Category Archives: Shows

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.

 

 

Beyond the Stage

Musicals are everywhere! From the Broadway stage to live television broadcasts, musicals have had an amazing resurgence in current pop culture. And every few months or so we all get teased with the possibility of a Wicked movie. There has also been a lot of talk lately about an In The Heights or possibly even a Hamilton movie! While we patiently hold our breath for those projects to happen, here is a list of some of our favorite shows that have gone beyond the stage.

Grease

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“Greased Lightning” from the 1978 motion picture Grease

This Broadway musical made its debut in 1972. The concept was created over a couple of beers at a party by creators Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in an effort to go against the grain of “traditional” Broadway shows. The show opened one year later at the Eden Theatre, just off Broadway, but was not the success originally hoped for. Loved by the public but scrutinized by critics the show ultimately was snubbed by the Tony Awards because the Eden Theatre did not qualify as a Broadway Theatre. It wasn’t until 1978 when the smash hit film took the story to the next level. Since then the show has seen numerous revivals, high school productions, and even a live broadcast on Fox.

 

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Grease Live January 31, 2016

Hairspray

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Hairspray is the 1988 movie turned Broadway show turned 2007 movie turned upcoming NBC live broadcast! The original 1988 film featuring notable actors such as Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry, Ricki Lake, and Jerry Stiller had a modest release at the box office but developed a cult following up its release on home video. (Which is like Blu Ray and DVD release for our younger readers.) In 2002 the Broadway musical debuted staring the ever fierce Harvey Firestein as Edna Turnblad. The show picked up 8 Tony Award wins including Best Musical.

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Ricki Lake as Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 motion picture Hairspray.

In 2007 the hunt for the next Tracy was on as the story took to the silver screen once more. This time some script changes were in order and a star studded cast including John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Queen Latifah, and Zac Efron came together to break box office records for the biggest opening weekend of a movie musical.

Now we anxiously await for more news about the NBC’s Hairspray Live which has already announced the return of Harvey Firestein as Edna Turnblad as well as Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson, Martin Short and newcomer Maddie Baillio.

 

The Wiz

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Cast of the 1978 motion picture The Wiz

The Wiz, Also known by its original name The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz, opened on October 21, 1974 in Baltimore. In 1975 the show took to Broadway and racked up 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical and became an early example of Broadway’s mainstream acceptance of works with an all-black cast. In 1978 the film version was released and became an instant cult classic. In December of 2015 NBC broadcasted The Wiz Live featuring Common, Amber Riley, Uzo Aduba, Elijah Kelley, Ne-Yo, Mary J. Blige, and Queen Latifah.

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Chicago

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Originally based on a play by the same name the story is a satire on the corruption n the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal” With music by John Kander, lyrics and book by Fred Ebb,  choreography by Bob Fosse, this show was set to be a hit. The original production only ran on Broadway for 936 performances until 1977 but it was the revival that gained the momentum. It currently holds the record as the longest running musical revival in American Broadway history.  Now the show has a reputation of casting an on going onslaught of celebrities in its leading roles such as Brandy, Eddie George, Rumer Willis, Patrick Swayze, Usher, Michael C. Hall and many more.

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In 2002 the film, directed by Rob Marshall, pulled together an outstanding cast including Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones to name a few. In 2003 the film scored 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

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Mamma Mia

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This show got started just a bit differently than most. The show opened in London’s West End in 1999. Being completely comprised of songs from the Swedish pop/dance group ABBA, producer Judy Craymer was nervous about how well the show would be received. It wasn’t long before the craze caught on and in 2001 the Mamma Mia opened on Broadway. Since then, the show has has 5,773 performances on Broadway and has played in 40 countries. In September of 2015 Mamma Mia said goodbye to Broadway but continues to tour.

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In 2008 the Mamma Mia went from stage to screen. I think we can all agree that Meryl Streep was the best part of this adaptation but was well supported by her cast including Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Amanda Seyfried. The movie received mixed reviews from critics and was considered a box office flop but you can’t escape the power of the soundtrack!

Sound of Music

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Julie Andrews (Maria) The Sound of Music film

This Rogers and Hammerstein classic opened on Broadway in November of 1959. The story, based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, earned 9 Tony nominations and 5 Tony wins including Best Musical. Sadly this would be the last musical written by the Rogers and Hammerstein team as Oscar Hammerstein died only nine months after the Broadway premiere. In 1965 the film starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer would walk away with five Academy Awards.

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Mary Martin in the original Broadway production.

