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This week in theater news...

Published May 15th, 2015 by | No Comments

Each week we're going to keep you up-to-speed with the latest Broadway and theater news. Check back every Friday 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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Theater happenings...

Sarah Brightman is staying grounded
Quite literally. Recently the Phantom star called off her $52 million trip to the International Space Station in September. She announced on Facebook that due to personal family reasons she will postpone her trip. ( Read more…

What do you get…
…when you let the 2015 Tony Nominees loose in a photo booth? A whole slideshow of fun. Check out all the fun pics that came from the annual Press Reception at The Paramount Hotel in April. ( Read more…

Taye Diggs to be Broadway’s next Hedwig?
We’ll be waiting to see. Rumors are swirling around the potential news of Taye Diggs, last appearing on Broadway in Wicked, taking the lead in Hedwig and the Angry Inch after some recent social media hints. ( Read more…

Original Spring Awakening photos uncovered
Eight years ago Spring Awakening debuted, and now the cast is revealing a handful of behind-the-scenes pics. Take a look at the great photos of the cast including Lea Michelle and more. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings...

The Singing Angels: Why We Sing
Take a Hike Tours - FREE
Partners Bartending for Buses
Labatt Blue Light Lime Concert
Dynomite Game Day Tailgate

This week in theater news...

Published May 8th, 2015 by | No Comments

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



Theater happenings…

Josh Groban interview with
Josh Groban has been a busy guy lately, and caught up with him for an interview about his recent work and collaborations. Don’t miss him when he comes to CLE this October. ( Read more…

Alfie Boe returns as Broadway’s Jean Valjean
Alfie Boe will return to the revival of Les Misérables on Broadway as lead Jean Valjean. Boe received his Tony Honor for Excellence for his role in La Bohème in 2003. ( Read more…

Darren Criss hosting Stars in the Alley
Hedwig and the Angry Inch star Darren Criss will host the 2015 Stars in the Alley event. The free event takes place in NYC in Shubert Alley on May 27. Each year the outdoor concert celebrates Broadway with star appearances and performances from over 20 new shows and long-running favorites, accompined by a 12-piece live orchestra. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings…

My Mother Has 4 Noses
Welcome to Night Vale
I Love Lucy Live on Stage
Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam
The Singing Angels

This week in theater news...

Published May 1st, 2015 by | No Comments

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

Theater happenings…

Cleveland Play House Wins Regional Theatre Tony Award
Cleveland’s very own Cleveland Play House won the prestigious Regional Theatre Tony! ( Read more…

Full House musical parody?
You got it, dude! With all the hype surrounding the reunion from the hit television series, now there’s even more to smile about. Catch it off-Broadway September 7. ( Read more…

Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming hosting Tony Awards
Recent Cabaret star Alan Cumming and On the Twentieth Century lead Kristin Chenoweth have signed on to host the 2015 Tony Awards. Both stars were Tony winners in the past. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings... 

RAIN - A Tribute to the Beatles
Labatt Blue Light Lime Concert Series: Thor Platter Band - free

"Be Our Guest" at Playhouse Square

Published April 29th, 2015 by | No Comments

Fifteen or more people. That’s all it takes to be considered a group at Playhouse Square. Not only do groups often receive discounts, but the Group Services Department works hard to make a day at the show one not to be forgotten securing perks and benefits in addition to seeing a show.

Still wondering if group tickets are right for you? Here’s a great example of just one event planned by the Playhouse Square Group Services Department.

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On Sunday, more than 400 girl scouts, parents and troop leaders from Girl Scouts of North East Ohio (GSNEO) visited Playhouse Square for a day of magic and fun with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The girls were separated into four groups: Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts and Chip, and each group rotated through workshop activities themed to the show.

The workshops were taught by four local professionals in different spaces around Playhouse Square, giving girls a fun experience while seeing the theaters. A mask-making craft was taught by BayArts Instructor Jessica Ramage in the State Theatre lobby. Girls Scouts of all ages had a great time getting creative and decorating masks at the activity stations.


