Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: July 9, 2017
By: Laura Deni


Willa Cather in 1912.
Laura Bush, former first lady, librarian and lover of books, even waived her normal speaking fee and came to Red Cloud, Nebraska last month to officially open a new $7 million National Willa Cather Center which honors the author of such works as Oh Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My Ántonia (1918). In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours (1922), a novel set during World War I.

Cather was raised in Red Cloud and most of her books are set in rural Nebraska towns. Red Cloud is a drive of approximately two hours from Lincoln or three from Omaha.

Born on December 7, 1873 in Gore, Virginia, Cather died April 24, 1947 in New York City. In between she put Red Cloud, Nebraska on the map.

In an attempt to escape the tuberculosis outbreaks that were rampant in Virginia, Cathers' parents, the family moved to Nebraska in 1883 when Willa was nine years old. Her father opened a real estate and insurance business in Red Cloud , and the children attended school for the first time. Some of the earliest work produced by Cather was first published in the Red Cloud Chief, the city's local paper.

After Cather's essay on Thomas Carlyle was published in the Nebraska State Journal during her freshman year at the University of Nebraska, she became a regular contributor to the Journal. In addition to her work with the local paper, Cather also served as the managing editor of The Hesperian, the University of Nebraska's student newspaper, and associated at the Lincoln Courier. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.A. in English in 1894.

The new Cather center, which includes a revamped museum, new archival storage and study space, is located in the historic Moon Block building, located on Red Cloud's brick main street. Connected to the building is an opera house which now includes office space, an art gallery and performing arts center. The Cather Foundation acquired it in 2001.

Willa Cather home in Red Cloud.
Former first lady Laura Bush gave the keynote address during an afternoon ceremony, praising Cather’s portrayal of the rugged Great Plains and its tough-as-nails women in her books. “If Willa Cather’s characters built a fire, it was because they were cold and they needed something to warm them,” Bush said.

Cather “helped teach us what it meant and what it means to be a pioneer. . . She gave a lasting voice to the Western spirit that defines us as a nation. That is what makes her work so timeless.”

"Cather's strong self–reliant women remind me of the one I knew from my home," Bush said referencing her . Arkansas great-grandmother who, widowed at 42, raised seven children alone.

Bush called Cather “a pioneering spirit that distinguishes us as a nation.” Referring to Cather's using Red Cloud as her story location basis, Bush commented; "She wrote, 'elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world, but here, the earth is the floor of the sky.'"

Although this was her first trip to Red Cloud bush emphasized that she felt she knew the town because of Cather's vivid writings. "I'm thrilled to be here with you for the Grand opening of the Willa Cather center," Laura Bush said congratulating the donors for preserving the famed novelist’s memory.

“You are preserving history. Thanks to your generous support, our children and grandchildren can travel back in time and learn from Willa Cather’s example for generations to come,” she said.

During the event which took place inside the Opera House, where Cather once gave her high school commencement speech, the Rev. Charles Peek introduced four living members of the Cather family in the audience as well as Annie Pavelka's the 96-year-old granddaughter. It was Pavelka who was the inspiration for Ántonia.

St. Juliana Church where Annie Pavelka baptized her daughter and later married. Photo: Willa Cather Foundation
That Cather based many of her characters upon real life Red Cloud residents did not sit well at the time with many of the town folk. That included the basing of Ántonia Shimerda, the main character in Cather's 1918 novel My Ántonia, on a Bohemian immigrant and longtime Webster County resident named Annie Pavelka.

According to the Historical Essay in the Scholarly Edition of My Antonia (University of Nebraska Press), Cather met Annie when she began working for Carrie and Irene Miner (the real life inspirations for Frances and Nina Harling in the novel). Cather said: "She [Annie] was one of the truest artists I ever knew in the keenness and sensitiveness of her enjoyment, in her love of people and in her willingness to take pains" When Annie was a young woman, she - like Antonia in the novel - returned to Webster County, pregnant, after being left by a railroad employee, James William Murphy. Back in her hometown, she gave birth to her daughter in 1892. In 1896, she married John Pavelka (Cuzak in the novel), with whom she had twelve children, three of which died in childhood. Cather and Annie reconnected in 1915, and they corresponded for years afterwards. In 1916, Cather made a trip to the Pavelka farm that may have been the inspiration for the final chapters of the novel, in which Jim Burden returns to Nebraska to visit Antonia and her family.

During the Depression year Cather sent money to Pavelka as well as other Red Cloud residents.

It was at St. Juliana Falconieri Catholic Church in Red Cloud that Annie Pavelka, baptized her daughter and later married. The building, erected in 1883 and used until 1903, later became a residential home. Visitors will notice the "poor man's stained glass" windows and the lack of a bell in the belfry. These are important reminders of the economic divisions in Red Cloud. The priest didn't live in Red Cloud, instead traveling by train to give Mass. The train engineer would blow the whistle in a special way if the priest was aboard to let the parishioners know that Mass was about to begin. The building was dedicated and consecrated in 1970. St. Juliana was restored and is managed by the Willa Cather Foundation and maintained by the Nebraska State Historical Society and is part of a tour offered by the Cather Foundation.

Annie Pavelka died in 1955, but her family members remain actively engaged in preserving her memory.

Bush cut the ribbon on the National Willa Cather Center, while John A. Yost a member of the Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors had declared. "We have the largest number of sites on the national register designated in relation to a single author in the country,"

The new 20,000-square-foot Cather Center is also a museum which will house thousands of Cather memorabilia, a bookstore, three apartments and three refurbished storefronts.

The new Cather Center is part of an entire town renovation hoping to not only preserve the history of Cather but increase tourism in a town where high school freshmen and high school seniors receive free copies of Cather’s books.

A Red Cloud museum dedicated to Cather isn't new. A bank building down the street served as the first Cather museum, officially opened in 1962, nearly seven years after Cather Foundation founder Mildred Bennett established the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial.

Ashley Olson serves as the Cather Foundation’s executive director. The 28-member Board of Governors is a diverse group which includes Andy Jewell, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor who co-edited a popular book of Cather’s letters. Board president is Lynette Krieger.

Following the dedication, the exhibit American Bittersweet: The Life and Writing of Willa Cather, was unveiled and tours of the restored Moon Block, including the Museum's state-of-the-art archive and research area, classroom, green room, and apartments. The event concluded with a champagne reception to recognize the hundreds of donors who made the project possible.

The Red Cloud Opera House Gallery serves as a venue for local, regional, and national artists to display their works throughout the year. In addition, the Willa Cather Foundation also schedules traveling arts, humanities, and cultural exhibitions periodically.

Red Cloud Opera House. Photo: Nebraska Tourism.
Built in 1885 and fully restored in 2003, the Red Cloud Opera House figured prominently in the life of Willa Cather. From performing on the Opera House stage to enjoying traveling productions that came by way of the railroad, Cather’s interest in the arts was spurred by the experiences she had here in her youth. She delivered her high school graduation address from the Opera House stage in 1890, and the facility closed its doors in 1920. In a 1929 letter to friend and journalist Harvey Newbranch, Cather wrote, “When I go about among little Nebraska towns, the thing I miss most is the opera house. No number of filling stations or moving picture theatres can console me for the loss of the opera house.” Today, a visit to the Opera House transports patrons back in time to the 1880s, when Willa Cather and her friends eagerly anticipated the arrival of traveling productions such as The Bohemian Girl and The Mikado.

Upcoming entertainment at the opera House includes Friday, July 21, Neil Diamond Tribute billed as "a Broadway style Branson production, in which Diamond look/sound alike, Keith Allynn, unveils the story of Diamond's life and career. The Missoula Children's Theatre presents Jack and the Beanstalk in August. Oh/Pioneers Play by A.P. Andrews is mounted in September. TREO, a 7 piece band with 5 albums to their credit takes the stage in October and cabaret artistMary Carrick takes to the stage in November. Lloyd McCarter & the Honky-Tonk Revival perform in December.

In 1896, Cather moved to Pittsburgh after being hired to write for the Home Monthly, a women's magazine patterned after the successful Ladies' Home Journal. A year later, she became a telegraph editor and drama critic for the Pittsburgh Leader and frequently contributed poetry and short fiction to The Library, another local publication. In Pittsburgh, she taught Latin, algebra, and English composition at Central High School for one year; she then taught English and Latin at Allegheny High School, where she became the head of the English department. During her first year in Pittsburgh, Cather also wrote a number of short stories, including Tommy, the Unsentimental, about a Nebraskan girl with a boy's name, who looks like a boy and saves her father's bank business.

As a student at the University of Nebraska in the early 1890s, Cather sometimes used the masculine nickname "William" and wore masculine clothing. A photograph in the University of Nebraska archives depicts Cather dressed like a young man and with "her hair shingled, at a time when females wore their hair fashionably long."

Throughout Cather's adult life, her most significant friendships were with women. These included her college friend Louise Pound; the Pittsburgh socialite Isabelle McClung, with whom Cather traveled to Europe and at whose Toronto home she stayed for prolonged visits; the opera singer Olive Fremstad; the pianist Yaltah Menuhin; and most notably, the editor Edith Lewis, with whom Cather lived the last 39 years of her life. Cather's sexual identity remains a point of contention among scholars.

Those who knew her have recalled how she frequently dressed as a man and would "walk into a room like a man" and appeared "intimidating," adding "if you didn't know better you would have thought it was a man."

Cather made her last trip to Red Cloud in 1931 for a family gathering following the death of her mother. She continued to stay in touch with her Red Cloud friends.

The 16th International Cather Seminar takes place June 11-17, 2017, at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University. During Cather's ten years in Pittsburgh, she worked as an editor, teacher, reviewer, and freelance writer. As importantly, she collected friends and mixed with all sorts of Pittsburghers. She published extensively - not just hundreds of profiles and reviews, but more than thirty short stories, a collection of poetry, April Twilights (1903), and The Troll Garden, her first collection of stories. After moving to New York in 1906, she visited Pittsburgh until 1916, writing parts of several novels at the McClung residence. Despite the importance Pittsburgh played in her life, much remains undiscovered. This seminar seeks to further explore the influences of Pittsburgh on Cather’s life and career.

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World War I soldiers lining up for food. Image: Museum of the city of New York
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City's artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort. Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examines the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice.

From the outbreak of the European conflict in 1914, however, New York had also been a city at war with itself - a place where debates about ethnic and racial loyalty, pacifism, the right to side with France, Belgium, and England or Germany, and the very meaning of patriotism spawned impassioned art for a mass audience. In rediscovering a wartime dialogue between images of conformity and dissent, Posters and Patriotism showcases over 60 examples from the World War I poster collection donated to the Museum by railroad executive and financier John W. Campbell (1880-1957) in 1943, most being exhibited for the first time, as well as the work of defiant artists in such colorful publications as The Masses, The Fatherland, and Mother Earth.

On display through October 9, 2017 at the Museum of the City of New York.

In a related event on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 4-time Emmy Award winner, historian Libby O'Connell, Ph.D., will delve into American cuisine both at home and abroad during war years, inspired by the exhibition Posters & Patriotism.

Savor a bite of culinary history by exploring the food and drinks that defined the American experience during World War I. Sample French 75s, a cocktail popular during the period named for the French 75 mm field gun, will be served courtesy of the new wine cocktail company Pampelonne and attendees will receive a copy of an original cake recipe promoted by the Red Cross to send to soldiers overseas.

THE CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS brings over 125,000 people to downtown State College and the University Park campus of Penn State each July to celebrate the arts.

Visitors can shop at the nationally recognized Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition, and take in performers of international, national, and regional stature on outdoor and indoor stages.

Favorites are the giant sand sculpture, the Downtown State College Italian Street Painting Festival, and BookFest. There is also a full day of children’s activities, a gallery exhibition, and more.

The 2017 Festival will be July 13-16, 2017, with Children and Youth Day on July 12. BookFest will be July 15 in State College, PA.

The Festival was founded in 1967 by the State College Chamber of Commerce and Penn State University’s College of Arts and Architecture. CPFA is an independent, nonprofit corporation that functions as a cooperative town-and-gown venture.

Approximately 100,000 people visit the Festival each year. The mission of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is to celebrate the arts with presentations of diverse, high-quality visual and performing arts through the cooperative volunteer support of the community and The Pennsylvania State University. The essence of this organization is the enrichment and education of the audience, grounded in personal interaction between artist and audience.

There are three full-time professional staff members. More than 500 volunteers help make the Festival a reality each year.

called a "summer camp for adults." For up to two weeks each summer people can "make new friends, hone your artistic talents, and just plain have fun. There are concerts nearly every day."

Jo Ryman Scott, Fairbanks, and Edward Madden, Boston, founded the Festival in April 1980 with the one-week Jazz Festival '80. It was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (proposal written by Theodore DeCorso, Professor of Music, UAF; Jean Mackin and Jo Scott) and a Guarantorship from the Kiwanis Club of Fairbanks.

After that Festival, classical musicians asked to be included. In 1981, Scott and Madden successfully produced Jazz to Classics, the first two-week summer Festival. In 1982, the name was changed to the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival because dance, opera, theatre, musical theatre and visual arts enthusiasts asked that those areas of study be added. Since that time, many disciplines have been added to the Festival, based on requests from registrants.

Through its partnership with University of Alaska Fairbanks Summer Sessions & Lifelong Learning, Festival is able to offer some of its classes for UAF credit. UAF professional development credit is available for visual arts and music classes. UAF undergraduate/graduate credit is available in English for the Creative Writing classes. All classes are graded Pass/Fail.

