Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is There Life For the Live Performing Arts After the Internet?

A Spoonful of Sugar

Can the live performing arts survive the Internet? Ben Cameron thinks it can. The Arts Administrator who serves as the Arts Program Director for the Doris Duke Foundation is speaking out on the subject. This past February, Cameron spoke with passion and enthusiasm to an anxious crowd-- his feelings and hopes for the continued prosperity of the performing arts.

Ben Cameron, Arts Administrator
Cameron expresses what many in the industry feel, a fear that the Internet and immediate accessibility of entertainment online, will affect who attends live events and how often. Should we be concerned? Yes. Is it the beginning of the end? No. He emphasizes that the live performing arts must be part of a new reformation in order to survive.

Probably the most important point Cameron expressed was that the arts “invite us to look at our fellow human beings with generosity and curiosity”. He goes on to state, “We work to promote healthy vibrant societies, to ameliorate human suffering, to promote a more thoughtful, substantive, empathic world order”.

In his speech, Cameron doesn’t offer any suggestion of how the arts will survive or what we need to do protect them. Instead, he offers a call to action; not to fight technology and change, but to search for ways to co-exist.

Initially, I was inspired by this speech. After several viewings, what really impressed me, was what is missing from it... Answers.

Will Technology Be the Downfall of Civilization?

As technology evolves, it becomes easier for us to be lazy and ineffective. The very tools we have to enhance our abilities to communicate, allow us to communicate less. People need to talk! Email, texting and access to new worlds of information through the Internet are only effective if we are effective. They were created as tools to use, not as a replacement for good old-fashioned communication.

How many times have you misinterpreted an email, reading in a thought or emotion that wasn’t there? The fact is, without face-to-face visual communication, it is too easy to read between the lines and miss the point entirely. When we communicate in person, we take in the speaker’s tone, speech pattern, energy and mannerisms and the actual words may take on an entirely different meaning. As it develops, communicating through video chat can be more effective. It fills in some of the gaps allowed by email and texting, but if you cannot see the speaker’s hand gestures and feel the energy or intensity that exist in the moment, there is still an opportunity for misunderstanding.

How Does This Relate to the Live Performing Arts?

As wonderful as technology is, nothing can replace the actual true experience of being there. When we watch world events unfold on television or online, we get a sense of what is happening, we may even feel something, but it’s not the same as living the experience. We are only distant spectators.

Nothing will ever replace the feeling or experience of attending a live event. If you haven’t witnessed this already, watch a video of an event that you witnessed first-hand. Ideally, make it something that made a huge impression on you. Good or bad, it won’t feel the same. One of the main reasons (aside from lost revenue) that there is such an outcry against bootlegged recording of events is the loss of integrity that  occurs. A live performance is ever changing. Performers aren’t ever going to be perfect—but that perception of a performance in a live situation is completely different when viewed recorded online.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had students watch performances on YouTube and make negative assumptions about a performer or production. It is not the same. It is completely unfair to try and judge a medium when it is viewed as it was never intended to be conveyed. What may be seen as a flaw when viewed online, may be the very element that makes a performance exhilarating, live and in person.

I have a friend that will say about a location or point of interest, “I don’t need to go there, I’ve seen pictures”.  This is so untrue! A picture may be worth a thousand words… but it can never equal the actual experience of being there.

Live performance is organic. You see, hear, feel, touch, smell and experience it. If we want the performing arts to survive, we have to remind people of that. We must encourage people that have never experienced a live show to do so. Most important, we ourselves, that profess to love the art form, must attend as many live events as possible. Otherwise, it could disappear. Then, technology ceases to be a tool and becomes our master misintrepreter.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Broadway Awarding the Best of Today…Building the Winners of Tomorrow

I Want To Be A Producer

Have you ever considered becoming a Broadway producer or investing in a show? Are you a producer or investor looking for some assistance in building the success of your show?

