SPAWN #297 RUSHED BACK TO PRINT IN ANTICIPATION OF UPCOMING SPAWN #300 MILESTONE ISSUE

Image Comics is pleased to announce that a second printing of Image Comics’ President Todd McFarlane’s Spawn #297 has been greenlit in order to keep up with increasing demand for the long-running series.

Momentum and frenzied buzz surrounding the classic antihero series continues to build leading into historic Spawn #300 and record-breaking Spawn #301 when Spawn becomes the longest running creator-owned comic in the world.

The road to Spawn’s record-setting 300th issue continues as Al Simmons’ war with Heaven and Hell is brought to light in issue Spawn #297. McFarlane and Jason Shawn Alexander continue their exploration of the epic Spawn saga, leading to the recording-setting 300th issue!

Spawn #297 second printing (Diamond Code APR198592) will be available on Wednesday, June 26. The final order cutoff deadline for retailers is Monday, June 3.

Spawn is currently being adapted for film—a gritty, R-rated reimagining—which will mark Image President, co-founder and Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane’s film directorial debut. McFarlane, an Emmy/Grammy-winning producer/director is also on board as screenwriter and co-producer with Blumhouse Productions. 

Spawn sold an unprecedented 1.7 million copies at the time it was released and is one of the world’s best-selling and longest-running monthly comic books, with hundreds of millions sold worldwide in more than 120 countries, and 15 different languages. 

The comic became an Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO and a New Line Cinema feature film that grossed more than $100 million. McFarlane went on to direct and produce award-winning and critically acclaimed projects for top movie studios and record labels. 

BookCon: The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3

The second season of Hulu’s hit series The Handmaid’s Tale left more than a few fans stunned when June (Elisabeth Moss) bucked her chance to escape to freedom in Canada with her baby and instead handed the infant off to Emily (Alexis Bleidel) while turning back into the world that still holds her other child hostage.

This weekend eager Handmaid’s fans finally got to see where June’s unexpected decision has lead the inhabitants of Gilead when showrunner Bruce Miller and actress Ann Dowd (“Aunt Lydia”) brought the premiere episode of the third season to New York’s BookCon.

Ann Dowd (“Aunt Lydia”) and Handmaid’s Tale showrunner, Bruce Miller

Without going into episode spoilers, I will say what I saw went a long way in explaining why June would make such a tremendous sacrifice in that finale and the acting across the board continues to be top notch. Alexis Bleidel’s Emily in particular had me moved to tears more than once. And the BookCon crowd broke out into applause at least twice.

While the terrifying Aunt Lydia did not appear in the premiere ep, the trailers showed that she will return after Emily very literally stabbed her in back last year. Dowd, who was also nefarious in last year’s horror hit Hereditary, is delightful and warm in person and said of Lydia, “she is doing quite well…she’s very concerned” She also offered some exciting tidbits into where season three might take Aunt Lydia.

Although in the last two seasons we’ve seen almost every protagonist’s backstory, Aunt Lydia has remained a mystery. Apparently that will change in season three. Of this insight, Dowd commented that while it wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be “it’s so true to what might have went wrong.” On that change she added that whatever happened, “her life leaned toward Gilead and [to being] one of the most staunch believers of that group.” And while Dowd clearly loves playing Lydia, she joked about her inner dialogue with the character: “I say I’m disappointed with her and she says to mind my business!”

Dowd complimenting a Handmaid cosplayer in attendance

The Handmaid’s Tale returns weekly to Hulu starting Wednesday June 5th.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Rock of Ages”

ROCK OF AGES
Starlight Theater - Kansas City, Missouri
May 31, 2019

My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1981. Yes, I’m old. But I’m also able to tell people that I saw Jerry Orbach on Broadway. And Julie Andrews. And Chita Rivera. But enough about me. I’ve seen plenty of shows in the past three-plus decades but I have never seen anything as fun and exciting as “Rock of Ages.”

Our story begins in the small town of Paola, Kansas. Yes, it’s a real town and, yes, it’s really small. My son’s baseball team used to play there every year and I remember the big hoopla when Walmart showed up! We meet Sherrie (Katie LaMark). She’s a small town girl…living in a lonely world. And her dream is to make it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Despite her parent’s disapproval she heads west and ends up on the Sunset Strip. She is soon mugged and is rescued by Drew (Anthony Nuccio). Drew works at the Bourbon Club, famous for helping launch the careers of many a band. Drew gets Sherrie a job and soon….well, you’ll have to see the show.

Drew (Anthony Nuccio) and Sherrie (Katie LaMark) share a dream of stardom.

I’ve been seeing shows at Starlight for years, and this was, by far, the BEST one I’ve ever seen there. I had only seen the film so I wasn’t prepared for my evening at the Bourbon Club. The music is all classic 80s rock and metal hits. Pretty much every band you can remember is represented. Except, ironically, Def Leppard, whose hit song gives the show it’s name. We are told by the Narrator (an amazing John-Michael Breen) that there is no Leppard in the show because the band wouldn’t license their music. Ironic, isn’t it?

The performances were also outstanding. As Sherrie and Drew, LaMark and Nuccio have a strong chemistry and an underlying sweetness that has you rooting for them. Both also have great voices. During “Oh, Sherrie” Mr. Nuccio held one note for an amazing 33 seconds, which brought the already enthusiastic audience to near euphoria. I would love to see him tackle the lead in “Jekyll and Hyde.” And extra credit to Ms. LaMark for dealing with a major technical glitch (her face mic was not working at the beginning of Act II and, with her character having to remain on stage for some time, delivered a strong performance using a hand-held microphone. Also credit to the tech crew because, in the few seconds she was able to go off-stage, the problem was corrected. Fine performances were also delivered by the supporting cast, with many in the audience falling under the spell of Sam Harvey, who plays quintessential (and problem child) front man Stacee Jaxx – which is possibly the coolest rock star name ever. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the kick-ass band that provides the music.

John-Michael Breen

I’m saving this paragraph for the highlight of the show – John-Michael Breen. He not only narrates the show but appears as the Bourbon Club’s sound guy, Lonny. Lonny loves three things. Rock and Roll and his Fogmaster 5000 fog machine are two of them. Mr. Breen gives the show the majority of it’s laughs and both the cast and the audience feed off of his enthusiasm. I will definitely keep an eye on his career and hope to catch him on stage in the future.

As I said in the beginning, I’ve seen some great Broadway shows, from “Phantom” to “Les Miz” – from “Cats” to “Spamalot – and “Rock of Ages” has definitely jumped onto my all-time favorites list.

Curtain Call

“Rock of Ages” is only in Kansas City through Sunday, June 2nd. For information on upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures Takes Families on a Fun-Fueled Excursion to Iconic Disney Destinations Tickets for All-New Show Coming to Orlando On Sale May 21

Orlando, Fla. – May 15, 2019 – Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures will whisk families away on an immersive getaway chock-full of magical participatory moments. Featuring new and classic tales, this a multi-generational experience visits Orlando from September 6-8, 2019 for six performances at Amway Center. Tickets go on sale May 21.

