November 2010 News
‘White Christmas’ more good time than groundbreaking Published: Thursday, November 25, 2010 By Bob Goepfert The Record http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2010/11/25/entertainment/doc4ced656f4... To call "White Christmas" sentimental is like calling a candy cane sweet. However, like that sugar treat, it does satisfy the holiday craving for empty calories. If you are a theater diabetic you might not appreciate the overload of sweetness taking place on the stage. Nonetheless, you’ll still have to admit this production of "Irving Berlin’s White Christmas" playing at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady through Sunday is a confection that will offer a lot of fun to a lot of people. This is a production that hits all the buttons. Not only does it include a sing-along "White Christmas replete with falling snow, it has a talent-laden cast who makes the familiar Irving Berlin-written songs sound magical. The dance numbers are super and choreographer Randy Skinner knows you never can go wrong by making most of them tap dances. The costumes are attractive and the good looking sets serve the multi-set work with a minimum of disruption. The large pit orchestra under the direction of John Visser sounds great. Most of all director Norb Joerder nourishes the sentimentality in the work without making it oppressive. For those unfamiliar with the 1954 film that starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, "White Christmas" is about two ex-GIs who after World War II became a famous song and dance team. When they learn their beloved former commanding general is about to lose his Vermont inn because of a snow-free season they decide to rescue him by putting on a musical show. Yes, predicably, it takes place in a barn. As they go about saving the inn - which includes a PSA on the Ed Sullivan Show, asking hundreds of people to give up Christmas at home and taking a train trip to Vermont somehow believing you’re heading to Florida - the two guys fall in love with a singing sister act. A subplot involves the romantic-resistant couple forced to overcome a series of misunderstandings to realize their first kiss was indeed a sign that they were meant to spend the rest of their lives together. Individually the performances are solid if not inspiring - as the performers are better singers than they are actors. The couples are seldom able to make their infatuations believable as genuine love. Indeed, the relationship between Bob Wallace (stiffly performed by John Scherer) and Betty Haymes (Amy Bodnar) seems a mismatch that perhaps would be better not to happen. Happily "White Christmas" is about song and dance not believable romance. Both Scherer and Bodnar do extremely well in the vocal department and make the scene where they offer an alternating duet of "Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me" and"How Deep is the Ocean" a gentle standout. The more comic romance between Phil Davis (Denis Lambert) and Judy Haynes (Shannon M. O’Bryan) works better and their work together in "I Love a Piano," which opens the second act, just might be the best number of a show with a lot of great numbers. The supporting cast is also very good. Ruth Williamson is a delight as the wise-cracking secretary. Her work with Erick Devine as the general makes them the couple we care about the most. The talented Gianna LaPera as the general’s granddaughter raises preciousness to new heights. "White Christmas" is not groundbreaking theater but it is a good time and a welcome start to the holiday season. "Irving Berlin’s White Christmas" at Proctors Theatre, Schenectady. Through Sunday. 346-6204 www.proctors.org
Proctors takes wheelchair accessibility to a new level Recently, I called the Proctors box office to purchase tickets. We needed seats that could accommodate both visual impairment and limited mobility. We had a wheelchair. No problem. We purchased our tickets and they arrived in a timely manner. A few days before the performance, we received a phone call from Proctors. The gal explained that they had a new service to assist patrons with wheelchairs. We were given a cellphone number to call when we were about to arrive at the main entrance. An usher would meet us at the car and take the wheelchair guest into the lobby. The driver could then park and meet the wheelchair guest in the lobby. Our usher then took us to our seats and took care of the wheelchair. After the performance, our usher waited with the wheelchair guest while our driver got the car. Again, the car was met outside the main entrance. Thank you, Proctors, for your sensible, appropriate accommodation! We cannot think of another event that went this smoothly for us. We look forward to future performances at your beautiful, accessible theater. Pamela Sproule Rachel Sproule Gloversville Letter in Daily Gazette, Nov. 24
WHITE CHRISTMAS @ PROCTORS, 11/24/10 November 24, 2010 at 12:24 am by Michael Eck by Michael Eck Special to The Times Union http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts/white-christmas-proctors-112410/100... SCHENECTADY – Irving Berlin sure knew how to write a song. “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” at Proctors through Sunday, is jam packed with Berlin tunes, ranging from the title piece to bonbons like “Snow,” “I Love a Piano” and “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing.” The play is based on the 1954 film, but it takes liberties with its source and adds and subtracts tunes as well — not that anyone in the audience will be keeping score. At heart, “White Christmas” is a hackneyed showbiz show, with two soldiers-turned-stars bringing their new revue to Pinetree, Vermont to help out heir old general, who’s now a failing innkeeper being further beaten down by a winter heatwave. Despite the cliches, it’s also a lot of fun. This production boasts good singing, strong comic acting and lots of great big dance numbers; and isn’t that what one wants from a holiday musical. John Scherer and Denis Lambert play Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, and the duo exhibits a chummy charm. Wallace is shy and Davis is a hound, but he’s a hound with a heart of gold. Enter sisters Betty (Amy Bodnar) and Judy Haynes (Shannon M. O’Bryan) — kin of an old army buddy and entertainers themselves. They hook up with the show and eventually hook up with Wallace and Davis, providing the necessary romantic plotline; which is bolstered by a sassy repartee between General Henry Waverly (Erick Devine) and his concierge, Martha Watson (Ruth Williamson). All are good singers (save Devine doesn’t get much of a chance to show off his pipes). Scherer and Lambert shine right from the top with the dazzling, colorful “Happy Holidays/Let Yourself Go.” The number also gives choreographer Randy Skinner and her ensemble the first of many opportunities to strut their collective stuff. They dance to an enormous pit band that provides top notch accompaniment. That band is even better backing Bodnar on the showstopping solo tune, “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me.” It’s the play’s quietest moment and its best. Williamson, by turn, gets big and brassy with the crowd-pleasing “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy.” But the big dance numbers drew the biggest applause on Tuesday, as well they should have. “I Love a Piano” is bold, a rave-up in black glitter against an explosively red backdrop; “Blue Skies,” clad in white by costumer Carrie Robbins is smooth, classy and classic; and the aforementioned “Happy Holiday” is a full tap extravaganza. The story may be thin and tired but the steps aren’t. If you’re looking for light, bright holiday fare that isn’t yet another take on “A Christmas Carol” or “The Nutcracker,” “White Christmas” might be just right. IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS Performance reviewed: Opens 8 p.m. Tuesday Where: Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes; one intermission. Continues: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Tickets: $20-$70 Info: 346-6204; http:/www.proctors.org. -30-
Theater review: ‘White Christmas’ dramatically thin but visually stunning Wednesday, November 24, 2010 By Matthew G. Moross http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/24/1124_whtxmasrev/ ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’ WHERE: Proctors Theater, 432 State St., Schenectady WHEN: 8 p.m. today, 2 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. HOW MUCH: $70-$20 MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org SCHENECTADY — Most of us look forward to the holiday season to spend some time with family and friends, and to bask in ritual and tradition. And one of the most popular traditions in many a home is to watch Irving Berlin’s 1954 movie musical extravaganza “White Christmas” and sing and dance around the living room during musical numbers (although in my home we watched “Holiday Inn,” and I don’t dance.) For those of you who need holiday dreams to spring to life and sing and dance, tap on over to Proctors and indulge in some holiday fluff with “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the Musical.” As any movie musical buff knows, the story starts on Christmas Eve, 1944, with Bob Wallace and Phil Davis entertaining their comrades of the 151st Infantry Division at the front. Flash forward 10 years, and the duo are successful entertainers who get involved romantically with a couple of sister performers. They all end up in Vermont, trying to stage a show to bring business to the inn being run by their old general. The movie, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen and Dean Jagger, was a huge hit for Paramount. Related story For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell's preview of this show, click here. Fifty years later, the film comes to the stage, and visually the show is a knockout. But dramatically, “White Christmas, The Musical” is less absorbing and engaging than a Lawrence Welk holiday special and not nearly as “wunnerful.” The fault lies squarely at the feet of playwright David Ives, who has accomplished the inconceivable: dialogue more stilted and clunky than that of the screenplay. To compensate for the fact that there is very little story to engage us, the producers have masked the holes, as best they can, with musical numbers that thankfully appeal and distract. All the movie favorites are here: “Happy Holidays,” “The Best Things Happen When You’re Dancing” and “Sisters.” And the show adds other numbers from the Berlin musical trunk. “Blue Skies”, heard only briefly in the movie, is decked out into a energetic Act 1 closer. “Let Yourself Go” makes a welcome appearance, as does “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” All these numbers are performed with glee and gusto by a cast that can certainly sell the schmaltz. The core group — John Scherer, Amy Bodnar, Denis Lambert and Shannon M. O’Byran — paint on the smiles with a pleasantness appropriate for the season. Lambert and O’Bryan (with the talented corps) tap dance up a storm with the stunning Act 2 opener “I Love a Piano” and Scherer, and particularly Bodnar, do great vocal work with “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me/How Deep is the Ocean.” Broadway vet Ruth Williamson, as the sassy, slightly sardonic hotel desk clerk, steals focus every time she is onstage. Whether alone in the spotlight with “Let Me Sing and I’m Happy” or sharing it with Bondar and O’Bryan in the outstanding “Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun,” Williamson barrels through the creaky story with a performance that consistently entertains. The show is slickly produced and sumptuously designed. The energy and talent of the two dozen dancers in the chorus fulfill every musical Christmas wish. Anna Louizos’ Technicolor 1950s-esque settings, Carrie Robbins’ lavish costumes, Randy Skinner’s energetic and clever choreography and Larry Blank’s orchestrations beautifully realized by the band under John Visser’s expert musical direction, are all first- rate and familiar — and that’s just what we want in our nostalgia.
