By BOB GOEPFERT
WATERFORD — People who go to Proctors tonight to see “Kenny Rogers Christmas & Hits” will get an added bonus in the form of local pride. The Waterford-Halfmoon High School Chorus and six students from the elementary school will be featured with the famous singer.
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By DON WILCOCK
SCHENECTADY — Kenny Rogers, who will perform his Christmas show tonight at Proctors Theatre, is the only recording artist to chart in each of the last six decades and is the oldest artist to reach No. 1 in the history of country music.
Get the full buzz at
When: 4:30 and 7 p.m. Friday and Monday
Where: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
Info: 346-6204; http://www.proctors.org
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Ever pushing the envelope on arts and entertainment offerings for its subscribers and patrons, Proctors rolls out six new offerings for the 2011 -2012 winter season.
LOOKING THROUGH A GLASS ONION: DECONSTRUCTING THE BEATLES’ ‘WHITE ALBUM’
Feb 24, 2012
In Looking Through A Glass Onion, performer Scott Freiman traces the creation of some of the most memorable songs by The Beatles in a mind-blowing multimedia experience that fans and followers will love. Freiman shares rare audio and video of The Fab Four in action, and explores the musical styles, history and studio techniques that went into the 1968 hit album. Introduce a new generation to John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Mar 17, 2012
These guys are so good, they don’t need instruments! Fresh from NBC’s hit show The Sing-Off are the University of Rochester Yellow Jackets, an a cappella group whose trademark bright yellow blazers pale in comparison to their talent. This outstanding group will be performing hits from the past five decades in their signature style.
The Moody Blues
April 5, 2012
Over their celebrated 45-year career, The Moody Blues has sold more than 70 million albums worldwide. Their legendary Nights in White Satin, Tuesday Afternoon and Your Wildest Dreams have shaped generations of music lovers and won the band millions of international fans. The Moody Blues continue their legacy of enduring musical magic 40+ years after the British Invasion.
May 4, 2012
Gifted singer, actress and seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight endures as one of the greatest American performers of the last half century. Don’t miss the Empress of Soul, whose chart topping hits, I Heard It Through the Grapevine and Midnight Train to Georgia have changed music forever.
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
May 10, 2012
With hallmark falsetto and iconic cool, American pop music icons Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons have reached beyond their generation and continue to garner fans from around the world. Hit songs like Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man are still heard on the radio and Broadway stages all around the world, proving the longevity and talent of these Jersey Boys.
AN EVENING with story musgrave
May 12, 2012
Over the course of 30 years, Story Musgrave, M.D. paved his way into NASA history as one of its most colorful, passionate and dedicated astronauts. As a renaissance man, adventurer, space man and story teller - Story weaves a thought-provoking presentation that will leave you spellbound and starry-eyed.
The six new offerings augment an already spectacular season, which the State Street arts and entertainment complex launched on September 17 under the banner “What A Season!”
Key Bank Private Broadway Series
Shows still remaining in the previously announced 5-show Key Bank Private Broadway Series are: SHREK The Musical, JERSEY BOYS and MEMPHIS.
SHREK The Musical
Jan 24, 2012
Based on the Oscar®-winning DreamWorks film by the same name that started it all, SHREK THE MUSICAL brings the hilarious story of everyone’s favorite ogre to life on stage. In a faraway kingdom turned upside down, things get ugly when an unseemly ogre – not a handsome prince – shows up to rescue a feisty princess. Throw in a donkey who won’t shut up, a villain with a SHORT temper, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you’ve got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there’s one on hand… and his name is Shrek.
Feb 28 ~ Mar 4, 2012
Full engagement: Feb 28 ~ Mar 18. The New York Post raved that JERSEY BOYS is “too good to be true! JERSEY BOYS is, of course, the enduring 2006 Tony Award®-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. These four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history: they wrote their own songs, invented their own sound and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! JERSEY BOYS, winner of the 2006 Grammy® Award for Best Musical Show Album and most recently, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, features their hit songs Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Rag Doll, Oh What a Night, and Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.
“IT WILL RUN FOR CENTURIES!” proclaims Time Magazine.
