Broadway To Vegas



Copyright: May 18, 2008
By: Laura Deni


ASIMO conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma confessed to the Detroit Free Press that "I'm worried that they'll teach it to multi-task."

ASIMO - a robot - took to the podium and conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a rendition of Mitch Leigh’s Impossible Dream from the musical Man of La Mancha.

Wearing his shiny silver suit the 4"3" robot, who can walk or run on two feet to up speeds of 3.7 miles per hour, pranced on stage at Detroit Symphony Hall, chirped "Hello everyone," and lifted his arms for the downbeat.

It nodded its head, gestured with its hands and even, according to one critic, “slowed down for the big finish, shifting into 6/8 time and ending with a dramatic held note. Bravo!”

Asimo then took a bow as the audience applauded enthusiastically.

“It is absolutely thrilling to perform with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra,” it said, playing to the crowd. “This is a magnificent concert hall.”

Other critics took an approach of constructive criticism.

Leonard Slatkin - no danger of being replaced by ASIMO Photo © Steve J. Sherman
ASIMO's engineers programmed the robot to mimic Charles Burke, the Detroit Symphony's education director, as he conducted the piece in front of a pianist about six months ago. While Burke can respond to the musicians, ASIMO can't. During the first rehearsal, the orchestra lost its place when ASIMO began to slow the tempo, something a human conductor would have sensed and corrected, bassist Larry Hutchinson told the press.

"It's not a communicative device. It simply is programmed to do a sense of gestures," said Leonard Slatkin, the orchestra's musical director, who is in no danger of being replaced by the glossy bucket of bolts. "If the orchestra decides to go faster, there's nothing the robot can do about it. Hopefully, I keep that under control."

But several musicians also said ASIMO was more realistic than they expected. "The movements are still a little stiff, but very humanlike, much more fluid than I thought," Hutchinson said.

Prior to a sold-out concert by Yo-Yo Ma and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the cellist was presented with the Orchestra's Changing Lives through Music Highest Achievement Award. The award is bestowed to individuals in the field of music who provide extraordinary and exemplary leadership, sharing their artistry and knowledge with future generations, and serving as an inspiration to the world on behalf of music.

Yo Yo Ma
"Through his performances, groundbreaking musical projects and innovative educational advocacy, Yo-Yo Ma has had a profound impact on the people of Michigan," said Anne Parsons, President and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. "This award recognizes and thanks him for the visionary role he plays as a musical ambassador, and for his generosity of spirit."

The award was presented to Ma by DSO Music Director Designate Leonard Slatkin, American Honda Vice President Dick Szamborski, and Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot. ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, who debuted its ability to conduct immediately preceding the award presentation.

"Honda shares a passion with the DSO for youth education and we're so pleased to be a part of recognizing Yo-Yo Ma for his dedication to providing children with opportunities to develop their musical abilities," said Gary Kessler, Senior Vice President of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "Honda is proud of its affiliation with the DSO and would like to welcome others to join us in the nurturing and promotion of the DSO's music education programs." Conceived by Honda, ASIMO a humanoid robot focused attention on the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's (DSO) nationally acclaimed music programs for young people in Detroit by conducting the orchestra to open a special concert performance with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma on May 13. Honda had hoped ASIMO's appearance would draw attention to the DSO's music education programs, and particularly the DSO's effort to encourage and support involvement of children in Detroit.

It did.

In addition, ASIMO demonstrated its unique capabilities for hundreds of area school children on May 14 prior to a specially arranged master class in Orchestra Hall, where a select group of music students received personal music instruction from Yo-Yo Ma.

ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is designed to help people and will someday assist the elderly and disabled in their homes. But while Honda continues to develop and enhance ASIMO's capabilities, the robot is being used today to encourage and inspire young students to consider studies in math and science. The addition of music education to ASIMO's repertoire is a natural extension of these efforts.

