Category Archives: Shows

The 2017 Jerry Herman Awards Winners

On Monday, June 5 the 6th Annual Jerry Herman Awards took the stage at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. This year a total of 37 schools submitted their productions for consideration. Congratulations to all of the winners.

Scenic Design

Milken Community Schools- Les Miserables

Lighting Design

Diamond Bar High School- In the Heights

Costume Design

The Archer School for Girls- The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Students from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School perform “76 Trombones” from The Music Man

Orchestra

Mira Costa High School- Oklahoma!

Ensemble/Chorus

Saugus High School- Fiddler on the Roof

Students from Saugus High School perform “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof

Technical Crew

Providence High School- The Addams Family

Staging/Choreography

New Roads High School- In the Heights

Students from Mira Costa High School perform “Farmer and the Cowman” from Oklahoma!

Musical Direction

Saugus High School- Fiddler on the Roof

Supporting Actor

Chaminade College Preparatory- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Carter Skyers “Mitch Mahoney”

Oaks Christian School- Cinderella: Jake Mouchawar “Sebastian”

Palos Verdes Peninsula High School-The Music Man: Lucas Grenda “Marcellus Wasburn”

For the first time ever a three way tie for Best Supporting Actor. From the left Lucas Grenda Palos Verdes Peninsula, Jake Mouchawar Oaks Christian, and Carter Skyers Chaminade Preparatory

Supporting Actress

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts- A Chorus Line: Shaila Essley “Shelia”

Shaila Essley from Los Angeles County High School for the Arts takes home the prize for Best Supporting Actress

“No Small Parts”

New Roads School- In the Heights: Caleb McGee “Piragua Guy”

Best Actor

Crescenta Valley High School – Phantom of the Opera: Cameron Vargas “The Phantom”

Cameron Vargas from Crescenta Valley High School wins Best Actor winner moves onto the Jimmy Award’s in NYC

Best Actress

John Burroughs High School – Pippin: Brighton Thomas “The Leading Player”

Brighton Thomas from John Burroughs High School wins Best Actress and moves on to the Jimmy Awards in NYC

Best Production

Mira Costa High School-Oklahoma!

The cast of Mira Costa’s Oklahoma! Wins Best Production.

Did You Know? Bodyguard Edition

Most of us know that The Bodyguard is an award – winning musical based on the smash – hit film of the same name. All of us have belted out the words “I Will Always Love You” at some point in our lives. Don’t lie, we know you have! But there are a few thing about this show that might surprise you. Check out our list of did you know fun facts!

The song “I Will Always Love You” was actually written by Dolly Parton in 1973, and released as a country single in 1974.

 

The Bodyguard Screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, was also known for writing Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Silverado. He has directed, written or produced 21 major motion pictures, including co-writing the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens

J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Bodyguard’s bookwriter Alexander Dinelaris won a 2015 Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for the film Birdman. Dinelaris also wrote the book for the current Broadway musical On Your Feet: The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan.

87th Annual Academy Awards From left: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobono, Armando Bo

Our favorite fun fact about this show is that the final scene of the 1992 film was actually shot in the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. You can’t ask for a better setting to completely immerse yourself within a show!

 

To get your tickets to see the amazing Deborah Cox in The Bodyguard visit our website: www.hollywoodpantages.com

Want to see what other well- known films were shot at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre? Take a look at our blog post, Hollywood Pantages IMDB for more clips and photos.

 

#CovertheCode

It’s a theatre goer’s worst nightmare: you’ve just scored tickets to that show you’ve been dying to see. After excitedly taking a ticket selfie, you post the picture of your tickets on social media. You think you’re ready for your show, but when you get to the doors you’re turned away because someone stole your tickets using the picture you posted online.

Don’t let this happen to you — stop counterfeiters by following one simple rule when sharing pics of your tix online: Cover the Code. On your paper or mobile ticket there is a one-of-a-kind barcode and if anyone acquires it they can make duplicate tickets to use or sell that render your tickets worthless.

 

Don’t post pics of your tickets online with the barcode showing before the event happens. This includes paper tickets and mobile tickets.  If you see family or friends sharing tickets online, please ask them to kindly #CoverTheCode.

Avoid taking screenshots that expose personal information like your first and last name, address, or credit card, especially during your checkout and confirmation experience on Ticketmaster.

