The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Blog

Posts tagged Broadway musical

Video: John Moore interviews ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ cast at Tattered Cover

The principal cast of the national touring production of The Million Dollar Quartet were the featured guests at this month’s Page to Stage, a free panel discussion hosted by John Moore at the Bonfils Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver.

John Countryman (Jerry Lee Lewis), Lee Ferris (Carl Perkins), Cody Ray Slaughter (Elvis Presley), Scott Moreau (Johnny Cash) and Vince Nappo (Sam Phillips) talk about the famous 1956 jam session that spawned the hit Broadway musical; navigating those exuberant fans who blur the line between the actor and the celebrities they help immortalize; and other hot topics. 

SPAM FACTS: From the National Tour

Monty Python's SpamalotSpamalot 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.

Frank Abagnale Jr.: The Real Story Behind Catch Me If You Can

Frank Abagnale, Jr.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.

Jekyll & Hyde The Musical

Constantine Maroulis as Edward Hyde and Deborah Cox as Lucy in JEKYLL & HYDE.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.

Constantine Maroulis as Edward Hyde in JEKYLL & HYDE. © CHRIS BENNION PHOTO.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.

Constantine Maroulis as Henry Jekyll in JEKYLL & HYDE. © CHRIS BENNION PHOTO“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.

Teal Wicks as Emma Carew and Constantine Maroulis as Henry Jekyll in JEKYLL & HYDE. © CHRIS BENNION PHOTO.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.

Deborah Cox as Lucy and Company in JEKYLL & HYDE. © CHRIS BENNION PHOTO.“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

 

Jekyll & Hyde plays Denver’s Buell Theatre January 29-February 10, 2013. Tickets: 303.893.4100

 

War Horse’s Spectacular Journey

War Horse logoTony-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.

Andrew Veenstra, Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui_smIt’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?’” 

Catherine Gowl, Nick LaMedica, Laurabeth BreyaSet 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.”

Grayson DeJesus and Michael Wyatt CoxDuring 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.”

Andrew Veenstra, Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob LaquiDetermined 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.”

 

War Horse plays Denver’s Buell Theatre Jan 8-20. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or 800.641.1222.

War Horse: Joey Facts & Figures


Andrew Veenstra, John Riddleberger, Patrick Osteen, Jessica Krueger1. 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.


Joey and the US National Tour of WAR HORSE4. 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.

Andrew Veenstra, Nick LaMedica, Laurabeth Breya, Catherine Gowl7. 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.

Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui11. 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. 

Stomp is baaaaaaack! Hold on to your hubcaps!

Stomp logoIt’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!

 

Stomp plays Denver’s Buell Theatre September 25-30, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

 

The history of La Cage aux Folles

La Cage logo


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. 

 

La Cage aux Follesplays Denver’s Buell Theatre September 4-16, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.


The history of STOMP

Stomp logo


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. 

  

Stomp plays Denver’s Buell Theatre September 25-30, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

 

Denver Center Attractions Announces 2013/14 Broadway Subscription Series

2013/14 Denver Center Attractions Season

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. 

War HorseKicking 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 

Jekyll and Hyde“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 CanCatch 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

The Doyle and Debbie ShowSpring 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

Sense & Sensibility The Musical. Photo: Brenda Withers and Steven Cole Hughes. Photo by Terry Shapiro.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 StarcatcherPeter 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

Priscilla Queen of the DesertAn 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.




Sister ActRaise 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!

EvitaTim 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 QuartetMillion 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

onceONCE, 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.  


Facts & Figures on Jersey Boys


Jersey Boys returns to Denver’s Buell Theatre July 17-August 11, 2012. Find out about the show before you go!

The company

  • 52 people are in the traveling company of Jersey Boys
  • Of the 19 actors, many play multiple roles:
  1. Hank Majewski plays 8 other parts
  2. Norman Waxman plays 10 others parts
  3. Joe Pesci and Mary Delgado each play 11 other parts
  4. Detective Two (“Knuckles”) and Lorraine each play 15 other parts
  5. Barry Belson plays 16 other parts
  6. Francine plays 17 other parts


Casting the show

  • 7 weeks to cast the show throughout 11 cities. The process includes pre-screens with casting team, callbacks for the creative team (casting team, the music director, the production supervisor and the dance department) and final callbacks with Des McAnuff. During the finals, the room often includes Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio and the producers.
  • Actors are asked not to sing songs from the show, but many elect to sing other songs by The Four Seasons.


The music

  • The Four Seasons sold 175 million records worldwide — all before they were 30.
  • 33 songs are in the show, including five #1 hits and 11 songs that made Billboard’s top ten.
  • The songs in the show represent work by 34 songwriters, including Otis Blackwell, Dorothy Fields, Louis Prima and Judy Parker. Most of the hits were written by original member of The Four Seasons Bob Gaudio and their producer/lyricist, Bob Crewe.


