ORLANDO, FL (September 19, 2017) – Feld Entertainment announced today that tickets for Monster Jam® are now on sale. Monster Jam will be performing at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Saturday, January 20, 2018. Gates open at 5 PM, and opening ceremonies and racing start at 7 PM.
The event will feature 14 trucks and drivers vying to be the Orlando champion, including: Grave Digger®; Max-D; El Toro Loco®; Monster Mutt Dalmatian; Monster Energy Mutant; and many more. (Trucks/drivers subject to change without notice.)
Monster Jam® is adrenaline-charged family entertainment providing jaw-dropping displays and gravity-defying feats that promise to always leave fans entertained. Monster Jam events feature some of the most recognizable trucks in the world including Grave Digger®, Max-D, El Toro Loco® and many more. World-class drivers push these perfectly-engineered Monster Jam trucks to their limits in Freestyle, “2-Wheel Skills” and Racing competitions that will put families on the edge of their seats and leave them craving more of this unexpected, unscripted andunforgettable event!
The Monster Jam Pit Party, which will take place on Saturday, January 20, from 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM, provides unprecedented access to the Monster Jam trucks and drivers. This unique experience in the world of motorsports gives fans access to see the trucks up close, take pictures, meet the drivers and get their autographs.
New in 2018, the Pit Party Early Access Pass is available to every fan who purchases a ticket to the event. The pass provides early entry into the Pit Party from 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM and serves as the regular Pit Party pass from 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM. Monster Jam drivers will depart from the Pit Party at 5 PM. The Pit Party Early Access Pass must be accompanied by an event ticket and quantities are limited.
Tickets to Monster Jam are now on sale at www.ticketmaster.com. All seats reserved. Subject to facility fee, plus convenience and handling charges. Camping World Stadium is located at 1610 W. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32805.
For more information on a Monster Jam, please log onto www.MonsterJam.com (click on “Tickets” and search for Orlando) or follow us via our social channels below:
About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.
MARVEL UNIVERSE LIVE! NEW SHOW, AGE OF HEROES, FEATURES GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY AND MORE THAN 20 FAVORITE MARVEL SUPER HEROES AND VILLAINS
hero action, thrills and drama will soar, smash and burst into arenas across the country starting this summer with the debut of Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes. The iconic Marvel Super Heroes Spider-Man and The Avengers are joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy, including Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket and Drax, in a legendary battle to defend the universe from evil.
Called on by Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy join Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes on a momentous crusade against the scheming Nebula who teams up with the conniving and loathsome villains Loki and Green Goblin. The incredible superhuman forces of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk and Black Widow will unite in clashes that pit student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.
Immersive video projection and cutting-edge special effects will captivate and transport audiences across the universe from the fantastical Savage Land to New York City and beyond. Spider-Man and Wasp’s dynamic aerial stunts along with Captain America’s daring motorcycle skills will be on display in the ultimate race against time to save mankind.
Tickets for Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes start from $15. Market pricing applies to all tickets. Rates can fluctuate based on factors that affect supply and demand. Lock in your price and location today! Orlando Show Times: Friday, January 12, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 13, 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, January 14, 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.; Monday, January 15 (MLK Day), 1:00 p.m.
Venue: Amway Center, 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801
All seats are reserved. Tickets are available at www.marveluniverselive.com or www.ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745- 3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone for information only: 407-440- 7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248- 8740.
To discover more about Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes, go to www.marveluniverselive.com
About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together. With 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Marvel Universe LIVE! and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.
