Show stopper

Sugarcoating is for suckers. And this isn't a candy store.

9 to 5: The Musical impresses TPAC September 24, 2010

The red carpet was rolled out at Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) Tuesday night, September 21. Photographers donned professional cameras around their necks. The Channel 2 and 4 correspondents were ready with their 100-watt smiles and black no-nonsense clothing, gripping the microphones and rattling about the upcoming excitement the night would bring. Fans lined the opposite street. Their expectant faces and digital point-and-shoot cameras were at the ready. They heard some country stars would be under the Nashville stars tonight. Dolly Parton. Naomi Judd. Bo Bice. Everyone turned to see the first jet-black stretch limo pull up. Then another and another.

The national tour of “9 to 5: The Musical” premiered at TPAC in Nashville, Tenn. Tuesday night, September 21. The musical was adapted by the 1980’s film “Nine to Five”. Dolly Parton starred in the movie and wrote the music and lyrics for the musical. Patricia Resnick formed the concept of the story and wrote the musical.

“9 to 5: The Musical” is about three women trying to make it in a man’s world. There’s Judy Bernly, a recent divorcee who just can’t seem to get over her divorce; Violet Newstead, a widow raising her 17-year-old son alone; and Doralee Rhodes, a blonde bombshell who has been unfairly classified as the office hussy. Mr. Hart, their heartless boss, runs his office like a sweatshop. He demands perfection and isn’t scared to fire someone for the smallest infraction. The women want revenge against Mr. Hart and eventually get him sent far away from the office. The musical deals with sexism and feminism in the late 70’s amongst the dings of the typewriters and early photocopiers.

Dee Hoty, Violet, was exceptional. She portrayed the widow to be a strong, independent woman. When office sweetheart, Joe, was sweet on her, she held her ground. Under her hard surface, it was evident she desperately wanted to be loved. Hoty was sarcastic and a firecracker as she stomped around stage, commanding attention and respect even though her title still read “secretary”.

Mamie Parris, Judy, was sweet, quirky and funny. She comes off as skittish and uncertain of herself. As the days progress, she comes to find her value is priceless. When her ex-husband tries to win her back, she fights the urges with her freedom song “Get Out and Stay Out”.

Dianna DeGarmo, runner-up of American Idol Season 6, played Parton’s role as Doralee. She acted just like Parton: from the big hair, the strut and the booming voice. Her performance of “Backwoods Barbie” was heart-warming. She comes off as a blonde bimbo but deep down she has a heart of gold and a good head on her shoulders.

Dolly Parton could definitely be seen in all her songs. There are songs about the hard-working man and the even-harder-working woman; songs about appreciating a woman’s brains than objectifying her body; songs of independence and freedom. The songs are foot-tapping and fun, catchy and strong. They are definitely memorable.

The final curtain closed as the audience whooped and hollered, giving a standing ovation. The night wouldn’t be complete, though, without Dolly Parton coming on stage and graciously thanking the audience for a wonderful evening.

If you’re a theater-geek-college student and want to attend TPAC’s shows, you’re in luck. Students can get $15 to $25 tickets for any show at TPAC. “9 to 5: The Musical” runs until September 26. Don’t miss your chance to clock-in and see this hilarious show.


Moliere’s Tartuffe coming to Troutt

Filed under: theater — amandastrav @ 2:34 pm
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The Troutt will be draped with 17th century costumes, music and rhyming couplets. Moliere’s neo-classical play, Tartuffe, will open on October 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Tartuffe, a comedy, is about a man who takes advantage of his landlord, Orgon. Tartuffe portrays himself as a pious man when he simply wants to swindle Orgon out of the deed to his house by marrying his daughter. It is a play about religious hypocrisy and extremism, topics Brent Maddox, the director of Tartuffe, says are very relevant to today’s world.

“If you look at what’s going on in our culture, in our society, globally speaking, this play was written hundreds of years ago yet the message of religious hypocrisy or religious extremism is still prevalent today,” Maddox said.

Tartuffe was originally written in French, but Maddox is using Richard Wilbur’s, an American literary translator and poet, version because his translation preserved the rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter.  This two-hour play is big, Maddox said. From the costumes to the set, everything is over the top.

“There is nothing simple about this show,” Maddox said.

