Saturday, October 30, 2004
Speaking of Opening Night
And "Hooray For What!" opens just 10 days later, with 3 Previews and Opening Night on the 13th.
Don't forget to pick your performance, get your promotion code, call the box office, and get your tickets.
You can use the link in the right hand sidebar to get all the details.
Something To Do Kill Time On Opening Night
A Conversation with Lea Salonga at the San Francisco Performing Arts Library
Saturday, November 13 – 2:00 pm
Tony Award-winning performer Lea Salonga, who rocketed to international stardom at age 18 as the original Kim in Miss Saigon, comes to the Performing Arts Library for a delightful afternoon of conversation and music (she will perform two songs in the course of the talk). The conversation, moderated by Butterfly exhibition curator Brad Rosenstein, will be followed by a reception with Ms. Salonga.
Admission to the event is $25 general / $20 SFPALM members.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Broadway Marathon on KQED Tomorrow
Starts at 3PM tomorrow, the 30th. On KQED of course.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
For Hallowe'en: A Tad Morbid, But Fascinating Nonetheless
"From Forbes Magazine, ranking the top 20 dead celebrities and how much their estates bring in each year (in millions)--Interesting that Irving Berlin is above Rodgers."
The Top dead earner is Elvis at $40 mill per year.
But golden era composers have surprising staying (and earning) power.
Irving Berlin comes in at #8 with $7M per year.
Richard Rodgers is at #10 with $6.5M.
Followed by #11 George & Ira Gershwin, #13 Lerner & Loewe and #14 Cole Porter at ~$6M each.
They all sit in the Top 20, accompanied by Tupac Shakur, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dr. Seuss. It's an interesting mix!
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Cast Members talk about "Hooray For What!"
I asked the cast what they thought about the show, and its theme...and got this response from Michael:
"As my day job is with the website www.antiwar.com, I was very excited to be a part of the cast of the resurrection of the "lost" 1937 anti-war musical "Hooray for What!" Under its light and bubbly surface brew themes of international conflict, misguided, jingoistic patriotism, and the struggle of greed against morals and the relative ineffectiveness of treaties and words. "Hooray for What!" is a satire that remains painfully (but hilariously) current. The play somehow balances a sharp social commentary with a script which is about as silly and fun as musicals can get. The characters at times border on lunatic, but they're just close enough to the real maniacal business and world leaders we've seen to ring true.
In addition to the story, the music has really exceeded my expectations. Yip Harburg's lyrics are clever enough to draw comparisons to Cole Porter's. Harold Arlen combines very interesting jazz, blues, march, waltz and other traditional sounds for a pastiche of songs which are not only catchy enough to stick in my head long after rehearsals are over, but provide a great and enjoyable challenge.
Luckily, this cast and crew are really up to it. Dave Dubrosky's detailed all-new arrangements are simply genius (with lots of 5-part harmony!), musical director Brandon's sharp ear and passion for perfection are inspiring, and once again Greg has gathered a wonderful blend of voices, which makes the many chorus numbers sound just incredible. I will be very sorry to see "Can-Can" end, but I can't wait for "Hooray for What!" to begin!"
Monday, October 25, 2004
One More Can-Can Weekend
Then there's just a ten-day break before 'Hooray For What' opens.
Don't forget to use the link in the right hand side bar to get the code for specially discounted prices for blog readers!
Some Techie Features of this Blog
Leaving a comment
We'd love it if you left us your thoughts on any of the topics we bring up. But do you know how? Well, here are the steps:
1. Click on the link beneath each post where it says '0 Comments' or '3 Comments' or however many.
2. This gets confusing, because it looks like it just loads the post again, but if you scroll to the bottom of the post, now you will see a link that says 'Post a Comment'
3. It will ask you if you have or want to have a Blogger ID, but don't worry, you can post as an Anonymous user.
4. Make your comment and Submit.
And that's it! Easy.
Forwarding a post
You can forward any post to someone you think might be interested in it. It's even easier than commenting.