Broadway League Executive Director Charlotte St. Martin
Photo credit: Connie ashley

There are many industry and trade associations that exist to support the performing arts throughout the United States and worldwide. Some are broad-based organizations whose mission is simply to provide networking opportunities while others may have very specific goals and are tailored to niche markets. One of the most visible, and yet invisible, is The Broadway League, Inc. One look at the masthead on their site says it all: The official website of the Broadway theatre industry. Currently under the leadership of Executive Director, Charlotte St. Martin, The league focuses on education, professional development and building audiences for today and the future.

Never heard of them? Maybe you are familiar with the their work and just didn’t know it.

Founded in 1930 by theater owners and operators, their original goal was to assist in negotiations with the unions. They first expanded to include producers, and then touring productions and today leads the way in supporting the growth and financial viability of professional theatre on Broadway and beyond.

Still haven’t heard of them? Here are some of the many programs and services they provide:

The Tony Awards. Co-produced annually with the American Theatre Wing, the Tony Awards honor the best of Broadway each season. Probably one of the most visible things The Broadway League does, the nationally televised event honors some of the best contributions to theatre each year, behind the scenes and on stage.

The Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center. The League operates this valuable service inside the Times Square Information Center in the heart of Broadway (1560 Broadway). There you can purchase theatre tickets, find restaurant and hotel reservations and parking information in six languages. 

The Broadway Fan Club. If you want to stay current on the latest shows, promotions and ticket discounts, you can sign up online to receive regular updates.

Touring Broadway.Com. Looking for a touring production of a Broadway show? Search the database and find what shows and special events are coming to one of over 240 theatres across the America. You can search by show, theatre, or location.

Internet Broadway Database (IBDB). The most extensive archive of its kind, the IBDB is a searchable source for productions, people, songs, awards, theatres and much more. IBDB archives shows back to the earliest available information about New York theatre.

The Broadway league also sponsors two huge events geared towards audience development: Broadway on Broadway, a big Times Square concert event, featuring performances by the stars of current and upcoming Broadway shows; and Kids’ Night on Broadway, offering free tickets, special activities and education events to children, giving them their first magical Broadway experience. This event has expanded to add over 30 theatres hosting touring productions across the United States.

The most important work the League provides to the industry is in the areas of education and professional development:

New Producers Alliance.  Established and maintained by the Broadway League, the New Producers Alliance promotes the development of future producers and gives them a place to network and dialogue with established, working producers and other would-be producers. They hold an average of six panel discussions and networking opportunities annually that are also available to the public.

Commercial Theater Institute (CTI). In cooperation with the Theatre Development Fund, the League provides this invaluable training program for individuals pursuing commercial theatre producing. The two main programs they provide include an intensive three-day program that is open to the general public and a 14-week program available to a small number of professionals selected through an application process. They also published an excellent book, The Commercial Theatre Institute’s Guide to Producing Plays and Musicals (2007). The book is an invaluable source of interviews, advice and resource directory for producing professional plays and musicals throughout North America.

Research and Information. The League maintains the most detailed reports of statistics and demographics for Broadway shows and touring productions I have been able to locate anywhere online. There is a searchable database of Broadway grosses and attendance arranged by year, economic studies, and detailed studies of attendance for national tours. Some of the information is readily available to anyone and some is available for purchase if you are not a league member. They also manage a one-of-a-kind database available on a subscription basis, Stage Specs, A Technical Guide to Theatres. This is a current source of all the theatre technical specifications for many live performance venues across the United States and Canada. Here you will find current contact information, stage dimensions, seating capacities, load in and rigging specs and much more.

I just found The Broadway League website a few months ago and having been using it regularly ever since. Actual membership in the League is highly selective and is made up primarily of producing theatre professionals in New York and several other metropolitan cities. The services and information they provide are available to everyone. This year’s CTI Chicago Weekend Intensive will be held in March. I’m hoping to attend. The opportunity to explore the possibilities of producing commercial theatre with working producers would be an invaluable experience.


The Broadway Concierge & Ticket Center

Internet Broadway Database

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Can Julie Taymor, A Slingshot and $60M Save Our Beloved Comic Book Hero?

