Laura Benanti: Live from the West Side Tonight!

Are you missing live theater as much as I am?  This is a perfect fix and you can go to the theater from your house tonight! Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) is co-producing a livestream concert event, Laura Benanti: Live from the West Side, Powered by PNC on Saturday, November 14 at 7 p.m. CST. Benanti is a Tony® Award-winning actress, singer, author and activist with a career spanning Broadway, film, and television.

 

Tickets for Laura Benanti: Live from the West Side, Powered by PNC are $30 per household and are available at DallasSummerMusicals.orgTicket holders will have access to an on-demand video recording of the livestream for 72 hours, available beginning one hour after the live broadcast ends. Proceeds from ticket sales will support DSM’s mission to deliver the spirit of Broadway to North Texas audiences through educational programs and community outreach initiatives.

 

“We are pleased to continue offering our patrons livestream concerts with such esteemed Broadway stars, such as Laura Benanti, to keep our fans connected to their love of live musical theater,” said Ken Novice, president of Dallas Summer Musicals. “We’re even happier to share this fundraising entertainment project with other nonprofit arts organizations around the country who need support, just like us. We know Broadway will be back, and it’s important, now more than ever, that we bring the magic of Broadway in any form we can to everyone who misses it.”

 

Benanti, most recently seen on Broadway as “Eliza Doolittle” in the 2018 revival of My Fair Lady, is a five-time Tony® Award nominee and received the Tony® Award for “Best Featured Actress in a Musical” for the 2008 production of Gypsy. In 2010, she was presented with the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for her 2010 performance in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Benanti has also appeared in various television series including Younger, Supergirl, Nashville, The Good Wife, and Nurse Jackie.

 

Laura Benanti: Live from the West Side, Powered by PNC will be a cabaret-style performance, showcasing a mix of Broadway showtunes, pop songs, and personal stories from the life of a Broadway star. The performance will take place at The Shubert Virtual Studios on Manhattan’s West Side, transmitted live in HD with professional sound mixing. At-home audience members will be invited to email in questions to be answered during the livestream.

 

The livestream, which is a co-production of Dallas Summer Musicals and Entertainment Benefits Group, is being shared by more than 20 nonprofit arts presenters around the country. Laura Benanti: Live from the West Side, Powered by PNC is the second of DSM’s three-part virtual concert series, Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway, Powered by PNCwhich featured two-time Tony® Award winner Patti LuPone on Oct. 24 and will also feature Tony® Award winner Laura Benanti on Nov. 14 and critically acclaimed actress and singer Vanessa Williams on Dec. 5.

Come From Away is a Timely Production

As I was writing this review late last week I received word that the Dallas production of Come From Away has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the concern of spreading it in large gatherings.  Although I believe that is absolutely the right thing to do I still feel the need to write about this amazing and timely musical.

 

If you don’t know, Come From Away is about a time in our lives that was both shocking, uncertain, and incredibly sad for our nation.  The terrorist attacks of 911 shook us to our core and the outbreak of a pandemic in this country attacking us right now couldn’t be more ironic.  The virus is causing fear, it’s disrupting our comfortable life as we know it, and the uncertainty of our own health is very disturbing and frightening.

Here’s the plot of Come From Away:  COME FROM AWAY is the remarkable true but little known story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town called Gander in Newfoundland that welcomed them. On a trip to Gander, Irene Sankoff and David Hein realized the story of what happened in the area on 9/12 needed to be told through the authentic music of the region. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships. On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12, their stories moved us all.  Come From Away landed on 2015 “Year’s Best” lists in LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune and Seattle Times, before continuing to top the 2016 “Best of” Lists in the Washington Post and the Toronto Star and the 2017 “Best of” Lists in TIME Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Chicago Tribune, NY1, Huffington Post, The Stage, The Advocate, Newsday and Thrillist.