July 15-30, 2017 in Fairbanks, Alaska.


BAY STREET THEATER 26 ANNUAL SUMMER GALA takes place at Long Wharf, Sag Harbor, NY on Saturday, July 15.

The event will honor Christine Wächter-Campbell & Bill Campbell and JC Compton & Nicholas Wentworth.

The evening begins with cocktails and a presentation in the theater. A one hour show with performances and presentations by leading stars of Broadway. Past celebrities have included Julie Andrews, Alec Baldwin, Jason Alexander, Alan Alda, Nathan Lane, Billy Joel, and more.

Following the show, all attendees proceed to walk about 500 yards and enter a 250 ft-long tent on the Long Wharf with additional red carpet and 'Step & Repeat' photo op. Cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, and silent auction allow for mingling for approximately one hour and then a seated dinner, live auction, special entertainment, dancing, and more.


the original off-Broadway cast recording has been released on Broadway Records.

The official release states: "Percy Jackson has newly discovered powers he can't control, monsters on his trail, and he is on a quest to find Zeus's lightning bolt and prevent a war between the Greek gods. Normal is a myth when you're a demigod. Based on the best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel by Rick Riordan, featuring live music, The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is an action-packed theatrical adventure that will rock your world.

None of that is overstated.

Just because The Lightning Thief is a young adult novel turned into musical doesn't mean it should turn off adults. This offering is both entertaining and brilliant.

The cast recording feature the original Off-Broadway cast including Chris McCarrell as Percy Jackson, Carrie Compere as Sally, Sarah Beth Pfeifer as Clarisse, Jonathan Raviv as Brunner, James Hayden Rodriguez as Luke, George Salazar as Grover, and Kristin Stokes as Annabeth.

Music and lyrics by Rob Rokicki who oozes creative talent. He received a BFA with High Honors in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI and has his musical finger on he pulse of this Young Adult novel as well as knowing what listeners of all ages want to hear. It's funny, dysfunctional and contemporary.

Composer/lyricist Rob Rokicki
A clever, energetic and youthful score with the Prologue/The Day I Got Expelled in which Perry explains how he got into his current circumstances.

Every word of the peppy, amusing and pithy lyrics is easily understood. Well thought out and meticulously constructed the results range from silly to hilarious - heart tugging to powerful - all with an intense pop-rock score, which is perfect for this sassy take on Greek mythology.

Another Terrible Day is a smile educing ditty.

The undercurrent story line is the feeling of not belonging and the need to fit in and be treated as being a person who matters. The lyrics to Good Kid are powerful and speak to the youth of today.

"No one understand me and that I'm good - good for nothing at all.
None will ever take my side
All I ever do is take the fall."

This is not a maudlin, self-pity, sappy song fest. The selections are smart, many times irreverent and totally entertaining. Percy is A.D.D. and dyslexic - as is Riordan's son which inspired Riordan to pen the novel.

The Oracle is dramatic. The singers are excellent. In Strong Sally (Percy's mom) encourages Percy declaring:
"Normal is a Myth
Everyone has issues
They're Dealing With"

Even if you fancy yourself as an old fuddy-duddy give this CD a listen. You just may end up feeling a lot younger.

Listening to this CD should also result in you wanting to see the show.

Presented by Theaterworks NYC, by arrangement with Rick Riordan and the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

Conductor/keyboards: Wiley Deweese.
Drums/percussion: Jeremy Yaddaw
Guitar: Kevin Wunderlich
Bass: Dennis Michael Keefe.

Orchestrations by Wiley Deweese and Rob Rokicki. Sound designer: Ryan Rumery. Recording engineer: Andy Manganello. Mixed by Matthias Winter. Edited by Michael Croiter. Production Manager: Jill Dell'abate. Recorded at Avatar Studio, NYC. Mixed at Yellow Sound Lab, NYC.

Assistant engineers: Luke Klingensmith and Alex Conroy. Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Mastering. Keyboard Programmer: Taylor Williams. Assistant Keyboard Programmer: Juan Mastos and Jeremy King. Keyboard Tech: Randy Cohen. Photography: Jeremy Daniel. CD Package Design Robbie Roselle.

The Lightening Thief played a limited engagement at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York City from April 4-May 6, 2017.


Flower Power by Sophie Gamand
presented their annual Mary Tyler Moore Award, which is presented to an individual or group who has changed the lives of homeless animals in a way that encourages others to do the same, to Sophie Gamand, the award-winning French photographer and animal advocate who lives and works in New York City.