Luck Be a Lady... Or a Spider(Man)

Postponed… again. That’s the report from the producers of one of this season’s most highly anticipated musicals, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. Plagued from the start, the production’s latest myriad of troubles surround health and safety concerns following injuries during a stunt that sent actor Kevin Aubin flying through the air and landing in the hospital with two broken wrists. This news was almost immediately followed with reports that another actor broke both his feet attempting the same stunt. This actor, who has requested to remain anonymous due to career concerns, was injured performing the sling-shot effect a month earlier. Producer Michael Cohl said the accident was a result of a “multitude of factors, technical and human”. Health and safety inspectors are involved in an on-going investigation as 24 aerial stunts have not been reviewed and declared safe, attaining the necessary legal permits to perform the stunts.

Julie Taymor
If the show ever makes it to opening night, it won’t be due to luck. Under the guidance and vision of the brilliant Julie Taymor (The Lion King), the creative team boasts the inventive talents of U2’s Bono and The Edge as composer and lyricists with a book by Taymor and Glen Berger; choreography by Daniel Ezralow and Cirque de Soleil artist, Jaque Paquin designing the elaborate aerial rigging for Scott Rogers challenging aerial design. In total, there are 20 artists and companies listed as part of the creative team making it one of Broadway’s largest ever.

The most recent delays caused by technical and safety concerns are not the first for the Spider-Man team to conquer. Currently at six years in the making, the show was at one point scheduled to open in February of 2010. Financing this cobwebbed extravaganza temporarily halted until lead producer, rock promoter Michael Cohl came on board last fall. The 60 million dollar price tag is the largest for any Broadway musical ever with the average musical budget hovering around 15 million dollars. Then last spring, stars Evan Rachel Wood (Mary Jane Watson) and Alan Cumming (Green Goblin) bailed on the production and were replaced by Next to Normal star Jennifer Damiano and Patrick Page (The Lion King). In July, Boneau/Bryan-Brown abandoned the production as press agent and was replaced by the firm, O & M Co. No explanation was given.

Other delays are blamed on the creative team. Taymor has reportedly spent a majority of the production time working out stunts and aerial tricks. In the meantime, sources close to the show, have said that music and dialogue are in pieces and haven’t been connected with Taymor’s focus, the visuals.
The Edge

This could be the biggest show ever to hit Broadway and it could also be the biggest flop. It is estimated that weekly running costs will run close to, if not exceed, 1 million dollars. The only other time a major comic book hero graced the Great White Way was Superman in 1966 in It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman! Which never caught on, closing after 129 performances and a financial loss.

Producers are banking on Taymor’s genius and the success of her last Broadway venture, The Lion King which to date has grossed nearly 750 million dollars. That combined the wildly popular success of Bono and The Edge (their band U2) and the undying popularity of the Spider-Man franchise, sounds like a match made in heaven to some… and a sticky-web of commercialism and greed to others.

MARVEL, Spider-Man and all related Marvel characters and the distinctive likenesses thereof are trademarks of Marvel Entertainment, LLC and its subsidiaries, and are used with permission. Copyright © 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC and its subsidiaries. All rights reserved

Resources and Related Story Links:

Taymor to Direct Spider-Man Musical, Scored by Bono & Edge by BWW News Desk(2007)

Spider-Man the musical hangs by a thread
Paul Harris , The Observer, Sunday 9 August 2009
‘Spider-Man’ Musical Announces New Producers, Star By DAVE ITZKOFF November 6, 2009
While ‘Spider-Man’ Musical Offers Refunds By PATRICK HEALY; Compiled by DAVE ITZKOFF 01/12/10

Long-delayed Spider-Man musical finally appears back on track Posted on June 16, 2010 by Kevin Melrose

New PR Team for ‘Spider-Man’ Musical By PATRICK HEALY July 15, 2010

‘Spider-Man’ musical is off and web-slinging By Mark Kennedy - Associated Press Writer October 10, 2010
That Spider-Man musical is probably going to kill somebody By Sean O'neal October 29, 2010
Another Actor Speaks of ‘Spider-Man’ Injuries By PATRICK HEALY October 29,2010