Honda is also providing the DSO with a gift of more than $1 million to create The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund. With the Detroit Public Schools drastically reducing or eliminating music programs due to financial constraints, many students are denied the opportunity to learn to play instruments, read music, and participate in bands or orchestras. Honda has partnered with the DSO to develop an innovative, multi-faceted program to promote and support music education as well as to promote diversity in the field of classical music. In addition to sponsorship of the Yo-Yo Ma performance and Master's Class for students this month, over the next five years the Honda partnership with DSO will include:

* Launch of a new initiative called The Power of Dreams String Project to provide introductory music education/string training to children in metro-Detroit communities where opportunities are non-existent or unaffordable.

* Establishment of The Power of Dreams Music Scholar program to provide private lessons to aspiring students with financial need in the String Project, DSO Civic Ensembles and/or DSA, enabling them to fully develop their musical capabilities.

* Support of DSO Civic Youth Ensemble performances; the DSO's educational partnership activities with the DSA; and the DSO's spring Educational Concert Series for metro area school children in Orchestra Hall at the Max M. Fisher Music Center.

* Support of the 2008 Classical Roots Gala which raises funds for programs such as the DSO's African-American Fellowship Program.

The Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) program is Michigan's most comprehensive pre-professional training program for orchestra, chamber, wind and jazz musicians. One of the cornerstones of the DSO's educational mission, the program now boasts nine different classical and jazz ensembles. Nearly 500 students weekly ages 8 to 24 come from dozens of Southeast Michigan schools and colleges to participate weekly. Members of Civic rehearse at the Jacob Bernard Pincus Music Education Center and each ensemble performs a three-concert season. Participants enjoy unparalleled access to DSO musicians who interact closely with students by leading sectionals and coaching the chamber groups. Students also frequently benefit from master classes and rehearsals with guests artists and conductors including such luminary stars as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Pincus Zukerman, Regina Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Neeme Järvi, Thomas Wilkins and Hugh Wolff.

ASIMO made its U.S. debut February 14, 2002, when it rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange and the latest version of ASIMO, which includes the ability to run, debuted in North America at the Consumer Electronics Show, January 2007, in Las Vegas. ASIMO is permanently installed in Disneyland's Innoventions attraction where the live 15-minute Say 'Hello' to Honda's ASIMO demonstration take places several times daily in the Honda ASIMO Theatre. The program gives visitors a glimpse into a not-too-distant future when humanoid robots, such as ASIMO, will assist humans in their homes.


This show was seen 48 hours before the 7.9 earthquake hit China.
( For a report on our correspondent being in the earthquake see Broadway To Vegas column of May11,2008 )
( For an update which contains a FEW graphic descriptions click here. )

Known for its humor and dynamism the Sichuan opera is a favorite for foreign and Chinese tourists alike. Michael Ashleman who has covered entertainment events for Broadway To Vegas attended with Sichuan opera with a group of teachers.

Located in Chengdu, China - home to the Giant Panda, spicy food, and now that 7.9 earthquake - the art form is well known for its singing, which is less constrained with that found in the more popular Beijing opera form. Sichuan opera is more like a play than other forms of Chinese opera, and acting is highly polished.

Shu Feng Ya Yun teahouse is situated among the ancient buildings of Qingyang Palace on Qintai Old Pathway.

"We were the only Occidentals there. The rest were the local population. This area is something tourists should see, but it's not billed primarily as a tourist attraction, because there isn't that much Western tourism in the Chengdu area. Of course, people come in from the west to see the pandas because this is panda central, but there isn't that much occidental traffic just coming here. This is where the locals go, but the younger generation think of this as a parents and grandparents entertainment form."

"When we were there the audience was the plus 40 age crowd. The Chinese, with the exception of the very low end working class, always dress nicely. How they dress doesn't tell you a lot about affluence. If you are above the lowest class, the dress between them and the upper class doesn't get to be very noticeable until you see the quality jewelry."

"A woman in the lower or middle class family might not have many clothes, but she will have one really nice, very good outfit."

"They serve tea in the outdoor venue and peanuts, which is very common. There theater holds between 300-400 people. When you go to this theater - it's almost an open air theatre - very similar to a Shakespearean theater There is cover over the stage and over some of the chairs. If you did not have blowing wind and rain, you'd probably be okay."

"It's going to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. But, the Chinese have a tendency to leave the windows and doors open all through the winter and just wear coats indoors. They have what they call indoor coats and outdoor coats. So, climate control is not an expectation on the part of the audience."