Hit the road with Mickey Mouse and his pals for a high-octane ride in Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures. Exciting twists and turns await as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and guests of all ages embark on an interactive and memory-rich adventure to iconic Disney destinations. See the world from the rooftops of London with Mary Poppins and Jack and his band of dancing lamplighters. Travel to the sun-soaked Motunui and help Moana restore the heart of Te Fiti. Set off on a safari and snap unforgettable photos of wild cheetahs and monkeys when guests traverse through the Pride Lands with Simba, Timon and Pumbaa. Discover a whole new world and be swept up in Aladdin’s princely parade filled with spectacular stunts, magical moments with Genie, and a brand-new song from Jasmine that will render the audience “Speechless.”  Mosey on over to a larger-than-life comedic carnival and team up with Woody and Bo Peep as they search for their new friend Forky.  Fans will hit a high note with Mickey and pals during the Disney edition of Road Trip Karaoke as they introduce Rapunzel, Belle, Ariel, Mulan and Tiana. Families should be prepared for a getaway jam-packed with unexpected hijinks and surprise, up-close character interaction as Disney On Ice presents Road Trip Adventures makes a pitstop right in Orlando!


For ticket information, visit DisneyOnIce.com
Orlando Show Times: Friday, September 6, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 7, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, September 8, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Venue: Amway Center, 400 W. Church Street #200, Orlando, FL 32801
For group rates and information, reach out to 866-248-8740. Stay current on the latest developments through social media:Facebook:  www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #RoadTripAdventures
YouTube: www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce

About Feld EntertainmentFeld Entertainment® is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment experiences that bring people together and uplift the human spirit. Properties include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Disney On IceDisney Live!, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Sesame Street Live!DreamWorks Trolls The Experience and Jurassic World Live Tour (coming Fall 2019). Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit feldentertainment.com for more information.

Kansas City Theater Review: “RENT”

RENT

Music Hall – Kansas City, Missouri

April 29, 2019

The Broadway (and off-Broadway) stage has often been the place where a generation can speak without rebuke.  The 1990’s saw the production of two very important shows that shed light on the, at the time, the little discussed subject of AIDS.  The first show was Tony Kushner’s epic “Angels in America.”  The other?  Jonathan Larson’s “RENT.” 

Opening off-Broadway on January 25, 1996, “RENT” tells the story of a group of struggling artists (filmmaker, musician, performance art) living in the SoHo area of New York City.  Their goal is to present their art to the world without compromising – to not “give into” the man.  This week, the 20th Anniversary Tour is in Kansas City, with moderate success.

To me, the evening, like the show, was in two acts.  The first act, in this writer’s opinion, was slow, which is a word I normally would not apply to a musical where the cast moves non-stop while performing dozens of songs.  I’m not sure if it was opening night jitters, or bus-lag, but several of the characters just didn’t seem to be “into it” during the first act.  The performances were fine…it’s just that many seemed to be a beat behind.

Musically, the show is magnificent.  I’m sure everyone has heard “Seasons of Love” at least once in their life, and this song, which opens Act II, is performed with heart to spare.  Other favorites were “Santa Fe,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” and “La Vie Boheme.”  Highlights in the cast were Lyndie Moe as Maureen and Devinre Adams as Collins, who is my favorite character in the show. 

 Sadly, Jonathan Larson never saw “RENT” performed before a live audience.  On the morning of January 25, 1996, Larson died after two different hospitals mis-diagnosed a heart condition.  With his parent’s consent, the show went on that night.  For his work, Larson posthumously won 3 Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. 

“RENT’ continues it’s run in Kansas City through Sunday, May 5th

Orlando Tickets Now On Sale for Jurassic World Live Tour

Tickets Now On Sale for Jurassic World Live Tour – an Unparalleled and Thrilling Live Arena Experience Jurassic World Comes to Orlando’s Amway Center January 17-20, 2020

ORLANDO, FL – April 2, 2019 – Tickets are now on sale for Jurassic World Live Tour, an exhilarating and unpredictable live, family entertainment experience that will bring the wonder and thrills of Jurassic World to generations of fans in the Orlando area.

With unrivaled arena production quality, Jurassic World comes to life against a backdrop of captivating scenery where dinosaurs from the iconic franchise, including fan-favorite Velociraptor Blue and a Tyrannosaurus rex more than 40 feet in length, take center stage. The production features more than 24 film-accurate, life-sized dinosaurs, each custom built with the latest technology, scientific precision and Hollywood studio quality. With scale, speed and ferocity, the animatronic and performer-operated dinosaurs deliver colossal, edge-of-your-seat, live entertainment unlike any other dinosaur experience.

Jurassic World’s unmistakable score adds to the larger-than-life, immersive journey that will captivate fans of all ages. Through a combination of projection and practical scenery, the arena will transform into the dense jungles of Isla Nublar, where real Gyrospheres roll through the valley and scientists work to unravel a corrupt plan and save an all-new dinosaur from a terrible fate. With pulse-pounding stunts and an original, authentic storyline, this show is guaranteed to make memories that will last another 65 million years.

“Working with a world-class production team and Universal filmmakers, we have extended the Jurassic World canon with a new story that can only be told through this live, arena spectacular as we bring full-scale dinosaurs to generations of fans around the globe,” said Juliette Feld Grossman, Chief Operating Officer of Feld Entertainment, the worldwide leader in live, touring family entertainment. “We have maximized the power of everything we do at Feld Entertainment, pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation to ensure audiences have an authentic, awe-inspiring experience. Fans will leave with a sense of wonder, as if they’ve boarded the boat to Isla Nublar and literally stepped into Jurassic World.”
Tickets are now on sale for the Orlando engagement at Amway Center, January 17-20, 2020. Visit jurassicworldlivetour.com for tickets and more information. Stay current on the latest developments through social media, including instructions on how to access presale codes for future Jurassic World Live Tour productions.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JurassicWorldLiveTour/

Twitter: @JWlivetour

Instagram: @jurassicworldlivetour #JurassicWorldLive


About Jurassic World: From Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, Jurassic World immerses audiences of all ages in a new era of wonder and thrills where dinosaurs and humankind must learn to coexist. Jurassic World is more than a film franchise. At every turn, this $5 billion film series delivers a larger-than-life destination for exploration, discovery, and epic adventure. Dinosaurs live again and they live in Jurassic World.

About Feld Entertainment: Feld Entertainment® is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live family entertainment experiences that bring people together and uplift the human spirit. Properties include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Sesame Street Live!, DreamWorks Trolls The Experience and Jurassic World Live Tour. Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit www.feldentertainment.com for more information.



Orlando To Host Monster Jam World Finals® XX

Monster Jam’s marquee event moves to host cities starting in 2019

Orlando, Fla. – Monster Jam® , the unexpected, unscripted and unforgettable larger-than-life sport, is proud to announce Orlando, Florida as the first host city in Monster Jam World Finals® new schedule. In a joint press conference at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium, Monster Jam, City of Orlando and Orange County Officials today announced plans for Monster Jam World Finals XX in 2019 and XXI in 2020.

