Category Archives: Events

We’re Not Gonna Pay!

Last week we announced that there will be a lottery for the Rent 20th Anniversary tour at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre January 24 – 29. The lottery has become an important part of the theatre going experience for the last 20 years. Would you believe that the tradition started with Rent?

Patrons anxiously await for their name is called for the Wicked lottery outside of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre.

On April 29, 1996 Rent opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre in NYC. It quickly became the show everyone had to see. As tickets became more expensive and scarce, many complained that they simply could not afford to attend the show.

Lottery hopefuls fill the box office lobby as names are called out.

The show’s producers offered 34 seats in the front two rows of the orchestra for $20 each on a first come first serve basis on the day of the performance. Jumping at the opportunity for discounted tickets, people began to form lines at the break of dawn. Suddenly, a new model was born.

Cody Jamison Strand (Elder Cunningham) from the cast of The Book of Mormon calls out the names of the lottery winners

On September 7, 2008, over 10 years after the first lottery names were called, Rent on Broadway held it’s final lottery. The video below shows the events of that day. Do not stand in between a Renthead and their tickets!

 

Today, many are still taking advantage of the opportunity to wait in line for inexpensive tickets. The phenomenon not only occurs on Broadway but in touring houses all over the United States. Tickets for the upcoming engagement of the Rent 20th Anniversary Tour are selling quickly. For details about the lottery CLICK HERE

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story World Premiere

On Saturday, December 10, the Hollywood Pantages played host to the world premiere of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  It is a rare occasion to turn this theatrical house into a state of the art movie house but Disney did just that and to stunning effect.  With a seventy foot screen, a digital laser projector and over 300 speakers, the historic Hollywood Pantages roared back to life and restored its movie house glory.

Hollywood Pantages General Manager Jeff Loeb and Daughter Cady stand in front of an X-Wing Fighter prop from the film.

From where I sat, with Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) to my left and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) behind me, the little kid who watched the very first Star Wars with his Mom was now about to watch the latest movie with his own daughter.  I was both a fan of the movie and excited to see a movie play once again in the theatre.  As the movie started to roll, the glow from the screen illuminated the entire audience who were all transfixed, eagerly awaiting the first look at the next Star Wars installment.  But for me, I was taken at first not by the movie, but something hard to describe.  The theatre felt different for me.  I don’t know what the feeling was but it was wonderful.  We, the staff, so often take for granted the musicals we present on stage and our ability to present show after show.  We forget what a quiet roll the theatre itself plays.  But at the premiere, we were allowed to simply admire a wonderful movie, being shown in one of the most beautiful venues in the country.  It is a moment I can’t adequately describe and one I won’t soon forget.

Large Rogue One posters line the red carpet of the premiere.

We don’t know when we will host a premiere again, but I, for one, hope it is sooner rather than later.  For now, we look forward to the theatrical release of Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical, filmed here at the Hollywood Pantages last September.  For a brief moment, the theatre will get to be a part of movie history again.

Jeff Loeb

General Manager

Hollywood Pantages

Costumes from Rogue One are displayed on the red carpet for the premiere.

A tent covers the length of the red carpet due to a threat of rain.

The cast of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story pose for photos in the X-Wing Fighter

The Pantages marquee is just visible through the tenting on Hollywood Blvd

Rogue One banners cover the front of the Pantages.

A life size TIE-Fighter stands above the bar at the Rogue One after party.

The Pink Carpet

The 2016-17 Season has officially begun. There is nothing more fun than kicking off a new season than with a red carpet opening night. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a special show that deserved a special PINK carpet. In this blog, see how we do everything from pink carpet set up to the celebs that joined us for the opening.

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Zelda Williams (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Judy Greer (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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From Left: Scout Willis, Tallulah Belle Willis, Arianne Phillips, and Demi Moore (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Margaret Cho (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Courtney Love (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

Elizabeth Banks

Elizabeth Banks (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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John Stamos (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Vincent Rodriguez III (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Rider Strong (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

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Ross Matthews (photo by Chelsea Lauren)

 

2016-17 Season Ticket Holder Open House

Welcome to the 2016-17 Hollywood Pantages Season! We invited our new Season Ticket Holders to make their Pantages Theatre debut at our annual open house. Guests explored the theatre learning about the history and architecture as well as sampling small bites from local area restaurants.  We would like to thank  all of our neighborhood and restaurant partners for helping us out. A special thank you to Chelsea Lauren for the beautiful photos.