The lights

  • 609 Lighting Cues
  • 401 Conventional Lighting Units
  • 77 Moving Lights


 The costumes

  • 196 total costumes/looks in the show, including some vintage suits, ties and dresses.
  • Tommy has 12 costume changes, Nick has 11, Frankie has 15 and Bob has 10.
  • Frankie runs through 1 pair of pants each week, with repairs every other day. (He slides on his knees in the number “Beggin’”)
  • 9 seconds - Fastest quick change in the show, for Mary Delgado to get out of the car and into her robe for “My Eyes Adored You”
  • 12 quick changes for Frankie Valli. His shortest quick change is 15 seconds.
  • 5 hours – time spent per week hand-beading repairs to the “Snowflake” dresses.  Originally beaded by machine.
  • 87 shoes used in one performance
  • 2.4 miles - Distance a dresser will walk/run during a day, including day work, pre-show call, working the show and post-show work.


The Sound

  • 65 microphones used in the show, both wireless and hard-wired.
  • The full sound system includes 120 speakers
  • 75,000 watts of amplification are used to power the sound system
  • 15 people spent 12 weeks to hand build the sound console 


Jersey Boys plays Denver’s Buell Theatre July 17-August 11, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.


The Four Seasons: Seven Seasons Later

Jersey Boys logoby Diane Snyder

Forget about show-stopping finales. In Jersey Boys, the smash-hit musical about the rise and fall of the Four Seasons the pinnacle of excitement comes about 45 minutes into the first act. That’s when back-to-back presentations of three of the group’s biggest hits—“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man”—are greeted with enough thunderous applause to start a downpour. 

“At that moment the audience has forgotten they’re watching four actors and they root for these four guys as though they really are the Four Seasons in their youth,” says Rick Elice, one of the show’s Tony-nominated book writers (and most recently nominated for a Tony Award for his lyrics for Peter and the Starcatcher). “The response is so sincere and enthusiastic and over the top that it’s impossible to believe anything else.”

It’s also somewhat surprising. After all, the Four Seasons may have been one of the most successful groups of the 1960s, but history hasn’t institutionalized them the way it has the Beatles or other bands popular with that era’s counterculture. Elice thinks that’s one reason why even now, seven years after the show’s big splash on Broadway and equally successful productions in London, Las Vegas and elsewhere, fans are still hungry for their music and the incredible story of four Italian-American kids from the wrong side of the New Jersey tracks who could just as easily have ended up in prison as on the pop charts.

“In many ways the band was a reflection of the people who were buying their records,” notes Elice. “They didn’t have long hair or accents. There was no glamour quotient to them at all, which is why they were never written about. For fans of the band, the show is an edification of who they are, because the cultural establishment ignored them too. These weren’t the people who went down to Washington and marched against the war; these were the guys who shipped out and went to Vietnam. And the respect that the band is getting all these years later somehow feels like respect for them too.”

In fact, before working on Jersey Boys, the Four Seasons song that most resonated with Elice (pronounced “Ellis”) was “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” because characters in the movie The Deer Hunter sing it just before they go to Vietnam. But he and his Oscar-winning co-author, screenwriter Marshall Brickman (Annie Hall), probably were more familiar with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons than pop music when they began work on the show—a first musical for them both. Des McAnuff, on the other hand, the Tony-winning director behind the latest Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, The Who’s Tommy and Jersey Boys, was a huge fan of the group (the first album he ever bought was a Four Seasons album), and he helped to shape the show from its early stages.

(l to r) Brandon Andrus, Brad Weinstock, Jason Kappus and Colby Foytik  Photo: Joan Marcus While other musicals have tried to capitalize on a group’s catalogue of songs by integrating them into the plot, the writers agreed with McAnuff that their staging should be presentational, as if the Four Seasons were performing them to an audience, not sung from one character to another.

“In the first act they’re presented pretty much chronologically, as they took place within the life of the band,” explains Elice, who prefers to describe Jersey Boys as a “play with music” instead of employing the much maligned “jukebox musical” moniker. “In the second act the music is more cunningly chosen to reflect either directly or by contrast what the band is going through at the point where things start to fall apart.” As members leave the group one by one, it’s to a medley of “Stay,” “Let’s Hang On!,” “Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me” and “Bye, Bye, Baby.”

Jersey Boys was born when Elice, for many years the creative director of Broadway advertising agency Serino Coyne, was contacted by a former client who had the option on the Four Seasons catalogue. He’d written a couple of plays and always wanted to work with Brickman, who was a poker buddy. But as they interviewed the three surviving Seasons, they faced a predicament over how to tell the group’s “true” story when they couldn’t even figure out what it was.

