Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: August 22, 2010
By: Laura Deni


The Centre Theater

Are you tired of being treated as though you "ain't got no culture" because you live somewhere other than the top five theatrical locations in America? Would you like to be able to enjoy live theater without getting dressed, hiring a babysitter or paying for overpriced parking?

A revolutionary way to present theater to the public will level the playing field for small and mid-size theaters while providing a new marketing concept for the Great White Way.

Just as the internet radically changed the way news is transmitted, a little Pennsylvania theater company is changing the way live theater is presented - by livecasting a world premiere.

John Doyle is the co-founder of Philadelphia's Iron Age Theater and the Artistic Director of The Centre Theater. The company produces site specific work, social justice theater and drama. Iron Age Theater has been one of the most critically acclaimed companies in the area for over fifteen years, receiving Barrymore nominations for a number of their productions. Since 1996 Iron Age has been resident company at The Centre Theater, which is a member of the Philadelphia Theater Alliance.

On August 13, in a groundbreaking move, Iron Age Theater staged a Web site livecast of Empress of the Moon, a new play based on the life of the British playwright and spy Aphta Behn.

The use of streaming to widen the reach of the show was the idea of the director of Iron Age’s Special Operations Executive division, Chris Braak, who also happens to be the show's playwright.

Chris Braak
Both John Doyle and Chris Braak spoke with Broadway To Vegas about streaming live theater.

How important and successful a tool do you feel this will become for theatres?

"This is a crucial part of the future of theater," quickly answered Doyle, a graduate of Villanova with a Masters in Theater. "Presenting theatre over the web could reinvigorate the industry. It could certainly be like ordering from a cable company's on demand, the mechanism for that is already available on the web, but I see it more like a way of sending the production to small communities who do not have access to professional or artistically intense theater."

"A tool like livecast, which permits us to stay in touch with a worldwide audience despite our necessary locality, is going to be a huge benefit just in terms of building and maintaining an audience base," responded Braak who holds a degree in religion and literature from Hampshire College, and a Master's in Theater from Villanova University.

"I doubt that the livecast system as we've got it currently planned - which is to livecast opening nights of new plays - is going to be specifically, directly profitable," Braak conceded. "However, Iron Age does a number of small shows (Marx in Soho, Citizen Paine, the upcoming Red Emma) that have a scattered niche market around the country. Trying to tour even a one person show to audiences of ten or fifteen or twenty in Utah and Maine and California, would be unfeasible unless you charged eighty dollars a ticket. We believe the livecast is going to start to really become effective when we can permit these disparate groups to combine their resources, enabling them to see Marx in Soho, for example, for a fraction of what it would cost to tour it."

Doyle credits Braak with launching the project.

"Part of the reason we responded to Braak's offer to head the new experimental branch of our company, The Special Operations Executive, was because we knew he would push the envelope," stated Doyle. "These types of experiments and these non traditional presentation techniques are hard to consider when working on a large scale production with established work. Braak has the flexibility to play, create and manipulate the medium. His inventiveness and ambition make him the perfect leader of this alternative division. These unusual or innovative works show his ability to push cutting edge of theater."

John Doyle
This is a major, innovative approach to presenting theater. What are the pros and cons?

"The cons are always that someone might just stay at home and not come and pay for a ticket to our shows. Theaters are low on cash at all times and revenue loss is significant. It is also a problem if people take the experience of a live cast as representative of the experience of LIVE theatre," answered Doyle.

"The positives are that we can reach a new web based audience," he continued. "We can expand our audience and touch the lives of people with little resources for the high expense of theatrical production. We can also use live streaming to "advertise" or do teasers for productions during actual live rehearsals. People get an inside look at the show."

"Live streaming talk backs after performances is also a plus," Doyle added. "People who could not make the show on a guest speaker or cast talk back night could watch it live and even participate with our ability to have live chat. The speaker nights become more elaborate and we can educate more people."

"The major con, and the one that everyone always brings up, is that obviously the livecast isn't the same as a live performance," conceded Braak. "There's just no way it could be; even if we had an HD video camera, sensitive microphones on all the actors, and twice the bandwidth for transmission, the experience wouldn't be the same."

Adam Altman as Thomas Paine in Citizen Paine by William Hollenbach livestreamed at the Moonstone Arts Center. Photo by John Doyle
"The major pro, though, is that we're not sure it has to be," Braak emphasized. "The livecast permits people to participate in the feeling of opening night; it's not the same experience, but it's still a unique experience, and one that they can't get anywhere else. Even going to a movie when it opens isn't quite the same thing as tuning into opening night of a new play. We believe that this will have valuable, long-term benefits, in terms of laying the groundwork for future productions of our new plays around the country. We've already begun talks with a few people in New York about mounting a production of Empress of the Moon there, entirely on the strength of the livecast."

To the best of your knowledge is this the first time such an approach has been used. If not, did you contact the other theaters?

"We believe this is the first World Premiere to be broadcast in full," Doyle related. "We have been live casting segments of plays for the past year. I have livecast segments of Citizen Paine and Marx in Soho by Howard Zinn from LA and New York as well as our home in Philadelphia. Those were scheduled livecasts and announced on the web using social media. The livecasts were hosted on a live cast service and I have used the Android phone for most of that work. We were able to give some of those involved in both of those productions access to the shows when they were far from our home base."

Marx in Soho was livestreamed in two 5-minute segments from our Howard Zinn Tribute in Santa Monica. We live cast much of our Citizen Paine by William Hollenbach from its performance at the Brecht Forum in June. This was part of the 913 Festival responding to Glen Beck's attacks on theatre. We felt strongly that we should use the internet and stream the piece in a mass way to echo the mass media use of Mr. Beck. We also used it during our Juneteenth Event, the African American celebration of emancipation day. We showed the live tours of Norristown. We live streamed some of the monologues along the tour, too, giving the folks who could not join us - because of the sold out nature of the event - access to the acting and Norristown history."

"So far as I know, this is the first time that a world premiere has been livecast in Philadelphia," concurred Braak. "I have informally talked with a few other artistic directors and critics in the area, and none of them have ever heard of anyone doing anything like this. I believe this is actually the first time any play - world premiere or not - has been livecast out of the city."

What made you think of this?

"When John and I discussed the creation of the SOE, Iron Age's experimental division, it was primarily because I wanted to start experimenting with incorporating new technologies into the theater," explained Braak. "One of the things we discussed was how these technologies could enhance, or form the core of, new programs, like education programs - livecasting productions of shows for schools, for instance, so that a school wouldn't have to pay an exorbitant fee to get all of its students out to the theater. This practical solution, along with some discussions about the relative advantages of having a play available on YouTube, led directly to the idea of livecasting opening night."

"Using speculative fiction website io9 as an affiliate was virtually the same discussion, but held completely independently; the editor of that site, Annalee Newitz, is perennially interested in how technology can transform the artistic process. When I told her about the plans to livecast Empress of the Moon, she leapt at the chance to have io9 host it," continued Braak.

Bob Weick as Marx in Howard Zinn's Marx in Soho livestreamed at the Brecht forum. Photo by John Doyle
What equipment/technicians are needed to facilitate this type of event?

"The astonishing thing about this process is how amazingly simple it is," Braak replied. "I have a Motorola Droid phone; it has everything necessary to start livecasting right away. The phone records the video, transmits it over the dataline; a website called Ustream provides the flash-encoding - you can watch it on the site there, or they'll give you html code to put up basically wherever you want. Essentially all I had to do was jury-rig a tripod that could hold the phone securely. The livecast also runs itself; once I started it, I could basically leave it to run during the length of the show."

"For this first attempt, the phone was sufficient in terms of video and audio quality (meaning: everyone could see and hear what was happening, if it was a little dark and full of echoes). In the future, we have plans to improve the quality and number of cameras, the quality of the sound, and to centralize the footage with a system that will let us switch between views on the fly. With the exception of that last part, improving sound and video quality can be done with equipment that most theaters already have on hand. Complex camera arrangements would require at least one person to manage, I think, which is just as well; letting the livecast run unsupervised for this performance was actually pretty risky."

"There are many levels one can work with," added Doyle. "The ultimate goal for early 2011 is to be using an any cast video switcher and three cameras to stream. This will allow some more complex presentation. A theatre producer could use an android or I-phone, a web cam or a simple video camera patched into a laptop. One needs crew to man each of these devices. The audio is the more difficult issue. We work in intimate performance spaces and so the audio is pretty easy to capture. The use of boom mics or wireless lavaliere, perhaps condenser mics might be necessary in a larger venue. When we run our one man shows, Marx in Soho, Citizen Paine and the January 2011 Red Emma, we'll mic the actual actor."

When Lincoln Center started Live From Lincoln Center on PBS that was a major development. People elsewhere could actually see a performance, even though it might be a year after opening. You've raised the bar with a real time viewing.

"The production of South Pacific was excellent," responded Doyle referring to last week's PBS airing of the Lincoln Center presentation. "It captured the production much better than one might expect. Live streaming is not about capturing the actual feel of the theater but it does capture the liveness of the event and allows small companies to expand. South Pacific was full of unusual camera choices, audience outcries and a few errors. Those all make the piece seems honest and real. Live presentation makes that possible. Live streaming makes it easy. People could watch the livestreamed show on a handheld device, on an ipad, or a computer."

"Live From Lincoln Center, we'll admit, was part of what made us sure a plan like this had legs," divulged Braak.

The viewing quality isn't going to be the same or the theatrical experience equal to attending a live performance, so streaming doesn't seem to be a potential threat to major productions. Smaller venues would have to be able to market this so it's profitable, rather than taking away from a ticket buyer base.

"My ultimate interest in this technology is to allow us to stream plays to small venues across the country (or world) to allow people who cannot access theater or a particular piece of theater," responded Doyle. "Citizen Paine could be a wonderful theatrical addition to a classroom or a tremendous performance for a community group in a small town in Maine. We could not financially make the transportation of that actor to that local financially feasible for the group. With live streaming and password protection of the stream, groups could buy into the performance, get the live nature of the play and in a communal way. There are large evangelical churches across the country that live stream worship or message segments of their main church to many satellite locations every Sunday."

"We're not really worried about losing ticket sales over something like this," replied Braak. "One of the other things that convinced me a plan like this had legs was looking at how comparable systems work for other media: concerts compared to mp3s, for instance. In a relatively recent interview, Lady Gaga pointed out that she didn't care about illegal music downloads, since the real money was in touring. There was a comedian on the radio (I think it was Stephen Lynch, but I am not a hundred percent sure) who said that the free material he made available on YouTube was what got him gigs all around the world - he was, apparently, especially popular in Europe."

"What we're selling when we do theater is the live, personal experience. Livecast systems and video recordings (we plan to make this production of Empress of the Moon available, permanently, for free on the internet) all help us reach out to audiences, both established and nascent, and permit us to lay the groundwork for them to participate in that personal, theatrical experience. The livecast doesn't hurt our ticket sales at all, any more than bootleg mp3s hurt Lady Gaga's concert attendance. The point is - being there. People will buy tickets to do that, no matter how many videos they've seen of a play," Braak insisted.

What about a copyright?

"Copyright is an issue," admitted Doyle. "We were first asked to try this several years ago during our production of Lonesome West by Martin McDonagh. A group in Belfast wanted to watch the play in their "second Life" game world. We had arranged the tech of it but the licensing company could not figure out how to charge us. We had an intended audience of 50 on line in a password protected area and still there was no copyright precedent to guide the way."

"Since then we have focused our live casting on work we have control over or are premieres. With a new playwright or with a new play we can work outside of the larger established licensing system and negotiate rights for these live streams. Braak's stream of Empress of the Moon is his play. His interest in live streaming helped us work past the rights issues. Braak is writing our 2011 production of Red Emma about Emma Goldman, which will also be live streamed with a multicamera set up. We commissioned Citizen Paine and have video rights as part of that agreement."

"Theaters have this idea that we're all competing with each other for audiences, but going to a play isn't like buying a brand of soap: it's not like you just pick one, and once you've got it, you never get a different kind," injected Braak. "People that go to the theater go to the theater, so anything we do to help other theater companies succeed also helps us. The fact of the matter is that all theater companies are on the same team here; it's my goal to use the SOE as a laboratory to develop techniques and approaches to theater that will then be used by everyone."

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Rockabilly was one of several musical styles of Rock-and-Roll, the catch phrase for youth music of the post-World War II era.

Rockabilly was an energetic blend of blues and country powered by dramatic solo singers - also a feature of post–Big Band adult music - fast-walking bass runs, strong guitar licks, catchy lyrics, and bold stage movements.

Numerous Virginia bands and singers embraced the rockabilly style - and a few even gained national recognition - but their impact on Virginia's cultural legacy has been largely overlooked by historians and musicologists.

This exhibition - organized by the Blue Ridge Institute of Ferrum College - includes both well-known and lesser-known Virginia artists who recorded 45 rpm rockabilly records performed on radio dance party television shows and played for thousands of teenagers in dance halls and school gyms in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The exhibit explores the rise of rockabilly as a then-radical departure from established popular music and an early chapter in the phenomenon of youth rebellion, the place of rockabilly in the larger youth culture of the pre-Beatles era, and the demise of the genre in the early 1960s as the music and movie industries invested in the softer sound of teen idols. It includes photographs, rare recordings, stage costumes, a jukebox, and musical instruments. The music itself will be presented through audio recordings and rare video recordings.

August 28-December 30, 2010 at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia.

VERY POSTMORTEM: MUMMIES AND MEDICINE at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco has been extended through Halloween, October 31, 2010. The exhibition explores the modern scientific examination of mummies, providing new insights into the conditions under which the Egyptians lived and bringing us closer to understanding who they were. Very Postmortem is a homecoming celebration marking the return of Irethorrou, FAMSF’s mummy that has been on loan since 1944.

As part of the exhibition, a CT-scan of the Irethorrou mummy taken by scientists at Stanford Medical School sheds light on his possible cause of death and physical attributes. These scans provide depth and scientific background to the exhibition. Accompanying the mummy are a variety of ancient artifacts that date from approximately 664–525 B.C., Egypt’s final era of greatness during the Late Period from the 26th Saite Dynasty.

VISIONS OF PARADISE: ART AND THE POWER OF FAITH billed as a landmark exploration of the role of art in spiritual life.

Where do artistry and spirituality meet? From August 21 – November 7, 2010, that question – and other queries posed – are attempted to be answered at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art when curator Virginia Breier offers Visions of Paradise: Art and the Power of Faith.

Throughout much of the world, popular images created by local artists, often anonymously, are displayed in designated buildings or spaces and in the privacy of homes. Of particular note are the ancestor shrines found in many Asian gardens. Offerings, sometimes made daily, are left to nourish the souls of the dead. Prayers are offered for their well-being. In other cultures, Dia de Los Muertos, the annual Day of the Dead, is a community celebration.

A portion of the exhibition will focus on memorials and prayers for the souls of the dead. Another commonality between faiths is the creation of vehicles to convey the spirit into the afterlife. Spirit boats feature in stories of faith from many cultures, including Indonesian, Japanese, Haitian and among Native American populations. This show includes a series of images by clients of Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center, which serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities. Works by the center’s clients are featured in prominent collections and museums worldwide.

“Humankind has long believed in a higher power or unseen forces influencing life, capable of granting favors and protecting from negative forces,” says Kate Eilertsen, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art Executive Director. “Visual arts have served as a primary form of transmitting these sentiments, both as a request for assistance and as gratitude for wishes fulfilled.” Visions of Paradise will be on view at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art through November 7, 2010 in Sonoma, CA.

Ernest Borgnine. Photo by Laura Deni
will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) next year. The 93-year-old, who won an Oscar for his role in the 1955 film Marty, has appeared in more than 200 movies during his lengthy career.

SAG president Ken Howard said: "Whether portraying brutish villains, sympathetic everymen, complex leaders or hapless heroes, Ernest Borgnine has brought a boundless energy which, at 93, is still a hallmark of his remarkably busy life and career. It is with that same joyous spirit that we salute his impressive body of work and his steadfast generosity."

Borgnine's career has spanned six decades on the big and small screen, but began on stage after World War II. In 1949, he had his Broadway debut in the role of a nurse in the play Harvey.

Previous recipients of SAG's lifetime achievement award have included Dame Julie Andrews and Clint Eastwood. Last year's honor was presented to Betty White.

Michael Barker
has been chosen to fill the position of Managing Director of The Antaeus Company in Los Angeles concluding a four-month search. Barker comes to Antaeus from Yale Repertory Theatre, where he served as Associate Managing Director.

"Antaeus has a proven track record of consistently high artistic quality and aspiration, and a lot of forward momentum right now, says Barker. "I am very pleased to join Jeanie, the ensemble, and the board in taking a leadership role as the company continues to grow and make its mark on Los Angeles and the national arts dialogue."

Also at Yale, Barker was Managing Director of Yale Summer Cabaret, Company Manager at Yale Repertory Theatre, and produced the third annual Carlotta Festival of New Plays. He was the 2008 Managing Director Fellow at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Prior to graduate school, he was Associate Director of Marketing for Court Theatre, producing classics in residence at the University of Chicago. Also in Chicago, he worked with The Goodman Theatre, American Theater Company, Sansculottes Theater Company, and The Playground Theater. He holds an MFA in theater management from Yale School of Drama and an MBA from Yale School of Management. He lives in North Hollywood with his fiancée Heidi Hanson, a costume designer working in television and film.

The Antaeus Company, L.A.'s classical theater ensemble, has a 19-year history of providing quality classical theater in Los Angeles. The Antaeus Company's next production, Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden, opens on October 28.


Vince Esoldi with his Autograph Suit. Courtesy Photo
Vince Esoldi of Glen Gardner, NJ spent more than 35 years on Broadway and at Radio City Music Hall doing hair and wardrobe for some of the top stars. Esoldi began working on Broadway doing hair for Barnum. He eventually got into the wardrobe union and worked on the original Dreamgirls. During those decades Esoldi kept a suit with him and persuaded more than 300 stars to put their John Henry on that garment. He collected so many signatures that he had to add a vest, scarf and shirt to the suit.

Now that Autograph Suit is being auctioned off on eBay. Esoldi will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the Lillian Booth Actors' Home of the Actors' Fund in Englewood, NJ in memory of his friend and colleague Peter Howard. Howard, who died in April 2008 at age 81 after residing at the Actors Home, was a musical director, composer and musician whose Broadway credits included My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, and Hello, Dolly!

Additionally, Esoldi will fund a performing-arts scholarship at Pocono Mountain East High School in Stillwater, Pa.

Esoldi hopes the buyer will either put the suit on display in a prominent theater museum or donate it to the Smithsonian, which has expressed interest in it.

Some of the signatures include those of: President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross, Lena Horne, Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Midler, Tony Bennett, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Rock Hudson, Paul Newman, who rarely signed autographs and made Esoldi promise not to tell anyone.

Faye Dunaway, Ginger Rogers, Jimmy Stewart, Alec Baldwin, Peter Allen, Hugh Jackman, who signed the suit right next to the late Peter Allen, who Jackman portrayed on Broadway.

Calvin Klein, Ed Koch, Angela Lansbury, Cloris Leachman, Norman Lear, Jack Lemmon, Bob Mackie, Shirley MacLaine, Ethel Merman, Liza Minelli, Thurman Munson, Tony Orlando, Bernadette Peters, Gilda Radner, Debbie Reynolds, Neil Sedaka, Neil Simon, Meryl Streep, Lilly Tomlin, Gloria Vanderbilt, Barbara Walters, Andy Warhol, Robin Williams, Faye Dunaway, Christopher Reeve, Mary Tyler Moore, Ginger Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Jimmy Stewart, Billy Baldwin, Walter Cronkite, John Forsythe, Sam Waterson, Dick Clark, Dom DeLuise, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Craig T. Nelson, Billy Crudup, David Geffen, Dame Judi Dench.

Rhea Perlman, Kristin Chenoweth, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Lucie Arnaz, Desi Arnaz Jr., Kenny Baker (R2D2), Warren Beatty, Michael Bennett, Candace Bergen, Tom Brokaw, Governor Jerry Brown, Carol Burnett, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Carol Channing, Stockard Channing, Cher, Oscar De La Renta, Phyliss Diller, Carrie Fisher, Henry Fonda, President Gerald Ford, Art Garfunkel, Merv Griffin, Andy Griffith, Dustin Hoffman, Rock Hudson, Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Liberace, Pia Lindstrom, Joshua Logan, Dorothy Louden, Lorna Luft, Sheila MacRae, Gavin Macleod, Melissa Manchester.

Barry Manilow, Ali Macgraw, Jayne Meadows, Mrs. Miller, Melba Moore, Robert Morse, Phyliss Newman, Tony Roberts, Leonard Frey, Kato Kaelin, Mary Testa, Nicholas Wyman, Ken & Daria Dolan, AJ Anton, Elizabeth Hubbard, Brooke Adams, Jeff Aquilon, Meg Mundy, Michael Davis, Rick Donovan, Ruth Warrick, Edgar Winter, Gae Exton, Earl Blackwell, Erma Bombeck, Gordon Thompson, Eugenia Sheppard, Ken Duncan, Bill McCutchen, John Curry, Florence Klotz, Raoul Pen Du Bois, Anthony Shaw, Patrick Cassidy, Ann McGovern, Nolan Miller, Paul Michael Glasser, Suzanne Farrell, Sherri Belafonte.

Theoni Aldredge, Abe Beame, Larry Blyden, Bill Boggs, Mark Bramble, Len Cariou, Pat Carroll, David Dukes, Frank Dunlap, Eileen Fulton, Kelly Garett, David Groh, Eileen Heckart, Jack Hoffsiss, Celeste Holme.

Artie Johnson, Judy Kaye, Katie Kelly, Fernando Sanchez, Giorgio Di Sant Angela, Carol Shelley, Michael Stewart, David Rounds, Donald Sadler, Lady Rachel Roberts, Jennifer O’Neill, Jack O’Brien, Jane Oliver, Jean Marsh, Louise Lasser, Lady Divine, Hal Linden, Robert Klein, Jim Mason, and Sue Mingers.

After 25 years in the business Esoldi is retiring and told the press that "It felt like a great time to do this."

EVENING WITH THE POPS Maurice Hines will pay tribute to the late, great Nat King Cole in an evening to benefit Ronald McDonald House New York and The New York Pops Education Programs.

Backed by a swinging band and joined by special guest Tony Award winner Lillias White, currently back on Broadway in Fela!, the Tony-nominee performs the American standards that made Nat King Cole a legend of song and dance.

August 23 at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, NYC.

VIRGINIA SYMPHONY UNPLUGGED to benefit the Virginia Symphony’s 2010-2011 programming takes place Saturday, August 28 at The Granby Theater in Norfolk, VA.

Music Director JoAnn Falletta will be the evening’s emcee, with performances by former Canadian Brass player Joe Burgstaller, VSO’s own dynamic duo - Vahn and Amanda Armstrong, mezzo soprano Sarah Williams, and pianist Robert Thies.This special evening will also honor Rob Cross, Executive Director of the Virginia Arts Festival, for his extraordinary support and advocacy of the Virginia Symphony as both a musician and an active leader in the arts community

Heavy hors d’oeuvres and wine, cabaret-style performances by guest artists and a live auction.


20th ANNUAL FREE FOR ALL is a much-loved Washington, DC tradition, offering free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the general public. The revival of The Shakespeare Theatre Company's recently and wildly popular production of Twelfth Night opens the 2010-2011 season.

Alan Paul directs the production, which is based on Rebecca Bayla Taichman's 2009 staging of the play.

The company features Sarah Agnew (Olivia), Christina Pumariega (Viola), Gregory Wooddell (Orsino), Randy Harrison (Sebastian), Floyd King (Feste), Phillip Goodwin (Malvolio), Tom Story (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Chuck Cooper (Sir Toby Belch) and Nancy Robinette (Maria), along with Nancy Flores, Maya Jackson, Stacey Jackson, Drew Kopas, Dan Lawrence, John Rolle, Brendon Schaefer, Todd Scofield and Jude Tibeau.

Twelfth Night, runs through September 5 at Sidney Harman Hall, Washington, DC.

I DO, I DO! backstage pass and talk back takes place at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT. On Wednesday, August 26, after the matinee, Playhouse production staff will join the audience in the theater to explain how the production of I Do! I Do! happens. From moveable scenery and lighting effects to trapdoors and design renderings, you never know what you'll see.

Then on Thursday, August 26, audience members can join Westport Country Playhouse Associate Artistic Director David Kennedy after the show for a lively Q & A with members of the cast.

The production starring Tony Award nominee Kate Baldwin and Drama Desk nominee Lewis Cleale, has added an additional three performances September 2-4.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH has extended her contract with the revival of Promises, Promises through December at the Broadway Theater, NYC.

Tony and Emmy winner Chenoweth and her Tony-nominated and Emmy Award-winning co-star, Sean Hayes, will play their final performance together December 26.

GLEN BECK A Mercury Radio Arts Presentation in what is billed as "an inspiring look at the role faith played in the founding of America and the role it will play again in its future destiny." A free event but reserved seating tickets are required. August 27 at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, DC.

MISS UNIVERSE will crown another winner Monday, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Having the tough job of staring at beautiful women in revealing outfits are Luxor headliner/illusionist Criss Angel, actor William Baldwin, drummer-percussionist Sheila E, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall, U.S. gold medal skater Evan Lysacek, actor Chazz Palminteri, singer and actress Chynna Phillips, actress Jane Seymour and supermodel Niki Taylor.

Bret Michaels and Natalie Morales are co-hosting the event, which will air on NBC and Telemundo.

In case they're all starting to look alike, this pageant is not to be confused with the Miss American Pageant or the Miss USA Pageant, both of which were staged at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.


NEIL PATRICK HARRIS has announced via Twitter that he and his partner David Burtka are "expecting twins this fall. We're super excited/nervous/thrilled. Hoping the press can respect our privacy..."

Harris and Burtka, who have been together since 2004, will become parents via a surrogate in October, according to E Online. Burtka is already a father to twins with his former partner, and Harris has said he relishes the role of "stepdad." When they spend time with the twins, Harris is quoted as saying he gets to “be the fun guy who takes them to Disneyland," a family friendly theme park which recently raised its prices to the unfriendly one-day price of $76.

KELSEY GRAMMER 55, has confirmed that he is to become a father for the fifth time. The first-time mother-to-be is 29-year-old Virgin Airlines flight attendant Kayte Walsh.

It wasn't revealed how long the couple has been dating. The baby news was announced by Walsh’s father, Alan, who revealed his daughter’s pregnancy to U.K. newspaper Daily Mail.

The Emmy Award winning and Tony nominated actor recently separated from Camille Donatacci who filed for divorce on July 1.


VERITAS is being billed as "the only show that was sold out for its entire run, even prior to the start of the 14th New York International Fringe Festival-FringeNYC. Over 200 offerings are in this year's Fringe. Veritas by Stan Richardson, directed by Ryan J, Davis, is the story of a group of young men at Harvard in 1920 whose promising futures fell prey to Harvard's "Secret Court": a gay witch-hunt conducted by school administration to purge Harvard of all homosexuality. The cast includes Justin Blanchard, Paul Downs Colaizzo, Mitch Dean, Morgan Karr, Doug Kreeger, Eric Nelsen, Matt Steiner, Jesse Swenson, Sam Underwood, and Joseph Yeargain. According to the show's release "This may be a first for the Fringe Festival that an entire run of a production has been completely Sold Out prior to the start of the Festival and over a week before the first performance of the show."

NEW YORK'S METROPOLITAN OPERA has set an opening day box office record, selling more than $2.6 million worth of single tickets for the new season. More than 24,000 tickets were sold on Sunday, August 15, 2010 when the box office began business, beating last year's total of $2.5m.

The new season begins next month with a new production of Wagner's Das Rheingold, directed by Robert Lepage and starring Bryn Terfel and Stephanie Blythe.


MICHAEL DOUGLAS the Academy Award winning actor, has been diagnosed with a tumor in his throat and will begin receiving both radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Music and Lyrics by Lucy Egger, Script by Tim Bosanquet.

Directed by Sandra Stockley. The Musical Director is Doug Hansell.

Featuring: Sara Browne, Andrew Cutcliffe, Chrystal de Grussa, James Jack, Amanda Stephens Lee, James Lugton, Jenny Lynn, Catherine McGraffin, Chad Richards.

A real estate agent who becomes a serial killer... set to music.

Open For Inspection is billed as a "wickedly black new musical comedy set in the cutthroat world of Sydney (Australia) real estate. Two ruthless rival agencies are battling it out for buyers during a property slump. They soon go to any lengths to literally make a killing."

"Enter a world of black SUV's, dummy bidders and blue-haired harridans, where property is the ultimate goal and spiky, hedgehog hair is a must. With wonderfully catchy songs by Lucy Egger and a live band, this exquisite little musical is ready to view now."

Set Design by Barry French.

Previews begin August 25 with the official opening set for August 27. Performances through September 4 at the Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Sydney, Australia.

HOW TO BE AN OTHER WOMAN a world premiere by Lorrie Moore. Adapted and directed by Natalie Abrahami.

Starring Faye Castelow, Samantha Pearl, Ony Uhiara and Cath Whitefield.

1980s New York. Anything is possible. Meet a man in an expensive beige raincoat. Attend four movies, three concerts and two-and-a-half museums. Find a picture of his wife on his bedside table. When you were six you thought mistress meant to put your shoes on the wrong feet.

Choreography by Aline David. Sound by Rich Walsh. Design by Samal Blak. Lighting by David Holmes.

August 25 through October 2 at The Gate Theatre in London.

PLAY DEAD co-written by Todd Robbins and Teller - the smaller, quieter half of the famed Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller since 1975. Teller also directs.

Starring famed sideshow entertainer Todd Robbins.

Teller and Todd Robbins invite Death out to play in Play Dead, a new spirit-shaking show that explores themes of death, darkness and deception. As the guide for the evening, Todd Robbins draws audiences into an unknown haunted world full of frightful surprises and diabolical laughter. Although very much a theatrical work, it is hardly a typical “play,” but rather a dramatic, unnerving thriller - here and now in an “abandoned" theater, illuminated by a single ghostlight - in which audiences test their nerves and face their fears as they are surrounded by ethereal sights, sounds and even touches of the returning dead - all achieved by wry, suspenseful storytelling and uncanny stage illusions.

Play Dead will features scenic design by David Korins, lighting design by Thom Weaver and sound design by Leon Rothberg. Original music is by Gary Stockdale and the Associate Director is Jim Millan.

The New York premiere of Play Dead, a new Off-Broadway thriller will begin performances at Off-Broadway’s Players Theater on Thursday, October 21 for an open-ended run.

IT MUST BE HIM by Kenny Solms, co-creator and writer of TV's The Carol Burnett Show.

Directed by Daniel Kutner. Lyrics by Ryan Cunningham and music by Broadway's Larry Grossman.

Emmy Award nominee Peter Scolari will star as a down-on-his-luck TV comedy writer in the Off-Broadway premiere of the new comedy with music, featuring Tony Award nominees Jonathan C. Kaplan, Alice Playten, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, plus Liz Torres and John Treacy Egan.

Performances will begin August 24 at the Peter J. Sharp Theatre in NYC. The official opening is September 1, for a limited engagement through September 26.


Directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro.

Steppenwolf Theatre, arguably the finest ensemble company in the US, transfers to Australia their production of this internationally renowned Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Most of the original Chicago/Broadway cast of the acclaimed dysfunctional-family drama has traveled Down Under for this production.

The Sydney cast features Gary Cole (Steve Heidebrecht), Tony winner Deanna Dunagan (Violet Westin), Kimberly Guerrero (Johnna Monevata), Mariann Mayberry (Karen Weston), Amy Morton (Barbara Fordham), Sally Murphy (Ivy Weston), Paul Vincent O'Connor (Charlie Aiken), Jeff Perry (Bill Fordham), Molly Ranson (Jean Fordham), Tony winner Rondi Reed (Mattie Fae Aiken), Chelcie Ross (Beverly Weston), Troy West (Sheriff Deon Gilbeau) and Gary Wilmes (Little Charles).

Costume Designer Ana Kuzmanic. Lighting Designer Ann G. Wrightson. Sound Designer Richard Woodbury. Composer David Singer. Fight Choreographer Chuck Coyl.

Through September 25 at the Sydney Theatre Company in Sydney, Australia.

MARY POPPINS welcomes the return of Gavin Lee, to the role of Bert which he created in the London and New York companies. He will return to that role on Broadway August 24 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, where he will be reunited with his original London co-star, Laura Michelle Kelly.

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Directed by Erik Stein.

Starring Karin Hendricks, Melinda Parrett, Melvin Abston and Jerry Lee.

Songs for a New World first hit the stage in an off-Broadway production at the WPA Theatre in NYC in 1995. Pushing the boundary between musical and song cycle, this piece is connected more by theme than narrative. Traditionally a song cycle is a group of songs that are by the same composer or the same lyricist and are designed to be performed as a whole. They often rely on narrative or the creation of a persona that is common to the songs.

In this case, as creator Jason Robert Brown observed, “It’s about one moment. It’s about hitting the wall and having to make a choice, or take a stand, or turn around and go back.”

The production reflects a broad range of musical styles and genres including pop, gospel, jazz, and classical music. It also contains a range of both fictional and historical characters including Christopher Columbus and Mrs. Santa Claus.

To serve this vision of a “new world,” Stein and his team have created various means to transform the canvas of the stage to reflect moments of decision, elements of choice, and the explorations of tempo necessitated by the structure and drive of the piece. And they have also integrated an on-stage band. This production features live musical performance under the direction of Jordan Richardson.

Choreographer Michael Jenkinson. Scenic Designer Dave Nofsinger. Costume Designer Frederick P. Deeben. Lighting Designer Tamar Geist. Sound Designer Walter T.J. Clissen. Stage Manager Aleah Van Woert.

During a summer night's performance at the Solvang Festival Theater, one can look up into the stars as well as at the performers on stage. This unique 700-seat open air arena theater is a cultural landmark in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, and has provided visitors a place to experience the magic of live arts entertainment for the past 35 years.

Solvang Theaterfest is a community-based non-profit organization which owns and operates the Solvang Festival Theater. From June through September the theater is the home of the professional production company, PCPA, based in Santa Maria, California. The theater and its lovely gardens are also used for community events such as dance performances, concerts, fundraisers, as well as Solvang Theaterfest's own theater workshops for young people.

Songs for a New World - August 27 - September 12, 2010 at the Marian Theatre in Santa Maria, CA.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG, GAY DANCE PARTY written by Aaron Loeb and directed by Chris Smith.

In Abraham Lincoln’s Big, Gay Dance Party, "a fourth-grade Christmas pageant in Lincoln’s rural Illinois hometown sets off a firestorm of controversy when it calls into question Honest Abe’s sexuality. A thought-provoking, laugh-out-loud funny, and uniquely American story unfolds, offering surprises at every turn. Each of the three acts lets the audience see the story from a different character’s viewpoint – and at each performance the audience decides in which order the acts are performed, creating a Rubik’s Cube-like theatrical event. A truly democratic theatergoing experience! What could be more American than that?"