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The Ultimate TBT

Enjoy an ultimate Throw Back Thursday photo collection of our historic theatre. Most of the photos below were taken in the 1950’s. Imagine the people you would have seen walking through the doors at that time.

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Ladies mirrored lounge on house right near the lower bar.

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Lounge now used as offices for our Front of House Manager.

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Looking over the mezzanine.

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The Grand Chandelier inside of the theatre.

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A view of the center colonnade from the lobby. Currently the location of the concessions stand.

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Original box office located in the center of the outer lobby..

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Poster windows still utilized today.

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Front door entrance hallway.

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Original lobby chandelier.

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Original center mural pictured above the stage.

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A view of the theatre seats from behind the side stage curtain.

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Another look at the poster windows.

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Front doors to the theatre from the outer lobby.

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Plush couches and benches line the colonnade.

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Mezzanine staircase landing. Currently home to one of the theatre’s bars.

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Mezzanine staircase landing.

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Chairs located outside the center mezzanine doors.

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The theatre lobby.

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Decorated drinking fountain located near door 5 in the colonnade.

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Exterior of theatre taken in 1930 shortly after the theatre’s opening.

Jerry Herman Awards 2016

By Evan Henerson

The stage was set. The players, clad in a mixture of rehearsal tights and hoodies, were locked in on the task at hand. Actor Sage Cobos idly twirled a plunger like a baton. Their 45 minutes of on-stage preparation time were dwindling away, and the company of de Toledo High School’s “Urinetown” still had vocal warm-ups to execute and a run through to run through.

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Sage Cabos (right) directs the “Urinetown” cast with his plunger

The actual performance was not due to start for another two hours, but the company’s director  spoke up with a final note of advice/warning.

“If you do not dance this to the point of exhaustion,” Diane Feldman told her ensemble, “I will seek vengeance upon you.”

The line may sound threatening, but Feldman – de Toledo’s drama, musical theater and vocal instruction teacher — knows her company, and nobody was intimidated. If a segment of your high school production is going to “graduate” from an auditorium or gymnasium to a one night showcase on the historic Hollywood Pantages Theatre, every member of your company will need to bring his or her A-game.

Feldman and the De Toledo “Urinetown-ers” did, and that’s why they were furiously blocking out the number “Run, Freedom, Run” which opened the second act of the 5th Annual Jerry Herman High School Musical Theatre Awards of Los Angeles. De Toledo, located in West Hills, was one of four schools selected to restage a portion of the musical staged during the year during the awards show.

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The Archer School for Girls performs a medley from “Spring Awakening”

Joining de Toledo were The Archer School for Girls performing a rocking medley from its all-female production of “Spring Awakening,” Oaks Christian School’s rendition of “We’ve got Magic to do” from “Pippin” and Village Christian School’s tap-happy, chimney sweep-laden medley from “Disney’s Marry Poppins.” Each of the four productions ended up capturing at least one Jerry Herman Award during the evening.

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Oaks Christian High School performing the opening number from “Pippin”

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Village Christian High School performing a medley from “Disney’s Mary Poppins”

Those performance numbers barely constituted an appetizer on the Herman Awards’ menu of entertainment. Think you’ve seen casts of thousands represented on the Pantages stage? How about 50 young men and women belting out selections of songs from “42nd Street,” “A Chorus Line” “Hercules,” and “Dreamgirls” during the production’s opening number  – “One Night. Once Chance”?

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Jerry Herman Award’s opening number “One Night One Chance”

And that was just for starters during an evening full of celebrity presenters and awardees across all the theatrical disciplines. Three young men and three young women were selected from that group of 50 to perform a solo number for a panel of judges, with a trip to New York to participate in the National High School Musical (AKA The Jimmys) awarded to the best actor and best actress winners. During the auditions held two days before the event, each of the 50 actors had their work reviewed by industry veteran judges including McCoy Rigby Entertainment Services producer Cathy Rigby and hit-making director-choreographer Kenny Ortega.

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Participants wait their turn to audition in front of the judges.

More than 30 public and private high schools from Conejo Valley to Orange County submitted productions for consideration across a variety of performance and technical categories.  School administrators filled out forms at the beginning of the school year. The Hollywood Pantages sent volunteer adjudicators to all of the performances. In the spring, a team at the Pantages, working from the adjudicators’ notes and a DVD of the production, determined the nominees.

For two days leading up the show, the best actor and actress nominees auditioned before the panel of five judges. In sessions that lasted 10-15 minutes, each of the nearly 50 nominees got to sing one or two songs in front of Ortega, Rigby and fellow judges John Bowab, Lewis Wilkenfeld and Nancy Dussault. Following the audition, the judges offered encouragement and constructive professional feedback.

For Hamilton High School senior Emma Griffone, getting a taste of what a Broadway audition will be like was an invaluable experience.

“It’s so important,” she said. “Between the long rehearsal process we had this weekend and the auditions, it’s really great to know what it’s like to walk into an audition. The whole rehearsal process was almost like Chorus 101 for me, learning how to wait, how to stand there and to put together a number in a really short period of time. I think it’s really a lot about building your confidence about standing out but also working together on a collaborative experience.”

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Emma Griffone (right) in rehearsals for the opening number

As participants and show producers continuously noted, opportunities for young artists to strut their stuff are rare. School arts programs are in constant jeopardy of losing funding forcing high school drama teachers and students alike to be creative in order to keep interest in the performing arts alive. The validation of a sold out theater full of students, teachers, parents, mentors and working theater folks can work wonders.

Wilkenfeld, the artistic director of the Cabrillo Music Theatre, knows this only too well. Working with many young performers at the start of their careers, Wilkenfeld joined the Jerry Herman Awards judging panel in 2015 in part because he understood the importance of keeping that spark alive.

“They were bussing us to shows when I was a kid, and now they don’t even do that,” Wilkenfeld said. “To see these kids falling in love with the arts, it’s keeping them focused. It’s keeping them in love with school. Even if they’re not a math whiz, even if their English theater bores them and they don’t understand science, they’re still coming to school for this.”

Broadway veteran Gregory Jbara echoed the sentiment. Jbarra attended the Herman awards both to present the award for Best Supporting Actor and to support the efforts of his son, Zachary, who is completing his first year at Hamilton High School’s performing arts magnet.

“I realize how lucky these kids are that there’s a situation like this where they get to be celebrated,” said Jbara, a Tony Award-winner for “Billy Elliott.” “I’m proud to be in the company of a community that says ‘This is important, and we will back you.’”

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Greg Jbara (left) James L. Nederlander (right) pose on the red carpet for the 2016 Jerry Herman Awards

While only two performers will emerge from the experience bound for New York and a shot at the Jimmys, the general consensus among the participants is that every nominee – on stage or otherwise – is a winner.

“I don’t feel like it’s a competition at all,” said Cobos a leading actor candidate for de Toledo’s “Urinetown. “(All the nominees) rehearse for eight hours together. Everyone is so attentive and happy to be singing together. They’re singing, harmonizing, dancing – all the things we love to do.  You just hear some of these kids’ voices and you think, ‘Oh my God, I want to sing with you!’”

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Participants creating new friendships over lunch break on rehearsal day

“That we even managed to get here was a huge hurdle for us,” added Verdugo Hills High School Orchestra Director Victoria Lopez whose production of “Hairspray” was nominated for best orchestra. “We’re sharing a stage with the top schools in and around southern California. That in itself is a big award for us. This is a learning experience, and it will motivate the students to keep working and to keep trying to raise our standards.”

As celebratory as the entire event is, the event is not without its share of tension. For the judges, who spend concentrated time with nearly 50 hopeful actors and actresses ages 14 to 17, the auditions are a mixture of boostering, reassurance and maybe even scouting talent for future productions. Future Disney Channel star Ryan McCartan won the 2011 Jimmy Award for best actor before moving on to such projects as “Royal Pains,” “Liv and Maddie” and the upcoming TV adaptation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” directed by Ortega.

“It’s a great growing opportunity for every single participant,” Ortega said. “Every single kid that comes in here, they’re open and they’re thirsty. Some have never been in a situation like this before, standing in front of five people in the industry that are making a choice as to whether they’re going to move forward. We do our best to try to get them to relax, let them know ‘This is your home. We’re in your space.’”

