Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best of Broadway Spokane 2008-09 season

Well, Hormel Will Be Happy ....

Best of Broadway theatergoers will be eating “ham and jam and Spam a lot” when the Monty Python musical drops into the INB Center for eight performances. You’ll have to wait 15 months, however: King Arthur won’t use the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch against the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog until May 2009.
Just six weeks before the presidential election, the Capitol Steps will spoof D’s and R’s in their annual visit (Sept. 20).
For three weeks this October, chandeliers will rise and crash as a girl in a wedding dress is torn between hunky Raoul and disfigured Erik in The Phantom of the Opera.
When Oprah builds a musical about sisterhood, Africa and abusive husbands, audiences will come. The Color Purple (Dec. 10-14) reunites Nettie and Celie, but only after time and geography intervene.
The sun will come up tomorrow — but for one night only — when Annie returns next Jan. 31.
The joint will be jumpin’ when American Idol‘s Ruben Studdard sings “The Jitterbug Waltz” and other Fats Waller tunes in the 30th anniversary tour of Ain’t Misbehavin’ (March 19-22, 2009).
Defending the Caveman, Rob Becker’s 1991 solo performance about relationships, shows for two nights at the Bing next March, right when Studdard’s in town. While walking around a “faux Flintstone” set, Becker jokes about feminists, erogenous zones and the different ways that men and women use the remote control.

The sked:

The Capitol Steps Sat 20 Sept 08
The Phantom of the Opera Oct. 8-25, 2008
The Color Purple Dec. 10-14, 2008

Annie Sat 31 Jan 09, two perfs
Ruben Studdard in Ain't Misbehavin' -- March 19-22, 2009
Defending the Caveman March 20-21, 2009, at the Bing
Spamalot May 5-10, 2009

Obviously, Nov. and Jan.-Feb. and April are all almost entirely open, so more shows are coming, just as High School Musical was added for this season.
Jack Lucas of WestCoast Entertainment announced that "these are all Equity shows." Bobo has confirmation from the Phantom press agent that that show, at least, is Equity. No confirmation yet on the others.

Impressions from the annual announcement luncheon on the INB Center stage:
WestCoast brought in the touring Phantom's press agent and lead singer, Steven Tewkesbury (sp.?) direct from Omaha (where it is for a month now) to hype it and sing "Music of the Night" -- and boy, does that tenor have range. Abbey Crawford pointed out "some pitch problems" but was duly wowed, as was Bobo along with other audience members -- and she added that he has a bit of otherworldliness in his voice that's suited to a character who's, well, more than a little freaky.

On the promo video:
A match strikes. "Feel the glow of desire." Candles. Zoom back for LOTS of candles. "Discover a passion unrivaled, as music and costume and romance combine in a single blaze of glory." Yadda yadda yadda.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh himself in voiceover: The silent film lacked romance (closeup of Lon Chaney's freak-face). Sir Cam yammers on about how it's the same show anywhere as it is on Broadway, "and NOT simply an exploitation of our success."
"Nothing substandard."

Anybody ever wonder why the Michael Crawfords of this world wear a half-revealing half-mask, but the show's logo (and this luncheon's white-chocolate dessert) feature a full mask?

Phantom has made $3.2 billion; by comparison, Jurassic Park, about half that.
This is one of three national touring shows, in addition to the 20-year-old B'way production.
This one's the youngest: opened 15 years ago, Dec. 13, 1992, at the Fifth St. Theater in Seattle.
Omaha now, then San Antonio, then Minneapolis; eight weeks in Wash DC -- they average about 12 cities a year -- then Costa Mesa, Saskatoon (!!), Sacramento, Seattle and Spokane.
Press agent Bill Miller makes the point that early audiences came for the spectacle, but repeat audiences come for the story: a man who's passionately in love and doesn't know quite how to express his emotions. Been there, done that; so it does have its appeal.
Tewkesbury spanned several octaves. I was struck this time by the lyrics' emphasis on coming over to the dark side. Kinky.
The Color Purple video:
A point made by Ben Cameron when I was in L.A. -- and there's much more from him,once I type up my notes, about how to promote theater from the former head of TCG -- is that video of stirring actors and performances only works with frequent theatergoers; the seldom or never types have no frame of reference for that. But if you want to appeal to theater newbies, emphasize in your marketing the emotional impact that shows can have on individual audience members.
And we saw almost none of The Color Purple itself, until a bit of the big self-loving aria for Celie at the end -- instead, about 20 multiethnic people in closeup and in raptures. (Even Gloria Steinem.) Oh, and a bit of Oprah too.

Annie looks not to have the same cast as last visited here. Two performances only.
Ain't Misbehavin' doesn't open until Nov. and we get it in March, so it was all look-at-Ruben-win-on-American-Idol footage.
Best joke from Defending the Caveman (on how women speak 7,000 words a day, but men only 2,000):
"Women will call each other up and make a date to ... talk. (beat) If a guy calls me and says that he 'wants to talk,' that means I owe him money."

The Spamalot video spoofed a nerdy theater historian. Hey, juvenile humor and lots of leggy showgirls -- my kind of show. We actually got a can of "Golden Honey Grail Wicked-Awesome Spamalot Collector's Edition" SPAM in our swag bags. For real.

Each $1 of BoB tickets generates $3 in local economic impact.
In 21 years, 1.7 million people have attended BoB shows. But Lucas also mentioned $7 million in ticket sales, generating roughly $21 million over the years in economic impact. But wait a minute. Did I mishear? 1.7 mill folks spend $7 mill on tix? That's only $4 a head. That's a whole lot of papering the house. What up with that?

Back to Phantom press agent:
Says Tewkesbury is one of the most "vocally strong" Phantoms he's witnessed. Amen to that.
Lots of Raouls work their way up to be Phantoms.
The presently touring Carlotta gets to play that role on B'way for eight weeks, then return to this same tour.
Bill Miller, AWA Touring Services, also handling national tours of My Fair Lady and Chorus Line


At February 22, 2008 10:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can find a listing of which shows are AEA tours at

Phantom and Spamalot are AEA tours. The rest, however, are definitely not.

Jack Lucas may be referring to other unions, such as the stagehands union, when he says that it's a union tour.


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