"You sit in padded, natural brown, wicker bamboo garden chairs which are very comfortable. Moveable chairs that you'd use around a garden, except there are 300 of them side by side with aisles and little tables in front of you. They have people coming around pouring tea and re-filling it for you. They have tea pots with very long spigots - maybe 4 feet long - so they can reach in from the aisle and pour the tea. It's almost a show in itself - the way they can pour the tea. It is a very common thing in the restaurants around here."

"At the table the peanuts are already in a dish. The peanuts are a local variety of a peanut - not the tradition peanut that you see in America. The tea service does not stop when the show begins. The tea and peanuts are included in the price of the ticket."

"$37 in American for one ticket. Yes, that is a steep price in China for entertainment. Additionally, what you pay for your ticket determined placement in seating The farther back you are, the cheaper the ticket," he said of the . $13.50-37.00 price range. "American dollars have taken such a huge demise recently that the prices have gone up quite a bit."

"It was a nice, enjoyable show which ran about 2 hours."

"It is somewhat like the Beijing opera in some ways and different in others. The similarities are that, in the beginning they start off with people in traditional Chinese clothing from The Ming Dynasty and the Ching Dynasty. The story of generals fighting - good versus evil - the Beijing Opera does that, too," said Ashleman.

"The difference is that these stories are from the time of The Warring States Period. China, for a large number of years, was really three countries. The three states were at war with each other. The generals of each of the Armies in their own country - of course - were the heroes And, the generals of the others countries were the enemy. So, nobody was the good guy or the bad guy - everybody was just supporting their king."

In Act 1 you have traditional stories of war time - wearing the traditional costumes phony beards and hair. The heroes of the local Shinuan province kingdoms defeating the enemy. The physical prowess of the actors was really remarkable.

Act 2 is a series of musicians playing both together and individually. They are playing traditional Chinese instruments," he said referring to the Pipa-lute which has the timbre of stillness. The Erhu with a timbre of passion with a little sadness and the Guqin-Chinese zither has been a symbol of wisdom and nobleness. Gaohu which is a kind of violin with two strings which, together with Erhu, belongs to the "huqin" family. Liang-Zhu is a classical Chinese composition adopted from a beautiful love story of the same name. Rhythm of Shy Yun is a particular art form consisting of folk instruments performing, such as Scihuan Qingyin, Daoqin and Jinquianban. Suona is known as the Chinese trumpet. Birds in the Woods is the most expressive Suona composition which describes cheerfully describes hundreds of birds in the woods.

"There are seven or eight musical numbers and a female opera singer who sings more than one number. She is excellent."

"There is music playing throughout the production. There are 10-12 instruments playing in the background and three or four musicians in the foreground. The musicians are on stage and the audience can see them quite well."

"The middle section is comedy.

First there is a puppeteer act. The initial look is this 50-year old guy has got a 10 times normal size Barbie doll. The eyes are blinking and the mouth is moving and you think - okay, it's a puppet. He has one hand underneath the dress that makes the eyes blink and the legs move. Then there is a hand you can see which controls a lot of sticks The puppet has hands which are very articulated. A wrist that moves and the fingers rotate so the public can do tricks. There is a dance and the legs move The hands grab and catch things, spins a silk cloth around, throws and catches it. The puppet even does slide of hand, producing a silk scarf, spins around, throws it away and then pulls another one out of its sleeve. Then a young lady comes out with another puppet. That segment is about 10 minutes.

That is followed by physical comedy - the classic comedy that you see in every culture. Whether it's an American cartoon where you see the Jetsons or Fred Flintstone or The Honeymooners - where the husband does something wrong He lies about it. She catches him and makes him do atonement of some sort. There is a lot of physical comedy where the wife was putting him through the wringer."

"The scene begins when the man walks in through the audience down the middle idle singing a Chinese version of a drunken dirge while the wife is on stage standing at the door tapping her foot. You can see the I Love Lucy type of episode that develops out of that. It was very predictable. That doesn't make it less entertaining or funny, but every American audience has seen a version of this."

He's doing slapstick comedy and facial expression when she isn't looking. She makes him wash this, and crawl over that and balance things on his head. It's quite an acrobatic show, so the man who is doing the acrobatic activities is very athletic and talented. I don't speak the language and don't know what he is saying, but you know what is happening - She just caught ya!"