Easier said than believed, sometimes. During her audition, San Marino High School’s Lauren Hickey –  her hair still sporting the dye job from playing Audrey in SMHS’s spring production of “Little Shop of Horrors” – confessed to experiencing some nerves. After she displayed a bell-like soprano voice unleashing the satiric wistful “Somewhere That’s Green,” Hickey fielded an assortment of suggestions from the judges — be proud of your furniture covered in plastic, convey your amazement at owning a “big 12-inch (TV) screen.”

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Lauren Hickey (pictured in stripes) rehearsing for the opening number

“Walking into this room, it might feel kind of cold,” Ortega told Hickey, “but you went somewhere with this song. I would like you to just shake it out, trust yourself, believe in the people who know what you have and go to that place where you went when you did this on stage. Bring us there.”

Hickey performed the song a second time, incorporating the notes, and eliciting a parting “brava!” from the judges. That same evening, the judges heard a completely different rendition of “Somewhere That’s Green” from Canyon High School’s Abby Heywood whose character evoked comparisons to actress Megan Mullally. Heywood’s portrayal of “Little Shop’s” Audrey was markedly different from Hickey’s and the actress received a completely different set of notes.

Two nights later at the awards ceremony, Hickey advanced to the finals, joining fellow actresses Griffone and Antonia Vivino of Santa Susana High School. The three qualifying actors were Chaminade High School’s Alejandro Navarro, Zane Sipotz of Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACHSA) and Joshua Strobl of John Burroughs High School.

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(From left) Antonia Vivino, Zane Sipotz, Lauren Hickey, Alejandro Navarro, Emma Griffone and Josh Strobl await to hear who will move onto New York for the Jimmy Awards.

Having gone through the Minneapolis Spotlight Awards five years earlier en route to winning the 2011 Jimmy, McCarten said he understood how the six finalists were feeling backstage as they prepared for the final vote. “They are freaking out right now,” he told the audience before presenting the No Small Parts award to de Toledo’s Brennen Klitzner.

And “freaking out” covered the range of emotions, agreed Griffone who said she spent a substantial portion of her time backstage waiting for the final award announcement pacing or slamming back glasses of water to keep from getting dehydrated. Griffone, who will attend Northwestern University in the fall, capped off her high school musical career with a mighty rendition of Evillene’s song “No Bad News” from “The Wiz.”

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Emma Griffone (right) and Josh Strobl (left) give the performance of their lives to move onto the Jimmy Awards in NYC.

As the Herman Awards came to an end, the news was good for Griffone who won the Best Actress award. Strobl took the Best Actor prize. De Toledo’s “Urinetown” was awarded the Best Production.

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Kenny Ortega presents the award for Best Production to the cast of de Toledo’s “Urinetown”

“For me, what’s important is not the awards,” de Toledo’s Feldman said. “It’s the fact that somebody came in and said ‘We like the story you told.’ It’s about being here collectively with all these people who are here for the same reason: because theatre speaks to them, because theater empowers them, because theater enlightens them, because we love it.”

Evan Henerson has been writing about theater in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He was the Theater writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News for nine years and has written for Playbill Online, Backstage, American Theatre and Stage Directions.You can read his reviews on TheaterMania, CurtainUp and Examiner.com.

Evan Henerson has been writing about theater in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. He was the Theater writer and critic for the Los Angeles Daily News for nine years and has written for Playbill Online, Backstage, American Theatre and Stage Directions.You can read his reviews on TheaterMania, CurtainUp and Examiner.com.

This Is How We Jerry Herman

Theatre and arts education in high schools is an integral part of young adults coming into their own. Each year, the Hollywood Pantages hosts the Jerry Herman High School Musical Theatre Awards with one goal: to constructively support local high schools with their drama programs. With the awards happening this Sunday, May 22nd, we are officially in full “Jerry Herman Mode” as we call it. There are three main sections to go through when prepping for a ceremony of this size.

Adjudication process

At the beginning of each school year we begin the sign-up process for the Jerry Herman Awards for the following spring. Schools must fill-out an intent to participate form and provide the name of the show being performed and performance dates. Meanwhile, we at the Marketing department meet with the volunteer adjudicators to sign-up and prepare them for the shows ahead.