“We are thrilled to announce the next step in the evolution of the Monster Jam franchise as we embark on a new chapter. Like other major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four, Feld Entertainment will bring our marquee event to world class destinations across the U.S., starting here in Orlando with our 20th Anniversary Monster Jam World Finals,” said Kenneth Feld, Chairman & CEO, Feld Entertainment. “Orlando is a city that is not only a premier sports destination, but it’s a city synonymous with family entertainment. We’re excited to make Monster Jam World Finals accessible to even more fans, with the anticipation of over 50,000 fans from around the world converging on “The City Beautiful.”

“Bringing the Monster Jam World Finals to Camping World Stadium next year is a big deal for Orlando and further proof we are one of the country’s premier sports event destinations,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We’re grateful for our longstanding partnership with Feld Entertainment and can’t wait to see our stadium packed with fans of Monster Jam’s premier event.”

“We are thrilled to host the Monster Jam World Finals in Central Florida,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “There’s simply no place like Orlando when it comes to a family and fan-friendly environment. We welcome fans from around the world to our great community for this action-packed event.”

“On behalf of our board of directors and community partners, we are looking forward to hosting Monster Jam World Finals in 2019 and 2020,” said Jason Siegel, CEO of the Central Florida Sports Commission. “We want to thank the Feld family for the opportunity to welcome one of their premier events to Camping World Stadium, and we know their fans and athletes will have a tremendous experience here in Central Florida.“

Monster Jam World Finals XX will be held at Camping World Stadium May 10–11, 2019 featuring all-new competition formats, including an elevated starting line above the seats and seven championship crowning moments. The championship weekend will deliver unprecedented access to the most Monster Jam athletes and the larger-than-life Monster Jam trucks they drive. Page Two: Orlando To Host Monster Jam World Finals® XX.

Tickets to Monster Jam World Finals XX go on pre-sale to preferred customers starting October 16 and on sale to the public starting November 1. For more information, visit MonsterJam.com and tune into the Monster Jam 2019 Season Kickoff live on Facebook, Tuesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. EST.

Being fans of Media Mikes, we want to extend a very special discount: Receive 20% off select seats with code BLOG20. Not valid on VIP seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires May 9, 2019.

About Monster Jam Monster Jam® is the most action-packed live event on four wheels where world class drivers compete in front of capacity crowds in both monster truck racing and freestyle competitions. The brand’s ongoing, global expansion now includes events in 56 international cities across 30 countries, as well as multiple lifestyle extensions from Monster Jam toys and apparel to eyeglasses and more! Monster Jam features the most recognizable trucks in the world including Grave Digger® , Max-D, El Toro Loco® , Monster Mutt® and many more.

About Feld Entertainment, Inc. Feld Entertainment® is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that bring people together and uplift the human spirit. Properties include Monster Jam® , Monster Energy Supercross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Marvel Universe LIVE!, Sesame Street Live!, and DreamWorks Trolls The Experience (coming Fall 2018). Across the brand portfolio, Feld Entertainment has entertained millions of families in more than 75 countries and on six continents. Visit feldentertainment.com for more information.

About Central Florida Sports Commission The Central Florida Sports Commission (CFSC) is a private, non-profit organization established to attract and manage sports-related events, conferences and activities that drive positive economic development in the City of Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County, Osceola County and Lake County. Founded in 1993, CFSC has hosted or co-hosted more than 1,240 events in Central Florida with a total economic impact exceeding $1.4 billion in spending within our community. For more information, please visit www.centralfloridasports.org.

About Camping World Stadium Camping World Stadium is owned and operated by the City of Orlando. Since opening in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration project by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at a cost of $115,000 and a capacity of 8,900, the stadium has undergone numerous expansions and name changes over the years. The historic venue underwent a massive $207.7 million reconstruction in 2014 which yielded 90% all-new construction and a completely modernized stadium. The numerous enhancements and amenities include 41,000 lower bowl seats with chair backs, two 360-degree concourses, multiple giant video displays, a 20,000-square-foot plaza deck, a vibrant open-air exterior and unique indoor & outdoor club spaces to serve 5,000 patrons. These upgrades have bolstered Camping World Stadium’s ability to draw new high profile events like neutral-site college football games, NFL pre-season match-ups and big-name concerts while retaining its signature annual bowl games and events. The City of Orlando and its partners at Florida Citrus Sports expect the recent reconstruction to generate a $300 million annual economic impact. For more information, visit CampingWorldStadium.com.

Interview with Oscar Winner Richard Dreyfuss

With my 15th birthday approaching, my father asked me what I wanted to do.  Having been intrigued by the television commercials for a new film, “Dog Day Afternoon,” I told him I wanted to see that movie.  On Sunday, September 21, 1975, my father dropped me off at the University Square Mall Cinema in Tampa to see the movie.  Sadly, I didn’t know it was rated “R” and was told I couldn’t buy a ticket.  As I began to dejectedly walk away, the girl in the ticket booth called out to me “have you seen JAWS yet?”  I hadn’t.  124 minutes later, my life was changed.

I include this because of what I did after the film.  Like a normal kid, I wrote fan letters to the three stars.  I soon received a letter from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who informed me that she ran Richard’s fan club.  If I wanted to join, it would cost me $5.00 (a week’s allowance at that time).  I immediately sent her the money, along with a note saying “if you ever need any help.”  Within a few months, I was helping her with the club – basically I handled the fans east of the Mississippi river.  It was a great time for a teenager.  I’d scour the newspapers for articles about Richard and each month would send out a packet to the fans, which usually consisted of Xeroxed newspaper clippings and the occasional photograph.  Not sure how many members were in the club, but when it disbanded in November 1978, shortly after the release of “The Big Fix,” I was dealing with almost 1,000 fans.

A collection of photographs sent to fans

I’ve been very fortunate to have met Mr. Dreyfuss twice in my life.  Once, in Baltimore, when he was on the set of the film “Tin Men,” and in July 2017 when we were both guests at a Hollywood Celebrity Show.  At that show I was able to stand near his table and listen to him tell the most amazing stories.  I mention this because Mr. Dreyfuss is currently traveling around the country, offering fans the opportunity to take in AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS.  He will be in Kansas City this week (April 4th) and I have been honored to have been chosen the moderator of the event.  Call it practice, but I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Dreyfuss and ask him some questions, a few of which may be included when we’re together Thursday night.

Mike Smith:  What led you to pursue a career in acting?

Richard Dreyfuss:  Wow!  I don’t know….what leads someone to follow what they love?  I don’t think I really had a choice. 

MS:  Was there a film or performer that inspired you?  I acted a lot through my 20s but couldn’t make a living at it, but the inspiration came from wanting to do what YOU did.  I know you’re a fan of actors like Charles Laughton, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy, among others.  Were they the catalyst?

RD:  They were, of course.  I have no memory of NOT wanting to be an actor.  I think the first time I got on record was when I was nine years old.  We had just moved to California from New York, and I said to my mother, “I want to be an actor.”  And she said, “Don’t just talk about it.”  So I went down to the local Jewish Community Center and auditioned for a play.  And I really never stopped.  I realistically never had more than ten days when I wasn’t acting in a play, or a scene or a class or a job until I was 27. 

MS:  You made your film debut in two very different films in 1967 – “The Graduate” and “The Valley of the Dolls.”  What do you think is the biggest difference between filmmaking then and today?

