Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: May 1, 2016
By: Laura Deni


This week Broadway To Vegas reviews three.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson has a thing for food. He is partial owner of Terrine, a Los Angeles restaurant; he has a food blog and last week he guested on The Chew where he cooked up some "irresistible eats". On his night off he attended the Broadway musical Waitress where the charming man even said 'hello' to me as he walked down the aisle. When he isn't attending somebody else's show he's starring in his own play, Fully Committed, at the Lyceum Theatre in New York City.

The five time Emmy Award nominee became a household name thanks to his starring role on Modern Family, in which he portrays a successful attorney.

In the satire Fully Committed, Ferguson is cast as Sam, a struggling actor who has scraped his way up to a few acting jobs and, like most financially strapped thespians, has a job in the hospitality industry. Rather than waiting tables, he wears a headset, answers the phone and makes reservations (or not) in a trendy, image powered, Michelin-starred Manhattan restaurant.

The program stresses that this is a work of fiction. Of course.

If the eatery is blue-ribbon high class, the customer service location is bottom tier basement.

Tony and Emmy Award set design winner Derek McLane has done a remarkable job of creating a clever basement. Banquet chairs hang from the ceiling. Under bald pipes we find Sam's office. One phone line is a direct link to the chef. Other lines lead to office staff and the dreaded, but needed, public. There are metal filing cabinets, a coffee maker, microwave and - because Christmas is approaching - a foot tall decorated aluminum Christmas tree. Sam's chair seems to be broken.

In the age of computer stick storage, old metal filing cabinets hold a wealth of devastating personal information on the color coded patrons.

Desperate and arrogant callers can bluff their way only so far. Snooty restaurants keep a record of whether customers are good tippers, are nice; even recording statistics such as birthdays of their best customers, and know how to tell the difference between the wife and mistress. It's their own rating system to determine whether you should get past the curb or move you up on the waiting list.

Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond is making his Broadway debut writing original music for the romp. Other "staff" includes costume design by Sarah Laux, lighting design by Tony Award nominee Ben Stanton and sound design by Jill BC Du Boff.

Ferguson plays all the parts, deftly segueing three dozen personality types with each segment approximately three minutes long; kept organized and well paced - including Ferguson's character eating two mega sized Cheetos and then talking - by Tony nominee director Jason Moore.

This is a show which will be particularly enjoyed by fans of Modern Family; anyone who has ever worked in the food or customer service industries; anyone who has ever attempted to make a reservation for anything or anyone studying acting. The show is a master class and Ferguson is a great teacher.

For those who only know him from Modern Family, he stretches. You'll see a quick, frenetic side to him; the ability to switch characters without missing a beat and keep on track while conveying not only the personalities of the callers, but Sam's professional demeanor in attempting to handle the calls.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Fully Committed. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The characters in the show are types we've all heard about, seen them - perhaps you are even one of them - arrogant, a phony, those who cloy, others attempt to mooch off the success of another. There are desperate diners, implied threats from mobsters and above-it-all food critics. The actual restaurant staff isn't left unscathed. Nothing can get haughtier than a famous chef or more panicked than a waiter -especially when they have made mistakes or taken one arrogant step to many. Leaving a Gourmet magazine photographer waiting for hours isn't a good idea.

Then there is Sam, who also has to look out for himself.

Sam's mother recently died and this will be the first Christmas without her. His father and brother want him to come home, but he is slated to work.

His 'friends' get acting job call backs ahead of him; and his agent both ignores him and then wants credit for jobs he didn't create.

A couple of the lines are inside, but enough of the audience understood to generate a hearty laugh. When Sofia Vergara's name is thrown in as one of the callers, everyone in the audience howled.

It all sounds like real life.

In fact, this play has been in nearly constant production somewhere in the world for the past 17 years. All over the world neurotics wanting the best table, when they want it, is universally understood.

Credit dialect coach Kate Wilson, who teaches at Juilliard, to hone Ferguson's accent skills since the characters he plays hail from: the Middle East, Japan, the Dominican Republic, East London, French, India, plus the drawl of Kentucky. The segueing is machine gun rapid that the accents aren't necessarily over precise or exaggerated - just distinctive enough for the audience to understand the character.

Ferguson is an exceptional actor - both comedic and serious. His timing and body language are perfect.

There is serious humor in the truth and this play by Becky Mode, is based on the experiences and observations of the author (and the play's original star Mark Setlock) who did time in the high end food service industry.