Since 2010, Gamand has been focusing on humans and dogs and their relationships.

Gamand travels throughout the USA photographing shelter animals to help bring awareness to their fate and help find them permanent homes.

The award was created as a lasting honor to Moore, the legendary stage and screen actress who co-founded Broadway Barks with Peters in 1999. Moore passed away earlier this year.

POWERFUL NAMES TO STAR in the upcoming BBC production of Little Women. BAFTA Award-winner Emily Watson is set to play Marmee, the iconic matriarch of the March family. The March sisters will be played by an ensemble of four exciting young actresses - Maya Hawke takes the role of willful and adventurous Jo, Willa Fitzgerald will play the eldest daughter Meg, Annes Elwy will play Beth, and Kathryn Newton takes the role of the youngest sister Amy.

Academy Award-winner Dame Angela Lansbury will play the girls’ wealthy relative - the cantankerous Aunt March. BAFTA Award-winner Michael Gambon takes the role of their benevolent neighbor Mr. Laurence, and Jonah Hauer-King will play his grandson Laurie Laurence, the charming boy next door.

Based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, this three-part adaptation from the award-winning creator of Call the Midwife Heidi Thomas will be directed by Vanessa Caswill and starts principal photography this month in Ireland.

Little Women has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore at the BBC, and will be produced by Playground (Wolf Hall, Howards End) for BBC One. The series is a co-production with Masterpiece on PBS.

THE RECORDING ACADEMY will honor its 2017 Special Merit Awards recipients with an awards ceremony and live tribute concert on Tuesday, July 11, 2017, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

This year's Lifetime Achievement Award honorees are Shirley Caesar, Ahmad Jamal, Charley Pride, Jimmie Rodgers, Nina Simone, Sly Stone, and the Velvet Underground.

Led by Grammy-winning entertainer Paul Shaffer as musical director, the tribute concert will feature rare performances by honorees and never-before-seen renditions by those they've inspired. Performing will be Lifetime Achievement Award honoree John Cale of the Velvet Underground, Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Caesar, jazz pianist Stanley Cowell, past Grammy nominee Andra Day, 12-time Grammy winner Kirk Franklin, six-time Grammy winner Randy Newman, past Grammy nominee Catherine Russell, Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Pride, past Grammy nominee Valerie Simpson, five-time Grammy winner Dionne Warwick, past Grammy nominee Charlie Wilson, and two-time Grammy winner Dwight Yoakam.

Additional Special Merit Awards honorees to be celebrated include Thom Bell, Mo Ostin, and Ralph S. Peer, who are this year's Trustees Award honorees, and Alan Dower Blumlein, who is the Technical Grammy Award recipient. Also being honored is Keith Hancock, this year's recipient of the Music Educator Award.

Now in its second year, the Grammy Salute To Music Legends event will be produced as part of the "Great Performances" series on PBS, set to air later this year. The program will be written by David Wild and directed for television by David Horn.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors performers who have made contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award recognizes such contributions in areas other than performance. Both awards are determined by a vote of the Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. Technical Grammy Award recipients are determined by vote of the Academy's Producers & Engineers Wing Advisory Council and Chapter Committees and ratified by the National Board of Trustees. The award is presented to individuals and companies who have made contributions of outstanding technical significance to the recording field.

LOVEBOX MUSIC FESTIVAL Set in London's oldest park, Victory Park, Lovebox is an urban festival with "a beautiful mix of DJ's, Rock and Roll madness and memorable band and artist performances. 65,000 fans come for the variety of music styles including folk, hip hop, indie, disco-punk, rock, world or electronic music.

July 14-15, 2017, Victory Park in London.

NATIONAL SUGAR COOKIE DAY is today, July 9. Monday is National Pina Colada Day. Tuesday is National Blueberry Muffin Day while Wednesday is National Pecan Pie Day. Thursday boasts National French Fry Day. Saturday is National Gummy Worm Day.


THE WILLIAM T. KEMPER FOUNDATION has pledged $300,000 in support of the World War I Museum’s effort to preserve precious objects and documents from the Great War as well as to make them accessible online. The grant also assists with expenses for additional staff and critical digitization equipment.

The goal of the Museum’s digitization effort is to make thousands of World War I objects and documents searchable via an online database on the organization’s website. The project is intended to amplify public outreach and educational opportunities for students, researchers, family members of World War I descendants as well as individuals with an interest in the subject matter locally, nationally and internationally. Cumulatively, the William T. Kemper Foundation has contributed $550,000 to the Museum in support of digitization work since 2011.

