CONTINUING COVERAGE


Can’t wait to see ‘Hamilton’? 5 reasons to see ‘In the Heights’ this week in Dayton

Published: Thursday, October 05, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

2008 Tony Award-winning Best Musical In The Heights, conceived and composed by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, opens the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series Oct. 3-8 at the Schuster Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Contributing Writer
2008 Tony Award-winning Best Musical In The Heights, conceived and composed by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, opens the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series Oct. 3-8 at the Schuster Center. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO(Contributing Writer)

If you’ve ever wondered what makes “Hamilton” a cultural game-changer, check out Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony Award-winning hip-hop/pop musical “In the Heights” —currently presented at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association and Minnesota’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in collaboration with Teatro del Pueblo.

Here are five reasons why you should see Miranda’s entertaining and eye-opening account of diversity, legacy and home, nominated for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

>> The story behind “In the Heights” coming to Dayton

IN THE HEIGHTS: Oct. 3-8,2017, Schuster Center: See another hit production from the mastermind behind “Hamilton: An American Musical.” This four-time Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of a vibrant community in a New York neighborhood. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions to take with you and which ones you leave behind. SUBMITTED(Staff Writer)

 

1. UNIVERSAL STORY. 

Featuring a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes and co-directed by Alberto Justiniano and James A. Rocco, “In the Heights” weaves multiple stories and dreams of the Upper Manhattan Latino community of Washington Heights in New York City.

Centered on bodega (grocery store) owner Usnavi, the musical strikes a relatable chord in its depiction of close-knit individuals.

This colorful community takes care of their families, have deep pride in their neighborhood, have deep pride in their native homeland (Usnavi has roots in the Dominican Republic), rejoice in the successes of their neighbors, and struggle to make ends meet while longing for better opportunities.

When one of them suddenly wins the lottery, hope is renewed and celebrated. No matter where you were raised or whether or not you took Spanish in high school, you will find something in their journey to connect with. 

“In the Heights,” the story of a neighborhood in transition, will come to the Schuster Center. SUBMITTED PHOTO BY RICH RYAN(Staff Writer)

 

2. RELEVANT INCLUSIVITY 

Looking back, when this show opened the door for diversity on Broadway unlike ever before, planting the progressive seeds of what would become “Hamilton,” its depiction of immigration was ahead of its time.

The national discussion was simply not where it is today. So, hearing the story of Abuela Claudia, the grandmother who raised Usnavi, is a powerful moment with a more gripping impact now. In “Paciencia Y Fe” (Patience and Faith), Claudia details her upbringing in Cuba and arriving in New York in December 1943 to ultimately find employment as a maid.

“Nueva York was far, but Nueva York had work, and so we came,” she exclaims. Claudia’s pursuit of the American Dream cannot be discounted and is inspiring.

“I am thrilled to be working on a story that encapsulates the strength of a Latino community who, when its very existence is jeopardized, musters the guts to celebrate its cultural pride as an act of defiance,” said Justiniano. 

>> When will “Hamilton” come to Dayton?

The character of Usnavi de la Vega originally played by Miranda will be played by Justin Gregory Lopez. He is pictured on the left. SUBMITTED PHOTO BY RICH RYAN(Staff Writer)

 

3. DYNAMIC SCORE 

Miranda’s gifted knack for hip-hop wordplay and creating moments with depth and soul that feel like throwbacks to classic musicals is evident throughout his Tony-winning score.

For example, the opening title song introduces Washington Heights on par with “Tradition” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” and flavorful ensemble numbers “The Club” and “Carnaval del Barrio” respectively recall the joy of “Havana” from “Guys and Dolls” and “Dance at the Gym” from “West Side Story.”

“Lin is always in tune with identifying who should express themselves,” said original “In the Heights” director Thomas Kail. 

>> The 10 arts events you will regret missing this season

 

4. LIVELY CHOREOGRAPHY 

Directors Alberto Justiniano and James A. Rocco provide exuberant routines with street-inspired and salsa-driven movement clearly aiding the look and feel of the story. The aforementioned “Carnaval del Barrio” is a particular knockout. 

>> 10 shows you can’t miss in October

“In the Heights,” which comes to the Schuster Center Oct. 2-8, is a collaboration between two Minneapolis theaters. SUBMITTED PHOTO BY RICH RYAN(Staff Writer)

 

5. ENGAGING PERFORMANCES 

Last week, an Australian production of “In the Heights” was canceled due to controversial whitewashing or inauthentic casting. Thankfully, Dayton audiences are treated to a terrifically authentic and very engaging cast wonderfully led by Justin Gregory Lopez as Usnavi. Breezily rapping without missing a beat while full of wit and energy, Lopez absolutely charms. Equally noteworthy are Aline Mayagoitia as soul-searching student Nina, Lauren Villegas as gossipy nail salon owner Daniela, Emily Madigan as Daniela’s ditzy sidekick Carla, Stephen Scott Wormley as Nina’s love interest Benny, and Debra Cardona as Abuela Claudia. 