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The girls learned a dance routine inspired by "Be Our Guest" on the Ohio Theatre stage from Katy Russell, a teaching instructor.

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And little did they know several members of the cast were there to watch!

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Teaching instructor Mary Ann Nagel taught the girls how to express their emotions through movement in the Ohio Theatre lobby. They also participated in several ice breaker and group bonding activities with their group.


We were also thrilled to have Mary Jo Alexander from the Actor’s Summit to give a costuming lecture around the art of the quickchange. A seamstress her whole life, Alexander brought in several examples of costumes she had made for shows over the years, and spent time talking about her experiences and answering questions by the girls in the Kennedy Theater.

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After making it through each of the workshop stations, the girls headed back to the Ohio Theatre where they took part in a pre-show chat with eight Beauty and the Beast cast members. Kaitlin Niewoehner, Ben Cullen, Lacy Kriston, Bonnie Kelly, Abigail Gatlin, Hayley Palmer, Taurean Barber and Ross Nemeth answered audience questions and talked about their acting experiences in the touring show.

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After a great day of magical activities, the group ended their fun-filled day with an evening performance of Beauty and the Beast.

This week in theater news...

Published April 24th, 2015 by | No Comments

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

chitaginabenAbove: Our very own Gina Vernaci with
Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. 

Theater happenings…

The Visit cast album to be recorded
Chita Rivera and Roger Rees will be part of the recorded cast album for The Visit, playing now on Broadway. Flashback to 2007 when Chita came to CLE with A Dancer’s Life, a musical based off of her life, and posed with Playhouse Square’s very own Gina Vernaci. ( Read more…

Matilda touring cast announced
Just over a year before Matilda the Musical makes its way to CLE, and the touring cast has been announced! Drama Desk Award nominee Bryce Ryness will play Miss Turnbill, while the lead role will be shared by Gabby Gutierrez, Mia Sinclair Jenness, and Mabel Tyler. ( Read more...

Anastasia musical has set a premiere date
A stage musical adaptation of Anastasia is set to premiere at the Hartford Stage May 12-June 12, 2016. Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak, who also had a role on the Genleman’s Guide to Love and Murder creative team, has been working with writers and producers for two years on the production. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings…

Bianca Del Rio
Ester Rada

This week in theater news...

Published April 17th, 2015 by | No Comments

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

Josh Groban, Kelly Clarkson

Theater happenings...

Kelly Clarkson and Josh Groban sing Phantom’s “All I Ask of You”
There’s nothing better than finding out Josh Groban and Phantom of the Opera will both be in CLE in the coming season. Check out this special collaboration Groban sang with Kelly Clarkson of “All I Ask of You” in honor of his arrival in October and Phantom’s in 2016 in CLE this year. (Well, maybe it wasn’t just for us, but it sure was just in time!) ( Listen here…

Time’s 100 Most Influential People List gives nods to Broadway stars
Broadway stars Bradley Cooper and Audra McDonald are among the stars named on Time’s Most Influential People list. Cooper recently starred in Elephant Man, and McDonald is a six-time Tony winner. ( Read more…

Wondering how Darren Criss is doing as Hedwig?
It was big news when Darren Criss took over for Neil Patrick Harris as the lead in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and now he’s sharing his experiences in makeup and heels. ( Read more…

Speaking of Neil Patrick Harris…
Did you hear he WON’T be hosting this year’s Tony awards? After recently hosting the Academy Awards, an event he called a “beast,” Harris has decided to take a step back from his roles as a host. ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings...

The Screwtape Letters
Fair on the Square
Partners Mixology Class
Disney's Beauty and the Beast

This week in theater news...

Published April 11th, 2015 by | No Comments

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


Theater happenings...