Dreaming of a ‘White Christmas?’ Proctors is the place for you Sunday, November 21, 2010 By Bill Buell (Contact) Gazette Reporter http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/21/1121_whitexmas/ John Scherer, center, as Bob Wallace, sings “Blue Skies” with the cast of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” Bing Crosby fans hoping that the touring production of “White Christmas” coming to Proctors this week might pay a little homage to their iconic Hollywood hero will likely be a bit disappointed. John Scherer doesn’t quite croon the way Bing did. “I don’t know if anybody could try to copy his style and get away with it,” said Scherer, who plays Bob Wallace in the 1954 Irving Berlin musical work originally created for the movie screen and revamped for the stage in 2004. “There’ll be some similarities because I’m playing the same character he did, but no, I don’t do Bing. It’s just me.” Crosby and Danny Kaye starred as war buddies Bob Wallace and Phil Davis trying to drum up some business for their former commander, Gen. Henry Waverly, and his inn/restaurant during a snowy Vermont winter. Re-imagining for stage The story didn’t change much when David Ives and Paul Blake wrote the book for the stage version, which opened on Broadway in November of 2008 and earned Tony nominations for Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations. Along with the classic title tune, other Berlin favorites included in the score are “Count Your Blessings,” “I Love a Piano,” and “Blue Skies,” the last two numbers both added to the stage production after not being in the 1954 movie. ‘Irving Berlin’s White Christmas’ WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 2 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday HOW MUCH: $70-$20 MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org “It’s the same story line but when you do something for the stage it usually gets re-imagined,” said Scherer. “Certain things have to change when you turn a movie into a stage show, and the film version had the advantage of two huge stars like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. However, most of the people I’ve talked to think the stage version is better than the movie.” Brad Rudy, a critic in Atlanta where this production opened three weeks ago, wrote that the show is “just like the ones I used to know, with a cornucopia of pleasures. It’s an old-fashioned backstage story that wears its retro proudly, and wants nothing more than to give you a good time.” Scherer, who has also been busy doing various productions of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” in Boston and in California as well as a version of “Spamalot” also in California, said “White Christmas” is great family entertainment. “I saw it on Broadway two years ago and I loved it,” said Scherer. “It’s one of those feel-good shows you can take your kids to as well as the grandparents. It’s got a great score and some great production numbers. It was a little odd doing rehearsals before Halloween, but it certainly got us in the mood for the holidays.” Buffalo area native Scherer grew up in the Buffalo area and then went off to Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh where he majored in musical theater. After graduation, he immediately went to New York City and within four days of his arrival had a gig with an off-Broadway production. “I thought to myself, ‘Well, this is going to be easy,’ and that was 25 years ago,” said Scherer, who has also done plenty of television work, including “The Shield,” “Crossing Jordan” and three “Law & Order” series. “It hasn’t always been easy but I’ve been pretty lucky and I’ve been very busy lately. I have not had a week off since May.” Along with his numerous regional credits, Scherer has performed on Broadway, his resume including “Sunset Boulevard” in 1994, “By Jeeves” in 2001, and “LoveMusik” in 2007. When his holiday gig with “White Christmas” concludes next month, Scherer will take some time off, then return to New York to resume working on a new production of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Joining Scherer in the “White Christmas cast are Denis Lambert as his pal, Phil Davis; Amy Bodnar as Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney in the movie); and Shannon O’Bryan as Judy Haynes, her sister (Vera-Ellen in the movie). “Denis is the Danny Kaye character who was quite the womanizer, and I’m the guy who was more of a family man,” said Scherer. “My character is really looking for just the right girl.” Song for ‘Holiday Inn’ The song, “White Christmas,” was originally written by Berlin for the 1942 movie, “Holiday Inn,” starring Crosby and Fred Astaire. The plots for both movies were similar, with Crosby and Astaire heading to a farm in Connecticut to perform a special Christmas show. Astaire opted out of “White Christmas” and was replaced by Donald O’Connor, who then had a time conflict and was replaced by Kaye.
