October 19th, 2009
If I could, I would try to explain exactly how much people we’re blown out of the water by MARY POPPINS… then I though, “why not simply let the people themselves tell everyone?”
“Mary Poppins was a great experience. The set and special effects were unbelievable. The cast was outstanding. It was an unforgettable experience.”
“This being my first time to see the stage musical, I was unsure what to expect. The story was unique! The sets were amazing! The acting, dancing, and singing were phenomenal! I truly felt transported to another world!”
“Mary Poppins was an unforgettable experience. The performance was well polished, enchanting, and deserving of a standing ovation! I enjoyed every moment!”
“Took my daughter for a birthday gift. It was amazing, wonderful and magical all wrapped up in one. Ashley Brown was beyond good as Mary Poppins. My daughter and I haven’t stopped singing the songs since we stood up to go home!!”
“Quite possibly the best musical I have seen in my life, and I have seen quite a few! The costumes, sets and special effects drew me right in, and the voices were consistently beautiful, even the children’s voices. Altogether a wonderful evening’s entertainment.”
“This was a truly magical production! We’ve seen many great musicals over the years — this was one of our absolute favorites. If you have children (or even if you don’t), do not miss this show. Absolutely magical.”
“The whole production of Mary Poppins was outstanding. My husband and I had seats way over on the right side of the theater but could still enjoy everything.All the preformers had wonderful voices, and the children were excepttional. I would love to see it again. It was fun, fun , fun”
“I heard Mary Poppins was coming to DSM and it’s my mother’s favorite movie! I bought the tickets and surprised her with the show. The story line was a bit different from the movie but moved along well. All the important songs were there and sung beautifully! Great, gorgeous cast! ”
“Amazing sets and dancing!”
“We were blown away by the quality and creativity in every area–singing, acting, choreography, lighting, stage and props, costumes, backdrops, special effects…..each area was a delight in its own. After many, many musicals, this was simple the best.”
“WOW! Great show with outstanding sets and acting! The singing was beautiful!”
“This was a wonderfully orchestrated event with talent that surpasses most that I have seen in the past. Mary Poppins has an amazing resemblance to Julie Andrews vocally. This is a wonderful event for children and adults alike.”
“Slightly different than the movie – and in a very good way. The house opens up like a doll-house – awesome. The choreography for Supercalif…. and Step in Time was delightful. Mary Poppins and Bert are amazing performers and so well supported by the rest of the cast. And, i think i was present with the most participatory Dallas audience ever. They clapped along, sang, sighed, and it was all wonderful.”
“Wonderful musical. Took 5 yr old grandson, maybe a little too young, but by the time it was over, he was captivated and loved it. Casting is perfect, those kids amazing. Such a fun, and uplifting story about the importance of family.”
“It was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The special effects were stunning.”
“Must see! Wonderful acting and singing! Amazing sets, costumes and lighting. Funny! And some great special tricks! Seen it twice, would go again if I could!”
“Took the whole family and everyone loved it. They did a great job of doing all the favorite songs from the movie, and they also added new elements that made it exciting and fresh.”
“Absolutely amazing! We thoroughly enjoyed every single minute!”
“I picked this play due to the fact that my wife loves Disney cartoons. I also did like Mary Poppins growing up as a kid. It was a great play from start to finish. I am still trying to figure out how they got all those items in her bag.”
“The singing and dancing was great. There were two favorite moments, the items that she pulled out of her bag and the end where she went up through the crowd and up through the whole in the ceiling. GREAT EXIT!!!!!.”
“The tickets were purchased for daughter, granddaughters and great granddaughter and was a hit. The ages ranged from 4year old to 50 years old and a wonderful time was had by all. ”
“I took my husband, my son (6months old), my two daughters 3 1/2 yrs., and 2 yrs. old, and it was an absolute THRILL for all of us!!! We are all fans of the movie, but were excited to see them in person. What a wonderful job. The entire experience was great, the ushers were wonderful, the vendors, everyone! Thank you for a wonderful experience. WE will be back next year for sure!!!”
“Mary Poppins was the most fun I have had in a long time. What a fun event to go see with family and friends of all ages. I am ready to go see it again!”
“The whole cast and crew did an amazing job of bringing one of my favorite musicals to the stage. As a former actor and techie, I was left questioning myself how some of the technical tricks were done. Regardless, this show–even on stage is full of mystery and magic. GREAT JOB TO EVERYONE.”
“Don’t miss this fabulous musical. It was wonderful. Can’t wait for Little House on the Prairie with Melissa Gilbert playing Ma coming next May.”
“We’ve seen several shows this season at the DSM, but this by far was the best! It was truly magical!”
“Starting with very comfortable seats to outstanding sound and fantastic performances by each of the cast member this show is certainly a can’t miss!”
“The show was amazing, I loved all the music and new spin on the movie scenes. Mary Poppins is a must see for anyone who loves musicals.”
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked our tickets. Knew the Disney Movie and all the songs – and went for an evening of entertainment. What we got was so much more! Songs. Dancing. Glorious voices. Sets that knocked my socks off and dazzled me with every set change and special effects. The entire evening was magic! Disney is the master of production.”