Could Spider-Man the Musical be the 'biggest disaster in Broadway history'? POSTED ON NOVEMBER 4, 2010

U2's 'Spider-Man' Musical Delayed  By Peter Gaston on November 5, 2010 10:07 AM

Caught in a web of health and safety: Spider-Man musical delayed due to daring stunts which have left actors injured By BAZ BAMIGBOYE
 6th November 2010

"It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Broadway Teamwork and Collaboration: The Great White Way and Beyond

Together Wherever We Go

Researching creative teams for this blog, I was surprised how little there is online about the subject. What makes them click? How do they go about the process? What makes a good creative team? Surprisingly, the best exploration I found comes from the world of science. Imagine, a scientific study that analyzes how artists successfully collaborate to create a Broadway musical! Interesting.

American Idiot creative team: Green Day, Michael Mayer and Tom Kitt.
Photo credit: Carole Litwin All images © Berkeley Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved. 
In order to flourish a team continually needs new blood.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? When you work with the same people over and over, you develop patterns and your work can easily get tired and stale. You need that fresh inspiration, that new collaborator to keep the creative juices flowing and challenge you to explore the process, and look in new directions. The whole team doesn’t have to be new, the addition or substitution of just one team member can be the catalyst to propel the group into a creative frenzy. Now that we have the magic key, we can all create brilliant, award-winning Broadway shows, right? If only it were that easy.

There are many challenges to new collaborations and most will not be a good match. Schedule, motivation, personality, temperament, communication and styles of conflict resolution are just some of the elements that affect a team’s ability to create and develop positive work patterns.

Look at who is making the biggest splash on Broadway. Frequently, it is that new voice, or the new collaboration of established artists that have the biggest impact. Everyone’s heard of the one hit wonder, the individual or creative team that makes a big impression on the market, then seem to disappear or fail to impress in further efforts. This could be a good explanation why this happens. We frequently hear, “It all sounds the same”, or “Its been done before”. Collaboration must stay fresh and innovative to remain on top of the market.

The creative team for the musical “Next to Normal”: seated at the piano, Tom Kitt, and standing, from left, Brian Yorkey, Michael Greif and David Stone.  Photo Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times.

Tom Kitt is an artist that has positioned himself well among successful creative teams. In the past few years he composed the score for the musical High Fidelity with one team, he won the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for his score for the critically acclaimed musical, Next to Normal, orchestrated and arranged the music for Everyday Rapture with an third team, and arranged and orchestrated the music of Green Day for the current Broadway musical, American Idiot. In each venture, one or more of the members of the creative team were different, in effect, creating a fresh and original collaborative effort.
Creative team and cast of N2N. Photo by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.

In musical theatre, no man is an island. The composer and lyricist need one another to create songs along with the book writer to tell the story. In order for that story to be told on stage, it requires a director with vision to work with the authors. His job is to help focus the story in a way that can be told on stage in an imaginative and entertaining manner and then translate that through the assistance of designers and choreographers and finally with a carefully selected cast of performers. Any single change in the creative process can greatly affect the ultimate outcome.

From my experience, the best creative teams are able to visualize each other’s words and thoughts and take them to the next level by adding their own interpretation to the process. When I meet people in the industry where I feel a connection and an inspiration beyond their creative resume, I make notes to myself as to how I could see us collaborating on future projects. Beyond all else, I want a team of people I can depend on and trust. I also want people that truly inspire me and take me outside the proverbial box; to open up a universe of possibilities. The best creative teams are not just made up of the best in their specialty; they have to be the best together to form a completely successful collaboration.

The creative team I have been working with for the past 12 years at my high school has definitely had its share of ups and downs. In the school setting, your goals and priorities aren’t always the same as in the professional world. Despite our challenges we have successfully produced a continuous series of high quality work. Last year, there was a lot of conflict that overshadowed the team and it definitely affected the end result. Time has gone by and it’s a new year. As we start pre-production for this year’s show, Hairspray, there is already a positive electric undercurrent channeling our energies. Part of that is due to the addition of a new member to the team. Even though they are primarily working on the organization end of the spectrum, the fresh ideas and enthusiasm is just what we’ve needed to unlock that spark of creativity and thrust us forward. Its exciting going in to a project knowing it has the potential to be your team’s best work. You can be sure I’ll keep you posted.