The seven-member cast features Lisa Birnbaum, Arnie Burton, Robert Hogan, Ted Koch, Pippa Pearthree, Stephanie Pope Caffey and Ben Roberts.

The creative team includes Bill English (scenic design), Jeff Croiter and Grant Yeager (lighting design) and Rebecca Lustig (costume design).

Performances at Theatre Row’s Acorn Theatre, NYC.

THE CLEAN HOUSE by Sarah Ruhl. Directed by caryn desai.

An unpredictable and sublime rumination on the importance of laughter and mess in our lives. Four markedly different, yet intimately connected women grapple with order, cleanliness, and the messy ambiguities of life in a quirky and unexpectedly moving comedy about love, loss, and the power of a good joke.

Featuring Rob Roy Cesar, Kathy Bell Denton, Eileen Galindo; Nadia Nardini, Caryn West Produced by Shashin Desai.

Previews begin August 24 with the official opening taking place August 27. Performances through September 19 at the International City Theatre in Long Beach, CA.

Joseph Keane and Matt Walker. Photo by Chelsea Sutton
written by Troubadour Theater Company. Directed by Matt Walker.

Starring Monica Schneider, Matt Merchant, Matt Walker, Brandon Breault, Katherine Malak, Joseph Keane, Mike Sulprizio, Lisa Valenzuela, and Beth Kennedy.

The Ovation Award-winning theater company is mixing Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale with the music of smooth soul singer Bill Withers.

Jealous King Leontes asks Who Is He And What Is He To You of wife Hermione, who professes it’s Just The Two of Us. But Leontes is convinced, “They’re trying to Use Me Up!”, and banishes her, but with no one to say “Lean On Me”, he realizes there Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.

But with the help of Grandma’s Hands, he regains his lost Hermione who says Lean On Me, and we’ll have a Lovely Day.

Troubadour Theater Company is celebrating its fifteenth year of laughs. Los Angeles’ renowned ensemble of actors, comedians and musicians has performed throughout southern California since 1995. Their fast-paced, laughfilled “adaptations” of classic plays, as well as their original works and hilarious sketch material, make Troubadour a unique and exciting experience for theater-goers of any age.

Performances through September 26, 2010 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, CA.


JUSTIN BIEBER performs at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Canada on Tuesday, August 24. On Wednesday the show is at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. Wednesday the tour stops at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Saturday he's on stage at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

FOREIGNER performs Thursday, August 28, at the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ. On Friday they appear at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, NY. On Saturday they are on stage at The Summer Stage in Big Flats, NY.

NATALIE MERCHANT brings her show to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL on Tuesday, August 24. On Wednesday the show is at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Friday the tour stops at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta. On Saturday she can be enjoyed in Nashville.

BRET MICHAELS on stage at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield, MO on Thursday, August 26. On Friday he appears at the Allen County Fair in Lima, OH. Saturday's performance is at the Firelake Casino in Shawnee, OK.

JACKSON BROWNE on stage Tuesday, August 24 at Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, MD. On Wednesday the tour stops at the Wireless Pavilion in Portsmouth, VA. On Friday the show is at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT. Saturday he's on stage at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE IGUANA with MAC Award winning hosts Dana Lorge and Richard Skipper. Barry Levitt on keyboard & Saddi Zain on bass. Wednesday's guests include: Richard Eisenberg, Helena Grenot, Jillian Laurain, Alicia Littman and Barbara Porteus. Wednesday, August 25. at the Iguana VIP Lounge, NYC.

ANITA BAKER in the spotlight Thursday, August 26, at the Filene Center in Vienna, VA. On Saturday she performs at the Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI.

RIHANNA stars at the United Center in Chicago on Wednesday, August 25. On Saturday she appears as part of the NW State Fair in Syracuse, NY.

JONAS BROTHERS have a busy week. On Wednesday the open a two nighter at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. On Friday the show is at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, NJ. On Saturday they'll spend the day as part of Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. That evening they'll perform at the Mark G. Etess Arena in Atlantic City. Next Sunday, August 29, they're on stage at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater in Virginia Beach, VA.

JOE PISCOPO AND BOBBY SLAYTON in a double dose of laughs. Monday, August 23, at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY.

JOHN MAYER performs Tuesday, August 24, at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine, CA. On Wednesday the show is at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, CA. On Saturday he's on stage at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, WA.

SIR JAMES GALWAY makes beautiful music Thursday, August 26, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.


BROADWAY DIMMED ITS LIGHTS on Tuesday, August 17 to mourn the loss of Tony Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, who died on August 8th at the age of 84.

Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, commented, “Patricia Neal’s natural talent provided immense joy to audiences over the span of many years, in many mediums. As the last surviving winner from the first Tony Awards ceremony, her presence at subsequent Tony telecasts represented Broadway’s singular history. Our thoughts go out to her friends and family.”

Next Column: August 29, 2010
Copyright: August 22, 2010. All Rights Reserved. Reviews, Interviews, Commentary, Photographs or Graphics from any Broadway To Vegas (TM) columns may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, utilized as leads, or used in any manner without permission, compensation and/or credit.
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Laura Deni

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