Since the database was launched in 2013, more than 200,000 searches resulting in more than 690,000 pageviews have been conducted by individuals from all 50 states and more than 145 countries across the world.

Since 2013, attendance at the Museum and Memorial has increased more than 50 percent, serving more than 525,000 guests in 2016 and an additional 425,000 individuals through the organization’s website.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial holds the most diverse collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of the war.

HOUSTON ARTS GROUPS have received $445,000.00 in NEA grants The National Endowment of the Arts recently announced their grant recipients for the first half of 2017, totaling $84 million - with Texas receiving $2.5 million. Two Theater District Organizations were among the 16 in Houston to receive NEA funding: Alley Theatre and Houston Symphony. Houston Symphony will receive $20,000 to support their Community Embedded Musicians program. This program allows symphony musicians, trained as teaching artists, to lead education and community initiatives.

Alley Theatre received the most of any group in Houston, with a grant for $125,000. The funds will go to support El Zocalo, a citywide community theater initiative of theatrical performances, artist residencies, and workshops at community centers across Houston.

As to the future of the NEA. The NEA has stated they will "continue to accept grant applications for FY 2018 at our usual deadlines and will continue to operate as usual until a new budget is enacted by Congress." The NEA is fully funded for 2017 and continues to make FY 2017 grant awards.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL a private-equity company has purchased the Blue Man with the intent to keep the Blue Man Group independent from the Cirque productions while expanding the unique performance group.

That expansio will include both groups touring China. One of the international benefits of the Blue Man Group and most of the Cirque shows is that understanding English isn't a qualification for enjoying the performances.

In part the press release of Thursday, July 6, 2017 states: "Global entertainment leader Cirque du Soleil today announced the acquisition of New-York-based Blue Man Productions, a global live entertainment company best known for the award-winning Blue Man Group show, performed in over 20 countries and seen by more than 35 million people worldwide since 1991. The acquisition of Blue Man Group considerably widens Cirque du Soleil’s audience pool, adding to their portfolio six resident productions established across the United States and Germany, as well as a North American and a World Tour.

"The transaction is in line with Cirque du Soleil’s vision for the future, as the Montreal-based creative powerhouse looks to further expand globally and diversify its entertainment offering beyond circus arts. With its original aesthetics, award-winning musical talent and immersive experience know-how, the acquisition of Blue Man Group also represents an additional asset for Cirque du Soleil’s creative team and show offerings."

THE CALIFORNIA ARTS COUNCIL has awarded $15 million in grants to a record number. More than 1,000 grantees across the state received support for wide-ranging arts and culture projects.

Types of grants include: Artists in schools Exposure; Artists in schools Extension; Veterans Initiative in the Arts; and Professional Development and consulting.

The Tony award winning Old Globe in San Diego received 4 grants, a $16,200 grant for the Free Student Matinee Program as part of the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools – Exposure program. The Old Globe will also receive a $16,200 grant for the Pam Farr Summer Shakespeare Studio as part of the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools – Extension program.

The venue will also receive a $10,000 grant for the Technical Center Apprenticeship Program as part of the California Arts Council’s Veterans Initiative in the Arts. The Technical Center Apprenticeship Program offers paid training opportunities for veterans, military personnel reentering civilian life, and their families. During the grant period, apprenticeship positions will be provided for two to four participants, each training for a minimum of eight to ten weeks. The Globe will work with Veterans Village of San Diego and other local military partners to identify and recruit new apprentices.

The Old Globe received a Professional Development and Consulting grant of $1,000. making it possible for the Globe’s Group Sales Manager Cristal Salow to attend the annual Tessitura Learning & Community Conference in August 2017 to engage in advanced training and networking opportunities with peers from arts and culture organizations around the world.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS book by Craig Lucas; Music by Ira Gershwin and George Gershwin; Lyrics by Ira Gershwin and George Gershwin; Musical score adapted, arranged, and supervised by Rob Fisher.

Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon.

David Andrews Rogers Conductor and musical director.

Starring Garen Schribner aas Gerry Mulligan and Sara Esty as Lise Dassin.

The Tony Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. The magic and romance of Paris in perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season.

Set and costume design by Bob Crowley. Lighting by Natasha Katz. John Weston sound design. Projection Design by 59 Productions. Seymour Red Press music coordinator. Bill Elliott arrangements.