1. Click on the little envelope icon below any post.
2. Enter your name and email address and your friend's name and email address.
3. Add any personal message...and click send.
Again, very easy.
I hope you'll take advantage of these little techie tools to let us know what you think, and let other people know if you enjoy the blog.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
PBS's Broadway Mini-series
In general the mini-series focused much more on the years pre-1970. Its main theme was that musicals reflected their times. I think they supported that theme only somewhat successfully. They often seemed to be contradicting themselves. Here's one question: do tough times result in fluffy, escapist shows or darker, more topical shows? They seemed to answer yes to both options at different times in the mini-series.
They also had an annoying tendency towards superlatives and calling everything "the first". "Showboat" was the first to have somewhat of a book story, then Lorenz Hart was the first to write songs that explored relationships, then "Oklahoma" was the first to have an "integrated" book and dance that further the story, then "West Side Story" was the first with death and a sad ending and where dance was the story, then "Company" was the first where there was non-linearity, then "Sweeney" was the first with LOTS of death. And so on. I have heard these milestone descriptions many times, and could follow the point and bear the context in mind, but my S.O. kept wondering how all of these "firsts" fit together, and how they didn't contradict one another.
And frankly I think they abandoned their theme of musicals reflecting the times altogether to give us a 10 minute advertisement for "Wicked." Can anyone remind me how they explained why "Wicked" reflected these times: other than to say how expensive it is and how many producers are required?
I could go on at length about "Wicked" and how the novel reflected these times, but was gutted to make the musical. But perhaps that illustrates the point the mini-series should have made: that Broadway is more commercial than artistic now, and thus has less room to reflect the times.
Too bad, too, that the series vividly reminded me of that travesty year when "La Cage Aux Folles" beat out "Sunday in the Park" at the Tony's, particularly for Best Score. And reminded me how sore winner Jerry Herman had to get in a dig at Sondheim in his Tony acceptance speech, even though Herman was the one standing up there with the statuette in his hands. Feh!
But don't get me wrong, the mini-series was a rare and enjoyable opportunity to see footage of performers and performances well worth seeing:
Ethel Waters rocked my world with her tragic "Suppertime."
Ethel Merman apparently wasn't born at the age of 40, she just sounded that way.
Jerry Orbach definitely was born at the age of 40.
I discovered I much prefer the real Fanny Brice to the "Funny Girl" Fanny Brice.
And much more.
The series is available on VHS and DVD, and I'm sure they'll be showing it for years to come. If you missed it, do catch it. it's the most comprehensive look you're ever going to get at 100 years of art and commerce over on the original 42nd St. Moon, 42nd St., New York, NY.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Another Great Can Can Review...only available in print
Gene Price gave 'Can-Can' a great review, but there seems to be no online link.
That means you're going to have to go out and find it and actually read it on that primitive media format: paper! Yikes! I don't remember how to do that anymore!
Well, that's not literally true. But I have to admit I feel limited without an online link I can easily disseminate. I mean where I am going to find a Bay Times down here in San Jose?
It's like how I feel when I watch TV without a TiVo. I keep grabbing for the remote to pause the live TV...and when I can't, it's traumatic.
But I digress.
For those of you who actually live within blocks of a Bay Times dispenser...grab one and read Price's rave.
Friday, October 22, 2004
More on Hooray For What's History
"HOORAY WHAT WHAT! originally opened on Bway in December, 1937. The show quite explicitly deals with the worsening state-of-affairs in Europe through the prism of an isolationist America — although an America quite willing to make a buck off the European situation!
And, you have to remember that this show was conceived by, the writing of its libretto guided by, and its lyrics written by Yip Harburg, who was a good, old-fashioned 1930s left-wing liberal. In other words, I think he was really just a couple of notches away from being a socialist, so the show absolutely had a political agenda.
The “anti-war” nature of the piece feels less unusual to me, however, than the satirical — but quite specific — indictment of war-profiteers. In this age of Halliburton et al, that part feels rather prescient...although war profiteers have obviously been around as long as war has. But for a main-stream musical comedy in 1937, the fact that the show did indeed have a social agenda was unusual.