 

The musical recreates the event of the stranded passengers with a relatively small cast playing both the passengers and the townspeople and a very simple set.  The result is engaging and entertaining.  The cast is very talented and manages to switch from the diversity of the passengers that they are playing (yes there is a Texan, a Brit, and a Muslim to name a few) to the entertainingly and humorous Canadian accents of the townspeople.  The musical numbers had me at one minute holding back tears from the painful memories of that time to laughing at the absurdity of the situation the passengers and town found themselves in Gander at times.  In my opinion there are many better musicals out there but I give it A+ for its’ effort, the  creativity of the writers, and the emotions that it elicits in every adult that was alive on 911.  Even those living through the difficult times of today will walk away affected by its’ message.

A subplot of the musical is the celebration of one of the lead characters who was an actual American Airlines Lady Pilot, Beverley Bass.  She is a trailblazing pilot who became the first female pilot promoted to captain by AA in 1986 and led the first all female crewed flight shortly thereafter.  Her groundbreaking career became even more visible when she along with several other pilots were forced to land in the remote town of Gander on September 11th.  Her character has a real show stopping number to celebrate her achievement of breaking the glass ceiling in aviation as a lady pilot.  This is another irony in timing since we celebrated International Woman’s Day last week!

 

Trivia:  Did anyone else wonder where the musical’s title Come From Away came from?  It’s not exactly easy to say or remember for that matter.  I did a goggle search and found this:  Come From Away is a term used in Canada’s Atlantic provinces for someone who has moved to the area from somewhere else.  What an appropriate name!

For me, watching the play took me back to that time of despair, grief,  uncertainty, and pain that the events of 911 caused.  But it also took me back to a time of incredible outpouring of love, kindness for each other and extreme patriotism.  Despite our many differences, America came together as a family and rallied to fight our enemy together and to help our neighbors in any way we could.  Come From Away reflects that time in a heartwarming and incredibly sweet way.  The story of a small town in Canada opening their hearts and homes to total strangers (a lot of them too) is a look back at how we as humans rise to the occasion when we are tested and despite our diversity we are all humans.  I took my 22 year old son, Jared with me to see the musical and despite him not remembering 911, he got the message loud and clear and said to me that his take away was  “Humanity needs something to fight against in order to unit”.  Right now, after the scary announcements of government shut downs, quarantining, and social distancing due to the COVID 19 I feel like there are no truer words.

Tony Award Winning “The Band’s Visit” in Dallas –  February

Playing in Dallas from February 5 – 16 at the Winspear Opera House and February 18-23 at the AT&T Performing Arts Center

THE BAND’S VISIT is a beautiful, nontraditional musical that is subtle and somewhat slow in its delivery but powerful in its message.  This is not your usual musical with lots of big numbers and foot stomping music and if that’s what you expect when you go you’ll be disappointed.  But if you go with an open mind and heart you will find yourself moved in ways that you didn’t expect.  It is definitely worth the trip to see it.

Here’s the Plot:

THE BAND’S VISIT tells the story of an Egyptian police band that goes to Israel to perform a concert. Because of a funny mix up of the town’s name at the bus station, they wind up in the wrong town. With no bus till morning, they are taken into their homes by the locals for one night and the rest of the story is funny, heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking.

The ensuing interactions between the band and the locals examines how even though they may come from completely different cultures, human connection is very powerful.  The beautiful music that the Egyptian band brings with them to the small “nowhere” Israeli town meshes these two cultures together for one (very long) night.  Despite their many differences, the possibility of conflict never materializes and in fact, it becomes something much more powerful.  This is a story about acceptance and the revelation that we are all simply human trying to make it through life with the same desires, dreams, disappointments, and yes, even heartbreaks.

THE BAND’S VISIT is the winner of 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, making it one of the most Tony-winning musicals in history.  Starring in the Dallas Production is a cast of world-class performers  led by award-winning Israeli actor Sasson Gabay, star of the original film and Broadway production. THE BAND’S VISIT is actually based on the 2007 film of the same title written by Eran Kolirin.  The show also features a band of very talented actors/musicians that perform the score which is a combination of jazz and traditional Middle Easter music.  The final number is a satisfying ending to this poignant story about how a small insignificant band brought light and hope to a group of lonely people in another country.