While the show did run 16 years ago off-Broadway this version is timely as playwright Mode constantly updates the production to reference current food or social trends.

This production is cleverly billed as "a rare comedy - very well done."

It is.

Very few actors could or should attempt this role. With all due respect to Ferguson, and original star Mark Setlock, I wish the late Robin Williams had, somewhere along the line, played the part. That would have been extraordinary. Ferguson and Setlock would probably agree.

at the Davenport Theatre off-Broadway is a charming little musical which permitted two-time Tony award winner director John Caird to have fun letting his creative juices flow.

Based on Jean Webster’s novel, written in 1911, this stage presentation has only the story line in common with the famed movie, which starred Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

That movie was a showcase for the dancing of Astaire and Caron. There isn't one dance step in the off-Broadway show.

Caird did a magnificent job in writing a lucid book for this musical. While there is an enormous amount of well crafted dialogue, the fast paced musical doesn't seem overly wordy.

When Webster wrote her book illegitimate children - boys or girls - were sent to orphanages. If parents couldn't afford a child, there was no welfare system as we know it today - the kids were sent to orphanages.

Back in those dark ages it wasn't unheard of for wealthy individuals to fund education for orphans. Sometimes the recipient knew the benefactor; other times they did not. Many times the benefactor would be kept up to speed about the child's educational accomplishments, to determine if continued compensation was warranted.

Daddy Long Legs tells the tale of Jerusha Abbott, the oldest orphan in the John Grier Home. The orphanage head named her - Jerusha from a tombstone and Abbott from the phone book. Wealthy Jervis Pendelton is an anonymous benefactor, known as John Smith, who decides to expand his generosity to include sending a girl to college; with a condition that she must write him a letter once a month - although he had no intention of answering them.

Jerusha is annoyed by the alias John Smith. “Why couldn’t you have picked out a name with a little personality?” she protests. Because she thinks she caught one slight glimpse of him when he came to a school's trustee meeting, and thus knows he's tall - she further imagines him old and gray - thus dubs him Daddy Long Legs.

Through her letters, Jerusha shares her experiences of college while discovering her own identity and reveling in the wonders of literature, adventure and love. But one key fact eludes her - who is is Daddy Long Legs?

This is an old fashioned, sweet love story where people fall in love, having obstacles to overcome before they find each other.

This gentle offering showcases the singing of soprano Megan McGinnis and current co-star, Adam Halpin, who happen to be married to each other.

The couple, with beautiful blending voices, do wonders with music backed by only three musicians; Brad Haak conductor and keyboardist who is also responsible for the arrangements and orchestrations; Steven Walker playing guitars and Jeanette Stenson on cello. When you have talented musicians playing the right instruments the results are impressive.

The music and lyrics are by Tony nominee Paul Gordon who won a 2009 Ovation award for his music and lyrics to Daddy Long Legs.

An unusual aspect of this musical is that it's more of a descriptive narrative set to music, rather than a predominately speaking script with songs interspersed to either move along the plot, permit a set change or close an act.

The Secret of Happiness has powerful lyrics and is a stand out. Gordon knows how to compose music and even inserts one number with a country twang feel.

Curly haired McGinnis is a clever and witty Broadway veteran who is familiar with this role. From 2009 to 2012 she played Jerusha Abbott in the stage adaption of Daddy Long Legs, winning the 2010 Ovation award for Lead Actress in a Musical for the role in the Rubicon Theatre Company production.

Caird's brilliance is reflected in how he took a book, which had been transformed into a high budget, extravagant movie musical and turned it into an economical two-person production which would not only fit, but be attractive and entertaining on a small stage.

Scenic and costume designer Olivier Award winner and Tony Award nominee David Farley cleverly and effectively designed one set, constructed like a library room, or a turn of the 20th Century office, filled with movable steamer trunks and books - probably more books than have ever before been utilized in a stage production.

Frequently there are two scenes - simultaneously intertwined - their boundaries distinguished by lighting designed by Cory Pattak.

Caird, Farley and the gifted two person cast rely on the audience being caught up in the production. That enables the actors to move the steamer trucks indicating that the audience is looking at a farm, a school room, business office or the city of Manhattan.

Costume changes are also executed in front of the audience.

Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin in Daddy Long Legs
Risks are taken any time a director has an actor move furniture or change clothes on stage during a scene. The actor can look clumsy or somewhat break character. The audience can also get out of the play's moment and start to concentrate on the scenery/costume changes.