“This was one of the best performances I’ve ever been too. The talent of the performers and special effects were top notch. It’s a great family event that deserves to be seen by the masses. I would recomend it to anyone and everyone. If you’ve seen Disney’s Mary Poppins, you must see this musical. It will take you more in depth into the world of Mary Poppins. It is a must see!”
“This was a great show. I had read so much about Mary flying over the audience, but nothing was said about the tap dance around the room by the Sweep. That was absolutely amazing. How did you do it. I am so grateful for the 4 for $99 special which enabled me to purchase tickets. My granddaughter, daughter-in-law, and myself really enjoyed it. Thank you!”
August 25th, 2009
Jo Ann Holt, Publicist
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2009
CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR
Disney and Cameron Mackintosh present
FEATURING ORIGINAL BROADWAY STARS
ASHLEY BROWN & GAVIN LEE
DALLAS SUMMER MUSICALS’ LIMITED PREMIERE ENGAGEMENT BEGINS THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2009
AT THE MUSIC HALL AT FAIR PARK
Dallas, TX…Producers Cameron Mackintosh and Thomas Schumacher are pleased to announce full casting for the Dallas Summer Musicals engagement of MARY POPPINS. Dallas’ most eagerly anticipated stage production will begin performances at the Music Hall at Fair Park on Thursday, September 24, 2009 for a limited engagement of four weeks through Sunday, October 18. The official opening night is Friday, September 25, 2009 at 8 p.m.
The entire creative team has reunited to bring this magical story of the word’s most famous nanny to audiences across North America. Original Broadway stars, Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee, will reprise their roles as “Mary Poppins” and “Bert” respectively.
For her portrayal of “Mary Poppins,” Ashley Brown received Drama League®, Drama Desk® and Outer Critic Circle® nominations for Best Actress. Upon graduating from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Ms. Brown landed a leading role in the touring production of Disney’s On the Record. Soon after she was offered the chance to star in Beauty and the Beast and made her Broadway debut as “Belle” in September 2005. Upcoming projects include concerts with Marvin Hamlisch, the New York Philharmonic and a debut album of American Songbook standards.
Gavin Lee made his Broadway debut with MARY POPPINS after originating the role of “Bert” in the world premiere production in London’s West End. Lee received critical acclaim for his portrayal of “Bert,” both in NY and London, and was the recipient of the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor. Lee also received Tonyâ, Outer Critic Circle® and Olivier Award® nominations for Best Actor. His London theatre credits include Peggy Sue Got Married, Contact, Oklahoma!, Sondheim’s Saturday Night, Crazy For You, and Me and My Girl. In addition, he has appeared in the recent film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera and Beyond the Sea.
Joining Brown and Lee will be Karl Kenzler as “George Banks.” Mr. Kenzler’s Broadway credits include Twelve Angry Men, The Caretaker, Dinner At Eight and The Heiress. “Winifred Banks” will be played by Megan Osterhaus, who comes straight from the Broadway company of Mary Poppins. Her other stage credits include Mamma Mia, Martin Guerre, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Children Of Eden, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Gypsy.
Valerie Boyle will portray “Mrs. Brill.” Ms. Boyle has been seen in a wide variety of leading roles in Canada and Europe including Sophie Tucker, Shirley Valentine and Nunsense. Andrew Keenan-Bolger, who will play “Robertson Ay”, has previously appeared on Broadway in Seussical, Beauty and the Beast and A Christmas Carol and in the National Tours of Spelling Bee, The Grinch and Ragtime.
Ellen Harvey will play “Miss Andrew.” Ms. Harvey’s Broadway credits include The Music Man and Thou Shalt Not and she has appeared in the National Tours of Disney’s High School Musical, Mamma Mia, Doctor Dolittle, and Sunset Boulevard. “The Bird Woman” will be played by Mary VanArsdel, who has appeared in productions of Cole Porter’s Paris, Mass, Camelot (with Jeremy Irons), 110 In the Shade, and Gypsy. “Admiral Boom” will be portrayed by Mike O’Carroll, a stage veteran whose past credits include White Christmas, Fiddler on the Roof, Showboat, Will Rogers Follies, Henry IV, Inherit the Wind, and Ragtime.
Performances in the role of “Jane Banks” will be alternated between Kelsey Fowler and Aida Neitenbach. Performances in the role of “Michael Banks” will be alternated between Bryce Baldwin and Zach Rand.
Rounding out the cast are Tia Altinay, Carol Angeli, Gail Bennett, Kiara Bennett, Brandon Bieber, Troy Edward Bowles, Elizabeth Broadhurst, Michael Gerhart, Geoffrey Goldberg, Emily Harvey, Tiffany Howard, Kelly Jacobs, Wendy James, Justin Keyes, Sam Kiernan, Brian Letendre, Laird Mackintosh, Vanessa McMahan, Koh Mochizuki, Shua Potter, Dominic Roberts, Nick Sanchez, Q. Smith, Jesse Swimm and Tom Souhrada.
