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Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:45 PM
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 @ 12:19 PM
— 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
Published: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
A glass slipper is going lead to a whole lot of magic near downtown this weekend.
Stivers School for the Arts is taking on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” during shows Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students.
“It is a great story, and it has great music,” said Paula Powell, the production’s manager. “Each actor brings (his or her) own personality (to the characters). We have a pretty diverse group of kids in the cast.”
Many of the actresses and actors don’t reflect the classic story’s traditional typecasting.
Based on “The Wonderful World of Disney: Cinderella,” a 1997 movie starring Whitney Houston and Brandy Norwood, Stivers’ diverse show includes a black girl, Kiama Wa-Tenza, as Cinderella and Fischer Barnett, a teen boy, as the stepmother.
The diverse casting was no big deal at Stivers, said Powell, Stivers director of choirs, noting that the arts transcends.
“We are pretty easy-going here,” she said. “People auditioned and the characters just sorted themselves out.”
About 70 students from each of the school’s magnet programs are represented in the production that includes music from a student orchestra.
The show includes audio and visual elements and Puppets from Zoot Theatre Company.
Beside Wa-Tenza and Barnett, key actors and actresses include Trinity Hines Anthony as Fairy Godmother; David Lewis as the Prince; Isaac Bement as Lionel, the royal steward; Clara Bement as Joy, a step sister; Ana Smith as Grace, the other step sister; Logan Van Bibber as King; Erin Fultz as Queen; Brandan Jeffries and Lamorris Render as Mice; Ryan Gibson as Charles the cat and Desmond Kingston as Dove.
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Yes, you’ve seen “Phantom.”
But not this “Phantom.”
The new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” is playing at the Schuster Center through April 22 as part of a North American tour.
Based on the French novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra” by Gaston Leroux, the plot revolves around a deformed but gifted composer who lives beneath the Paris Opera house and becomes obsessed with a beautiful chorus girl, Christine Daaé. As a result of the Phantom’s threats, Christine replaces the opera company’s diva, Carlotta. Although Christine feels sorry for Eric (The Phantom), she falls in love with her childhood friend, Raoul, an opera patron.
The last time Cameron Mackintosh’s production of “Phantom” came to Dayton was in 2010; this will be the first time the newly interpreted musical has been seen here. According to associate director Seth Sklar-Heyne, those who’ve seen the show over the past 30 years will find much of this new show familiar but will also be surprised by some dramatic changes.
“Cameron MacIntosh’s idea was to take the material and put it through a new lens,” he explains. “The premise for this version is that the Phantom is a real man and that’s what makes this version of the storytelling different than the original.”
Solar-Heyne shares thoughts about the three elements that have been preserved and those that may come as a surprise:
WHAT’S THE SAME?
1. THE COSTUMES. “The hundreds of iconic Victorian costumes designed by Maria Bjornson have been retained. The show is set in Paris in the mid- to late 1800s, so it’s about silhouettes. The men have tailcoats, the women have bodices cinched at the waist and large skirts with bustles and have hair designs to match — large curls, stacked hair with hats. There’s something very opulent about the dress, even the costumes that represent what they’d wear during the day are very stylized and ornate.”
2. THE MUSIC. “The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the things that makes this piece timeless. The music is still the foundation and the backbone to what we do on stage. You’ll leave with a great sense of the melodies and part of that is the way Andrew has structured the musical motif repeatedly. A lot of the themes represent characters. So, for example, the Phantom sings the title song and whenever he is referred to you hear that theme and connect to both his character and the drama. In the way of an old-fashioned musical, a live orchestra fills the theater with a detailed and lush orchestral score.”
3. THE STORY. “People have come to love the story and identify with these characters. There is something to be said for the classic beauty of it. The love triangle is the heart of the production. The message of the story is to love your fellow man no matter what. You can learn to love without judgment, without your eyes. You can see something in someone that may not be on the outside.”
WHAT’S NEW, DIFFERENT?
