I’d like to say that I was surprised by just how amazing New Line Theatre‘s opening show of their 25th season was. But I can’t. Because honestly, at this point, what else did I expect? Is it a surprise when show after show, year after year, Scott Miller finds another musical that failed on or off Broadway, and breaths the breath of life back into it – reviving it from it’s eternal slumber and makes it into the wonderful piece of art it was always destined to be? The answer is no; It should come as no surprise. Heathers, based on the 1988 film starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, is another inconspicuous movie destined to become a musical.
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll notice that the story stays fairly true to its source material. However the musical does offer more insight into just how Veronica (Anna Skidis) infiltrated the infamous “Heathers,” the popular group of well-to-do princesses after which the title is named. There’s Heather Chandler (Sicily Mathenia), the alpha of the group, Heather McNamara (Larissa White) and Heather Duke (Cameisha Cotton).Veronica abandons everything she knows about being an outcast, becoming one of the “cool kids” at the expense of losing friends like Martha Dunstock (Grace Seidel) – referred to by the Heathers as “Martha Dumptruck.” It was just another day at Westerburg High School until JD (Evan Fornachon) showed up, eventually beating the crap out of a couple of jocks who give him trouble: Kurt Kelly (Clayton Humburg) and Ram Sweeney (Omega Jones). An unexpected romance blossoms between Veronica and JD after a falling out with the Heathers at a party, as the two of them impart their own brand of justice to combat the evils of high school villainy.
Watching a huge production of a play or musical can be great. But there is something magical that happens when you enter an intimate venue like The Gaslight Theatre in the Central West End. Inside there are only ninety-nine seats, meaning the worst seat in the house is only a few rows away from the stage. You don’t have to worry about seeing or hearing the actors, and there is nothing to detract from the art which is being created before your eyes. Which is a good thing, because you wouldn’t want to miss a second of this beautifully dark and chilling story.
The Pillowman was written by Martin McDonagh, and debuted in 2003 at the Cottesloe Theatre in London, England. It earned the honor of receiving the 2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, two Tonys, and both New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Drama Desk Awards. The play revolves around a short story writer named Katurian (Jason C. Klefisch), living in a totalitarian state, who is detained for questioning about recent child murders which bear a striking similarity to his stories. He eventually finds out that his brother Michal (Nick Kelly) is also being held, as their lives are placed in the hands of detectives Tupolski (Eric Dean White) and Ariel (Darian Michael Garey). The question is, are the two brothers being held unfairly, or is their something to the hard-nosed detectives’ antics?
There are only four characters in the entire play, but don’t let that scare you away. That is twice as many as appeared in Theatre Lab’s first ambitious project, The Sunset Limited. And what incredible actors were chosen for the roles. Jason Klefisch is fantastic as Katurian, who you aren’t quite sure what to think of at first. His stories are dark and twisted, yet the audience isn’t so quick to pin any guilt on him. The actor gives it his all as he turns in a gut-wrenching performance, running the gamut of emotions. Alongside him is Nick Kelley as his brother Michal for much of the show. Kelley is faced with not only performing some heavy material, but also portraying a character who has special needs. He does an excellent job with the balancing act, making his character’s actions never less than believable. He is also tasked with bringing levity to the show, while never coming across derogatorily or insensitively.
Originally written for the 1957 television broadcast starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella finally made it’s Broadway debut in 2013. With a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, the classic tale gets some new updates – but still captures the magic of the story we know and love. The show is now playing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis through February 1.
Returning from her leading role on Broadway is Paige Faure as Ella, with the look and cadence that would have you thinking she really is Cinderella in real life. Although some details have changed, the story is still close to the one we know and love. Ella lives with her wicked stepmother (Beth Glover) and stepsisters: Charlotte (Aymee Garcia) and Gabrielle (Kaitlyn Davidson) – although the latter is much nicer to Ella than we’ve grown accustomed to. Right at the start, Ella has a meet-cute with Prince Topher (Andy Jones) as he rides through town. It is there we are also introduced to her friends Jean-Michel (David Andino), a zany revolutionary, and Marie (Kecia Lewis) – a crazy old woman who we later learn has more up her sleeve than meets the eye. Topher’s adviser Lord Chancellor Sebastian (Blake Hammond) convinces the prince that it is time to marry – and what better way to find a bride than to throw a magnificent ball? It’s all fairy godmothers and magical transformations from then on, as the classic tale comes to life.
The show consists of many of the musical numbers from the original 1957 production, as well as some additional songs from the Rodgers + Hammerstein catalog – cut from shows like South Pacific, Me and Juliet. The number “There’s Music in You” was added from the 1997 television version that starred Brandy, which actually came from the 1957 film Main Street to Broadway – where Rodgers and Hammerstein can be seen performing it. CINDERELLA is full of great music and performances, sure to have audiences mesmerized when combined with the direction of Mark Brokaw (The Lyons, After Miss Julie, The Constant Wife, Reckless, Cry-Baby) and choreography of Josh Rhodes (Company, The Film, Three Generations at the Kennedy Center, Sondheim: the Birthday Concert).
A captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanted creatures.
Cirque du Soleil returns to St. Louis with their critically acclaimed production of Vareki! Premiering in Montréal in 2002, over 8 million people have enjoyed the show in over 72 cities and 20 countries. Now through January 11, St. Louis can enjoy the explosive fusion of drama and acrobatics at the Chaifetz Arena.
Varekai features stunning cast of 50 performers and musicians from 18 different countries. More that 33,000 hours of work has gone into the brilliant costume design for the show, lead by renowned designer Eiko Ishioka. There are over 600 costumes, shoes, wigs, hats and accessories used in each performance.
The production is packed full of breathtaking scenery, from The Forest (over 300 trees between 4.5 and 10.5 meters tall) to The Stage (a golden clearing 12.8 meters wide), and the Catwalk (a 30 meter long staircase the actors use to travel over the stage) to the Lookout (a 7-square-meter cabin, serving as the centerpiece of the set)
For more information about Vareki, visit cirquedusoleil.com.About the show:
Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world – a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.
From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.
The word Varekai means “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.
If you and your kids watch Yo Gabba Gabba! and haven’t been to a live show yet, there is no better time than the present (check out our review from the It’s Time to Dance tour)! We had the chance to chat with Christian Jacobs about the awesome ride that is the Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! tour, how the show compares with his time in The Aquabats, and what we can expect when the show comes to town next week.