Only buy tickets from official sources. There are many ticket re-sellers and secondary markets for tickets. For the best seats and to eliminate the risk of fraud, get tickets through the Hollywood Pantages Box Office, HollywoodPantages.com or Ticketmaster. Purchasing tickets from any other seller runs a high risk of receiving fraudulent tickets.

 

 

Introducing the 2017-2018 Season

This past Tuesday, bright and early in the perfectly lively 6AM hour, we announced the six amazing shows headed to our Pantages Theatre for the 2017-2018 season. Now that you’ve had time to let the big reveal sink in, get even more information about them below.

ALADDIN

Original Broadway Cast (C) Deen van Meer

  • There are currently five different productions of ALADDIN playing all around the world not including this tour: Broadway, the West End in London, Australia, Germany, and Japan.
  • The current actor who plays “Aladdin” on Broadway will be playing “Aladdin” in the touring company, Adam Jacobs.
  • 337 costumes—based on 136 individual designs—were created for the show. Aladdin has a quick change in the show where he goes from street rat to prince.
  • James Monroe Iglehart, the 2014 Tony Award® winner for his performance as Genie in ALADDIN, is about to begin performances in the Broadway production of HAMILTON. ALADDIN opens at the Pantages Theatre less than two weeks after HAMILTON closes.
    Whoopi Goldberg recently sent Iglehart off during a performance of ALADDIN and went behind the scenes of the show.
  • Howard Ashman (lyrics) and Alan Menken (music) wrote the soundtrack in the original film. This show features many of the songs from the film plus songs that were cut before the film written by Ashman and Menken.
  • Los Angeles is the national tour’s first stop before it heads off to Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, and other cities.
  • Official show merchandise can be found at the Aladdin Musical’s Broadway store
  • The Broadway cast performed “Friend Like Me” on Good Morning America

 LOVE NEVER DIES

The Phantom and Christine in “Love Never Dies” (C) Brinkhoff/Moegenburg

  • The original cast of LOVE NEVER DIES starred Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo who played Christine and Phantom in the 25th anniversary edition of Phantom.
  • LOVE NEVER DIES was filmed at its Melbourne production and was released on DVD in 2012.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber started working on the sequel in 1990 but was delayed several times in completing it until 2011. “Around 1990 I had the idea of continuing the story of Phantom and Christine and setting it in New York at the turn of the last century. I had a thrilling discussion over dinner with the late Maria Bjornson, who created the brilliant design of the original Phantom. She was very excited about a New World location.”
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber was inspired to place the Phantom at Coney Island after watching a documentary about Coney Island featuring the wonders of that extraordinary world.
  • The show has also had productions on the West End (2010-2011), Copenhagen (2012-2013), Vienna (2013), Japan (2014), and Germany (from 2015). However, this tour is based on the Australian production which debuted in 2012 to glowing critical reception.
  • Along with Phantom and Christine, the show also features Madame Giry, Meg, and Raoul.
  • LOVE NEVER DIES features circus performers as well as intricate sets and costumes.
  • Phantom runs a combination freak show and vaudeville house in Coney Island.

SCHOOL OF ROCK

David Fynn and company in the London production. (C) Tristram Kenton

  • SCHOOL OF ROCK opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway over a year ago on December 6, 2015.
  • This show was the first Andrew Lloyd Webber show to premiere on Broadway before debuting at the West End in thirty years.
  • It was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Julian Fellowes), Best Original Score (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater), and Best Actor in a Musical (Alex Brightman). The cast also performed.
  • Before SCHOOL OF ROCK’s Broadway debut, staged concerts were held at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan in June 2015, featuring songs from the show.
  • All of the songs in the movie are in the musical as well as fourteen new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber first revealed that he had purchased the stage rights to School of Rock in a 2013 interview.
  •  The SCHOOL OF ROCK cast album was released in December 2015 and features three bonus tracks plus a song that was cut from production during previews, “Give Up Your Dreams.”