In 2013 the resurgence of the live television musical event was brought back to life with NBC’s Sound of Music Live. While critics thought Carrie Underwood’s performance was amateur at best the ratings sang a different tune. The Sound of Music Live brought the network its highest Thursday night viewership since the series finale of Frasier in 2004 with 18.62 million viewers.

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The Rocky Horror Show

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Not many people know that The Rocky Horror Show made its U.S. debut in Los Angeles at the Roxy Theatre in 1974 before heading to Broadway in 1975. It only lasted three previews and forty five showings despite earning one Tony nomination. It wasn’t until the 1975 film, staring Tim Curry as everyone’s favorite sweet transvestite, and re-dubbed as the Rocky Horror Picture Show that things really took off. The Rocky Horror Picture Show holds the record for the longest-running release in film history.

And to top things off this Halloween Fox plans to release a reboot! Stars include Laverne Cox as Frank N. Furter, Christina Milian, Adam Lambert and more. Check out the trailer below.

 

What Broadway show do you want to see as a movie or T.V. special?

Carole King Like You Never Knew Her

In preparation for our upcoming engagement of Beautiful the Carole King Musical, we thought we would share some interesting facts about Carole King. Did you know Carole King has written over 100 pop hits? She may not have lent her voice to all of them, but King has written or co-written more hits than we can count on our fingers and toes. We will sprinkle some of those famous songs throughout this blog among all of the other really cool facts about her.

She had her first #1 hit at age 18. Carole King co-wrote “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for The Shirelles when you were still struggling over what to major in in college.

Her birth name is Carole Klein. She has played the piano since she was 4 years old.

While she was a student at Brooklyn high school, she dated Neil Sedaka, who was in a band called The Tokens. Soon after, she formed her own group called the Co-sines and took the professional name Carole King.

Her 1971 Tapestry album was the best-selling album ever until 1978 when Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours outsold it.

Tapestry was number 1 on the Billboard 200 for 15 consecutive weeks, and held the record for most weeks at number 1 by a female solo artist for over 20 years until surpassed by Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album in 1993.

Carole King was the first woman to win Song of The Year Award in 1972 for “You’ve Got A Friend,” a jam that she performed with James Taylor.

Carole didn’t always have a way with words. King has said that words didn’t always come as easily when she was a teen, calling herself “lyrically challenged.” She said that the true magic started happening when she met lyricist and future ex-husband Gerry Goffin at college in New York.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1987.

King acted on Broadway in 1994 for the first time, taking over for Petula Clark in Bloodbrothers.

Carole King was a “Gilmore Girl”. Not only did King co-pen the theme song for the early ’00s show, “Where You Lead (I Will Follow)” — sung by daughter Louise — she also appeared on “Gilmore Girls” as the cranky owner of a Stars Hollow music store.

Carole has won 4 Grammy Awards. Record of the Year for “It’s Too Late”, Album of the Year for “Tapestry”, Song of The Year for “You’ve Got a Friend” and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Tapestry”.

Beautiful The Carole King Musical won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album

Carole’s song “Now and Forever” from the movie A League of Their Own received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Song.

 

For more information about Beautiful The Carole King Musical CLICK HERE.

Some Stories Behind the Dancing Feet

By Evan Henerson

As showbiz tales go, “42nd Street’s” is one of the oldest and most inspirational. Fresh faced starry-eyed girl gets off the bus from Allentown determined to find a job – any job – in show business. When the star breaks her ankle, up steps the unknown to take over and write her name in lights.

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Caitlin Ehlinger and Matthew J. Taylor of the 2016 42nd Street Touring Cast.

Great stuff, right? Well, naturally, there’s a story behind the effort to bring the classic 1933 film to the Broadway stage in 1980 where it ran for more than eight years. Likewise, there’s another tale behind the 2001 Broadway revival on which the current production at the Hollywood Pantages is based. In the more than 30 years he has spent with the show, Mark Bramble – the musical’s co-writer and the revival’s director –can rattle off an assortment of them.

But in the summer of 2015, when Bramble and choreographer Randy Skinner re-assembled to assemble the newest touring cast, Bramble put out a call for new stories about another time.

“When I approach a new production, I really do start from scratch, and I want to put the show in a context that’s relevant to the time in which the production is being done,” Bramble said. “We’re just getting out of — and some people say we’re still not out of — this tremendous recession. In 1933, 42nd street, the film really got America out of the Depression.”