Tartuffe will be played by Zach McCann. Daniel Hackman, a Belmont alum and his wife Joann Hackman will play the married couple as Orgon and Elmire. Doreen, the servant, will be played by Christy White. Franne Lee, who has worked as a costume designer on Broadway, designed the costumes.  Liz Morison, a production design major, is the set designer while Patrick White, another production design major, designed the lighting.

“Working with the cast is the best part,” Maddox said. “They’re hard workers. They come in prepared and ready to go which is a delight for me as a director. Amongst the fun a lot of work has been getting done.”

While the play is a comedy, there have been some challenges Maddox and the actors had to face. While the play is set in Paris, the actors will speak a British dialect. Maddox decided to forgo the French accent because it’s a little more difficult to learn in a short period of time. The styling of the piece has also been a challenge. Maddox doesn’t want his actors to look like actors. He wants the play to be believable.

“You have to look like you belong in this world,” said Maddox. “You have to sound like your British. You have to sound like you speak in rhyming couplets. You have to look like you belong in 17th century. We can’t make it look like it’s fake. [The audience isn’t] looking at actors. They’re looking at characters.”

The audience should be expected to laugh at the physical humor. Maddox wants the audience to go away with the sense that they experienced a moment of fun but have been educated.

“It’s going to be a good show,” said Maddox. “It’s going to be funny, but at the same time it will expose [the audience] to a different style of theatre and perhaps a different culture than the one they’re used to.”

Tartuffe runs through October 10. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for faculty and staff. Students are free and culture and arts convo will be given.


Learn from the best September 16, 2010

Filed under: theater — amandastrav @ 12:48 am
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If you keep up with my blog or visit it from time to time, you have no doubt in your mind the writer (moi) is a dedicated theater lover. Not only am I a theater lover, I’m a theatergoer (that is, when my bank account permits me to afford a train ticket to and from the city, a show ticket and maybe food? maybe).

Now, I know some of you may:

a) like theater and attend shows frequently

b) like theater but don’t go as often as you like

c) like theater but don’t go at all

d) hate theater in which case you probably have moved onto another blog. Thanks for stopping by!

If you fall in the category of a, b, or c I have a little tidbit of guidance for you. I stumbled onto a fantastic little article about how to be a great theatergoer. It has everything from box office etiquette to silencing your phone and children to learning how to exit the theater swiftly. It’s a really fun article, light read and just great points to keep in mind.

You can find the article here.

May all your Broadway excursions be wonderful, magical and totally amusing.


You bet. It’s La Bete September 13, 2010

Filed under: theater — amandastrav @ 9:04 pm
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What do you get when you pit the arts and pop culture against each other?

La Bete!

This 90’s comedic play has been resurrected and will be playing in the Music Box Theater from September 23, 2010-February 13, 2011.

La Bete is about a dramatist, Elomire, who only loves the theater and Valere, a street clown who has a passion for…well, himself. The play gets complicated when the princess has tired of Elomire and pairs with Valere for her entertainment. The two rivals face off to decide which will survive: the arts or ego.

The sole purpose for this post is not to mention yet another play gracing the Broadway stage. Nay, my friends. This post is merely to advertise my sheer admiration for David Hyde Pierce.

You know DHP. Niles Crane on “Frasier” and Tony Award winner for Best Leading Actor in a Musical in the whodunnit? play Curtains. The wonderful, ever-talented, hilarious Pierce is playing Elomire and I can’t seem to think of a better actor for this role.

Playing alongside Pierce is Mark Rylance as Valere and Joanna Lumley as the princess. If you can make it the few months the play is open, please make sure you do attend. If not for the sake of laughing for my sake because chances are yours truly will not be able to make a performance night.

Simply tragic, I know.


Theatre Benefits Alzheimer’s Association June 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandastrav @ 5:56 am
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Theater and charity in one heart-tugging night!

Sunset, Sunrise or Breakfast with Julia will have two benefit shows June 21 and 23 at the Frankel Theater.

Julia Sandra’s Rand’s show travels through 10 years as her mother, Eva, goes through the disease.

If you get a chance to catch a performance, make sure you go.

More information can be found by visiting


Summer Theater! May 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — amandastrav @ 3:20 am
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Hey New Jerseyians.

