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

 

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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

Positron’s Voyager VR Chair Takes Off with First Man

Positron CEO Jeffrey Travis

It’s safe to say I will try anything when it comes to new theatrical experiences. I’ve always loved Lincoln Square’s IMAX screenings, I’ve seen entire Broadway plays done in binaural audio (that’s “3D” sound) and even shelled out extra ticket money to see a favorite film in 4DX once or twice. So I was excited to try out Positron’s Voyager Chair, a VR experience which is being deployed to several theater celebrating the release of Universal’s First Man. Guests heading out to several AMC locations across the nation have not only the chance to just see the Damian Chazelle film, which is released on October 12th, but to take a small excursion to the moon themselves.

I got to try out the Voyager chair on Tuesday both with the First Man VR experience as well as a seasonally-appropriate horror short called “Night Night” and was really impressed with the level of immersion, from the spatial audio to truly being able to look in all directions within my headset. My First Man mission even had an animated co-pilot! Best of all, the Voyager chair itself, whose design looks straight out of Men In Black, was actually pretty comfortable and even after these two shorts I felt no sort of motion sickness, which I was wary of considering 3D films can give me a headache.

Positron’s CEO Jeffrey Travis was in New York this week with the Voyager to talk about the potential that this technology presents to cinematic VR experiences.

Lauren Damon: Was this pod created just for First Man?

Jeffrey Travis: No, we created this to be a platform for cinematic VR in general. So the first kind of wider public experience was we did The Mummy with Universal. So we’ve done three experiences with Universal–The Mummy, Jurassic World and First Man. It was all really cool. But there’s a lot of other studios and places that we use these with. The idea is to create ultimately VR cinemas.

LD: Is the goal here to get whole theaters of these?

JT: Yeah! So we can do theaters with this. Mini ones of twos or threes and we actually set that up here at Pod hotels here in Brooklyn. It’s open to the public. We have pairs of chairs at AMC theaters here in New York at Lincoln Square, San Francisco, DC, LA, but eventually we’re going to be putting this in permanent installations and creating VR theaters of 30-40 chairs and people could buy a ticket and come for an experience that’s either like something of what you’ve just experienced or longer. Somewhere from a half hour to an hour.

LD: Yeah because how long can you view it without feeling it too much?

JT: Yeah we talk about that. I think the ideal length is about half an hour for cinematic VR. I think longer than that, the headsets can get a little heavy on some people. But those are being made by companies like Facebook and Samsung and Microsoft and HP and they’re getting better all the time. So I think we will be able to have 90 minute VR experiences. But right now a half hour feels like a very full meal.

LD: What would the price point be in terms of ticketing?

JT: So probably around—it depends on experience—but probably averaging around $30.

LD: That price is actually similar to they have those “4D[x]” theaters here, what are your thoughts on those?

JT: We do get asked about that. I think it’s still fundamentally different. You know, to me the 4D movie theater, you’re adding some sensory effects that compliment the 2D screen experience. Which is fine and good, but what we’re trying to do here is really bring VR to where you forget about the screen, you even forget about the motion…So it’s almost like you don’t notice it’s happening. You should just feel like you’re actually in the story. That’s kind of the goal, not just a little enhancement but something that’s integrated.

LD: How much testing goes into something like this? How much time does it take to produce?

JT: It really depends on the piece but it goes through a lot of testing. Several months. This next piece that we’re working on is called “Shady Friend,” a VR comedy starring Weird Al Yankovic. It’s a psychedelic comedy that uses scent as well and it’s about a guy that accidentally takes this latest designer drug and goes on this crazy LSD trip. So we’re using motion, haptics and scent and it’s in post-production right now, we shot in July, and it will probably be ready by January. About six months.

LD: When did you start working on this particular First Man experience?

JT: First Man, so that was produced by Ryot and CreateVR and they started actually just two months ago. It was a very accelerated schedule. Which is a little more unusual.

LD: Was all that footage created for this VR?

JT: So obviously the stuff you’re seeing in Mission Control and on the screens is from the film, but then everything else for the VR experience had to be created from scratch. The films assets are mostly 2D and we needed to create these 3D volumetric environments like the moon.

LD: Are you going to get Ryan Gosling to try this out?

JT: I hope so! We had them at the premiere of First Man in the space there. So he was there, I didn’t get a word whether he did it or not. I know the producers of First Man got in there.

LD: There’s definitely a push to add more to theaters considering how much is available for home streaming, do you see this as adding to that?

JT: That’s the idea. I think that movies are certainly in the US and North America, struggling with people going to the box office because they’d often rather stay at home and stream on Netflix. So I think part if the appeal for this is that hey, this is an experience you really can’t get at home. At least not yet. And this brings people out to the movies or at least out to our locations and experiences.

LD: What other films will be having similar tie-in experiences like this?

JT: I mean there’s some coming we can’t really talk about, because they’re not really announced yet. But we’re working working with several other studios besides Universal on some titles and we’ll be announcing as we can.

Positron’s Voyager Chair is offering First Man experiences through October 14th at AMC Theaters in NY’s Lincoln Square, DC’s Georgetown 14, San Francisco’s Metreon 16 and LA’s Universal Citywalk locations

Theater Review: “Chicago” – Kansas City

CHICAGO
September 14, 2018
Starlight Theater – Kansas City, Missouri
When the Kander and Ebb musical “Chicago” opened on Broadway in 1975, it caused a sensation.  The show, directed and choreographed by the great Bob Fosse,  played for three years and earned an impressive (11) Tony Award nominations.  Sadly, it didn’t win any, running into the juggernaut that was “A Chorus Line.”
In 1996, the show was revived on Broadway and that version fared much better at the Tonys, taking home (6) of the (8) awards it was nominated for, including the award for Best Revival of a Musical.  What’s even more impressive is that, since November 14, 1996, “Chicago” has never left Broadway, earning the right to call itself the longest running American musical in theater history!    This weekend, the touring production made its way to Kansas City and, despite some technical difficulties, greatly entertained.
We meet Velma Kelly (Amra-Faye Wright) as she entertains her nightclub audience with the show’s signature number, “All That Jazz.”  We follow this with a quick peek into the bedroom of Roxie Hart (Angel Reda) to discover her in an argument with her lover.  Moments later, Roxie shoots him dead. When the police arrive, Roxie’s husband, Amos (Paul Vogt) takes the blame for the shooting, but quickly recants when he learns the truth.  Roxie is taken to jail, where she will await trial for murder.  But not before a little singing and a lot of dancing!
There are a million reasons to see this show at Starlight.  First off, it’s one of the best outdoor venues in the country.  The shows are usually excellent or, if not, entertaining.  “Chicago” boasts an amazing cast and a top-notch orchestra.  Both Ms. Wright and Ms. Reda (who is from nearby Overland Park, Kansas) are strong dancers with great vocal chops.  My quibble above regarding technical difficulties comes from the fact that, for the first hour of the show, there was an obvious problem with Ms. Wright’s body microphone.  The fact that I could hear her in my seats stems from the fact that she can belt out a song.  Once the problem was fixed both actresses were at the top of their game.
The rest of the cast is equally strong.  As publicity loving attorney Billy Flynn, Peter Lockyer is as smooth as silk.  Jennifer Fouche’ steals her scenes as Matron “Mother” Morton and Mr. Vogt puts an ache in your heart as he sings “Mr. Cellophane.”   The choreography (by the amazing Ann Reinking, and based on Fosse’s original work) is spectacular, delivering in spades the moves that are so associated with the late choreographer.
If you’re looking for some fun under the stars this weekend, I’d highly recommend a trip to “Chicago!”

 

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Sean Yseult Teams with Boyd Gallery and Art for Arts Sake to Present New Photography Series “They All Axed For You”

The Boyd Satellite Gallery in conjunction with Art for Arts Sake, is proud to present artist Sean Yseult’s new photography series They All Axed For You. The new photographs serve as both a love letter and birthday gift for the City of New Orleans on the anniversary of it’s Tricentennial. The inspiration for this show began with this love of Nola, and some very strong images Ms. Yseult saw in her dreams. The show is on display October 2nd – October 31st with an Artist’s Reception October 6th.