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2016 Touring Cast of 42nd Street

“These are people in their 20s and 30s and they had no understanding of the Great Depression. Many of them didn’t even know it existed,” he continued. “I gave them an assignment: find someone in your life who was alive in 1933 and who had a memory of that time. We shared those stories every day before rehearsal.”

While several “42nd Street” company members came back with stories of loss and ruin, others found evidence of ingenuity and even prosperity. An African American singer and dancer and her sister got jobs singing at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem (“they had never had it so grand,” Bramble said.) Another cast member found someone who spoke of planting a secret vegetable garden, protected by a ramshackle fence, on which they survived and, when possible, helped feed the neighborhood.

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42nd Street Opening Night 1980

Bramble shared a personal story as well. Bramble’s mother, a child at the time, accompanied her father when he went to work on Saturdays to take violin lessons at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. One day while on the train, they learned that the stock market had crashed and the banks had closed. The girl asked her father what all of this meant. It meant, her father explained, that the only money the family had left was what was currently in his wallet.

“When the country began to get back on its feet, and she resumed her routine of going to Baltimore, she would see people on the train and in the train station who she had once seen as well dressed businessmen, and they were selling apples,” Bramble said. “They had lost their jobs. They had lost everything, and there they were trying to survive by literally selling apples.”

Bramble first heard this story in the late 1970s when he and co-writer Michael Stewart were figuring out how to bring “42nd Street” to the stage. After watching a screening of the film at the Carnegie Cinema in the basement of Carnegie Hall, they rushed back to Stewart’s apartment and called composer Jerry Herman to gauge his interest in composing new music. Herman’s response: absolutely not. Anybody who adapted “42nd Street” for the stage and didn’t use Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s songs in a stage musical was a fool.

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1980 Cast of 42nd Street

Bramble, Stewart and director-choreographer Gower Champion set out to secure the rights to the song catalog. Meanwhile, word of the team’s quest filtered back to legendary producer David Merrick. Merrick, who had been working on films in Hollywood, wanted to get back to Broadway and thought “42nd Street” would be the perfect vehicle.

Stewart balked, still smarting from the failure of their collaboration on 1974’s “Mack and Mabel.” Bramble insisted they take a meeting with the producer, and Stewart went in with guns blazing.

“We met at the Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel,” Bramble recalled. “Mike was a very feisty guy and he was very pissed off with Merrick over ‘Mack and Mabel.’ He sat down and he was practically growling, he was so angry. He said, ‘David, this is a big show. We want 16 girls,’ and Merrick looked at him as if he had lost his mind.”

“He said, ’16 girls? I won’t do it with less than 24, and if we can fit them on the stage, I’ll use 36.’ Of course, that shut Mike up. David said, ‘I want to do the biggest show since the Second World War,’ and we set about to do that.”

As the team came together, Champion – the show’s director and choreographer – needed a male dance assistant to work with arranger Donald Johnston. Johnston recommended a young dancer from Ohio named Randy Skinner.

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Randy Skinner

“I was kind of the same age as a lot of the kids I was in charge of,” Skinner recalled. “On the one hand, I felt like one of the kids, and wanted to go out with them at night. The other half of me realized that this was one of those breaks that happens without your realizing that it could be life altering. Which it was.”

The out of town reviews were not favorable, but Merrick forged ahead anyway. At its first preview in Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Bramble recalls maybe 300 people in an auditorium that held 2,000. On the play’s opening night in 1980, Champion passed away. The musical went on to become the 14th longest running show in Broadway history.

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After an opening night of “42nd Street” in 1980, the producer David Merrick, right, announced the death of the show’s director, Gower Champion.

“42nd Street’s “success effectively launched the careers of both Bramble and Skinner who reunited to stage the 2001 revival, Bramble as director, Skinner as choreographer. The two men have subsequently worked on productions both regionally and around the world from London to Shanghai, from Berlin to Tokyo. Bramble has been nominated for Tony Awards for the original book and for his direction of the 2001 revival. Skinner’s choreography for the revival was also Tony-nominated.

Skinner calls it “the granddaddy of all musicals.” Bramble concurs, citing the life-affirming message about the possibility of the American Dream, a theme that he says never gets old.

“If you follow your bliss, dreams really can come true,” Bramble said, “and I think that’s what the appeal was of the film in 1933, I think it’s what the appeal was of the original Broadway show in 1980, and I think it continues to be the appeal.”

And speaking of following your bliss, here’s one more story.