THE COLOR PURPLE

Heather Headly, Cynthia Erivo, and Danielle Brooks in the Revival Broadway Cast of The Color Purple (C) Matthew Murphy

  • This revival of the THE COLOR PURPLE most recently played at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Broadway. It’s opening night was December 10, 2015 and its final Broadway performance was on January 8, 2017.
  • THE COLOR PURPLE also won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical at the 70th Annual Tony Awards in 2016.
  • The revival cast album is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album and could possible be announced the winner come GRAMMY night this Sunday, February 12, on CBS.
  • Among the producers of the revival is Oprah Winfrey as well as Scott Sanders and Roy Furman.
  • The Color Purple has played in Los Angeles before at the Ahmanson Theatre in a touring production from December 13, 2007 through March 9, 2008.
  • This touring production, however, is based on the recent Broadway revival which is stripped down and extremely focused on the characters under the direction of John Doyle.
  • The original Broadway production ran from 2005 to 2008, earning eleven Tony Award nominations in 2006.

ON YOUR FEET

  • ON YOUR FEET is currently playing at the Marquis Theatre on Broadway.
  • This show is a “jukebox musical” containing several of Gloria Estefan’s greatest hits and on original song written specifically for the show.
  • Both Gloria and Emilio Estefan have been extremely involved in producing the show and bringing it to life, even performing with the cast at the 70th Annual Tony Awards.
  • Gloria and Emilio Estefan were approached by Jimmy Nederlander circa 1990 about doing a Latin-based show for Broadway. Circa 2005, they began crafting an offer for a musical show in Vegas that was eventually pitched to the Nederlanders who loved it and eventually ON YOUR FEET! made it to Broadway.
  • The ON YOUR FEET cast album was recorded live in March 2016, and was produced by Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Check it out here.
  • David Rooney, in his review of the Broadway production for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote, “Just try keeping the grin off your face when two massive human chains—of cast and audience members—flood the aisles of the Marquis Theatre…”
    If you’ve ever wanted to conga line through the Pantages Theatre, this is the show for you!

WAITRESS

Drew Gehling and Jessie Mueller in the original Broadway Cast of “Waitress.” (C) Joan Marcus

  • WAITRESS first began performances at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA, on August 2, 2015 starring Jessie Mueller with Keala Settle and Jeanna de Waal.
  • The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name which starred Kerri Russell under the direction of screenwriter and director, Adrienne Shelly.
  • Diane Paulus, the director of WAITRESS, has also directed many shows which have been at the Pantages Theatre in recent years such as Pippin and Finding Neverland.
  • At the 2016 Tony Awards, both Jessie Mueller and Sara Bareilles performed “She Used to be Mine.”
  • The WAITRESS cast recording is nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award to be held this Sunday, February 12, on CBS.
  • The musical features a special relationship to pie that has led the Broadway production to have a pie consultant. Stacy Donnelly is the official pie consultant who makes about 40 pies a week for the actors and actresses to use as props. She also cooks the pies in a lobby oven which allows the theatre to smell like pie, further transporting the audience into the show.
  • WAITRESS was nominated for 4 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Original Score (Sara Bareilles), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Jessie Mueller), and Best Actor in a Featured Role (Christopher Fitzgerald).

For more about these six wonderful shows in our 2017-2018 season, check out our season announcement video below and visit: www.hollywoodpantages.com.

 

Nicole has been an intern in the marketing department at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre since late-November, 2016. She studies communication with a minor in music industry at the University of Southern California. She was super excited to write this blog post and can’t wait for all of these amazing shows to hit the Pantages stage.

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

 

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I

The partnership between composer Richard Rodgers and librettist/lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II is well known in the musical theatre world. Together, they have produced such works as Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and The King and I. Check out these interesting facts about the creation of this timeless piece.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna and the royal children photo by Matthew Murphy

  • The King and I is loosely based on the fictional novel The English Governess at the Siamese Court.  
  • The novel, written by Margaret Landon, is an embellished re-imagining of the memoirs of Anna Leonowens’ account of teaching English in the court of the Siamese King Mongkut.
  • The idea for the musical was proposed by Fanny Holtzmann, an attorney for Gertrude Lawrence in an attempt to revive her dwindling career.
  • Neither Rodgers or Hammerstein were intitially interested in the idea but proceeded with the project as urged by their wives who were fans of the novel.
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Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are pictured auditioning hopefuls at the St James Theatre.

