Timeless Theatre Weekend Part 1: Sat. #NewsiesForever

The entire Newsies story taken from screen to stage back to screen is one of triumph and feel-good entertainment that certainly brings the magic of Disney.

Disney’s NEWSIES: The Broadway Musical made its worldwide cinema debut this past Feb. 15, 18 and 22 courtesy of Fathom events taking the sold-out Broadway musical to more than 700 movie theaters across the United States.

The musical was filmed onstage at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, CA bringing Alan Menken’s music, Jack Feldman’s lyrics, Harvey Fierstein’s book and Jeff Calhoun’s stage direction to audiences for the price of a movie ticket.

The show takes you to 1899 where newsboys took a stand against the giant publishers of the newspaper world in a strike that galvanized the ragtag youth of New York in a classic David and Goliath story.

The superstar cast included the leads and some memorable faces from the Broadway production combined with the national tour cast. It was thrilling to see all the actors link arms to form a new band of brothers who were “all for one!” The comradery of Broadway originals Jeremy Jordan (Jack Kelly), Kara Lindsay (Katherine Plumber), Ben Fankhauser (Davey), and Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie) shined on screen.

Some of my favorite moments unique to this film version included the varying shots depicting a closer look into a character’s inner thought life. The scenes that highlighted relationships were richly flushed out with details such as those on the rooftop. Kara Lindsay’s “Watch What Happens’ solo took on a whole new level of meaning where you saw and experienced the mental gymnastics her character goes through for each lyric.

Christopher Gattelli’s Tony award winning choreography with signature gymnastics and dance moves is elevated to a new level of appreciation as well. The movie version lets you see the intricacy of difficulty while never losing sight of the dynamic athleticism sweeping the entire stage. For instance, Michael Dameski’s turns on a newspaper ending “Seize the Day” is a standout moment shot from different angles. The tapping sounds are as clear and crisp as ever and the facial expressions tell a compelling story with each leap and head spot.

Other standout moments come from Jeremy Jordan who brings his stage, film and television star power to the newsboy leader Jack Kelly. He is able to find the perfect blend of charisma and chutzpah needed for Jack.   Audiences are swept up in emotion with Jeremy’s powerhouse vocals in “Santa Fe” and are endeared to Jack’s unique relationships to each of the newsboys.

Kara Lindsay as Katherine Plumber and Jeremy Jordan as Jack Kelly in Disney’s Newsies: The Broadway Musical (Credit: Disney Theatrical Productions)

Movie theater audiences can cheer right along with the filmed audience when Tommy Bracco (Spot Colon) enters or when Andrew Keenan-Bolger’s Crutchie is released from the refuge. In addition, laughs can be had at jokes that hit right home by Ben Cook (Racetrack), Nico DeJesus (Romeo) and Ethan Steiner (Les). Steven Blanchard’s Pulitzer and Aisha De Haas as Medda Larkin are a joy to watch too!

I am so thankful that more people will see such strong male dancing and be inspired to stand united to make a difference! Both the dance moves and the courageous moves to stand up for one another are timeless visuals to serve this generation and the next! #NewsiesForever

And now “The World Will Know” too as this filmed live version will air once more on February 22 at 7 PM in the United States but also in movie theaters across the world. For more information please visit FathomEvents.com

On Saturday, I had the pleasure seeing Newsies at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre built in 1926.

Pre-show:  Audiences were treated to hearing Disney songs and Newsies signature songs from organist Rob Richards.

Post-show: The audience was invited into the adjacent Disney’s Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop and were given a sample of their famous chocolate. Sweet treats from the menu served as the ultimate grand finale.

Kate Spade Newspaper Print Canvas Tote, Newsies, Stories of the Unlikely Broadway Hit book

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Newsies Inspired Printables Available for purchase at Shining Inspiration’s Etsy shop & Newsboy cap from Village Hat Shop

For a different kind of captivating magic check out what I did on Sunday in my next post!
Let us jump from 1899 to 1903 in Timeless Theatre Weekend Part 2: Circus 1903 posted tomorrow!

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A Whale of a Tale, Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory creates “wow” moments, a visual feast and a theatre treat!

Moby Dick at South Coast Repertory
Raymond Fox, Micah Figueroa, Javen Ulambayer, Kareem Bandealy, Jamie Abelson and Anthony Fleming III in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick adapted by David Catlin. Photo by Liz Lauren. © Lookingglass Theatre Company and Liz Lauren.

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick in association with Actors Gymnasium is a visceral immersive and visually stunning dive into Herman Melville’s classic novel adapted into a 2 hours and 15 min show by director David Catlin.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the show’s west coast premiere at South Coast Repertory’s Segerstrom Stage in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Your ears and eyes will be engaged with the actors who use astonishing acrobatic skills to create movement on a ship, drowning, extracting oil and hunting. The haunting musical call of the Fates/sirens (Kelley Abell, Cordelia Dewdney, Kasey Foster) and recreation of the sea make the musical elements and the sea dominant players themselves. The use of fabric and unique movement transitions give the water a mercurial temperament and paint the waves as a treacherous beauty.

The actors ride the range of emotion with Captain Ahab’s (Christopher Donahue) driving mad obsession in hunting the white whale that injured him. He plunges the ship Pequod and its crew including Ishmael (Jamie Abelson), Starbuck (Walter Owen Briggs) into inner and outer turmoil. The madness leads up to some of the best moments of the show where the captain and crew meet their so called fates. Watch out how the characters of the Fates create the White Whale, the mesmerizing lighting cues (Lighting Design by William C. Kirkham) and how the audience is swept under the water in the process.

Moby Dick, South Coast Repertory Theatre
Anthony Fleming III, Christopher Donahue, Emma Cadd, and Jamie Abelson in Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Moby Dick adapted by David Catlin. Photo by Liz Lauren. © Lookingglass Theatre Company and Liz Lauren.

The stunning aerial staging and circus athleticism choreographed by Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi and played on Courtney O Neill’s brilliant set design is not to be missed.  If you are in Southern California catch the remaining performances of the show Feb. 14 –Feb. 19 at South Coast Repertory. There are numerous “WOW” moments that you will surely talk about later.

Audiences can continue to be enthralled by this production when it returns June 7, 2017-Sept. 3, 2017 to the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago.

Make every day Valentine’s Day filled with love for your significant other or gal pal! Think about giving the gift of a shared memory with tickets to the theatre!

Plus, make it an entire night out with dinner at the Water Grill off Bristol Steet for an evening performance or at Wahoo’s Fish Taco (also off Bristol St. in Costa Mesa) for a matinee. Add some sea salt caramel chocolates, some roses, and an apple pie pop in a Kate Spade whale tote bag. Tie the entire presentation together with a framed printable or a card that says “I whale always love you.” Surprise your friend with the tickets and you will have a WHALE of a good time!

Moby Dick Whale Printable
Printable is available for purchase at Shining Inspiration Etsy shop

For tickets and more information please visit South Coast Repertory’s website. To buy this whale printable to frame yourself visit this Etsy shop’s page at https://www.etsy.com/shop/shininginspiration.

I hope you can make every day a Valentine’s Day! SEAS the day and create a shared memory with someone you love!

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The Fantasticks at South Coast Repertory Theater (Costa Mesa, CA)

The Fantasticks is indeed fantastic involving two teenagers in love, good-hearted yet manipulating fathers and curious circus players.  Throw in the carnival theme, magic tricks, a little bit of swordplay and live music and you got me hooked.  It’s a musical!

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The rhythmic dialogue combined with the delightful songs cleverly disguises some messages that slip into your consciousness amidst the laughs and magic.  For instance, the second act that takes a slightly darker turn shows how love can transform with the passage of time and lessons sparking growth.

The show takes the leap from two teenagers wallowing in superficial and narcissistic folly to finding truth in having some worldly experience behind them. Trade fantasy for reality and naivety for some maturity.

Just like magic, romanticized love and the world are not always what they seem.  The magic used in the show is marvelous with many tricks making you look twice to wonder how it was done.

It was a joy to see all the actors fill their roles, especially SCR’s theater favorites Richard Doyle as the bumbling Henry and Hal Landon Jr as the straight man-Mortimer.  SCR audiences may know them as The Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”

I remember learning the Michael Checkov technique from Hal that included the use of a psychological gesture and movement quality.  Hal’s comedic dying in the show makes me wonder what preparation he used this time.

The show’s use of space and movement is delightful.  Special moments from the mute like creating the wall separating the two lovers help tie everything together.

Overall, the show is entertaining full of both substance and heart.  Go see the show and get hooked and hoodwinked.  To buy tickets click here.  The musical runs through June 9 with an opening this Friday!

New Musicals on the Horizon

Musicals can help transcend past the limitations of words with songs echoing emotions right from the soul to the universe.  Many beloved stories from a different medium have been turned into a musical with a smart marketing strategy and/or true vision behind them.  In years past there is “Matilda,” “Elf,” “The Lion King,” “Bring it On,” “Sister Act” and “Newsies”—all movies and/or books into musicals.  Now coming in 2013-2014 we will see new musicals born out of previous ingenuity once again.

NORTH AMERICAN TOUR: “The Wizard of Oz” (September 2013 at Pantages and February 2014 at SCFTA): The musical closest to my heart is given a new fresh coat of paint and construction work with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice lending their magic and new songs.  Professor Marvel, the Wizard, Dorothy, and the Wicked Witch get to tell more of their story with new songs added to the classic favorites.  It will be a trip down memory lane for me because the last time a production of “The Wizard of Oz” was on the SCFTA stage I was in it.  See the newly designed show at Segerstrom Center for the Arts or check out the full USA tour by clicking here.

Interesting Fact: Danielle Wade, who plays Dorothy won the role through a Canadian voting reality TV competition called “Over the Rainbow” similar to the American reality TV show “You’re the One That I Want” that helped launch Laura Osnes’s (now Cinderella on Broadway) career.

BROADWAY: “Rocky the Musical” (March 2014 at the Winter Garden Theatre): Rocky Balboa’s courageous tale of being the beloved underdog rising to fight and redefine his character gets its spot on the Broadway lineup.  Sylvester Stallone is one of the producers and writers powering the story of a junkyard dog—a man disregarded as unimportant possessing a fierce heart, a loyalty that inspires and tenacity to move forward.  It is amazing to me about the power of generating your own content where Stallone took the risk of writing a part for himself out of his own experience.  The story of Rocky being made into a musical with six movies serves as encouragement for writers and actors to keep telling their stories out of truth and to share them.

I am also looking forward to hopefully seeing the musical interpretations of “Aladdin,” “Tuck Everlasting,” “Ever After,” “Father of the Bride” and “The Nutty Professor” make their way to the Broadway stage later on.  I have doubted musical interpretations in the past to be proven wrong.  For instance, “Little Women the Musical” has landed a spot in my favorites with the song “Astonishing” being a highlight.

Give both the new musicals, “The Wizard of Oz” and “Rocky the Musical” a fighting chance to win hearts and make a home in your musical favorites this upcoming 2014 theater season.

“The Mission Play”-Respect, Resilience and Resonance

“There’s an energy to places, a resonance. The walls, as they say, have ears.”

-“The Mission Play” 2013, adapted by Jonathan Sailsbury and Nicole Avenia

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Originally written in 1911 by John Steven-McGroarty and now adapted for the 21st century, “The Mission Play” tells the tale of the rise of the California mission system charting the relationships between the Franciscan friars, Spanish army and Native American tribes. However, the play is not about clashing communications but connecting community and celebrating culture.

From April 5-April 7 audiences can watch as history unfolds in the re-imagined version of the play at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse. The play was originally performed in 1912-1932 to be seen by over 2.5 million people at the playhouse.

I am honored to play, Sue, one of the four modern teens that break out in a hip-hop dance at the beginning of the play to later be swept back in time to go on a journey to learn about respect, resilience and resonance.
The four teens are additions to the newly adapted version that are present throughout the whole show to help connect the 21st century to the classic tale.
The terms respect, resilience and resonance are applicable both to this play and any actor’s career.

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Respect: It is helpful to respect yourself as an actor and the other professionals you get to work with. Respect can translate into learning the “lines” as written, respecting what everyone brings to the table, props, wardrobe or respecting the time you commit to the rehearsal process.
“Mission Play”: The play touches on valuing time whether it be the past (ancestors and own memories), present (change) or future possibilities. Just like respect should be given to every professional working on a show, the teens learn that respect should be given to anyone who may have opposing viewpoints or culture anchors.

Resilience: I recognize that artists face a lot of rejection, possible disappointment or negativity surrounding their craft and lifestyle. It might be helpful to do a litmus test to understand how you personally react to situations and develop a glass half full type attitude. I think it is important to have a full life where acting is not the only you thing you do and to know who truly loves you. What audience do you live to please? I live for an audience of one.
“Mission Play”: Numerous characters remain faithful to their personal mission and vision despite numerous setbacks. The theater itself was built in 1927 to house the production and has remained standing through earthquakes and time. In addition, the show spans about sixty years showing how different groups of people survived.

Resonance: Choose projects that inspire you and that you connect with. Whenever I read scripts I get so excited when I read someone’s life off the page that resonates with me. There is a physical and emotional connection that flips the switch.
“Mission Play”: The theater space is breathtaking and walking into a place with so much history sends ripples of electrifying energy through my system. Certain places evoke different emotions and trigger the five senses into action. I am blessed to go to work and play with my fellow ensemble members here.

© Photo by Ron Lim Photography

Come experience the theater’s rich history and learn along with my character Sue how respect, resilience and resonance can impact history with love and forgiveness. Check-out the radiant theater and see what resonates with you.  Click here to buy tickets.

I look forward to entering tech week for the show and celebrating Easter where history is HIS story! Happy Easter!

“It’s not about being right or wrong-it’s about finding common ground—seeking to see the other person’s point of view, finding peace and seeing God in the very darkest corners and the most shimmering fields.”-Ubaldo, Act Three “Mission Play”

The play features members from the Gaberlino Tongva tribe, Spanish, Chinese and hip-hop dancers and singers that reflect the history of the city of San Gabriel.  Teh’Hoveet! (means “great” in the Gaberlino Tongva language)

Cathy Rigby and Discovery Arts

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” –J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

One of the things that inspires me the most is to see people using their abilities and experiences to make a positive difference in the world.  Cathy Rigby, Olympic legend, Tony award nominee, producer, director, and spokesperson for Discovery Arts is one such person.

Rigby took on the iconic role of Peter Pan who represents “youth, joy and liberty” back in 1974 and filmed a recording of the on stage performance that was released in 2000.  Whenever I was sick or needed a burst of inspiration I would watch the video of Rigby zooming across the stage making the flying look effortless.  Watch the recording here.

At the age of sixty the flying and acrobatic tricks are just as mesmerizing.  Rigby revived the production and I had the pleasure to see it live at her home theater, La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts, in June and at the Pantages in January.  Currently, the production continues on its tour with Rigby bringing merriment and pixie dust wherever she goes.

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However, it is just not merriment or pixie dust that she brings but her giving heart.  After the end of her performance at the Pantages she graciously gave up her time to sign posters with proceeds going to Discovery Arts, take pictures and do a short meet and greet in costume.

Discovery Arts, a 501(c)(3)non-profit, focuses on giving hospital treated children a chance to experience joy and healing through the arts.  The organization understands the potential loss of hope, physical abilities and social interaction for a child battling a critical illness whether it is cancer or a blood disorder.  The appropriately named “Arts Adventures” illuminates the power of releasing creativity in a safe environment.  All programs partnered with hospitals are free of charge.

Whenever I am down, I love how the performing art is my imaginative escape where anything is possible.  Rigby and Discovery Arts have tapped into the magic that I know artists and anyone who loves stories can relate to.  For more information about Discovery Arts and how you can get involved please visit their website.

http://www.discoveryarts.org/

Thank you Cathy Rigby for being a shining inspiration!