Apr 17 ~ 22, 2012
From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, this hot new Broadway musical bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, MEMPHIS is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break. Their shared, incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves – is filled with laughter, soaring emotion and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll. Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards® including Best Musical, MEMPHIS. Get ready to experience Broadway’s most exciting new destination ~ what AP calls “The very essence of what a Broadway musical should be.”
“KeyBank is proud of our association with Proctors,” says Senior Vice President Fran O’Rourke. “We particularly appreciate our ongoing partnership and the tradition we have established of bringing Broadway’s best to Schenectady and the entire Capital Region through the Key Private Bank Broadway series. Not only does Proctors have what it takes to host high-profile and tactically demanding shows, they do it in a first-class way that has united the community and excited the region.”
There’s never been a better time to plan your entertainment schedule or to invite friends and family to join you at Proctors.
And make every visit a Night Out on the Town. Log on to www.proctors.org/restaurants for list of great local and regional restaurants!
The Key Private Bank Broadway Series at Proctors is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.
Ticketsfor events at Proctors are available at Proctors Box Office at 518-346-6204, online at proctors.org or visit Proctors at 432 State Street. Schenectady, NY.
Significant discounts on tickets are available for groups of 20 or more. A listing of shows and pricing may be found on proctors.org/group_sales or by contacting Proctors Group Sales at 518-382-3884 ext. 139.
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Northeast Ballet's Annual NUTCRACKER
Kenny Rogers Christmas & Hits
With Special Guest B i l l y D e a n
WATERFORD-HALFMOON HIGH SCHOOL
SELECT CHOIR & LOCAL CHILDREN to SING
Thursday, December 22, 8:00 pm
The Mainstage at Proctors
Schenectady, NY – December 7, 2011 – The Bank of America/American Tradition Series at Proctors brings the sweetly raspy vocals of a true American classic, the iconic Kenny Rogers, to the Mainstage at Proctors on Thursday, December 22. Special guest BILLY DEAN will accompany Mr. Rogers.
A successful Country Music singer, showman, photographer, record producer, actor and entrepreneur, Rogers sounds like no one else. He inhabits each song, making it vivid and tangible. For five decades, the Grammy Award-winning Rogers has delivered memorable songs like “Lady”, “Islands in the Stream,” and “The Gambler,” drawing fans from many different backgrounds. When one singer makes such an indelible mark, that's not mere luck or even simple talent.
“STILL A CONSUMMATE ENTERTAINER AND STORYTELLER
AFTER 40-PLUS YEARS IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS,
KENNY ROGERS MAKES LISTENERS FEEL
LIKE THEY’RE RIGHT IN HIS LIVING ROOM.” –U-Entertainment
“I really, really love what I’m doing,” Rogers says. “People survive longer if they love what they’re doing. Because you just don’t quit.”
Earlier this year, Rogers celebrated another new chapter in the remarkable career of this music legend and international icon with the release of his first inspirational gospel album, The Love Of God. Rogers, one of music's legendary voices, has put his indelible stamp on classics like "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," "I'll Fly Away," "Amazing Grace" and "In The Sweet By And By." The album has received rave reviews.
Rogers is busy at work writing his autobiography, which is slated for a fall 2012 release.
About Billy Dean
Billy Dean (“Somewhere in My Broken Heart,” “Let Them Be Little”) has recorded three Gold albums that have generated 20 hit singles on the Billboard country chart, including 11 Top Ten hits. Dean reached Number One in 2000 as one of two guest vocalists on Kenny Rogers' "Buy Me a Rose.”
Dean’s latest album, Earning Our Place On Earth, sponsored by Naturipe Farms, is a project dedicated to America’s produce farmers.
Local Students Perform with Kenny Rogers
The 32-member WATERFORD - HALFMOON HIGH SCHOOL SELECT CHOIR, directed by Eric Nelsen, will perform with Kenny Rogers.
In addition, Mr. Nelsen is directing six local children -- Christina Bell, Claudia Fountain, Zoe Gleason, Dan Norris, Jack O’Brien and Thomas Phelan -- from WATERFORD-HALFMOON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. They, too, will sing with Kenny Rogers at the December 22 event at Proctors.
Local choirs and children have been prominently featured in Rogers’ Christmas show for several years and the 2011 Christmas & Hits Tour – the 30th anniversary of his Christmas tour – is no different. Rogers has said one of his favorite parts of the Christmas show is to sing with local choirs and children on each stop of the tour.
Several children who have performed on Kenny’s Christmas tour in the past have gone on to do great things – Emmy Award-winner Sean Hayes (Will & Grace), Rosa Blasi (The Bold and the Beautiful, General Hospital), Laura Woyasz (the Glinda stand-by in Wicked on Broadway), and BNA Records Recording Artists The Lunabelles (Arciero sisters) among many others.
Their success was a "next step" from an opportunity presented to them from an early KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS show. Rogers is proud to involve local talent in each market – choirs and children – and is happy to see those who have performed with him in his Christmas show over the years accomplish great things.
Running time for KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS is 80 minutes, plus one intermission.
Tickets Available Now
Tickets for KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS are $20, $35, $45, $55 & $70 and available at Proctors Box Office, (518) 346-6204 or online at proctors.org.
Significant discounts on tickets are available for groups of 20 or more. A listing of shows and pricing may be found on proctors.org/group_sales or by contacting Proctors Group Sales at 518-382-3884 ext. 139.
The December 22 performance of KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Free Parking for KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS is available in the Broadway Garage, courtesy of the Times Union. Go to timesunion.com for news and entertainment.
For more information on WATERFORD-HALFMOON HIGH SCHOOL SELECT CHOIR, contact Eric Nelsen, 7-12 Vocal Music, Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District, (518)237-0800; email@example.com, 518.796.6582.
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Q & A: Sutton earning praise in role, got start singing in karaoke bar
Sunday, December 4, 2011
By Bill Buell, Gazette Reporter
For years, people kept telling David Anderson Sutton how well he could sing. Finally he listened and, as a result, Kevin McGuire isn’t the only Hoosick Falls native with a great voice and some pretty good acting chops.
A landscape and construction worker for most of his life, Sutton is also finding time to perform and doing it very well, portraying the Padre in Capital Repertory Theatre’s production of “Man of La Mancha.” McGuire, the Hoosick Falls native who went on to play the lead roles in both “Les Miserables” (on Broadway) and “The Phantom of the Opera (Toronto), is Cap Rep’s Don Quixote. While the production has received universal acclaim, Sutton has been singled out by more than one reviewer for his work as the Padre.
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Bebe Neuwirth will grace the Mainstage at Proctors on Jan. 14.
The buzz has begun…
Bebe Neuwirth talks 'Stories With Piano' cabaret show
by Kerry Lengel - Oct. 8, 2011 03:19 PM
The Arizona Republic
Don't expect a string of amusing anecdotes when Bebe Neuwirth settles into the spotlight. In her cabaret-style "Stories With Piano," the stories are the songs.
Kenny Rogers "Christmas and Hits" will play at Proctors on December 22. Tickets still available.
Here's what they're saying in Milwaukee about this American icon....
Kenny Rogers brings hits to Milwaukee for Christmas
Milwaukee Concert Photography // Examiner
November 30, 2011
Photos from Kenny Rogers performance in Milwaukee,WI 11.27.2011 Credit: Robert D Gustafson - www.RobGustafsonPhotography.com
I am prefacing this review by saying that this will most likely be one of the hardest reviews that I have had to write in my young review career. I say this purely based on the fact that I do not have the pure connection with Kenny and his music like many people older than myself do. As I grew up neither of my parents were big fans of Kenny's music, and being 27 years old I did not grow up in a period when his music dominated the radio waves like in the 70's.
Also this might be one of the most honest and unbiased reviews I have written so far, based purely off of the show experience and what I was privileged to be a part of. Prior to this show I knew of this music and of this hits, but who doesn't? This man is a true American music legend and I was honored to be there to witness him live.
I arrived at the Riverside Theater in downtown Milwaukee after a slight walk in the brisk air. The entire time thinking to myself that I was soon to be photographing an American music Icon. I was completely unsure of what to expect from the evening to come.
After a slight mix up with my photo pass and some help from fellow photographer and friend John Schulze, I was standing up front and stage left talking to Gene Roy,Kenny's tour manager. I must say that I surprised by some of the words that were being spoken to me, " First two songs at the stage, then shoot all night from your seat". In the short time I have been doing this it is normally made very clear that you can photograph the first 3 songs and you are done. This is typically a very strict rule and enforced heavily. Allowing us to photograph all night was nothing short of a class act my any means. Kudos to you Mr. Roy and Mr. Rogers.
Kenny's show this evening in Milwaukee was to be split into two parts. First half of the evening was going to be his hits and what he has been known for. The second half of the evening he was going to sing some of the most well known Christmas songs of all time.
To start the evening there was no time wasted at all. The band took the stage and with in seconds Kenny Rogers took the stage. He was greeted by a large roar and round of applause from the lively crowd in the Riverside. This group was raring and ready to see the man that they had all come to see. He began his first set with We've got tonight. We've got tonight is from his eleventh studio album by the same name. This song was originally a duet with Sheena Easton was the debut single and became one of Rogers' signature hits, soaring to #1 on the country charts and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart, reaching #6 on the Hot 100 chart.
For his next song he played It's a beautiful life, followed by many other hits from his career. For those of you that have never seen his show live, he is very active with the crowd during the show. Taking out time to joke and talk to individuals in the crowd. Even at one point stopping to ask the right side of the theater if they knew the words to the song, stating that when he performed in Vietnam the crowd there did a better job of signing long and they didn't even speak English.
As he went down through his list of hits he was joined on stage by his good friend and fellow performer Billy Dean. The two performed together for numerous songs, at all times smiling and showing you the truly terrific time they have performing together.
While Mr. Rogers was performing I was anticipating one of the songs I was most familiar with, The Gambler. When he started to sing this iconic song, everyone knew immediately what it was and let out an excited gasp. I was truly in awe the entire time this song was played. This song is considered to be one of the greatest songs written, and I was seeing it performed live in front of me. I could tell from the look on other peoples eyes that they had the same sediment as myself. It was something that was truly special and is something that I will not forget for a long time to come.
Kenny finished out the set with Islands in the stream. A song originally written by the Bee Gee's and performed by Rogers and Dolly Parton. It was released in August 1983 as the first single from Rogers' album Eyes That See in the Dark and the second pop number-one for both Rogers and Parton (Rogers having been there with 1980's "Lady" and Parton with 1981's "9 to 5"). This track had become so popular that it was sampled in many other songs, which included (part of) the chorus from the 1998 hip-hop hit "Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are)" by Pras (which also featured Ol' Dirty Bastard and introduced singer Mýa).
after taking a slight break to get things in a Christmas mood, Billy Dean took the stage to the iconic piano music from snoopy. The crowd was treated to a video of select audience members signing Christmas songs prior to the show. It was quite comical to watch to say the least.
Christmas is a very special time of the year for children. This was made very clear by Billy Dean. He had children from the area come on stage to help him sing a few songs. It was fun to watch young children up on stage doing so well with being in front of a large crowd. Shortly after a few songs Mr. Rogers joined them back on stage dressed in a dark blue blazer and red pocket square. From there they went on to sing many Christmas classics like , Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, White Christmas, Santa Claus is coming to town, Silent night, and many more.
Towards the end of the evening he was joined on stage by a large choir and finished off the evening evening with their help. It was nothing short of a sight to see. Like I had mentioned earlier, previously I did not have a connection with the music like the vast majority of the audience did. But I did truly enjoy his performance. He is still every bit of an entertainer as he ever has been and did not disappoint in Milwaukee. It was truly a pleasure to be able to see him perform live.
Jason Henke | Kenny Rogers Productions/Vector Management | 615.329.2303 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenny Rogers "Christmas and Hits" will play at Proctors on December 22.
Here's what they're saying in Milwaukee about this American icon....
Published Nov. 28, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
ONMILWAUKEE.COM | John Schulze’s Blogs
Review and photography by John Schulze
Kenny Rogers' Christmas & the Hits brought plenty of holiday cheer to the Riverside Theater Sunday night.
It was far from a warm summer's evening last night at Kenny Rogers' Christmas & The Hits concert at the Riverside Theater, but that didn't stop fans from making an impressive showing at the legendary country music superstar's remarkable show.
Rogers hardly needs any introduction, but his list of accomplishments is truly astonishing by any standard. He has charted more than 120 times with hit singles. He's recorded more than 65 albums in his more than 50-year career.
He's sold more than 120 million records and on top of winning three Grammy Awards, Rogers has won top honors at the Country Music Association awards, the American Music awards and the Academy of Country Music awards. A poll in 1986 taken by USA Today and People Magazine placed Rogers as the readers' "Favorite Singer of All Time."
Pulling hits from a historic and storied career, Rogers spent the first half of the concert bringing to life songs from his expansive archive for the Milwaukee crowd, rolling out his biggest hits one after another.
Early in the show Rogers sang "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and a medley of old hits that included "You Decorated My Life" and "She Believes In Me," a song that Rogers said "out of all those ballads of the '80s, this one was my favorite." True to form, he sang it as such, with genuine heart and soul.
"Coward Of The County" and "Daytime Dreamer" also made appearances on the setlist last night. Rogers was upbeat and enthusiastic throughout the concert, and near the end of his first set shared the stage with fellow country artist Billy Dean, a guest vocalist on Kenny's No. 1 single "Buy Me A Rose," which charted back in 2000. The two crooners looked comfortable onstage together during the duet, looking back and forth in honest admiration. Dean also performed his tune "Billy The Kid."
Rogers took a moment to call attention to his fiddle player, Amber Randall, who, like all of the musicians in his band, was simply outstanding last night. You could feel the energy between everyone onstage, and the amount of interaction and communication going on for such a large band was incredible.
The true highlight of the show for me happened next. After making a joke about the numerous Gambler movies and how it would take two hours to sing all the songs from them, Kenny, in almost total darkness, sat down on a stool and performed his most beloved and well known hit, "The Gambler," and while I was allowed to photograph the entire show, there was really nothing to photograph, and for a few minutes I stood in silence and just observed the gentle and warm tone of Rogers as he offered up his advice to "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run."
It was, for me, a moment I've waited for all my life, having grown up with the song. Never until last night have I had the honor of seeing Kenny Rogers perform it live. It lived up to every bit of my expectations and beyond. In my mind I saw a younger Rogers as I first saw him on "The Muppet Show" in 1979.
The hits portion was finished off with "Lucille," "Lady" and "Islands In The Stream." It was a powerful way to close out the set. These iconic songs resonate so deeply for those who remember when they were released, they're much like old friends, always welcomed with open arms. Rogers took his time with every song, giving them each the attention they deserved.
It was also a reminder that country music has taken some radical turns since the 1970s and 1980s. Today's country music, dominated currently by Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, in my opinion, is a totally new art form.
I'm a big fan of both styles and I have an incredible amount of respect for Swift, Underwood and Lambert, but it makes me a touch sad that perhaps we'll never see another Tanya Tucker or Dolly Parton, and songs like "Delta Dawn" and "Islands In The Stream" have been replaced with "Inside Your Heaven" and "You Belong With Me." The traditional country twang has been replaced with a pop edge. People will be debating the course of country music for years to come as genres seem to collide more and more in the music industry.
Although it was just a few days past Thanksgiving, Christmas cheer was in the air, and after a quick break we were treated to the second half of the concert, an outstanding selection of Christmas music featuring numerous songs with six children from the Milwaukee Children's Choir and a finale with the local Holy Redeemer Choir.
Billy Dean came out first after a quick and fun run-through of Charlie Brown's theme song. The festive stage setting was much like a winter wonderland, and even featured a snowman. The children joined Dean for classics such as "Let Them Be Little," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" and "Let It Snow," which featured the illusion of snow falling upon the stage.
Kenny came back to the stage just as the snow stopped falling, and Rogers acknowledged to the crowd it was perhaps a bit early in the season for such a concert of Christmas songs. He went on to say, "Let me be the first to say Merry Christmas."