Peter, Paul say songs ‘woo’ teenagers Thursday, November 18, 2010 By Brian McElhiney (Contact) Gazette Reporter http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/18/1118_peterpaul/ Peter Yarrow, right, and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame will take the stage at Proctors on Friday night. Text Size: A | A | A Noel Paul Stookey, the Paul in Peter, Paul and Mary, often sees a transformation take place in the younger members of his audience during his performances. “Older folks will bring their squirming teens in, who can’t believe they’re about to sit through something as boring and ancient as Peter and Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary — ‘Aren’t these the guys who sang “Puff the Magic Dragon?” ’” Stookey said from his home in Blue Hill, on the coast of Maine. “Then, about a third of the way through, it’s, ‘I don’t get what they’re singing about, but they play some pretty good guitar.’ By two-thirds of the way in, they’re singing along with us. I think they get wooed — there’s that first hesitancy because it’s not their generation’s music, but I think they get wooed by the message — ‘This is something I can apply to my own life.’ ” For Stookey, folk music has always been about commenting on society and bringing people together — as he put it, the first form of “infotainment.” And because of this, it will remain relevant. Constant discovery “I think folk music, as a concept, will always be discovered by younger audiences,” he said. Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey When: 8 p.m. Friday Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady How Much: $90-$20 More Info: 346-6204, www.proctors.org “They start off with Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus, and soon they want some more substance — and that’s not to say that Miley and Jonas Brothers don’t start looking for substance in their material as well. I think life is an evolving process, and I feel very fortunate that I’m part of that process.” Or, as he quipped earlier in the conversation, “Folk, just like Neil Young says, never sleeps — ‘Rust Never Sleeps,’ and neither do folkies.” Stookey has been touring this year with Peter Yarrow for another reason as well. In September of last year, Mary Travers died due to complications from chemotherapy, having been diagnosed with leukemia in 2005. The duo’s shows this weekend, including a stop at Proctors on Friday night, will pay tribute to Travers and her place in the legendary ’60s folk trio. “It’s really curious, but the audience sort of becomes that third voice in her absence,” said Stookey, of his duo performances with Yarrow. “I think to a large extent, the audiences who came to hear Peter, Paul and Mary are still in the process of saying goodbye. That kind of show will ultimately not be relevant in time, but for this year . . . it seems to make sense.” When he says that the audience “becomes that third voice,” he means it literally. At the duo shows Yarrow and Stookey have performed this year, the crowds have sung Travers’ parts on classics such as The Weavers’ “If I Had a Hammer” or Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” “I was surprised when Peter and I started doing these shows, because it was obvious that people still want to hear Peter, Paul and Mary music,” Stookey said. “The structure of the shows is more or less the same [as with Peter, Paul and Mary] — we come out, acknowledge Mary’s absence, and lo and behold, her absence is almost as strong as her presence.” As with Peter, Paul and Mary shows, the duo shows allow room for Yarrow and Stookey to perform solo material. The duo were also involved in a PBS special, “The Peter Yarrow Sing Along Special,” which aired last month and featured new material that will be performed at their coming shows as well. Peter, Paul and Mary was formed in 1961 and had its heyday in the initial folk revival movement during the ’60s, helping to bring the songs of such luminaries as Dylan to a wider audience with their crisp harmonies and clean sound. Despite an eight-year hiatus from 1970-1978, the trio had remained together up through 2009, touring off-and-on and releasing the occasional studio album. When the group broke up in 1969, it was at the height of their fame. At the time, the trio was touring anywhere from 200 to 250 dates a year. “I just knew that life was too crazy, and I had to move to the coast of Maine — my wife and I moved up here following what we called time off for good behavior,” Stookey said. Self-sufficient life “We moved up here with our three daughters; I did some farming, we had livestock. I got to know, in that great, wonderful opportunity to live in the country, what it was like to be at least somewhat self-sufficient. When the invitation came to get back together again, it was for a benefit, and we were always doing benefits. I didn’t really think it was going to lead to anything, although my wife said she knew.” After reuniting, the trio tempered group work with solo pursuits, playing no more than 60 shows a year. When Travers was diagnosed with leukemia, touring dropped off to 20 to 30 shows a year. “But she sang really until May of the year that she died,” Stookey said. Yarrow’s solo work has leaned toward children’s book publishing and teaching with his Operation Respect, which aims to teach tolerance and non-bullying in schools. Stookey has continued with his solo musical career, releasing his last album “Facets” in 2007. He has plans to enter the studio in January for a new release next year. “Sometimes people ask us how this has stayed together for as long as it has, and aside from the obvious affection and love we had, and have, for one another, there is this issue of respect,” he said. “The three of us each had our moment, our arena where we could express our personal perspective on politics and spirituality. When that happens — why do most bands break up? It’s mostly because one or two members feel they have no chance to express themselves.”
'Tis the season for 'White Christmas' at Proctors Theater Published: Thursday, November 18, 2010 http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2010/11/18/entertainment/doc4ce446748... By Bob Goepfert The Record Holidays are the time for the traditional and the familiar. Perhaps that’s why holiday entertainment seems to be dominated by "Christmas Carols," "Nutcrackers" and "Messiahs." Next week Proctors Theatre in Schenectady tries to establish a new tradition as it kicks off their holiday programming with a week-long production of "Irving Berlin’s White Christmas." The musical is a stage adaptation of the beloved film in which, right after World War II two ex-GI’s who have become famous entertainers, save the Vermont resort of their former commanding general. The 1954 film starred Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye with romantic support offered by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. That’s clearly a tough act to follow. But the show’s producer, Christopher Manos, isn’t concerned. "No one is going to replace Crosby or Kaye. We’d be crazy to try to imitate what they did because each was a special performer. Our job is to find two actors who can recreate that unique chemistry that existed between them. I think we did it and I think we did it with actors who are better dancers than the original guys." Manos who has been the head of Theater of the Stars in Atlanta for more than 40 years realizes that while the dance numbers add excitement to the evening, the key to the show is the music. The score has "White Christmas" "but also includes another December classic, "Happy Holidays." The list of standards goes on with "Count your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)," "Blue Skies" and "Sisters." That’s the first act. "I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" and How Deep is the Ocean" don’t appear until Act II. Manos points out that not all the songs were in the original film. For the stage production some of Berlin’s best known songs were added to the show. "I’m amazed that the number of songs were pulled from Berlin’s repertoire and so perfectly fit the story line." He adds, "Berlin was a genius and ‘White Christmas’ is a salute to his genius." This production also demonstrates the ingenuity of modern producers. Though the show did have a short Broadway run in 2008 , this is not a national tour of that production. This show is produced by Theater For the Stars and bankrolled by the theaters in which it will play on the 7-week tour. Both Proctors and Theater of the Stars are members of the Independent Presenters Network that meets twice a year to network and to discuss opportunities to produce their own touring shows. "Miss Saigon" that played Proctors in the fall and "White Christmas" are both products of those collaborations that save money and insure product for the theaters. Manos is insistent that the works produced by IPN are of the highest quality. "We know what our audiences like in terms of material and we know they demand quality productions. By working together as presenters, we can reduce costs and maintain quality. This production is loaded with talent, it looks great and it will please audiences. I’m proud of the show." He also recognizes the inherent audience appeal of "White Christmas." "It’s family entertainment at a time the family wants to be together." "White Christmas" at Proctors Theater, Schenectady. Monday, Nov. 28. 346-6204www.proctors.org