MARY POPPINS, a co-production by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, opened on Broadway on November 16, 2006. Based on P.L. Travers’ cherished stories and the classic 1964 Walt Disney film, MARY POPPINS features the Academy Award®-winning music and lyrics of Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The stage production has been created, in collaboration with Cameron Mackintosh, by Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes, who has written the book, and the Olivier Award-winning team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who have composed new songs and additional music and lyrics.
Olivier Award-winning director Richard Eyre leads the award-winning creative team, with co-direction and choreography by Tony® and Olivier Award winner Matthew Bourne. MARY POPPINS features set and costume design by TonyÒ Award winner Bob Crowley, co-choreography by Olivier Award winner Stephen Mear, lighting design by Howard Harrison, orchestrations by William David Brohn, and music supervision by David Caddick. The tour’s creative team includes Director Anthony Lyn, Associate Choreographer Geoffrey Garrett, and Music Director James Dodgson.
Consistently among the top-grossing shows on Broadway, MARY POPPINS continues in its 3rd smash year at the New Amsterdam Theatre and recently celebrated its 1000th performance – a milestone reached by only a rare few number of shows in Broadway history. The Broadway production has grossed over $132 million to date, and has been seen by over 1.6M theatergoers. Simultaneously, the show’s popularity grows around the globe. Following a successful three year run (December 2004 – January 2008) at the Prince Edward Theatre on London’s West End, a U.K. tour of MARY POPPINS commenced in summer 2008 and concluded its acclaimed run in Cardiff in April 2009. The Australian debut of MARY POPPINS is planned for next year. An open-ended run of MARY POPPINS will take residence at the Circus Theatre in Scheveningen, Holland, outside of Amsterdam. The show will open in April 2010 at the Circus Theatre following TARZAN’S record setting run there. MARY POPPINS will be produced in Holland by Stage Entertainment in association with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.
In Dallas, MARY POPPINS will play Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Saturday and selected Thursday matinees at 2 p.m. Sunday performances will be at 1:30 and 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $25 to $85. Special VIP Producers Circle Ticket Packages are available for $135 at select performances, and include premium seating and a complimentary souvenir program. Tickets are available at The Box Office, 542 Preston Royal Shopping Center in Dallas, all Ticketmaster outlets, and online at www.ticketmaster.com. To charge tickets, call 214-631-ARTS (2787). For groups of 15 or more, call 214-426-GROUP.
The Dallas engagement of MARY POPPINS is presented by arrangement with Dallas Summer Musicals, presented by Comerica Bank, and is a subscription offering of their 2009 season
# # # #
National Press Representative: Local Press Representative:
Scott A. Hemerling, Jo Ann Holt
New Amsterdam Theatre Music Hall at Fair Park
214 West 42nd Street 909 First Avenue
New York, New York 10036 Dallas, TX 75210
Telephone: 212.703.1080 469-363-7271
Facsimile: 954.212.2483 email firstname.lastname@example.org
August 14th, 2009
a recent YouTube release of their ongoing video blog series. Check it out and find out what Warner really things about Elle chasing him down at Harvard!!
The entire video series following this talented cast across the country, can be found at:
August 5th, 2009
Three DSM shows were invited to send performers to sing the National Anthem at a Texas Rangers home game this summer. When WIZARD OF OZ‘s Dorothy (Cassie Okenka) wasn’t able to arrive in time for the June 8th game, her understudy Lauryn Ciardullo donned the Dorothy wig, red shoes and pinafore costume and charmed the audience with her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
For CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, the four child performers (Aly Brier, Camille Mancuso, Jeremy Lipton and Zachary Carter Sayle) sang the National Anthem at the Monday night game June 30. Here is a video of their Texas Ranger performance:
For LEGALLY BLONDE: THE MUSICAL, sports fan Becky Gulsvig (Elle Woods) was thrilled to sing the National Anthem as the Rangers trounced the Tigers at the ballpark Monday, July 27th and received a great response from fans. Quite a few people dropped by the suite to congratulate the star on her performance, with several saying it was “one of the top 10 anthem performances of all time.” They also thanked Becky (who’s originally from Minnesota) for bringing the unusually cool weather.
Thanks to DSM marketing director Paulette Hopkins and Texas Rangers VP of marketing Andy Silverman, a number of company members were able to watch the game and Becky’s performance from one of the two suites made available for their use. A Fox Sports TV News reporter interviewed Becky Gulsvig in the Mickey Mantle suite at the top of the fourth inning, and Becky and other female cast members did an impromptu version of “Bend and Snap” for the sports network’s audiences. Becky’s husband Tyler, who could be found selling Legally Blonde merchandise in the lobby for each performance, also enjoyed the game. Tyler, Becky and their Golden Retriever bring their own van on the national tour, driving from city to city so they can really enjoy the scenery.
Delorie and past DSM Chairman O. Paul Corley, Jr. (resplendent in pink from head to toe) with Guild President Michelle Lemay-Patten at the Legally Blonde party at Thompson-Knight’s offices.
July 22nd, 2009
12:06 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 22, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com
You may not come out of Legally Blonde humming the tunes, but this show will leave you as pumped as a two-hour cardiac workout.
The stage adaptation of the popular movie, a modest hit on Broadway, arrived at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday. It keeps up a breathless pace as heroine Elle Woods, the seemingly shallow blond bombshell who follows an ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School, discovers a whole new perspective on life.
Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, who rewrote their Sarah, Plain and Tall for the Dallas Theater Center this spring, tell the story mostly in song. Their lyrics, as cute and clever as Elle herself, are worthy successors to those of their great Broadway predecessors. They give us good tunes, too, but the incessant melodic patterns seldom relax and luxuriate. They just keep percolating like a triple shot of espresso.
The real mover of this theatrical whirlwind, though, is director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell. Over the last decade, he has established himself as one of the American theater’s great storytellers through movement. Like the score, the dancing seldom settles into a stand-alone number, at least before intermission. Throughout the musical someone onstage is stepping, shimmying or gyrating in ways that move the plot along. The second act finally gives us some release with production numbers based on exercise videos, sexy poses and, of all things, Irish step dancing.
As Elle, Becky Gulsvig looks a lot like the film’s Reese Witherspoon. She sounds even more like Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. (Those with strong negative reactions to squeaks and other high pitches may find themselves at risk.) Gregg Barnes’ costumes expand the boundaries of pink, mauve, hot pink and not-quite-crimson. Gulsvig wears them smashingly.
For those who crave a bit of old-fashioned fun from their musical comedies, preferably with a smidgeon of uplift and optimism, with a bevy of shapely young bodies to boot, Legally Blonde is guilty as charged.
PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Aug. 2 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 160 mins. $15 to $85. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.
Trackback to original review post on dallasnews.com
July 8th, 2009
11:55 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 7, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com
A Chorus Line is a unique musical, a perfect musical. I’m not sure, in retrospect, it’s one of the great musicals.
The tour based on the recent New York revival arrived at Fair Park Music Hall on Tuesday. It has restored the show’s vivid energy and sharp characterizations, and it makes nearly as good a case for the piece as possible. To paraphrase one of Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban’s songs, it scores dance 10, acting 10, singing maybe a six.
At one point the longest running show in Broadway history, A Chorus Line grew out of workshop-style discussions organized by director-choreographer Michael Bennett. He asked professional dancers, gypsies from Broadway chorus lines, to talk about their lives. Then he, with librettists James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, made a show out of their stories.
The musical, without an intermission, is built around a day of auditions. It also takes its shape from the process of putting together a big production number, from the first rudimentary steps to the high-strutting, show-stopping climax.
The personalities of the individual characters are indelible, but over the years productions have tended to blur or exaggerate them. Bob Avian and Baayork Lee, both part of the original process in 1974 and ’75, have whipped things back into shape beautifully.
Emily Fletcher, for instance, nails Sheila’s aggressive sensuality without making her too hard, and Bryan Knowlton, as Paul in the first week of the current run, keeps his dignity while making his sometimes shocking self-revelations.
I’ve never seen a completely satisfactory Cassie. Robyn Hurder at least dances the role better than most. Part of the problem is inherent: The starring role in this musical is that of a woman who keeps insisting she doesn’t have star power or star pretensions.
Hamlisch’s tunes retain their hummability, albeit in very ’70s fashion. Kleban’s lyrics tell the dancers’ stories with considerable wit. Most of all, Bennett knew how to build a dance number.
Still, a nagging little voice keeps telling me that a really great musical should have characters who interact with each other and should be about something other than getting a job, even if the people do their jobs for love.
PLAN YOUR LIFE Through July 19 at Fair Park Music Hall. 130 mins. $15 to $85. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.
June 24th, 2009
12:36 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 24, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News
Cute kids. A quartet of hilarious villains. A whole pack of trained dogs. A production number with a samba that sizzles. What more could a family musical possibly need?
How about a magical car that floats, flies and makes people ask it nicely if they want a ride?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang chugged, sailed and soared into Fair Park Music Hall for the Dallas Summer Musicals on Tuesday. This road version more than lives up to the standard the Broadway version set in 2005. Largely overlooked in a bumper year for musicals, it struck me as the best Broadway family show since The Lion King. This tour, adapted and directed by Ray Roderick, sacrifices a bit of grandeur but gains in comic spontaneity.
Ian Fleming, an unlikely children’s writer, shows his hand as the original storyteller in various ways: There are spies, though they’re played for laughs. And recall that James Bond’s cars always had tricks up their sleeves, just like the title vehicle here.
Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman’s songs are almost as infectious as the ones they created for Mary Poppins. And, frankly, the plot in this show is more appealing. The father, hapless inventor Caractacus Potts (Steve Wilson), has boundless affection for his children (Jeremy Lipton and Camille Mancuso at Tuesday’s performance). They all look after the grandfather (Dick Decareau), and the kids know before the dad does that there’s chemistry brewing with a motorcycle-driving heiress (Kelly McCormick).
