying to rescue one family member, he hurts another, leaving behind a mother anxious with worry. War Horse’s relevance comes from our awareness that, nearly a century after the start of the First World War, families are still being separated by armed conflict.
“We talk a lot about the history of the war,” remarks Chris Harper, producer for the National Theatre of Great Britain (which first staged War Horse in London), “but at the heart of the show it’s just a family, struggling to deal with life. The thing that’s exciting about War Horse is that it appeals to lots of generations. We see grandparents bringing their kids, wanting to explain the history from their own personal journeys with World War II or more recent conflicts. It’s a production that brings the family together.”
Will Albert find Joey in time? As War Horse reaches its beautiful climax, the hopes of parents, children, and beloved friends – both onstage and off – merge into a shared experience, as tissues are drawn from pockets and eyes glisten with tears.
“We get people coming back again and again,” Harper explains, “and they always have the same reaction. It awakens something in you. War Horse makes grown people cry.”
1. The puppet (Joey), which weighs 120lbs, is handmade by 14 people. Its frame is mostly cane, soaked, bent and stained.
2. An aluminum frame along the spine, lined partly with leather for comfort, allows the horse to be ridden.
3. Stretched, hosiery-like Georgette fabric makes up the “skin” beneath the frame.
4. A puppeteer at the head controls the ears and head; one in the heart controls breathing and front legs; a third in the hind controls the tail and back legs.
5. A harness connects the puppet’s and puppeteer’s spines so his or her movements become the breathing of the horse.
6. The tail and ears are moveable instead of the lips or eyelids, because that’s how horses usually express themselves.
7. Two levers connected with bicycle brake cables control the leather ears.
8. The puppet, just under 10ft long and about 8ft tall, has about 20 major joints. Vertical levers curl the knees and lift the hooves.
9. The neck is made of carbon fiber glass for flexibility.
10. The eyes are black color behind clear resin so light refracts through them.
11. The right hind lever moves the tail up and down; the left hind lever, left to right; moved together, it spirals.
12. The hair in the mane and tail is made of Tyvek, a plastic-like paper.
It’s been a little while since you heard those clanging sounds, but Stomp is back in Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory, with its cast of incredible percussionists who treasure the old adage about one man’s trash…
The troupe still doesn’t look at everyday objects the way the rest of the world does. In its hands, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters (we’re not sure about Grouchos and Harpos) and the general detritus of the 21st century take on a life of their own. Stomp, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, is an exploration of the outer limits of rhythmic invention. It’s a Pipe (read drain pipe) and Drum (read anything) Corps for our age.
And speaking of age, it has not withered Stomp’s clatter—or fun. Stomp—a concatenation of sound and skill—is back with its rhythms and drumbeats intact.
The same goes for its nonstop movement of bodies, objects, sound—even abstract ideas. There’s no dialogue, speech or plot. But music? Absolutely. Uncommon music, created in nontraditional ways—with every day objects ranging from matchbooks to every household object you can conjure up. You’re bombarded by a caterwauling noise that under any other circumstances you would choose to shut out.
But not here.
Here all is syncopated and choreographed with the precision of an army bugle corps minus the bugles and by the fertile imagination of buskers or street performers from the streets of Brighton, England. Brighton is the place of origin—the spot where Stomp’s creators hail from and where they dreamed up this utterly inventive, unexpected, whacked-out show.
So sit back, relax, tap your feet, clap your hands. There’s only fun to be had here—no political statements, no dialogue to misconstrue, nothing beyond the sheer, surprising sights and sounds of the moment, from the ringing of hollow pipes to clashing metal weaving its spell, and industrial strength dance routines involving a lot of supremely well co-ordinated bodies.
Hold on fast to those hubcaps as you zip yourself downtown to swing along with Stomp!
1973 The original French play La Cage aux Folles written by Jean Poiret premieres at the Theatre du Palais-Royal on February 1. The play starred the playwright Jean Poiret and Michel Serrault. The play ran for almost 1,800 performances. The play was seen by more than one million theatre goers.
1979 French film adaptation of play was directed by Edouard Molinaro. It starred Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault. The film (subtitled “Birds of a Feather” on the US poster) was for many years the most successful foreign film to be released in the US. Unlike many other non-English –language films, the English dubbing was done generally by the original cast.
1980 The French film “La Cage aux Folles II” premiered, also directed by Edouard Molinaro.
1983 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened on August 21 at the Palace Theater on Broadway to great acclaim and popularity. The musical starred Gene Barry and George Hearn.
1985 The French film “La Cage aux Folles III” premiered, directed by Georges Lautner.
1985 The musical La Cage aux Folles opens in Australia and starred Keith Michel and Jon Ewing.
1986 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened in London’s West End starring George Hearn and Denis Quilley.
1996 The American film remake titled The Birdcage directed by Mike Nichols was released, relocated to South Beach, Miami, and starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
2004 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened again on Broadway on December 9 at the Marriott Marquis Theatre starring Gary Beach and Daniel Davis.
2008 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened again in London but this time at the Menier Chocolate Factory to great acclaim, starring Douglas Hodge and Philip Quast.
2010 Another revival of La Cage aux Folles opened on April 18 on Broadway at the Longacre Theater, starring Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge.
2010 A Dutch production opened in November and is still running.
2011 Tony Award-winning revival of La Cage aux Folles begins touring the United States.
STOMP, a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy, was created in Brighton, UK, in the summer of 1991. It was the result of a ten-year collaboration between its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas.
They first worked together in 1981, as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatre group, Cliff Hanger. Together, these groups presented a series of street comedy musicals at the Edinburgh festival throughout the early ’80s. After two albums, a UK TV series and extensive touring throughout Europe, Pookiesnackenburger also produced the highly acclaimed “Bins” commercial for Heineken lager. The piece was originally written and choreographed by Luke as part of the band’s stage show; it proved to be the starting point for STOMP’s climactic dustbin dance.
• 1991 — STOMP previewed at the Bloomsbury Theatre (London) and the Assembly Rooms (Edinburgh). Won the Guardian’s “Critic’s Choice” and the Daily Express “Best of the Fringe” Award.
• 1991-1994 — Played to capacity audiences around the world culminating in a sell-out season at Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London). Received an Olivier nomination for “Best Entertainment” and won “Best Choreography in a West End Show.”
• 1994 — STOMP began its run at the Orpheum Theatre (New York). Won both an Obie and a Drama Desk award for “Most Unique Theatre Experience.”
• 1995 — Two US touring companies were formed.
• 1990s-2000s — STOMP has been featured in or created the Tank Girl movie soundtrack, Quincy Jones’ album “Q’s Jook Joint, ” Showtime’s Riot soundtrack, commercials including Coca Cola’s “Ice Pick” and Target, Nickelodean’s “Mr Frears’ Ears,” “Brooms,” the Academy Awards, HBO’s “STOMP Out Loud,” Sesame Street’s “Let’s Make Music” special, and the PULSE: a STOMP Odyssey IMAX movie.
• 2002 —Entered London’s West End at the Vaudeville theatre and performed as part of the Royal Variety Show for the second time.
• 2004 — New York celebrated 10 years of continuous performances of STOMP at the Orpheum Theatre by renaming 2nd Avenue at 8th Street: STOMP Avenue.
• 2006, STOMP’s New York production passed its 5000th performance mark.
• 2007 — The original creators were asked to create and produce the Lost and Found Orchestra, which takes the ideas behind STOMP to a symphonic level to mark 40 years of the Brighton Festival. It was also performed at the Sydney Opera House.
• 2007 — STOMP OUT LOUD opened in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino with an expanded cast and performed inside a new $28 million theater specifically created for the production.
Denver Center Attractions announces an extended season featuring hits straight from Broadway for 2013/14. New this year, the season includes increased payment plan options. For as low as eight payments of $35.63, subscribers will see all 11 shows featuring Tony Award-winning shows such as the 2012 Best Musical ONCE, War Horse, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, EVITA, Million Dollar Quartet and, launching the national tour in Denver, Peter and the Starcatcher – winner of five Tony Awards, the most of any play in 2012.
Kicking off the season January 8 – 20, 2013 is War horse in The Buell Theatre. Winner offive 2011 Tony Awards, WAR HORSE is a remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship. As World War I begins, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, that bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride. warhorseonstage.com
“American Idol” star and Tony Award-nominee Constantine Maroulis joins with Grammy Award-nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox to inject new life into the classic tale of good and evil with Jekyll & Hyde January 29 – February 10, 2013 in The Buell Theatre. After four thrilling, chilling years on Broadway and multiple world-wide tours, this dark and dangerous love story from Tony and Grammy Award-nominee Frank Wildhorn and Oscar and Grammy-winner Leslie Bricusse returns in a newly-reimagined pre-Broadway production that includes all the classic songs like “This is the Moment,” “A New Life” and “Someone Like You” that first grabbed audiences by the throat and transformed JEKYLL & HYDE into a theatrical phenomenon. jekyllandhydemusical.com
Catch Me if You Can, based on the hit DreamWorks film and the incredible true story that inspired it, plays The Buell Theatre February 26 – March 10, 2013. This high-flying, splashy new Broadway musical tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer — living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. But when Frank’s lies catch the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, Carl chases Frank to the end…and finds something he never expected. Don’t miss this big-hearted musical adventure based on an astonishing real-life story of being young, in love…and in deep, deep trouble. CatchMeOnTour.com
Spring of 2013, The Doyle & Debbie SHOW plays The Garner Galleria Theatre. This new hit musical featuring all-original songs is sublime homage and parody, simultaneously idolizing and lampooning country music’s tradition of iconic duos and the battle of the sexes that accompany them. Doyle Mayfield, an old-guard country star with a handful of hits back in the 70s and 80s, is reviving his career thirty years, four wives, and three Debbies later. The new Debbie, a single mother with three children, sees this lovable lothario as her last chance to make it big in Nashville – but she also questions hitching her star to this loose cannon. Fresh off an eight month stop in Chicago, Nashville’s perennial favorites Doyle and Debbie venture west to take Denver audiences on a wickedly funny and freewheeling joyride. The Doyle & Debbie SHOW is sponsored by MolsonCoors. doyleanddebbie.com
Denver audiences will see a big beautiful musical make its world premiere when SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL plays The Stage Theatre April 5 – May 26, 2013. With book and lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow, music by Neal Hampton and based on the novel by Jane Austen, this sparkling new musical is full of passion and wit. Sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, opposites in temperament, struggle to find love and happiness in one of literature’s most beloved romances. When half-brother John inherits their father’s estate, the sisters, now virtually penniless, move to a rural cottage to make do as best they can … but not even desperate financial circumstances can keep love at bay. An all-star team of Broadway champions has been assembled for this thrilling new production, including Director/Choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge, whose recent Broadway revival of Ragtime received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Direction of a Musical; Costume Designer Emilio Sosa, “Project Runway”, 2012 Tony nominee for The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess;Set Designer Allan Moyer, Tony nominee for Grey Gardens, and acclaimed Broadway/London Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls. Producing Partners include: The Anschutz Foundation, Joy S. Burns, Daniel L. Ritchie, June Travis. SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL is sponsored by U.S. Bank and The Ritz-Carlton.
Peter and the Starcatcher, the most mayhem-filled evening of madcap fun on Broadway, will launch the national tour here in Denver at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House August 15 – September 1, 2013. Hailed by The New York Times as “The most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades,” this hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew won five Tony Awards – the most of any play in 2012 – and Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Award as Favorite New Play. Based on the best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher is the thrilling passage to a time when the world’s most important battle was being fought by a glum orphan boy and his exuberant leader. A dozen brilliant actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters using their enormous talent, ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination to tell the story of a nameless boy who becomes Peter Pan. Peter and the Starcatcher is sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton. peterandthestarcatcher.com
An international hit with more than 500 dazzling 2011 Tony Award-winning costumes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, plays The Buell Theatre September 3 – 15, 2013. Priscilla features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “Finally” and “I Will Survive.” This spectacular show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed.
Raise your voice; SISTER ACT plays The Buell Theatre September 24 – October 6, 2013. SISTER ACT is Broadway’s feel-amazing musical comedy smash. Featuring original music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors), Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look—a convent. Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, Sister Act is reason to rejoice!
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical returns at last! EVITA plays The Buell Theatre January 2014. Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world — while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. EVITA tells Eva’s passionate and unforgettable true story, and features some of theater’s most beautiful songs, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying, Adored.” Don’t miss the stunning new production, directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford.
Million Dollar Quartet, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock ’n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time, plays The Buell Theatre February 25– March 9, 2014. On December 4, 1956, these four young musicians were gathered together by Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ’n’ Roll” at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions of all time. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations featuring timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more. This thrilling musical brings you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ’n’ roll band for one unforgettable night. Don’t miss your chance to be a fly on the wall of fame… at Million Dollar Quartet! milliondollarquartetlive.com
ONCE, Broadway’s 2012 Tony Award-winning best musical plays The Buell Theatre April/May 2014. Based on the Academy Award-winning film, it tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, once is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty…and unforgettable in every way. oncemusical.com
DCA subscribers receive priority access to added attractions in 2013/14 prior to the general public. Additional subscriber benefits include preferred seating, free ticket exchanges and various special offers throughout the season. Season subscribers can purchase tickets to these added attractions NOW: White Christmas (Nov 23-Dec 24, 2012), Chicago (March 19-24, 2013), Spamalot (March 28-30, 2013), Blue Man Group (April 12-21, 2013), Mary Poppins (May 1-5, 2013)and Les MisÉrables (May 22-26, 2013).
Denver Center Attractions 2013/14 subscription packages start at just eight easy payments of $35.63. Restrictions apply. To purchase a subscription, please call Denver Center Ticket Services: 303.893.4100 or 800.641.1222, or visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer & Arapahoe. Subscription packages also can be purchased online at www.denvercenter.org/bwaysubs. Single tickets are not available at this time.
The Denver Center Attractions 2013/14 season is generously sponsored by United Airlines and Vectra Bank. Media sponsorship for Denver Center Attractions is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center Attractions is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.