Matilda’s second birthday
Matilda the Musical celebrated its second birthday as a Broadway show this week. Don’t miss the touring show when it makes a stop in CLE for the 2015-16 KeyBank Broadway Series in May, 2016! ( Read more…

Groundhog Day stage adaptation
The creative team that brought us Matilda has created a stage adaptation of the Bill Murray classic film, Groundhog Day. Show dates have been set for 2017 at a theater TBA. ( Read more…

Mamma Mia sets closing date on Broadway
It’s been 14 years since Mamma Mia opened on Broadway, and the show has officially announced a closing day on September 5, 2015. No need to worry, the touring show will make its way to CLE Mar. 8-13, 2016! ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings...

Celtic Thunder
Classic. Elegant. Timeless. A Cleveland Ballet Youth Company Performance
America's Got Downton


An Interview with Sarah Wolfe from Kinky Boots

Published April 10th, 2015 by | No Comments

Our Buzz Extra writer, Alicia Hansen had the exciting opportunity to interview Kinky Boots’ Touring Makeup Supervisor/Hair Stylist Sarah Wolfe. As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Alicia 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.


Kinky Boots arrives in Cleveland a part of the 2014-2015 KeyBank Broadway Series this month. As it turns out, moving this production from stop to stop on its tour around the United States takes quite the amount of manpower – and even more skill to then provide a first rate production to entertain audiences. Kinky Boots’ Touring Makeup Supervisor/Hair Stylist Sarah Wolfe (of took time to chat with our Broadway Buzz blogger Alicia Hansen to share how she consistently works her craft in an environment of constant change.

Tell us how you started in the theater and how discovered your talent in makeup and hair design.

My parents were heavily involved in theater from the time they met. They started a community theater in Placerville, a small town in California, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time on stage performing or at rehearsals. I found out later that I did like the behind-the-scenes work a lot. When I was 15, I had a dance injury that changed everything. My dance teacher encouraged me to start thinking about designing makeup for the recitals we would produce. That was just the beginning.

During school, I was always into painting, but I fell behind in math and other subjects. I tried to go to college for psychology and journalism, but I was instead always doing all these creative things. I found out about a makeup school in Los Angeles called Make-up Designory. It offered everything: beauty and character special effects, hair styling, behind-the-scenes work and more. At the age of 18, I moved and joined that program, jumping both feet in. Upon graduating, I took every freelancing job I could. I was working on everything. I freelanced for five years and sometimes it was a struggle. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I’m glad it’s been my life thus far.

After a few years of freelancing, I started working at Sacramento Music Circus. I had actually done a summer internship there when I was 15. I have now been working there for the past six summer seasons. Because of that, wig styling is now a special niche that I have in the makeup and theater world. It is where I learned how to do really fast wig changes, and learned how to work with big name actors. It provided so much of that experience in that specific area of my craft.

With so much to keep track of as you move from town to town, how do you stay organized as you tour Kinky Boots around the country?

I oversee all makeup for the entire show: there are six drag queens called the Angels, all the ensemble women and all the ensemble men. There’s a big binder I call “The Bible,” and it keeps all the plots for all the cast members organized. It has each of their foundation colors, their eyes, their lips – every single detail. Additionally I have this big box that I also keep super organized. It comes around to every city with me, with everything I need.

Even though every city is totally different, I have all these systems that I set up exactly the same in every city. For example, the factory workers have fake tattoos, which I apply on those actors every performance. A company prints the custom tattoos with the ink and send them out to me as I need them. To do so, I have a tattoo station where those actors get their custom tattoos applied. They know where to go!

Can you provide a glimpse into what a run of a single performance is like for someone in your position?

I have an hour-and-a-half call before each curtain, every single show. I arrive for what we call “Continuity Hour” where we get organized and touch up wigs. Then at an hour before, I go up to Lola’s room where it takes about a half hour to do her first full drag look. Now I have it down to a routine, and we have a good time with it: we turn on music, we chat if the actor wants. From there, I apply a few more wigs to other actors. At five ‘til curtain, I apply Lola’s lips, which is a five-step process – it’s meticulous. We then put Lola’s wig on next, then the show starts. I run the show with cues, following Lola the entire time. She has five different looks, so I’m constantly changing hair and makeup in between. If Lola’s not on stage, he’s in my chair! At the end of the show, I collect wigs, and we clean and lock everything up. That’s all about three hours... so picture doing that twice on a Saturday and twice on a Sunday!