RD:  There are so many.  The general level of quality for an actor has plummeted.  When I was younger I never hesitated telling young actors to “go for it”…to pursue it.  And now I don’t say that, because the real rewards are so rare…so few and far between  The quality of scrips, from an acting viewpoint, suck.  The sequel syndrome that we’re in, which we can’t seem to get out of, has really lessoned the level of quality of writing.  Of story.  And it seems more arbitrarily decided upon as an element of chicanery and thievery, even for a business that’s famous for it, it goes on.  Film acting is not something I really recommend.  If you want to be an actor in America you can live a very great and satisfied life if you never think about being a star.  You can have a great life in Kansas City.  Or St. Louis.  Or a million other places.  But if you want to go for that kind of brass ring, which I would question – if you do want to go for it, go to therapy first – you’ve got to go to L.A. or New York.  And those towns are pretty sick.

Mr. Dreyfuss’s break-out role – Curt in “American Graffiti”

MS:  You famously almost turned down your role in “Jaws.”  Are there any roles you turned down and then later regretted your decision?

RD:  Oh yeah.  I was once watching a movie and I kept thinking, gosh, this seems so familiar.”  I thought “oh, shit,” and then I remembered why.  And I didn’t ALMOST turn down “Jaws,” I did turn it down.  I turned it down twice.  And then I changed my mind and begged for the part.  (NOTE:  The story goes like this.  After turning down “Jaws” – twice – Mr. Dreyfuss saw his upcoming film “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” and thought his performance was so terrible that he’d never work again.  He then called director Steven Spielberg and accepted the role.  Of course, when “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” was released, Mr. Dreyfuss received rave reviews for his performance, even being named Runner Up as the Best Actor of 1974 (tied with Gene Hackman for “The Conversation”) by the New York Film Critics Circle.)

I will never tell you the ones I turned down that became hits.  Thank God there aren’t that many of them!

As Matt Hooper in “Jaws”

MS:  What fuels the passion for your work?

RD:  If you asked me a question about my process – how do you do this…what’s your method? – I would completely be unable to answer that.  And I’ve always known I’d never be able to answer those kind of questions.  But I know that, in a business where if you’re a successful actor you want to direct, I’ve never wanted to direct.  So I didn’t.  I wanted to act!  I had made a decision when I was very young, which probably wasn’t the most strategist thing to do in the world, but it was the way I chose to live.  Which is to day, if I do a drama, then I’ll do a comedy.  Then I’ll do a drama.  Then I’ll do a comedy.  That’s basically what I tried to do.  And the mistake in that is that I don’t think I ever did something enough times to establish a kind of signature recognition of what I do.  I did both.  I did lots.  And I thought that was the best way for me to pursue my life.  And that’s what I did for sixty years. 

MS:  Where do you keep your Oscar? (NOTE:  Mr. Dreyfuss received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl.”  At age 30, he was, at the time, the youngest actor to win that award).

As Elliot Garfield in “The Goodbye Girl”

RD:  For the most part, in the refrigerator.  (laughs).  I always want people to know about it, but I don’t want to brag.  But I figure that sooner or later they’re going to open the refrigerator. 

And I’m also very aware that the list of actors who were ever nominated or won an Oscar is as great a list as the ones who never were.  It’s a wonderful evening, but it’s rarely more than that.  It’s a great evening.  You’re aware of the film work because the audience for film is in the millions.  But I make no distinction between film and theater.  And, of course, the audience for the theater work I’ve done will be 1/100th of that of the film audience.  But to me, it was always – if not equal than more important –so that is something that I travel with.  I have a little bucket list of things that I check off every once in a while.  “OK, you did a Broadway show…check.”  From the time I was nine, into my teenage years, I was always in acting classes.  At acting schools.  I was always with actors.  And they would always talk about a “National” theater.  And I would say, “There’s never going to be a National theater in this country.  However, there could be fifty “State” theaters.  And, as someone who lives in Kansas City, I would say to you that, something that people should not ignore, is the fact that we are from so many different places…so many different cultures…that we come together as Americans only when we’re HERE, and we learn to be Americans.  And each of us, whether you live in Seattle or Mississippi, you have different strains of a culture.  And I have always wanted each state to have its own theater.  And, in a state like California, which is huge, you could have two, anchored North and South.  And, instead of trying to get everyone to agree on A National Theater, we could have one in every state.  It’s silly to think we can’t afford a State theater, to be able to see how Missourians and Floridians and North Dakotans approach theater.  I think that would be a great endeavor and a great thing to do.  Only because we teach so few things that we share. We’ve actually given up on the notion of teaching things that are of shared values.  And that’s causing this terrible breach in the country.  And we should try to find things that we can share.  And one of them could just be the artistic endeavor of a State theater. 

MS:  That makes a lot of sense.

RD:  And they’ll never do it (laughs).

MS:  Quick follow-up to the Oscar question, one of your fellow nominees that year was Richard Burton.  When Sylvester Stallone read the name of the winner, and you heard “Richard” did you think Burton had one?

RD:  My competition was Burton, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta and Woody Allen.  There was no easy answer.  But I just knew I was going to win it.  (laughs)  That’s all I cared about. 

Richard Dreyfuss with his Oscar – named Best Actor of 1977 for “The Goodbye Girl”

MS:  Me too, that night.  I always wonder how people sometimes vote.  You were also nominated for “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” but I thought you were most deserving four years earlier for “Once Around.”

RD:  It’s probably the easiest vote to define.  There are two ways people vote in the Academy.  One is, you vote for your friend.  Or, you vote for who you think is best.  In that order.  It’s simple.  You may not be able to predict it, but that’s the way people vote.  And it’s the reason why people do vote.  It’s not a mystery.  The only thing wrong with the Oscars now is that there are too many other awards, and it’s cheapened the whole thing. 

For more information on attending AN EVENING WITH RICHARD DREYFUSS, either in Kansas City or at a later date, click HERE.

NOTE: Mr. Dreyfuss wanted me to stress that, even though his appearance will be followed by a screening of “Jaws,” he will be discussing his entire career. So whether you’re a fan of “American Graffiti,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” or want to know about his fantastic cameo in “Piranha,” come on out and listen to some amazing stories.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Anastasia”

REVIEW by DAN LYBARGER

ANASTASIA Music Hall, Kansas City, MO March 12, 2019

If The Lion King and Aladdin work as stage plays because they remind audiences the joy they experienced watching the original animated movies, the makers of Anastasia succeed because the original 1997 cartoon, while enjoyable, isn’t a classic.

Don Bluth and Gary Goldman’s animated film has some gorgeous 2D animation, but their reworking of the legend of Anna Anderson, who falsely claimed to be Russian Tsar Nicholas II’s youngest daughter had a problematic story.

For example, the chief villain was an undead version of Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd), who had difficulty keeping his rotting body in one piece. Despite the G-rating the film had, it disturbed some of the children and even adults who watched it.

For those with stronger memories, the cartoon also incorporated some ideas from Anatole Litvak’s 1956 movie, with served as a powerful comeback for Ingrid Bergman, after her affair with Roberto Rossellini almost ended her career.