For young actress, 'White Christmas' lets her celebrate Irving Berlin By MIchael Eck Special To The Times Union Published: 12:00 a.m., Thursday, November 18, 2010 http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/For-young-actress-White-... 1 of 3 VIEW: LARGER | HIDE Shannon M. O?Bryan, left, Amy Bodnar, Erick Devine, Ruth Williamson and John Scherer in a scene from Irving Berlin?s White Christmas. (Tanner Photography) Amy Bodnar started out as a ballet dancer, but became a star by singing in musicals. And so far, she says, the career track has been much better. Bodnar comes to Proctors in "Irving Berlin's White Christmas," which is nothing if not a sugar cookie set on the stage. Bodnar says she remembers seeing the classic 1954 film in her youth, long before it was resurrected in San Francisco as a stage musical in 2004. On screen, "White Christmas" was another Bing Crosby buddy picture, with the crooner joining Danny Kaye (who replaced an ailing Donald O'Connor) as a pair of WWII soldiers turned Broadway big-shots. The duo picks up and heads to Vermont, only to discover and help out their old superior, Maj. General John Waverly, who's stuck running a ski lodge with no snow. No snow, that is, until Bing sings, and voila! Bodnar is part of a large ensemble cast, but she's got a choice role. She and Shannon M. O'Bryan play sisters -- Betty and Judy Haynes -- who (this is a musical, remember) fall for the soldier boys and string them along. Betty was played in the film by none other than Rosemary Clooney. The story may not resemble Shakespeare, but the Bard didn't write tunes like Berlin either, and Bodnar says getting to sing such stuff is a dream come true, even for an ex-ballerina. "There are no better tunes than classic, wonderful Irving Berlin. Having the opportunity to perform this music is really a treat, and we get to perform it on this tour with an unbelievable orchestra. We're actually picking up 18 musicians for the pit in each city, and that's really extraordinary. We have a full complement, just like they used to have in the old days on Broadway." "I get to sing a great number called 'Love You Didn't Do Right By Me,' which is in the film. I also get to sing a sort of Andrews Sisters-esque trio with Judy and Martha (Ruth Williamson), called 'Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun,' and I sing 'How Deep Is The Ocean and 'Love and the Weather' with John Sherer, who plays Bing's character, Bob Wallace." Bodnar -- who has been on Broadway in the revival of "Oklahoma!" and the original staging of "Ragtime" -- actually had a leg up on Betty before she joined the tour, having played the character at the Denver Center revival in 2007. She says learning the lines ahead of time was certainly helpful, but she notes that the production itself varies in a number of ways from the Denver staging -- not the least of which being that everything has to fit into a bus or a truck. "We had the original sets and costumes from the San Francisco production there, and the direction was different and the choreography was different. Now we're using the choreography from the 2008 Broadway production, so much of what we're doing resembles what happened on Broadway, and it's a great chance to revisit it." Bodnar also says the producers had the luxury of excising some numbers from the original lineup and adding songs from across Berlin's stunning catalog. And now that she's singing those songs, will she be going back to ballet any time soon? "Nope," she says confidently. "It was wonderful and I loved it. My first love was not a person, it was ballet. But it was also a very hard, difficult life, and I'm very happy to be having the life I do now." Michael Eck is a freelance writer from Albany and a frequent contributor to the Times Union. At a glance "IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS" When: Opens 8 p.m. Monday Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady Continues: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Through Nov. 28. Tickets: $20-$70 Info: 346-6204; http:/www.proctors.org At a glance "IRVING BERLIN'S WHITE CHRISTMAS" When: Opens 8 p.m. Monday Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady Continues: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 2 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Through Nov. 28. Tickets: $20-$70 Info: 346-6204; http:/www.proctors.org
Peter and Paul come to Proctors, remembering Mary By TOM KEYSER STAFF WRITER Published: 10:31 a.m., Thursday, November 18, 2010 http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/Peter-and-Paul-come-to-P... They might have been Peter, Noel and Mary, but the powers that be behind the group decided that Noel Paul Stookey's middle name sounded better with the others. So in public it was Paul, and it will be Paul on Friday when he and Peter Yarrow perform at Proctors. Since Mary Travers died in September 2009 of the side effects of chemotherapy after treatment for leukemia, Stookey and Yarrow have performed occasionally as a duo. As a trio, Peter, Paul and Mary defined the 1960s with such historically significant songs as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "If I Had a Hammer." "These concerts, of which there have been maybe a dozen this year and might be as many as a half dozen next year, are part of a way for Peter and me to say goodbye to Mary with an audience," says Stookey in a recent phone interview from his home on the coast of Maine. "And the audience ends up to a large extent becoming Mary by virtue of singing her part, while Peter and I do the familiar harmonies." This won't be a holiday concert, even though it coincides with the publication of an illustrated book of the classic poem "The Night Before Christmas" by Imagine/Peter Yarrow Books. Embedded in the back cover, a three-track CD contains Peter, Paul and Mary's 1963 holiday hit "A' Soalin" and two versions of the Christmas poem -- Stookey's enchanting musical rendition, accompanied by his guitar, and Travers' haunting reading, accompanied by a gentle background score written by Yarrow and Stookey. The poem by Clement C. Moore, originally titled "A Visit from St. Nicholas," was first published Dec. 23, 1823, in the Troy Sentinel (even though the book's back flap reads the "New York Sentinel"). Travers' recording of it last year was the last recording she made. "Peter and the recording engineer visited Mary in her home in Connecticut to record the piece," Stookey says. "Mary was in fragile health at that point. She was on oxygen. She recorded it, I think, in June and passed away in September. "So rather than reading the poem in a proclamation voice, or an oratorical voice, she read it almost as if she were confiding it to a child, as if she were telling the poem in a conspiratorial whisper before bedtime. And of course it's absolutely lovely, charming and devastating." Even though Travers was sick, she embraced the project, Stookey says. She loved poetry, he says. "This was not stepping out for her so much as it was a continuance of her interest and unique contribution to the group," he says, beginning to laugh, "aside from the fact that she was a dish, a 5-foot-10 bombshell." Travers was the beautiful blonde, Yarrow the serious male, and Stookey the lanky cut-up. He had been working as a stand-up comedian and folk singer in Greenwich Village when the three musicians came together in 1961. Their release the next year of the Lee Hays-Pete Seeger "If I Had a Hammer" propelled them to the forefront of the protest movement that marked the decade. Their defining moment may have been Aug. 28, 1963, when, as part of the massive "March on Washington," highlighted by Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, they stood before the Lincoln Memorial and sang "If I Had a Hammer" and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." "The March on Washington, or meeting the Queen of England, or meeting the Beatles, those are major events that are a part of my life and memory," Stookey says. "But it's just as real to have somebody come up to us and say the classic, 'I grew up with your music.' And we're able to look them in the eye and say back, 'Yes, we grew up with our music, too.' We were all growing up in that era. "And then they share some personal anecdote that makes their relationship to us that much more real. I think folk music kind of engenders this comradeship, this sense that we're consciously trying to make the world a better place. It's a very attractive community, very simpatico." Did they make the world a better place? "The short answer is, yes, I think the human spirit has been called to account," he says. "I think the propensity to ignore standards of human behavior, to ignore the abuses, has changed. There is a communal conscience that's been elevated by virtue of everything that's happened, starting in the '60s. "I can't give full credit to folk music alone. But you must admit, at the hinge point between the mid-'50s and the mid-'60s, music became aware, or the artists involved in music became aware, that you could speak to the concerns of the community. You could say, 'How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?' Or you could say, 'If I had a hammer, I'd hammer out justice, I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters.'" Peter, Paul and Mary performed together for 40 years. (They parted from 1970 to 1978 to pursue solo careers.) Even though the group won five Grammy Awards, produced 13 Top 40 hits and earned eight gold and five platinum albums, the song Stookey is best known for is one he never intended to release. He wrote "The Wedding Song (There Is Love)" for Yarrow's wedding in 1969. He planned to sing it for the bride and groom, and that would be it. It was their song, he says. But after constant urging by the couple, Stookey recorded it for his first solo album, "Paul and," and created the charity organization Public Domain Foundation to receive the proceeds. According to its website, the foundation has given away about $1.5 million mainly to family and children's programs. In all, Stookey has recorded more than 45 albums, as a soloist and with the trio. In January, he plans to record another. It's a bit edgy, he says, with a song about the connection between the Afghanistan war and the Taliban with drug use in the U.S. and another about two French boys, one of whom is Jewish and ends up in a concentration camp. A sappy love song will be in there, too, and, he says, "I think essentially this new album is all about the capital "L" love, as opposed to the small "l" love. It's about the over-arching concept of love in our lives." Tom Keyser can be reached at 454-5448 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. At a glance Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey When: 8 p.m. Friday Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady Tickets: $20 to $90 Info: 346-6204, http://www.proctors.org