1. THE SET DESIGN. “There have been huge leaps in engineering and mechanics that allow us to achieve a lot with the physical production that we couldn’t have done 30 years ago. The original was set in a black box and very stylized and minimal in terms of its elements. In this production, which tours in 20 trucks, we try to inhabit the nooks and crannies of the Paris Opera house in incredible detail. There’s a chandelier but it does a lot more than it used to do. We don’t have a staircase; we’ve relocated that scene in a mirrored, gilded ballroom. In the past, the manager’s office scenes were suggested by a curtain and a table. Now we have a 10-ton cylindrical wall that cracks open to reveal the slice of a naturalistic office space. And when the Phantom takes Christine on the journey to his lair, we show him controlling and engineering the descent to the catacombs. So the Phantom spectacle still seems like magic but it’s more grounded in the character’s genius as an engineer.”
2. NEW CHOREOGRAPHY. New choreography for this production is by Scott Ambler; new staging is by director Laurence Connor.
2. THE CHARACTERS. “This show is still filled with incredible illusions but at its core we’re seeing a story of a real man who has suffered in life because of this deformity and been misunderstood. In the original production, we think of him as a Svengali existing on another level; he’s able to control things and manipulate people in a way that’s unexplained. In this production, we see a real man who pursues a girl because she’s able to provide something to him that will heal him.”
WANT TO GO?
What: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”
When: April 11-22
Where: The Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, Second and Main streets in downtown Dayton.
Tickets: Prices range from $25 to $118 at Ticketcenterstage.com or (937) 228-3630
Presented by: Premier Health Broadway Series.
Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 7:00 PM
Updated: Friday, April 06, 2018 @ 6:23 PM
— The touring shows the Victoria Theatre Association will be bringing to town for the new theater season that begins this fall have been announced.
Here are the shows we can’t wait to see:
Premiere Health Broadway Series 2018-19
SCHOOL OF ROCK — THE MUSICAL
Oct. 2-7, 2018, Schuster Center
The VTA’s 2018-19 Premiere Health Broadway Series kicks off Oct. 2 with “School of Rock — The Musical.” Based on the hit film, the musical features 14 new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as all of the original songs from the movie. Musical theater’s first-ever kids’ rock band will play their instruments live on stage.
Jan. 15-20, 2019, Schuster Center
Next up is “Finding Neverland,” which follows the life of playwright J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan.”
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN’S THE KING AND I
Feb. 12-17, 2019, Schuster Center
One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s most glorious musicals, “The King and I,” comes to the Schuster during Valentine’s Day season.
Set in 1860s Bangkok, it’s the story of the unconventional relationship between the King of Siam and the British schoolteacher who comes to instruct his wives and children.
The beloved songs from this Tony winner range from “Getting to Know You” and “I Whistle a Happy Tune” to “Shall We Dance” and “Hello Young Lovers.”
ON YOUR FEET!
March 5-10, 2019, Schuster Center
Emilio and Gloria Estefan are the focus of “On Your Feet!,” the inspiring story of the talented Cuban couple who came to America, faced adversity and managed to break barriers and reach the top of the pop music world.
April 2-7, 2019, Schuster Center
A new production of the celebrated musical “Les Misérables” featuing new staging and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo will be at the Schuster Center. Classic songs from the Tony winning musical include “I Dreamed a Dream, “On My Own,” “Bring Him Home” and “One Day More.”
June 25-30, 2019, Schuster Center
The final treat of the Broadway series is “Waitress,” the story of a small-town waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of escaping her loveless marriage and finding a happier life. The musical is based on the popular film.
Projects Unlimited Star Attractions 2018-19
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Oct. 23-25, 2018, Schuster Center
Catch up with Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography and classic songs. Based on the 1939 MGM film, this production includes a tornado touchdown, munchkins and flying monkeys.
Feb. 1-2, 2019, Schuster Center
The Tony and Grammy winner and the longest running American musical on Broadway is headed back to town. The classic tale features show-stopping song and dance numbers.
THE BOOK OF MORMON
May 21-26, 2019, Schuster Center
This hilarious Tony-winning musical comedy returns. The story follows the misadventures of a pair of missionaries sent halfway across the world.
OTHER SHOWS JUST ANNOUNCED
Thanks to the Morris Furniture Company Family Series, the kids can look forward to live entertainment as well.
That schedule includes “The Ugly Duckling” (Nov. 10); “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” (Nov. 16-17); “The Phantom Tollbooth” (Feb. 2, 2019); “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (Feb. 23, 2019); “Diary of a Worm, A Spider & A Fly” (March 23, 2019) and “Magic School Bus Live: Lost in the Solar System” (April 27, 2019).
Also announced is the line-up for the popular National Geographic Live series. The speakers will include former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stone on Feb. 3-4; big wall climber Mark Synnott on March 10-11 and Arctic photographer Florian Schulz on April 14-15. The series takes place at the Victoria Theatre.
Season tickets are available now. Single-show ticket information will be available at a later time. For ticket information, visit (937) 228-3630 or ticketcenterstage.com.
Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 12:46 PM
— The hilariously witty musical comedy “Something Rotten!,” nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Musical, is playing through Sunday, March 25 at the Schuster Center.
A clever and naughty sendup of William Shakespeare and musical theater conventions, the show charmingly centers on brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, aspiring writers in 1595 London in desperate need of a hit. Their rival, the Bard, is treated as a rock star, but they feel confident in surpassing his greatness with the creation of the world’s very first musical. It is part of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Here are five reasons why you should see this entertaining romp.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE SHAKESPEARE
In fact, Nick’s first solo is the comical “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” a laundry list of reasons why the Bard, a former actor in his troupe, just isn’t his cup of tea. Although effectively accented with an assortment of playful homages to “Henry IV,” “Twelfth Night,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and, most importantly, “Hamlet,” this breezy show is more of a love letter to the Renaissance, Broadway, musical theater, romance, and the universal bond of marriage and family. “We’re well aware the audience is going to come to this show not really sure of what they’re going to get,” said Maggie Lakis, who portrays Nick’s supportive wife Bea and offers a solid rendition of “Right Hand Man.” “‘Something Rotten!’ is a new show so it’s not a revival which is more commonly seen on tours these days. But it has great production numbers and it’s been wonderful hearing the audience experience the show for the first time because there are so many great surprises in it. And actually, it’s very rewarding to do a comedy right now considering everything that’s going on in the world.”
CAST LED BY BROADWAY PRINCIPALS
In a rare turn of events, the tour’s three principal leads closed the show on Broadway in early 2017. Tony nominees Rob McClure (Nick Bottom) and “Rent” alum Adam Pascal (Shakespeare) along with Josh Grisetti (Nigel Bottom) offer wonderfully cohesive chemistry befitting their time with this material. The verbal tap dance showdown between McClure and Pascal in the gospel-driven Act 1 finale “Bottom’s Gonna Be on Top” is a hoot.
Director/choreographer Casey Nicholaw is familiar to Dayton audiences thanks to his memorable work on “The Book of Mormon.” His contributions are equally inventive here particularly his knack for gradually building ensemble numbers to the fullest while inserting funny imagery where necessary including a few Grim Reapers during “The Black Death” and tap-dancing eggs in “Make an Omelette,” a key scene in Nick and Nigel’s musical.
Brothers Wayne Kirkpatrick (Grammy-winning co-songwriter of Eric Clapton’s “Change Your World”) and Karey Kirkpatrick (Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter of animated film “Chicken Run”) deliver an impressive array of tuneful melodies from the snazzy pop elegance of opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” to the rock urgency of “Will Power” (delivered with flair by Pascal with moves like Jagger assisted by four brooding backup boys portrayed by Daniel Beeman, Drew Franklin, Luke Hamilton, and Tony Neidenbach). “We were conscious of not wanting to be so inside that you could only get it if you had seen the most obscure musicals,” Wayne Kirkpatrick said. “We went broad, purposefully. We referenced not only the musicals people would know even if they hadn’t seen them, or maybe they’d only seen the movie. The same with Shakespeare. Everybody knows some Shakespeare lines. There are a lot of what we refer to as ‘hits,’ that everybody is going to know.”
The Kirkpatricks and Nicholaw truly pulled out the stops when creating/envisioning Act 1’s “A Musical” and Act 2’s aforementioned “Make an Omelette.” The former, brought about by Nick’s visit to see faulty soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus (kooky Blake Hammond), ingeniously and joyfully references an array of musicals from “Annie” and “South Pacific” to “Les Misérables” and “A Chorus Line” with a nod to the Radio City Rockettes for good measure. Both are must-see showcases worth the price of admission.
“These two numbers sometimes receive mid-show standing ovations,” said Lakis, McClure’s wife on stage and off. “This show simply has everything you’d want from a musical comedy from great music to great costumes to great laughs.”
WANT TO GO?
What: “Something Rotten!”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton
When: Through March 25; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $35 and up.