The new musical adaptation, which debuted on March 12 at the Music Hall in Kansas City, keeps some of the characters from the original tale but reworks the plot extensively. Thanks to playwright Terrence McNally (Love! Valor! Compassion!Master Class), Rasputin is gone, and a more credible antagonist has taken his place. This time around, the Bolsheviks are eager to stamp out rumors that the Grand Duchess Anastasia survived the chaotic mass execution that took place in 1918.

Nearly a decade later, a Party operative named Gleb (Jason Michael Evans) is trying to remove all traces of the royal family, but a pair of con artists named Dmitry (Stephen Brower) and Vlad (Edward Staudenmayer) are hoping to capitalize on whatever is left of the dynasty.

With the Soviet economy unable to deliver the prosperity the Revolution promised, the two hope that if they can find a suitable impostor to pose as Anastasia, they can collect a finder’s fee that will set them up for life in Paris. While streetwalkers of Leningrad can’t pass themselves as royalty the way Vlad can, a street sweeper named Anya (Lila Coogan) might.

She’s in Leningrad after having been discharged from a hospital in Odessa. She’s got no memory of her life before the Revolution, so it’s easier for Dmitry and Vlad to teach her how mingle at what’s left of the Russian court in Paris, and the amnesia conveniently explains why she hasn’t bothered to claim what’s left of the Romanov fortune.

Now, all the three of them must do is escape the draconian Leningrad authorities and convince the bereaved and highly skeptical Dowager Empress (Joy Franz) that Anya is the Grand Duchess.

Neither is a simple task.

The chief selling point of Bluth and Goldman’s cartoon was its gorgeous visuals, and the current production features several delicious bits of eye candy.

Thanks to sliding panels and rear projection, Anastasia leaps from the Tsar’s palace to an intimidating Bolshevik office to a moving train to the elegant streets of 1920s Paris. While Anastasia might have been enjoyable with the cast simply wailing and hoofing, the lightning fast scene changes and bits of action, keep the play moving briskly.

The play gains momentum in the second act as Vlad uses his old contact Countess Lily (Tari Kelly) to help him set up a meeting with the Dowager Empress. Now that the long exposition is over, the story becomes more engaging. It doesn’t hurt that Coogan can play both a princess and a waif with equal finesse and belts out Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Aherns’ songs effortlessly.

She may be small, but she can easily dominate the stage.

The cast handle Flaherty’s demanding score well, although it’s hard to imagine any of the tunes catching on outside of the play, although “Once Upon a December” is certainly haunting, especially with images of ghosts projected behind the actors.

As a lifelong obsessive over the fall of the Romanovs, I often have to remind myself to let movies and plays about them play on their own terms. Anna Anderson, who was the best-known impostor to pretend to be the ill-fated Grand Duchess, had some believers, but DNA tests in the 1990s proved she had no claim on the lost throne. Her dark and twisted odyssey would make a great movie or play, but it wouldn’t make much of a family musical.

That said, the story of an amnesiac princess is inherently engrossing because we all wonder if there is something more to our lives than our memories let on.

There is no mystery to whether any royalty emerged from the massacre alive, but there is a deep well of stories about the end of the dynasty. It’s seemingly inexhaustible.

Actor Ian Shaw talks about portraying his father in his new “Jaws”-inspired play.

As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.”  The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster.  But there are stories still to be told.  Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”

Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name.  In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.”  “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.  

Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.

Mike Smith:  What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”

Ian Shaw:  It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time  Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down.  This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway? 

MS:  What inspired you to take on this project?

IS:  Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son.  The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience.  That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log.  What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.  Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss.  Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.

Ian Shaw sneaks a peek at “Bruce” while visiting his father on the set of “Jaws” in 1974. (Photo used with the kind permission of Ian Shaw)

MS:  You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s.  Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?

IS:  No.  I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh.  From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process.  And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap.  I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!  

Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.”  You bear a striking resemblance to your father.  Would you consider portraying him in a project?

IS:  Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken.  Wish me luck…

MS:  What else are you working on?

IS:  I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square.  Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.”  His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal.   The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance.  The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest. 

NOTE:  Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE

Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh

Blockbusters Disney’s Aladdin And Mean Girls Anchor 19/20 Fairwinds Broadway in Orlando Season At Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Current subscribers may renew their seats for the upcoming season beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, February 15, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. (February 14, 2019) — Blockbuster Disney’s Aladdin and record-breaking new musical comedy Mean Girls will make their Orlando premieres as part of the 2019-2020 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando series at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. The season also includes audience favorites Escape to Margaritaville: The Jimmy Buffett MusicalA Bronx Tale and The Play That Goes Wrong, along with Tony Award®-nominated revivals Miss Saigon and Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair LadyThe season will also feature the return of the musical phenomenon Les Misérables, for one week only.

Dr. Phillips Center joined Florida Theatrical Association and Broadway Across America today to announce the full line-up.

19/20 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando series:

Escape to Margaritaville: The Jimmy Buffett Musical November 12–17, 2019

The Play That Goes Wrong — December 3–8, 2019

Disney’s ALADDIN  January 22–February 9, 2020

Mean Girls  February 25–March 1, 2020

Miss Saigon  March 31–April 5, 2020

A Bronx Tale  April 28–May 3, 2020

My Fair Lady  May 26–31, 2020

Les Misérables will be presented as a Season Option playing for one week only October 22-27, 2019. Subscribers will have first access to purchase tickets for Les Misérables once they have renewed their seats for the 19/20 season.

“The 2019-2020 season builds on the excitement and success of last year, our biggest season yet,” said Dr. Phillips Center President and CEO Kathy Ramsberger. “The opportunity to bring the best of Broadway to our community in both the performances on our stage and the ‘backstage’ educational experiences like Master Classes and Cast Chatbacks, is a way to invite everyone to experience our vision of Arts For Every Life.”

“We could not be more proud to partner with the Dr. Phillips Center and FTA to bring the best of Broadway right here to downtown Orlando. The upcoming season is a real treat for Central Florida audiences with a balance of some of the biggest hits in recent years alongside gorgeous revivals of legendary musicals,” said Susie Krajsa, President of Broadway Across America.

“We are once again excited to offer special, one-of-a-kind experiences and exclusive pre-sale opportunities to our members through our continued support of the FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando series at Dr. Phillips Center and to provide quality entertainment to our entire region,” said FAIRWINDS Credit Union President and CEO Larry Tobin.

One of the benefits of being a subscriber is having the option to renew your seats each year. Current subscribers can renew their seats now through March 15, 2019. Subscribers who renew early before March 1, 2019 can guarantee the lowest price for their subscription by taking advantage of loyalty pricing. FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando will first send renewal information via email and encourages renewing online for ease and convenience. This electronic communication will be followed up with a brochure sent via posted mail.

New subscriptions for the 19/20 season are not yet available for purchase at this time. Those interested in subscribing for the 19/20 season may join Broadway in Orlando’s subscription notification list at orlandobroadway.com. In April, those on the notification list will be among the first to be alerted when subscription seats become available.