Rogers continued on to address a concern that as a country we're close to losing "Merry Christmas" as a phrase in an all-too-politically correct world. He recalled a situation where a clerk he came in contact with at a store was not allowed to say Merry Christmas. Kenny responded, "Well, I am. Merry Christmas."
The Christmas songs came fast and furious at this point and some of the highlights included "The Christmas Song," more commonly titled "Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire," "White Christmas," "Away In A Manger" and "O Holy Night."
Usually when someone shouts out for a song, it's "Freebird," but someone broke tradition last night and yelled out for "Silent Night," to which Rogers responded, "On its own good time, young man." The Children's Choir was brought out once again, and Rogers and Dean delighted in harmonizing with the young singers. The children did exceptionally well, and appeared pretty comfortable on the big stage. I can only imagine how proud their parents must have been.
The concert began to wrap up with "Joy To The World," and the Holy Redeemer Choir, Children's Choir, Billy Dean and Kenny Rogers all took their places onstage. It was a very impressive display of some of the finest voices Milwaukee has to offer, and a really unique way for Rogers to share his experience with each city on his tour. The children will have quite a story to tell their classmates this week, and lifetime memories of performing with a legend.
Artistic director, Albany Pro Musica
About David Griggs-Janower
Cap Rep Man of La Mancha – Go!
December 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm by David Griggs-Janower
Over Thanksgiving weekend the G-J family went to see one of my favorite musicals, Man of La Mancha, at Cap Rep in downtown Albany. Mu daughter’s reaction when she heard I got tickets was, WE GET TO SEE MAN OF LA MANCHA???????!!!!!! (She uses even more exclamation points than I do!!!) My son’s reaction was, oh, no, those songs will be stuck in my head for weeks!
At any rate, we went. And loved it. LOVED it.
Theater review: Dull storyline can’t kill joy of delightful ‘Addams Family’
Thursday, December 1, 2011
By Matthew G. Moross
The Addams Family’
WHERE: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady
WHEN: Through Sunday
HOW MUCH: $70-$20
MORE INFO: 346-6204 or www.proctors.org
Creating a musical about a family whose values are based in “darkness, grief and unspeakable sorrow” is a tricky task. Getting it to sing and dance requires just the right approach.
The national tour of the new musical “The Addams Family,” at Proctors through Sunday, almost gets it right. And it is so well cast, staged and designed, you hardly notice that our favorite family of oddballs is trapped in a storyline that is derivative and boring. Maybe a wayward zombie made a meal out of the author’s brains.
Popping from the ghoulishly twisted mind of cartoonist Charles Addams, this cadaverous clan has amused fans for more than 70 years with its Gothic slant of mordantly macabre humor. Following the family life (or death) of husband and wife Gomez (Douglas Sills) and Morticia Addams (Sara Gettlefinger) and their children, daughter Wednesday (Cortney Wolfson) and son Pugsley (Patrick D. Kennedy), the Addams’ view of life has seduced and titillated the quirky inside all of us. The musical manages to maintain some of the “kooky, spooky and ookey” but misses some of the menace and mystery. The end result is homogenized and a little sterile.
For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell's preview of this show, click here.
Lumbered with an utterly predictable story that would struggle to fill 22 minutes of a sitcom let alone a two-hour musical, the authors wisely wrap the audience up in a cloak of nostalgia so tightly that the lack of story hardly matters. Time stands still as Gomez and Morticia tango, Fester shoves a light bulb in his mouth and Wednesday straps Pugsley to the rack.
By offering so much of the familiar and sacrificing an interesting plot the evening becomes more pageant than theater. But who’s complaining? Not the audience on opening night, which was ready to snap along no matter what.
The cast is great. The design and staging are perfect. But the music is mostly uninspired and unfocused — sort of a problem in a musical. Andrew Lippa’s score, well executed by the cast and orchestra under Valerie Gebert’s tight musical direction, wanders around searching to find a strong cohesive bond to the material for most of Act One, with songs so generic and collective that they could be sung by members of any family — Mama’s, Modern, Partridge or Addams.