Several late-30s Broadway revues had left-leaning social agends (not specifically anti-war, necessarily) and Kurt Weill’s JOHNNY JOHNSON had presented a strong anti-war tale almost exactly a year before HOORAY FOR WHAT!. JOHNNY JOHNSON was not a success, though. I think one of the reasons HOORAY may have gone down easier with the public is that it is not a "dark" show as JOHNNY JOHNSON was. HOORAY has some scathing things to say, but with a lighter touch (most of the time) and is also — in addition to being a satire and a farce — something of a fantasy. There’s no magic or otherworldy element to the piece, but it definitely has a "fantasy" quality to it.
When a show ends with war being wiped from the face of the earth by laughing gas, what else can it possibly be but (unfortunately) a fantasy.
In fact, I think this may be one of the reasons that HOORAY ultimately disappeared for such a long time. By the time the show’s very successful Broadway run was over in mid-1938, the situation in Europe had become so tense that any extended life for the show (i.e. a long tour, regional or amateur productions) would have required major rewriting. The show was too on-the-money for it to be funny any more. By the time the nature of what the Nazis were actually up to became clear, HOORAY's deux-ex-machina — a death gas capable of exterminating thousands — would have been impossible to present."
So let's review: prescient about war profiteering today and about mass extermination soon to come back in its day. It sounds like it will be a bit eerie to see. But I can't wait, for that very reason.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Another online review
Fabulous Review on Talkin' Broadway
Read it here.
42nd Street Moon Productions kicks up its heels to kick off their 2004-2005 season by presenting Cole Porter/Abe Burrows's Can-Can, the naughty and nifty valentine to Paris of the 1890s. This concert version stars the magnificent Ann Morrison.
"Hooray For What"'s Long 42nd St. Moon History
It's had a long history just from the perspective of 42nd St. Moon. Here's the story in Greg's own words:
""HOORAY FOR WHAT" has actually been on our “to do” list for several years — really almost since the beginning. There are actually several shows that Stephanie and I have both felt strongly that we should do and “must” do that we just haven’t gotten on the schedule yet, for many and varying reasons.
In the case of HOORAY, I think we initially put it aside because we knew it was going to be a massive job “restoring” it — ie, that the music and script were in such a state that they required a lot of work to get it to a point just where it could be rehearsed — and even though we didn’t have to deal with the problems of orchestrations, it still represented a lot of time and a drain on our always-limited resources. But still, the unusual nature of the show — an anti-war satire written just before Europe exploded into World War II -- a musical comedy-fantasy with a social agenda — made it extremely attractive. I really think it was just the complicated nature of putting HOORAY back together that kept us away from it for so long.
Anyway, in mid-2001 we decided it was time to go ahead with HOORAY. Since 2002 was going to be an all-Richard Rodgers season in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, we would be doing HOORAY in 2003. But, by the the time we sat down to finalize our 2003 season — in the late spring of 2002 — fate had stepped in. With the Sept. 11th wounds so fresh, the mood in the country just didn’t seem right for a show that presented such a strong (albeit in a farcical way) indictment against war and war-profiteers, even though the whole thing was presented as a comic-fantasy. From the vantage-point of mid-2002, we decided it was just too dicey a prospect, not knowing what the tenor of the times would be in 2003.
Then: in mid-2003, Lauren asked if there was a particular project that we thought might be right for a NEA Historical Preservation grant. We immediately brought up HOORAY, and after discussing it with Lauren (and Ernie Harburg, Yip Harburg’s son) decided to go for it, even though there was a possibility that it could seem just as inappropriate in November, 2004, as it had seemed in May, 2002.
After all, how often does a "forgotten musical" company get a chance to do something that might be considered a bit daring, even by contemporary standards? So, we applied for the NEA grant, which we were delighted to find out earlier this year we received. However, because the season had to be set many months before the NEA grants were due to be announced, we were locked in" to the choice of HOORAY with or without a grant. I’m just glad that it turned out to be with!"
That's just HOORAY's history with 42nd St. Moon. It also had a n interesting history back in its original day. But, I'll save that for another post.
"Hooray For What" Discount for Blog Readers
The show starts previews on Wednesday 11/10, opens on Saturday 11/13 and runs through Sunday 11/28.
This time we have significant discounts available for all performances except Sunday matinees.
So that really makes it more flexible, so everyone can find a discounted performance that works for them.
This time all discount ticket orders must be made via the phone. 415-978-2787
And there are two options:
All seats $12 for Previews, Saturday matinees and early curtain Wednesday performance: use code BLOG12
All seats $20 for all other performances except Sundays: use code BLOG20
To see all the dates spelled out, use the link in the right hand side bar or go directly here:
Special Blog Offer for 'Hooray For What'
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Musicals as a Mirror
Sure enough when I was flipping through my notes, I found a story she had told about first considering to work at 42nd St. Moon.
Although Lauren definitely had planned to run a theatre, having gotten an graduate degree in arts administration, she wasn't hot on the idea of running a musical theatre at first. She thought of it as a "commercial thing, not an artistic thing."
Now Lauren knows she was "under-educated." She started going to some 42nd St. Moon productions and started to:
"see the connection between these lost musicals seen through a modern lens and new works. They had historical impact; and said a lot about how we expressed ourselves about problems and conflicts."
Sounds a lot like what PBS is trying to highlight with their mini-series, no?
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Meet a 42nd St. Moon Newbie Coming In
David is one of those rare guys who hasn't been doing theatre all his life. But once he got into it...he was unstoppable. You can check out his web site and see the long list of shows he's been in...and packed into an incredibly short period of time.
But this is his first San Francisco gig. So he's pretty excited about it.
David is like almost every other artist out there...balancing between pursuing their art and making a living. When I lived in NYC, the only stage actors who actually earned their living only from acting were those in a Broadway show. Union scale for even the most prestigious Off Broadway theatres wasn't enough to live on, definitely not in Manhattan...probably not even in Queens (which I always called "single actress heaven".)
So David has been a busy, working actor in theatre and voice-overs (and even a TechTV commercial...a channel that my S.O. watches religiously!) I first saw David in "Bat Boy" at TheatreWorks. Unlike many others, the show sort of left me cold in general. I admired the performances, but didn't get what made the piece itself so popular. But if it had had more numbers like David's turn as Pan in a truly absurd and inspired woodland number...I might have felt differently!
David is also a crack web designer for the small business person and artist like, say...moi! Check out the great work he did for me over at my Worker Bees site.
And he does visual describing for theatre performances. That's like when they have signers for the deaf, but instead the visually impaired wear a headset, so they can listen to a disembodied voice describe the action. That would be a disembodied David.
Anyway, David is a doll, so I decided to give him a blog plug. Hi David! :)
Friday, October 15, 2004
Speaking of the whole "Lost" Musical thing...
Greg said the mission of the theatre has never really changed. But did you know there is a Producer in England who runs an occasional theatre series "Discover the Lost Musicals"? When 42nd St. Moon started to get noticed, this guy noticed too and got a teensy bit touchy about our using the word "Lost"! What a diva :)
Anyway, since I just mentioned how lost "Hooray for What" really has been, I asked Lauren abut the 42nd St. Moon audience. I figured that maybe, given the theatre's charter, the more lost the musical, the better the ticket sales. I imagined some large, rabid following of Lost Musical fanatics, sort of like Trekkies, but singing show tunes.
And I guess that was naive of me!
Now that the theatre has been around for 10 years (!) and has moved to this bigger space at the Eureka, 42nd St. Moon has the same issues to consider when choosing shows as any other theatre company. And according to Lauren, that means that at least one show per season, preferably around the holidays, should be a bigger and more well-known show. And that helps to subsidize the really "lost" ones.
Greg also mentioned the move to the Eureka as a factor because its location draws in more of a tourist crowd than the New Conservatory Theatre location did. Hmmm...the Embarcadero vs. the Tenderloin...you think?
Anyway, this season's "big" show is "Once Upon a Mattress" starring comic and Broadway star Lea DeLaria. As Greg said, "Lea wanted to do it and was willing to commit to it." And it certainly meet's Lauren's criteria for a little bit bigger and a little bit more well known than a lot of the usual 42nd St. Moon fare.
BUt, you've got to admit it's a really nice mix this Fall:
"Can-Can": the show every musical person has heard of, but likely never seen.
"Hooray For What": a lost gem.
And "Once Upon a Mattress: a big show starring a big star.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
With Can-Can running, what's next?
This qualifies as a truly "lost" musical and features a Harold Arlen score, lyrics by E.Y. Harburg and a book by Harburg, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse (actress Lindsay Crouses's dad...see how that works?) The original production was directed by Vincente Minelli and starred Ed Wynn.
This is another example of a show that's surprisingly relevant, although decades old. Just like the stirring "Live and Let Live" message of "Can-Can", "Hooray for What!" has its own contemporary plot theme: war and the corruption that often comes along for the ride. When I see that the show is a send-up of such things as "jingoism" and "war profiteering", I think I can be forgiven for wondering if it was written over the last year!
But to abide by FEC rules, we aren't opening it until after the election!
Previews start on 11/10 with the gala opening on 11/13 and a closing date of 11/28.
We're working out what blogger discount will be available, and we're trying to have an offer that's good for any performance, not just a handful of them.
And speaking of blogger discounts: you can still get your $12 tickets for the 10/16/04 1Pm performance of Can-Can...just use the link in the right hand side bar to get your $12 tickets.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Of course, when you have a great final dress rehearsal that adage is conveniently forgotten.
As I already outlined, the final Preview was a good performance, but there were plenty of unplanned moments that made it a very spontaneous evening!
Alexandra's wardrobe malfunctions were only part of the story. There was also a scene missing one actor!
But all of these little bloopers were forgotten for the rest of Opening Weekend.
So, did any of you see the show? What did you think?
Did you know you can post your comments on this blog? So, please feel free to post yours. We'd love to hear from you.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
My Top 5 Reasons to See 'Can-Can'
Telling excerpt: "If you love Cole Porter, 'Can-Can' is a must-see."
42nd St. Moon's Very Own "Wardrobe Malfunction"
During the infamous Can-Can number mid-way through the first act Alexandra's skirt snapped? broke? actually I'm not sure, but in any case...it had to come off, or she wouldn't be able to finish the number.
And let's just say what was underneath was rather, um, skimpy. (Although according to Greg, it could have been even skimpier as they had all recently switch from more thong-like undergarments to more modest tap pants-like undergarments!)
And can I just tell you that Alexandra carried on like a trouper, high kicks and all.
Now, due to this malfunction, Alexandra had to wear a different dress in the second act Can-Can number...and she had yet more problems...with bra straps breaking and everything. Again...the smile never left her face.
On an odd coincidental side note: While at the show I ran into a friend from high school. She and I were in choir and theatre together those multiple decades ago, including a production of "Kiss Me Kate" where I had my own wardrobe malfunction. Someone stepped on my skirt undoing all the velcro, and I couldn't get it together in time for a big choreographic moment, so like Alexandra I took off the skirt and threw it off stage. Unlike Alexandra, however, I was wearing what can only be called relatively demure pantaloons underneath.
So, being self-centered, I've decided that last night's wardrobe malfunction was the result of some strange jinx created by the simultaneous presence of both me and a witness to my similar experience 24 years ago. Hey, I admitted it was self-centered, okay?
Good Blogger, Have a Biscuit
Now, what I usually do is post my show reviews in my Personal Blog and provide a link .
Why? Well, really two reasons: 1. Some folks don't like reading reviews before seeing a show...they don't want to hear any spoilers. And 2. I know the actors read this blog too, and some actors don't like to read any reviews during the run of a show either. (I was never this way...I couldn't resist and am still somehwat skeptical of those who say they can!)
But never fear, the little snafus will be right here for all to see.
It was a blogger's dream last night. Good show. Good inside scoop. Stay tuned.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Previews SOLD OUT! $12 tix still available for 10/16 matinee
The special blogger offer is still available, but only for the Saturday 10/16 1PM show.
Hope you already got your tickets, but if not, do see the show...even if you have to pay full price. Everything about it sounds charming.
To get the 10/16 blogger discount tickets, go here:
To buy regularly priced tickets for another performance, go here.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I Love Paris
"It made me miss Paris...and I've only been there once! People are going to be in for a treat!"
That's a blog-worthy testimonial if I ever heard one.
'Can-Can' Set To Preview starting tomorrow!
Use the link over in the right hand side bar (you now, the one that say 'Get your $12 can-Can tickets') to go to the ordering site. You can also order via phone, using the promotion code BLOG. (We do try to make things simple!)
See you there.
The Fall Season Opens, Next Season Is In the Works
Apparently the first two shows of next season are going to be the epitome of "lost." Both are very unusual, both in that you've probably never heard of them, but also in style.
So, while 42nd St. Moon occasionally throws in classic musicals that aren't so lost into the mix...next season will kick off with some real rarities.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Mixing It Up: The Moonies and the Newbies
I asked Greg how some people end up being regulars, and how he takes it into account when casting a show like 'Can-Can.' His response should be illuminating to anyone who works in the theatre:
"Everyone wants a harmonious work experience. 42nd St. Moon rehearses for a short period of time, which makes it inherently stressful. With people you've worked with before, you know going in how you’re going to work together. With our regulars, you can use short-cuts. It makes you more comfortable, and in this situation, the bigger comfort level, the better.
We're just lucky that our regulars are also some of the best performers out there, like Bill Fahrner.
Now, on the other hand, new people bring in new energy…it’s exciting. So you try to bring in a mix.
And then some performers feel like regulars after a pretty short period of time. Alex, our Claudine, has only been performing with us for a year and a half, but already feels like a regular."
I can tell you that Greg's opinion on working with people you know will be easy to work with is pretty universal. I've done vocal directing, and every casting discussion you have includes this element. Even at the level of high school. I'm vocal directing a production of "Fiddler" right now at a local high school, and the director used the same criteria: will it be a harmonious work experience; will they be reliable.
Greg's point about needing new energy is relevant too. I know it sounds like a Catch 22 that people like to work with those they know, but there is always room for newcomers.
I think the biggest take-away (yes, corporate-speak in a theatre blog...horrors!) is not so much you have to be a regular to get cast, it's more that if you've already shown yourself to be a pain in the neck you probably won't get cast!
Friday, October 01, 2004
Meet our Guest Star: Ann Morrison
So, Ann was gracious enough to share a little bit of her life story with our blog readers:
Well, yes it is true that I have spent the last 14 years living in Sarasota, Florida so my blood has thinned. Believe it or not, 60 degree weather is cold for a blood thinner. (TEE HEE!) Not complaining. I love sweaters. I just may not have brought enough, so Goodwill here I come.
So far my stay in San Fran has been pleasant, though I haven't been sightseeing much. I have a few writing projects to get accomplished, one being a book about my experience working and creating a musical theatre workshop and road show for persons with developmental disabilities (Down Syndrome, cerebal palsy, mental retardation brain injuries etc.) I had left the teaching and artistic directing part of it to explore outside of Florida, but realize I miss this population too much.. Hey San Fran, are you interested in a program here?
The rehearsals for Can-Can are great fun andI I love this cast. I look forward to running it in the Eureka theatre and spending my evenings with them all.
One of the cool things is we have a hands-on healer in the company. I came here with a bad stomach and at times I think the acid I have is going to burn a hole in me and attack civilization as we know it. This dear heart male after a simple request for "a laying of hands", heated up his hands and began a simple but powerful touch process, that sure did calm my system and
triggered some emotional release. I have been a care giver for so many for so long my body wanted a break from worry and high speed rescuing. Looks like the rescuer needed some rescue. Thank you Bill.
I love the theatre. You meet such great people in it, all exploring such wonderful places.
Great people indeed. So cool to have Annie with us, both on stage and off!