Gazette columnist to share ‘view’ of the world in photo exhibit Thursday, November 18, 2010 By Bill Buell (Contact) Gazette Reporter http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/18/1118_carlfotos/ One of the photos on display in the Guild Room of Proctors Theatre on Friday, as part of an exhibit by Carl Strock, will be this one, showing a chalaba-clad man in Fez, Morocco. For more than 40 years now, Carl Strock has been telling stories using the written word, and that isn’t going to change just yet. He is, however, taking a little diversion. Friday night in the Delack Guild Room at Proctors, Strock, whose column “The View From Here” appears in The Gazette three times a week, will transform from reporter into photographer. Twenty-two images, pictures he took on various vacation trips over the past four years, will be on display from 5 to 9 p.m. as part of Schenectady’s Art Night. He was an avid photographer while serving as a reporter for the Associated Press during the Vietnam War, but he long ago put that hobby on the shelf. “When I was working for AP in Laos many years ago, I took a lot of photos with an old film camera, but then I didn’t do much after that,” said Strock, whose images are from three trips to Mexico and one each to India, Morocco and Turkey, all taken in the past four years. “Then about four years ago, I got my first little digital camera when we started traveling, and that’s when I began to get serious about it again.” On the first of the recent trips to Mexico, he took photographs on the Day of the Dead, a Mexican-Catholic equivalent to Halloween. Focus on people “It’s a big deal in Mexico, and people go to cemeteries all lit up with candles and so forth,” he said. “When I take pictures, my emphasis is on people rather than landscapes or architecture, and it’s people in a spiritual or religious setting that appeals to me.” ‘Shooting from the Hip’ WHAT: An exhibit of Carl Strock photographs as part of Schenectady’s Art Night WHERE: The Delack Guild Room at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Friday HOW MUCH: Free MORE INFO: www.proctors.org Along with the Mexicans’ somber celebration in cemeteries, he took photos of Muslims praying in a mosque in Istanbul, Hindus immersing themselves in the Ganges River at sunrise, and shoppers looking for deals at a market in Fez, Morocco. Strock’s Proctors’ exhibit is titled “Shooting From the Hip.” “It refers to taking pictures on the run, spontaneously, as opposed to a long and slow setup, and it also refers to shooting from the waist level rather than up to my face,” said Strock, who uses a camera with a swivel view-screen. “So, I’m shooting quickly and spontaneously, and nothing is posed or arranged.” He said he isn’t telling a story through his photographs, but is rather only trying to convey a sensation. “When I’m writing, there is a beginning, a middle and an ending, and most of the time, especially in a column, you’re trying to make a point,” he said. “I don’t feel like I’m trying to make a point with these pictures. What I’m doing is showing you something, and hopefully I’m conveying the same impression, the same feeling I had when I shot the picture.” Strock feels that taking a good photograph sometimes involves a degree of luck. “When I sit down to write, I pretty much know what the result will be, and it’s a much more deliberate and controlled process,” he said. “I know how it’s going to turn out. With a photograph, I can never tell. It depends a lot on luck. I might think I have a wonderful picture and I don’t, and sometimes I take what I think is a humdrum shot, and through luck it turns out to be a wonderful picture. I can never tell until I get back to a computer screen and see it full-size.” Along with Strock’s photographs, the work of four other artists will be on display at Proctors, one of the many downtown venues displaying original artworks as part of Art Night. The Schenectady Museum and its newest exhibit, “Our Favorite Things,” will also be open with no admission charge.
‘Skinny’ reality star coming to Proctors November 17, 2010 at 10:49 am by Steve Barnes, senior writer Bethenny Frankel, right, a natural-foods chef who parlayed an appearance on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” into success on reality TV and on bestseller lists for her diet advice, will appear in a solo evening on the mainstage of Proctors in Schenectady at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan 14. Tickets go on sale Friday (11/19). Titled “Skinnygirl Night Out! A Conversation with Bethenny Frankel,” the evening will feature “sass and fabulous fun” as Frankel “dish(es) on life, her work and her passion for living healthy and living well,” according to promotional material. Tickets, priced at $29.50 and $35.50, or $75 for the show and a meet-and-greet with Frankel, will be available online or by calling 346-6204. After her “Apprentice” appearance, Frankel went on to co-star in three seasons of “The Real Housewives of New York” and the spinoff “Bethenny Getting Married?” She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “Naturally Thin” and “The Skinnygirl Dish” and a columnist for Health and OK! magazines.
BETHENNY FRANKEL Bethenny Frankel has a knack for making healthy food taste delicious. That knack, which started out as a hobby and was enhanced with formal training, has elevated her to national prominence as a celebrated natural food chef, the creator of the sought-after Skinnygirl Margarita, The New York Times best-selling author of Naturally Thin and The Skinnygirl Dish, and a spokesperson for Pepperidge Farm. Frankel, who calls herself a "health foodie” and attended the National Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, focuses on sharing her knowledge and passion for healthy living. In addition to being regularly featured in national publications from The New York Times to entertainment magazines like Shape, she has a monthly column in Health Magazine and is a Contributing Lifestyle Editor for the US, UK and Australian editions of OK! Magazine. She’s also a sought-after guest on national news and entertainment television, where she brings her expertise and irresistibly candid and funny take not only to food segments but to any conversation about living healthy and living well. Frankel’s wit, wisdom and humor first came to national attention when she was named first runner-up on NBC’s “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.” Network executives saw a personality they couldn’t ignore, saw her connect with audiences, and put her center stage on Bravo’s hit series “The Real Housewives of New York” for three seasons. She emerged as the star of the series, with a huge network of fans, which led Bravo to create a spin-off series, “Bethenny Getting Married?” that premiered with the highest ratings ever in Bravo history. Naturally Thin: Unleash Your Skinnygirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting debuted this year on The New York Times Best-Sellers list and stayed for an astonishing for 18 consecutive weeks. Frankel’s second book, The Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life was released earlier this year, just in time to support “new year, new me” resolutions with delicious, practical, effective recipes and lifestyle tweaks. The Skinnygirl Dish showcases Frankel’s renowned “fix-ology:” her ability to take calorie-rich foods and revamp them to create healthier versions without compromising flavor. Her skill as a fixologist applies to cocktails too. She has launched the Skinnygirl Margarita, a bottled, pre-mixed beverage made with clear tequila, lime juice and only a splash of citrus liqueur, which drastically reduces the calories of the traditional cocktail. All natural and lightly sweetened with agave nectar, it has only 100 calories in a full 4 oz. serving. Households across the country have made Skinnygirl Margaritas their “it drink.” As the go-to expert for all things reality and lifestyle, Frankel wields her pen (and blackberry) like a sword, ensuring that her fans will get the unvarnished truth along with common sense, expertise and a healthy – always healthy – dose of humor. She is on a mission to democratize healthy living, making information available to everyone she can reach through her appearances, books, columns and blogs. She currently resides in New York City with her husband, her daughter and her dog Cookie.
Editorial: Cable access in Schenectady is indeed getting better http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/15/1115_edit1/ Monday, November 15, 2010 It hasn’t been easy, the switchover of Schenectady’s cable access TV operation from SACC, which ran it for more than 25 years, to Open Stage Media, located at and under the umbrella of Proctors. But it is now done, and the results are exactly what Gary McCarthy, the City Council president who engineered the move back when he was president of SACC, said he wanted. The offerings are increasing, as well as the quality. Shows like “Schenectady Today” are still being aired, contrary to what the old guard predicted after Open Stage took control last year and instituted new rules requiring that shows have their own producers and that they be trained to use the equipment. The popular City Council meetings are also still being aired, and the quality of those productions is about to improve now that there will be three cameras again (when McCarthy fired producer John Harnden this summer, he and his team took their equipment with them). But it is the new offerings, scheduling and technology that really demonstrate things are getting better. Schenectady school board meetings are one of those new offerings. Imagine if they had been shown all along? Schenectady residents would have been able to see the old board in action (or inaction) during the Steve Raucci affair. Even before that, they would have gotten a glimpse of the way that board was controlled by one strong man, how secretive he and it was, how contemptuous of the public. Importantly, there will be a consistency of schedule for these meetings and other shows, so people will know exactly when they (or their re-runs) are on. In the past, shows got bounced around, in large part due to the fact that there was only one channel. Now, under the new franchise agreement, there will be three, one each for government, education and public access. Another new offering will be “infomercials,” where city department heads will instruct residents on how to do this or that, whether it’s recycling, getting a building permit, or something else. The “infomercials,” and other shows, will be archived online at the new Website (http://openstagemedia.org), where they can be viewed at one’s leisure. All these changes and improvements give reassurance that the city made the right decision in transferring the franchise to Open Stage Media. Cable access can be a great tool for enlightenment, communication and grass-roots democracy, and Schenectady is lucky to have such an ambitious operation. Open Stage Media must commit itself not only to continued improvement and innovation, but to remaining professional, apolitical and open to all. If it does, this could become a model for cable access.