Groups of 10 or more may begin placing ticket requests for most shows in the new season beginning February 15, 2019. Group minimums and discounts vary by show. Seating locations for group orders may not be confirmed until later this year.  For more information, email groups@drphillipscenter.org or call 407.455.5550. Tickets for individual shows in the 2019–2020 season will be made available at a later date.

For more information and to renew a subscription for the 2019–2020 season, visit OrlandoBroadway.com.

ABOUT THE SHOWS

Images and B-roll: https://dr-phillips-center.box.com/s/9aj4fixa5b9avk26w9vdocar7dstpobj

Les Misérables

October 22–27,2019

Walt Disney Theater

Season Option

Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony Award®-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an unforgettable story of heartbreak, passion, and the resilience of the human spirit. Featuring the beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck. “Les Miz is born again!” (NY1). 

Escape to Margaritaville: The Jimmy Buffett Musical

November 12–17, 2019

Walt Disney Theater

Welcome to Margaritaville, where people come to get away from it all—and stay to find something they never expected. Get ready for a hilarious and heartwarming musical with the most unforgettable songs from one of music’s greatest storytellers. USA Today calls it “A little slice of paradise!” and Entertainment Weekly raves, “It will knock your flip-flops off!” So don’t let the party start without you.

The Play That Goes Wrong

December 3 –8, 2019

Walt Disney Theater

What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Monty Python had an illegitimate Broadway baby? You’d get The Play That Goes Wrong, Broadway & London’s award-winning smash comedy! Called “A GUT-BUSTING HIT” (The New York Times) and “THE FUNNIEST PLAY BROADWAY HAS EVER SEEN” (HuffPost), this classic murder mystery is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania delivering “A RIOTOUS EXPLOSION OF COMEDY” (Daily Beast) that is “TONS OF FUN FOR ALL AGES” (HuffPost)!

Disney’s Aladdin

January 22–February 9, 2020

Walt Disney Theater

Discover a whole new world at Aladdin, the hit Broadway musical.  From the producer of The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle.  It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. 

Hailed by USA Today as “Pure Genie-Us,” Aladdin features all your favorite songs from the film as well as new music written by Tony® and Academy Award® winner Alan Menken (Newsies) with lyrics penned by the legendary Howard Ashman (Beauty and the Beast), Tony Award winner Tim Rice(The Lion King, Aida), and book writer Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer). Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner CaseyNicholaw (The Book of MormonSomething Rotten!), this “Fabulous” and “Extravagant” (The New York Times) new musical boasts anincomparable design team, with sets, costumes and lighting from Tony Award winners Bob Crowley (Mary Poppins), Gregg Barnes (Kinky Boots),and Natasha Katz (An American in Paris).  See why audiences and critics agree, Aladdin is “Exactly What You Wish For!” (NBC-TV).

Mean Girls

February 25–March 1, 2020

Walt Disney Theater

“BY FAR THE FUNNIEST MUSICAL OF THE YEAR!” – Chicago Tribune

Direct from Broadway, MEAN GIRLS is the hilarious hit musical from an award-winning creative team, including book writer TINA FEY (“30 Rock”), composer JEFF RICHMOND (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), lyricist NELL BENJAMIN (Legally Blonde) and director CASEY NICHOLAW (The Book of Mormon).

Cady Heron may have grown up on an African savanna, but nothing prepared her for the vicious ways of her strange new home: suburban Illinois. Soon, this naïve newbie falls prey to a trio of lionized frenemies led by the charming but ruthless Regina George. But when Cady devises a plan to end Regina’s reign, she learns the hard way that you can’t cross a Queen Bee without getting stung.

New York Magazine cheers, “MEAN GIRLS delivers with immense energy, a wicked sense of humor and joyful inside-jokery.” USA Today says, “We’ll let you in on a little secret, because we’re such good friends: GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!”

“IT’S NOT A REGULAR MUSICAL, IT’S A COOL MUSICAL.” – Entertainment Weekly

Miss Saigon

March 31–April 5, 2020

Walt Disney Theater

“A DYNAMITE BROADWAY REVIVAL.” – The New Yorker

Experience the acclaimed new production of the legendary musical Miss Saigon, from the creators of Les Misérables.This is the epic story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim. In a bar run by a notorious character called The Engineer, Kim meets an American G.I.just before the fall of Saigon. That encounter will change their lives forever. Featuring stunning spectacle, a sensational cast of 42, and a soaring score including Broadway hits like “Last Night of the World,” “The Movie in My Mind,” and “American Dream,” this is a theatrical event you will never forget.

A Bronx Tale

April 28–May 3, 2020

Walt Disney Theater

Jersey Boys meets West Side Story.” – amNewYork

Broadway’s hit crowd-pleaser takes you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s—where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. Bursting with high-energy dance numbers and original doo-wop tunes from Alan Menken, the songwriter of Beauty and the BeastA Bronx Tale is an unforgettable story of loyalty and family.

Three years ago, Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri teamed up with Academy Award® winner Robert De Niro, Tony® Award winner Jerry Zaks and  Tony® Award nominee Sergio Trujillo to create this streetwise musical – based on Palminteri’s true life story.

The New York Times hails A Bronx Tale as “A Critics’ Pick! The kind of tale that makes you laugh and cry.”

Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady

May 26–31, 2020

Walt Disney Theater

From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady, directed by Bartlett Sher.  Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.”  But who is really being transformed?

“Thrilling! Glorious and better than it ever was! A marvelous and transformative revival.” – The New York Times

For more information and to renew a subscription for the 2019–2020 season and Broadway in Orlando, visit OrlandoBroadway.com.

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FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando is presented in partnership with Broadway Across America and Florida Theatrical Association. FTA is a non-profit civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality touring Broadway productions and the promotion of arts education throughout the state of Florida. For more information, visit FloridaTheatrical.org.

About Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization operating the state-of-the-art performing arts center in downtown Orlando, Fla. With its opening in November 2014, the arts center has become a gathering place for creativity and discovery, and a vibrant urban destination where artists, audiences and students come to experience, explore and learn. The two-block community destination features the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater, 300-seat Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, Seneff Arts Plaza, Advent Health School of the Arts, the DeVos Family Room and other event rental spaces. Under construction is Steinmetz Hall, a 1,700-seat acoustical theater, along with rehearsal, classroom, office space and commercial development spaces. Dr. Phillips Center collaborates with the City of Orlando, Orange County, the City of Winter Park, the State of Florida and generous donors.

BROADWAY ACROSS AMERICA (BAA) is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes Broadway.com, The Broadway Channel, BroadwayBox.com and Group Sales Box Office.  Led by 13-time Tony-winning theater producer John Gore (Owner & CEO), BAA is the foremost presenter of first-class touring productions in North America, operating in 44 markets with over 400,000 subscribers. Presentations include Disney’s The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, The Phantom of the Opera and Hamilton. Current and past productions include The Band’s Visit, Beautiful, Cats, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, Hairspray, Mean Girls, The Producers and Waitress.

About FAIRWINDS

FAIRWINDS Credit Union, headed by President/CEO Larry Tobin, is one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in Central Florida, with assets of more than $2.2 billion, 190,000+ members and over 500 employees. The financial cooperative established in 1949 is open to anyone living or working in Central Florida.