The fluidity of the actors to execute the steamer trunk moves is graceful. McGinnis makes talking while actually buttoning - at least 12 buttons into real buttonholes, ranging from her bust line to below the knees - look smooth and easy.

Set in 1911, Jerusha may have started out as a foundling, but she grew into a spirited, independent, pro-suffrage movement young woman, who faced life on her own terms.

John Caird's director's notes reflect on Jean Webster and the secret of happiness. He notes: "Jean Webster died in childbirth at the age of 39, only five years after writing her great masterpiece, but her message, in Jerusha's words, is an enduring one - that 'the true secret of happiness is to live in the now. Not to be forever regretting the past or anticipating the future, but to get the most that you can out of this very instant.'

"'Life may not last long' as our final song says, but when lived to the fullest, as lived by Jean Webster, it can make you immortal."

This Off-Broadway musical was the first-ever Off-Broadway performance to be broadcast online to the world for free on December 10, 2015. The broadcast was seen in 135 countries worldwide, by over 150,000 people. On March 22, 2016 the show celebrated its 200th performance.

Cast of The Crucible Production photo by: Jan Versweyveld.
at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City is a moving and brilliant revival of Arthur Miller’s classic.

Belgian director Ivo Van Hove guides Ben Whishaw, Sophie Okonedo, Saoirse Ronan, Ciarán Hinds, Bill Camp, Jim Norton, Tavi Gevinson, and Jason Butler Harner, and features Tina Benko, Teagle Bougere, Michael Braun, Jenny Jules, Thomas Jay Ryan, Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut, Elizabeth Teeter, Ray Anthony Thomas, Brenda Wehle, and Erin Wilhelmi.

The cast is international. There isn't a hint of a Boston accent. It works - effectively and powerfully.

The story is an old one - set during the Salem witch trials of the 1690s. After married man John Proctor (Ben Whishaw) decides to break off his affair with his young lover, Abigail Williams (Saoirse Ronan), she leads other local girls in an occult rite to wish death upon his wife, Elizabeth (Sophie Okonedo).

This is set in a local with a morals' code in which girls were whipped for dancing.

They were Puritans, not Quakers, a religious sect which they mock.

The action begins in the home of the spineless Reverend Parris, (Jason Butler Harner) whose daughter Betty (Elizabeth Teeter) lies unconscious and appears very ill. Around midnight the night before, Parris had discovered Betty, his niece Abigail, and Tituba (Jenny Jules), his black slave, dancing in the woods, causing Betty to faint. The local physician is puzzled, unable to determine the cause of Betty's illness. Another girl falls ill and gossip beings snowballing.

Abigail warns her cohorts not to reveal that they were all casting spells in the woods. Betty wakes and Abigail threatens the other girls with violence if they tell anyone that the would-be spell casters attempted to use voodoo to kill Mrs. Proctor.

As virtually everyone points out Miller's important play is a timeless parable of morality, a scorching indictment of intolerance, and a central work in the canon of American drama.

It's the 1690s. It's also today.

Ratting out friends, casting blame upon others, threatening, lying and and molding to their own design the malleable. Ivo Van Hove's take on this is creative and pointed.

With every revival comparisons are drawn between the subject matter and whatever is politically and socioeconomically polarizing at that moment - be it the McCarthy Hearings or our current election season. Director van Hove has the ability to take a classic and make it personal to the viewer. That can cause moments of uneasiness. It's not just them. It's us.

Sophie Okonedo as Elizabeth Proctor and Ben Whishaw as John Proctor in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Production photos by Jan Versweyveld.
A seering productional undercurrent is the music of three time Oscar nominee Philip Glass. Glass composed an original score for his drama. His instrumentation utilizes his micro-genre, that of a violin and cello - music with repetitive structure - which are, in this production - occasionally augmented by a version of traditional Protestant hymm songs and droning. The results are eerie. From a low undercurrent to increased volumn, the background music emphasizes but doesn't distract.

Glass knows how to use rhythm and tone to infuse a patron's body.

As paranoia over witchcraft takes over a town, his original cold blooded music can send chills down your spine.

The entire cast is excellent with Saoirse Ronan deserving to be singled out as diabolical teenager Abigail who knows how to seduce a Casper milk toast of a man. Ben Whishaw and Sophie Okonedo, as the Proctors, open their souls. There is no pretense; rather guilt, and pain. Okonedo's performance is particularly memorable.