None of the performers are household names, but they’re all solid pros and often more aptly cast than their Broadway counterparts. Dirk Lumbard is delightfully oily as the taller of the bumbling spies, and Scott Cote is his even dumber sidekick. As the evil baron and baroness, George Dvorsky and Elizabeth Ward Land are silly and sinister at the same time. Oliver Wadsworth may be entirely too sinister for younger children as the hideously creepy Childcatcher, although the happy ending defuses most of the terror.
You don’t have to be a kid to have a truly scrumptious time at Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But feel free to bring a couple of tykes along if you think you’ll feel conspicuous without them.
PLAN YOUR LIFE Through July 5 at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 150 mins. $12 to $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.
June 5th, 2009
11:15am Breaking News
Steven Hall, Webmaster, DSM
We just completed the press conference for the 5th Anniversary of our “Stage Right” youth outreach program. Mayor Leppert and Chief of Police Kunkle spoke along with co-founders of the program DSM President Michael Jenkins & Dallas Police Detective “Monty” Moncibais. Details on the “Stage Right” below. Also in attendance were many more VIPs such as City Manager Mary Suhm, Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Elba Garcia, KLUV’s Jody Dean and CBS’s Ginger Allen. Very cool that in their busy schedules everyone could come together for this outreach initiative!
ABOUT STAGE RIGHT
Stage Right Raises the Curtain for Education and Spotlights Appreciation of the Arts through Experience and Positive Quality Lifestyles.
Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Ron Waldrop and Michael A. Jenkins, President and Managing Director of Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM), held a press conference on June 4, 2008 in the lobby of the Music Hall at Fair Park to discuss the objectives and success of the Stage Right program that introduces at-risk youth ages 12-15 to arts and culture events as well as introducing them to “Positive Action” self improvement and self esteeming building summer curriculum.
Both Mr. Jenkins, the grass-roots visionary who helped create the Stage Right initiative to reach out to at-risk students and DPD Narcotics Detective Monty Moncibais, who heads up the program for DPD, will speak. Stage Right Steering Committee members also attended included Chris Hawkins, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Victor Burke President, North Texas Crime Commission; Gail Gray, Phoenix House; Lori Sirmen, Dallas Summer Musicals; Carolyn Jordan, Boys and Girls Club; Herbert Moncibais, Hispanic Business Alliance; Gloria Moncibais, Hispanic Business Alliance; and Susan Moncibais, community activist.
Also present at the conference were Gary Hodges, DISD, Assistant Chief; Mike Hathcoat, Director, the Phoenix House; Anita N. Martinez, Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico Company; Charles English, Dallas Boys & Girls Club; Reginald Hurd, Dallas Parks and Recreation; Paul Monroe, the Dallas Mavericks; Steve Colmus, KIPP Truth Academy; Billy Walker, Coca Cola Bottling of North Texas; and Eddie Campbell and Ed Campbell, Campbell Concessions.
Stage Right’s mission statement is “Raising the curtain for education and spotlighting the appreciation of the arts through experience and positive quality lifestyles.”
The students are recommended by DISD teachers and counselors and other youth programs including Boys & Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., and Dallas Recreation Centers as part of their ongoing efforts to keep students from joining gangs or engaging in other activities that prevent their enjoying success in school. Stage Right seeks to raise awareness of the arts, increase appreciation for different lifestyles and also increase self esteem.
This year, over 800 students are participating in the program!
For more information about Stage Right, please contact DPD Detective Moncibais at 214-537-8954.
May 21st, 2009
10:15 AM CDT on Thursday, May 21, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning Newsltaitte@dallasnews.com
Nobody finds it odd when a violinist or pianist is still playing a favorite concerto at the end of a 40-year career. So why be surprised that Topol is still playing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof?
The Israeli actor had racked up a number of stage performances even before he made the 1971 movie. Now the total is around 2,500. In what is billed as his final tour, he arrived in Dallas for a one-week run at the Dallas Summer Musicals on Monday.
The performer still has what the role requires. That sonorous bass-baritone peals magnificently through the low notes. The stately, if world-weary, bearing and the soulful countenance, blazing eyes clearly visible in the back rows of the huge theater, give Topol, 73, a patriarchal aura. He could as easily be playing Moses or Rasputin – if it weren’t for all the droll bits of low humor he tosses off so nonchalantly.
It must be said that spontaneity is not a factor here. Every mournful growl at a bit of bad news, every joyful roll of the eyes, appears calculated and polished to the nth degree. Naturalism also goes out the window in favor of this delicately calculated theatrical flair.
Many old-fashioned masters of comic shtick destroy their material by sending it up. Not Topol. No shred of cynicism or self-indulgence gets in the way of Fiddler’s emotional journey. Before empty-nest syndrome had a name, this great musical explored the agonies of letting go – and the star plays them for all they are worth.
The current tour has selling points beyond its leading man. Susan Cella as Golde and Mary Stout as Yente are also masters of the broad comic style. Among the lovely daughters, Jamie Davis’ Hodel stands out for her soaring voice. Steve Gilliam’s storybook set invests the village of Anatevka with a quaint charm.