One image titled Procession depicts Audubon Zoo animals lined up in pairs on a path through the large Live Oaks. In a dream that came to the artist the day after her mother passed away, the two of them were walking through the animals in the park, as though guided by a light.

Another image, Elephants Storming the Mississippi was also dreamt first – elephants slowly and determinedly trudging through the river in a somewhat ominous manner. Once realizing that these images occurred in two of the Artist’s favorite and most iconic spots of New Orleans, this concept became the basis of the show: the beasts of the Audubon Zoo have a day pass and are hanging out in all of Ms. Yseult’s favorite iconic spots. The show is the perfect way to marry her tribute to the Tri Centennial, her favorite locations in New Orleans for settings, and some colorful local characters for models.

In addition, the Boyd Satellite Gallery will be home to some of Ms. Yseult’s colorful design work, through her new Wallpaper Series acting as backdrop to the photos.

Sean Yseult is best known as the bass player from the multi-platinum, twice Grammy-nominated band White Zombie. Sean spent her formative years at the North Carolina School of the Arts studying ballet and earned a BFA in Photography and Design at Parsons School of Design NYC.

Upon White Zombie’s breakup, she moved to New Orleans and began showing her photography. This is Ms. Yseult’s fourth solo art exhibition series. Her previous work has been shown in solo shows in New Orleans, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and can be viewed by visiting www.seanyseult.com. In 2010 her autobiographical photo-book I’m In The Band was published (Soft Skull Press). Photos in the 2nd gallery continue the exhibition with Backstage: Rock Shots by Sean Yseult, including the Ramones, Pantera, and the Cramps.

Nickelodeon’s Double Dare Kicks Off Multi-city U.S. Tour, Hosted by Original Host Marc Summers and Beloved Sidekick Robin Russo

Double Dare Live, Produced in Partnership with  Red Tail Productions, LLC and CB Entertainment to Visit Cities Across North America Beginning October 30

 Tickets On Sale Friday, Aug. 24, at 10:00 a.m.

NEW YORK-Aug. 20, 2018- Nickelodeon, in partnership with Red Tail Productions, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Red Tail Entertainment, and CB Entertainment, announced today Nickelodeon’s Double Dare Live, the multi-city live stage tour inspired by the iconic TV game show Double Dare.  Featuring original host Marc Summers and his beloved sidekick Robin, the live stage show will debut in Fayetteville, NC, on October 27 and will tour North America through November.  Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday, August 24 at 10:00 a.m. ET.  Fans can visit doubledarelivetour.com for a list of upcoming Double Dare Live tour cities, times and ticket information.

“Hosting the Double Dare Live tour couldn’t be any more exciting, and I look forward to bringing the fun and messiness of Double Dare to audiences across the country,” said Marc Summers.  “Doing the show again with my sidekick Robin will fulfill childhood dreams of the generation that grew up with us and introduce this classic show to the next generation.”

Double Dare Live will feature two teams comprised of selected audience members competing to win prizes by answering brain-bending trivia questions, completing messy physical challenges and ultimately facing the legendary obstacle course.

The brand-new Double Dare series premiered this summer and was ranked as one of the top three shows with K6-11 on all TV. Double Dare is hosted by digital creator and actress Liza Koshy, with original host Marc Summers providing color commentary on the challenges and lending his vast knowledge of the game and expertise to each episode.

Double Dare premiered on Oct. 6, 1986, on Nickelodeon, and ran from 1986-1993, making it the network’s longest running game show. Marc Summers served as the show’s original host from 1986-1993. Shortly after its debut, Double Dare became one of the most popular original daily programs on cable television. The series went into syndication in 1988, and was later revived as Super Sloppy Double Dare in 1989.  The show also ran on broadcast television as Family Double Dare in 1988, followed by new versions on Nick, including Double Dare 2000.