The scenic and lighting design by longtime van Hove collaborator Jan Versweyveld are of vital importance. Sitting in the theatre the audience is engulfed by diabolical lighting. It's unnerving, signaling that nothing is black or white but muddled shades. Designed correctly, as this is, a single set can say more than a million dollars worth of staging gimmicks.

Video projections by Tal Yarden are award worthy, adding magical illusions to spell casting.

This mounting gets inside the audience. It isn't that you agree with what they are doing - but you begin to understand why.

That can cause the audience to actually think about the subject matter; pondering what you might do and what others did. The passivity, covering up, turning a blind eye to hysteria and hoping everything will just go away if you don't get involved. Opportunists taking advantage of crowd hysteria for personal power and revenge.

Effective muted color costume design by Wojciech Dziedzic who uses white as an occasional focal point for the subject matter.

Sound design by Tom Gibbons; movement by Steven Hoggett.

Go see The Crucible. You'll leave the theatre thinking about it. The next day you'll be doing the same.

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Ball Dress by Olivier Theyskens for Nina Ricci photographed by Irving Penn.
organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is the first retrospective of Penn’s work in nearly twenty years.

Penn was an American photographer known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still life. Penn's career included work at Vogue magazine, and independent advertising work for clients including Issey Miyake and Clinique.

The exhibition presents over 140 photographs including iconic images from his oeuvre as well as previously unseen or never exhibited photographs.

Irving Penn (1917–2009) is one of the best-known American photographers of the 20th century. In a career that spanned almost seventy years, Penn worked on professional and artistic projects across multiple genres.

He was a master of both black-and-white and color photography, and he was key to the revival of platinum printing in the 1960s and 1970s.

On display to August 14, 2016 at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas.

Photo Credit: Penelope Umbrico, Broken Sets 2 (eBay), 2009–ongoing, chromogenic prints. Courtesy the artist and Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY and Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City, CA
The Milwaukee Art Museum presents the first major exhibition of the work of Penelope Umbrico (American, b. 1957), featuring photographs, photo-based installations, videos, books, and ephemera.

For Umbrico, photography is as much the subject of her artistic practice as it is the medium in which she works. Interested in examining collective photographic habits and the underlying desires that shape them, she sifts through millions of images shared on social media sites such as Craigslist and Flickr and appropriates them in her work.

Seizing upon popular images such as sunsets and televisions, Umbrico produces a body of work that explores how the Internet offers a broad portrait of contemporary society and reflects a collective conscious.

According to the artist, these accumulated images “navigate between consumer and producer, materiality and immateriality, and individual and collective expression.”

May 5–August 7, 2016 at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


PRINCE HARRY, FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA AND DR. JILL BIDEN will open the Invictus Games, to be held May 8-12 in Orlando, Florida.

Michelle and Jill will be supporting Team USA. Harry, who served two terms of duty in Afghanistan, started the Invictus Games and both ladies have supported the project since its inception. The Invictus Games are Paralympic-style games for wounded veterans.

First Lady Michelle and Prince Harry teamed up at Fort Belvoir in Virginia last October when Harry crossed the pond to promote his Invictus Games. The duo met with veterans and sat next to each other at a wheelchair basketball game together.

Mrs. Obama stated that service members and those who care for them are "some of the most courageous, resilient people I have ever met" and their participation in May's games is an "excellent example of their determination, commitment and grit."

Dr. Biden, who is Mrs. Obama's team mate in their seven-year-old Joining Forces initiative to help veterans, active-duty personnel and military families, led a presidential delegation to the inaugural games in London in September 2014.


To showcase and celebrate excellence in music across genres, The Recording Academy has partnered with Upsilon Ventures, producer and developer of iconic destinations and visitor experiences and the New York City Mayor's Office to present Grammy Park, the first Grammy-branded, multiday live music experience.

Over the course of four days and 10 live concert performances, more than 30 artists, collectively honored with 40-plus Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards, will converge in Brooklyn to celebrate the rich musical diversity of various genres, including R&B, hip-hop, gospel, pop, Latin, and jazz.

Live music performances and signature Artist Spotlights featuring seven-time Grammy winner Toni Braxton with Andra Day three-time Grammy winner NE-YO with Jazmine Sullivan, and a special evening featuring Grammy nominees Robin Thicke and Aloe Blacc will take place at the historic Kings Theatre.

