4-Time Tony Nominee Tovah Feldshuh Brings Her Award-Winning Performance as Golda Meir in “Golda’s Balcony” ----- Saturday, March 26. One Night Only Schenectady, NY -- Four-time Tony-Nominee Tovah Feldshuh will recreate her award-winning performance as Golda Meir in GOLDA’S BALCONY, when the acclaimed William Gibson play comes to Proctors on March 26 at 8 pm. Supervised by Scott Schwartz, GOLDA’S BALCONY earned Ms. Feldshuh a TONY-Award nomination for Best Actress, and from 2003-2005 became the longest-running one-woman show in Broadway history. The play is a portrait of the indomitable Meir, the Milwaukee schoolteacher who became Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. From the pogroms of Russia to the halls of the Knesset, Meir’s life – and the play – encapsulates the dramatic story of Israel in the 20th Century. For her work on the New York stage, from Yentl to Saravà! to Lend Me A Tenor to Golda’s Balcony, Tovah Feldshuh has earned four Tony nominations for Best Actress and won four Drama Desk Awards , four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Obie, the Theatre World Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress (for Golda’s Balcony). On October 3, 2004, Golda’s Balcony became the longest-running one-woman show in the history of Broadway. Soon after the Broadway run, Ms. Feldshuh brought Golda’s Balcony to Los Angeles’ Wadsworth Theatre and San Francisco’s Geary Theater in collaboration with Richard Willis and Marty Markinson for eight sold-out weeks. On June 7th, 2008, Ms. Feldshuh debuted Golda’s Balcony in London at The Shaw Theatre for a limited run. Other shows on Broadway include Cyrano (with Christopher Plummer), Rodgers and Hart and Dreyfus in Rehearsal. Feldshuh portrayed the title roles in the Roundabout Theatre’s She Stoops to Conquer and Mistress of the Inn, BAM’s Three Sisters with Rosemary Harris and Ellen Burstyn, and played in the long-running hit The Vagina Monologues. Off-Broadway, she starred as the legendary Tallulah Bankhead in her own Tallulah Hallelujah!, which was chosen as one of the Ten Best Plays of the Year by USA Today. Among other roles, Ms. Feldshuh has portrayed Diana Vreeland in Full Gallop, Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Sarah Bernhardt, Stella Adler, Sophie Tucker, Katharine Hepburn, three queens of Henry VIII and nine Jews from birth to death in Off-Broadway’s Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh. She was most recently seen in theatres in Chicago and Ft. Lauderdale as movie icon Katharine Hepburn in Matthew Lombardo’s play Tea at Five. Film audiences recognize Ms. Feldshuh from Fox Searchlight’s Kissing Jessica Stein, for which she won the Golden Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress; A Walk On The Moon with Diane Lane and Viggo Mortensen; Happy Accidents with Marisa Tomei, The Corruptor with Mark Wahlberg, Daniel, The Idolmaker (Dir. Taylor Hackford), Brewster’s Millions, Cheaper to Keep Her, Three Little Wolfs, Friends and Family, Old Love, Nunzio, The Believer, Life On The Ledge, The Alchemist, Toll Booth (winner – Best Supporting Actress - Method Fest 2005), among others. Most recently she appeared onscreen in O Jerusalem in which she plays Golda Meir opposite Ian Holm and Tom Conti, , Lady in the Water for M. Night Shyamalan opposite Paul Giamatti and Just My Luck with Lindsay Lohan. Films soon to be released include Mount Of Olives with F. Murray Abraham, Eavesdrop (written and directed by Matthew Miele), and Love Life for German actress and director Maria Schrader. She has just wrapped filming on Buddy Gilbert Comes Alive for Mark Erlbaum and Laura Lopez's Baker in which she plays the title role of ex-Vietnam and Korean War nurse Ruth Baker. On television, she received her first Emmy nomination for her portrayal of the Czech freedom fighter Helena in Holocaust. She starred opposite Tommy Lee Jones in The Amazing Howard Hughes, James Woods in Citizen Cohn, Bill Cosby on The Cosby Mysteries and The Cosby Show and Richard Dreyfuss in The Education Of Max Bickford. In 2004 she was nominated for her second Emmy for her work on Law & Order as defense attorney Danielle Melnick. Two seasons ago her one-woman show, Tovah: Out Of Her Mind!, sold out in London’s West End at the Duke Of York’s and culminated in a symphonic concert with Billy Crystal at Los Angeles’ Royce Hall. The Boston Globe selected Tovah: Out Of Her Mind! as the best one-person show of 2000. Ms. Feldshuh created a new concert entitled Mining Golda: My Journey to Golda Meir which played the West End at the Savoy Theatre, the Sheridan Suites in Manchester, and the Royal Armouries in Leeds, Vodaworld in Johannesburg and the Entertainment Centre of Sydney, Australia. Most recently she was the first artist ever to be asked to extend at the reknowned FEINSTEIN’S nightclub at the Loew’s Regency in her smash cabaret show TOVAH IN A NUTSHELL! On the US West Coast she starred at the Ahmanson as Regina in Lillian Hellman’s Another Part Of The Forest and served as a leading lady for Jack O’Brien and Craig Noel at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in such shows as Romeo and Juliet, Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Measure For Measure, The Country Wife and Tovah: A Rush Hour Revue, where she was named an Associate Artist and won two Drama Logue Awards for her Juliet and for her first one-woman show. Ms. Feldshuh, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and a winner of the McKnight Fellowship to the Guthrie Theatre and the University of Minnesota, has taught at Yale, Cornell and New York Universities and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in June, 2005. She is a supporter of Seeds Of Peace, a non-profit, non-political organization that helps teenagers from regions of conflict and is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitas Award and the Israel Peace Medal. Ms. Feldshuh is married to New York attorney, Andrew Harris Levy. The have two children, Garson Brandon and Amanda Claire. GOLDA’S BALCONY is 95 minutes long and performed without intermission. Recommended for ages 10 and above Tickets for GOLDA’S BALCONY at Proctors are 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. This program (or performance) 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. GOLDA’S BALCONY at Proctors is sponsored by Samuel Goldstein Productions and Eastern Medical Support. Free Parking for GOLDA’S BALCONY at Proctors is available in the Broadway Garage, courtesy of Times Union. Go to timesunion.com for news and entertainment.