"The low comedy, physical humor is obvious across any culture - the old vaudeville, burlesque comedy which everyone understands. The comedy act should have appealed to everyone."

Act 4 is the telling of a story through painted masks," he reported about Face Changing, which has long been considered the highlight of Sichuan Opera. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera absorbs this ancient skill and perfects it into an art.

A fan or some other sort of obstruction crosses the face for a tenth of a second," he said snapping his fingers to emphasize the speed, "and the mask changes."

"There is a screen and when one of the actors backs close to the screen even the entire costume does an instantaneous change. The hand is quicker than the eye One guy is in a black outfit and the next second he is in white and so is his face."

Known as The Pulling Mask routine this is the most complicated of all face changes. Masks are painted on pieces of damask, well cut, hung with a silk thread, and the lightly pasted to the face one by one. The silk thread is fastened in an inconspicuous part of the costume. A skilled artist can change more than 10 masks in less than 20 seconds. By raising the hand, swinging a sleeve or tossing the head, an actor uses different masks to show different emotions, expressing invisible and intangible feelings through visible and tangible masks. From green to blue, red, yellow, brown, black, dark and gold, these masks show fear, tension, relaxation, slyness, desperation, outrage, and so on.

Segment of Sichuan Opera Photo by Michael Ashleman
"There is a Hand Shadow Show. I am not talking about somebody doing a dog or a rabbit. This man is excellent and the characters he produces are dramatic."

"There is a mistress of ceremonies who comes out between acts and talks in several languages. One is traditional Mandarin and several local dialects, which are sufficiently different from the Mandarin, and English. The only non Asian language she spoke was English. She introduces the acts and basically tells you what is going to happen. She was wearing either a long purple or black outfit - it was hard to tell with the stage lighting. That was the only western style you saw up there."

"At the end they all come out and bow. For an additional $20-$26 American, you can go on stage and have your picture taken with them. You buy that as the VIP ticket. $50-$55 American per ticket for a VIP ticket, gives you the show with tea and pictures, and the opportunity to go on stage afterwards and have your picture taken with the cast."


Rob Lowe, Geoffrey Rush, Zach Braff and Kate Hudson light up the stage at Simply Shakespeare 2006. Photo by Michael Lamont
Every spring, some of today’s finest actors donate their time to participate in a staged reading of a Shakespearean comedy. Co-chaired by Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, this annual tradition raises awareness and funds in support of Shakespeare Festival/LA's programs.

This year's reading is Taming of the Shrew and the cast includes:
Tom Hanks — Petruchio; Annette Bening — Kate; Christina Applegate — Bianca; William Shatner — Baptista; Sean Astin — Biondello; Zach Braff — Lucentio; David Schwimmer — Tranio; Arte Johnson — Gremio; Steve Root — Drumio; Tim Allen — Hortensio; Peter Bonerz — Vincentio; Tommy Chong — The Pedant; Rita Wilson — The Widow.

With live music and songs provided by Grammy Award winner Lyle Lovett.

Monday, May 19 in UCLA's Freud Playhouse, Los Angeles.


Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise
For the third year by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, two acclaimed actors who have dedicated themselves to veterans’ causes and supporting the troops in active service, will co-host the PBS presentation of the award-winning National Memorial Day Concert on May 25, honoring the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, their families at home and all of those who have given their lives for our country.

This year’s special tributes are to the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the sacred war memorials built in their honor in the Nation’s Capital. Actor Charles Durning, a highly decorated World War II veteran and 14-year National Memorial Day Concert participant, will be recognized for his bravery and sacrifice as part of the Greatest Generation. The valor of the newest veterans will be honored as the program examines the lasting bonds that buddies form on the battlefields of Iraq.

The Memorial Day Concert, which is held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, will boast appearances and/or performances by Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, stage and concert star Sarah Brightman, Motown legend Gladys Knight, actor and comedian Denis Leary, stage veteran Charles Durning, country music star Rodney Atkins, actor and singer John Schneider, actress Gail O'Grady and film and television actress Caitlin Wachs. Erich Kunzel will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra.

The 90-minute performance will also feature The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, The Soldiers Chorus of the U.S. Army Field Band, The Master Chorale of Washington, an Armed Forces Color Guard and Service Flags from each branch of the armed services provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.

In a statement co-host Mantegna said, "I think all Americans have a moral obligation to honor the military, by taking a moment to pause and reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, so that we can truly appreciate what they gave to preserve our freedoms."

Co-host Sinise added, "Lending a hand to our country's servicemen and women is truly one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Knowing that they are not forgotten and that their sacrifice is appreciated can make a world of difference."

The Concert will also be broadcast via American Forces Radio and Television Network to the approximately 1 million U.S. Armed Forces, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families stationed overseas in 176 countries and territories and aboard more than 200 U.S. Navy ships at sea.


This exhibition presents the story of the Supremes: the most successful girl group of all time. It explores how Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, shaped their style to create a central place for African-Americans in what had been a white dominated popular culture.

The quintessential ‘rags-to-riches’ story, the Supremes rose out of the Detroit Projects to achieve international fame. Their unprecedented crossover success acts as a mirror to the tumultuous events of 1960s America as the Civil Rights Movement attempted to dismantle centuries of racial prejudice. The Supremes were always beautifully dressed and elegant, yet their music was unmistakably hip. They came to epitomize the groomed, sophisticated and chic look and sound of Motown.

"Colored people on TV! You never saw anything like it in the 1960s. Three women of color who were totally empowered - creative, imaginative, beautiful, poised. To see the Supremes and know that it was possible to be like them, that black people could do that…" - Oprah Winfrey

The Supremes - Mary, Diana and Flo, and later Cindy Birdsong, Jean Terrell, Lynda Lawrence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Green - were always beautifully dressed and elegant.

The artists and staff at Motown were predominantly black but the ‘Motown look’ was deliberately styled with no particular leaning towards race or color. By refusing to be constrained by traditional barriers but still incorporating traditional show business conventions into its acts, Motown appealed to a youthful record-buying audience within a system that had previously excluded African-Americans.

Gordy instituted a special ‘Artist Development’ program similar to the Hollywood charm schools of the thirties and forties. Maxine Powell gave lessons on the proper way to dress, eat, sit, walk and how to appear on television.

To hone dance and performance skills, legendary choreographer and dancer Cholly Atkins developed the slick dance routines that were the hallmark of Motown performances, and musician Maurice King handled music and on-stage patter.

As The Supremes graced more stages and television screens, their costumes became ever more glamorous and extravagant. Chiffon and velvet were replaced by skin tight sequined evening dresses to maximize their impact under strong studio lighting. Their trade-mark wigs were complemented by false eyelashes, big earrings and dramatic makeup as black cosmetics came of age.

Gordy enlisted leading Hollywood designers such as Bob Mackie and Michael Travis to create glamorous and extravagant costumes fit for international superstars. The lavish outfits with beading and thousands of sequins could cost between one and two thousand dollars each in the 1960s ($13-26,000 at 2007 prices).

The vestiges of their allure on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in an exhibit which opened May 15 and runs through October 19. These are dresses that helped make history: the work clothes of being a Supreme.

This is a V&A exhibition in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

Violinist Consuelo Sherba
Visual Artist Peter Geisser
Now in their second decade, the Pell Awards honor Senator Claiborne Pell and recognize artistic excellence in Rhode Island and on the national level.

This season, a special National Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts will be awarded to Trinity Rep's resident acting company. Since the 1960s, resident acting companies around the country have built a special relationship with their communities, with the support of the National Endowment for the Arts - established through Senator Pell's initiative. Achieving a higher level of artistry through years of collaboration, resident acting companies entertained and inspired audiences, enhanced education for all ages, encouraged economic development and civic pride, and nurtured larger arts communities.

Forty-five years after it was founded by a group of Rhode Island citizens, Trinity Rep is the last large long-standing resident acting company left in the country.