Music orchestrated by Christopher Austin and Bill Elliott; Dance arrangements by Sam Davis; Associate Director: Dontee Kiehn; Associate Choreographer: Sean Maurice Kelly and Dontee Kiehn Company Manager: DeAnn L. Boise.Production Stage Manager: Kenneth J. Davis. Musical Supervisor: Todd Ellison. Casting: Telsey + Company and Rachel Hoffman, CSA; Dance Captain: Christopher M. Howard.

The Cast includes: Etai Benson, Emily Ferranti, Gayton Scott, Nick Spangler, Leigh-Ann Esty, Ryan Steele, Karolina Blonski, Brittany Bohn, Stephen Brower, Randy Castillo, Jessica Cohen, Barton Cowperthwaite, Alexa De Barr, Caitlin Meighan, Don Noble, Alexandra Pernice, David Prottas, Lucas Segovia, Kyle Vaughn, Laurie Wells, Dana Winkle, Erica Wong, and Blake Zelesnikar,

Swings: Jace Coronado, Erika Hebron, Christopher M. Howard, Colby Q. Lindeman, Nathalie Marrable, Tom Mattingly, Alida Michal, Gia Mongell, Sayiga Eugene Peabody and Danielle Santos.

Understudies: Stephen Brower, Jace Coronado, Barton Cowperthwaite, Erika Hebron, Christopher M. Howard, Colby Q. Lindeman , Nathalie Marrable, Tom Mattingly, Caitlin Meighan, Alida Michal, Gia Mongell, Alexandra Pernice, David Prottas, Danielle Santos, Kyle Vaughn , Laurie Wells and Dana Winkle.

July 11-16 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO.

ALL SHOOK UP book by Joe DiPietro.

Directed by Dan Knechtges.

Musical direction by Charlie Alterman.

Choreography by Jessica Hartman.

Set to the hits of the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley, this musical promises to have you dancing in your “Blue Suede Shoes” all night long. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the music is all Elvis, and the result is a night of hilarious and enchanting 1950s fun. When Chad, the mysterious hip-swiveling roustabout arrives in town, suddenly everyone’s lip-curling and all shook up with secrets, music and love.

Featuring Caroline Bowman (Natalie/Ed), Tim Rogan (Chad), Felicia Finley (Miss Sandra), Liz Mikel (Sylvia), Michele Ragusa (Mayor Matilda Hyde), Lara Teeter (Jim Haller), Jerry Vogel (Sheriff Earl), Barrett Riggins (Dennis), Ciara Alyse Harris (Lorraine), and Paul Schwensen (Dean Hyde).

The ensemble includes Claire Avakian, Beth Crandall, Chloe Davis, Paul Ianiello, Wonza Johnson, Phillip Johnson-Richardson, Sean Harrison Jones, Graham Keen, Alex Larson, Sarah Lynn Marion, Halle Morse, Nkeki Obi-Melekwe, Drew Redington, Kaitlyn Louise Smith, April Strelinger, and Kevin Zak. The company will be joined by the Muny kid and teen youth ensembles and the Muny/Webster Intensive students.

The production will also have scenic design by Luke Canterella, costume design by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by John Lasiter, sound design by John Shivers and David Patridge, video design by Greg Emetaz, and wig design by Kelley Jordan; the production stage manager is Larry Smiglewski.

July 13-19 at The Muny, in St. Louis. MO.

MADAGASCAR - A MUSICAL ADVENTURE based on the DreamWorks animated feature, a book by Kevin Del Aguila, with original music and lyrics by George Noriega & Joel Someillan.

Directed and choreographed by Matt Raftery.

This family musical will be at the Courtyard Theater in Chicago July 13-27, 2017.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF by Tennessee Williams.

Directed by Benedict Matthews.

Starring Sienna Miller and Jack O'Connell.

Miller plays Maggie, the wife of all-American former pro football player Brick Pollitt (played by O’Connell). On a steamy night in Mississippi, the Southern family gather at their cotton plantation to celebrate Brick’s father’s birthday while Brick and Maggie dance round the secrets and sexual tensions that threaten to destroy their marriage.

Design by Magda Willi. Lighting by Jon Clark. Costumes by Alice Babidge.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof previews in London’s Apollo Theater on July 13, 2017, before it kicks off for a 12-week run from July 24 to October 7, 2017. The production marks The Young Vic’s first production to debut directly in the West End and is presented by The Young Vic and The Young Ones.

OKLAHOMA Music by Richard Rodgers | Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the play Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs.

Directed by Jenn Thompson.

Original Dances by Agnes de Mille. Choreographed by Katie Spelman

Orchestrations by Dan DeLange. Music Direction by Michael O'Flaherty.