Each participating school also fills out an informational sheet. This lets us know which categories they can qualify for in terms of nominations. The Categories include: Scenic Design, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Orchestra, Ensemble/Chorus, Musical Staging/Choreography, Musical Direction, Technical Crew, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, “No Small Parts”, and Best Production.

Once we have all of the information from a school, our adjudicators visit each theatre to watch the productions. Each adjudicator then fills out an evaluation form – scoring each category individually from 1-10 and the production as a whole. They also have the opportunity to fill out a “notes” section where they may say anything that the survey may not have given them the chance to.

Nomination Process

After a school’s performance has completed, they are required to send a either a DVD or digital copy of their show along with a program. This is when we here at the theatre bump our involvement up to the next level. Our small but mighty team closely watches each production, taking copious notes of our own, along with having the adjudicators’ documents right by our sides.

As we watch, each school is given one over-all production score and also individual scores for each award category. The way we calculate these scores is easy: we add up all the numbers in each category and divide it by the number of adjudicators that saw the performance. Simple, median math. The schools with the highest scores are nominated for their respective categories and, naturally, the highest score is the winner.

Audition Process

This is the part of the process that many people scrunch their eyebrows at. An audition process for an awards show? But haven’t you seen and scored all the productions based on all categories? Yes, we have, but that category does not include leading actor and actress. The process for that particular category is a little bit different.

At the beginning of each season, each school is given a list of qualifying lead roles provided by the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and then each school must choose one leading lady and one leading man to audition for the best actor/actress category. They attend one of two nights of auditions, bringing their headshot and two pieces of sheet music (one from the part they played in their production, and one of their choosing) and perform in front of our panel of judges. This year includes John Bowab, Kenny Ortega, Nancy Dussault, Kathy Rigby, and Lewis Weintraub.

Once the two nights of auditions are complete, the judges narrow the participants down to six finalists. On the night of the Jerry Herman Awards Ceremony the six finalists are announced. Each finalist will sing the song from the part they played in their production during the Jerry Herman Awards as a final audition. During intermission the judges come together to decide which leading lady and which leading male will win and move onto New York City for the Jimmy Awards.

What are the Jimmy Awards you ask? Well that’s a blog post for another time.

For ticket information about the Jerry Herman Awards Sunday, May 22 CLICK HERE

And The Nominees Are….

As we are sure many of you are aware the Tony Nominations were announced this week and to no one’s surprise Hamilton came out on top with a record breaking 16 nominations.  However, Hamilton wasn’t the first show to receive an outstanding number of nominations and hopefully, it won’t be the last! We thought we would share some other Tony Award records and interesting facts with you on this monumental week!

Before Hamilton, The Producers (2001) and Billy Elliot (2009) were tied for the most nominations for a Broadway musical at 15. The Producers hold the record for most Tony Award wins at 12 while Billy Elliot only won 10

The musical revival with the most Tony Award nominations was Kiss Me, Kate (2000) with 12. The musical revival with the most wins was South Pacific (2008) with 7.

Chita Rivera holds the title of actress with the most nominations at 10 but there is a tie for actress with the most wins between Audra McDonald and Julie Harris who both have 6. Audra has won for: Carousel (1994), Master Class (1996), Ragtime (1998), A Raisin in the Sun (2004), Porgy and Bess (2012), and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (2014). Julie has won for: I Am a Camera (1952), The Lark (1956), Forty Carats (1969), The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1973), The Belle of Amherst (1977), and a Special Lifetime Achievement Award (2002).

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(Above: Julie Harris and Audra McDonald )

Harold Prince holds the record for individual with the most Tony Awards at 21. Eight of his awards were for directing, eight for producing, two as producer of the year’s Best Musical, and three special Tony Awards. Some of his most known work includes: The Phantom of The Opera (1988), Evita (1980), Sweeney Todd (1979), Fiddler on the Roof (1965), Damn Yankees (1956) and many more.

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Harold Prince

Composer with the most Tony Awards goes to Stephen Sondheim with 8. Those wins include: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963), two awards for Company (1970), Follies (1971), A little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd (1979), Into the Woods (1988), Passion (1994), and a Lifetime Achievement Award (2008).