Double Dare, Episode 127 – Pictured: Liza Koshy, Marc Summers and Contestants in DOUBLE DARE on NICKELODEON. Photo: Scott Everett White/Nickelodeon. ©2018 Viacom, International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NICKELODEON’S DOUBLE DARE LIVE FALL TOUR CITIES AND DATES

Oct. 30                                   Fayetteville, NC                   Crown Complex

Nov. 1                                    Cincinnati, OH                     Taft Theatre

Nov. 2                                    Charlotte, NC                       Ovens Auditorium

Nov. 3                                    Baltimore, MD                     UMBC Events Center

Nov. 4                                    Norfolk, VA                          Constant Convocation Center

Nov. 7                                    Milwaukee, WI                    Miller High Life Theatre

Nov. 8                                    Indianapolis, IN                   Murat Theatre

Nov. 9                                    Nashville, TN                       TPAC

Nov. 10                                 Rosemont, IL                       Rosemont Theatre

Nov. 11                                 Cleveland, OH                     Playhouse Square

Nov. 14                                 Hartford, CT                         The Bushnell

Nov. 15                                 Newark, NJ                           NJPAC

Nov. 16                                 Rochester, NY                      Auditorium Theatre

Nov. 17                                 Schenectady, NY                 Proctors Theatre

Nov. 18                                 Pittsburgh, PA                      Benedum Center

 

Double Dare Live is produced by Red Tail Productions, LLC and CB Entertainment.

Red Tail Productions, LLC

CEO Phillip Drayer and President Marc Engel produce and present a wide variety of entertainment throughout North America, including the acclaimed Broadway hit A Night with Janis Joplin (Tony Nomination), the spectacular Do You Hear the People Sing, Cirque Musica, Scooby Doo Live! Musical Mysteries, Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo Live and Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure.  Through its division Red Tail-Live, the company has a tremendous track record of producing and presenting live entertainment in a variety of venues, theatres, performing arts centers and arenas throughout the U.S. and Canada presenting over a hundred events annually, spanning genres from Broadway Musicals to Country and Pop, to Classic Rock, Jazz and Comedy, and featuring heritage artists such as Tony Bennett, Alan Jackson, Norah Jones, Dolly Parton, Harry Connick, Jr., The Beach Boys, Bill Maher, and Martina McBride.

About CB Entertainment

Charlie Blum is a renowned entertainment industry executive with over 40 years’ experience as a major concert promoter, talent buyer, theatre executive, television producer and artist manager. He served for almost three decades as President/CEO for Chicagoland’s premier concert facility, the Star Plaza Theatre, following more than ten years as a Vice President with the Nederlander Concerts.  Charlie has worked with virtually every major artist in show business, presenting thousands of concerts featuring performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Garth Brooks, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, The Jackson Five, Christina Aguilera, The Grateful Dead, Rascal Flatts, Blake Shelton, Rod Stewart and Cher.  He has executive-produced four nationally released PBS television shows, most recently, the groundbreaking “Harmonies 4 Healing” with partner Connecticut Public Broadcasting.  Charlie is also the host of Lakeshore Classic Movies every weekend on PBS in Chicago.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 39th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

 

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Enter to Win a Family 4-Packs of Tickets to Disney On Ice Presents “Mickey’s Search Party” in Orlando FL {ENDED]

Media Mikes is excited to be working with Feld Entertainment again to bring our readers a wonderful opportunity to win a family 4-pack of tickets to the upcoming Disney on Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL.  If you want to win this great prize, please leave a comment below or email us with what Disney character would you love to see make an appearance at a Disney on Ice show!This giveaway will remain open until August 24th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in Orlando, FL only, no travel included. 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.

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party brings the magic closer to fans than ever before through dynamic and immersive moments that take place on the ice, in the air and in the seats when the show comes to Amway Center in Orlando September 7-9, 2018 for six performances. Produced by Feld Entertainment Inc., the worldwide leader in live touring family entertainment, Disney On Ice is once again elevating the ice show experience with brand-new engaging elements that will fascinate both newcomers and seasoned guests, alike. Tickets are on sale now at DisneyOnIce.com.