Petticoats of Steel at Capital Rep, March 26: True stories of legendary women of New York State Albany, NY – March 17 – In honor of National Women’s History Month, the Education Department of Capital Repertory Theatre will present PETTICOATS OF STEEL as part of the theatre’s On the Go! and Student Matinee series. Tickets for the 11AM, Saturday, March 26 showing – the only public performance of PETTICOATS OF STEEL at Capital Rep, are $14 for adults and $10 for children ages 18 and under. Through PETTICOATS OF STEEL, Capital Region audiences are invited to experience the battles for women's suffrage told in the voices of the brave warriors who fought them. PETTICOATS OF STEEL is an original production crafted for Capital Repertory Theatre by Carolyn Anderson and Jill Rafferty-Weinisch. The play uses primary sources to tell the true stories of the women of New York State - Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton - and the roles they played in gaining voting rights for all women. As with other Capital Rep On the Go! plays, this dramatic work about women’s suffrage supports current NYS education curriculum. PETTICOATS OF STEEL is a “Living Newspaper,” a style of theatre which dramatizes social problems and issues in an effort to effect social change. The Living Newspaper was initiated in 1935 in the United States by the Federal Theatre Project as part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). This production, first produced at Capital Rep in 2006, marks Capital Rep’s second foray into “Document Based Theatre.” Previous document-based production include last season’s The Remarkable & Perplexing Case of Henry H, celebrating New York State’s Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s journey up the Hudson River, and the 2004 production of Friend of a Friend: The Underground Railroad in the Capital Region, employed the use of primary sources to illustrate an important piece of the Capital Region’s history. Much of the script for Petticoats of Steel was developed using original speeches, letters and newspaper reports from the time period represented in the play. PETTICOATS OF STEEL is recommended for families and students, grades 4-8th. Directing PETTICOATS OF STEEL is Kristen van Ginhoven is a director, actor and educator originally from Canada. She is co-Artistic Director of WAM Theatre, based in the Capital Region of NY and the Berkshires of MA, which uses theatre to benefit women and girls. Recent US credits include Barrington Stage Company, Actor's Shakespeare Project, Huntington Theatre, Cohoes Music Hall, Theatre Voices and MOPCO. She has taught theatre internationally in Brussels, Belgium and is a freelance artist for the International Schools Theatre Association (ISTA). For ISTA she has travelled to places such as Thailand, China, Europe, and India. She holds an MA from Emerson College. Featured in the cast are Erica Tryon and Hillary Parker. The cast of two portrays over a dozen characters, including many historical figures. J.R. Goldberg serves as production stage manager. Hillary Parker returns to Capital Repertory Theatre where she recently appeared in the Fall On-the-Go! production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She holds a MFA in Acting from the University of Connecticut and a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University. Her Credits include, Regional: Connecticut Rep: Restoration Comedy (Amanda), Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights (Sympathy the Learned/Jester’s Wife), Macbeth (Lady Macduff), Shakespeare in Hollywood (Lydia), Cabaret (Kit Kat Girl), Pentecost (Amira), Prudence (Prudence Crandall), Loves Labours Lost (Holofernes), The Three Penny Opera (Jenny Diver), Pericles (Marina). Peterborough Players- Our Town w/ James Whitmore, Loves Labours Lost (Princess of France). Hope Summer Rep- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania/Hippolyta), She Loves Me (Amalia), Dames at Sea (Mona), and The Hypochondriac (Beline). Mt. Washington Valley Theatre- Into The Woods (The Bakers Wife). NYC: Bedroom Farce (Kate), A Doll’s House (Kristine Linde). Erica Tryon is a performer and teaching artist originally from Chicago. She has worked in fringe and experimental theatre in the Chicago area, performing in productions that have been chosen as “Critic’s Choice” in the Chicago Reader and Time Out Chicago. Before coming to Capital Rep, where she currently serves as the Director of Residencies, she worked at the cutting-edge arts organization, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE). Previous to her life in U.S. theatre, she had the privilege of teaching and studying performance in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Argentina, Mexico, Thailand and Tibet. She is thrilled to be back on stage at Capital Repertory Theatre, where she was last seen in as Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird. She holds a B.A. in Art History and Theatre from Lawrence University and an M.A. from Brown University. PETTICOATS OF STEEL is co-authored by Carolyn Anderson, the William R. Kenan Professor of Liberal Arts, and Professor of Theater at Skidmore College, and Jill Rafferty-Weinisch, Director of Performing Arts & Outreach at the Arts Center of the Capital Region, and former Director of Education at Capital Repertory Theatre. Audiences should not miss this wonderful opportunity to experience the rich history of our region and the excitement of live theatre. To reserve tickets to this the only public performance of PETTICOATS OF STEEL, contact the box office at 445-SHOW (445-7469). For more information about PETTICOATS OF STEEL, contact Laura W. Andruski Education Coordinator Capital Repertory Theatre 111 North Pearl Street Albany, NY 12207; 518.462.4531 x301; 518-465-0213; firstname.lastname@example.org www.capitalrep.org
Proctors announces starry season 'Jersey Boys,' 'Addams Family' and 'Memphis' among Broadway shows booked for 2011-12 http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Proctors-announces-starry-season... By Michael Janairo Arts and entertainment editor Updated 10:35 p.m., Thursday, March 17, 2011 1 of 4 View: Larger | Hide In costume as Uncle Fester of the Addams Family, Proctors CEO Philip Morris announces the 2011-12 Broadway series of shows at Proctors in Schenectady Thursday March 17, 2011. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union) SCHENECTADY -- Proctors announced its 2011-12 Broadway series on Thursday, with CEO Philip Morris and others taking the stage dressed as characters from one of the shows, "The Addams Family." The other shows are "Jersey Boys," which will have a three-week run from Feb. 28 to March 19, 2012; "La Cage aux Folles," Oct. 26-30; "Shrek the Musical," Jan. 24-29; and "Memphis," April 17-22, 2012. "The Addams Family" runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4. "Four of the shows are currently playing on Broadway, and that's a first for us," Morris said dressed as Uncle Fester. "Shrek" is the only one no longer on Broadway. "Jersey Boys," he said, has consistently been one of the most requested shows. A Broadway hit since 2005, it won the Tony for best musical in 2006. It combines a jukebox musical with biography as it tells the rags-to-riches tale of kids from Newark who rose to fame as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with hits such as "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Oh, What a Night," which are all part of the show. "The Addams Family" will be a homecoming of sorts, because it is the first Broadway musical Proctors had a hand in producing as part of Elephant Eye Theatrical. Elephant Eye is a consortium of 13 peer institutions across the country that develop and produce shows first for Broadway and then for national tours. The 2010 musical, based on the famous Charles Addams cartoons, features familiar characters -- Gomez, Morticia, Lurch, Uncle Fester, Wednesday and Pugsley -- and tells the horrific tale of what the family does when Wednesday brings home a "normal" boyfriend. Despite receiving mixed reviews (the New York Times called the show "tepid"), the musical comedy continues to be popular on Broadway. Thursday's announcement comes as the Broadway musical "The Lion King" enters its final weekend of its monthlong run at Proctors. In a later interview, Morris said "Lion King" is easily the most successful Broadway show to play at the venue, with more than 20 of its 32 performances sold out. "La Cage aux Folles" won the 2010 Tony for best musical revival. It is an updated version of the 1983 Tony Award-winning best musical that tells the story of a gay couple -- Georges, a nightclub owner in Saint-Tropez, and Albin, who moonlights as the chanteuse Zaza -- whose lives are thrown into disarray when Georges' son brings his fiancee's conservative parents home. "Shrek the Musical," based on the 1990 William Steig book and the 2001 movie, ran on Broadway from December 2008 to January 2010. The fractured fairy tale adventures of Shrek and Princess Fiona are told through a story and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, who won the Pulitzer for his 2007 drama "Rabbit Hole." "Shrek" also received mixed reviews; the New York Times called it "not bad." "Memphis" won four 2010 Tony awards: best musical, book of a musical, original score and orchestration, and features music by David Bryan, a founding member of Bon Jovi. It tells the story of a white DJ in the 1950s who was one of the first to play black music, and a black club singer who is looking for her big break. (A filmed version of "Memphis" on Broadway is scheduled to play in movie theaters beginning April 28, according to Fandango.com.) Tickets to Proctors Broadway series are now available for subscribers, with prices ranging from $100 to $360 for one ticket to each of the five shows. Ticket sales open to the general public on April 8. For more information, contact the Proctors box office at 346-6204 or visit http://www.proctors.org. Proctors will also have two touring Broadway shows this summer: "Mamma Mia!" from July 5 to 10; and "West Side Story" from Aug. 16 to 21, with tickets ranging from $20 to $65. Reach Janairo at email@example.com or 454-5629.
“Hattitude” Takes over Albany: A Review of Crowns at the Capital Repertory Theater A Review of Crowns at the Capital Repertory Theater, Albany http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/crowns-capital-repertory-theater-... Vibrant musical numbers, powerhouse performances, and ultra-tight direction from Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill (CRT’s Artistic Director) mark the Capital Repertory Theater’s current show, Crowns. The title of the play refers to hats and the way they express the uniqueness of African-American culture, an element Deirdre Guion calls “hattitude.” “There’s a little more strut in your carriage when you wear a nice hat…something special about you,” Guion says. And so there is. The play consists of intersecting monologues by black women of different ages and personalities, each telling the audience everything people wonder about hats but never ask–hat etiquette, the way to hug someone with a hat, proper hat dimensions, and hat sex appeal. The stories become more personal as the women relate them with often painful memories, and the ugly history of the South weaves in and out of the narrative. Although centered in the South amidst the Black Protestant church, Crowns is not as much about religion as it is about the role the church plays in the lives of Black Americans, particularly Black women. The play is highly effective with symbolism, exposing the different trends of head-wear, from funky hip-hop style to the more traditional and flamboyant glamour. Self-expression displays itself fiercely through hat-wearing, while the church is portrayed as a place of community and celebration, instead of the superficial and pretentious fashion show it’s commonly referred to being. The play was adapted from the book Crowns by photographer Michael Cunningham and journalist Craig Marberry, a collaboration of personal narratives of black women and photographs of them sporting a variety of elaborate church hats. In addition to the monologues, Regina Taylor’s adaptation adds a storyline based on one of the personal accounts in the book–that of Yolanda. As it goes, Yolanda is sent to South Carolina to live with her grandmother after her brother is shot and killed in Brooklyn. New school meets old school as Yolanda is thrust into the world of the South, hats, church and matriarchal tradition. The explosive sound of a subway train followed by the booming sound of Yolanda’s voice: “BRO-O-KLYNNN!!” mark the opening moments of the play. When the lights go up, the spotlight is on Yolanda (wonderfully played by local talent Joyel Kaleel), defiantly sporting hip-hop gear and busting a move crunk-style as she delivers her monologue in “Brooklynized” street slang. Her flow is abruptly silenced by the change in lighting and the appearance of her grandmother and four other ladies in white church clothes (and flashy hats) singing her into submission. Crowns also dips into the world of mythology and African indigenous religions, with its use of Orisha family lineages, presenting each character with an African identity along with their American names. An Orisha, if you’re unfamiliar, is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of Olodumare (God) in the Yoruba (mythical) world of spirituality. For instance, Mother Shaw is Obatala (creator), and Yolanda is Ogun (forger). Though the play revolves around Yolanda’s story, it’s more about symbolism and cultural experience than any one character. The stories of these women present a snapshot of the African-American experience, and the vibrant musical numbers sprinkled between the character’s monologues, which explain the underlying significance behind the hats–or church–or both, add to the play’s success. Especially intriguing is the obvious traditional African influence displayed by beating drums, pounding sticks and the style of tribal dance expressed through the worship scenes, as the ladies regularly “catch the spirit.” Parallels to tribal women carrying bowls on their heads as the women show off their large-brimmed head-wear can’t help but be drawn. Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill smartly chooses a simple set, with just a few chairs, hat shelves and of course the hats themselves. Costumes are a major element, with the glamorous array of hats, including fox hats, flaming feathered pieces, and simple elegant eye-swooping styles stealing the show. Shadowing, spotlighting and full stage illumination also add to the show’s success. However, it’s the cast that really makes the story come alive; the show features a seasoned and talented cast of performers. Yvette Monique Clark plays the matriarch “Mother Shaw,” Yolanda’s grandmother. Nikkieli Demone (“The Man”) should be credited for holding his own as the sole male presence amidst an otherwise all-female cast; his portrayal of different male characters (husband, father, and pastor) provides comic relief throughout the evening. The remaining sexy, sassy, and no-nonsense ensemble includes Amma Osei as “Wanda,” Julia Lema as “Mabel,” Danielle K. Thomas as “Jeanette,” Jannie Jones as “Velma,” and Joyel Kaleel as the central character “Yolanda.” Crowns strummed a very personal chord with me. One hat in particular was identical to one my grandmother used to wear. She was also from the South; the nostalgic experience stirred my emotions, especially when Yolanda was finally crowned by the matriarchs with her own head-wear. Up until then, she sports her own style of glittering baseball hats with pigeon-feathers hanging off the back, spending the majority of the play slumped in a chair forced to listen to her grandmother and friends’ tales of hats, family stories and culture. When Yolanda finally finds her identity, she’s baptized Pentecostal-style (another powerful use of symbolism) and crowned with one of their hats. She eventually embraces not only the unique tradition of hat-wearing, but her cultural identity as well. The overall effect of observing this cultural tradition being passed down to the next generation was very tearful and emotional. To celebrate the opening night, there was a live pre-show performance by the local gospel group, V.O.I.C.E.S., from the nationally-affiliated Church of God of Prophecy in Albany in the theater lobby. Members of the cast joined the group in belting out church favorites like “Our God is an Awesome God” and “O Happy Day.” This was followed by a champagne and pastry after-party for the audience, with a meet and greet with the cast members after the show. If you’re not religious or African American or Protestant Christian for that matter, the music alone is still worth buying a ticket. The gospel renditions all tell a story of joy, pain, relationships and family history that anyone can appreciate. From the second the lights go up until the final curtain call, the soulful singing and the cast’s funky foot-stomping dance moves will have you singing along and tapping your feet all the way through. Crowns runs through April 3rd. For tickets or more information, visit http://capitalrep.org. –Helen Holt is an Assistant Editor for The Free George. The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our new City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.
Theater review: Cap Rep’s ‘Crowns’ celebrates women’s lives, cultural identity Friday, March 11, 2011 By Matthew G. Moross Related story For Gazette theater writer Bill Buell's preview of this show, click here. ALBANY — It may be almost Easter bonnet weather, but it’s “singing and swingin’ and getting merry like Christmas” at Capital Rep with the current production of Regina Taylor’s “Crowns.” An interesting mix of fashion and faith, the show is making uplifting and joyful noise, and it is something to see. “Crowns” is a visceral celebration in music, dance and drama of the finery of African-American church women and their hats. But these Sunday-go-to-meeting chapeaus are more than a fashion statement — they are a celebration of womanhood, power, inner strength and a continuation of cultural identity. ‘Crowns’ WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday HOW MUCH: $53-$16 MORE INFO: 445-7469 or www.capitalrep.org Taylor’s script, based on the photo essay “Crowns — Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, captures the essence of the importance of hats to these ladies. For full story: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/mar/11/0311_crownsrev/
CROWNS @ CAPITAL REPERTORY THEATER, 3/9/11 http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts/crowns-capital-repertory-theater-39... March 9, 2011 at 11:30 pm by Michael Eck by Michael Eck Special to The Times Union ALBANY – “I got a crown, you got a crown, all god’s children got crowns.” “Crowns” is the musical with “hattitude.” It’s now onstage at Capital Repertory Theater in a powerful production directed by Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. “Crowns” might actually be best described as a show. It’s got too much talk to be a revue and not enough plot to be a play, but it is effective entertainment. The thread for the show is Yolanda, a young Brooklyn woman who is sent south to live with her grandmother following the shooting death of her brother. Joyel Kaleel, a Brooklyn-born Albany resident, plays Yolanda and she is a genuine find. She opens the show on her own, with hip-hop moves and a smart sense of self. She is a convincing performer who holds her own with the older women in the cast. The arc follows her southern re-education as her grandmother and her friends tell her about the power of religion and community through a litany of stories about their Sunday church hats, their crowns. These “hat queens” proclaim their “hattitude” throughout the show, stretching the premise nearly to the breaking point. The show, in fact, might even be more effective as a tighter 90-minute one-act. What makes it work is playwright Regina Taylor’s interweaving of gospel standards at every turn. “Crowns,” at heart, is about singing. Mancinelli-Cahill’s cast is up to the task. Yvette Monique Clark, Danielle Thomas, Jannie Jones, Julia Lema, Amma Osei and lone male Nikkieli DeMone all know just what to do with this stuff, and they shout, coo and testify throughout both acts. Alan Weeks deft choreography amplifies the power of the songs, especially when Kaleel is laying down modern steps and age-old hambone with gusto. Music is also a strong element even when DeMone and the women aren’t singing. Mark Bruckner provides the keyboard backing, samples and musical direction for the show, but percussionist Romero Wyatt has a jingle, a thump or a whoosh for almost every onstage action. It’s as though Max Steiner had scored the play from the grave. Production values are high across the board here. Roman Tatarowicz has supplied plenty of good sets for Capital Rep, but this dramatic, simple whitewashed frame might be his best work yet. And Deborah Constantine’s lighting complements the pale, earthy palette of Thom Heyer’s costumes. When the ladies finally add some color at the close of the proceedings, it’s a louder sound than any they’ve made singing. “Crowns” is the kind of show that will certainly grow by word of mouth, and its remarks on faith, community — and the power of a good lid — will reverberate with many. CROWNS Performance reviewed: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Where: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes; one intermission Continues: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Through April 3. Tickets: $16-$53 Info: 445-7469; http://www.capitalrep.org
The Lion and the wardrobe Costumes play a key role in the show that's ruling the stage at Proctors Costumes for the touring production of "The Lion King" that's in residence at Proctors in Schenectady this month are so numerous as to require their own tractor-trailer. While some of main characters' costumes stay largely the same throughout a performance, most of the 51-member cast changes costumes repeatedly. Among the ensemble, dancers swap costumes 14 times, singers 10 times, according to wardrobe supervisor Gregory Young, who's been with the tour for two years and worked in the same role with the musical on Broadway. Sixteen local stagehands and the show's four resident costumers assist cast members in changing from hyena to wildebeest to jungle flower to savannah grass and more. Here's a look at costumes backstage at "The Lion King." -- Steve Barnes Meet the people who bring life to the costumes. Full story and photos at: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/The-Lion-and-the-wardrobe-1040...
Albany actress has special bond with Cap Rep role Thursday, March 3, 2011 By Bill Buell (Contact) Gazette Reporter Mother Shaw (Yvette Monique Clark) sings gospel with back up from the Reverend (Nikkieli DeMone) and sisters, Jeannette (Danielle K.Thomas), Mabel (Julia Lema) and Velma (Jannie Jones) in Capital Rep's production of “Crowns.” (photo: Joseph Schuyler)Text Size: A | A | A The more Joyel Kaleel looked into “Crowns,” the more she felt comfortable playing Yolanda. “I was shocked at how much we had in common,” said Kaleel, the only Albany-area resident in the cast of “Crowns,” a play by Regina Taylor being mounted this month at Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany. “She was born and raised in Brooklyn, so was I, and her mother sent her to North Carolina to get away from the violence. My mother moved us up here, so we were both looking for a more stable place.” Fortunately, the parallels end there. In the play, Yolanda’s brother has been shot and killed, and as a result Yolanda is sent to North Carolina to live with her grandmother. “This is really a story about love, and about these women who try to help Yolanda open up her heart again,” said Capital Rep artistic director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, who is directing the show. “It’s all done through song and storytelling. These women try to help Yolanda feel like she is connected to something, her history, her relatives, and that kind of story never gets old with me.” Read full story at: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/mar/03/0303_crowns/
Schenectady Symphony Orchestra wind players perform serenades at Proctors on Sunday Thursday, March 3, 2011 BY GERALDINE FREEDMAN http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/mar/03/0303_sso/ Schenectady Symphony Orchestra Winds WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday WHERE: Proctors’ GE Theatre, 432 State St., Schenectady HOW MUCH: $12 MORE INFO: 372-2500 orwww.schenectadysymphony.org A post-concert, prix fixe, three-course dinner at the Glen Sanders Mansion will be offered at 6 p.m. for $37. Reservations required. For several seasons, many members of the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra’s board have requested music director Charles Schneider to consider programming more repertoire for a chamber-sized orchestra. When Proctors offered the orchestra the use of its GE Theater, Schneider quickly agreed. “It was a perfect time to test the waters,” he said recently, having just returned from a vacation on St. Maarten. “I’m checking out the hall’s acoustics this week.” Since the hall is so intimate, Schneider said the program he’s planned should work perfectly. But instead of choosing to feature the orchestra’s strings, Schneider wanted the woodwinds in a concert of serenades. He chose four works that will involve four French horns, three flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons and one contrabassoon, who will work in various combinations. A cello and bass will play on one of the works. Well-known works All of the pieces are well-known, although most of his players probably haven’t performed them before, he said. Getting five people together for a woodwind quintet isn’t so difficult, but finding the extra players to come to a read-through when all they’re doing is one piece is more problematic. Schneider, however, has often conducted the works. Read full story at http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/mar/03/0303_sso/