(l to r) Jason Kappus, Colby Foytik, Brad Weinstock and Brandon Andrus  Photo: Joan Marcus Elice and Brickman met with Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, the two Seasons who, way back when, formed a business partnership with a handshake that still stands. “They started to describe what it was like to be blue-collar kids, first-generation Americans, Roman Catholic, high school dropouts who were flirting with careers in crime in an environment where people had two pictures on the living room wall: the Pope and Frank Sinatra,” Elice recounts. “It was the archetypal American rags-to-riches story: You start with nothing, achieve success and then try to navigate your life through the waters of success.”

But when they contacted Tommy DeVito, the initial driving force behind the group until gambling debts put him on the outs with the mob, “He said, ‘Don’t listen to them, I’ll tell you what really happened,’” Elice recalls. That’s when they decided to structure the show the Rashomon way, by letting each character tell his own account. As Tommy says at the beginning of the show, “You ask four guys, you get four different versions.”

Each “Season” narrates a portion of the story, including bass player Nick Massi, who died in 2000 and left the group at the height of its popularity without much explanation. Brickman and Elice drew their portrait of him from the memories of the other survivors.

“There was a great mystery to Nick,” Elice says. “Today you would call him obsessive compulsive with sort of a sideline in sexual addiction. One day we realized the correlative for Nick would be to think of him as the Ringo of the band. In any group there’s going to be someone who’s off to the side.”

(l to r) Wes Hart, Brad Weinstock, Brent DiRoma and the Company of JERSEY BOYS Photo: Joan Marcus  That gave them the chance to focus on the Tommy-Frankie-Bob dynamic that first propels the Four Seasons to the top of the charts and eventually breaks them apart. “This was really a love triangle—without any sexual component,” Elice observes. “There was Tommy, who discovered

Frankie when he was a teenager and held the trio group of Tommy, Nick and Frankie together when they were a cover band. Then Bob, this new, young talent came on the scene, and Frankie turned away from Tommy and turned toward Bob because Frankie and Bob were simpatico.”

Valli and Gaudio saw in each other what the group needed to succeed: Gaudio, already a songwriting protégé when he joined the group, wrote or co-wrote many of the group’s signature songs, which accentuated Valli’s vast vocal range and commanding falsetto. DeVito, meanwhile, piled up a huge debt. But by then the Seasons were more than just a group: They’d become a family, and that put their loyalty to the test.

"Tommy gave Frankie and Bob an opportunity to do what families always do,” Elice says. “No matter what kind of betrayals occur you always stand up for another person in the family because the ties that bind are so strong.” DeVito also may have been dealing with his own family issues. As the Four Seasons climbed the charts, his brother, who once had been part of the band, was behind bars.

And for Elice, that’s the essence of the show—family.

“That was a very powerful hook,” he says. “We all know what it’s like to want acceptance, to want respect and to try to find a sense of home with people that are not just the family we’re born into, but the family that we choose.”

 

Jersey Boys plays Denver’s Buell Theatre July 17-August 11, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

Republished from Applause magazine. Written by DianeSnyder, a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Time Out New York, The Wall Street Journal and American Theatre.

 

La Cage aux Folles composer/lyricist’s thoughts on writing the show

La Cage aux Folles’ composer / lyricist Jerry Herman shared his thoughts on writing this musical comedy in “Showtune,” a memoir by Jerry Herman with Marilyn Stasio.


Jerry Herman“Our collaboration worked because we all respected each other, learned from each other, and shared our idea with each other. We pulled this off because we agreed to put aside any individual political agendas and make “La Cage” appealing to the broadest mass audience.

The material was so rich, we could have done it lots of different ways. We could have toned down the humor, given it a much more serious tone, or made it more romantic, or more politically militant. The material seemed to us to work best as a charming, colorful, great-looking musical comedy – an old-fashioned piece of entertainment.

That suits me, because I like to say things quietly, almost subliminally. I feel that’s the way to really get into a person’s heart.  In the case of “La Cage,” I wanted to write a show about two sweet men that the audience would love and take into their hearts.  That’s the real secret of getting your point across – not by hitting people over the head with some pedantic lesson, but by making them fall in love with the characters.”

 

La Cage aux Follesplays Denver’s Buell Theatre September 4-16, 2012. Tickets: 303.893.4100 or www.denvercenter.org.

Originally published by Donald I. Fine Books, New York

The Addams Family — Singing a different tune?

The Addams Family logoBy Diane Snyder 

What does being Addams-y mean? That’s a question the creative team behind the splashy Addams Family Broadway musical had to decide as they wrote—and rewrote—their show, based on the characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams and brought to life in the 1960s TV series, and 1990s feature films, and finally on Broadway in 2009.

To production supervisor Jerry Zaks, Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester and their relations aren’t so different from the rest of us; their weirdness is just more pronounced.