Joined by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, live hosts will enliven the performance space by welcoming everyone into the magical world of Disney On Ice, setting the stage for a participatory adventure. Guests will embark on a search for clues to find Tinker Bell after Captain Hook tries to capture her magic. As each scene unfolds, compelling storytelling will be delivered through multi-level production numbers by skaters, performers and acrobats, alike. As Miguel from Disney●Pixar’s Coco crosses the Marigold Bridge, he finds himself in the magnificent spirit realm painted with vibrant color, with skeletons atop sway poles oscillating back and forth over the audience in this culturally rich, heritage celebration. Through video projection, Arendelle builds from the ground up, and ice harvesters from Disney’s Frozen use extreme skating to launch themselves from the mountainous, wintry slopes delivering an athletically-driven performance as they chop their way through blocks of ice. The iconic chandelier seen in “Be Our Guest” comes to life as Belle and the enchanted objects from Beauty and the Beast become a rotating carousel using aerial silks and lift upward into the air, mesmerizing onlookers seated above and below.

Media Mikes is excited to be provided a special discount for our readers: Save 20% off select seats with code SAVE20. Not valid on premium VIP seating. Hurry for the best available seats! Code expires September 6, 2018.

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Mickey’s Search Party will feature a collection of Disney characters fans know and love portrayed by decorated performer-athletes who push the boundaries of what is possible. Their theatrical talent, combined with this innovative Disney On Ice production, elevates the live entertainment experience and will leave families with memories that will last a lifetime.

Ticket Prices: Starting from $18. For ticket information, visit DisneyOnIce.com.
Orlando Show Times: Friday, September 7, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, September 8, 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, September 9, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Venue: Amway Center, 400 W. Church Street #200, Orlando, FL 32801
Stay current on the latest developments through social media, including instructions on how to access presale codes for future Disney On Ice productions:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIce
Twitter: @DisneyOnIce #DisneyOnIce #MickeysSearchParty @NicoleFeld (Show Producer)
YouTube: www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce
Instagram: @DisneyOnIce @feld_nicole (Show Producer)

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About Feld Entertainment:
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!, DreamWorks Trolls The Experience (coming Fall 2018) and Jurassic World Live (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.

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.

Get Your Zombie on at iHeart Radio’s Monster Jam Triple Threat “Feast with the Beast”  Zombie Party at Ace Cafe Orlando

Free admission event for the public to meet Monster Jam Driver Bari Musawwir and take photos with his Zombie custom-built Speedster and ATV
WHAT:
Before the adrenaline-charged, four-wheel excitement that is Monster Jam® Triple Threat Series opens at the Amway Center, fans have a chance to meet famed Zombie driver Bari Musawwir and get up close to his customized high-powered speedster and ATV during a meet-and-greet at Ace Cafe Orlando, in partnership with iHeart Radio. Free admission, open to the public and fans of all ages are invited.
  • Little fans ages 12 and under are encouraged to sport their favorite Zombie gear and can get their faces painted like a zombie, courtesy of Hart and Huntington Tattoo artists.
  • Ocoee resident Bari Musawwir (Zombie), the first local driver to ever appear in a Monster Jam (he is also the sport’s first African American driver and won Rookie of the Year in 2012) will take photographs and sign autographs with fans.
  • Get up close to the Zombie speedster and ATV that will be used during the competition when Monster Jam Triple Threat Series opens for the first time in Orlando on Saturday, August 18th with shows at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Flash drawing for one lucky fan plus three guests attending the event to stay for dinner with Musawwir. Must be present to win at time of drawing at 7:15 p.m.
  • The public can enjoy food and drink specials.
  • Free parking is available on-site on a first-come, first-serve basis for Ace customers.
WHEN:
Friday, August 17, 6-7:30 p.m.
WHERE:
Ace Cafe Orlando, 100 West Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32801. On the corner of Garland Avenue and Livingston Street. Parking is also available in nearby parking garages. Click here for a map.
ADDITIONAL INFO:
For event updates, connect with Ace Cafe at 407.996.MOTO (6686) or acecafeusa.com, and on FacebookTwitter @AceCafeOrlando and Instagram @acecafeorlando_official.
#AceCafeOrlando #SeeYouAtTheAce
For more information on 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 uplift the human spirit and bring people together. Properties include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, Sesame Street Live! and Marvel Universe LIVE! 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 Ace Cafe
Ace Cafe is the most famous motor-diner on the planet. Since 1938, Ace Cafe London has been a mecca for those passionate about cars, bikes and rock ’n roll culture. The original location on London’s North Circular Road began as a transport cafe for truckers, then evolved into a popular destination for rock ‘n roll-loving teens riding motorbikes during the ’50s and ’60s. Today, the Ace has a multi-generational appeal from motorsports enthusiasts from all over the world. Ace Cafe North America holds the exclusive licensee rights in North America and South America for this world-famous brand. Ace Cafe Orlando is the first North American venue for Ace Cafe. Other Ace Cafe locations around the globe include London, Lahti, Beijing, Lucerne and Barcelona. For more information, visit www.acecafeusa.com.