  • Both Rodgers and Hammerstein struggled with how to convey the cultural context of the story.
  • Rodgers wanted to reference Asian music without alienating a Western audience. He stopped short of incorporating traditional Thai music and instead settled on some unusual chords to convey a foreign mood.
  • Hammerstein wrote the King’s dialogue without using articles – a manner of speech common to many Asian languages.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao photo by Matthew Murphy

  • The romance between Lun Tha and Tuptim was scripted primarily so that Rodgers could write some of the romantic tunes he was famous for – as it would be inappropriate to stage a cross-cultural romance between the King and Anna. An attraction between the Thai King and British governess is merely suggested in the musical.
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Gertrude Lawrence and Yul Brynner in the Broadway production of The King and I (1951)

  • The musical opened on Broadway in 1951 starring British actress Gertrude Lawrence as Anna and Russian actor and director Yul Brynner as  the King of Siam.
  • Brynner was then relatively unknown, but shot to stardom for his performance in the hit.
  • The show played for three years, but lost its leading lady when Lawrence died of liver cancer halfway through the run.
  • Gertrude Lawrence became the first person to ever have the lights on Broadway dim after her death. Check out our blog Dimming the Lights to learn more.
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Laura Michelle Kelly, Baylen Thomas and Graham Montgomery photo by Matthew Murphy

  • The show had an initial budget of US$250,000 – which was at that time the most expensive Rodgers & Hammerstein musical ever made
  • Lawrence had to wear costume gowns that weighed up to 34 kg, and her character danced a total of 6.4km in every performance, eight shows a week. Lawrence was buried in one of her costumes from the show.

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  • Through the initial run and several revivals, Yul Brynner performed the role of the King more than 4,600 times.
  • Yul Brynner reprised his role as the king on tour at the Hollywood Pantages in 1979
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Show poster of The King and I starring Yul Brynner (1979)

  • a 1956 film took the musical from Broadway success to international smash hit. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won five.
  • The film was (and still is) banned in Thailand as it was deemed disrespectful to the monarchy – an offence which breaks several of the country’s laws.

For tickets and more information about The King and I CLICK HERE.

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)

 

Take Your Kids to the Theatre

When I was 7 years old my parents took me to the local high school production of Fiddler on the Roof. I don’t really remember how good or bad that particular production was but I will never forget the way the music made me feel. My parents enjoy reminding me that as a child I never stopped talking but Fiddler on the Roof had me entranced. The show is still my favorite to this day.

Taking a child to a live theatrical performance for the first time can be tricky. Each child is very different in the way that they behave or interpret the world. To help make that first trip a little easier we have compiled some tips and tricks from our ushers and from our Associate General Manager and father of four, Jeff Loeb, to help your child enjoy the theatre as much as you do!

Pick the right show.

Do your research to ensure that the material is appropriate for the age of your child. Also be aware that many theaters, including the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, do not allow children under the age of 5. When asked what age he introduced his children to theatre, Loeb replied, “I started taking my kids at age 3 to different events.  There is a ton of smaller theaters in LA that offer great family programming.  Start small and learn what your kid can enjoy. ” You never know how a child might react to a darkened theatre. “During The Lion King, there were a lot of families that would hang out in the lobby and watch the show on the monitors because their children were afraid to be in the dark theatre.” one Pantages usher explains.

 

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Mellany’s first show! My First Visit pins available at Audience Services in the lobby.

Pick the right seats

Aisle seats are always good when attending with a smaller child. Even if the seats are a little further away from the stage you will be less likely to have someone tall sitting directly in front of your child. The Pantages does have booster seats located at each entrance to the theatre. Be sure to grab one as soon as you get there because they will go fast for family friendly shows. Sitting on the aisle also allows easy access to the restrooms at intermission as well as the ability to get up during the performance if your child is not reacting well to the show. Loeb says his trick is to get seats near the back of the theatre or in the mezzanine where he knows he can make a quick escape if needed and then move closer over time.

Watch the Show Before You Go

Let your kids know what to expect. Is there a movie version of the show, or a book or YouTube clip? Get them excited about the characters they are going to see live. Listen to the cast album whenever they are in the car with you. When the song comes on during the show, it’s already a familiar favorite.

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Some children enjoy dressing as the characters from the show.

Theatre Etiquette and Kids

Getting your child to understand theatre etiquette can be tricky. Some adults still struggle with the concept. Loeb says, “We talk about what a good audience member is in terms of when to applaud (when you think the performance warrants), when you can talk and when it’s okay to take photos (never during the show).” Reminding children that it is something grown ups do is always a good way to get them to participate by making them feel included. “Something parents tend to forget is that those light up shoes, bracelets and other glow in the dark things can be very distracting.” says one Pantages usher. “Every time the child moves the shoes will flash and all of the ushers think it is a camera.”