Proctors movie festival to have gay theme Sunday, November 14, 2010 By Michael Lamendola (Contact) Gazette Reporter http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/14/1115_gayfest/ SCHENECTADY — Proctors will hold a gay-themed movie festival in January, the first of what organizers hope will be an annual event to promote understanding and dialogue within the community. The festival is called “Qfest” and will run Jan. 26-31 at the GE Theatre. Films will focus on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the region, said Joey Hunziker, Proctors’ youth and community programs manager. Proctors CEO Philip Morris said Qfest is no different from other programs and festivals the entertainment facility has organized and sponsored over the years to promote community. He cited recent shows such as “Merchants of Bollywood,” the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Mazowsze, LAF Italiano and “Fiddler on the Roof” as part of Proctors’ efforts to be inclusive. “We are keenly aware of our impact and responsibility to connect to our constituents in every community we serve. Proctors’ future vitality depends on the concerted efforts of many. We continue to demonstrate that we are a real go-to place, a convenient, embracing and beautiful venue for sharing ideas, discussing issues — and just having fun in ways that build and strengthen community within the region,” Morris said. Hunziker said, “Proctors is one of the largest community organizations in the area, and we as an organization respect and try to include everyone. That is one of our goals, to be inclusive and offer a variety of perspectives from movies to main stage shows to our film festivals.” Hunziker said the schedule of films to be presented at Qfest remains under development. “We have looked at 50 to 100 movies just trying to find movies that are relevant toward creating a conversation and provoking thought and the progress of ideas in the LGBTQ community,” he said. The bulk of the films, however, will likely be of recent vintage, and will include a film about gays and bullying. Gay bullying is a topical subject, Hunziker said, as several gays youths have recently committed suicide because they were bullied. Hunziker proposed the idea in March as a way to reach out to the LGBTQ communities through the arts. “All of our movies, media and culture are pretty heterocentric. It would be nice to see people like me on the screen and in Proctors. If people can find common ground and understanding in seeing them, then that is a step forward,” he said. Hunziker said the impetus for doing the film fest is not to forward an agenda, but to offer Proctors as a location to begin a process of unity and bring people here, who are isolated in their community, into a larger forum. “We are working to build a network of support for gay and lesbian artistic programming in this area,” he said. Qfest will also feature panel discussions of some entries, entertainment by the Capital Pride Singers and introductions to some films by Qfest Advisory Committee members.
Proctors repairs and expands its buildings By TOM KEYSER Staff Writer Published: 12:55 a.m., Sunday, November 14, 2010 http://www.timesunion.com/? controllerName=search&action=search&channel=local&search=1&firstRequest=1&query=Proctors&searchindex=property&x=23&y=8 http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Proctors-repairs-and-expands-i... Key Hall (the former KeyBank building that is now part of Proctors) in Schenectady 11/04/2010. ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union ) more » Farren Mion in Key Hall (the former KeyBank building that is now part of Proctors). Mion restored the marble floor and put up some of the marble lining the wall in Schenectady 11/04/2010. ( Michael P. Farrell/Times Union ) Despite an economy that is strangling some arts organizations, Proctors is pushing ahead with upgrades and expansion financed by a variety of means: donation, state grant, insurance settlement and sale of a building. "While we certainly feel the effects of the economy, for a variety of reasons it has not been debilitating -- at least not yet," says Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors. "We have had an attitude of growing our way out of it and not, if we can avoid it, traversing the slippery slope of decline. "We've been aggressive with programming and continue to be aggressive. We're just trying to make more happen. So far so good." Three years after the completion of Proctors' $30 million renovation, these new projects involve the arcade floor, balcony ceiling in Mainstage and the KeyBank building next door at 436 State St. Proctors bought the building in the spring, renamed it Key Hall at Proctors, and refurbished it for 40 to 50 events per year: conferences, banquets, meetings and about 10 acoustic-music performances. The Mazzone Management Group was named Wednesday as caterer for Key Hall. Proctors kept Key in the name because the purchase couldn't have happened without KeyBank's largesse, Morris says. The sale price was $450,000, of which Proctors paid $150,000, and KeyBank donated $300,000, he says. Then, Proctors spent another $300,000 refurbishing the building. To finance the purchase and renovation, Proctors is selling the 440 Building (at 440 State St.). It has a buyer, says Dan Sheehan, operations director at Proctors, and would have closed the deal several months ago. But first, he says, Proctors management wanted to make sure the artists and arts organizations renting space at 440 found new homes. That has now happened, he says, and an announcement about the buyer will be made soon. While renovating Key Hall, Proctors preserved a safe door, estimated to weigh 14,000 pounds, and Italian marble that lined the teller counter. Farren Mion, of Anthony Mion and Son in Schenectady, disassembled the marble from the counter and reassembled it along a back wall. Mion also restored the Tennessee-pink marble floor, leaving a series of minor depressions where the teller windows used to be. The depressions were caused by customers standing at the windows for the 100 years the building was a bank. To preserve the safe door, made of steel, Proctors hired the Albany rigging firm Burkins and Foley. Workers hoisted the door and moved it to a prominent spot along a wall, where it was installed for aesthetic and historic purposes, Sheehan says. The door features an elaborate network of locks and tumbler assembly. With new paint and restored plaster on the 40-foot-high ceiling, Key Hall has about 4,000 square feet and can accommodate about 400 diners and an audience of 500 to 600 for performances. Management is still working on what kind of performances will take place there, Sheehan says. Mion also is overseeing the fine-grinding and polishing of the terrazzo arcade floor -- paid for with a donation by Jane and Neil Golub, of the Golub Corp,, which operates the Price Chopper grocery chain. Mion's great-grandfather Anthony founded the company in 1910 and might have installed the terrazzo floor, Mion says. His grandfather -- the "son" in the company name -- maintained that he did, but no documentation exists to prove it, Mion says. A leaky roof led to the restoration of about a third of the balcony ceiling and an adjacent wall, Morris says. That $150,000 project was paid for by an insurance settlement and a $50,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Fund administered by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. A New York City company restored the ceiling to its original appearance, repairing plaster, painting and applying gold leaf. It took 10 days just to build the scaffolding, Morris says. That work took place this summer. So what's next at Proctors? Morris laughs and says he can't reveal specifics. "But we're always working on something," he says. Tom Keyser can be reached at 454-5448 or by e-mail at email@example.com. This story is part of a new and ongoing series of stories examining the effect the economy is having on arts in the Capital Region. 5 hours ago
Proctors was packed with theater fans early Saturday morning, all eager to buy tickets to the Tony Award-winning production of “The Lion King.” read more... http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2010/nov/13/1114_lionking/ Lion King’ fans wait at Proctors at dawn for first tickets Saturday, November 13, 2010 By Jason Subik (Contact) Gazette Reporter Proctors volunteer Kathy Herrick watches as a line of people waiting for tickets to “The Lion King” snakes through the building on Saturday morning. SCHENECTADY — Proctors was packed with theater fans early Saturday morning, all eager to buy tickets to the Tony Award-winning production of “The Lion King.” Hundreds of people lined up before tickets went on sale at 7 a.m. The queue from the box office stretched along the arcade to the rear entrance. Despite the long line the atmosphere was jovial, aided by free muffins handed out by Proctors employees. The first 100 ticket buyers received the original Broadway cast recording CD of the musical. Other prizes included “Lion King” winter hats and a “Lion King” souvenir coffee table book signed by Thomas Schumacher, the president of Disney Theatricals. Kathy Herrick, one of Proctors many volunteers, helped with the crowd Saturday morning. “People are very excited about this show. We had some people waiting here at 7 p.m. last night,” she said. Proctors spokeswoman Susan Fowler said by 2 p.m. Saturday the theater had sold approximately 5,000 tickets for $376,000. She said about $100,000 worth of tickets were sold through the Internet when the tickets became available at 10 a.m. Tickets for “The Lion King” range in price from $20 to $80, with special premium packages costing $130. “The Lion King” is set to premiere Feb. 22. Fowler said there will be 32 performances of the show and about half of the 80,000 total tickets for the show’s run should still be available. Besides the 5,000 tickets sold Saturday many others have been pre-purchased by groups, as is typical for any Proctors show. Erin Jankowski from Glenville was among the enthusiasts who came out Saturday morning. She wore a winter hat and was prepared to wait outside if necessary. “I usually prefer to buy tickets online, but waiting until 10 a.m. was too long to wait,” she said. “Visually this looks like an amazing show, at least from the pictures I’ve seen. I know all the songs.” “The Lion King,” which has won six Tony Awards, features a musical score with songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. Bob Maxwell and his wife, Irene, from East Greenbush also got up early to get tickets to the show. “My wife said she’s heard this is the biggest show in 20 years. She takes care of the theater business, I stand in line,” he said. Information about available tickets can be found at www.proctors.org. or by calling 346-6204.