Tired of soaking up all the sun that’s been rained down on us the past couple of days? (Clearly a joke since it’s been overcast for the past 2 1/2 days)

Want to express yourself through song, dance and acting?

Well, get off your toosh and stop reading plays. Instead, go out and audition for one!

There are auditions for two plays at the Kelsey Theater at Mercer County Community College (MCCC).

“Amadeus” and “Seussical, the Musical” are having open auditions. People 16 years or older may audition for “Amadeus”. “Seussical, the Musical” will cast based on stage ages instead of actual ages. Whatever age you can play onstage is the part you’ll land.

For more information take a gander at my “Upcoming Shows” tab.

Stay fabulous this summer!


Grease Lights the Stage March 28, 2010

Grease is the word. It’s got groove. It’s got meaning.

The audience was groovin’ with the musical theatre program as the cast flawlessly performed Grease in the Troutt Theatre at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. It started out very intimate. Sandy Dumbrowski, Elizabeth Smith, and Danny Zuko, Deonte’ Warren stood on opposite ends of the stage with their beautiful duet of “Sandy”. Flared, long skirts and popped leather collars flooded the stage and carried the audience through this adorable 50s love story.

We all know the deal. Sandy and Danny meet over the summer and then coincidentally meet at Rydell High School. Reputations and social circles keep the two apart until they realize they need to change for each other. The early 1970s  Broadway musical, written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, deals with love, sex and rock n roll in 1959.

Kenickie, Michael Rosenbaum, and the T-Birds entertained with their testosterone-filled rendition of “Greased Lightnin'” while the musical took a melancholic turn with “Hopelessly Devoted to You” performed by Sandy.

The entire cast did fabulously and everyone was on point. While everyone was a star, there were a few lightbulbs in the box that shined brighter than the others. My favorite of the night were Betty Rizzo, Lindsey Schroeder and Kenickie, Matthew Rosenbaum. Schroeder played it cool, strutting her stuff as if she owned the place (which she did!). She belted “There are Worse Things I Could Do” and looked fabulous. Rosenbaum is always great, truly transforming himself and embracing any character he’s given. I was eager to see how he would do as a greaser and he definitely impressed. He was light on his feet, powerful with his voice, and smooth in his mannerisms.

Special recognition does have to be given to Sonny, Douglas Waterbury-Tieman, Doody, Ben Laxton, and Patty Simcox, Maggie McDowell. While these parts were semi-minor, Waterbury-Tieman evoked the best greaser, from his flawless strut to always fixing his coif. He was a greaser through and through and was so fun to see.  Laxton was the goof. “Those Magic Changes” showed off his heart-fluttering vocals. McDowell played the valley girl cheerleader, Patty Simcox, hilariously well. She was a mixture of fun and funny with just a dash of annoying. Perfection.

While the actors played their parts well, casting was a little off. Rizzo had long hair instead of the short tight-curled do we all know and love. Frenchie was extremely watered down. Her hair was in a tight up do. No pink? No flare? Come on! Jan’s hair was fine but should’ve been a few shades darker. And, hello, why not get a curvy girl to play Jan? I couldn’t really recognize who Jan was because she was too thin! Deonte’ Warren, Danny, was really great in the first act. I don’t know what happened between then and intermission but he took on a whole new level of corny. He was too teeny-bopper. Danny Zuko is supposed to be cool and Warren portrayed him as a corny push-over. Sandy, Elizabeth Smith, wasn’t quite right. She had no life to her face, especially during “Hopelessly Devoted to You”. Sure, the lyrics were sad but that’s about it. She definitely could’ve played up the desperation a whole lot more. Smith is a great singer. It would’ve been nice if she let go and truly got into the part. She redeemed herself in “You’re the One That I Want”.

The set was way too simple and a little disappointing. It seemed as thought the musical theater program was short in funding. If the play was in Massey Performing Arts Center, Grease would’ve blew the other plays of the year out of the water. The set is the muscle of the play. The parts seemed thrown together and kind of cheap.

Overall, Grease was something new and the actors did their job. They provided a lovely form of entertainment and made sure they perfected every step, every line before performing. Too bad the stage wasn’t up to par with the actors. If it was, Grease would’ve been one of the musicals written down in Belmont history as one of the greatest musicals ever done. Instead, Urinetown will always outshine Grease when one recollects the plays of the Belmont school year 2009-2010.