Cowboy Curly and farm girl Laurey are taking their sweet time falling in love. Can these stubborn romantics admit their feelings before it’s too late? Passion, laughter and high-kicking choreography blossom in a land where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. A legendary score - including Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’, The Surrey With the Fringe on Top and the rousing title tune - will put you in a brand new state!

Scenic Design by Wilson Chin. Costume Design by Tracy Christensen. Lighting Design by Philip Rosenberg. Sound Design by Jay Hilton. Wig & Hair Design by Mark Adam Rampmeyer.

The Rodgers & Hammerstein classic that changed American musicals forever dawns at Goodspeed Opera House for the very first time July 14 - Sept 23, 2017. East Haddam, CT.

KING OF THE YEES by Lauren Yee.

Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody.

For nearly 20 years, playwright Lauren Yee’s father Larry has been a driving force in the Yee Family Association, a seemingly obsolescent Chinese American men's club formed 150 years ago. But when her father goes missing, Lauren must plunge into the rabbit hole of San Francisco Chinatown and confront a world both foreign and familiar. "At once bitingly hilarious and heartbreakingly honest, King of the Yees is an epic joyride across cultural, national, and familial borders that explores what it truly means to be a Yee."

Produced in association with Goodman Theatre. World Premiere Production July 9 - August 6, 2017 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.


NEIL DIAMOND is in the spotlight Friday, July 14, at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, KS Next Sunday, July 16, the show is at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.

PAUL McCARTNEY performs Monday, July 10, in Tampa, FL at the Amalie Arena. On Thursday he stars in Duluth, GA at the Infinite Energy Arena. Saturday finds him in Bossier City, LA at the CenturyLink Center.

QUEEN AND ADAM LAMBERT in the spotlight Thursday, July 13, at the United Center in Chicago. On Friday they are in the spotlight at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN.

BRUNO MARS performs Saturday, July 15, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

COLDPLAY begin a two nighter on Tuesday, July 11 at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. On Saturday, July 15, the open up a two night stand at the Stade de France in Paris, France.

IRON MAIDEN stars Tuesday, July 11, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Wednesday's stop is at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Maryland Heights, MO. Saturday's gig is in Toronto, ON at the Budweiser Stage. Next Sunday, July 16 the performance is in Quebec City, QC at the Centre Vidéotron.

TIM McGRAW AND FAITH HILL in a two night gig beginning Friday, July 14, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

MUSIC FROM THE JERSEY BOYS AND BEYOND featuring Larry Blank conducting the Pasadena Pops Orchestra with The Midtown Men: Four Stars from the Original Broadway Cast of Jersey Boys. singing hits from the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Motown and more. July 15, 2017 at the Los Angeles County Arboretum.

MATTHEW AND GUNNAR NELSON perform their Ricky Nelson Remembered show July 13 at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA. Friday's stop is at the Borgata in Atlantic City, NJ.


LIBBY ADLER MAGES a Tony Award winning theatre producer died July 2, 2017 following a heart attack in Chicago. She was 93.

She won her Tony for Thoroughly Modern Millie. Her other Broadway mountings included the Tony-nominated productions of Swing!, Enchanted April, and Say Goodnight Gracie. Her Broadway debut was with the 1982 production of Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? followed by The Twilight of the Golds, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, and - most recently - The Bridges of Madison County. Prior to her Broadway producing debut, Mages served as the Associate Chairperson of the Speech and Performing Arts Department at Northeastern Illinois University, where she also retained a faculty position throughout her career.

She was also a founding member of Stratford Investors, which helped fund productions including the Chicago premiere of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women at the Apollo Theater in 1995 - the year after it won the Pulitzer Prize. She is survived by her two daughters, Mari Stuart and Mari Glick, son-in-law Jeb Stuart, and three grandchildren.

JOHN BLACKWELL, JR an acclaimed funk, jazz, and pop drummer who played with the superstar Prince for more than a decade, died with his wife by his side on tTuesday, July 4, 2017, in Tampa, Florida. He was 43 and had been diagnosed with two brain tumors a year ago. He was 43.

During his career, he performed with Patti LaBelle for three years. Then Prince hired him in 2000 as a member of the superstar’s band the New Power Generation. He played with Prince for 12 years, appearing on the icon’s 2003 Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas DVD as well as 2003’s N.E.W.S. album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best pop instrumental album.

In 2006, Blackwell toured with Justin Timberlake on the singer’s Future Sex/LoveSounds album. More recently, Blackwell played in singer D’Angelo’s backing band, the Vanguard, on tour in Europe in 2015.

He is survived by his wife Yaritza Blackwell.

Next Column: July 16, 2017
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Laura Deni

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