'Lion King' ticket sales come in like a lion By Michael Janairo Arts And Entertainment Editor Published: 12:00 a.m., Thursday, November 11, 2010 Proctors' biggest event of the 2010-11 Broadway season, the monthlong run of Disney's "The Lion King," will shift into higher gear at 7 a.m. Saturday, when individual tickets go on sale to the public. From 7 to 10 a.m., tickets to the production that opens on Feb. 22 will be available only to people who show up at the box office at 432 State St. in Schenectady. At 10 a.m., tickets will be offered over the phone at 346-6204 or online at http://www.proctors.org. Why would anyone want to get up so early on a Saturday? "The Lion King" opened on Broadway in 1997 and won six Tony awards. The show is still going strong on Broadway and with touring shows, and more than 50 million people have experienced the imaginative direction of Julie Taymor and the heartfelt musical score, which includes songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. To entice fans, Proctors' promotion includes giving the first 100 ticket buyers in line the original Broadway cast recording CD. All other ticket buyers receive a "Lion King" winter hat. Also, the first person in line will receive a "Lion King" souvenir coffee table book signed by the president of Disney Theatricals. Games, prizes and breakfast treats will also be available. "The Lion King" opens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, and runs through 1 p.m. Sunday, March 20. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays. Ticket prices vary by time and date of show from $20 to $130 (the top ticket price includes a souvenir program and a merchandise item).
Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, Schenectady About Proctors Just Say Yes November 12, 2010 at 12:14 am by Philip Morris The response today to yesterday’s bipartisan commission on the federal budget’s recommendations is an embarrassment. Reasonable people know that the recommendations, which include strong budget reductions along with tax increases are the only rational way for our collective enterprise, the United States, to both respond to our present economics (by implementing these changes a year hence) and stabilize our place in the international economic pecking order. But reasonable people didn’t come out publicly first; instead the extremes both right and left hit the media with their untenable criticisms without rational alternative. I am sorry, cutting enough alone or raising enough alone are neither rational nor tenable. I can’t help bit think if that many folks are unhappy, it must be a good compromise. But compromise seems a practice lost. If those of us in the great middle don’t start to speak first and loudly, the extremes will take our system and future hostage. We are all shareholders in this company called home. Why would we willingly let it be compromised by inaction? I say, just say yes to these recommendations. Don’t waste time arguing about them. Don’t micro manage them. Just approve them and let’s move on to create the world our grandkids deserve.
Mazzone Management Group to Provide Catering Services To Proctors New KeyHall Venue Schenectady, NY – Proctors CEO Philip Morris today announced the selection of The Mazzone Management Group Ltd. (Scotia, NY) as caterer of record at the newly acquired KeyHall at Proctors. The announcement follows months of speculation and due diligence to find a partner suitable with the Proctors brand to support the new addition to the Proctors arts and entertainment complex. In March, KeyBank and Proctors announced an agreement under which KeyBank sold its branch at 436 State Street to Proctors for less than its market price, in order to continue the bank’s support of downtown Schenectady’s growth and revitalization. At that time Proctors stated intent to turn the space into a multi-use, community gathering place, performance space with arts offices and banquet hall. The selection of the Mazzone Management Group is expected to fill the bill for top-tier catering and personal service compatible with Proctors own brand. Mazzone Management, owned and operated by Angelo Mazzone, has a record of success in the region reflected in stewardship of Glen Sanders Mansion and its accompanying restaurant Angelo’s Tavolo in Scotia; Aperitivo Bistro in Schenectady; Angelo's 677 Prime in Albany; and Prime at Saratoga National at Saratoga National Golf Club. Mazzone Management Group’s catering arm, Mansion Catering, also oversees the catering operations at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga; manages the food services for the 1,300 construction workers and administrative employees at the GLOBALFOUNDRIES facility at the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta; and manages the on-site cafeteria at the headquarters of The Golub Corp. in Schenectady. Additionally, Mansion Catering provides event management and catering services for private functions, weddings, fundraisers, and corporate or social events. “Angelo Mazzone and his company are a perfect fit for Proctors,” said Mr. Morris. “They are committed and esteemed partners in the revitalization of downtown Schenectady. Their stewardship of this unique space will be one more reason for people to spend time in downtown Schenectady. The company has a long history of supporting Proctors and downtown Schenectady, and we have every reason to believe that commitment to the people of the Capital Region will continue as KeyHall evolves into the A-list attraction we believe it will be.” As planned, the Mazzone Management Group will provide food services for Proctors expanding program of conferences and performances (up to 40 to 50 events annually), including 10 acoustic musical events, 20 daytime conferences as well as business events/dinners related to shows on the Mainstage at Proctors. The venue is well suited to weddings, special dinners, retirement and other events that can seat more than 360 people. The venue is also favored by abundant no-charge parking on evenings and weekends. “Mazzone Management Group is thrilled to partner with Proctors on this exciting new venture for Schenectady,” said Angelo Mazzone. “Proctors is truly the cornerstone of the downtown Schenectady community and a leader and valued neighbor in our joint efforts to revitalize downtown Schenectady. We look forward to serving the Capital Region in this new capacity and solidifying KeyHall as the area’s premier event venue.” While Proctors technically will maintain the calendar for scheduling KeyHall at Proctors, Mazzone Management Group will participate in publicizing the venue for additional events and coordinate with Proctors as required. The 12,000-square-foot three-story former Key Bank structure was built during the early part of the 20th century. It includes a 4,000 square foot atrium made of Vermont marble with three-story ceilings and a 55-foot-long marble cashier’s counter, as well as office space. Materials have been repurposed and used in the new facility. The building is handicapped-accessible. Proctors plans to keep the building façade. The cashier’s counter already has been painstaking deconstructed by Anthony Mion & Sons and the marble applied to the outside walls of the future banquet facility. Other upgrades to the old State Street Key Bank branch include a new connection between the back of KeyHall and the Arcade to facilitate access from the traditional Proctors entrances. A carefully orchestrated effort saved a 14,000 pound vault door from a safe that was demolished and relocated it within the KeyHall venue. The facility also has been repainted, marble floors refinished, carpet installed in areas without original marble and the facade windows have been painted. “This is exciting news for Proctors,” says Morris, “and for Schenectady and the Capital Region as well.” Contacts: For more information • on KeyHall at Proctors, contact Dan Sheehan, Proctors Director of Operations, 518-382-3884, x116; firstname.lastname@example.org • on the Mazzone Management Group, contact Mark Bardack, Ed Lewi Associates, 518-383-6183, email@example.com - 30 – About Mazzone Management Group Mazzone Management owns and operates several of the Capital Region’s premier restaurants and banquet halls including: Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia which features the all-new Angelo’s Tavolo, two ballrooms and an inn; Aperitivo Bistro, a dynamic wine bar and bistro adjacent to Proctors in Schenectady; and Angelo’s 677 Prime, an upscale steakhouse and wine bar in the heart of the theater district in Albany. Mazzone Management also owns and operates Prime at Saratoga National, an upscale steakhouse modeled after Angelo’s 677 Prime, located on the grounds of Saratoga National Golf Club. The company oversees the catering operations at the Hall of Springs and caters private weddings, fundraisers, and corporate or social events. For more information about Mazzone Management, call 518-374-7262 or visit www.onereputation.com.