Currently the resident acting company has fifteen members: Stephen Berenson, Angela Brazil, Timothy Crowe, William Damkoehler, Janice Duclos, Mauro Hantman, Phyllis Kay, Brian McEleney, Barbara Meek, Anne Scurria, Cynthia Strickland, Fred Sullivan, Jr., Stephen Thorne, Rachael Warren and Joe Wilson, Jr. The current company has been with the theater between three and 39 years - some having appeared in over 100 productions.

RISD's Roger Mandle will be awarded the Pell Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts, and Visual Artist Peter Geisser and Violist Consuelo Sherba will receive Rhode Island Pell Awards for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts.

The twelfth annual creative black tie-event will consist of an awards ceremony in Trinity’s Chace Theater, followed by a festive party in a city-block sized tent in the center of Downcity. Organizers have done away with the traditional sit-down dinner, and instead will a more free flowing evening with food and mixed drinks served at a variety of restaurant-themed bars.

The Pell Awards Gala will be held on Friday evening, May 30, 2008 at Trinity Rep in Providence, Rhode Island. Honorary Chairs for the event are Governor Donald L. Carcieri, Mayor David N. Cicilline and Senator and Mrs. Claiborne Pell. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit artistic programming at Trinity Rep.

Jerry Bock
takes place Sunday, May 18th presented by Encompass New Opera Theatre at the National Arts Club in NYC.

The evening will begin with cocktails, the performance, followed by Birthday Cake and Champagne Reception, will feature an all-star cast including four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein, Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, Sally Mayes, Brad Oscar, Neva Small, Ron Raines and KT Sullivan among others, all performing songs composed by Mr. Bock. Phyllis Newman Green, and Mr. Bock’s collaborator Sheldon Harnick will offer recollections of working with Mr. Bock.

Originally billed as Encompass New Opera Theatre celebrates the 80th birthday of legendary composer Jerry Bock, when Broadway To Vegas questioned the timing- since Bock was born November 23, 1928, Nancy Rhodes Artistic Director of Encompass New Opera Theatre, told Broadway To Vegas "It is a musical salute for a lifetime of extraordinary creativity and an early birthday party." Broadway To Vegas thinks that is a fabulous reason to eat birthday cake.

Encompass New Opera Theatre is dedicated to the creation, development and production of contemporary opera and new music theatre, as well as the revival of important musical works from the 20th Century by American and international composers. In the vanguard of companies devoted to forging a wider recognition of America's outstanding composers, dramatists and singers, Encompass has, since its inception in 1975, presented over 50 fully mounted productions with orchestra and staged readings of over 150 new works from jazz and cabaret to musicals and opera.

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DAVID FOSTER AND FRIENDS in support of the David Foster Foundation is a one night only concert May 23 at Mandaley Bay Resort in Las Vegas. The Foundation, established in 1986, exists to provide financial and emotional help to the families of children needing organ transplants.

Foster will be joined by his good friends; Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, Katharine McPhee and others.


Lester Malizia, Artistic Director of the Seaside Music Theater in Daytona Beach, FL for the past 20 years sadly informed patrons on Tuesday, May 13, 2008 that "the theater Seaside Music Theater will have to cancel its 2008 productions - Les Miserables, Backwards in High Heels, Altar Boyz, and Miss Nelson is Missing because of a severe budget shortfall due to the loss of support from the Daytona Beach News-Journal, SMT's grand sponsor for 30 years." SMT will restructure itself financially and organizationally under the supervision of a corporate advisor and looks forward to this renaissance. Seaside has been a cultural mainstay in Daytona Beach for 31 years, name "Best Professional Theater" in the state by Florida Monthly Magazine the past four years in a row. Despite the many challenges SMT is facing, we will preserve the only professional regional musical theater performing in Central Florida."

"As we approach this crossroad, we thank you in advance for your patience and support." It would be greatly appreciated if you would consider keeping your ticket credits with us for a future season. Or, please consider using your credit towards a tax-deductible gift to help SMT during these difficult times, and to help us continue to provide educational programs for youth in Volusia County. Refunds will be given if requested."

"SMT will maintain community outreach and numerous fund raising events this summer including Daytona's Gotta Dance (August 9), and Walk In, Dance Out with Quanita (August 23). Also, the 3rd Annual $10,000 Play Dough Raffle drawing will be held July 11th at the News-Journal Center lobby."