Proctors: presenting, creating
Schenectady theater part of company that creates musicals
By TOM KEYSER, Staff writer
Published 11:25 p.m., Wednesday, November 30, 2011
When "The Addams Family" opened Tuesday at Proctors, it delivered the first return on investment to the Schenectady theater, which five years ago helped form the company that created the show.
In 2006, Proctors became a partner in Elephant Eye Theatrical, an unusual company because it includes 15 theaters from across the country and Canada. They work with Elephant Eye CEO Stuart Oken, a former executive at Disney Theatrical Productions, to create new musicals.
"The Addams Family" was their first production to open on Broadway, and now it's the first Elephant Eye show to play at Proctors. If it weren't for Proctors' involvement in Elephant Eye, says Philip Morris, Proctors' CEO, Capital Region theater-lovers wouldn't have the chance to see the show now.
After all, he says, "The Addams Family" is still playing on Broadway. And it began its national tour a mere six weeks ago. The musical comedy's six-day run here elevates Proctors' standing nationally as not only a presenter of theater but also as a creator of it.
"It's a great feeling that we were participants in creating this thing," Morris said.
The Capital Region will continue to benefit from Proctors' participation in Elephant Eye, Morris said. Proctors and perhaps even Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany (Proctors manages CapRep's administrative functions) will present more Elephant Eye productions in the future, he said.
But that isn't the main reason Proctors invested $150,000 in Elephant Eye and joined forces with Oken and theaters in such cities as Atlanta, Boston, St. Paul, Tampa and Toronto, Morris says.
"I wanted Proctors to become integrated into the creation of work," he says. "We are always in the position of hoping, praying for good product. There never seems to be enough. The opportunity to participate in helping add to that basket of options seemed pretty important to us."
And the opportunity to work with Oken increased the appeal, Morris says. As executive vice president at Disney, Oken co-developed and co-produced "Aida" and "The Lion King."
He left Disney in 2003 to form his own company. After talking with executives at theaters around the country, he decided to include them rather than rely solely on private investors. Now, he says, Elephant Eye receives 40 percent of its funding from the theaters and 60 percent from investors.
"This actually makes the project more thrilling, more challenging and potentially more powerful because of what we're able to do together," Oken said. "We're in a venture that could be conceived of as purely commercial. But because musical theater and all theater by nature is rarely profitable, what we do together is, we chase dreams."
Elephant Eye works to produce only original musicals, assembling the creative team and then overseeing the process. Musicals are the only theatrical form that can make a lot of money, Oken said. But blockbusters are rare – maybe one every couple of years, he said. And a musical can take three to seven years to create.
"Creating new musicals is one of the most difficult things a person can do," he said. "It's a process that is a completely inexact science. You're trying to build something that often defies perfection. That's why they often say musicals aren't written, they're rewritten."
That's what happened with "The Addams Family." Even though it featured Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane when it opened on Broadway in April 2010, it received a scathing review from the New York Times. Still, it will have lasted 21 months on Broadway when it closes on New Year's Eve.
That might have been the end of it if Elephant Eye had been a traditional production company with only private investors focused on the bottom line, Morris said. But the theater executives were more sympathetic to the creative process, he said, and gave the go-ahead for a rewrite. Oken's production team strengthened the narrative, and the show that's on the road is different from the one on Broadway and receiving positive reviews.
"'Addams Family' is an example of something that's worked pretty well for us," Oken said. "It didn't work as great as we might have hoped, but we're in the process of opening it in South America and Australia and England, and there are licenses going to Asia and Scandinavia.
"We continued the creative process after Broadway because we didn't see Broadway as the end. We saw the existence of the show for all time as the end. Many shows never get the chance to do that."
The first musical Elephant Eye created, "Saved," based on a 2004 movie about a Christian high school, didn't make it to Broadway. Now, the company has three musicals in development, including one about Bruce Lee and another about the role of physical beauty in our world.
Morris says that despite the longevity of "The Addams Family," Proctors has not earned back its $150,000 investment — and doesn't expect to anytime soon. The investment was in the company and multiple shows, not just "The Addams Family."
"It's an investment in the business that we're in," he said, "an investment in a long-term project. That means that Proctors, potentially, will have the opportunity to be engaged in this kind of creative conversation for the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years."
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