Orchestras on Big Screens: Chase Scene Needed? By DANIEL J. WAKIN Published: November 8, 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/arts/music/09hd.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 A version of this article appeared in print on November 9, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition. HD technology and movie theater broadcasts are changing the way performing arts are produced. The performing arts have long been holdouts for unfiltered, direct connection between audiences and performers in a digitized, electronic and screen-laden world. Not anymore. Opera houses, ballet companies, even the National Theater in London, are competing to lure audiences to live high-definition broadcasts in movie theaters, many of which are then shown again. It is the HD-ification of the arts, and it is already affecting programming decisions along with costume and set design, lighting choices and even ticket prices. Now orchestras are jumping on the HD bandwagon, hoping that big screens can entice new fans to watch black-clad men and women playing musical instruments. The Los Angeles Philharmonic announced on Monday that it would start beaming live orchestra performances under the baton of its charismatic music director, Gustavo Dudamel, to 450 theaters in North America. This venture joins recent forays by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra into playing live on screen. While the HD phenomenon has brought performances to millions of people who would not otherwise see them, it also raises major questions. How will it reshape the way shows are cast, directed and designed? Will the photogenic gain the upper hand? Will musicians start acting for the camera? Will stage direction be shaped for close-ups instead of for the view from the balcony? What effect will it have on attendance at local orchestras, theater companies and operas? In a cultural world in which even the use of a microphone creates shock waves, how will the new onslaught of electronic sound change people’s aesthetic expectations? The best-known purveyor of cultural movie-casts is the Metropolitan Opera, which pioneered the practice five seasons ago. This season, it is transmitting 12 operas live to popcorn-eating audiences on Saturdays, reaching roughly 1,500 theaters in 46 countries. The Met said 2.4 million tickets were sold last season alone. By contrast, six transmissions in the first season went to 248 theaters in eight countries, with a total attendance of 325,000. The Royal Opera in London and La Scala in Milan are each offering two live opera feeds this season, and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona is providing one. Emerging Pictures, a distributor of European fare, is beaming eight live ballets from the Royal Ballet in London, the Paris Opera Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. The distributor has provided opera-casts from 11 other companies or festivals in the last several seasons. Peter Martins, the ballet master in chief of the New York City Ballet, has mused openly about putting performances on a big screen. The National Theater is providing six live transmissions of performances, including two from other British companies. They will reach 330 cinemas worldwide. The producers argue that live broadcasts build support for the art form, stimulate interest and serve as inspiration to buy locally. There has been little research, and only anecdotal evidence that supports such a view. The broadcasts are not yet considered major sources of revenue; the Los Angeles Philharmonic said it hoped to break even on them. But the trajectory is not linear. The two Royal Opera live broadcasts are down from five last year, and few of the half-dozen Italian opera houses handled by Emerging Pictures have signed on again this season, at least so far. “It’s still early days,” said Simon Magill, a spokesman for the Royal Opera. Aesthetic issues are another matter. Already at the Met, consideration is given to how sets and costumes will look on screen. Singers at such broadcasts say they are acutely aware of close-ups. Some critics have questioned whether smaller voices will gain favor. Cameras are now becoming an inevitable presence in halls and theaters, although technological advances have rendered them smaller and less noticeable. At the National Theater, ticket prices are reduced for live broadcast shows because of the camera stations that are set up in the audience. Lighting and makeup are tweaked, said David Sabel, the producer of the National Theater broadcasts. But the season is programmed without regard to broadcasts, he said. “We’re not going to change what we do,” Mr. Sabel said. High-culture performances were common on television in past decades, although in recent years they have generally been relegated to public television and arts cable channels. Operas have long been turned into movies. The market is flooded with DVDs of recorded performances. And the broadcasts are only part of the latest media strategies, which include online streaming, satellite radio broadcasts and on-demand playback. What is new here is that the showings are live, on a big screen and part of a collective experience. They are also one-time events that are presented as something special. “It goes back to the root of what makes live performance work, the sense of being in a space and experiencing something collectively,” Mr. Sabel said. “You’re experiencing it in the moment, and then it’s gone.” Whatever the effect on art forms or audiences, new technology, audience appetites for what cameras can provide, and the hunger of marketers to reach new ticket-buyers are fueling a very modern way of consuming art. The rapid conversion at movie houses from 35-millimeter-film projectors to digital has been a prerequisite. About one-third of the nation’s 39,000 movie screens have acquired digital capacity in just the last five years. “The technology has gotten good enough at this point so what we put on the screen is a really satisfying experience for the audience, without it costing a ridiculous amount of money,” said Ira Deutchman, the managing director of Emerging Pictures, which has a network of 140 theaters. Multiplex operators are happy to have events to show during off-hours. They can also charge more than for the typical movie ticket. The new technology comes at a time when cultural institutions are fighting for attention. Movie broadcasts reach people who would not go to theaters for whatever reason: living room competition like on-demand movies, or the inconvenience of fighting traffic, or $250 tickets, or maybe thousands of miles of distance. And audiences have been drawn to the behind-the-scenes interviews and features that go along with many of the transmissions, the sort of reality-television access people have grown accustomed to. For orchestras, the concept is more of a gamble. Movie theater audiences have plenty to watch when costumed opera characters carry out lusty, murderous or comic doings. Ballet dancers gambol across the stage in displays of grace and precision, a feast for the eye. But orchestra players tend to wear black and just sit there (although Mr. Dudamel is a kinetic, hair-flopping presence). They also tend to play it safe when they know a film is being made that would preserve every error. And there is nothing to make up for substandard movie theater sound systems during a symphonic concert. Some orchestras believe that the gamble is worth taking. The Berlin Philharmonic showed its Aug. 27 opening-night concert live in 70 theaters, mostly in Europe. On Sept. 18, the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland transmitted its closing concert, by the Vienna Philharmonic led by Mr. Dudamel, to 50 European theaters. The Philadelphia Orchestra is transmitting nine concerts this season to about 30 movie theaters and 50 retirement homes and community centers in the United States, said Mark Rupp, the president of its distributor, SpectiCast. Deborah Borda, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s president and chief executive, argues that the medium will work for orchestras, or at least her own. “We have some unique assets: Gustavo Dudamel, the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, a wonderful orchestra and a vision about programming,” Ms. Borda said. “You put that together, and we felt it was the right time.” Ms. Borda said the Philharmonic would experiment with three concerts this season: a Jan. 9 program of works by John Adams, Leonard Bernstein and Beethoven; a March 13 Tchaikovsky program; and a June 5 program of Brahms: the Symphony No. 4 and the Double Concerto with the Capuçon brothers — the violinist Renaud and the cellist Gautier — as soloists. Suggested ticket prices will be around $20. “The goal is not just to promote the Los Angeles Philharmonic but to strengthen the audience for classical music around the country,” Ms. Borda said. “The audience for this, if it’s working in the way we think it can, will grow.”