 

WANT TO GO?

What: “In the Heights” 

Where: Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton 

When: Through Oct. 8. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday 

Cost: $25-$98 

Tickets/more info: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com

One of Dayton’s most beloved holiday traditions is on stage NOW

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

The Dayton Philharmonic joins Dayton Ballet for its production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, presented at the Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton, December 15 through 23. CONTRIBUTED
Contributing Writer
The Dayton Philharmonic joins Dayton Ballet for its production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, presented at the Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton, December 15 through 23. CONTRIBUTED(Contributing Writer)

The Dayton Ballet presents the classic story of The Nutcracker every winter, with a cast that includes young dancers from throughout the Dayton area, with music by the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.  

This year’s Nutcracker will run from Dec. 15-23 at the Schuster Performing Arts Center, with tickets ranging from $21-$72. The costumes are phenomenal, the choreography is beautiful, the little kids are adorable and the holiday spirit is strong at this event. 

>> 7 of our favorite Dayton holiday traditions

If you plan to make this tradition part of your holiday season ...

WHAT: Dayton Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” 

WHEN: Ten performances between Dec. 15-23, 2017: 

  • Friday 12/15/17 at 7:30PM 
  • Saturday 12/16/17 at 2:30PM 
  • Saturday 12/16/17 at 7:30PM 
  • Sunday 12/17/17 at 2:30PM (hint: don’t miss the Sugarplum Tea for children before this performance at 12:30 p.m.!) 
  • Tuesday 12/19/17 at 7:30PM 
  • Wednesday 12/20/17 at 4:30PM 
  • Thursday 12/21/17 at 4:30PM 
  • Friday 12/22/17 at 2:30PM 
  • Friday 12/22/17 at 7:30PM 
  • Saturday 12/23/17 at 2:30PM 

WHERE: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton 

 

MORE INFO: Website | Facebook

ABOUT THE BALLET

The Nutcracker is a rite of passage for most dancers. Submitted photo by Scott Kimmins


Dayton Ballet artistic director Karen Russo Burke estimates the iconic holiday ballet is a traditional part of a season repertoire for 99.9 percent of ballet companies. “By the time you’re prepared to dance in a professional company you’ve gone through a lot of ballet schooling and have been training for years,” she explains. “In all that time there’s no way you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to dance in some production of ‘ The Nutcracker.’ Chances are you would have danced it nearly every year.”

>> Why ‘The Nutcracker’ is a dancer’s rite of passage?

Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music combined with fanciful choreography, gorgeous costumes and sparkling stage settings make this special ballet a perfect introduction to the world of dance — for both audiences and dancers. This will be the fifth year for the Dayton Ballet’s current production with choreography by Burke, sets by designer Ray Zupp, and costumes by Lowell Mathwich. The story of little Clara and her adventures in the Land of Sweets comes to the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center Dec. 15-21 and will be accompanied by the full Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Neal Gittleman.

Dayton’s very own live version of ‘A Christmas Story’ is happening now

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:19 PM

A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE
Staff Writer
A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

Ralphie Parker’s memorable quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun is back in the spotlight as the Victoria Theatre Association presents the Human Race Theatre Company’s excellent production of “A Christmas Story” through Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Victoria Theatre.

Here are five reasons why you should catch this entertaining showcase, adapted by Philip Grecian based on Jean Shepherd’s book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” and the iconic 1983 film of the same name.  

IF YOU LOVED THE MOVIE, YOU’LL LOVE THE PLAY 

Set in Hohman, Ind., in 1938, the play smoothly balances the endearing sentiments of Shepherd’s book with the kooky situations/images from the film.

But let’s face it – you’ll want to see the play because of what you remember from the film. Thankfully, you won’t be disappointed. The flagpole, the leg lamp, Ralphie’s Little Orphan Annie decoder pin, Randy’s oversized winter gear, the legendary Scut Farkus Affair, the tire fiasco, and the department store slide are all here just to name a few.

Director Igor Goldin even ensures you’ll hear a snippet of the infamous rendition of “Deck the Halls” from the Chinese restaurant.

But the play also provides some refreshing moments such as a jungle expedition fantasy, Esther Jane’s big crush on Ralphie, Randy’s inability to control his bladder, and a funny bit of living room stage business between The Old Man (Race resident artist Tim Lile) and Mother (Teri Clark Linden) centered on the leg lamp and a sandwich.  