Stage Door

Taking your children to the stage door to meet the characters they just saw performing live in front of them is always a good experience. Even shy children are delighted to be up close to someone they’ve just seen performing. It is a good time to remind them how different the theatre experience is from movies or television and makes the outing special. You might also walk away with an autograph.

 

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Mario Lopez, wife Courtney and daughter Gia walk the red carpet for 42nd Street

When asked for any final thoughts Loeb said,”Kids may not love the show the way you do but they will love going to a special event with their parents or grandparents.  My kids remember going to shows with their grandparents or cousins, not just with me.  It’s a special event and if you let them know you think it is special, they will want to go with you again and again.  I personally love when going to the theatre is a family tradition passed down to the next generation.  It’s a wonderfully communal event to have 2,700 people all watch the same thing at the same time live.”

 

 

 

 

Robert Brill comes back to the “Cabaret”

By Evan Henerson

It’s fair to say that Robert Brill can always get a prime seat at the Kit Kat Club, wherever that shrine of pre war entertainment decadence may materialize. That’s only fair since Brill designed the club. From “Cabaret’s” first incarnation in 1997 at the Henry Miller Theatre through its subsequent move to Studio 54, to its revival 16 years later also at Studio 54 and on all accompanying tours, that particular layout of tables, lamps and chandeliers is from Brill’s vision.

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The Marquee for Cabaret at Studio 54

As recently as June, nearly two decades after he created what has become an iconic design, Brill checked in on Sally Bowles and the gang when the national tour – currently at the Pantages – played a run in San Francisco where Brill has a home.

“When I see the show now, I’m really looking at how the production fits the venue,” Brill said.   “There are parts that are somewhat adjustable that allow it to sit in the venue for it to be exposed in the right way. So the first thing I’m looking at is how the picture is framed and the proportion of it. Then as you sit down, you’re taking in some of the givens of the space, what the sight lines are like, and how shallow or how deeply raked is the house. You’re kind of taking in the venue, but then you’re also looking at how the show is running in terms of props and then any scenic moves.”

Shannon Cochran as Fräulein Schneider, Mark Nelson as Herr Schultz, Alison Ewing (above) as Fräulein Kost and Randy Harrison (background) as the Emcee in the 2016 National Touring production of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“I jotted down a few notes when I saw the show in San Francisco and passed them on,” he continued. “They take the notes and then they move on from there.”

From its origins at London’s Donmar Warehouse, Sam Mendes’s version of “Cabaret” has sought to place its audience in the center of the action. Sally, the Kit Kat dancers and that scabrous Emcee are continually addressing the guests, several of whom are sitting practically in the performers’ laps. The scenic design had to fit that concept.

When they were gearing up to move the Donmar Warehouse production across the pond to New York, Mendes and his co-director/choreographer Rob Marshall located a space – Henry Miller’s Theatre – that was already a functioning nightclub. That venue needed a sizeable revamp to make it suitable for live theater, and the team needed a designer to oversee that transformation.

Brill, who had designed at several major regional theaters and had a couple of Broadway credits, was asked to meet with Mendes and Marshall. Two days later, he was offered the gig and asked to return to New York to check out the venue and to get things rolling.

Re-shaping the Miller’s Theatre – which they renamed the Kit Kat Club – was challenging enough. Having theater audiences and late night club goers sharing the same venue made for some interesting experiences.

The 2016 National Touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“We were out by 10, and there was already a line outside for people to enter at 10:30 and they would be all over the space on stage, at tables, in front all over the building and backstage until 2 or 4 in the morning,” Brill recalled. “You never knew what you were going to find or discover the next morning.”

Ultimately the production had to move and the conversion of Studio 54, a dance club later owned and operated by the Roundabout Theatre – forced 10 weeks of renovations. From lobbies to bathrooms, from marquee to chandeliers, from painting to demolition. The venue had no stage, so a stage was constructed from the floor up along with terracing for audience seating. The balcony, which had previously been used for events, was demolished.

“What was important to the production was this gradual immersion into the world of the Kt Kat Club from the marquee until you reach the actors on stage,” Brill said.

A mezzanine view of the Cabaret stage at Studio 54

Looking back at his own “audition” for “Cabaret” with Mendes and Marshall, Brill thinks one of the key factors that landed him the job wasn’t so much his Broadway and larger regional theater credits, but a different part of his portfolio. While still a student at UC San Diego, Brill had co-founded the Sledgehammer Theatre, a company that made highly and often guerilla use of venues throughout downtown San Diego.