The Commodores will perform during the Jazz All-Stars concert; Alex & Sierra and Chelsea Chris for the Emerging Artists concert; and social media stars Jake Foushee, Kenny Holland, Carson Lueders, Russ, and Sammy Wilk for the Social Stages concert.

There are even numerous free concert events - open to the public - including a special concert featuring emerging artists and jazz ensembles on Saturday, May 7, and a Mother’s Day gospel concert on Sunday, May 8, both at Prospect Park Bandshell. However, each concert requires a ticket.


Queen Elizabeth's great-grandchild Mia Grace Phillips is left holding the Queen's bag as Queen Elizabeth poses for a birthday photograph with her two youngest grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Photo: official release, Kensington Palace.
A little lady holding a royal purse and an heir making a surprise stage experience stole the spotlight last week during celebrations honoring Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth II.

For Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday, she was presented with a purple and gold decorated, three-tiered birthday cake baked by Great British Bake off 2015 winner Nadiya Hussain. In America that excellent cooking show can be enjoyed on PBS.

The birthday girl sat down for official portraits with her two youngest grandchildren Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn, children of her youngest son, Prince Edward and his wife Countess Sophie, and great-grandchildren Savannah and Isla Phillips, daughters of Peter Phillips and his wife Autumn. Peter is Princess Anne's son and the Queen's eldest grandchild. Then there is Mia Grace Tindall, daughter of Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindall. Zara is the daughter of Princess Anne. Little Mia was born a few months after Prince George, son of Prince William and Duchess Kate. The baby of the family is Princess Charlotte, who celebrates her first birthday this week.

Broadway To Vegas thinks little Mia Grace steals the photo scene by holding Great-Granny's famous handbag!

Then Prince Charles made a surprise appearance during the Royal Shakespeare Company's televised stage extravaganza, featuring a potpourri of scenes from Shakespeare and works he inspired.

The heir held his own performing alongside Dame Judi Dench, Tim Minchin, Harriet Walter, David Tennant, Paapa Essiedu, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, John Lithgow, and Sir Ian McKellen.

The royal strode onstage during a comic sketch to settle a heated actors' argument about the best way to recite "To be or not to be".

Earlier, Prince Charles laid a wreath on the writer's grave in Stratford's Holy Trinity church. And thousands of people - many wearing Shakespeare face masks - watched a theatrical parade through the town 160km northwest of London, complete with schoolchildren, strolling actors and - perhaps taking a cue from New York - a New Orleans jazz band. See Broadway To Vegas column of April 24,2016

In London for political talks, President Barack Obama took time to tour Shakespeare's Globe Theatre where he listened to Hamlet's soliloquy and a selection of songs.

The president met a Globe troupe that recently returned from taking Hamlet on a two-year tour to almost 200 countries. They've performed Shakespeare's tragedy on a tennis court in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Shakespeare, who penned almost 40 plays, over 150 sonnets, and coined well-known phrases still widely used to this day, died in 1616.


THE MUSIC OF HAROLD ARLEN will be celebrated Thursday, at noon on May 5 at the 92Y in New York City.

Harold Arlen is one of America’s prolific composers whose early Jewish roots influenced his melodic output. Critic/journalist/author Rex Reed and performer/producer/historian Harvey Granat discuss his work, interspersed with performances by Granat and pianist David Lahm, son of songwriter Dorothy Fields. Among the songs you’ll hear are Get Happy, Stormy Weather, Let’s Fall in Love, I’ve Got the World on a String, Blues in the Night, Old Black Magic, One for My Baby and Over the Rainbow. You’ll also hear the influence of Jewish liturgical music as well as early blues and jazz.

BEHIND THE MUSIC WITH LOUIS ROSEN: THE MAKING OF PORGY AND BESS follows the above mentioned Harold Arlen event, May 5, at the 92Y in New York City. The events are separate and each needs a ticket.

Porgy and Bess was ten years in the making, from the moment George Gershwin became entranced by the operatic possibilities of DeBose Hayward’s novel about life in a rundown waterfront ghetto of Gullah blacks, to the historic October 1935 premiere. Louis Rosen traces the evolution of the composition, placing a dual emphasis on what makes the work distinctly operatic - its arias, choral sequences, thematic relationships, recitatives - and Gershwin’s unique approach to song. In addition, he’ll discuss the work's performance history and its only gradual acceptance as the greatest American opera.

WONDERGROUND at Southbank Centre in London takes place May 5 to September 25, 2016.

Showcasing top talent on the circus, cabaret and burlesque circuit with a few established comedy names thrown in for good measure, this companion to the nearby Udderbelly festival is set within a charming 1920s-style Spiegeltent.

With bars, food stalls and rides alongside the wealth of performances, London Wonderground offers astonishing acrobatics such as those performed by sweaty men with impeccably groomed beards at Wonderground’s headline circus show Barbu. Performed by one of the world’s greatest circus companies Canada’s Cirque Alfonse, this performance promises to l keep you on the edge of your seat.

THIS MOTHER'S DAY the 18th annual MOMentum Place creates a fantastical world of aerial and circus performers, dancers and musicians in Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum’s rustic outdoor amphitheater in Topanga, CA. A nice outing for the woman in your life who is always on the go for others. Now, she can sit back, relax and enjoy an uncommon afternoon of performance delights that are kid friendly and full of surprises.

Curated by Lexi Pearl. Performers include Eros Biox, Georgia Bryant, Kyla Carter, Madeline Lampard, Alison Lockfeld, Eric Newton, Lexi Pearl, Jacqueline Shaw, and Dreya Weber.

Sunday, May 8 with brunch being available before the show.

MAY 4 is National Candied Orange Peel Day and May 8 is National Coconut Cream Pie Day.

RITA MORENO adds another honor to her long list of accolades when Berklee President Roger H. Brown presents her with an honorary doctor of music degree at Berklee's commencement ceremony, Saturday, May 7, at the 7,000-seat Agganis Arena at Boston University. Moreno, this year’s commencement speaker, will address more than 900 Berklee graduates and their parents and invited guests.

Other distinguished individuals receiving the honorary degree are Ronald and Ernie Isley, known as The Isley Brothers who have enjoyed one of the longest, most influential and diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music; Lucian Grainge CBE, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group; and Milton Nascimento, one of Brazil’s most prominent and influential singer-songwriters.

This year's honorary doctorate recipients are being recognized for their achievements and influences in music, and for their enduring contributions to American and international culture. Past recipients include Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, David Bowie, Jimmy Page, Smokey Robinson, Steven Tyler, Loretta Lynn, Juan Luis Guerra, Annie Lennox, Paco de Lucia, Carole King, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, George Clinton, Julio Iglesias, Plácido Domingo, and A.R. Rahman.

As is Berklee’s tradition, on commencement eve, Friday, May 6, students will pay tribute to the honorees by performing music associated with their careers at the Agganis. The concert and ceremony are not open to the public.

THE CHEW which celebrated it's 1,000th show on ABC last Friday. Talent and perseverance pays off. Their first show was one of the worst on record and the entire first week wasn't all that great. Within a short period of time the show matured into one of the best cooking/talk show on television.

MIDNIGHT KILL written and directed by K.K. Wong.

A school campus in a Chinese rural village during the 1970's becomes a theater of twisted, oppressed but indelible human desires. Daily mundane activities become an absurd performance of ordinary people's basic emotions. The play is based around an actual murder story that occurred in a mountain hamlet in Anhui province (China), where the author lived for five years.

The play is a drama set among the teachers of a small elementary school in a rural farming village in northern China during the early 1970s, when China's Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution was at its height. Under the country's autocratic rule, extreme forms of collectivism, asceticism, and class warfare ran rampant in every corner of the country. In this crucible of passion, ideology and deprivation, a married woman has been having an affair with a young teacher. The play opens with the scene where the teacher has already killed the woman. The rest of the play traces their relationship as a flash back, eventually revealing the motivations behind the killing.

"The style of the play is symbolic and somewhat abstract, drawing the audience's attention to the internal world of the characters. It isn't a mystery per se, but it is designed to create suspense and anticipation."

The actors are Robert Cheung, Chun Cho, Shan Y Chuang, Qihao Huang, Wanning Jen, Arthur Lai, Chien-Lun Lee, Jia Hui Xiong and Bincong Zhu.

Set design is by K.K. Wong. Lighting design is by Yi-Chung Chen. Composer and sound designer is Xiren Wang. Costume design is by Kevin Yang. Translator is Hai-Ying Li.

Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America will present the work's world premiere May 6 to 22 at Theater for the New City, NYC. It will be performed in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles and will be completely accessible for English-speaking audiences.

This production is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature. It is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council.