Niskayuna signs with Open Stage Media John Purcell 03/03/11 Proposed town equipment upgrades expected to enhance recordings While the direction other Schenectady County municipalities will go in regarding public access programming remains unclear, there is at least one town stepping up to financially support Open Stage Media, the Proctors operation that provides the service to the county. Niskayuna is first town to sign on to Open Stage Media’s vision for an enhanced countywide public access system, joining the City of Schenectady, which will continue to fund a majority of the operation. The Niskayuna Town Board unanimously voted during the Tuesday, March 1, Town Board meeting to allow Supervisor Joe Landry to enter negotiations with Open Stage Media for public television access at the proposed annual fee of $5,000. Council members Jonathan McKinney and Liz Orzel Kasper were absent from the meeting. Proctors CEO Philip Morris gave a presentation during the Town Board’s special meeting on Feb. 17 about the proposed service. “They [Open Stage Media] provided some opportunities for us that I think are going to be worthwhile,” said Landry. “I think this is a really good opportunity for Niskayuna to enhance public access television … and I see a lot of positives coming out of it.” Ann Parillo, a town resident and producer and host of the “Schenectady Today” show, applauded the town’s decision to financially support OSM and give residents the opportunity to participate in and view the programming. She said she has been involved in the county’s public access programming since 1996, before it switched from SACC-TV to OSM. “It is really a freedom of speech that I am really concerned about,” said Parillo. “I don’t want Niskayuna to lose the governmental channel or the public access channel, so I am in favor of supporting this. I’d be happy to pay that little bit extra.” Nick Barber, past president of SACC-TV, also commended the board for supporting Open Stage Media and ensuring that community broadcast programming can remain active. “I want to compliment you, Mr. Supervisor and Councilwoman McGraw, for taking the approach to negotiate with Open Stage Media and Proctors,” said Barber. “On the town level, it is very important that we act as a community. Proctors has made great strides through Open Stage Media in already implementing three stations … with the support of the town and other municipalities, I think we are looking at a bright feature.” Barber also touted Proctors’ investment into new equipment and providing more resources to residents. “Proctors has made significant investments into new equipment … without really any significant funding or transfer of funds. Many people have the conception that all the money from the sale of [the SACC-TV] building went to Proctors or Open Stage Media. That did not happen. The old SACC Incorporated … is still holding about $100,000 in funds that’s in question as to what the utilization of that money will be and what will be the worth of their existence and how will they use it,” said Barber. One resident, Lorene Zabin, said she didn’t support the decision and questions paying additional money to OSM for public access. “I think Niskayuna and Glenville have been held hostage,” said Zabin. “I think you have to really think about any additional contributions.” Glenville has yet to make a commitment to Open Stage Media for public access programming because of ongoing franchise negotiations with Time Warner Cable. Zabin said she has a difficult time trying to view Town Board meetings on television, something Morris addressed earlier by saying representatives from each participating municipality will be on a board to determine the programming of such meetings. This is meant to accomplish fair scheduling times for all on the government access channel. Before passing the resolution, McGraw, who sponsored the resolution, shared her support for the public access direction to be taken in order to best utilize the channels. “I think this is the right thing to do,” said McGraw about supporting OSM. “I know there has been a lot of conversation about the cost and what we are getting, and I think this is an example of you’ve got to be in it in order to make it better.” McGraw also noted the $30,000 set aside in the budget to purchase equipment for town so residents can enjoy better recordings of the meeting. Before the meeting, Landry pointed to the camera room, which is currently not being used, at the back of the boardroom where the controls will be located. The town would also be able to take advantage of services offered by OSM to set up and implement the new equipment properly. “I think the $5,000 we will get back just in the technical assistance in setting up this room,” said McGraw. Councilwoman Julie McDonnell noted meetings would be available to view online and allow residents more opportunities to view the recordings at their own convenience. “There is an expectation these days that folks will be able to view things instantly, and I think that bringing that access and not just picking a time … and have those meetings and programming viewed on the users convince, again, for this price I think is very worthwhile,” said McDonnell.
'Lion King' brings Taylor home http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2011/03/03/entertainment/doc4d6ec09f5... Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011 By Phil Drew The Record Click to enlarge For one area musician, the national tour of "The Lion King" that alighted last week at Schenectady’s Proctor’s Theatre is both a road trip and a return home. Violinist Robert Taylor was once a principal in the Saint Cecilia Chamber Orchestra, a former Capital District institution that was much-loved and is still missed. Nowadays, Taylor returns to his permanent home in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood but only fleetingly – a few weeks at a stretch, several times a year – because much of his professional life is an away game as either a classical chamber musician or as a frequent performer in pit orchestras for Broadway and touring-show companies. For much of the past decade, the lion’s share of his performance life has been devoted to just one of the latter: various companies of "The Lion King." In the ‘90s, Taylor played in several Broadway pit orchestras, notably "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon." "The music director of both," he recalls, "ended up being music director of the initial national tour of ‘Lion King’ after its smash Broadway debut. I became concertmaster of the first national tour of the show in 2002, which is the tour that is in Schenectady right now," he says. "I was with that tour for two years, until I transferred to the West Coast tour, the second national company." Two years ago, when his original music director was dispatched to head up the pit for a new Las Vegas production, performing nightly on the Strip at the Mandalay Bay Resort, he called upon Taylor once again to take the concertmaster’s chair. Taylor’s Disney contract permits other professional pursuits: "Where there have been other concerts or even works of theater I’ve wanted to take time off to be a part of, the company has always been very encouraging." He performs frequently with Camerata Virtuosii New York, which he co-founded, and later this season, he will perform an all-Mozart program at the Met Museum with the New York Chamber Soloists. Next he’ll join another Cecilia alumnus, pianist Pavlina Dokovska, to perform at the Southwest Virginia International Festival of the Arts. He is also concertmaster of the Vail International Dance Festival summers in the Rockies — all the while jetting back and forth to Vegas. Right now, he is on loan again, a fill-in for the national tour’s regular concertmaster for two weeks, just blocks from his home. "My ties are very strong in this region," Taylor says. "A lot of my family are still here, and I have a lovely home in the Stockade that I and my partner purchased five years ago." That partner, local theater director, designer and performer Duncan Morrison, is serving as a wardrobe assistant backstage at Proctors for "Lion King." "It’s wonderful to be able to walk to work together from home for a change," says Taylor. A concertmaster is more than just the show’s principal violinist; In a typical symphony orchestra setting, he or she is leader of the string section and an administrative presence, serving as a principal liaison between the conductor and all the performers. A Broadway tour brings other levels of responsibilities though, including working with different musicians at each stop. In order to hold down expenses and conform to whatever union regulations may be in place at various touring venues, the show orchestra is reduced to only a few critical performers. A local contractor then recruits additional musicians to fill out the pit at each stop. "Lion King" supplements its string and brass sections. "In an orchestra, the concertmaster is in some ways second-in-command to the conductor," says Taylor. "But on the road, as we move from city to city with the tour, we pick up local pit musicians, and all of the information about the performance needs to be transferred to the local musicians as quickly as possible." Before opening last week, Taylor had two days to bring the recruits up to speed before a final rehearsal. But the Capital District cadre represents something of a reunion for Taylor. "It’s a treat for me," he says. "So many of them are former St. Cecilia’s players. "There’s so much wonderful music in this show. Taken together with the choreography of Garth Fagan, and the colorful costume, set and puppetry design of the production under Taymor’s vision, "It’s such a magical combination from the original creative team. The opening sequence, ‘The Circle of Life,’ is still, I think, one of the most moving visual moments you’ll ever see onstage," says Taylor. Another wrinkle of this elaborate production: longer stays in one place rather than split-weeks typical of Broadway-style tours. Taylor has had extended "sit-downs" with "Lion King" in Boston for eight weeks, Honolulu for three-and-a-half months ("which was wonderful"), even Mexico City for five weeks. "Which is really nice," he says. "You not only feel as if you’re not living out of a suitcase, you get to know the town you’re in pretty well." And for Taylor — this time around, he gets reacquainted with a little home cooking.
Capital Rep giving glory to 'Crowns' http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2011/03/03/entertainment/doc4d6eae405... Thursday, March 03, 2011 More Photos: Use link above to see photos By Bob Goepfert The Record Click to enlarge Tonight Capital Repertory Theatre begins previews for "Crowns," which will play at the Albany theater through April 3. In 2006, "Crowns" was the most produced play at regional theaters throughout the United States, making the work the most popular show no one ever heard of. I suppose it is fitting as the subject, the importance of African-Americans wearing distinctive hats to Sunday church services, is something that most white Americans are unfamiliar with. The musical is based on a book of photographic essays titled, "Crowns: A Portrait of Black Women in Church Hats.” The added gospel music in the show explains the importance of hats to female African-Americans. Perhaps the best way to relate to the African-American custom of wearing hats to important events is to recall the stir Aretha Franklin’s hat caused when she sang "My Country ‘Tis of Thee" at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The designer of the hat, Luke Song, explained the public reaction to the hat by saying, "This is a black culture trait that is a mystery for 90 percent of the population. But it’s a familiar thing for the black church culture, so comforting to them. It’s what their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers have done for centuries." The hats women use to cover their heads while in church are called crowns, also known as "crowns of glory." They are usually colorful, extravagant and individual. They are attention-getting and their purpose is to honor an event as being important. As Song explained, "It is a way to show you are being your best and doing your best by looking your best." "Crowns" director is Cap Rep’s Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill who, though not an African-American, says she understands the cultural imperative for females to define themselves by dress. "I so get that as woman we go through life taught to know it is important to show who we are by how we look." However, she quickly makes the point that the show speaks to all women and to all people. "‘Crowns’ is not a show with exclusive appeal either to women or to the African-American community. The hats are the device by which we tell the stories of the women. This is a joyous show that is for anyone who wants to be inspired by the importance of being a part of a community that is nurturing and supportive." The story of "Crowns" concerns a young girl from Brooklyn who, after the violent death of her brother, is sent to live with family in the South; Once there she comes under the influence of many wise strong women who teach her the rituals of her culture that both comfort and strengthen her as an individual. Mancinelli-Cahill is quick to point out that "Crowns’ is not only rich in story-telling, it is also entertaining. She makes it clear the stories are told through "highly infectious music." The music is gospel-oriented but the young girl comes from an urban environment and her story-telling is sometimes done through rap and hip-hop. "It’s rip-snorting," she says. As often happens when the material of a show transcends entertainment, the backstage environment tends to mirror the play. Mancinelli-Cahill speaks almost motherly of the young Joyel Kaleel who plays Yolanda. "She is so talented. She’s a local girl from Albany who lives with friends on North Pearl Street. As a talent, she has no idea of just how good she is. She has a great, powerful singing voice. She is a superior actress, a very good dancer and she’s smart. She desires a professional career in theater and I intend to do everything I can to make that happen." The entire cast feels the same way, says Maninelli-Cahill. "This is a great group of people. They have impressive credits on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in film and television and all are connected in a powerful way to the material. A couple of performers have been in other productions of ‘Crowns’ and they love the show." The director says the backstage support for Joyel is reflective of the way the women in the musical teach Yolanda. "The cast members are all quality top-of-the-line people. Joyel is very lucky to be surrounded by strong, talented women who care about her in a personal and professional way." About the show she adds, "‘Crowns" is one of those shows that comes into a market as an unknown quantity and sells out once word-of-mouth gets out. It’s entertaining theater that makes you feel good about life." "Crowns" at Capital Repertory Theater, Albany. Previews tonight - Tues. (Dark on Mon.) Opens Wed. runs through April 9. For tickets and schedule 445-7469 or www.capitalrep.org
Have Your Field Trip Transportation Paid for! Transportation Grants still available, substantial funds left! Apply now, grants are given on a first come first served bases. Come to Proctors for Free: http://www.proctors.org/education/resources (518)346-6204 • proctors.org 432 State Street Schenectady, NY 12305
Review: ‘Lion King’ a lavish,memorable experience By Bob Goepfert The Record Click to enlarge SCHENECTADY http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2011/03/02/entertainment/doc4d69e1781... Published: Wednesday, March 02, 2011 By Bob Goepfert The Record Click to enlarge SCHENECTADY — Sometimes there are things worth waiting for. It took about a dozen years for “The Lion King” to play this market, but it’s at Proctors until March 20 and is well-worth seeing. On a purely commercial level, whatever you pay for tickets for this production, you will see where the money went. It went to make “The Lion King” a lavish and memorable experience. This is a show you will enjoy and remember. “The Lion King” strictly adheres to the Disney format of offering familiar material in an unfamiliar way. It puts emphasis on the visual aspects of the presentation with splendid and imaginative production values that will entertain both adults and youngsters. Its comfortable story will enthrall children and engage their parents. “The Lion King” is all about presentation. Management warns ticket-holders to be on time or miss the first 10 minutes of the show. Take that advice seriously. The opening is breathtaking as a rich and fertile primitive land comes alive before your eyes. Massive elephants march down the aisle, giraffes and antelopes share the stage with lions as birds circle overhead. It is magical and made more so because the animals are puppets that are clearly and obviously manipulated by humans. It is more than imaginative and creative, this blending of humans, animals and puppetry enhances the myth-like elements the work strives to create. The main theme of the play says all creatures are at one with each other and the world in which we exist. This is what happens on stage in “The Lion King.” The charm of the “The Lion King” is it never becomes pretentious. It realizes this is essentially children’s theater that adults can enjoy. The beauty of the work is not the tale it tells, but the way the story is presented. This is a purely theatrical event that is spectacular without being overwhelming. The story is simple and eternal. A powerful Mufasa rules the lion kingdom. His inferior brother Scar covets the throne. Scar manipulate Mufasa’s young headstrong son Simba to lure the king to a place that puts him in harms way. When Mufasa is killed Scar guilts Simba into running away and Scar becomes the new ruler. Eventually, Scar’s greed destroys the balance of nature that provided a good life for all. Meanwhile living in self-imposed exile young Simba matures and returns to claim his heritage. The story is hardly enough to sustain two and a half hours of entertainment, but the staging makes the time fly. The first act is phenomenal as the colorful paradise is enchanting and the mood is mostly pastoral. Not only do the leads do a great job by creating indelible characters, the wonderful ensemble defines the enchanted world in which the play exists. Though the music is forgettable the movement is amazing and seldom less than breathtaking. The production uses experienced actors in the main roles, which is a wise decision. Dionne Randolf defines regal with a wise and powerful performance as Mufasa and J. Anthony Crane makes the evil Scar villainous without being too threatening or cartoonish. Brenda Mhlongo is a powerful, mystical and ingenuous as the baboon shaman Rafki and Tony Freeman is a cute, comical and clever as the horn-billed bird Zazu. The second act falters slightly as the younger performers do not have the same command of character to make the situation as meaningful as the situation demands. Insight is replaced with comedy in the form of Simba’s new friends, the gas-passing warthog Pumbaa and the wisecracking meerkat Timon. Though both characters are fun, the split focus causes the segment to lose its storytelling thrust and it turns into a typical cute Disney adventure with a happy ending. Which is not a terrible thing. “The Lion King” is pure entertainment and this production is lavish fun. I attended the show with an 11 year old and I know she was enchanted. I have to admit — most of the time so was I.