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Matthew J. Taylor and Caitlin Ehlinger as Peggy Sawyer and Julian Marsh in 42nd Street

While still in high school in Houston, Caitlin Ehlinger took a master class with Skinner and declared it a dream to one day dance for Skinner professionally. Nearing her graduation date and with only high school musicals on her resume, she travelled to New York to audition for “42nd Street.” After a 10 day audition process, she won the role of – you guessed it – Peggy Sawyer, the unknown ingénue who becomes a star.

Only in the theater.

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.

Cabaret in a Roundabout Sort of Way

A classic show that has seen many iterations since the 1960’s, Cabaret is still going strong. As we know here at the Hollywood Pantages, just because something has been around for a long time does not mean you know everything about it. We did a little digging on Cabaret, playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre July 19 – August 7th, and here is what we found.

The original Broadway production of Cabaret opened on November 20, 1966. In addition to several Broadway revivals and West End revivals, Cabaret has been staged in over 16 countries across the globe. Roundabout Theatre Company’s most recent revival opened at Studio 54 on April 24, 2014 in which Alan Cumming returned to revive his Tony-Winning turn as the Emcee.

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Alan Cumming as the Emcee in Cabaret

For those of you currently enjoying Chicago now playing at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre you may consider Cabaret for your next theatre outing. Both shows were written by the highly successful songwriting team, composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, and have more in common that you may know. Kander and Ebb’s greatest acclaim came from Cabaret in 1966. The musical, directed by frequent collaborator Harold Prince, was a major success, with a Broadway run of over 1,100 performances. It won a Tony Award as the season’s best musical, and its original cast recording won a Grammy Award. The film, directed by Bob Fosse, won eight Academy Awards. The musical Chicago (1975) after an excellent initial run of 936 performances was revived on Broadway in 1996 to become an even greater hit. It has become the longest-running revival in Broadway history, and the 2002 film version was also a great success.

Many well known leading ladies have claimed the role of the British singer Sally Bowles each bringing their own version of the character to the stage. Starting with Judi Dench in the original London production in 1968, other notable Sally’s include Natasha Richardson, Brooke Shields, Molly Ringwald, Emma Stone, Debbie Gibson, Teri Hatcher, and who could forget Liza Minelli for her portrayal in the 1972 Oscar-Winning film.

Judi Dench in her provocative role as the amoral Sally Bowles in Cabaret, the new musical show at the Palace Theatre, London.

Judi Dench in her provocative role as the amoral Sally Bowles in Cabaret, the new musical show at the Palace Theatre, London.

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Emma Stone as Sally Bowles

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Teri Hatcher as Sally Bowles

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Debbie Gibson as Sally Bowles

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Molly Ringwald as Sally Bowles

The multi-Oscar-winning movie makes several changes to the play; in addition to adding and dropping songs, the secondary love plot of the original is replaced with a different secondary plot, a male character is added whose role emphasizes the bisexuality of the leading male character, and the nationalities of Sally and Cliff are switched.  (When ABC aired the movie for the first time, it cut out the revelation of Cliff’s affair with another man, which basically made hash of the end of the film.)

Cabaret 1972 RŽal. : Bob Fosse Liza Minnelli COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL

Cabaret 1972 RŽal. : Bob Fosse Liza Minnelli COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL

 Cabaret was based on several chapters from Christopher Isherwood’s somewhat autobiographical novel Goodbye to Berlin, and it seems that new versions of this story have always appeared at times of crisis in America. The novel appeared at the close of World War II; the non-musical stage version debuted during the McCarthy era; the stage musical opened during the Vietnam era; and the movie musical opened in the midst of the Watergate era.  Each subsequent version of this story has been braver, edgier, more explicit, and only now can it be told completely truthfully. Only now can Cliff be fully gay as Christopher Isherwood – the real Cliff – was. Only now can the Kit Kat Klub be as sexual, as decadent, as it really was. Only now, after musicals like Assassins and Kiss of the Spider Woman, are musical theatre audiences ready for the disturbing extremity that this story really demands.

Randy Harrison as the Emcee and the 2016 National Touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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.

Now experience Cabaret for yourself at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre July 19-August 7. Direct from Broadway, CABARET reunites director Sam Mendes, co-director / choreographer Rob Marshall and many of the same creative team members behind the Tony-Winning 1998 revival production. The New York Times calls it, “Divinely, dangerously decadent,” while Time Out New York hails it “A Broadway jewel in all its glittering glory!”

Randy Harrison as the Emcee and the 2016 National Touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus.

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

Get your tickets to Cabaret by visiting us at: www.HollywoodPantages.com/Cabaret