About Marvel Entertainment, LLC
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s
most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000
characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in
entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information, visit http://www.marvel.com/. © 2017 MARVEL
Kansas City, Missouri
September 29, 2017
Review by: JR Deeter
The stage musical “Kinky Boots” is based on the 2005 British film of the same name. I first became aware of this inspiring story while watching the 2013 Tony awards program. I enjoyed the musical numbers like “Sex Is in the Heel,” “Not My Fathers Son,” and “Soul of a Man.” The performance this evening at Starlight really did those songs justice and really, the entire score of songs was great. Lead actors Lance Bordelon and Joseph N. Banks were perfect in there respective rolls of Charlie and Lola/Simon. The supporting cast did an exceptional job as well, especially the ensemble group known as the Angels. For the musical, written by Harvey Fierstein with music & lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, a strong message of inclusion is brought out, promoting the feeling that everyone deserves respect for who they are.
The story tells of a four-generation tradition of proprietors of a men’s shoe factory, Charlie dreams of something more…and his fiancé, Nicola, is dragging him to the big city of London to pursue that dream. The sudden death of Charlie’s father brings him back into the factory to figure out how to tell the staff, who are like family to him, that the company is bankrupt and going to have to close. On a return trip to London, he encounters what he believes to be a woman being beat up by a couple of guys. He intervenes and meets the amazing Lola, the drag queen star of the club Charlie was visiting. Over time a friendship begins to develop and soon, with encouragement from his factory workers, who do not want to see the factory close, Charlie realizes a change is necessary from the old, stodgy men’s shoes to something more….and that is to provid kinky style boots for the transvestites who perform in the club. They are in need of a better designed boot, one that can handle the weight of a man, and still look fabulous and sexy. Lola brings her ideas and a partnership is born. Everything is going great, until an episode of intolerance shows that there are still those in society who do not accept what they cannot understand, or what is different than what they believe is normal. After teaching the misguided few a valuable lesson, by means of a boxing match (yes, turns out in his younger days, Lola, or Simon was trained by his father to be a prize fighter). Lola and Charlie find themselves at odds over designs, models for an upcoming show in Milan, and just their friendship in general. Lola seeks closure from her failed relationship with her father, who has rejected her for the lifestyle she choose. All seems lost, but like most musicals, everything works out in the end. Charlie and Lola realize they need each other to accomplish their goals and even the former bully comes around and admits his misgivings. The fashion show starts out as a disaster, but Lola and her Angels arrive just in time to save the day, and all is right with their world.
A very entertaining show, with a valuable lesson and and musical numbers that are outstanding. Cyndi Lauper has created memorable songs and music that shine bright all the way through. Not bad for a first timer. In 2013 “Kinky Boots” received 13 Tony Award nominations and won six trophys, including Best Musical and, for Cyndi Lauper, Best Score.
For its eighth consecutive season Tag’s Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY makes a ghastly transformation as it shifts from upbeat concert venue to a dark foreboding home of the undead. Rated as one of the top 31 Must See Haunts by Haunted Attraction Magazine the sprawling facility is home to four different attractions this season. Along with long standing staples “Lectures Layer”, “Psycho Swamp” and “Jerkus Circus” is the newly constructed “Motel 666” a two story dilapidated motel which is said to be the home of long since deceased travelers who checked in but never left. Complete with its own frightfully, comedic desk clerk who welcomes visitors with open arms making the new attraction right at home with the other long standing haunts.
While taking a moment to catch your breath between scares visitors can partake in a variety of activities such as the “Escape the Precinct” escape room experience, a “Dark Shadows Maze”, the “Vortex” or meet with a Psychic or Tarot Card reader. If that still isn’t enough try your hand at a number of Carnival themed games while enjoying some of the fall themed food and beverages. Open weekends during the month of October haunt goers can visit http://tagsylvania.com/ for a complete schedule and to purchase tickets…If they dare.
Starlight Theater, Kansas City, MO
August 22, 2017
It is truly part of the soundtrack of my life. In fact, I would bet cash money that if you’re over the age of 16 you’ve heard the sound of Motown. From Smokey Robinson to the Four Tops. Diana Ross to the Jackson 5. Rick James to Rockwell. For almost 60 years we have grooved to the music delivered to us by the great Berry Gordy. If you’ve seen “Dreamgirls” you kind of had an idea of what went on behind the scenes. With “Motown” you know the truth.
The show opens during the famed “Motown” 25 television special, which was put together to honor the label and it’s artists but it mostly remembered for being the show where Michael Jackson introduced the Moonwalk! While current and former Motown artists (the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Junior Walker) perform for the audience, we see an assistant trying to persuade Motown founder Gordy (Chester Gregory) to attend the event. Gordy is upset, having lost many of his founding musicians to bigger record labels with bigger budgets. It wasn’t always like this, he notes.
A step back into one of the most important parts of musical history, “Motown” is an amazing homage to the music most of us grew up listening to. But it’s more then just a “greatest hits” variety show. It takes a look inside the famous walls of Hitsville U.S.A. and the struggles that were endured, both musically and personally. Among the main parts of the story line are the budding romance between the married Gordy and Diana Ross (Allison Semmes). Gordy has chosen to mentor Ross to be the best she can and this mentoring has slowly grown into love. In fighting among the groups, choices of songs and the rights of artists to do what they feel is important. Gaye fights to record an album of socially conscious songs and though Gordy resists at first, he relents and the world is given “What’s Going On,” followed by “Mercy, Mercy Me.” You needn’t wonder if the music is timeless, as both of those songs should be mandatory listening today.
As the story progresses into the 1970s, we meet the Jackson 5 (this group was easily the most anticipated of the evening, earning the loudest applause). The 70s slow down until the company faces the prospects of having to sell. But the late 70s and early 80s, with groups like the Commodores and singers like Rick James (btch) keep the company going. All in all you will hear a virtual jukebox of over 50 great songs, all performed by an amazing cast, led by Mr. Gregory, Ms. Semmes and Jarran Muse, who brings the soul and the spirit of the late Marvin Gaye to life. If you love music and the power it has over us, this is the show for you!
“Motown: The Musical” continues in Kansas City through August 27th. Here is the show’s touring schedule through the end of October:
Chicago, IL: Oct. 3 – Oct. 8, 2017 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre
Huntsville, AL: Oct. 10 – Oct. 15, 2017 at the Broadway Theatre League
Peoria, IL: Oct. 17 – Oct. 19, 2017 at the Peoria Civic Center
Lincoln, NE: Oct. 21 – Oct. 22, 2017 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts
Mason City, IA: Oct. 25 – Oct. 26, 2017 at the North Iowa Community Auditorium
Sioux Falls, SD: Oct. 27 – Oct. 29, 2017 at the Washington Pavilion
To celebrate the arrival of Disney On Ice Presents “Dare to Dream” coming to the Amway Center in Orlando from September 8-10, 2016, Media Mikes would like to give our fans a chance to win a family four pack of tickets to this monumental ice skating spectacular. Please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite Disney on Ice memory from when you were younger or with your family. This giveaway will remain open until August 30th. This is open to our readers in Florida only unless you want to travel. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.
Here are the available shows that the winner will be able to chose from:
Friday, Sept. 8 at 7:30pm
Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11am.
Amway Center, 400 West Church Street – Suite 200, Orlando, Florida 32801
Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires September 7, 2017.
I am a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities
Kansas City, Missouri
August 8, 2017
Bang! The sound of a gunshot fills the theater while, behind the curtain, a voice cautions, “You know what I do!” Whether the other person does or doesn’t is irrelevant. With another shot, he is dead.
The above transpires in the first few minutes of “The Bodyguard: The Musical.” Based on the popular Lawrence Kasdan film, which starred Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, the show is hoping to recreate it’s huge London success on a tour of the states.
To those familiar with the film, you know that the story involves pop superstar and budding film star Rachel Marron (an outstanding Deborah Cox) and her hate/hate more relationship with Secret Service agent turned personal bodyguard Frank Farmer (Judson Mills), who has been hired by Rachel’s manager to look after the singer after a series of threatening notes are found. Frank is a no-nonsense kind of guy and this rubs Rachel the wrong way. Not only is she worried about her privacy but that of her young son, Fletcher. As the show progresses we are treated to some nice choreography and some amazing Whitney Houston songs. In fact, this show is so full of Houston’s hits that it should have been called “WHITNEY! – The Musical.”
The show’s plot consists of every way possible to introduce another classic Whitney Houston to the audience. The songs are classics, but the plot is a dud. It didn’t really work as a film but translated to the stage, especially in musical form, is a gamble that doesn’t quite pay off. On the plus side, both leads are committed to their roles and Ms. Cox’s voice is loud and clear. The choreography is top notch and the direction keeps the show moving. If you’re a fan of the film you may want to skip “The Bodyguard.” If you’re into the music of Whitney Houston, then by all means take it in.
Moana, Maui and Friends from Disney’s Moana Take the Ice for the First Time; Tickets On Sale Now for the 2017 Dates
Disney’s Moana voyages onto the ice for the first time as Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream, produced by Feld Entertainment Inc., brings courage and adventure to hometowns across North America. Hosts Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse bring audiences on an expedition across raging seas and snow covered mountains in this action-packed extravaganza featuring Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Tangled and Cinderella with other beloved Disney characters to help tell these extraordinary tales. Tickets are on sale today for the 2017 tour dates.
Dare To Dream takes families on a high-sea adventure as Moana sets sail on a life-changing quest to save her island with help from the demigod Maui. With the ice floor transformed into the vast oceanic scape, Disney On Ice allows Moana’s strength and determination to take center stage. This engaging atmosphere lets audiences deepen their existing connection to their favorite wayfinder and discover one’s true identity is never out of reach.
“As parents, we strive to find role models who embolden our children to choose kindness and exhibit the values we aim to impart, and this production of Disney On Ice truly embodies this goal,” said Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Disney On Ice presents Dare To Dream, Nicole Feld. “With Dare To Dream, I want to inspire the youngest members of our families with the heroic stories of their favorite Disney characters and allow them to discover the hero within themselves.”
Beautiful production numbers invite audiences into the world of Beauty and the Beast, as Belle shows what it means to be fearless. Along with her new friends in the enchanted castle, Belle is encouraged to step outside the ordinary and find joy in the bleakest situation. As she looks beyond the harsh exterior of the Beast to reach his gentle heart, fans learn there are teachable moments in everyday life.
Through the athleticism and grace of Anna and Elsa, Rapunzel and Flynn, and Cinderella, brave heroes from Frozen, Tangled and Cinderella ignite passions to believe. Showgoers will witness each characters’ unique qualities and talents inspiring children around the world to discover their inner hero.
“One of the most magical things about Disney On Ice is the performers’ ability to authentically showcase the best qualities of Disney characters,” said Director Patty Vincent. “At our shows, moms and dads are able to experience the magic through the eyes of their children, allowing them to reconnect with their favorite characters and once again experience the childlike wonder and hope that inspires us all.”
Visit DisneyOnIce.com for the shows and dates coming to your hometown. Stay current on the latest developments through social media, including instructions on how to access presale codes for future Disney On Ice productions:
About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that uplift the human spirit and bring people together. With millions of people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com.
Margaret Cho Set To Introduce Her Newest Stand-Up Comedy Material On Upcoming
“Fresh Off The Bloat Tour”
Tickets Go On Sale July 21 Via http://margaretcho.com/tour/
TNT Order New Comedic Drama “Highlands” Starring Margaret Cho To Pilot.
Five time Grammy & Emmy nominated comedian Margaret Cho has much to celebrate as she was recently named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time and is set to launch what is sure to be her sickest stand-up comedy show to date this fall. A pioneer amongst women in comedy, Margaret doesn’t take anything for granted as she continues to tackle difficult subjects with sensitivity and her razor sharp insight with her takes on addiction, abuse, activism and Asianness. It’s all about the politics of disgust and what is disgusting about politics. Aptly titled, “Fresh Off The Bloat,” Margaret says, ““Fresh Off The Bloat” is my sickest show to date. My grandmother said “You look like bloated as if you’ve been found dead in a lake after several days of searching.” Koreans are the most savage of all the Asians. My new show is all about being fresh off drugs and drinking and suicide and coming back to life – finally fished out of the river Styx. It’s meta. It’s magical. It’s me.”
The initial “Fresh Off The Bloat” tour dates go on sale Friday, July 21 here: http://margaretcho.com/tour/ – Please note that the December 6 show in Belgium will go on sale July 20. Additional dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
Margaret’s new TV project Highland has been picked up for pilot by TNT Network. Highland will chronicle what happens when two extended, dysfunctional Korean-American families who share the same patriarch must come together after tragedy strikes. As it turns out, the most reliable person in both families is the one who just got out of rehab.
“Executive producer Liz Sarnoff (Lost,Barry) and Margaret Cho’s brilliant script exposes Margaret’s warm heart and bracing humor, balancing powerful emotional truths with laugh-out-loud scenes and characters,” said Sarah Aubrey, executive vice president of original programming for TNT. “Highland continues TNT’s commitment to bringing diverse voices and worlds to television. We look forward to making a pilot with such a singular talent as Margaret Cho.”
“Fresh Off The Bloat” Tour Dates
9/23/2017 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL
9/24/2017 Orpheum Theater – Stage Door Madison, WI
9/29/2017 Sands Bethlehem Events Center Bethlehem, PA
10/5/2017 The Wiltern Theater Los Angeles, CA, USA
10/12/2017 2 SHOWS, Gramercy Theatre New York, NY, USA
10/14/2017 Warner Theatre Washington, DC, USA
10/21/2017 2 SHOWS, Castro Theatre San Francisco, CA, USA
11/5/2017 The Fillmore Philadelphia, PA
11/25/2017 Queens Hall Edinburgh, UK
11/26/2017 Tivoli Theatre Dublin, Ireland
11/28/2017 St. George’s Hall Bristol, UK
11/29/2017 Glee Club Birmingham, UK
11/30/2017 The Lowry Manchester, UK
12/1/2017 Academy Sheffield, UK
12/2/2017 Brighton Concert Hall Brighton, UK
12/4/2017 De Meervaart Amsterdam, Netherlands (ON SALE 20 JULY)
12/6/2017 Zuiderpershuis Antwerp, Belgium
12/8/2017 Bremen Copenhagen, Denmark
12/10/2017 Shepherd’s Bush Empire London, UK
12/12/2017 Latter Oslo, Norway
Kansas City, Missouri
July 11, 2017
It’s one of the most beloved film musicals of all time, winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and was often referred to by its star, the great Gene Kelly, as his favorite of his films. I’m talking, of course, about 1951’s “An American in Paris,” which introduced a new generation to the music of George and Ira Gershwin.
Paris. World War II has just ended and American G.I. Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox), an aspiring painter, has decided to stay in the City of Lights in hopes of gaining new inspirations to put brush to canvas. He meets fellow soldier Adam (Etai Benson), who delivers the story to the audience. He also meets Henri (Nick Spangler), an aspiring performer. The three men are anxious to remove all memories of the war and begin whatever great adventure life has planned for them. Things go well until they meet the beautiful Lise (Sara Esty), a young ballet dancer. While Adam’s relationship with LIse is professional, both Jerry and Henri fall in love with her, with complications aplenty.
First off my sincere thanks for the marvelous performance turned in by the entire cast on a night where, as the curtain rose, the temperature was near 90 degrees. Thankfully there was a nice breeze all night because the night went by swiftly. Director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon has embraced the ballet aspect of the story, with much of the on-stage movement based on that form of dance. The graceful movements of those involved were perfect accompaniments with the musical score. No wonder Mr. Wheeldon was nominated for the Tony Award for both his directing and choreography, winning the award for the latter.
The four leads were in fine voice, breathing fresh life into such well known standards as “I Got Rhythm,” “The Man I Love” and “‘S Wonderful.” The costumes were bright and colorful and the set design, though a little dark, evoked Paris in the late 1940’s.
Again, the video screens were a little distracting but I will give Starlight credit for using mostly wide-shots of the stage (“Mamma Mia” utilized a lot of close-ups, meaning those watching on the screens were missing a lot of the dancing), giving the audience a complete view of the award-winning choreography.
Starlight Theatre, Kansas City MO
June 27, 2017
Review By: J.R. Deeter
If you are of a certain age, you certainly know the musical history of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. From the early 1960’s with breakthrough hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man,” the hits just kept coming…..few bands consistently gave their fans hit after hit on the Billboard Pop Chart.
What most people may not have known, and do not realize, is the story of how four boys from Jersey came together, from lowly beginnings and backgrounds while dealing with constant band name changes (they finally settled on The Four Seasons, borrowed from a local bowling alley) to struggle and then soar to the highest levels of success, before falling completely apart. One member removed, one member walked away, with two left to try again….and succeed again. It really is a great American rags to riches story and two and a half hours of pure entertainment.
Starlight Theater is a beautiful outdoor venue in Kansas City and the theater can be a very enjoyable experience, when the weather is nice. For our performance it was “Oh What A Night”!
The cast did a fantastic job, both musically and in portraying their respective roles, picking up after what seemed like a few stumbled moments during the opening scenes. Aaron De Jesus shines as Frankie Castelluccio, soon to become Frankie Valli, with an “i”. His voice was the best part of the show by far leading and hitting the high falsetto notes Valli is most famous for.
Matthew Dailey as Tommy DeVito, Keith Hines as Nick Massi, and Cory Jeacoma as Bob Gaudio were also very entertaining, as each member gets to tell his version of the story. As the show moves through the hit songs and the personal experiences of the guys, you can get a feel for what it was like for them, although I do think there is just enough embellishment for entertainment value. The supporting cast held their own, the female members handling many different roles and pulling it off easily. The Jersey Boys Orchestra was top notch and the music was fresh and crisp.
Note to Starlight: While I can appreciate the offer of the large screens installed this season about mid level up on the left and right side of the stage for the benefit of the folks in the back, I did find myself drawn to keep looking away from the performance on the stage. I feel it is more appropriate for a concert event….let’s keep theater events theater.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
June 6th, 2017
Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Finding Neverland is a story about how author and playwright J.M. Barrie overcame creative struggles when four children and their widowed mother came into his life one day in Kensington Park in London, just after the turn of the century in the early 1900’s. Jack, George, Michael, Peter, and their mother Sylvia Llewelyn Davies broke Barrie out of a creative “slump” he was in by helping him to rediscover his inner child, reminding him that sometimes you shouldn’t take life too seriously and should just have some fun.
Barrie draws his inspiration primarily through Peter, who lost his playfulness and imagination following the passing of his father. Although Jack, George, Michael and their mother tried to maintain positivity following their loss, Peter just wasn’t the same. He had seemed to “grow up” too soon. But when Barrie and the Davies’ all met that fateful day in Kensington Gardens, Barrie couldn’t help but feel like he had to somehow restore Peter to the child he was before his father’s passing. In the process of doing so, Barrie ultimately found the child that had been suppressed within himself for far too long. As a result of Barrie finding that child buried deep inside, he remembered Neverland – an imaginary place he had fashioned in his mind when he was a young boy. That imaginary place, combined with inspiration Barrie drew from his various adventures with the Davies family, is what drove Barrie to give life to the story of Peter Pan as we now know it.
Neverland itself can be summed up as a beautiful story… about how we came to know another beautiful story. There’s laughter, joy, a little bit of sadness, and a whole lot of fun. But Neverland, in its Broadway play format – now traveling North America – is truly a masterpiece of the stage. It’s not just the story that made it such an enjoyable experience – but also the fantastic cast that brings the story to life in front of a live audience.
For just a few short hours, I hung on every line and every lyric of the dialogue and song that projected towards me from the stage. I couldn’t wait for the next witty line, silly joke – or even sad twist in an overall whimsical and upbeat storyline. The four young actors that played the Davies children were wonderful. Rory Donovan, who plays the roles of both Charles Frohman, the man who backed Barrie’s plays, as well as Captain James Hook – was fantastic. His Hook was intimidating yet hilarious at the same time. The entire cast worked so well together, was so polished and really seemed like they were having the time of their lives up on the stage.
Throughout the play I didn’t look at my watch, check my phone, or even have a single thought about anything else in the world outside of that theatre – not even once. When the play broke for intermission I was annoyed; I didn’t want the fun to stop. When it finally ended, I wanted it to start from the beginning all over again. If you have a chance to catch this play while it’s on tour do yourself a favor, and anyone else who you might consider bringing along, and go buy some tickets right now. I promise you that you’ll have a blast, and for at least a few short hours you’ll forget about everything else in the world and do nothing by laugh and smile. And we could all use more of that in our lives.
Kansas City, MO
June 3, 2017
Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars
Under the Sea. That is where the new production of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” which made it’s debut performance this past Saturday – the show will be leaving KC to embark on an 18-city tour – intends to take theatre-goers. And it largely delivers on that promise, though not without a few questions.
If you are familiar with the animated film, and judging from a full-house which was easily 60% children, you know the story concerns young mermaid Ariel, the youngest daughter of Triton, falling in love with the very human Eric. Also along are the evil Ursula, the over-protective Sebastian and the goofy best pal Flounder. Young love, evil squids and great songs usually make for a fun night at the theater. However, there were a few things that distracted not only me during the performance but, if the fidgety children all around me were any indication, others as well. The problem with going to a show based on something familiar (book, movie, etc) is that any changes – and there are several plot/character changes here) or, in the case of a musical, new songs, have a tendency to throw viewers off, especially the little ones. If you’re hoping to see Max the dog or are hoping to see a cool shark chase on stage, you may be a little disappointed.
The production was directed by Glenn Casale, who also directed the original Broadway production. It is full of bright lights, bubbly performances and (mostly) familiar songs. Yet it didn’t really hold my full attention. I attribute this, in part, to the fact that this year Starlight has decided to utilize it’s large video screens above the stage, usually reserved for concerts, to “broadcast” the show to the audience. Meant to give the people in the rear of the theater a better, close-up view of the action on stage, if you are in the plaza seat area, watching the stage, you can’t help but have your attention drawn to the flickering images above the stage, which totally draws you out of the show. Also, for the first time in my years of attending shows here, the performance didn’t start on time. It was almost 8:30 before the curtain went up on the scheduled 8:00 show. Which means that the fidgety children were extra fidgety by the time it started. I do understand that this was, literally, the first show of this tour and that there may have been technical issues that needed to be worked out. A quick announcement to the audience would have been nice, especially with a show that runs almost two and a half hours.
Now on to the good stuff. The cast was first rate, with Diana Huey bright and energetic as Ariel. Eric Kunze was in fine voice as Prince Eric while Melvin Abston was truly the crowd favorite as Sebastian the Crab. Connor Russell earned some laughs as Flounder while Jennifer Allen oozed evil while belting out “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as Ursula. The production design was well conceived, and a scene where the creatures of the deep, including some impressive jelly fish, go by was a treat for the eyes. The one question I had, and maybe it’s because I’m an adult, was why, when everyone is in the water, why is Ariel the only one that has to move around CONSTANTLY while Flounder and other creatures just get to stay in place? Poor Ms. Huey’s arms must be dead tired after a show!
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” runs in Kansas City through Sunday, June 11. For tickets head here.