One could imagine all the effort it takes to move a production from one city to another. Can you share how that takes place for the Kinky Boots tour?

After the performance on Sunday night, we pack up everything. Our show travels eight trucks to transport it all, so it takes a lot of people to move it. We load out through early Monday morning with the crewmembers working all night long. Monday, we go to the airport and get on the flight to our next stop around 8 or 10 a.m. We fly to the next city as the trucks are traveling. Usually the carpenters and the electricians go in Monday nights to start load-in at the new venue. I go in on Tuesday mornings after all the stuff is off the trucks. We meet three local hires in every city that morning. As a newly formed team, we start taking wigs out, washing them and breaking down things. Then we reset the wigs: we put them in curlers, do blow outs, as well as set up the makeup. We spend all of Tuesday working on this from 10 a.m – 5 p.m. Then, we take an hour break before running the show for our first performance in that new city.

Is there one of Lola’s looks that is your favorite? Is there one that is more challenging for you?

My biggest challenge for each show is when we go from Lola in full drag to Lola as a man. That change all happens during just one song. We just don’t wipe all the makeup off and make a big mess. I strategically take off certain things, like the eyeliner underneath her eye, half the eyebrow, I powder over the blush… really specific changes. Not only am I doing a makeup change and ripping the lashes off while he’s tying his shoes, I also take the wig off. It happens like a choreographed dance now, but when I first learned it, I would have butterflies in my stomach. In live theater, the music is not going to stop if I forgot something. There’s no running back to the dressing room. That transition just has to be seamless.

During intermission, Lola goes back into a drag look with a full eye, a contour face, a full lip, and no wig. In the second act, there’s this look call the “Hold Me” change – for “Hold Me In Your Heart,” which I think is my favorite song in the show. When I first learned it, they called it the “Whitney Look,” as in Whitney Houston. It is really pretty. He’s in this beautiful cream and yellow hombre dress. I apply a little shimmer across collarbones. I pack the lip-gloss on to give it a really nice shine. Whenever I finish that, I think “perfect.” I’m always really proud of it. When he walks out on the stage in that look, he’s by himself with just the spotlight and he steps forward singing his song, I feel that choked-up, want-to-cry feeling. It makes me happy every single night. This is what I get to do – and if it moves me, maybe the other people in the audience will be moved by it.

Out of all the productions that you worked on during your career, what makes Kinky Boots stand out for you?

There’s nobody doing anything like this. Yes, there are other shows with beautiful costumes, and scenery and lighting. But Kinky Boots has such a different message. It’s not only the family of the entire cast, but the family of the entire crew. We all have to get along and accept each other’s differences, and we do. We work together to create this huge art piece every night. I have chills just talking about it.

What’s been a highlight of your career and where do you see yourself headed next in your life?

This year, I joined the Local 706, the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. I submitted for the Guild Awards that recognizes every area of the industry in Hollywood – from feature films, commercials, television and live theater. I ended up winning in the live theater category! Sometimes winning something and being recognized for your work makes it almost bittersweet. It makes you look back on how far you’ve come to get to where you are now. It’s been almost ten years, but I’m excited for the next ten years!

Looking forward, I want to start my own line that is strictly professional theatrical makeup that is free of synthetic ingredients. There was a specific time in between not having much work during the winter and starting another summer season, I had four months to kill. I decided to get my esthetics license. I knew I would have a lot more knowledge about skin and what I am doing and what these products are doing for people’s skin. From there, I went crazy studying ingredients and skin care. In 2008, I started really getting into wanting to change the theater makeup industry with providing theater makeup without garbage in it. I continue to be super focused on morphing the theater makeup industry in that way. It’s a huge part of what I’m doing in the future.

Kinky Boots plays in Cleveland April 7-19 at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.


Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a yoga teacher at Evolution Yoga, an event and marketing professional and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest

A Mother and Daughter’s Sensory-Friendly Experience at Playhouse Square

Published April 9th, 2015 by | No Comments


I have always loved the theater. Going to Playhouse Square with my family and on school trips are among my favorite childhood memories. When my daughter was born, I looked forward to sharing the magic with her. Her first experience was with her preschool. It was not at all what I dreamed it would be. I was told she cowered in her seat, covered her ears with her hands, and rocked back and forth, crying. She ended up sitting in the lobby, with a very sweet usher, until the performance was over. Six months later, Maddie would be diagnosed with Aspergers, now known as the umbrella diagnosis, Autism Spectrum Disorder. Given her prior encounter with theater and our new diagnosis, the thought of attending another performance was intimidating. Until Havana Hop.

A friend approached me and shared that Playhouse Square would be featuring a sensory-friendly performance - a performance geared towards those with exceptional needs. I had heard of sensory-friendly performances and knew, with Maddie now being almost 11, it was time to raise that curtain.

I had Maddie do some research on the Playhouse Square website so she would have some background information before going. I was amazed to learn the play was written and performed by the same person, Paige Hernandez. Paige plays the role of three women, focusing on young Yeila, who embarks on a journey to discover her heritage and incorporate it into her dancing. I was also excited to see that the performance encourages audience participation. Knowing Maddie wouldn’t be expected to sit still in her seat was relieving. I eagerly ordered our tickets.

Upon entering the Ohio Theatre, we were greeted by many smiling faces. There were display tables set up by local organizations, providing lots of goodies for the children. Maddie happily accepted a drawstring backpack and proceeded to fill it with treasures. Two different organizations had fidgets available, not just for use during the play, but for children to keep. A basket of noise-canceling headphones was supplied by Playhouse Square, as well as a quiet room for those in need of a break. A sense of calmness enveloped me. Not only was it apparent that Maddie, and all of her quirks, would be accepted here, she would be welcomed.

Havana Hop was everything I wanted a theater experience to be for Maddie. She was transported to another place, chancing upon the magic I hoped she would.  Paige taught the audience dance moves that were used throughout the play. I watched as Maddie danced along, no hands covering her ears, but lost in Cuba and salsa music. My heart danced along with her. Paige called volunteers on stage with her and it was refreshing to see her unphased by children trying to touch her, talking loudly over her, and even someone running up from the audience and behind the stage. Maddie wasn’t hushed when she frequently talked, out loud, about what was happening or asked questions. I was able to enjoy the play without having to constantly apologize to our neighbors for Maddie’s outbursts. This was a theater experience far better than any I could have ever imagined. I applaud Playhouse Square for increasing access and including our exceptional children through sensory-friendly performances. All children should be afforded the opportunity to experience the wonders of theater in a nonjudgmental, welcoming environment. Maddie and I look forward to our next sensory-friendly performance at Playhouse Square.

Written by Lisa Perna

Learn more about sensory-friendly programming at Playhouse Square.

This week in theater news...

Published March 27th, 2015 by | No Comments

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


Theater happenings... 

The hills are alive!
Julie Andrews has announced she will release her second memoir in 2017, telling the backstory of Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, and other works from her early years. ( Read more…

17-year-old will pen Tom Sawyer on Broadway
What had you accomplished by the age of 17? Senior Noah Altshuler of Cambridge, MA, has been tapped to write the stage adaptation of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer. Altshuler is a Playwright-in-Residence at the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT, which will commission the work. ( Read more…

Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander takes over Fish in the Dark on Broadway
As Larry David prepares for his last performance in his self-penned Fish in the Dark, Jason Alexander is getting ready to take his place. Alexander has played on Broadway before, with a Tony Award for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, as well as other stage credits. ( Read more…

Pretty Woman becoming a musical
As Pretty Woman turns 25, director Gary Marshall confirmed that the movie will become a Broadway musical. It’s sparked the question: who will play Julia Roberts’ role as Vivian Ward, or Richard Gere’s part as Edward Lewis? ( Read more…

Playhouse Square happenings...

alt-J with special guest Tycho
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – Cleveland Play House

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