Monday, February 27, 2006

The original Golden Apple program notes

Intrepid Annette sent me some paged from the original Golden Apple Playbill, and they are fascinating. Playbills today don't give you quite as much history of how a show made it to Broadway as these notes seem to.

There's way too much for one blog post, but let me give you the first few paragraphs of author John LaTouche's notes for now:
"The Golden Apple" has undergone all the rigors likely to beset any collaborative effort in the queasy atmosphere of the theatre. Jerome Moross wanted to compose, and I wanted to write, a musical in the manner of our "Ballet Ballads", developing the style of those pieces into a framework that could tell a unified story.

Naturally, our first problem was how to eat while putting such a long and complicated show together. Our first show had been handsomely commissioned by that dapper Maecenas of Shubert Alley, Mike Todd. (Regretfully relinquished by Mike, it had later arrived at the Music Box via ANTA's brave sponsorship.)

When "The Golden Apple" project was submitted to the Guggenheim Foundation, a fellowship from them enabled me to begin writing it.

"The Golden Apple" attracted me as a dramatic theme that was both timely and colorful. I set out to tell the stories of Ulysses and Penelope, Paris and Helen, as they would have happened in America. It was to be no adaptation of Homeric grandeurs, but a comic reflection of classical influence on the way we think nowadays. Therefore any myths we might use were to arise out of our native songs, dances, jokes and ideas.
I'll share more of LaTouche's notes this week, because they provide insight into how the material came together and how the production of that material came together.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Plug Unto Others...

You know I like to help out the Moonies by posting here when they're out in the world doing other stuff.

Well, the new Moonie Golden Rule shall be "Plug unto others, as you would have them plug unto You."

(Yes, I know it needs work as a slogan.)

Carly Ozard, cast member in the upcoming Moon production of The Golden Apple sent me this plug for another Moonie:

I wanted to write you and tell you about the wonderful Cabaret show I saw last weekend in Rohnert Park California. It's at the Spreckles Center, featuring Craig Jessup (of Moon land!) and Barry Lloyd, known as the Crown Prince of Cabaret. Both are extremely accomplished performers, embarking on their thirtieth year performing on and off together. This concert celebrates the loving month of February and honors Valentine's Day! They have one weekend left, singing glorious songs of Sondheim, Noel Coward, Hugh Martin, George and Ira Gerswhin as well as Rodgers and Hart and many MANY others that dot our lives' soundtracks with love. They are both fabulous on vocals, and Barry is flawless on the piano. In a dimly lit setting, they are intimate with their audience, bringing us all to tears and then through laughter, they help us remember all of our past and current loves with family, personal love, and friends. It is really a remarkable show.

If there is anyway you can get this plug up on the blog I'd appreciate it. Thank you so very much.

Actually, it closes this weekend, so if you're looking for a last minute weekend activity, sounds like this is perfect.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More 2006/2007 Season News

The next piece in the puzzle that is Moon's 2006-07 season is this:

The second show of the season (following LI'L ABNER) is the 1965 John Kander and Fred Ebb musical FLORA, THE RED MENACE.

According to Greg:
This is the show that made a star of Liza Minnelli originally, although the authors rewrote it for an off-Broadway revival in 1987, and it is that version that we will be doing. The show concerns a young woman in the 1930s whose stumbles into romance with a man who is torn between her and his allegiance to the Communist Party (hence the "red" of the title). Some of the great Kander and Ebb songs in FLORA are "A Quiet Thing," "Sing Happy," "Not Every Day of the Week," and "All I Need is One Good Break." FLORA, THE RED MENACE previews on October 19th and 20th, opens on October 21st, and closes on November 5th.

I love "A Quiet Thing", and that is always one of the great joys of seeing a Moon show: seeing songs you know and love in their original context. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Announcement: Special guest for Golden Apple audience talkback

Audiences who come on the first Sunday matinee (as I often try to) are always treated to a post-show discussion with the cast and production staff. For Golden Apple we have a very special guest joining us: Suzanna Moross Tarjan - daughter of Jerome Moross, the Golden Apple composer

This will be Sunday March 26th.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Golden Apple performance schedule

We're working on getting the blog reader discount into the box office system, so hang tight. But I thought I'd give you an updae on the performance schedule, so you can plan now:

The two previews are:
Thursday March 23rd (8PM)
Friday March 24th (8PM)

It opens on Saturday March 25th at 6PM.

This one runs for only three weekends, closing on Sunday April 9th.

Each of the weekends has:
Thu./Fri. 8PM performances
Sat. 6PM
Sun. 3PM

PLUS, there's an:
Early Wednesday: April 5th at 7PM


That first Sunday, March 26th, features a post-show discussion with the cast and director (Greg.)

They've got the show page up on the 42nd St. Moon web site, featuring the entire cast list and their bios too.

So, get ready!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Review: Urinetown at Foothill Music Theatre

If you have not seen Urinetown get thee to Los Altos and see Foothill's production. I loved it! Full review is here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Reviews from someone who sees NY shows a tad more often than I do.

I have added a new blog to our blog roll, entitled thespisbustard. The bloggers get out to theatre in NY just a tad more often than I :)

Read his commentary on Light in the Piazza for an example.

Now, I know there are some major Piazza-lovers who read this, so tell me: do you think there is an "oomph song"?

Or, of course, the other argument might be that actually great musicals don't need an oomph song. That Piazza hearkens back to the golden era in style, but is completely modern in sensibility.

Either way, interesting thing to think about.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cirque du Soleil review

My review of Corteo is here at my Personal Blog.

Hint: It was one of their best yet!

Here's something compeltely different...

Little known fact about me, at least to readers of this blog, is that I'm a vegetarian and write a column on that for a local weekly here in Silicon Valley.

I got a notice about an interesting one-night-only performance going on next week. Unfortunately cannot attend, but I figure I can't always just pass along info on musicals:
Come see "The Vegan Monlogues," a very funny and irreverent look at vegetarianism and veganism by solo performer/storyteller/vegetarian Brian Conroy.

"The Vegan Monologues" will be staged one night in San Francisco: Wed., Feb. 22 at 8 pm at a wonderful, intimate venue called The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St. near 22nd St. Just a few blocks from the 24th St. Mission BART station. Tickets, $8-$12, are available only at the door (no advance sales).

Brilliant title, don't you think? If anyone out there sees it, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Finally! Some confirmed, secured 2006/07 season information!

We've been hinting and giving clues on the 2006/07 season for a while now, and finally we can anounce, at least, the "bookends" of our season.

For the fist time since 2002 we're actally starting the season in the summer, with the season opener, LI'L ABNER, Johnny Mercer and Gene de Paul's 1956 adaptation of Al Capp's classic comic strip (book by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama.)

Greg's description of Li'l Abner:
Once a staple of high schools and community theatres, Li'l Abner has fallen by the wayside in the last couple of decades in favor of more recent hits. The show, a zany concoction about the clash between Dogpatch USA and Washington, DC actually includes some political satire that is still quite potent, as well as a terrific score that includes the showstopper "Jubilation T. Cornpone," as well as "Namely You," "If I Had My Druthers," "The Country's in the Very Best of Hands," "I'm Past My Prime," and the Sadie Hawkins Day Ballet (remember that Sadie Hawkins Day is the Dogpatch holiday when the women chase the men, and any fellow who gets caught gets hitched!) Encores had a popular concert production of it in 1998 and, coincidentally, the Goodspeed Opera House will be reviving it as their season opener this year as well. Oh, and there may be a casting surprise or two or three in the Li'l Abner company! The run dates are July 20th - August 6th.

At the other end of the season, the closing show returns to George and Ira Gershwin for the first time since Funny Face in 2000, with the 1933 farce PARDON MY ENGLISH.

Greg's description of Pardon My English:
The show was a 46-performance flop from 1933 that nevertheless had an outstanding score that features "Isn't It a Pity?" (My own personal favorite Gershwin ballad!), "The Lorelei," "My Cousin in Milwaukee," and "I've Got To Be There." In a coup of sorts for us, we've been able to secure the rights to the adaptation that was done for Encores! in 2004 by playwright David Ives. With only a sketchy rehearsal draft of the original script still in existence, Encores! hired Ives to create a new book from the extant bits and pieces. Ben Brantley in the New York Times asked "Should pure silliness be allowed to sound this ravishing?" and compared the tonic effect of the show's devil-may-care wackiness to "mainlining Prozac," a temporary cure for the anxiety of life in the 21st Century. Our dates for this fizzy frolic are April 12 - 29th, 2007.

And here are Greg's hints for the rest of the season:
The rest of our season should be ready to announce within a couple of weeks at the latest, with brochures going out soon after that. But I can give you a hint that it's likely to include a very intimate show by one of the theatre's greatest composer-lyricist teams (whom we have not had the pleasure of bringing to our stage so far!), the return of one of our most popular shows by a Golden Age great, and a classic movie story in a musical adaptation that has not been seen on San Francisco stages in over twenty years. Those hints, of course, are all with the caveat that they are accurate pending some last minute surprise move, which does happen sometimes!

Hmmmm. I don't think 42nd St. Moon has done a Kander & Ebb yet, but I can't think of an "intimate" show of theirs. And movie into musical adaptation? Well, believe it or not I'm not a huge movie musical fan, so I'm not going to be good at guessing on that one.

Anybody out there have some guesses?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Moonies out in the World: Are you a last-minute Valentine's Day planner?

If you are and you want to stay out of trouble with your S.O., check out this suggestion from Russ Lorenson:

"A Jazzy Valentine" at Kelly's of Alameda.

Here is Russ' Shameless Plug:
Join me and the Kelly Park Trio for an evening of jazz, cocktails and romance! The boys and I have put together an all-new show of romantic standards, perfect for your Valentine's Day celebration.

The marvelous new restaurant at Kelly's of Alameda will be creating a special Valentine's menu that will romance your palate, while the music seduces your ears!

The show begins at 7:30pm, and reservations are highly encouraged.

For reservations or further information, call (510) 769-1011.

If we bail out just one MoonFan from the Valentine's Day doghouse, our work here will have been done!

Moonies out in the World: And another discount for Moonies/Moon Fans

Kristopher McDowell, when not appearing in 42nd St. Moon shows, is a cabaret impressario, mostly producing shows in Merced. (I love being able to use that word, impressario...the opportunity doesn't arise that often in this day and age.)

His latest prouction features not only his own talents, and the talents of Moonies Annie Donahey and Jeff Bryant (both in Roar) but a special appearance by Tony nominee Sharon McKnight.

WHAT: LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES a celebration of the great MGM musicals
WHEN: Saturday February 18th
TIME: 8:00PM-Doors open at 6:30 PM.
WHERE: The MultiCultural Arts Center at 645 Main Street in Merced.
TICKETS: $45-50 in advance and $55 at the door. Admission includes dinner, coffee/tea, dessert. There's a full cash-bar.
HOW: For guaranteed seats, call (209) 388-9665. Credit cards accepted for advance ticket sales.

WHAT'S THIS ABOUT A DISCOUNT: Moonies will receive $15 OFF the door price and pay $40 (CASH ONLY) at the door, if tickets are available.

WHAT ELSE: Mention 42nd Street Moon and also ask about a 10% discount on local recommended hotels and/or B&Bs.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cabaret at the Eureka

Before 42nd St. Moon's Spring Season kicks off with The Golden Apple, the Eureka is hosting other events, including a cabaret evening with the very well-known cabaret diva, Sharon McKnight. I gotta love the title of her show: SONGS TO OFFEND ALMOST EVERYONE!

Here are the deets:

McDowell Productions (Yes, that would be Moonie Kristopher McDowell...he is a VERY busy Moonie) in association with Brett Ingram and Patrick Thompson proudly present...
Musical Director: Joan Edgar

WHEN: Sunday, March 11, 6:00 PM
WHERE: The Eureka Theatre
ADDRESS: 215 Jackson Street (between Battery and Front) San Francisco

HOW MUCH: $50 advance $55 door Limited VIP ticket available for $70

TICKETS AVAILABLE at or by calling (415) 567-7719
A benefit for the Central California Cabaret Series

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

3 musicals in TheatreWorks new season.

Here's the Merc blurb [reg. Req'd. Sorry.]

But you can also see the list at the TheatreWorks site.

Of the three musicals, two are new.

Let's start with the revival: Sondheim's Follies! I'll be excited to see that show again. A little sorry that this pretty much seals the deal that this musical could never be called rarely-produced in the Bay Area (if AMTSJ's two productions didn't already seal that deal.)

The two new musicals are a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned.

Will be very interested in seeing Dessa Rose, since it's by the same team that created Once on This Island and Ragtime.

Not so keen on the other new musical: Vanities, the story of "three vivacious Texas teens from cheerleaders to sorority sisters to housewives, liberated women and beyond." Written by a coupla guys.

It could be cringe-worthy, don't you think? I haven't seen the play on which it's based. Anyone out there?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Local Review: AMTSJ's The Lion King

Destined to never qualify for a 42nd St. Moon production of a "rarely-performed" musical, The Lion King has settled in for a longer than normal run at the CPA in downtown San Jose.

My third time seeing it, but I found it just as visually compelling as the first two times, especially since this time I was in Row 7 and right by an aisle (the aisle that the elephant walked down, as it appens.)

Here's my full review at my personal blog.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Moonies in the World: Dennis Lickteig, George Quick and Cynthia Myers

Got a note from Moon director Dennis Lickteig about his latest production. Of particular note? It's the first non-musical he's directed in a while. (Which has has really enjoyed.) Dennis' take: the piece has much to say about the world we live in and the true meaning of family.

Here are the deets:

WHAT: Theater District by Richard Kramer (the award-winning writer of thirtysomething, My So-Called Life and Once & Again)
WHERE: New Conservatory Theatre at 25 Van Ness
WHEN: Now playing through March 5 with a possible extension through March 12.
WHO: Directed by Dennis and featuring Scott Alexander, Joe Carrig, P.A. Cooley, Sam Garber, Joseph Holmes, Cynthia Myers and George Quick.

DESCRIPTION: This groundbreaking comedy explores what happens when 16 year-old Wesley moves in with his aloof father and his flamboyant boyfriend in midtown Manhattan. As his safe world is shattered by the growing distance between his parents, and the realities of adulthood, Wesley learns that the world isn't perfect, and neither are his mother and father.


While the tickets are available online, I would suggest you call the ticket office directly (415-861-8972) for the best seats (and a choice as to where they are located). The best seats are in the third row and back in the center section. Avoid the front rows and the two side sections if possible. The theatre is very small and you are just too close in those locations. Half price tickets may also be available through Goldstar Events, so please check there as well.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ouch. Stephanie's friend...not a Lestat fan.

Stephanie sent me a review of the pre-Broadwaybound production of Lestat up in San Francsico, sent to her by a friend. Quite a vivid review!:
To sum it up, if Andrew Lloyd Weber had a bowel movement while reading an Anne Rice novel, you would have Lestat. Awful, bloody awful. I do mean bloody. We three went to the movie theatre, only two returned. The third exited during intermission, which was spent vomiting in the men's room. No joke.

Well, tonight Josh,Linda, and myself saw "Lestat, the Musical" Curran Theatre as part of the Best of Broadway in San Francisco series

(Sally Struthers mode on). Please, don't do what we did. Don't buy tickets. Don't see this musical. WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!?!?!?(Sally Struthers mode off).

My approbation:

Fixed-media special effects were the highlight of Lestat. They were very well conceived, and very competently executed, with only one noticeable missed queue. Highly emotional scenes, usually around blood consumption or the spawning/forking of new vampires, were highlighted by very large projected effects. The best, though they had some sort of a malfunction, was with the dropping of a curtain in front of a character about to be set on fire, to project an image of her writhing in flames.. If they had waited 5 more seconds, this effect would have been wonderful.

Set design deserves much credit. Their attention to detail fell upon appreciative eyes. From the back row, for example, on an enlarged glass door, I could clearly make out the reflection of comparatively smaller actors.

The best singer, whose name I only remember as being Nicole from the playbill, only sang about three lines. The actor playing Marius, though I'm sure "in the know" Anne Rice fans would disagree, was funny, and the only actor worth watching.

My criticism:

Our endurance of this musical's entirety. Apparently the score was written by Sir Elton John. Sir Elton John, the poor man, has apparently become tone deaf, and lacking in new ideas. On at least one occasion, he resorted to mashing up a Bob Denver [sic-pretty sure they mean John] song in a thinly veiled attempt to create "music". The seats are uncomfortable and cramped. The cheap seats were all sold out, but no seat moving was allowed, even though 1/2 of the theatre was empty.

I cannot even comment on the rest of the musical, as it was so bad that I must now go listen to white noise at 130decibels for 20 hours, in order to plague the memory of this evening's aural and visual torture.

Stephanie's comments: How sad that good money and any "creative" energy was expended in the name of art.... (or actually no pretension of creating art....just money for the backers?)

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