Archive for the ‘MUSICAL’ Tag


In 1959 Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and started Hitsville U.S.A. which lead to what the whole world would know as the Motown sound. The hits and careers kept on coming introducing  all of us to Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight,etc., just part of a never ending list.

Tonight I am going to the opening of the First National tour of the Broadway musical “Motown The Musical” at the Broward Performing Arts Center here in Fort Lauderdale. Imagine listening to 60 songs, songs that touched most of our lives, in a show written by the founder Berry Gordy. Whether it is a glimpse of  the 4 Tops, the Jackson 5 or a full out the Commodores, I know many memories of my past will come back unless I just forget all that, sit back relax and just listen to good music because that is what Motown brought us.

Have a favorite tune by one of the many artists who made up the Motown sound? Let me know and I will let you know if it is in the show.

Posted February 24, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE REVIEW

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Jelani Remy as Simba, and the ensemble, from the National  touring companyin “He Lives In You”. Photo by Joan Marcus.

From the time the curtain goes up until the the final cast bow you are in the world of Julie Taymor who directed, wrote additional lyrics and music (with Elton John, Tim Rice, Lebo M, Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Hans Zimmer), did the costume design, the mask and puppet design (with Michael Curry). Though it is called “Disney’s The Lion King”, and is based on their animated film of 1994, when it opened on Broadway in 1997, where it is still running 18 years later, by all rights it should have her name above the title!

Having now played to over 64 million people in 19 countries and becoming the top earning production ever from Broadway and films, aside from 3 tunes that Elton John and Tom Rice, people always talk about and remember the ‘animals’ they saw, especially the opening number when they march down the aisles of the auditorium.

Throughout the show your eyes are caught by the props, masks and costumes that the over 50 actors wear, move and dance in. During “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, “The Circle of Life” or “Hakuna Matata” you are looking at the animation and the handling of the masks as they sing. The choreography by Garth Fagan puts a strain on the masks, outfits and movements of the performers but all works smoothly.

The cast from L. Steven Taylor as Mufasa, the father of Simba, played by Jelani Remy, and Patrick R. Brown as his uncle Scar to Nia Holloway as Simba’s love interest, along with the ensemble, are all strong in their rolls. Two standouts are Nick Cordileone as a meerkat and Ben Lipitz as a warthog who bring much needed humor to the show without stepping over the line.

All the production values, including the lighting design by Donald Holder and the scenic design by Richard Hudson are what you would expect, and get, from a Disney production.

“ Disney’s The Lion King” (though I prefer calling it Taymor’s The Lion King) is a must see show that will have your imagination spinning.

The show will be at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale until February 1.

Posted January 11, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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November 26, 2013, I went see “The Book of Mormon” touring company in the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale and wondered how this show could command and get $500 for a premium seat. Last night I went to the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami and a year later, with a new cast, I saw why the show has now been running on Broadway for 3 1/2 years to sell out crowds.

The story is basically of Elder Cunningham, a liar and loser, played by Cody Jamison Strand and Elder Price, played by David Larson, who just knows he was born for greatness. They are sent on a two year mission as ‘companions’ to convert people to the Mormon church. Elder Price just knows he is going to Orlando because he has prayed to be sent there. As it is Elder Cunningham and Elder Price are sent to Uganda and we follow their adventures with the natives and 4 other pairs of missionaries.

From the moment Cody Jamison Strand came on stage to do the opening number, “Hello”, with some of the ensemble, you could just see the joy this man feels being on stage and he seems to energize the whole cast. He does all the comedy asked of him plus more and even uses a deep voice now and then to get another laugh whether talking or singing. David Larsen sings, with a voice that reaches the last row in the balcony, his themes of “I Believe” and “Orlando” and has chemistry with Strand. Denee Benton as a native of Uganda and a love interest to one of the boys, is beautiful and has a gorgeous voice. Another standout is Pierce Cassedy who plays several roles, including Elder McKinley, and almost stops the show in a couple of numbers.

The cast of 36 is beautifully directed by Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker with the former also doing the choreography and has never seen a Broadway dance step that he didn’t like. Along with an orchestra of 12 members most of the musical numbers are winners.

The book, along with the music and lyrics, was written by Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone who love teenage raucous potty humor using jokes and satire to deal with AIDS, (though it seems to me they cut back on this from last year), sex with children and frogs, Gays, circumcision of women and religion, among many other subjects. This is definitely not for children.

The production is first rate with Cody Jamison Strand adding that something extra special that makes this “the Book of Mormon” definitely worth seeing and for a lot less than $500 for the best seats!


Posted December 8, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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In 1991 the Broward Performing Arts Center opened in Fort Lauderdale with the first touring company of Phantom of the Opera and last night, 23 years later, 28 years after it opened in London, 26 years after it opened on Broadway, and still running in both cities, the touring company has returned to the Arts Center in a somewhat reimagined production.

The main changes are in the set designed by Paul Brown, the lighting design by Paul Constable and the choreography by Scott Ambler. The latter is most notable in the Masquerade number with over 30 members of the cast. There are 52 people between the cast and orchestra making this a full production directed by Laurence Connor. The set design is a huge cylindrical wall that moves, turns, opens, closes and, almost magically, grows steps for the Phantom and Christine to walk down so they can go to his living quarters.

With all the changes it would not be a show without the story of the triangle between the Phantom (Cooper Grodin), Raoul (Ben Jacoby) and Christine (Julia Udine). The three leads are younger than in most previous casts which brings another dimension to the musical. Grodin tenor resonates in the title tune and The Music of the Night” while Udine’s crystal clear soprano voice soars Wishing You Were Somehow Herealon
g with her duets with both men. Jacoby makes All I Ask Of You powerful but at the same time not overpowering Udine. The one critical mistake is that there is no chemistry between the three leads which takes away from the love stories.

A standout in the cast is Jacquelynne Fontaine as the opera diva Carlotta. Also giving strong support are Anne Kanengeiser as Madame Giry, Brad Oscar as Monsieur Firmin and Edward Staudenmayer as Monsieur Andre. The rest of the large cast and ensemble are of top caliber.

Oh yes, the chandelier is still there in all its glory

One note: the theatrical smoke and pyrotechnical effects are very heavy and infiltrate the orchestral level of the Center. At one point I was concerned for the musicians and cast because they were so heavy.

Running time: Act 1 An hour and 10 minutes Intermission 25 minutes Act 2 An hour.


Posted November 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Last night 2,700 audience members at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale welcomed one of their own, from near by Davie, Florida, 9 year old Issie Swickle in the title role of the new touring company of ”Annie”. She has the advantage of being directed by the original director Martin Charnin, who also wrote the lyrics, with the music by Charles Strouse,, who has made this a classic musical since it first appeared on Broadway in 1977.

The young actress is on stage most of the time and not only has to sing such iconic songs as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” but also interacts with 6 ‘orphans’ , 20 adults and Sandy, the dog. While very confident working with the other kids and Sandy, with less than a month in the role she is still tentative with the adults but another month or two on the tour that should change.

Lynn Andrews, as the mean Miss Hannigan, has fun with her role and singing “Little Girls” and brings down the house dancing and singing “Easy Street” with her conniving brother Rooster, played by Garrett Deagon, and his girlfriend Lily played by Lucy Werner.

Gilgamesh Taggett, as Oliver ‘Daddy” Warbucks, is commanding on stage with a strong voice, along with being gruff and tender when needed to be either. Cameron Mitchell Bell as Bert Healy sells “You Are Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” while Allen Baker gets all his laughs playing President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ensemble, in various roles, all come through for the show and the orphans played by Angelina Carballo, Adia Dant, LillyBea Ireland, Sydney Shuck, Lilly Mae Stewart and Isabell Wallach dance and sing as if they have been working together for years. Along with MIss Swickle they get the show off to a rousing start with “It’s The Hard Knock Life”.

The scenic design by Beowulf Boritt is imposing and moves in, out and around smoothly. The thirteen piece orchestra got off to a shaky start but recovered quickly.

Walking up the aisle after the curtain calls you could hear “Tomorrow” being sung, whistled and hummed by most of the audience and will be for days to come. It is not a bad philosophy to have in your head in today’s times!

Posted October 9, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The show opens at the prom of Springfield High in 1958 where, by default, the Marvelous Wonderettes quartet have been chosen to entertain their fellow seniors. We meet Suzy (Lindsey Corey) who is dating her classmate Ritchie, running the lights for the show. We learn that Cindy Lou (Ann Miller Brennan), who is best friends with Betty Jean (Julie Kleiner) has been cheating with the latter’s boyfriend Johnny. The last member of the group is Missy (Abby Perkins) who tells everyone at the prom, after singing “Secret Love”, that her secret love is Mr. Lee, the leader of the group. (Mr. Lee is an audience member picked at random and in this case Nate Sikes steals the show the few minutes he is brought up on stage.)

In the second act we meet the girls, now women, at their ten year union. Suzy is pregnant, married to Ritchie with problems in the marriage. After 10 years of courtship, and pizza, Mr. Lee proposes to Missy. Betty Jean has married Johnny, the guy who use to cheat on her with Cindy Lou, and is still a cheater. Cindy Lou tells about her moving to Hollywood to become an actress, failing, now back in Springfield and in love with Billy Ray Patton, the boy responsible for the Marvelous Wonderettes singing at the prom who had been suspended from school.

All the above is the reason for the girls to sing songs from the 1950s in the first act and the 1960s in the second, approximately 33 songs in all. This is a jukebox musical, written and created by Roger Bean, where the singers make the show and the 4 Marvelous Wonderettes all have their time in the spotlight and make good. Among the songs are “Secret Love”. “Mr. Sandman”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “It’s My Party”, “Respect”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Rescue Me”, “Sincerely” and “Hold Me, Thrill me, Kiss Me”. Of the four ladies Lindsey Corey has the strongest voice and the comedic chops to stand out but at all times they are in harmony.

The direction and choreography by Patrick Fitzwater keeps the movements flowing while the costumes by Rick Pena gives individuality to all the girls.

For an evening of nostalgia, and good singing performances by the quartet, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” offer an enjoyable time in the theatre.

“The Marvelous Wonderettes” will be presented in the Abdo New River Room in the Broward Performing Arts Center complex through November 23. Small plates and beverages are available before the show and during the intermission.

Posted October 8, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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In “Ghost-The Musical”, which opened at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale last night, the amazing technology and very much alive projections, along with strobe lights, overwhelms the sweet classic love story adapted by, and from, Bruce Joel Rubin’s Oscar winning screenplay, Rubin also wrote the lyrics with music by Dave Stewart aside from the theme song “Unchained Melody” written by Hy Zurel and Alex North.
The story tells how Sam and Molly are separated by his being fatally shot and how he comes back to save Molly, with the help of a crooked psychic, after finding out he had been killed by his friend Carl.
Carla R. Stewart as the psychic Oda Mae Brown brings a lot of energy and fun to the stage. Steven Grant   Douglas as Sam has a strong voice and is very good in the physical action and reactions he has to play though in many cases he plays second fiddle to the technology.  Katie Postotnik as Molly has a sweet voice but is given two bland solos especially, “With You”, in the first act, that stops the show in its tracks. Robby Haltiwanger, as Carl, just as Fernando Contreras as Willie, the killer, and Brandon Curry as a subway ghost lose their time on stage to the technical display and a sound system that worked against the actors and theensemble.
It is only Carla R. Stewart who stands out over the strobe lights, technology and projections that are too often and too many.
There were a couple of first night miscues regarding lights and ghosts but no matter what it taking place on stage with special effects that love story comes through.
“Ghost–the Musical” is 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.

Posted May 1, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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American_Idiot jpg.jpg


Day’s “American Idiot”, with music by Green Day, lyrics by Billie Joe
Armstrong and a book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer based on
the conceptual album of the same name, landed with a bang at the Broward
Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale last night where it will be
playing until April 6.




meet boyhood friends Johnny (Jared Nepute), Will (Casey O’Farrell) and
Tunny (Dan Tracy) on the cusp of manhood, bored with suburbia and make a
pact to move to the big city. At the last minute Will’s girlfriend
Heather (Mariah MacFarlane) tells him she is pregnant and he decides to
stay home. Tunny who doesn’t fit in with urban living enlists in the
army serving in Afghanistan where, when wounded, he meets The
Extraordinary Girl (Taylor Jones). Johnny finds two loves in the city,
one being heavy drugs after a figment of his imagination brings forth a
drug dealer St. Jimmy (Carson Higgins) which in turn leads to a true
love of  Whatshername (Olivia Puckett).




roots of “American Idiot” can be found in “Hair” and “Rent” with each
representing a generation, their music and their general sense of being
lost.  “American Idiot” is referred to as a 90 minute punk opera which
first came out in album form in 2004 and made it to the Broadway stage
in 2010.




a hard working cast, ensemble and band on stage of 22 people plus the
magic of Tony Award winners scenic designer Christine Jones and lighting
designer Kevin Adams plus the choreography of Steven Hoggett and
director Michael Mayer “American Idiot” captures the time. place and
music of a generation.




entering the theatre people of a certain age (mine!) are offered ear
plugs which I didn’t have to use but they should have offered sunglasses
as there is an overabundance of strobe light use directed straight at
the audience.

Posted March 27, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Every once in awhile something happens in the theatre called MAGIC! You could have seen a show, enjoyed it and forgotten it the next day until  you see it again 8 months later and from the moment the curtain  goes up you have an almost out of body experience and that is what happened last night at the opening of the touring company of “Memphis” at the Broward Performing Arts Center.
The electrical chemistry between Jasmin Richardson as Felicia, a black singer and Joey Elrose as Huey, a white DJ, not only charged the theatre but the featured players, the ensemble and the band. They weren’t actors playing characters but real people whose life we were watching.
It is Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s, a time of racial tension and ‘colored’ music, eventually to be called rock ‘n roll, is coming into the white world and being taken over by them.  Huey and Felicia fall in love opposed by his mother and her brother and we follow them as they go through tribulations of their love and careers.
With the music, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, original choreography of Sergio Trujillo recreated by Jermaine R. Rembert and Adam Arian recreating the original direction of Christopher Ashley the cast is strong whether dancing, acting and/or singing. Pat Sibley as Mama, Avionce Hoyles as Gator and Jerrial T. Young  as Bobby and the ensemble stop the show more than once.
It is Jasmin Richardson and Joey Elrose, with that undefinable magic, her soaring voice, his hangdog winning ways, that take this show into a night not very quickly forgotten in this Tony Award winning show for Best Musical.
“Memphis” will be playing at the Broward Performing Arts center until March 9–catch the magic!


Posted February 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Put in a song, “A Spoonful Of Sugar”, that won’t leave your head for days, add a flying nanny named Mary Poppins (Madeline Trumble), stir in a show stopping chimney sweeper called Bert (Con O’Shea-Creal) and for the icing on the cake put a cast of 30 on stage, aided by an orchestra led by Daniel Bowling of 20 players, mainly local musicians, and have them sing, dance and spell “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and you get that Disney magic recipe co-produced with Cameron Macintosh.

Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman wrote the songs for the movie while George Stiles and Anthony Drewe not only worked on original songs but added new material making the ‘old’ songs sound fresh. The new score melds in with the old one and includes “Anything Can Happen” , “Cherry Tree Lane” and ‘Precision and Order”.

The cast including Madison Mullahey (who alternates performances with Julianna Rigoglioso) as Jane and Eli Tokash (who alternates with Zachery Mackiewicz) as Michael, the children of George (Ben Cherry) and Winifred ( Elizabeth Broadhurst) play their roles with a lot of energy, especially the children who have to dance, sing and act on the level of the adults. As the house staff Tregoney Shepard and Blake Segal supply the comic relief and Karen Murphy, as the Bird Woman, sweetly sings “Feed The Birds”.

The book by Julian Fellowes is a little deeper and  darker  than the movie was while the ever changing scenic and costume designs bring applause from the audience. The original choreography really shines during the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, and the rousing encore number that gets the audience clapping and the kids sitting in front of me spelling! Talking about the children in the audience, they represented about a quarter of the sell out crowd and were especially well behaved.

A few special words must be said about Con O’Shea-Creal who brought that extra magic to the show with his singing, dancing, smiles as he takes us through musical as part guide, part narrator but all out entertainer. I don’t think there was a single member of the audience who wasn’t mesmerized  by his tap dancing upside down on the ceiling of the stage, in step, even more than watching Mary Poppins fly across that same stage.

First Act; 1 hour and 18 minutes  Intermission; 17 minutes   Second Act; 1 hour and 5 minutes   Strobe lights, stage smoke

Next show at the Arsht Center;  The 25th Anniversary production of “Les Miserables” February 26-March

Posted January 9, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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