Exploring the Plotaverse with Sascha Scheider

I recently came across an article detailing a new way to present photographs in such a way that the still image came to life.  As I read the piece I was intrigued by the name of one of the co-founders of Team Plotaverse, Sascha Scheider.  Imagine my surprise, and genuine joy, to discover she is granddaughter of the late actor Roy Scheider.  Impressed with what I read I contacted Ms. Scheider, who at age 26, was recently named to the 2019 Forbes magazine Consumer Technology 30 under 30 list.

I contacted Ms. Scheider and she graciously agreed to this interview.  After a few minutes of both of us sharing stories about her grandfather, we got down to business.

Mike Smith:  What exactly IS the Plotaverse?

Sascha Scheider:  The Plotaverse is a digital sharing platform.  I started it with my partner, Christopher Plota, who is a professional fashion, advertising and celebrity photographer.  He’s been in the industry for 30 years and has always been on the cutting edge of technology.  I have a background in painting, business and the arts.  We got together and started talking about what we could do because in the industry a lot of photography is just going straight to video.  And when you become a photographer and are passionate about that, you don’t want to just shoot video.  You want to shoot photos.  They are really two completely different things.  So when we started talking I told him that I was seeing the same thing in the fine-art world.  Artists are trying to stay relevant but aren’t sure how because everyone is moving towards moving images.  How do we help them?  He has been animating still images since the early 2000’s.  He told me about his process and we started talking about it.  When we met we became inseparable.  He’s my partner, he’s my boyfriend.  (laughs)  We’re partners in every way.  So we started developing and creating things.  We started off with Plotagraph, which is our image animation technology.  We started out on desktop and now it’s on mobile – featured in the app store, it’s number one in photo/video.  We had no idea it was going to take off this big. 

While we were creating Plotagraph we also discussed creating a community.  At the time we were living in Florence, Italy, where I studied art for almost four years.  I had an apartment there so we were in Florence taking about creating a community.  So last year, on Valentine’s Day, we launched Plotaverse, which is our mutual sharing platform where you can post high quality digital art.  Plotaverse is the whole community for the entire motion-art movement.  It’s not just Plotagraph.  It’s Cinemagraph, time-lapses, motion graphics…really anything you can think of.  We’ve added Plotaeffects and Plotamorph.  This is a hub which is one big creative tool.  

MS:  What has been the response from people that have used the site?

SS:  It’s been amazing.  They see what can be done with just one photo and they realize they can do the same thing with all of their photos.  Historic photos.  New photos.  You have your photo and you can “move” any part of the image you want to.  Say you had a photo from Jaws and you want the water to move while the shark stays still.  You can do that!  And it’s almost like being on a loop…it never ends.  And it’s very easy today to take photos.  Cameras are everywhere, even in phones.  And the process is eye-catching.  We are seeing that, when used on social media, topics are getting 10 times more engagement using an app from the Plotaverse.  Paris Hilton started using it last July on Instagram and since then she’s gained  5.7 million followers.  And we see it working well with advertising.  They say a picture tells a thousand words.  It already has a story.  It has a dialogue.  It’s just not moving.  When you add some of our technology you’re still telling the same story but you’re getting your message across a lot easier.  

People today have an attention span of about six seconds.  The days of the 30-second spot are going away.  But how can you make a whole video in six seconds?  How are you going to get that message across?  That’s were the Plotaverse really comes in and saves the day.  You already have the story within the image but now it’s moving and looping those six seconds.  

MS:  Last year you held a very successful contest in conjunction with Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.  Are you planning anything for this year?

SS:  Right now we have nothing planned but I’ll definitely keep you posted. 

MS:  What’s next for the Plotaverse?  Do you have more surprises in the works?

SS:  Absolutely.  We recently launched PlotaTV, which will be a series of interviews covering the world of motion arts.  They will be educating and helping the community understand what motion art is and how they can use it to help monetize their work.  The whole idea is giving these artist a way to bring their art to the next level.  We also have plans for more apps down the line.  

TO DISCOVER THE PLOTAVERSE, CLICK HERE

FOR THE COMPLETE LIST OF FORBES 30 UNDER 30, CLICK HERE

Stage Review – “The Sound of Music” – Kansas City

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

The Kauffman Center, Kansas City, MO

January 15, 2019

The Band’s Visit, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Kinky Boots, Once, The Book of Mormon, Memphis, Billy Elliot the Musical, In the Heights. 

The above shows are the ten most recent winners of Broadway’s prestigious Tony Award for Best Musical.  All well deserving of the accolade, but I ask you, how many of them will still be packing the theaters six decades from now?  My guess is Two (Book of Mormon and Hamilton).  I raise this question because there is a show running now that is as fresh and popular as it was when it debuted on Broadway in 1959.  That show is The Sound of Music. 

The show tells the story of nun-to-be Maria Rainer (Jill-Christine Wiley), a young woman who enjoys life and art too much to fully commit to taking her vows.  Knowing her doubts, the Mother Abbess (Lauren Kidwell) sends her to the home of Captain Georg von Trapp (Mike McLean), where she will serve as the governess for the widower Captain’s seven children.  Maria is stunned to see that the Captain runs his household like it was the military, with each child programmed to respond to whistle calls and where their only playtime consists of marching.  Despite his protests she begins to introduce music and fun to their young lives.  Yet this is not always a fun time to be in late 1930s Austria.  A power is rising that deeply offends Captain von Trapp, one that threatens he and his family. 

What can you say about a show that has received every possible honor – 5 Tony Awards, including Best Musical (where it tied with Fiorello!.  Another nominated show that year – Gypsy.  Curiously, both Gypsy and The Sound of Music have enjoyed several revivals.  The 1962 revival of Fiorello! ran 16 shows and has not seen the lights of Broadway since.)  It is truly one of the greatest musicals ever conceived. 

The touring company is quite impressive.  Ms. Wiley gives Maria a sweetness that does not belie the toughness she needs to deal with the Captain.  Her voice is clear and she doesn’t miss a note.  Mr. McLean is equally strong as a man whose grief has taken away his love of the music he once embraced.  The cast of children making up the Family von Trapp are fun and not precocious.  But the showstopper here is Ms. Kidwell, whose powerful rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” brought this critic to tears. The Sound of Music runs through Sunday, January 20th in Kansas City and continues through the US and Canada through May.  For tickets and locations click HERE.     

Talking “The Book of Mormon” with actor Teddy Trice

Near by my home, across the Missouri/Kansas state line, is the town of Shawnee Mission.  They have several high schools and one of them, Shawnee Mission West, has proudly laid claim to such alumni as Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis.  This week I’m giving the students at Shawnee Mission NORTHWEST the chance to brag about their alum, actor Teddy Trice, who is currently starring in the national tour of the Tony Award winning musical “The Book of Mormon”  Teddy took some time out from his schedule to talk about the show, his career and his dream role.

Mike Smith:  How did you catch the acting bug?

Teddy Trice:   I started early.  I went to Trailridge Middle School and I did my first musical when I was in seventh grade.  I did “Into the Woods.”  I was twelve years old and I remember vividly thinking when I was done with the show, ‘I have to keep doing this!’  I didn’t know in what capacity but I knew that it was going to be a part of my life. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

MS:  You started out doing a lot of local Kansas City theater.