Best of all, director-choreographer Sammy Dallas Bayes has reproduced Jerome Robbins’ exuberant first-act dances with fiery precision. An important secret of Fiddler’s success is the sheer animal energy that drives these sequences. They keep this tale of loss and aging young and vital.
As young and vital as its septuagenarian star.
May 6th, 2009
By LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas Morning News
12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 6, 2009
A little distance brings things into focus: Rent is incomparably the greatest Broadway musical in, say, the last 30 years, and the farewell tour that the Dallas Summer Musicals brought to Fair Park Music Hall on Tuesday is probably your last chance to see it in pristine shape, as good as when in opened in New York 13 years ago.
The back story, of course, is so sad and perfect it seems made up. The young genius who wrote Rent, Jonathan Larson, died of an aneurysm right before the triumphant first performance. His transposition of the story of La Boheme to downtown Manhattan won every prize going, and this tangled skein of sex and romance (straight, gay and bi) in which half the characters are trying to live with AIDS won a whole new generation of fans to the theater.
From the screeches that greeted the first two actors onstage Tuesday, you’d think all those fans were in attendance to greet the show’s original stars. Anthony Rapp, as detached filmmaker Mark, looks just like he did in 1996; if anything, his timing and diction are sharper and his performance more engaged. Adam Pascal, playing alienated songwriter Roger, looks leaner and meaner, neither inappropriate to the character; his singing voice has taken on a rasping rocker’s edge that works well, too.
Original director Michael Greif has knit the rest of the cast into a tight ensemble. Amazingly, you can hear almost every word in this often intractable space. Former American Idol contestant Lexi Lawson eases her way uncomfortably through Mimi’s precarious dance on the fire escape, but her voice and her onstage presence are both gorgeous. Nicolette Hart makes a hilarious Maureen, and Michael McElroy brings his sonorous voice and vast stage experience to Tom Collins. Unfortunately, Justin Johnston doesn’t have that seraphic aura you ideally want in the role of Angel, but he dies magnificently.
Ultimately, it’s Larson’s tingling melodies and handcrafted lyrics (and his skill at building large forms out of both) that make Rent so special. Its frankness about sex and drugs means it’s not for everyone. Still, if you are curious or perhaps already know the score, but have never seen the show (or have only seen the dispiriting 2005 screen version), you owe yourself a trip to the Music Hall.
PLAN YOUR LIFE Through Sunday at Fair Park Music Hall. Runs 165 mins. $15 to $85.
Buy tickets here: http://www.ticketmaster.com/promo/vf0c6y?camefrom=DSM_WEB_RENT_BLOG
April 30th, 2009
11:20 AM CDT on Thursday, April 30, 2009
By Lawson Taitte / The Dallas Morning News
President Richard M. Nixon may never have achieved the rehabilitation in public esteem he so craved in his lifetime. He’s got it now, though, at least as Stacy Keach plays him in Frost/Nixon.
Peter Morgan’s play about the TV interviews Nixon gave to talk-show host David Frost had its origin in that most fecund of London theatrical enterprises, the Donmar Warehouse. The show then traveled to Broadway and went on to become a major film, winning Tony Awards and Oscar nominations both for the vehicle and the star who played the president, Frank Langella.
If there’s any actor on the American stage with more stature, more sheer talent, than Langella, it’s Stacy Keach. He headlines the touring version that the Dallas Summer Musicals brought to the Majestic Theatre on Wednesday.
The marvelous Langella brought depth and tragic dignity to the role of the disgraced President three years after his unparalleled resignation from office. But he also brought a certain smarminess to the role and a whiff of parody in the ways he adapted some of Nixon’s well-known mannerisms and vocal patterns.
Smarmy is not a word you’d ever use to describe Keach’s Nixon. Tortured, self-regarding, yes, perhaps even venal. But this figure projects a fallen grandeur and canny, self-possessed intellect that command respect – and maybe even affection.
The touring version (directed, like the original, by Michael Grandage) does have its own quota of smarminess. Alan Cox’s Frost oozes slime right up to the final moments when he at last gets Nixon to confess wrongdoing on camera (something that never actually happened in real life, by the way). Even that formidable journalist Jim Reston in this young incarnation (as played by Brian Sgambati) is lightweight and petty in comparison with the wounded-bear Keach as Nixon.
It’s too bad that Keach probably won’t be touring his version of King Lear (to be seen in Washington, D.C., this summer) and that he hasn’t been seen more frequently in great plays in New York and around the country. He commands the stage as only a couple of American actors of his generation do. Whatever your politics, don’t miss the chance to see him do his stuff in Frost/Nixon.
March 9th, 2009
Hello to all the DSM fans!
As I mentioned yesterday, I was blown away by THE PAJAMA GAME on Tuesday night. #1 — I couldn’t believe they fit a set that elaborate on to that stage, because the Majestic stage is considerably smaller and intimate than the Music Hall stage. #2 The choreography, singing and acting were superb — parts of act 2 are very reminiscent of CHICAGO!