THE FLYING DUTCHMAN by Richard Wagner.

Conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing.

Directed by Christopher Alden.

The Dutchman, a ghostly sailor condemned to wander for all eternity, sets foot on land every seven years to search for a bride who can bring him peace. In a small Norwegian fishing village he encounters Senta, a young woman obsessed with his legend. Can the power of true love break the curse and end his suffering?

Featuring Greer Grimsley and Alfred Walker in the title role alongside more than 125 artists from the Seattle Opera Chorus and Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Wagner's sweeping orchestrations, reminiscent of a blockbuster film score, evoke the power of the sea.

Presented by Seattle Opera May 7-21 at McCall Hall in Seattle, Washington.

AMERICAN PSYCHO the American premiere of a new musical based on the iconic novel by Bret Easton Ellis, with music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik and a book by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

Directed by Rupert Goold.

Choreography by Lynne Page.

Starring Benjamin Walker as Patrick Bateman.

In addition to Walker, the cast of includes Heléne Yorke, Alice Ripley, Jennifer Damiano, Drew Moerlein, Krystina Alabado, Dave Thomas Brown, Jordan Dean, Anna Eilinsfeld, Jason Hite, Ericka Hunter, Holly James, Keith Randolph Smith, Theo Stockman, Alex Michael Stoll, Morgan Weed, Brandon Kalm, Sydney Morton, Anthony Sagaria, and Neka Zang.

The design team includes scenic design by Es Devlin, costume design by Katrina Lindsay, lighting design by Justin Townsend, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier, and video design by Finn Ross. Casting is by Telsey+Co.

Performances at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York City.


THE WHO entertains Wednesday, May 4, at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, MB. On Friday their tour stops at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, SK. Next Sunday, May 8 they perform at Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB.

RIHANNA begins a two night gig Tuesday, May 3, at the Forum in Inglewood, CA. Friday finds her in San Jose, CA at the SAP Center. On Saturday she appears at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA.

YANN TIERSEN the composer behind the soundtracks to Amelie and Good Bye Lenin performs a rare solo show. Performing new pieces from his upcoming book of sheet music alongside his film music work, it's a chance to hear his music at its most sparse and beautiful. Saturday, May 7, The Barbican in London.

SELENA GOMEZ is in the spotlight Friday, May 6, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Next Sunday, May 8 she's on stage at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA.

ADELE performs Tuesday, May 3, at the Forum in Frederiksberg, Denmark. Wednesday's stop is at Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning, Denmark. On Saturday she opens a two night gig at the Mercedes Benz Arena in Berlin, Germany.

IL DIVO brings their show to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland on Friday, May 6. Saturday's stop is at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, England. Next Sunday, May 8, they are in the spotlight at Windsor Hall in Bournemouth, UK.

MARIAH CAREY ends her tour on Monday, May 2, by closing out a two nighter at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, South Africa.

MEGAN HILTY best known for her turns on Broadway as Glinda in Wicked and Doralee Rhodes in 9 to 5 entertains May 3 through May 14 at Cafe Carlyle in New York City.

TRACY MORGAN opens a two nighter Friday, May 6 at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.


BILLY PAUL American soul singer, most known for his 1972 number-one single, Me and Mrs. Jones died April 24, 2016 at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey from pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Paul regularly toured in the U.S. and abroad playing small clubs, hotel ballrooms, Las Vegas showrooms, Jazz festivals, and theaters.

In addition to receiving the Grammy for Me and Mrs. Jones, Paul won several Ebby awards given by the readers of Ebony magazine; was a recipient of an American Music Award, the NAACP Image Award; received the 2015 AMG Favorite Retro Artist of the Year award as well as being given the Sandy Hosey Lifetime Achievement Award during the Artists Music Guild's 2015 AMG Heritage Awards broadcast held on November 14, 2015, in Monroe, North Carolina.

Neil Portnow President/CEO of The Recording Academy issued the following statement: "We are terribly saddened to learn of the passing of GRAMMY® Award winner Billy Paul. Billy was a much-beloved figure from the Philadelphia music scene, and he brought a sophisticated jazz sensibility to his most famous hit, 1972's "Me And Mrs. Jones." His career was marked by songs of empowerment and his incredible voice. We have lost a very talented member of our creative community, and our sincerest condolences go out to Billy's family, friends, collaborators, and all of his fans worldwide. He will be missed."

Next Column: May 8, 2016
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Laura Deni

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