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Stephen Sondheim

Bob Fosse is noted as the choreographer with the most Tony wins at 8. The shows he’s won for include: The Pajama Game (1955), Damn Yankees (1956), Redhead (1959), Little Me (1963), Sweet Charity (1966), 2 for Pippin (1973) one for choreography and one for direction, Dancin’ (1978), and Big Deal (1986).

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Bob Fosse

Phantom of the Opera goes in the record books as the longest-running Best Musical (1998- )

The theatre that has housed the most Tony-winning Best Plays and Best Musicals is none other than the Nederlander’s own Richard Rodgers Theatre, which is currently home to Hamilton. The Richard Rodgers Theatre has housed 10 Tony-winning shows including:  In The Heights (2008), Lost in Yonkers (1991), Fences (1987), Nine (1982), Raisin (1974), 1776 (1969), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962), Redhead (1959), Damn Yankees (1956), Guys and Dolls (1951)

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The Richard Rodgers Theatre on 46th St. New York

Angela Lansbury has hosted or co-hosted more Tony telecasts than any other individual, with five telecasts (1968, 1971, 1987, 1988, and 1989). In second place, with four telecasts each, are Neil Patrick Harris (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013) and Hugh Jackman (2003, 2004, 2005, and 2014).

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Angela Lansbury

For more interesting facts about the Tony Awards, winners, and nominees visit The Tony Awards website: www.tonyawards.com

Hollywood History, On Hollywood’s Biggest Night

By Alyssa Appleton

Living in Los Angeles, the hotbed of the entertainment industry, one cannot make it through the beginning of the year without being privy to multiple conversations about The Golden Globes®, The SAG Awards®, The Critics’ Choice Awards®…and the one night often thought to be at the pinnacle, The Academy Awards®. For a number of months, the entertainment industry buckles down and three words are uttered over and over again: FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION. And whether the murmurs on Hollywood’s lips are regarding the significant, continual lack of diversity in the Oscars® race, to Jennifer Lawrence’s newest role, to who’s-wearing-whom, the conversations are always surrounding one topic: Award Season.

The 1954 Academy Awards® Presentations. George Silk/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images

The 1954 Academy Awards® Presentations. George Silk/The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images.

If you are unfamiliar with the history of the Hollywood Pantages, you may be asking yourself why this live theatre has a blog post up about the film industry’s biggest time of the year. But this theatre was not always a stage for touring Broadway shows and live events. The Hollywood Pantages was once both a Vaudeville house and a movie theater—one of the most popular in all of Hollywood—showing the hottest films, sometimes with live orchestras, to eager, excited audiences. And since the Oscars® are mere weeks away, a little history about the Awards in relation to our wonderful 2703 seemed fitting.

In the early 1950s, the Academy Awards® decided to call the Hollywood Pantages home. Yes, for nearly a decade, Oscar® knew the Hollywood Pantages as his inner sanctum. On March 19, 1953, when the Awards turned a quarter of a century old, they were televised for the first time. Cecil B. DeMille took home the Oscar® that night not only for best film of the year (The Greatest Show on Earth), but also the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award. The following year, From Here to Eternity swept with eight awards, including one for its Best Supporting Actor, the incomparable Frank Sinatra. Yul Brynner was awarded for The King and I in 1957, a story well-loved both by film and stage audiences. The Hollywood Pantages will have the pleasure of hosting the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of The King and I in our upcoming season.

Clark Gable and Grace Kelly during the 1954 Academy Awards®.

Clark Gable and Grace Kelly during the 1954 Academy Awards®.

Just like people crowd the Kodak Theatre today on the afternoon of the Academy Awards®, thousands of people surrounded the Hollywood Pantages on “The Biggest Night in Hollywood,” hoping to catch a glimpse of Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and many more beloved celebrities of the time.

Glistening gowns, handsome tuxes, the echo of heels, the clamor of fans, the whispers of filmmakers…the Hollywood Pantages has seen it all. And oh, if that marquee could tell us the stories of what it is she’s seen.

Backstage at the first televised Academy Awards® in 1953.

Backstage at the first televised Academy Awards® in 1953.

 

Alyssa Appleton is a writer/actor living in Los Angeles, devoted to all things in nerdculture: TV, film, books, gaming, theatre, comedy, you name it. Like this post? You can her out on her website: www.alyssaappleton.com, or follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/alyssaappleton.