TERRY FACTOR the wonderfully talented and entertaining ventriloquist winner of NBC’s America’s Got Talent, has signed a five-year deal with The Mirage in Las Vegas, with an option for an additional five years. He will continue to perform at the Hilton in Vegas through the end of the year. Then Fator will perform five shows a week in the 1,265-seat Terry Fator Theatre (currently the Danny Gans Theatre) beginning in February 2009.

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF the hugely popular and historic revival of Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winner, announced that in only 12 weeks, it has recouped its 2.1 million dollar investment..

Cat On a Hot Tin Roof began its journey at the Broadhurst Theatre on February 12, 2008 and opened the following month on March 8 ending its run on June 22. This acclaimed landmark production is directed by Debbie Allen and produced by Stephen Byrd. The stellar cast includes: Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose And James Earl Jones, along with Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Lou Myers, Count Stovall And Giancarlo Esposito.

Wolf Trap is proud to present the U.S. premiere of this multimedia spectacular featuring the sweeping cinematography and stirring dialogue of Peter Jackson’s epic movie combined with a live performance of Howard Shore’s award-winning orchestral score.

Ludwig Wicki, conductor. City Choir of Washington Robert Shafer, Artistic Director. World Children's Choir, Sondra Harnes, Artistic Director.

Enjoy this Oscar-winning movie in high definition on large screens in-house and on the lawn, and let the Filene Center Orchestra, the City Choir of Washington, and the World Children’s Choir bring Middle Earth to life. Composer Howard Shore brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary imagination to vivid life with his Academy and Grammy Award-winning score to Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Shore crafted a fully-developed musical epic that related the classic tale with moving and intricately related themes for each of Middle Earth’s cultures and charted the One Ring’s journey with an exhilarating flourish.

Upon its 2001 arrival, Shore’s score, composed for large symphony orchestra, adult and boys choruses, and instrumental and vocal soloists, was proclaimed an instant classic. Now the massive composition makes an unprecedented move to the concert hall. On May 21 and 22, the Filene Center Orchestra, under the direction of Ludwig Wicki, with the City Choir of Washington and the World Children’s Choir will present the American Premiere of Shore’s entire 3-hour score to The Fellowship of the Ring live to the projected film in high definition.

The music of The Lord of the Rings is counted among film music’s most complex and comprehensive works. Howard Shore’s score interconnects dozens of recurring themes to create a world as rich and thoroughly realized as the story that inspired it. This unique performance sets the score to the film, but allows the music to bear the narrative weight, creating a wholly new and dramatic live concert experience.

May 21 and 22, the Filene Center in Vienna, Virginia.

THE 2008 SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY FREE FOR ALL presents Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Directed by Alexander Burns. Original direction by Michael Kahn.

Join the Shakespeare Theatre Company as they remount one of the greatest plays ever written. Hamlet has captivated audiences for 400 years with its explorations of life, love, duty and vengeance. Commanded by his murdered father’s ghost to seek revenge, Hamlet struggles with the human and spiritual costs of pursuing justice. Featuring some of the most beautiful language ever written, Hamlet marks a turning point in Shakespeare’s career toward more complex depictions of good and evil, of heroes and villains. Jeffrey Carlson returns in the title role.

All performances are free and open to the public. (No performance on Monday, May 26.) May 22 to June 1 at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Washington, DC.

MEASURE FOR PLEASURE by David Grimm. Directed by Howard Shalwitz.

In David Grimm’s naughty Restoration comedy, Sir Peter Lustforth has had enough of his wife’s amorous ways and casts his eye on the virginal Hermione - setting off a series of chaotic chases and couplings among a womanizer, a transvestite, a puritanical dame and a helplessly romantic valet. Richly endowed with mistaken identities and abundant verbal delights, Measure for Pleasure is a saucy, silly, foul and filthy treat.

Featuring company members Doug Brown, Kimberly Gilbert & Jennifer Mendenhall with Joel Reuben Ganz, Michael Goodfriend, Andrew Honeycutt and Kimberly Schraf.

Outrageously interesting costumes by Helen Huang.

May 26-June 29 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, DC.