Kansas City Theater Review: “Hairspray – the Musical”

“Hairspray – the Musical”

Starlight Theater – Kansas City, Missouri

July 27, 2018

 

I spent 13 years living in Baltimore.  As a movie theatre manager I was very fortunate to manage the theatre of choice of local filmmaker John Waters.  He was a frequent guest and, when I asked, would stop by the office for a few minutes after his film just to talk about what he had coming up.  Of course, I was glad to play the original film “Hairspray,” and am proud to be friends with some of the local talent used in the film.  Years later, Mr. Waters took the film to Broadway, where, 15 years ago, the musical version earned 13 Tony Award nominations, winning 8, including Best Musical.   This week, the fun and energy you can only find in Charm City is on display at the Starlight Theater as “Hairspray – the Musical” arrives.

Baltimore 1962.  Like many cities in America, civil rights are on the front burner.  We meet Tracy Turnblad (an outstanding Jessica Alcorn) as she greets the day, and the audience, with the bouncy “Good morning, Baltimore.”  Tracy is a fan of the Corny Collins afternoon dance program on television and secretly dreams to not only be a dancer on the show, but to end up in the arms of the show’s best male dancer, Link Larkin (Eric Geil).  Tracy lives at home with her parents.  Mother Edna (Brad Oscar) takes in washing and hasn’t been outside the apartment in years.  Her father, Wilbur (Bruce Roach), runs a joke shop called the Har-Har Hut.  Tracy has a friend named Penny, who encourages her to follow her dream.  And so she does.

First off, I must comment on the energy the entire cast brought to the show.  It’s always a plus when you can sense that the cast and crew WANT to be there.  The musical numbers were infectious.  If you knew the words (guilty) you quietly sang along.  If you didn’t, you were dancing in your seats.  As Tracy, Ms. Alcorn soars.  She is the heart and spirit of the show and she shines in a role that a lesser actress could easily dilute spirit-wise.  Supporting roles played by Katie Karel (Penny), Cathy Barnett (Velma Van Tussle) and Erin Riley (Amber) stand out here, as does Regina Levert whose Motormouth Maybelle steals the scenes she is in.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t note that Kansas City audiences are having the rare treat of seeing a true Broadway legend in Brad Oscar.  Ever since Harvey Fierstein first originated the character, Edna has been played with dignity.  Mr. Oscar continues that tradition here.

“Hairspray – the Musical” plays at Starlight through August 2nd.  For tickets to those shows click HERE.

Warner Bros.’ Classic Holiday Film “A Christmas Story” will be Featured in Frozen Spectacular Ice! During Christmas at Gaylord Palms!

ICE! and the resort’s mix of holiday entertainment runs November 16 through January 6.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – (July 17, 2018) – For the first time ever, beloved holiday film “A Christmas Story” will be recreated as a frozen, immersive attraction inside ICE!–the signature experience during Christmas at Gaylord Palms. During the holiday season, the Orlando-area resort welcomes guests to make memories amongst festive décor and a charming mix of Christmassy activities and shows, becoming “Everything Christmas in One Extraordinary Place” for the 52-day event, Christmas at Gaylord Palms presented by Pepsi.

CINEMATIC HOLIDAY CLASSIC IN ICE!

“A Christmas Story” has been a staple of holiday movie lists for years, but now guests can experience this holiday favorite in a whole new way inside ICE! presented by DEI. The hilarious family tale will come to life through hand-carved ice sculptures and displays, inviting guests to relive the film’s iconic scenes such as The Old Man’s Major Award, Aunt Clara’s pink nightmare and the ultimate triple dog dare at the school’s flagpole, and many more!

“We’re thrilled to see this Christmas classic brought to life inside ICE! for the first time ever,” said Johann Krieger, General Manager for Gaylord Palms Resort. “We know that ‘A Christmas Story’ has been a holiday tradition for so many people over the years, and we hope that guests can join us to make ICE! a part of their tradition as well.”

The ICE! attraction is crafted by artisans from Harbin, China, home of the world’s largest ice and snow sculpture festival, who travel more than 6,000 miles to hand-carve more than two million pounds of colorful ice, creating larger-than-life sculptures. This year, as guests explore the nine-degree attraction, they will discover more than a dozen fan-favorite scenes from “A Christmas Story,” along with the event’s two-story ice slides and the popular Frostbite Factory live ice carving showcase. The ICE! experience concludes with a separate area dedicated to a traditional Nativity created with crystal clear ice.

NEW EXPERIENCES

Award-winning buffet restaurant Villa de Flora will welcome special Christmastime friends during The Elf on the Shelf® Character Breakfast, where guests can join Santa’sOfficial Scout Elves for a fun and festive character breakfast. Kids and adults will enjoy a delicious buffet spread complete with classic breakfast favorites and live cooking stations, enjoying  special visits from Santa’s Official Scout Elves as they dine.

Gaylord Palms’ St. Augustine atrium will be home to a brand-new, dazzling light show when Dreams of Christmas makes its debut. This multisensory experience will feature a new musical score accompanied with millions of dancing, choreographed lights all around the resort’s six-story Christmas tree during nightly shows.

HOLIDAY FAVORITES RETURN

“Holiday thrills” take on a whole new meaning during Cirque Dreams Unwrapped, a 25-minute, action-packed experience, featuring soaring acrobatics, theatricality and imagination that will have guests on the edge of their seats. Cirque Dreams Unwrapped features new acts and performers each year to bring to life a magical and timeless Christmas wonderland, all imagined by Broadway director and renowned Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg.

Guests exploring the meandering paths inside the resort’s Everglades atrium will find the Christmas Tree Trail, a display of nine magnificent trees provided by Balsam Hill. Sparkle the Elf, Santa’s chief Christmas Tree Decorator, has personally prepared these for display at Gaylord Palms. From snowmen and candy canes to reindeer and nutcrackers, each tree represents one of Sparkle’s favorite things about Christmas, with one even honoring the Florida-themed resort!

The immersive, interactive Reindeer Express Post Office returns this year, where everyone is invited to jot down their top Christmas wishes on a postcard before entering this special facility to launch their wishes off on a journey to Santa.

Festive Alpine Village will again be the central hub for holiday happenings. In addition to ICE!, the village is home to various attractions and shows, Photos with Santa, seasonal food and beverage options plus holiday retail locations, including a Build-A-Bear Workshop®, where imaginations soar. Guests choose from all kinds of furry friends to make and bring home, including the Gaylord Hotels-exclusive light-up Snowburst polar bear.

Gingerbread Decorating Corner returns, now located inside the brand-new Alpine Village Sweet Shop! Guests may select a gingerbread house or a themed cookie kit to enjoy a sticky and fun interactive experience, creating sweet souvenirs to take home. The Alpine Village Sweet Shop will offer additional candies and treats for purchase to decorate sugary masterpieces or to delight someone’s sweet tooth. The deliciously fun gingerbread pair, Cinnamon and Nutmeg, will also be available for toasty hugs and holiday photos.

Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions brings the First Lady of the North Pole back to Gaylord Palms as she leads a half-hour interactive show. Guests enjoy classic holiday stories and a sing-a-long, plus a delicious finale as the holiday hostess presents everyone with warm cookies and a glass of cold milk.

Santa’s Snow Throw puts real snow in the hands of guests as they show off their pitching prowess by tossing snowballs at a variety of interactive targets created by Santa’s Elves. Bragging rights go to those with the best aim!

Snow Tubing sends guests zooming down an eight-lane tubing hill covered in real snow. This all-ages attraction offers both single and double tubes to accommodate children and parents.

The best way to experience all of Christmas at Gaylord Palms is with an overnight stay. One-night packages start at $250 plus tax, resort fee and parking. Packages include ICE! tickets for two (with option to add additional adults or children) plus a souvenir family photo. Overnight guests may also schedule a visit to ICE! during the daily hotel guest-exclusive Extra Cool Hour from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Make the holidays merrier and extend the package to stay for multiple nights! For additional information and to book packages or tickets, visit www.GaylordHotels.com .

Gaylord Palms Resort offers Christmastime field trips for schools, youth organizations and religious groups, customizable with educational or performance opportunities. Special ICE! ticket rates also are available to groups of ten adults or more.

For companies wishing to offer their staff an unforgettable holiday outing, Gaylord Palms offers the ideal “Everything Christmas” setting for onsite catered events with 10 to 3,000 guests, with or without an ICE! experience. To learn more about planning a holiday event, contact www.GaylordHotels.com.

Christmas at Gaylord Palms is open daily from November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019 including holidays.

Gaylord Palms Resort offers a mix of entertainment year-round, creating a superior guest experience in one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Guests are welcomed into the resort’s 4.5-acre soaring glass atrium featuring winding waterways, lush gardens and animal habitats. Our extraordinary amenities include fine and casual dining, spa and shopping – all conveniently located within minutes of the Orlando area’s theme parks.

Learn more about the resort at GaylordPalms.com and stay connected with all the resort happenings by following @GaylordPalms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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About Gaylord Hotels
Gaylord Hotels®, part of the Marriott portfolio of brands, offers extraordinary environments with “everything in one place” – diverse dining options, a full –
service spa, pools, top-notch entertainment, shopping and more. Locations
include Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee; Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida; Gaylord Texan on Lake Grapevine, Texas; Gaylord National on the Potomac in National Harbor, Maryland; Gaylord Rockies in Aurora, CO, opening late 2018; and The Inn at Opryland in Nashville. For more information, visit www.GaylordHotels.com.
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About Cirque Dreams & Neil Goldberg
Over 50 million people have experienced a Cirque Dreams show in theatres, casinos, theme parks, cruise lines, and on Broadway. For 25 years, Cirque Dreams shows have garnered the praise of critics around the country from USA Today, Associated Press and the New York Times to CNN,Today Show and Fox & Friends. Producer and Director Neil Goldberghas been declared “One of today’s leading theatrical impresarios” by The LA Times and “Uniquely ingenious” by the New York Daily News. The Cirque Dreams franchise is a globally recognized entertainment brand including, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, Cirque Dreams Rocks, multiple Cirque Dreams Holidaze tours along with a return engagement to The Grand Ole Opry House, Cirque Dreams Unwrapped at Gaylord Palms Orlando Resort and Cirque Dreams & Dinner onboard Norwegian Cruise Line. Cirque Dreams recently joined VStar Entertainment Group o f quality family entertainment worldwide. For more information, visit www.CirqueProductions.com
About Warner Bros. Consumer Products
Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.
A CHRISTMAS STORY and all related characters and elements © & TM Turner Entertainment Co. (s18)
© Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
PEPSI is a registered trademark of PepsiCo, Inc.
The Elf on the Shelf® and ©2018 CCA and B, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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