At ANY rate — with the economy being a bit *oy*, DSM is offering a 50% discount for THE PAJAMA GAME. Times are tough, but we also know that’s when our patrons may need their spirits lifted, so we want to help!Here’s the details:
-Use password SAVE (case sensitive)
-Enjoy the show at half price!
the normal legal stuff:
Tickets are subject to availability. Service charges and handling fees will apply. Facility fees may apply. Performance prices, dates, and times subject to change without notification. This offer is available through ticketmaster.com, Charge-by-Phone 214.631.ARTS. Offer expires on 3/15/09 at 8pm. No refunds or exchanges. This offer is not valid on previously purchased tickets or in combination with any other offers.
March 5th, 2009
An airline ticket can get you to Las Vegas quite reasonably these days. A time machine that’ll get you there a half-century ago is another matter.
That’s the goal of The Rat Pack – Live at the Sands, the London hit that Dallas Summer Musicals brought to the Majestic Theatre on Tuesday.
You can guess the format from the title: Singers portraying Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. cover the stars’ greatest hits. A 16-piece band (something of a luxury in the theater these days) plays onstage, and three curvaceous backup singers add a considerable amount of what in those days was called sex appeal.
This may sound like a dubious proposition, but people apparently are still eager to hear numbers out of the great American songbook (alongside tunes of lesser pedigree) sung by voices of substance and backed by choirs of actual saxes, trumpets and trombones.
Of the three leading performers, only Stephen Triffitt’s Sinatra provokes the occasional internal double take, providing reassurance that this is only a latter-day impersonator rather than the real thing. At first, he’s almost too successful in duplicating Sinatra’s every rhythmic and phonetic inflection. Eventually, he makes us forget the mechanics and just listen to the music – especially the torch song “Angel Eyes.” He’s also got the physical manner, at once regal and offhand, down pat.
His pretend buddies both boast fine voices, but the illusion is weaker. Davis sometimes trod perilously close to self-parody, which makes things doubly hard for David Hayes. He’s lively and he can hoof it, but he lacks the grit under the original star’s larger-than-life exterior. Mark Adams projects Martin’s macho appeal, and the voice evokes the star without imitating him slavishly. But Adams works too hard at ingratiating himself with the audience, whereas you could always see a dead chill of indifference in Martin’s eyes.
The Rat Pack brims with the buddies’ horseplay (complete with sexist, racist and boozy jokes authentic to the period). What it leaves you with, however, are meditations on Frank Sinatra’s unique career. Not only does Triffitt bring him to life, he sings the questionable later material, especially “My Way,” with genuine feeling that we didn’t always get from the man himself.
PLAN YOUR LIFE
Through Sunday at the Majestic Theatre. Runs 140 mins. $12 to $71. Ticketmaster at 214-631-2787, www.ticketmaster.com.
January 8th, 2009
Happy New Year all,
Here is a re-post from the Minneapolis Post regarding the hit show that is coming to The Majestic Theatre. (Tickets are not yet on sale–stay tuned for the on sale date!)
Review: ‘Frost/Nixon’ (the play) packs a lot of punchBy
Ed Huyck Published Wed, Jan 7 2009
You can take in the film version of “Frost/Nixon” at a lower price than the touring production inhabiting the State Theatre in Minneapolis, so why choose the play? I could go on about the connection between the performer and the audience, maybe even toss out fancy words like “gestalt,” but the answer is pretty simple: Stacy Keach (as Richard Nixon) and Alan Cox (as David Frost) fully inhabit their roles to the point that the verbal battles between the two at the show’s climax feel as intense as the real thing.
The film explores the aftermath of Nixon’s presidency via the famed TV interviews conducted by Frost in 1977. As one of the characters notes, the two spar like fighters. Playwright Peter Morgan has a knack for exploring the human toll of politics (past work includes “The Queen,” about Tony Blair, Queen Elizabeth II and the death of Princess Diana) and that’s in full effect here.
While it gets off to a slow start, “Frost/Nixon” finds its pace and drive once the two characters begin their on- and off-screen battles. Keach certainly gets the meatier role here, and takes full advantage of it, making his complex character come to life. Cox has a tougher role, as Frost buries his doubts beneath his playboy image. This comes into sharp focus in the play’s final quarter as the men share a late-night phone conversation. Frost asks Nixon the questions that everyone wants answered, and the disgraced former president obliges.
In the end, this smart and well-paced production scores with the intensity and immediacy of the two main performers — and that’s something you can never get on the movie screen.
There have been a number of presentations that have graced both stage & screen–what is your preferred medium?
December 18th, 2008
Sing along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in the annual Walt Disney World Christmas Parade. MARY POPPINS National Tour stars Ashley Brown and Gavin Lee will perform the classic tongue-twister on Main Street, U.S.A. along with hundreds of dancers.
Here are some interesting fun facts regarding our appearance:
• Ashley and Gavin will be joined by Neil McCaffrey (“Michael Banks”), Cassady Leonard (“Jane Banks”), 20 “cast members” who perform at the Walt Disney World Resort, AND 450 kids from dance groups representing 35 states—and even Canada.