SKETCHBOOK a Steppenwolf Visiting Company Initiative featuring 14 world premiere short plays written by a combination of emerging and established playwrights, Collaboraction's annual Sketchbook Festival has, during its 8-year history, grown into one of Chicago's most electrifying annual events.

Sketchbook 8 is comprised of two programs, performed in rotating repertory in an immersive environment, which arranges the 14 fascinating short plays into separate not-to-be missed evenings.

Sketchbook features the collective talents of more than 150 innovative directors, designers, actors, musicians and artists from Chicago and around the country. This year, the roster of playwrights includes such critically acclaimed authors as Academy Award nominee Jose Rivera, Sean Graney, Greg Allen, Emily Schwartz, Itamar Moses and more. Opened May 15 and runs through June 15 in the Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, Chicago.

Shaolin Wu-shu Warriors
the circus that changed traditional entertainment forever is touring Europe for the first time outside China. The spectacular 2-hour show combines the martial arts warriors from the Shaolin temple, artists from Peking Opera, and acrobatic stars of the Chinese State Circus in this special Olympic Nation Spectacular.

Blending the purest tradition of the Chinese Acrobats with startling and creative innovation, the segments include; Swinging Poles; Hula-Hula; and Motorcycles in the Globe appearing for the first time in the UK; Diabolos; Spinning Plates and Hoop Diving are taken to new heights of physical realization. The Chinese State Circus would not be complete without that most traditional of complex ensemble acrobatic disciplines – The Lion Dance.

The creator and producer of The Chinese State Circus, Phillip Gandey, constantly bringing forth new ideas in the art of circus and physical theatre. The Chinese State Circus in internationally recognized as the benchmark for acrobatic achievement and innovation. They not only develop and reform the art itself, but also draw on the experience and elements of other disciplines, since sport has close connections with acrobatics and circus. The integration of the Chinese acrobats of the Tai An Troupe, the athlete champions of Jilin province, along with Shaolin Wushu warriors and boys promise to keep showgoers on the edge of their seats. May 21-30 at Hampton Court in London.


FOREIGNER performs Thursday, May 22, at the Visalia Fox Theatre in Visalia, CA. On Friday the show is at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, CA. Saturday is the beginning of a two night gig at Harrah's Tahoe in Stateline, NV.

ROBIN WILLIAMS will be getting laughs when he performs Sunday, May 25, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

EMMYLOU HARRIS performs Friday, May 23, at the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA. On Saturday she takes part in the Strawberry Music Festival at Camp Mather in Yosemite, CA. Next Sunday finds her starring at John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, NV.

NEIL DIAMOND who after more than 40 years of recording, has landed his first No. 1 album with Home Before Dark, which sold 146,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. He opens up his new tour with a two nighter Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25, at Ahoy' Rotterdam in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

ALICIA KEYS on stage Thursday, May 22, at the New Orleans Arena. On Saturday she's in the spotlight at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL. Next Sunday the show is at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN has a three night gig at the RDA Arena in Dublin, Ireland Thursday, May 22 through Sunday, May 25.

THE POLICE continue their tour with a performance on Tuesday, May 20, at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, TX. On Wednesday the show has another Texas stop,this one at Centre in Dallas. Friday finds them in Las Vegas for a show at the MGM Grand. On Saturday they can be enjoyed at the Cricket Wireless Pavilion in Phoenix, AZ.

EDMUND WELLES: THE BASS CLARINET QUARTET featuring Cornelius Boots, Aaron Novik, Jeff Anderle, Jonathan Russell, bass clarinets. Apicultural Excursion Parts I & II and other heavy chamber music. Friday, May 23, at Old First Concerts, San Francisco.


EDDY ARNOLD a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died Thursday, May 8. He was 89.

He sold more than 85 million records, with 37 singles charting on the pop charts and many more impacting the country charts. He ranks as Billboard magazine’s single most popular country artist of all time. He was a star of stage, screen and nightclubs.

( See Broadway To Vegas column of May 17, 1999 ) and ( See Broadway To Vegas column of June 8, 2003 )

Viewing took place last Tuesday and Wednesday in the rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN. The memorial service, which was open to the public, was last Wednesday at Ryman Auditorium. That was followed by a private burial.

Next Column: May 25, 2008
Copyright: May 18, 2008. 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