The cast of American Idiot. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images


 Team Assembly Mechanisms Determine Collaboration Network Structure and Team Performance Roger Guimerà, et al.Science 308, 697 (2005); DOI: 10.1126/science.1106340

Lascala, Maria."Tom Kitt’s Big Year"Westchester Magazine, July 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sourcing Creativity and Design In Entertainment Technology

Spark of Creation

Finding useful industry resources is always a good thing. Especially as technology advances rapidly, trends change and more and more companies are offering similar products. One of my favorite places to turn is Lighting and Sound America (L&SA).

I was first introduced to L&SA through its slick, glossy, print edition offered free to industry professionals in the USA (and for a small shipping and handling fee worldwide). The magazine is gorgeous, visual and full of rich content. It is also available complete, in digital form.

Each edition of L&SA contains a wide variety of articles featuring different facets of the entertainment industry; and technology and equipment used in each application. I find this type of publication so helpful in keeping up to date and gaining a better understanding of the opportunities for use through the practical examples.

Want to know more about the latest advances in LED lighting? Interested in which sound engineers prefer what equipment and sound reinforcement? You’ll find it here through interviews with the professionals currently working across the industry.

In the October 2010 issue, L&SA explores sound and lighting technology through the Las Vegas’ City Center, pop musician Rihanna’s latest concert tour, The U.S. Army Soldier Show, and the renovation of an Off-Broadway theater transforming it in to a state of the art performance space.  Products and companies featured in articles are linked to sources throughout the magazine.

The L&SA website is a wealth of information and links to all the latest technology, equipment, manufacturers, distributors, seminars, workshops, conventions and a peek at the future of technology in the industry. You can even find links and information regarding employment and membership in professional organizations.

There are, of course, lots of advertisements and manufacturer placement; but it a perfect blend (with informational content) for the technician or industry professional looking for an excellent source to be kept up to date and stay ahead of the trends.

LIGHTING & SOUND AMERICA * Published by PLASA Media, Inc. and part of the highly respected UK-based Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), Lighting&Sound America is a monthly publication for lighting, sound, and staging professionals working in theatre, touring, clubs, themed entertainment, houses of worship, retail, and more. Lighting&Sound America is critically acclaimed for its high-quality presentation and in-depth editorial coverage, including the popular monthly Technical Focus section, New Technology, and comprehensive product reviews. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ken Davenport: Leading the Way

There's No Business Like Show Business
The cast of the hit Off-Broadway production Altar Boyz

Did you know:

Did you know that all of these incredibly helpful tools are the brainchild of one man? Who is this brilliant person?
Ken Davenport

Ken Davenport.

Last month as I started working on my Masters Degree in Entertainment Business we started building our Social Media Network (SMN) and Personal Learning Network (PLN). I spent hours searching the internet, exploring websites and linking RSS feeds trying to find the best industry sources available online. I happened to find a blog/website entitled, The Producer’s Perspective, and I’m completely hooked. I’ve learned more about the business of theatre in the past month than I thought possible-- all thanks to one man. Ken Davenport. The funny thing is that I was already using and the Did He Like It website for several years. I knew Davenport’s name sounded familiar but never made the connection.

If I were to head to New York today, the first door I would knock on would be Davenport Theatrical Enterprises. (

I have to warn you that if you visit the website and have any interest in theatre, particularly what goes on behind the scenes, be prepared to spend several pleasurable hours exploring. Yesterday I spent two hours just reading some of Davenport’s past blog entries. ( It is like receiving a theatre business education for free.

Ken Davenport developed his love of theatre as a child actor in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. He went on to graduate with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2004, after ten years working behind the scenes, mostly managing Broadway shows, he founded Davenport Theatrical Enterprises (DTE). In just six short years, his productions have grossed over 100 million dollars worldwide. Davenport has received numerous awards and recognition from the industry and serves on many boards and committees of organizations that exist to sustain theatre on and off Broadway.