This was during the 1980s when the real estate climate was friendlier toward this type of experimentation. Sledgehammer staged in former funeral homes, parking garages and abandoned warehouses that had no electricity or bathroom facilities before Sledgehammer took over. A group of fellow UCSD students even built a stage in a canyon adjacent to the library on campus, trucking in sand for the audience to sit on. There was a five and half hour production of “Hamlet” and a staging of Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame” in a small former retail space. Sledgehammer mounted another play in a former auto service garage.

“I showed [Mendes and Marshall] that work last in my portfolio and that was the work that I think really captured their attention,” Brill said. “It was very rough around the edges, showing the hand of the artist, having to be resourceful and work in a scrappier way. Also to be working site specific and because that’s what this piece became, working in an actual venue and transforming the venue. That really got them interested in having me on the team. It was not so much about the more polished work that I had done at that point. It was really about something that would serve this new interpretation of Cabaret.”

Sarah Bishop as Helga, Andrea Goss as Sally Bowles and Alison Ewing as Fritzie in the 2016 National Tour of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Between the first “Cabaret” and its revival, Brill has hardly been idle. He now has nearly a dozen Broadway credits with his designs for Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins” (also at Studio 54) and the 2009  Broadway revival of “Guys and Dolls” earning him Tony nominations. He has designed multiple operas and touring shows and worked repeatedly with Leonard Foglia and Des McAnuff who has championed Brill’s work since McAnuff was the artistic director at the La Jolla Playhouse which sits on the campus of UCSD. Brill returns this year to UCSD as a member of the School of Theater’s design faculty.

Brill’s upcoming projects include another collaboration with McAnuff, and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a co-production between Houston Grand Opera and the San Francisco Opera scheduled to open around the holidays.

And speaking of immersive theater, another Brill design figures to occupy a place in Southern California for years to come. The artist designed the scenery for “Disney’s Frozen – Live at the Hyperion,” a short version of the animated film which opened in May and plays several times daily at the Hyperion Theatre at Disney’s California Adventure theme park.

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Set from Frozen now playing at The Hyperion Theatre in Disney California Adventure.

 

If you think transporting audiences to Weimar era Germany is challenging, how about taking them to the wintry world of Arendelle, a world that had previously existed only in a much beloved animated film? Dana Harrel, the production’s executive creative director, was not necessarily looking to do a live replica of the film, but, according to Brill, Harrel stressed the need to make the experience to be, you guessed it, immersive.

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Set from Frozen now playing at The Hyperion Theatre in Disney California Adventure.

“I thought a lot about Cabaret when we were putting in Frozen,” Brill said. “Dana really wanted it to be an experience for the audience to be completely enveloped in the world of this story. One of the first goals was how to extend the visual out into the theater so they feel like they’re immersed both in the visual world and the storytelling. We did that in numerous ways, both scenically and with projections, lighting and also with the staging.”

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Set from Frozen now playing at The Hyperion Theatre in Disney California Adventure.

“Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” opened May 26, and Brill attended several performances in the days immediately following.

“It was amazing to watch, easily 1/4 of the audience was watching the experience through their phones or their iPads,” Brill said. “But it’s been fun to watch that online and check out who is watching the show and who is paying attention to 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.

Don’t Be Jimmy

With a line up that includes, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, White Christmas, The King and I, Rent, Motown, Circus 1903, Finding Neverland, American in Paris, The Bodyguard, The Book of Mormon, and Hamilton, the Hollywood Pantages 2016-2017 season is one for the record books. While the crew here at the theatre is jumping up and down with excitement, we are also very worried. There are a lot of websites popping up claiming to have tickets to shows that have yet to go on sale. We always want to make sure that everyone that buys a ticket to one of our shows gets to walk through the doors hassle free and be a part of Hollywood History. PLEASE read the information below and watch the video. Share with friends so that no one has to experience the pain of fraudulent tickets.

There are many ticket re-sellers and secondary markets for tickets. For the best seats and to eliminate the risk of fraud, get tickets through the Hollywood Pantages Box Office, HollywoodPantages.com or Ticketmaster. Purchasing tickets from any other seller runs a high risk of receiving fraudulent tickets.