Alyssa Appleton is a writer/actor living in Los Angeles, devoted to all things in nerdculture: TV, film, books, gaming, theatre, comedy, you name it. Like this post? You can check her out on her website: www.alyssaappleton.com, or follow her on twitter: @alyssaappleton.

Full Circle

It was about a year ago that Ryan Axberg began rehearsals on his high school’s production of Young Frankenstein. Soon after, the show was nominated for several Jerry Herman Awards and Ryan was auditioning for the best leading male category. Since then he has graduated from high school, started classes at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), and come back to the Hollywood Pantages as one of our amazing ushers.

We caught up with Axberg just before his next shift at the theatre to chat with him about his experience in the musical theatre world and his journey from high school stage to The Jerry Herman Awards at the Hollywood Pantages.

Q: How did you catch the Musical Theatre bug?

Ryan: It all started in middle school. I wasn’t involved in the theatre world but my dad encouraged me to audition for Suessical the Musical. I got the part of a  Wickersham Monkey Brother. It was how I found my group of friends, a place to belong. I continued to audition for the school musical every year after that.

Q: What is your favorite musical?

Ryan: Singing in the Rain both on stage and on film is a marvelous masterpiece.

Q: Tell us how you felt when you found out you had landed the part of Igor in Young Frankenstein.

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(Above) Ryan Axberg as Igor in Young Frankenstein at the 2015 Jerry Herman Awards Ceremony.

Ryan: It was my senior year at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. The show had been announced (Young Frankenstein) at the end of the school year as next years musical. Originally I thought I wanted the role of Dr.Frankenstein but found myself identifying with Igor more. I’ve always been the best friend to my brother who ended up being Dr. Frankenstein so it worked out.

Q: How did you find out your school had chosen you to audition for best leading male in the Jerry Herman Awards?

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Ryan Axberg as Igor in Palos Verde Penninsula High School’s production of Young Frankenstein.

Ryan: The only two male characters who were eligible from our school were Igor and Dr. Frankenstein. My brother had had the opportunity to go to the Jerry Herman Awards the year before. When I was chosen he was very understanding and not heartbroken at all.

Q: Describe your experience going through the Jerry Herman Award audition process. What was it like to audition in front of such notable judges like Kenny Ortega, Cathy Rigby, John Bowab, Kay Cole, and Lewis Wilkenfeld?

Ryan: I knew my material front and back so that kept me calm. I just had to be myself and perform. They said I performed great and that I had a great voice but I needed to be more confident with my physicality. I sang The “Old Red Hills of Home” from Parade and “Together Again” from Young Frankenstein for contrast and they said that they wanted to see more of a physicality difference between the two songs and to commit to everything 100,000%.

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Axberg (pictured on the right in the pink tie) in the opening number of the Jerry Herman Awards

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Axberg (pictured on the right in the pink tie) performs in the closing number of the Jerry Herman Awards.

Q: When your school found out that they had been chosen to perform a production number from Young Frankenstein for the Jerry Herman Awards Ceremony and how did you prepare?

Ryan: I feel like having that opportunity was such and honor to bring our school, to show our spirit and our pride was wonderful. Young Frankenstein played in March and the Jerry Herman Awards were June 1st. So we had three mandatory rehearsals with the cast. We just worked it and shockingly enough no one forgot anything so our third rehearsal ended up getting canceled.

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Ryan and Director Seth Cohen receiving the Jerry Herman Award for Best Ensemble/Chorus on behalf of Palos Verdes Peninsula for the production of Young Frankenstein.

Q: How did your love of musical theatre help you decided to go to AMDA?

Ryan: I knew I was going to study theatre. When I am on the stage I feel so comfortable. I feel so in tuned with myself and my surroundings, I feel happy. That’s why I decided to pursue theatre and stick with it.

Q: After everything you went through with the Jerry Herman Awards you have decided to stick around as an usher at the Hollywood Pantages. How are you liking it?

Ryan: I have always loved the Pantages and it’s just down the street from my school. I thought it would be such a good opportunity getting to work where I performed for the Jerry Herman Awards. It’s kind of full circle.

Q: What advice would you have for a high school student interested in pursuing a career in musical theatre?

Ryan: If you have a passion for it it’s your duty to go for it!