>> Where to see ‘A Christmas Story’ in Dayton

>> Why is the Nutcracker a dancer’s rite of passage?

Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

OUTSTANDING NARRATION 

Charming Wright State University alum Greg Mallios truly shines and engagingly connects as Ralph Parker, narrating the proceedings with great warmth and enthusiasm.

Tapping into Shepherd’s extremely colorful vernacular is a huge challenge, but Mallios winningly steps up to the plate. For instance, when Ralph reminisces about his intimidating time with Santa (hilariously voiced by Lile), he spins the line “dazed in the presence of divine celebrity” into comic gold.  

GREAT KIDS

Casting is everything when it comes to a character-specific show like this, but an array of talented youngsters absolutely fit the bill.

The principal actors include admirable Eric Pettit (Winthrop in Wright State’s outstanding 2016 production of “The Music Man”) as Ralphie, Alex Glen as Randy, Jason Caldwell as Flick, energetic Noah Rutkowski as Schwartz, a wonderfully imposing Jack Lockwood using his physicality very convincingly as bully Scut Farkus, Danika Márquez as smitten Esther Jane, Reese Hornick as Helen, and ensemble members Emery Kimmins, and JaBreayle Lyle.

Featured opposite the kids, Race resident artist Katie Pees is an absolute hoot as Miss Shields and an overworked Higbee’s elf.  

>> The breathtaking Tree of Light and 7 more reasons to visit Carillon Park this holiday season

“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

TERRIFIC SET

Scenic designer Dick Block, a Dayton native, supplies another terrific set for the Human Race. Block’s revolving, snowglobe-esque design fuels the show’s fluidity as the action goes back and forth between the Parker household, the school, Higbee’s, and more.

His previous Human Race credits include “The Full Monty,” “Avenue Q,” “Gem of the Ocean,” “Lend Me a Tenor,” and “The Tempest.” 

HEARTWARMING NOSTALGIA 

Although the Red Ryder BB Gun is of utmost importance, the nostalgic beauty of this show, this heartwarming story, is in its potent reminder of what the Christmas season is all about: family, friendship, forgiveness, love, and hope.

>> What New York director has to say about working with local children

>> 10 must-see holiday light displays close to home

WANT TO GO?

What: “A Christmas Story,” a Projects Unlimited Star Attraction presented by the Victoria Theatre Association and produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.  

When: Tuesday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton  

Tickets: Prices range from $30 to $60. Purchase online at www.TicketCenterStage.com, at the Box Office, or call (937) 228-3630 or 888-228-3630. Group, military and student discounts available.  For information: www.victoriatheatre.com

These are the holiday shows you shouldn’t miss in December

Published: Saturday, November 25, 2017 @ 12:00 AM


            Sinclair Community College s annual production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, an adaptation of Charles M. Schulz s beloved Emmy-winning TV special, is slated Dec. 14-17 in Blair Hall Theatre. (Photo by Patti Celek)
Sinclair Community College s annual production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, an adaptation of Charles M. Schulz s beloved Emmy-winning TV special, is slated Dec. 14-17 in Blair Hall Theatre. (Photo by Patti Celek)

While you’re busy this holiday season making lists and checking them twice, keep these entertaining options in mind.

“The Littlest Angel”

Dec. 1-2, University of Dayton

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company delivers its annual holiday staging of the heartwarming children’s tale by Charles Tazewell. UD’s Boll Theatre in Kennedy Union, 300 College Park, Dayton. Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 3 and 7:30 p.m. $22.50-$25. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.

“Little Women: The Musical”

Dec. 1-9, Mathile Theatre of Schuster Center

Dare to Defy Productions presents 2005 musical adaptation of beloved Civil War-era novel by Louisa May Alcott concerning the four resilient March sisters and their devoted mother. Dec. 1 at 8 p.m., Dec. 2 at 2 and 8 p.m., Dec. 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. $16.50-$25. Mathile Theatre of Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.

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“Urinetown: The Musical”

Dec. 1-10, Wright State University

Wright State presents kooky 2001 Tony Award-winning musical satire about love, revolution and corporate greed. Dec. 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 8 p.m., Dec. 7 at 7 p.m., and Dec. 3, 9 and 10 at 2 p.m. in the Herbst Theatre of the Creative Arts Center on campus, 3640 Col. Glenn Hwy., Fairborn. $5-$12. (937) 775-2500 or visit https://liberal-arts.wright.edu/theatre-dance-and-motion-pictures/box-office.

Sweet Sounds of the Holidays

Dec. 3, Kettering Adventist Church

Bach Society of Dayton presents holiday program saluting well-known composers and traditional songs of various cultures. Kettering Children’s Choir Chorale and Kettering Advent Ringers also participate. 7:30 p.m. Kettering Adventist Church, 3939 Stonebridge Road, Kettering. $15-$20. Children 12 and under are free. www.bachsocietyofdayton.org.

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“A Christmas Story”

Dec. 12-17, Victoria Theatre

Victoria Theatre Association presents Human Race Theatre Company production of Jean Shepherd’s comical 1940s tale about Ralphie Parker’s quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. There are Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton. $30-$60. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.

“A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Dec. 14-17, Sinclair Community College

Charlie and Co. are back as Sinclair remounts its popular staging of Charles M. Schulz’s endearing classic. Thursday at noon, Friday at noon and 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 4 p.m. All seats $8. Blair Hall Theatre, Building 2, 444 W. Third St., Dayton. (937) 512-2808 or sinclair.edu/tickets.

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“The Nutcracker”

Dec. 15-23, Schuster Center

If you enjoyed the Dayton Ballet’s marvelous, encore-worthy “Great Gatsby” (and who didn’t?), the company returns with its annual holiday staple accompanied by the Dayton Philharmonic. Times vary. Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton. Tickets are $17-$72. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.

New Year’s Eve: The Grand Tour

Dec. 31, Schuster Center

Ring in the New Year with the Dayton Philharmonic for a festive evening encompassing classical composers such as Johannes Brahms and Johann Strauss in addition to Golden Age musicals such as “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Kismet.” 8 p.m. Sunday. Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton. Tickets are $19-$74. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.

Magician Adam Trent plans to blow your mind at Schuster show

Published: Saturday, November 25, 2017 @ 12:00 AM

Magician/illusionist Adam Trent performs Dec. 3 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Magician/illusionist Adam Trent performs Dec. 3 at the Schuster Center courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Adam Trent, a crowd-pleasing entertainer who specialized in technology illusions as a member of the Broadway and touring companies of global phenomenon “The Illusionists,” brings his signature skills to the Schuster Center Sunday, Dec. 3, courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association.

Influenced when he was younger by David Copperfield, Trent began performing at birthday party shows when he was 9 years old and contributed to larger events by the time he was 13. At 14, he started street performances which he regarded as “the most amazing and brutal training a performer could ever have.” After he had a change of heart about pursuing a degree in finance and entertainment marketing at a Los Angeles college, he found his purpose as a magician.

Determined to shatter stereotypes, he’s focused on reshaping magic for the next generation. His notable TV appearances include “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Today Show.”

>> HOLIDAY TV PROGRAMMING: When Ralphie, Rudolph, Frosty and the gang are coming to your TV

The Colorado native’s solo tour is produced by the same creative team behind “The Illusionists.” The production promises to be an immersive, audience-friendly extravaganza filled with magic, comedy and dance. In advance of his appearance, Trent reflected on the show and what audiences should anticipate.

Q: Is this tour one of the largest you’ve done?

A: This show is on a different scale from the tours I used to do. I used to tour across the country in a rental car with just a briefcase. But this tour, with the exception of “The Illusionists,” is probably the world’s largest touring magic show. It’s allowing me the capability to do all the things I’ve dreamed of doing my whole life. I never had the production to facilitate it until now.

>> 10 must-see holiday light displays in and around Dayton

Q: Which aspects of the show are you particularly proud of?

A: I do a lot of hologram projections. I also clone myself and teleport across the stage. This show has a lot of really cool and wacky futuristic illusions in it which are far beyond what I’ve been able to do on my own in the past. With a tour of this size, I tried to figure out what were the most spectacular things I could do. I’ve been able to dream limitless.

Q: What do you feel are the special ingredients that make your show a success?

A: I think it’s the audience involvement as well as the combination of music, comedy and magic. If you like magic, this show is for you. If you don’t like magic, this show is for you. This show is for magic fans and non-magic fans alike. One of the biggest compliments I receive after the show is someone coming up to me and saying how different the show was from what they expected. They feel differently about magic after seeing this show. And I also enjoy taking volunteers from the audience.

>> Award-winning country star Martina McBride coming to town for holiday concert

For instance, I’ll put someone’s phone in a blender and receive a lot of varied responses. Things like that make the show fun, unique and special. When I watch magic as an audience member, I never like it when magicians take themselves too seriously as if they’re trying to change the world. Magic shows are supposed to be fun and the whole family should be able to come and enjoy it. A 5-year-old should be laughing just as hard as the 95-year-old next to them.

WANT TO GO?

What: “The Illusionists Present Adam Trent”

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton

When: Dec. 3; 7 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $35-$55

Tickets: Call (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com

FYI: The performance is slated to run 1 hour and 50 minutes including a 20-minute intermission.