If you want to define a true leader, look at Ken Davenport.

In John C. Maxwell’s book Developing the Leader Within You (1993. Maxwell Motivation, Inc.), he discusses five levels of leadership. Davenport certainly has attained the fourth level: People Development (building future leaders) and is quickly on his way to the Fifth and top level: Personhood (lifetime leadership) even at his young age. Crain Business named him one of 40 Under 40 in 2008 of New York’s Rising Stars. (
 He is often sought out as a speaker and panelist on topics of creating, developing, managing and producing in the industry. He is considered the leader in online and social network marketing and has had a huge influence on the industry’s use of the new media in marketing productions to the masses.

The cast DTE's original production My First Time.

One example of Davenport’s leadership strength’s can be better understood by reading his blog entry, What do I look for when I hire a marketing person? ( His answer? “I look for someone who wants to be a Producer”.  He goes on to say, “A lot of people are scared to bring on employees that want to do what they do, that could compete, that could rip-off ideas, etc. But from my perspective, these are exactly the people you want working for you. And when they are ready to move on and do their own thing, I'll be happier than they will be. Because I will have helped produce a Producer.”  That is a true leader.
Will Ferrell in You're Welcome America
Photo by Robert J. Saferstein
Just look at the success of DTE to date: Six out of seven of the productions have recouped their original investments. Altar Boyz  (which Davenport co-conceived) is slated for productions in more than 15 countries following a 2005 Outer Critics Award (Best Off-Broadway Musical), a national tour, and achieving the status as the longest running Off-Broadway musical to open in the last ten years. The 2008 limited-run Broadway hit, You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush (with Will Ferrell) recouped it's investment and was completely sold out.
The latest project, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage! (which he co-wrote) is currently in previews Off-Broadway. The production stars Eve Plumb, best know as Jan from The Brady Bunch TV series. Also in development, a project that I am extremely excited about, a musical adaptation of my all-time favorite movie, Somewhere In Time (1980 film, with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour).

DTE offers many services to the industry. Among them, script development and staged readings, general management for such Broadway and Off-Broadway productions as Avenue Q, producing and managing multiple industry and social networking sites, the recent introduction of the the iPhone app, At the Booth. ( With this app, potential theatre goers can view what shows are offering discounted tickets at the TKTS Booth in Times Square prior to going and standing in long lines.

The project that DTE has generating the most buzz right now, is the first-ever community-produced Broadway show. ( For an investment of only $100 per unit (minimum of 10 units or $1000), anyone can become a Broadway producer on the upcoming 2011 production of Godspell. ( ). It’s a Broadway first and industry insiders and the media are watching closely as the promotion develops.

Now in previews, Opening Night is October 24th, 2010.

Davenport Theatrical Enterprises is on the move, in touch with the latest trends and running ahead of the pack in terms of developing and using our ever-changing technology to its best advantage. I can’t wait to see what Ken Davenport and his creative staff come up with next. You should be watching too.

Publicity photos: Altar Boyz

Friday, October 8, 2010

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City Headed for the Stage: Broadway?

Putting It Together

I finally have to come out. I’m a Tale Chaser. No, really, its true. I’ve actually been a Tale Chaser since the early 90’s. This past weekend I made it official when I publically joined the club.

Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears is part of the team behind Tales of the City.

When I moved to Chicago in 1989, I didn’t know many people and found myself searching for ways to entertain myself when I wasn’t working endless hours at the theatre. One of my favorite pastimes was combing through the shelves at the various neighborhood bookstores. Sometimes I would just browse and others I’d find myself lugging home a large parcel of books that would soon be transporting me to different worlds. It was on one of these excursions that I fell in love.  There on one of the tables as soon as I walked in the door was Armistead Maupin’s book Tales of the City.

As soon as I turned back the cover, I was in love. It had everything anyone could wish for: humor, mystery, romance and intrigue. I read the first book in one sitting. I found myself forced to put down future installments after a few chapters. I wanted to savor it, fantasize about that wonderful world of Barbary Lane, and make the joy of reading it last as long as I possibly could. It was my little piece of heaven.

Imagine my excitement when I read an article on the Playbill website announcing that the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) is holding a workshop of a new musical based on Tales of the City and More Tales of the City. The official title: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Leading the incredible cast of Broadway Alum is one of my favorite leading ladies, Betty Buckley as Anna Madrigal and the wonderful Stephen Bogardus as Edgar Halcyon. (
Betty Buckley stars in the Tales workshop as Anna Madrigal.

I spent several hours searching online for anything I could find about the project on and off the ACT website. (Official press release at: ) According the press release, the workshop currently in process now through October 22, 2010 is closed to the public. It is in preparation for the world premiere at ACT scheduled for May 17-June 19, 2011. No casting for the premiere production has been confirmed.

Armistead Maupin
Photo by Christopher Turner
The origins of Maupin’s Tales are legendary. In the 1970’s they began as a series in the San Francisco Chronicle that became the first book Tales of the City which led to More Tales of the City and followed by Further Tales of the City. Nearly 20 years later, those books began to come to life on the small screen in the form of TV miniseries’. And now, after the 2009 staged reading at Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference, it appears Maupin’s work will be fully realized on the stage.

In an interview last May with Los Angeles Times Critic, Charles McNulty, Armistead Maupin said, "I thought that was the greatest compliment — to have your mythology be made into these wonderful forms of entertainment. I'm so grateful for every stage of ‘Tales' — from the newspaper series, to the novels, to the television series. This is my last act in the best kind of way. I feel so lucky at 65. Some people my age think it's all over for them, and I get to sit back and watch a musical rise up out of my work.” (

If the casting for the workshop is an indication, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City could easily be Broadway-bound. Single tickets for the world premiere in San Francisco go on sale in January 2011.

The creative team features book writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Scissor Sisters band members, Jake Shears and John Garden, and is directed by Tony Award-winner Jason Moore. Larry Keigwin choreographs the production.

Okay, its not what you were thinking but I’m sure there are many of you out there that are secret Tale Chasers too. If you want to join me and stand proud, you can become an official Tale Chaser by registering at

Press Release Photos courtesy of  ACT. ( Betty Buckley photo courtesy of (

Monday, October 4, 2010

Broadway Bound Leap Of Faith Has L.A. On Their Feet


The cast of Leap of Faith at the Center Theater Group/Ahmanson Theatre through October 24th.
Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Brooke Shields
Here's a first-look at the anticipated Broadway bound musical production Leap of Faith currently playing at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles through October 24th. Based of the 1992 film starring Steve Martin, the story centers around a phony faith healer coming to town and creating miracles.

Broadway veterans Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza lead the large cast that features Nicholas Barasch, Jarrod Emick, Kendra Kassebaum, Kecia Lewis-Evans and Leslie Odom, Jr. as well as Brad Anderson, Bradley Benjamin, Tom Berklund, Christopher Bones, Krystal Joy Brown, Ta'Rea Campbell, Eric L. Christian, Michelle Duffy, Harvey Evans, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Jennie Ford, Bob Gaynor, Angela Grovey, Shannon Lewis, Michael X. Martin, Maurice Murphy, Anise E. Ritchie, Darcie Roberts, Bryce Ryness, Ariel Shepley, C.E. Smith, Alex Michael Stoll, Dennis Stowe, Katherine Tokarz, Brandon Wardell, Karl Warden, Natalie Willes and Charlie Williams.

Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza in the World Premiere
of Leap of Faith at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Show: Leap Of Faith

Dates: Sept 11 - Oct 24, 2010

Location: Ahmanson Theatre 
135 N. Grand Ave. 

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets: (213) 972-4400

The creative team is lead by Composer Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and book by Janus Cercone with Glenn Slater. Leap of Faith is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford. The design team  includes set designer Robin Wagner and costume designer William Ivey Long. The new musical is based on the motion picture Leap of Faith produced by Paramount Pictures Corporation and written by Janus Cercone. 

Leap of Faith composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater in rehearsal.

For more information and and some impressive multimedia files visit: