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Published: Tuesday, January 02, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— Happy New Year! Begin 2018 by checking out this slate of shows familiar and new to the area including three symphonic concerts.
Jan. 4-7, Schuster Center
Playground Theatre supplies local premiere of Erica Lipez’s dramedy about a group of friends longing to change the world with a social networking site while tutoring to pay the rent. Mathile Theatre of Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton. Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. $15-$20. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.
Jan. 11-14, Victoria Theatre
Muse Machine presents Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s classic 1964 musical comedy about a meddlesome New York matchmaker re-evaluating her life in a joyous and hilarious pursuit of love and happiness. Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton. Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.
THE WHO’S TOMMY
Jan. 12-20, Schuster Center
Dare to Defy Production’s takes on the classic 1969 rock opus about an inspirational pinball-playing whiz whose physical limitations do not hinder him from overcoming adversity. Mathile Theatre of Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 13. $16.50-$25. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.
ONE SUNDAY IN BIRMINGHAM
Jan. 15, Xenia Area Community Theater
Writer/director Joyce A. Barnes tells the dramatic story of 15-year-old Ruby Watson who joined thousands of other young people in the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama. Weaving together historic characters of the time including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bull Connor, this multimedia presentation pinpoints the struggle for equality during the Civil Rights Movement. Monday at 3 and 7 p.m. Xenia Area Community Theater, 45 E. Second St., Xenia. $9-$10. (937) 372-0516 or www.xeniaact.org.
BEEHIVE: THE ‘60S MUSICAL
Jan. 19-Feb. 4, Dayton Playhouse
This musical revue pays tribute to female singers of the 1960s such as Leslie Gore, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner. Songs include “It’s My Party,” “To Sir With Love,” “Proud Mary,” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Playhouse, 1301 E. Siebenthaler Ave., Dayton. $16-$18. (937) 424-8477 or www.daytonplayhouse.com.
STELLA AND LOU
Jan. 19-Feb. 4, Dayton Theatre Guild
In this local premiere by Bruce Graham, a South Philadelphia bar owner and a regular patron ponder a future together beyond mere friendship. Amy Taint and Geoff Burkman play the titular roles. Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. (with the exception of the Jan. 20 performance at 8 p.m.) and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Guild, 430 Wayne Ave. $13-$20. (937) 278-5993 or www.daytontheatreguild.org.
BRAHMS: FIRST AND FOREMOST
Jan. 19 and 20, Schuster Center
Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra spotlights three of the great first symphonies by Johannes Brahms, Joseph Haydn and Leonard Bernstein. The second movement of Bernstein’s biblical-themed work (“Jeremiah”) will feature guest soloist Layna Chiankas who has performed many leading roles with Dayton Opera. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton. Tickets are $15.45-$64.30. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.
Jan. 26 and 27, Schuster Center
Ohio native Steven Reineke, a graduate of Miami University and music director and conductor of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, guest conducts this Dayton Philharmonic SuperPops concert saluting African-American female jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. Broadway powerhouses Montego Glover (Tony nominee for “Memphis”), N’Kenge (“Motown”) and Capathia Jenkins (“Newsies”) serve as guest vocalists. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton. Tickets are $29-$79. (937) 228-3630 or www.ticketcenterstage.com.
Jan. 28, Dayton Art Institute
Published: Saturday, April 21, 2018 @ 9:53 AM
— The music of the night returns with a stunning makeover as the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s global megahit “The Phantom of the Opera” continues through Sunday, April 22 courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Produced by legendary British powerhouse Cameron Mackintosh and based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells a romantic, mysterious and compelling account of the titular musician who takes young soprano Christine Daae under his wing in late 19th century Paris. Meanwhile, Christine is wooed by the dashing Raoul, infuriating the Phantom and fueling his vengeful takeover of the Paris Opera House.
Here are five reasons why you should see this thrilling spectacle on its final weekend.
1. EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Director Laurence Connor brings character-driven finesse and breezy fluidity to this reconceived production. He dials back the cinematic opulence of the original helmed by Harold Prince (which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary on Broadway) while adding new touches. In particular, “Prima Donna,” an ode to diva Carlotta (excellently conceited Trista Moldovan), is treated as a beautiful transition, guiding the audience directly into the operatic sequence “Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh.”
Connor also moves the vibrant “Masquerade” inside the Opera House, another effective departure from the original, and alters the Phantom’s suspenseful final seconds to magical degrees. “The original production was brilliant, but this production is truly spectacular,” said Eva Tavares, who portrays the haunted Christine. “I also feel ours is a grittier production. We want to make our characterizations as real as possible.”
2. A POWERFUL LOOK AT EMPATHY
Despite the Phantom’s treachery and defiance in his obsessive pursuit of Christine, it is imperative to feel some sense of connection to his struggle nonetheless.
“I find the show to be based in a real place of empathy,” Tavares said. “It’s about loving someone and caring for someone even when they don’t love or care for themselves. Even when the people around Christine tell her the Phantom is vicious, she knows the real person inside. He was a tortured individual who was dealt a hard hand at a young age. Christine’s unabashed and unfiltered empathy really speaks to people. She displays a kindness we all need in our lives.”
3. A BEAUTIFULLY COMPLEX CHRISTINE
As Tavares navigates her role with lovely elegance, she provides a beautifully complex journey from giddy chorus girl (her star-is-born excitement throughout the gorgeous “Think of Me” is an early highpoint) to mature woman.
There is also a very telling moment in Act 1 when Christine grows suicidal, another savvy directorial choice from Connor.
The soaring ballad “All I Ask of You” literally becomes Raoul’s plea to bring Christine off the ledge.
4. APPEALING NON-TRADITIONAL CASTING
Standing 6-foot-7, Quentin Oliver Lee, an African-American, firmly leads the production in the vocally demanding titular role. His refreshing and imposing presence certainly gives the material a great deal of renewed subtext.
“Diversity in casting shouldn’t be an issue,” said Tavares, who is 5-foot-1. “The people who are right for a role should be cast. Quentin is an amazing actor who brings a lot to the role. We have a great dynamic as friends. I’m so glad and so grateful to be part of a company that sees the value in diversity in casting.”
5. VISUAL SPLENDOR
Even though this tour overall strays from the original’s iconic nature, you’ll still be dazzled by Maria Bjornson’s fabulous costumes, Scott Brown’s scenic design, Scott Ambler’s terrific choreography (notice the Paso Doble intensity within “The Point of No Return”), Nina Dunn’s video/projection design, and one grand chandelier that is a character all its own.
WANT TO GO?
What: “The Phantom of the Opera”
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton
When: Through April 22; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets/more info: Call Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or visit ticketcenterstage.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.