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Train with Andy Grammer and Blue October

Published November 29th, 2016 by | No Comments

Come and experience the Q104 Holiday Show, Train with Andy Grammer and Blue October, on Monday, December 5 at 8:00 p.m. Kick off your December and see these three chart-topping acts on the State Theater stage performing both current and holiday hits! Click here to purchase your tickets now.

Columbia Recording Artist and Grammy Award winning band, Train, hails from San Francisco and is led by front man Pat Monahan. Train is best known for their hits “Hey Soul Sister”, “If It’s Love”, “Drops of Jupiter” and “Drive By. They’ve had three albums break into the top 10 on the Billboard 200, and have sold over four million albums in the US. With their newest single “Play That Song”, featured on their upcoming tenth studio album.

In five years, S-Curve Records’ artist, Andy Grammer has gone from street performer to selling millions of records with hits like “Keep Your Head Up” and “Fine By Me”. In 2014, “Honey, I’m Good” became a triple platinum smash and one of the ten best-selling songs of the year. His euphoric follow up, “Good to be Alive (Hallelujah)”, was certified gold. Grammer’s current single “Fresh Eyes,” is quickly climbing the charts.

Blue October is the Texas-based band known for its shimmering melodies and heart-string pulling lyrics, boasting one of the most emotionally charged and magnetic front men in music today in Justin Furstenfeld. Blue October has charted nine Top 40 Hot AC and alternative singles over eight albums, including the hit singles “Into The Ocean,”, “Hate Me,” and “Home”, and 2016’s new album ‘Home’, which has charted as the #1 Alternative Album, #1 Rock Album, and #1 Independent Album this year, reaching audiences around the world.

Tickets can be purchased here.

A Behind the Scenes Q & A with Alan Cumming!

Published November 18th, 2016 by | No Comments

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Alan Cumming: Sings Sappy Songs tour makes a stop in Cleveland on Sunday, December 4 at the Connor Palace. In anticipation of his upcoming performance, we had the pleasure of asking the talented and one-of-a-kind Mr. Cumming some questions about his life. Enjoy!

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Photo credit: instagram.com/alancummingsnaps

Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs comes to Cleveland on December 4. The show is a cabaret with an eclectic blend of music and stories from your life. Do you find yourself telling different stories each performance, depending on your mood? Or do you have a standard story that pairs with each song?

My ambition for the show is that it will feel as though I’m just making things up as I go along, but I’m usually not. There is quite a strict structure to it and the stories all correspond to the songs, and it really seems to work quite well so I don’t meddle with it very much. Of course I sometimes have a ramble about what I did that day or what is happening in the world or sometimes I engage with the audience for some reason or another but for the most part it is rehearsed spontaneity.

While most people are familiar with your talents as an actor, singer, author and philanthropist, many may not know about your passion for photography. What do you like most to photograph? Also, inquiring minds want to know… Cannon, Nikon or other?

Photo credit: instagram.com/alancummingsnaps

I have no set rules about taking photos, and sometimes I go for ages without taking a single snap. My favorite kind of picture is one that just captures a mood, a moment, an essence of an experience. I don’t take loads and loads of pics of the same thing, I’m a real one or two snaps and I’m done man. That’s why my Instagram handle is @alancummingsnaps. I think it’s because my book has just come out (You Gotta Get Bigger Dreams – My Life In Stories and Pictures) and I have been talking loads about my pictures that has made me kind of self-conscious about taking them right now. So I am looking forward to the muse descending again! Oh, and I mostly use my iPhone now, but also have a trusty old Olympus that I enjoy playing with!

 

Do you play any musical instruments? If so, which ones?

I play the piano fairly well. I actually played it for a song in my last show, but in Sappy Songs I don’t. I can also strum a few chords on the guitar and could probably still muster a scale on the cello.

What is your favorite Scottish cuisine?

Oh that’s easy. I am obsessed with mushy peas. They are sort of vinegary mashed up peas that you get in the chip shop with your chips. I love them! There is a chip shop at the bottom of the street where I live in Edinburgh and I rarely pass without indulging myself. I am also a big fan of the sort of peasant food that we do so well: soups and stews and that sort of thing. Some ingredients of Traditional Scottish Stovies

I love eating a plate of one thing. I don’t like having too many options when I eat! My absolute favorite is stovies, which is a potato and onion and mincey sort of dish that is meant to be left on the stove and you eat it throughout the night at a party so you don’t get too drunk! And I love to make vegan versions of those kinds of foods that I grew up with.

What was the most interesting thing you learned when you officially became a U.S. citizen in 2008?

That America makes absolutely everything a game show! You are given 100 questions and their answers in advance to study, and I sat up for many nights memorizing the number of seats in the congress and all sorts. In the actual naturalization test you’re asked ten questions and have to get six correct. I got my first consecutive six all right and the man asking me said ‘You’ve got the six, would you like to go for the ten?’ I said ‘What is this? Let’s Make A Deal?

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Photo credit: instagram.com/alancummingsnaps

You’ve worked with some amazing artists over the years. Can you tell us about one of your favorite collaborations?

I recently sang a couple of songs with Chita Rivera at Carnegie Hall. It was, incredibly, her debut as a headliner at that amazing venue, and she asked me to come and join her and I couldn’t have been more honored. I met her years ago when we both took part in a Kander and Ebb tribute as part of the Kennedy Center Honors, and I fell in love with her at once. She has such spirit, such spunk and is just a real old mucker, so kind and hard-working and always smiling.  At Carnegie we sang the amazing song “Nowadays” from Chicago The Musical and she taught me the Bob Fosse choreography to it that she had learned from him. I felt overwhelmed and out of my depth but at the same time this amazing sense of carrying on a tradition. And I felt so proud.

What is a Broadway role that you would like to add to your résumé?

Right now I am obsessed with the play Good by CP Taylor. It’s a sort of impressionist look at the way normal, everyday people suddenly become inured to and then actively engage in extremism, and in this case the Nazi party. I can’t imagine why I find it so relevant to what is happening today! I wouldn’t mind giving the central character a go. And I think the time is right!

I know you don’t have a lot of free time, but what are some of your favorite TV shows right now?

You’re right, I don’t have much time, but I am looking forward very much to getting back to The Americans and also the cartoon Bo Jack Horseman. I am also trying to get up to speed on Game of Thrones as seemingly every other human in the world has watched it except me and I feel I need to get with the program! At the gym, when I am on the elliptical machine I just turn on Bravo and watch awful people shout at each other, and that whiles away the time!

Looking back on your career (so far), what would you say to someone who is new to the business about rejection? Any advice about a career in performing arts?

My advice to anyone starting out in the arts is to try and be yourself. So many people will try and tell you to become a generic type and you should always remember that the most interesting thing about yourself is you, your experience and your authenticity. And as for rejection, well, I always think that I don’t like everything or everyone in the world, so I can’t expect everyone to like me or what I do!

Photo credit: instagram.com/alancummingsnaps

This show is a unique opportunity to hear the legendary Alan Cumming in a raucous one-man show, at Playhouse Square. Alan Cumming: Sings Sappy Songs is an eclectic, wildly entertaining mix of intimate stories. From the sentimental to the sassy – and witty reinterpretations of pop songs and stage classics, this is a show you have to see!

Click here to get your tickets now!

‘Tis the seaon of Holidazzle!

Published November 15th, 2016 by | No Comments

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we want to take a moment to honor the holiday card. Change things up this season and use Holidazzle as your card backdrop. Not sure what Holidazzle is? Read up on all the exciting activities (and photo ops!) taking place for a day full of cheer.

1. It is a FREE holiday open house where you and your loved ones can participate in various activities throughout Playhouse Square.

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2. There will be 10-minute tours of the Connor Palace, the mighty Kimball Pipe Organ playing some holiday favorites, and once in a lifetime photo opportunities on the stage!

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3. Cartoons for the whole family will play throughout the day in the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre, in the Idea Center. Create holiday themed children’s crafts and meet balloon artists in the Gund Dance Studio.

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4. You can start your holiday shopping with local vendors from the Cleveland Bazaar Holiday Market while enjoying the sounds of the season from local musicians in the recently renovated George Gund Foundation Ohio Theatre lobby.

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5. And experience the Festival of Trees in the Allen Theatre lobby. A grand display showcasing more than 20 trees decorated by various local designers will be featured – each tree offering a unique design or theme.

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There’s no time like the holidays in downtown Cleveland, so why not discover unique and amazing photo opportunities both inside and out at Holidazzle, Saturday, November 26 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.!

 

This week (November 11) in theater news…

Published November 11th, 2016 by | No Comments

Each week we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway and theater news. Check back next week to see what you missed this week, and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Playhouse Square and beyond. Enjoy!

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Laura Michelle Kelly and Jose Llana are coming to town…
With the national touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I! You might remember Kelly from her role as Sylvia in Finding Neverland on Broadway, or as Mary Poppins at the West End and in the Broadway reprise. Read more about the all-star cast before the show stops in CLE Feb. 7-26. (AP)

Girl power!
Broadway.com interviewed Christine Dwyer, the actress behind Sylvia in the touring production of Finding Neverland which is here through November 20. Hear her favorite thing about Sylvia, and the scariest part for her about playing the role. Watch video… (Broadway.com)

We’re giving thanks…
For Broadway shows announced to perform Thanksgiving Day Parade! See which of your favorites will perform and where to watch them here.

Disney Musicals in Schools – Year Two!

Published November 7th, 2016 by | No Comments

Last year, Playhouse Square received a grant from Disney to help bring the Disney Musicals in Schools program to Cuyahoga County with the goal of creating ongoing theater programs in local elementary schools. Through an application process, four schools were selected – Campus International, Paul Dunbar, Marion-Sterling and Oxford – and nearly 300 students and educators participated in a successful first year.

Now, we’re underway with year two! Four more schools were selected to join the program – Euclid Park, Orchard STEM, Warner Girl’s Leadership Academy and Wilbur Wright. To begin the 17-week program, teaching artists and educators receive intensive training and select the shows their students will perform both at their school and on stage at Playhouse Square.

1First year schools select their shows: The Lion King KIDS for Euclid Park,
Orchard STEM and Warner Girl’s Leadership Academy; Wilbur Wright chose Aladdin KIDS

2Returning schools: Campus International chose The Jungle Book KIDS,
Marion-Sterling went with Cinderella KIDS and both Paul Dunbar and Oxford selected Aladdin KIDS

While it’s great fun for students to dress up in costumes and take on the roles of beloved characters like Simba, Jasmine, Baloo and the Fairy Godmother, what’s more important is the lasting effect of the program. Campus International reported, “Disney Musicals in Schools has been a priceless addition to our programming here. We’ve seen our students grow confident and they’ve really stepped up as leaders in the school.”

Oxford Elementary shared, “We watched our children’s self-esteem increase as they learned the value of hard work. Our students have grown as leaders and people.”

Education is an important part of Playhouse Square’s not-for-profit mission. It is deeply rewarding to know we are having a positive impact on the lives of children in our community. Seeing the joy on the students’ faces when they perform on stage here, and the pride in the eyes of their teachers and family members, is priceless.

To find out more and see students perform during last year’s Disney Musicals in Schools Student Share Celebration, click here

Get in the holiday spirit with the Dave Koz Christmas Tour!

Published November 7th, 2016 by | No Comments

Dave Koz returns to Playhouse Square Saturday, December 10 at 8:00 p.m. with some friends for his Christmas tour! Click here to get your tickets now.

davekoz_holidayblogpost2Nine-time Grammy® nominee and saxophonist extraordinaire Dave Koz and Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Ashford & Simpson’s Valerie Simpson –will capture the magic of Christmas in the 19th anniversary edition of Koz’s holiday tour.

The irrepressible Jonathan Butler, an “alumnus” of the tour, has earned accolades in the R&B, contemporary jazz and gospel fields and recently released a new studio album entitled Free. Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Kenny Lattimore has been hailed by The New York Times as a “modern soul man.”

Acclaimed vocalist Valerie Simpson co-wrote such classic hits such as, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By,” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” as half of the songwriting/performing/producing entity Ashford and Simpson.

It’s never to early to start listening to your favorite holiday music. Click on the playlist below and get excited for the holidays and the upcoming Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2016 at the State Theatre!

This week (November 4) in theater news…

Published November 4th, 2016 by | No Comments

Each week we’re going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway and theater news. Check back next week to see what you missed this week, and to catch a glimpse of what’s going on at Playhouse Square and beyond. Enjoy!

ew-beauty-beast-1Photo from Entertainment Weekly

Beauty and the Beast photos released
Stunning new photos have been released of the Beauty and the Beast live-action film, which is set to hit theaters March 17, 2017. With cast members like Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad and Ian McKellen, it’s got the whole world talking. Click here to view the photos. (USA Today)

Finding Neverland’s Kevin Kern interviewed by Broadway.com
We’re so lucky that we’re visited by some of the best Broadway touring productions out there, one of them being Finding Neverland. Kevin Kern, who plays the show’s lead character J.M. Barrie, chatted with Broadway.com about everything from the show, to acting, to modeling for Star Wars. Watch the clip here. (Broadway.com)

(We can’t) wait for it…
December 2 can’t come soon enough because it’s the day the brand new Hamilton mixtape will be released. If you can’t wait the four weeks (we’re not counting, you’re counting!) before it’s on sale, you can listen to the two hits that have been released on Spotify and pre-order the album. It’s worth mentioning that the album features Sia, Usher, John Legend, Jimmy Kimmel, and, of course, Lin Manuel Miranda. (Playbill.com)

Almost Like Being in Love: The Songs of Lerner & Loewe

Published November 1st, 2016 by | No Comments

The Musical Theater Project (TMTP) is bringing a “docu-concert”, or live documentary, to Playhouse Square! What is a “docu-concert” you ask? Well TMTP defines it as, a combination of live performances with dozens of rare still images and video clips. Almost Like Being in Love: The Songs of Lerner & Loewe, coming Saturday, November 20, will showcase the finest theater songs while exploring the cultural and historical impact of musical theater as an American art form.

Learn about the remarkable story of two men, Alan Jay Lerner and Fredrick Loewe, who saw the world the same way, and wrote straight from their hearts. Alan Jay Lerner was a well-bred New Yorker with a Harvard education, and composer Frederick Loewe was a 17 year old who was also classically trained. The two great romantics fashioned four of the most beloved and romantic musicals of all time:

My Fair Lady, Camelot,

Brigadoon and Gigi

During the show you’ll hear your favorite songs from all four musicals, including “If Ever I Would Leave You,” “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” “Gigi” and “Almost Like Being in Love”—and so much more.

Click here to get your tickets!

Broadway Buzz: An Interview with Kevin Kern

Published October 31st, 2016 by | No Comments

As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team. 

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by Alicia Hansen
As the national tour of Finding Neverland arrives as the second show in the 2016-17 Playhouse Square KeyBank Broadway Series, it comes with it an array of talented individuals – one of them being Ohio native, Kevin Kern. A graduate of New York University and Broadway alum (including roles in The Wedding Singer and Les Miserables), this actor brings the creator of a familiar fairy tale to life on stage for Cleveland audiences to enjoy. In this Broadway Buzz interview, learn how Kern continues to learn about that classic story we all know and love, all the while balancing life as a professional actor on the road.

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The tale of Peter Pan is one many are familiar with due to the popular Disney movie and other featured recreations. In playing Peter’s creator – J. M. Barrie – in Finding Neverland, what did you learn about this classic tale that was new or different than what you knew previously?

While I knew the Peter Pan tale well, I can’t say I was exactly obsessed with it, so there were a few things that surprised me. First, I never knew that its first appearance was as a play. I thought that it started as a novel, although J. M. Barrie did later novelize his own play. I also was surprised at just how dark the original story was. For examples: man-eating mermaids, and boys who were stolen away from their parents and then killed off by Peter when they get too old – look it up! But all fairy tales were pretty rough back then, so who can blame Barrie for falling in with the crowd.

This musical features a vibrant cast of seasoned Broadway professionals, including children and a few dogs! How does this variety add to your experience acting in this production?

I LOVE this cast. Not only are there some Broadway vets, but there are also quite a few fresh faces who are just beginning to make a name for themselves in this business – they have long careers ahead of them. We all mix together well onstage and (maybe more importantly) get along well offstage as well.

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The US national tour of this production debuted recently in Buffalo, right before arriving here in Cleveland. What do you consider a challenge about the opening of a production while being out on the road? 

The unique thing about this production is the producers really didn’t want to just sit back and rest on their laurels. Most national tours are just a basic remounting of their Broadway counterparts. But here the creative team wanted to re-imagine major chunks of the show and were given leeway (and money!) by the producers to make their magic. The result is a show that’s even better than the one I got to do in Broadway. I’m really proud of all the hard work we all put in to make this the best show it can be!

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I understand you and Megan Elizabeth Lawrence married after meeting as cast members of Les Miserables. How do you balance your performing career, especially while touring, and being a husband as well as a father of four?

Well, it’s not easy! When you have as many kids as we do, you always have to balance being supportive of them and supporting them. In other words, being there for them and going to work to make their lives better. It’s the challenge all parents have, but when you add going away for months at a time, the sacrifices become more severe. But I do get to travel home a lot and I am constantly reminded of families who are way more challenged by parents being away than we are. Not to be over dramatic, but it makes you appreciate the sacrifices parents in our military make when they have to go away from their families for sometimes a year at a time.

Out of all the productions you’ve been involved in over the years, how does this production of Finding Neverland stand apart?

As I said before, I really love the people in this show. I’ve been lucky in my career to been around great shows as well as great casts. This cast is so much fun and make doing the show that much more special!

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Finding Neverland
part of the Playhouse Square KeyBank Broadway Series
at the Connor Palace ∙ November 1 – 20, 2016

Broadway News: Bandstand The New American Musical

Published October 28th, 2016 by | No Comments

It’s an exciting time for Broadway musicals, from hip hop to a cappella and now swing.

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Opening on Broadway in April 2017, Bandstand the New American Musical will be starring Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes and Cleveland native Corey Cott. Hailing from Chargin Falls, Cott got his first big break playing Jack Kelly in Newsies the Musical in 2012, and recently in 2015 he played the role of Gaston Lachallie in Gigi.

Set in the smoke-filled, swing-fueled night clubs of 1945, Bandstand brings the against-all-odds story of singer/songwriter Donny Novitski and his band of mismatched fellow WWII veterans to the stage.

bandstandpiano_16“When a national radio contest to find America’s next big swing band offers a chance at instant fame and Hollywood fortune, Donny must whip his wise-cracking gang of jazzers into fighting shape. Teaming up with the beautiful young war widow Julia as their singer, they struggle to confront the lingering effects and secrets of the battlefield that threaten to tear them apart. Playing for every voiceless underdog in a world that has left them behind, they risk everything in the final live broadcast to redefine the meaning of victory.

The brilliant Andy Blankenbuehler grew up loving swing music and was more than thrilled to be part of this production. When asked about the show Andy replied, ‘As a director, I’m so lucky to be involved with a show that is so rich in emotion and heart. As a choreographer, I’m over the moon to be dancing to a score that sizzles like nothing else on Broadway (Playbill.com).’ You may remember his great choreography from Hamilton and In the Heights.  

With an explosive original score and choreography inspired by the high energy swing rhythms of the era, Bandstand is a truly American story of love, loss, triumph and the everyday men and women whose personal bravery defined a nation.” (Playbill.com)

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For more information go to http://www.bandstandbroadway.com/

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A not-for-profit performing arts center that presents and produces a wide variety of performing arts, advances arts education and creates a destination that is a superior location for entertainment business and residential living, thereby strengthening the economic vitality of the region.

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