Capital Rep's 'Crowns' explores black history and identity Capital Rep's 'Crowns' follows a young woman's journey http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Capital-Rep-s-Crowns-explores-... By Michael Eck Special To The Times Union Published 12:00 a.m., Thursday, March 3, 2011 1 of 8 View: Larger | Hide Church ladies played by Yvette Monique Clark, Danielle Thomas and Amma Osei show off their hats with attitude. “Crowns” opens Wednesday at Capital Rep in Albany. (JOE SCHUYLER) As the producing artistic director of Capital Repertory Theatre, Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill has to wear any number of metaphorical hats at any given time. As for actual headgear, she says with a chuckle, "Right now, the only hats I wear are the ones that keep the snow off my head, and an occasional tiara!" Mancinelli-Cahill, though, is thinking plenty about hats. She's directing Regina Taylor's gospel musical "Crowns" at the downtown theater; teaming with musical director Mark Bruckner, choreographer Alan Weeks and costume designer Thom Heyer to stage the hand-clapping, foot-stomping show. Taylor's play was inspired by and adapted from Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry's photo essay "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats." Mancinelli-Cahill says she first became aware of the actress-turned-playwright's work when she was working at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York. "She had developed a couple of plays at EST when I was there, and she was interested in exploring that place where history meets myth. It seemed logical that the McCarter Theatre (in Princeton, N.J.) commissioned her to adapt Cunningham's chronicle about women, their personal stories and African origins." Mancinelli-Cahill has a long history of loving plays that explore that nexus, so it seems logical that she would put "Crowns" -- the most popular regional musical of 2006 -- on her stage. "Plays that deal with history, myth and transformation are my favorite. I love when stories about life and myth collide. I think works that walk that crossroad bring us closer to all that has gone before us in a way that reminds us that we're human. "'Crowns' takes a young girl on a journey to find herself by learning the stories of women in a community who are inviting her to join them, and to tell her own story, too," she continues. "In some ways, it reminds me of James Joyce's 'The Dead.' In that play, the women of a family invite neighbors and relatives to a party to sing and enjoy one another's company, but the songs open the door to the past and awaken memories that will change the people forever. "I like these works because they don't tell you what they are about; they sneak up on you and open a door of understanding by showing other cultures, other traditions, other stories." Albany's Joyel Kaleel will play the young woman, Yolanda, who is sent from Brooklyn to live at her grandmother's house in the Deep South. "Joyel is absolutely wonderful," Mancinelli-Cahill says. "She is a young performer who actually grew up in Brooklyn and now lives just up the street from the theater." "When we held local auditions, we saw some very talented young actresses, but Joyel just blew me away. She's very unassuming and modest about her talents. I really am so happy to have an opportunity to have her in the show in such a major role. I feel lucky that she walked in our door, and I'm hoping to help her take a next step on her career path." Kaleel joins a group of six other actresses in the cast, each of which has the right "hattitude" for the role. "The cast is top drawer," Mancinelli-Cahill says. "I waited until our 30th anniversary, because 'Crowns' demands a very accomplished ensemble. Each person has to be able to sing -- and really know the territory of gospel -- and to dance and act. "It's very vocally challenging and doesn't allow any letup for the performers. I think we have more Broadway credits on the cast bios for this show than I've seen in a long time. These performers know how to do it all -- and they put themselves into every moment." Michael Eck is a freelance writer from Albany and a frequent contributor to the Times Union. On stage "Crowns" When: In previews; opens 7:30 p.m. Wednesday Where: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl St., Albany Continues: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Through April 3. Tickets: $16-$53 Info: 445-7469; http://www.capitalrep.org Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Capital-Rep-s-Crowns-explores-...
Review: 'Lion King' at Proctors a magical production Friday, February 25, 2011 By Matthew G. Moross Photographer: Peter Barber Mufasa (Dionne Randolph) talks to his son Simba (Jerome Stephens, Jr.) in the scene “Under the Stars” during Thursday’s performance of “The Lion King” at Proctors. SCHENECTADY — As a towering giraffe ambled across the bright sun-filled stage, an elephant, hyenas and flocks of birds made their way down the aisle to the heat, beat and feel of the African savannah. So potent was the energy and excitement that had just arrived with this impromptu safari, it wasn’t surprising to hear a small voice behind me ask: “Is that a real giraffe, Daddy?” Daddy said “Yes,” and what’s a small lie? What is happening at Proctors this month with the arrival of “The Lion King” is truly magical. As told by Disney (with inspiration from the Old Testament and Shakespeare) “The Lion King” speaks to one of the most powerful human experiences — the premature loss of a parent, the life change that happens in its aftermath and the hope and search for signs from the deceased that we are on the right path. Visually powerful Disney has built an empire telling this tale over and over, in animation and in straight-up adaptations of animated movies for the stage. ‘The Lion King’ WHERE: Proctors Theater, 432 State St., Schenectady WHEN: Through March 20 HOW MUCH: $20–$137 MORE INFO: 346-6204, www.proctors.org Not so with “The Lion King.” Julie Taymor — director, costume designer and theatrical visionary — has swathed this “Hamlet meets Jungle Book” tale with all the colors and culture of the real Africa, not the animated one. Using the most primal and ancient elements of theater — shadow, masks and controlled movement — the evening soars with visual and visceral power. With dancing gazelles, leering hyenas and majestic giraffes, Taymor’s vision and reinvention of this tale completely banished visual cliché. Her art and vision also serve to distract us from some of the more banal musical numbers — and the fact that the show lacks quality writing in either story or song. Read full story at http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/feb/25/0226_lionkingrev/
THE LION KING @ PROCTORS, 2/24/11 http://blog.timesunion.com/localarts/the-lion-king-proctors-22411/15113/ February 25, 2011 at 12:17 am by Michael Eck by Michael Eck Special to The Times Union SCHENECTADY – The long-awaited Proctors stop of Disney’s “The Lion King” tour offers all the spectacle one would expect and then some. The opening sequence, in particular, is one of the most dazzling theatrical experiences imaginable. The first half-hour, in fact, is one long suspended moment of awe as music, dance and stage magic come together to tell the story of the mighty king, Mufasa. Unfortunately, the rest of the show is built in reverse, making most of act two — despite its Shakespearian overtones of murder, treason and revenge — seem anti-climactic. The acting — all done in broad Disney gestures — is generally strong and so is the singing. The production values never flag. But, unlike the Bard, the journey is a little too simple to carry its own weight. “It is,” a friend noted during intermission, “based on a cartoon.” Given all that, it’s hard to imagine that anyone comes to “The Lion King” for the story (the fall and rise of a young lion king, Simba) alone. They come for, well, the spectacle. Julie Taymor’s famous direction of the piece makes sure to provide a feast for the eye and the ear, with African aspects abundant in the music and Richard Hudson’s scenic design. Taymor’s costuming in this show makes that of “Cats” look like line drawings. And her puppets and masks, created with Michael Curry, are simply wonderful. Often the two elements are combined, with actors wearing their outfits and operating them at the same time. There is no effort to hide the fact that these animals are puppets. Sticks and joints and hand grips are visible. That makes things even more magical, because the imagination is engaged in finishing the beasts, rather than simply in figuring out how “they” did it. This is also a tale best told in earth tones, such as that first half hour. When Taymor’s palette opens up and the big numbers (including “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”) start rolling in the play loses some of its beauty and regal bearing. The bright explosions of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “ Hakuna Matata” delight the kids, but it’s “They Live In You” and “Shadowland” that will engage adults. Dionne Randolph is magnetic as Mufasa and his presence is missed once he’s offstage. He makes “They Live In You” a highlight, just as understudy Maurica Roland did with “Shadowlands” at Thursday’s performance. J. Anthony Crane is appropriately evil as Scar, just as Nick Cordileone and Ben Lipitz are — in equal parts — entertaining and annoying as the clowns, Timon and Pumbaa. Adam Jacobs, however, lacks the charisma to make the grown Simba effective. His transformation from savannah vagabond to the lion king is just not convincing, even if the script doesn’t give him much impetus. But you already know he’ll be king, so just sit back and enjoy the wonder of Taymor’s visual feast. THE LION KING Performance reviewed: 8 p.m. Thursday Where: Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes; one intermission Continues: 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Through March 20. Tickets: $20-$160 Info: 346-6204; http://www.proctors.org -30-
CROWNS Opens Wed., March 9 at Capital Repertory Theatre Soul stirring celebration of African-American women and their “hattitude” shines spotlight on local actress and “triple-threat” Joyel Kaleel Albany, NY (February 22, 2011) – Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre today announced the March 9 opening of its Regional Premiere production of Crowns by Regina Taylor. Preview performances begin on March 3 and the show will run through April 3. Crowns -- adapted from the acclaimed book of the same name by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry -- was the most produced musical in America in 2006 and the winner of four Helen Hayes Awards including Best Regional Musical. Author/playwright Regina Taylor's gospel-infused musical sensation promises audiences a rollicking good time. When Brooklyn-born Yolanda relocates to the South after the death of her brother, she finds strength in the tales of the wise women who surround her and in the powerful rituals associated with their array of dazzling hats. Fusing the music of the South with rich storytelling and abundant "hattitude," Crowns is a jubilant celebration of song, dance, cultural history-and glamorous headwear. Behind-the-Scenes Vision Capital Repertory Theatre’s Producing-Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill will direct the production along with Capital Region choreographer Alan Weeks and New York City based Music Director Mark Bruckner. Both Weeks and Bruckner are veterans of acclaimed regional theatre and Off-Broadway productions. . “Crowns represents so much of what Capital Rep has stood for over our 30 year history: inclusion of all people, celebration of history, joyous music and staging that utilizes the most powerful ally of live theatre: imagination.” “Crowns requires a cast with great voices and strong constitutions. The gospel score means there’s no holding back. We are really fortunate to have such a talented group of actor-singers. They know this territory and they want the audience to have a rollicking good time.” Making her debut in the production is local actress and “triple-threat” actor/singer/dancer Joyel Kaleel. Kaleel will play the central teenaged character Yolanda – and was discovered in a regional casting call titled “The Search for Yolanda.” In addition to Kaleel, Mancinelli-Cahill has assembled a powerful cast of actors with credits that include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, film and TV credits including Yvette Monique Clark (Mother Shaw), Nikkieli Demone (Man), Jannie Jones (Velma), Julia Lema (Mabel), Amma Osei (Wanda) and Danielle Thomas (Jeanette) Tribute to Annette De Lavallade The month long run of the jubilant production of this stand-up-and-testify musical will include a benefit performance dedicated to community trailblazer, activist, and Publisher & Editor of Classique magazine, Annette De Lavallade, on Thursday, March 3. Tickets to this special performance are $30 -- with proceeds going to the Annette De Lavallade Scholarship Fund, established by the Schenectady Silhouettes under the assistance of Marsha Mortimore. Scholarships will be awarded to Capital District economically disadvantaged youth who plan to major in journalism and/or English. A prize also will be awarded on the night of the show to the patron wearing the best "Jewel" Crown of the evening. The March 3rd performance of Crowns offers an opportunity for shared celebration with family, friends and the community at large to pay tribute to one of its most iconic torchbearers. To purchase tickets, call the Capital Repertory Theater box office at 518-445-7469 and use the "Classique" promo code. Tickets on Sale Now Previews will begin on Thursday, March 3 and run through Tuesday, March 8. Opening Night is Wednesday, March 9 and the production will run through April 3, 2011. Tuesday – Thursday performances begin at 7:30 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturday at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets prices begin at $38 and are available by calling the box office at 518-445-7469 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call the box office or visit www.capitalrep.org. Contact For more information on Crowns, contact Michele Desrosiers, Managing Director, Capital Repertory Theatre, (518) 462-4531 ext 210, (518) 339-6112 (cell) email@example.com. To arrange an interview with any of the cast and crew of Crowns, contact Ms. Desrosiers at Capital Rep or Thom O’Connor, Proctors, (518) 382.3884, x166; firstname.lastname@example.org. ### Capital Repertory Theatre is a not-for-profit professional theater with a mission to create meaningful theater generated from an authentic link to the community it serves. Now in its 30th season, Capital Rep produces a balanced season of dramas, comedies, musicals, contemporary and classic plays to appeal to all tastes. Possessing a history of more than 22 world premieres and dozens of regional premieres. Capital Rep’s productions feature the finest actors, directors and designers from New York City, other American regional theaters and the world. These world-class professionals are supported by a dedicated staff of theater professionals and artists who live and work in the Capital Region, and whose talents serve the theater’s 78,000 patrons. In addition to providing professional theatre of the highest caliber, Capital Rep education and outreach programs serve more than 20,000 students and adult learners each year. The only affiliate of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) within the fourteen counties of the Capital Region, Capital Rep has produced more than 4,750 performances, employed more than 1,200 artists and has contributed more than $30 million to the local economy since its inception in 1981. ____________________________________________ <> <> Photo Credit: Joe Schuyler Photo Captions: 9223 Mother Shaw (Yvette Monique Clark) sings gospel with back up from the Reverend (Nikkieli DeMone) and sisters, Jeannette (Danielle K. Thomas), Mabel (Julia Lema) and Velma (Jannie Jones) 9238 Velma (Jannie Jones) loves to wear flamboyant hats to church, much to the dismay of the proper Wanda (Amma Osei) 5643 <> Capital Region actress Joyele Kaleel makes her Capital Rep debut as Yolanda, a teenaged rapper with a lot to learn about her African-American heritage Michele Desrosiers Managing Director Capital Repertory Theatre 111 N. Pearl St. Albany, NY 12207 email@example.com
Merchants roar approval for 'Lion King' Some downtown eateries booked up for show's run Wednesday, February 23, 2011 By Michael Lamendola (Contact) Gazette Reporter Photographer: Peter Barber Amelia Jones, 17, of Colonie, is all smiles after purchasing her "Lion King" program at Proctors on Tuesday. Text Size: A | A | A CAPITAL REGION — An economic engine called “The Lion King” chugged into Schenectady Tuesday night, bringing “hakuna matata” to merchants who see the monthlong performance of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical as a boon to their businesses. “It is fantastic. We will be booked for dinnertime for every show,” said Peter Blackman, managing partner of Aperitivo Bistro, next-door to Proctors on State Street. “The Lion King” is Proctors’ biggest production of the year, comparable to “Wicked,” which ran last year for a month, and “The Phantom of the Opera,” which ran in 2006 for a month. “The Lion King” will present eight shows a week, 32 in all through March 20. Proctors CEO Philip Morris said the show will generate $5 million in ticket sales, representing 80,800 seats, during the run. “We expect to sell out every day,” he said. Full stort: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2011/feb/23/merchants-roar-approval-lio...