TT:  Yes, I worked at the Unicorn Theater, KC Rep, the Coterie, part of the American Shakespeare Festival.

MS:  What was your first show away from home?

TT:  Besides college, my first show out of town was when I did summer stock in Rolla, Missouri. I stayed pretty local.  But then
Mormon” started and they shipped me off to Australia.  I started the company over there and then I came back and did “Sweat” at the Unicorn, which I just closed last month.  And then I started the new “Mormon” tour three weeks ago.

Teddy Trice in “Sweat” at Kansas City’s Unicorn Theater

MS:  Was “Book of Mormon” your first tour?

TT:  It was my first big tour.  We set down in Australia and played for a year in Melbourne and then it moved to Sydney.  It’s still going on in Sydney.  I did six months there.

MS:  How did you get the role?

TT:  I auditioned in Kansas City first.  The casting people pop around regionally and I had my first audition in Kansas City. They called me back the next day. I did the same audition the next day and they put it on tape.  About three weeks later they called me for a call back in New York.  I did the callback there.  I knew at the time they were casting for both the Broadway production and the two national tours.  I didn’t know about Australia until I got an email asking if I was interested in being in the Australian company. 

MS:  YES!!

TT:  That’s exactly what I said.  I emailed them back and said, ‘for sure!’  And then three months later they called me and asked if I wanted to start the Australian company and I gave them an ecstatic ‘YES!’  And the show has been treating me well ever since. 

MS:  Did you have to audition, or have you ever done the show, in front of (show co-creators) Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

TT:  Yes. They actually came to opening night in Australia.  They met with all of us.  They are the coolest guys…very down to earth.  Obviously, they’ve had wild success but they work incredibly hard.  They put out an episode of “South Park” every week and it’s been on the years for almost 20 years. 

MS:  Did you know they were in the audience?  Does that add any pressure to your performance?

TT:  There’s definitely some pressure there because you know that the people that put everything together are watching you but they have a hand in everything.  Casting,etc goes through them.  So you know that when you’ve been cast they approved it. So there’s actually a level of comfort there because they selected YOU to keep this going.  And when you’ve got 1,800 people in the audience every night, that’s enough pressure to take on,  I think my favorite expression maybe “No pressure…no diamond.” 

MS:  You’ve done both drama and musicals.  Do you have a preference?

TT:  I don’t really have a preference.  It kind of comes down to the material.  I did “Sweat” at the Unicorn right before I started the tour and that’s a contemporary drama.  A little bit different from the big musical/comedy that “Mormon” is.  I love the craft of acting so much that, whatever I’m drawn to is what I want to do.  Singing is a great passion of mine so I do have a great affection for musicals but I love them both. 

MS:  Do you have a favorite  musical? Or, better question, if age wasn’t an issue, what role would you most like to do?

TT:   I would love to do Coalhouse Walker in “Ragtime.” It’s a role I’d have to age into a little bit but the musical score is one of my all-time favorites.  Doing an “American Dream” story and building a legacy…I’d love to do that one.

MS:  You’re doing “Ragtime” and Brian Stokes Mitchell is in the audience.  What do you do?  (NOTE:  Mr. Mitchell originated the role of Coalhouse Walker on Broadway.  Television fans may remember him as one of Lea Michele’s fathers on “GLEE”)

TT:  (laughing) If I found at after the show that he was in the audience I would take him out for a drink and ask him about his experiences with the role and what Icould do to learn from him.  I’d rather hear that than have him say, “wow, you really did an injustice to the part!”  (laughs)

Teddy and cast members from “The Book of Mormon”

MS:  How long is the tour?

TT:  Well, the tour will go on forever.  I signed on last month and I’m committed to it for a while.  I’ve been with the show for two-plus years now.  It’s been a long ride.

MS:  Is it still fun?

TT:  It is. It’s given me the opportunity to travel. To be able to go across the country with the show is pretty cool.  It keeps it fresh…it keeps it alive.  And every night you get a new audience andyou get their reactions for the first time. As an actor I keep challenging myself. How do I discover new things and keep perfecting the show?  And I think by having those small goals it keeps it fresh for me.  But when you’redoing eight shows a week for an extended period of time, monotony can creep in.  So you have to keep your brain switched on to give your best performance, especially when there are people in the audience who haven’t seen the show. 

New GWAR Graphic Novel To Split Hell Wide Open- Pre-Orders Available Now!

NEW GWAR GRAPHIC NOVEL TO SPLIT HELL WIDE OPEN – PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW!

GWAR: The Enormogantic Fail – Graphic novel
96 pages, softcover, $19.99 US, ISBN: 9781988903477

You know their name, you know their music but do you know their story? Everyone’s favorite blood spewing alien band return to comics in an all new 96 page graphic novel.

The Master is at it again in a fierce battle against Cardinal Syn. To get into the Master’s good graces, the Destructo brothers have trapped GWAR in order to interrogate them to find the key to destroying Cardinal Syn once and for all. Will Sawborg and Bozo Destructo get the answers they need? Can GWAR escape their clutches? Will Cardinal Syn destroy them all? And what really happened when GWAR were banished to earth?

All will be revealed in GWAR: The Enormogantic Fail, a new 96 page graphic novel from GWAR and Renegade Arts Entertainment. Written by Matt Maguire (GWAR) and Matt Miner (Critical Hit, Toe Tag Riot), with art by some of the greatest comic creators this side of Flab Quarv 7, hand-picked by GWAR themselves.

Available for pre-order now along with exclusive prints, pins, CDs, signed goods and even unique stage props. Pre-orders will be delivered June 2019.
Now, go to GWARCOMIC.COM and get your pre-order in to make sure you get the exclusives before they run out.

Quotes:
Sawborg Destructo, GWAR: ‘The time has come once again, human filth, to show your Lords and Masters your undying, but most likely dying, devotion! I Sawborg Destructo commands you to get your pre orders in now for GWAR’s new comic The Enormogantic Fail! That’s right, get your preorder in today and maybe you’ll survive long enough to read it.’

Matt Miner, writer: ‘Well it looks like I’m not quite done with GWAR yet, and I’ll be hanging out with that crew long enough for some more dick jokes and blood spray. Always a good time when I can hide from the world in piles of bodies, covered in spew.’

Alexander Finbow, Publisher: ‘The opportunity to work with GWAR on this new graphic novel gave us the chance to help create a great story in a collaborative process that respects the band, creators and GWAR fans. The first GWAR comic series was successfully funded through Kickstarter, but the team were keen to try out a different approach this time, one that tied in with some ideas we’d also wanted to try. That’s why we created the gwarcomic.com website, a place where GWAR fans can find out easily what the book is all about, and decide whether they want to sign up for the ride.’

Writers: Matt Maguire And Matt Miner
Artists: Matt Maguire, Liana Kangas, Lukasz Kowalczuk, Matt Lejeune, Katie Longua, Jeff Martin, Kelly Williams
Colour Artist: Josh Jensen
Cover Artists: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer And Josh Jensen
Letters: Taylor Esposito Editor: Brendan Wright Publisher: Alexander Finbow

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