• The group that traveled the furthest was from Washington state and they traveled over 3000 miles.
• They rehearsed separately for over two months and practiced together for over 15 hours onsite.
• It was not until the morning of the Christmas Show taping that all 465 performers (MP cast, WDW cast, and 450 Cheer kids) actually danced together for the first time!
• Our segment was the largest production ever staged in the 25 year history of the parade broadcast!
• The production filled the entire length of Main Street U.S.A.–360 feet!!
The Parade will also feature performances by Miley Cyrus (“Hannah Montana”), the Jonas Brothers and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”).
Gather the family, and tune in to ABC on Thursday, December 25 at 10am EST/9am CST (check local listings).
With sugarplum thoughts and wishes…
December 16th, 2008
After many inquiries and requests, we have just decided to release the THE MAJESTIC SERIES to go on “soft-sale” this Friday morning, Dec. 19 at 10am. So that will be only these shows:
BOB THE BUILDER
Feb. 21 – 22, 2009 @ The Majestic Theatre
RAT PACK LIVE AT THE SANDS (my pick for one of the best shows…)
March 3 – 8, 2009 @ The Majestic Theatre
March 10 – 15, 2009 @ The Majestic Theatre
April 28 – May 3, 2009 @ The Majestic Theatre
Friday morning, 12/19 at 10am, you’ll be able to purchase tickets at ticketmaster.com. This link is live now, but they are currently updating the page, switching the onsale dates from January 26th to December 19th, so don’t let that throw you off.
The homepage on our website will also be reflecting this later today, so you’ll be able to get details there: http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/. You can also email us at email@example.com if you have questions, or just to say hello!
PS: If you haven’t already, we’d LOVE to have you follow us on TWITTER.COM:
Our twitter account is like a giant conversation of DSM announcements, facts, questions etc… and also one of the most consistent ways to hear of what’s happening at DSM before anyone else!
December 15th, 2008
Here is the official release from President and Managing Director, Michael Jenkins regarding TARZAN:
With deep regret Dallas Summer Musicals announces that Disney’s TARZAN will not be coming to Dallas this year. The touring production of TARZAN has been canceled due to circumstances beyond the control of Dallas Summer Musicals and the DSM team is just as disappointed as our patrons that it will not be on our stage this spring.
However, we are very pleased to announce that Dallas Summer Musicals will be able to bring MAMMA MIA! back to Dallas in August as a seventh show in our season package. One of our favorite musicals, MAMMA MIA! is the story of a mother, a daughter, 3 possible dads, and a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! Writer Catherine Johnson’s sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, and every night everyone’s having the time of their lives! This summer you will join the over 30 million people all around the world who have fallen in love with the characters, the story, and the
music that make MAMMA MIA! the ultimate feel-good show when MAMMA MIA! comes to
the Music Hall at Fair Park, August 18-30, 2009.
If you have already placed a subscription order you will be receiving additional information about this change.
December 9th, 2008
Benefiting the DSM Academy of Performing Arts
Go to: http://bit.ly/LChS
Hey everyone, here’s your chance to win the ULTIMATE BROADWAY PACKAGE!
One lucky winner will receive 2 Opening night tickets to:
-Wizard of Oz
-Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
-A Chorus Line
They’ll also receive VIP passes to each of the opening night cast parties, and dinner for 2 before each show at the newly renovated “Dining at the Music Hall” gourmet restaurant!
Go to: http://bit.ly/LChS
October 29th, 2008
THE SECOND CITY
NOVEMBER 11-16, 2008
The Majestic Theatre
Chances are if you’re not from Chicago, you may not know about THE SECOND CITY. However, you’ve been laughing with/to their comedians for years. Recognize any of these guys?
Performing a special medley of classic scenes, songs, and improvisation, THE SECOND CITY TOURING COMPANY is always original, daring, and hilarious. Their alumni list is a veritable “Who’s Who” of comedy including Peter Boyle, Bill Murray, John & Jim Belushi, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, George Wendt, Ryan Stiles, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Horatio Sanz, Tim Meadows, Joan Rivers, John Candy, Bonnie Hunt, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis and so many more.
-New York Times
“A Comedy Powerhouse”
Buy one get the SECOND free*
for THE BEST OF SECOND CITY
Go to this link:http://www.ticketmaster.com/promo/jgd4cw
During the purchase process you’ll see a box to enter a promotional code; enter SECOND (case sensitive)
Good For: All performances
Price Levels: All
Offer good at: online or at the DSM Box Office at Preston Royal Shopping Center, ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster retail locations and Charge-by-Phone 214-631-ARTS
Restrictions: *Tickets subject to availability and prior sales; some restrictions may apply. Performance prices and dates subject to change without notification. Offer expires Sunday, November 16 at 8p(CST). No refunds or exchanges. Additional service and handling charges apply. Tickets must be purchased in multiples of twos. Does not apply to previously purchased tickets.
Dates valid: Now through – November 16, 2008
Have you seen THE SECOND CITY before? On tour? In Chicago? Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought!