Archive for the ‘TOURING COMPANY’ Tag


The last show of the 2014-2015 season has to be a winner. “Anything Goes” has such Cole Porter show stopping songs like “I Get A Kick Out Of You”, “You’d Be So Easy To Love”, “You’re The Top”, “Friendship”. “It’s De Love-ly”, “Blow Gabriel Blow” not to forget the title number or 13 other songs.

Since its debut in 1934 it has been performed all over the world and tonight it is stopping at the Broward Performing Arts Center and I’ll be there with my tap shoes on even if I can’t dance!

‘When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention get tossed out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love… proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. ‘ tells the plot of the show but not the fun the audience has watching it. 

Starring Emma Stratton as Reno Sweeney and Brian Krinsky as Billy Crocker this is a musical cruise I am looking forward to and I’ll let you know all about it.

Anything goes slideshow

Touring company collage

Posted May 5, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

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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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OFF TO SEE “DISNEY’S NEWSIES”   Leave a comment

I am going to be busy having fun seeing “Disney’s Newsies–the Musical” at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami where it will be until Sunday, February 8.

The musical is based on the film of the same name which in turn was based on the true newsboy strike of 1899 in New York city. It has a new book by Harvey Fierstein, won a 2012 Tony award for the best score written by Alan Menken and jack Feldman. It also won a Tony for the best choreography in a musical by Christopher Gattelli which won a lot of praise for its high energy of dance.

Below is a slideshow made by me  of the photos taken by Deen van Meer featuring Stephanie Styles, Dan DeLuca and the North American touring company. It is followed by a ‘sneak peek’ of the show.

Posted February 3, 2015 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

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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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Horror scenes? Check. Vulgar language? Check. Sexual things? Check. Sexual innuendos? Check. Blood? Check? Violence? Check. Irrational actions? Check. Welcome to the world of movie horror fans, male teenagers, young male adults and their dates.

Evil Dead-The Musical is a take off, pure camp mixed with satire, of the Evil Dead movie franchise with a little Rocky Horror Show salute thrown in with the dance number Do the Necronomicon. The actors not only chew the scenery but swallow it and then spit it up in the form of blood. I am not a fan of the horror genre but I found myself laughing out loud at some really corny jokes and actions, hoping no one I knew saw me–it is that kind of show for older folks. The young ones sit in what is known as the splatter zone and love every bit of blood that gets on them.

The lyrics by George Reinblatt, who also wrote the book, and music by Frank Cipolla, Christopher Bond, Melissa Morris and Reinblatt are more than you would expect and in some cases are enhanced by some excellent choreography by Stacey Renee Maroske with a couple of numbers stopping the show.
Callie Johnson and Ryan McBride playing dual roles seem to be having as much fun as the audience. David Sajewich, in the lead role as Ash, sings, dances, acts, plays broad comedy, cuts off his hand, saws off his girlfriend’s head, handles a shotgun and gets into physical fights not only looks the role but makes everything seem like he does all this in real life naturally. Aiding and abetting the actors mentioned are Julie Baird, Demi Zaino, Creg Sclavi, Ryan Czerwonko, Jessica Kingsdale along with Andrew Di Rosa, as Jake, who almost steals the show with the song Good Old Reliable Jake.

All you have to know is that 5 friends are going to a cabin for the weekend for fun and games and there is only one road going to and from the cabin and they are surrounded by woods. Oh yes there is the evil book, the Necronomicon.

There were, obviously, many fans of the musical in addition to horror movies but even if you aren’t one of the latter don’t worry when and where you laugh because others will be laughing too.

Posted November 24, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The complete trademark title of the dance company is Diavolo: Architecture in Motion they certainly are in motion, many times in jaw dropping motion. The dancers are also acrobats and athletes of the highest order. Sometimes watching their feats (and feet) on stage you momentarily wonder how many injuries they suffer during rehearsals and performances.

The 10 dancers in alphabetical order are: Ana Carolina Brotons, Leandro Damasco Jr., Cal T. Chester, Ezra Masse-Mahar, Chelsea Pierce, Jesse Ryan, Connor Senning, Amy Tuley, Rico Velazquez and Chisa Yamaguchi each getting and deserving their time in the spotlight whether alone or in duets or as part of a precision troupe where each is called on to secure the safety of the other.

The evening is made up of 2 dances, the first called Transit Space which uses skateboard ramps for an urban setting of people looking for connections and the second called Trajectoire which consists of an oval platform in constant motion controlled by the dancers. The teamwork in both numbers will make you hold your breath in their solidarity and flawless performances.

Every aspect of the production values aid the dancers in accomplishing showing them at their best and almost unbelievable movements and moments.

The Diavolo Dance Company brings the modern dance of tomorrow to the stage of today and, deservedly, gets a standing ovation from the audience.

The company has scheduled performances all over the United States including West Palm Beach on Friday.

The complete program, including intermission, runs 1 hour and 30 minutes. For more information regarding the  company, and their future schedule, go to

Posted November 7, 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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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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