Leave the kids home for this one.  It’s not that the musical is inappropriate but it’s not your typical crowd pleasing musical with nonstop music and dancing.  It’s a musical for adults who enjoy theater and the many surprises that you may find there.  My husband and I are still talking about it.

ABOUT THE SHOW:

 

 

 

The Blue Man Group Speechless Tour is in Town!

The Blue Men have returned to Dallas with a brand new show! BLUE MAN GROUP SPEECHLESS TOUR, presented by Dallas Summer Musicals, is at the Winspear Opera House January 15-19 and features new and original compositions, acts, and instruments alongside iconic Blue Man Group moments!

My husband and I went last night and were pleasantly surprised how much we enjoyed the new show! We had seen Blue Man Group before in Vegas but this is an all new and really entertaining show.  If you’ve never seen it before you should go and if you’ve seen it before you should go again!  This is a fun interactive show that plays with your senses through art, non-verbal communication, and music.  It’s like a rock concert and comedy show rolled into one fun happening.  The quirky blue men are so interesting to watch and the creativity of their performances continue to delight audiences everywhere!  This show appeals to all age groups so take your kids or your parents – they will enjoy it, I promise!

 

TIP:  Try to sit on the bottom floor to get the most out of the visual and interactive part of the show and DON’T sit on the front row if you don’t want to get wet and DON’T sit on the end of the row if you don’t want to get pulled up on stage!  Like I said, it’s an interactive show!

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to see The Blue Man Group.  They’ll be at Winspear Opera House  (2403 Flora St.) in Dallas from January 15-19.

  • Single tickets for the BLUE MAN GROUP SPEECHLESS TOUR start at $20 (pricing subject to change) and are available at DallasSummerMusicals.org or by phone at 800-982-2787.
  • Purchase in person at the Music Hall at Fair Park Box Office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Orders for groups of ten (10) or more may be placed by calling (214) 426-4768 or emailing Groups@DallasSummerMusicals.org @dsmusicals #DSMBway

Old Jews Telling Jokes Coming to The Eisemann Center in July!

OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES
JULY 11-28, 2019
Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts

Don’t Miss a Hilarious Evening in the Catskills with Jokes, Skits, Song, and Dance!
From the Producers of My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy and
My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, & I’m in Therapy

Philip Roger Roy and Playhouse Productions, Inc. have announced a limited engagement of the off Broadway hit Old Jews Telling Jokes at the Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts and Corporate Presentations Bank of America Theatre. The visiting production is set to open on Thursday, July 11, at 2:00 pm and the engagement will continue through Sunday, July 28.

Created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent and Directed by Jeremy Quinn, Old Jews Telling Jokes, which has been called a “pickle-barrel full of giggles,” showcases five actors in a revue-type production that pays tribute to and reinvents classic jokes of the past and present. It celebrates the rich tradition of Jewish humor and ‘all the rabbis, complaining wives, fed-up husbands, patience-challenged physicians, gossiping ladies, and competitive men’ populating it. The humor is suggestive and even raunchy as the ‘Old Jews’ make fun of themselves as well as followers of every other religion. Producer Philip Roger Roy said this, “Think Catskills comedy with jokes, songs, stories, skits, and routines. The humor is reminiscent of the great Jewish comedians from Buddy Hackett and Alan King to Tom Lehrer, and more.” Warning: adult (bawdy) humor. Not for audiences under 21.

Old Jews Telling Jokes has received rave reviews around the country including The Huffington Post who said this about the show, “A non-stop laugh fest.” Said the New York Times, “Hilarious … magnificent, enduring rhythm of Jewish humor!” And from the New Yorker, “The laughs-per-minute average is as high as anything you’ll find on stage!” Legendary comedian Mel Brooks enthused, “Chock full of laughs!”

Get your tickets now for this very funny production while it’s in town! The regular performance schedule is Thursday at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Ticket prices range from $39-65 and may be purchased online at: www.eisemanncenter.com, by phone at 972.744.4650 or in person at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson, TX 75082. For group sales information, call (888) 264-1788.