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The Wizard of Oz- The Ordway


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I love going to The Ordway during the holiday season. There is just something about Rice Park covered in snow and the lights shining in all the trees that gets me into the holiday spirit.

Plus, the show that they choose is always a fantastic family show. This year was no different, they choose The Wizard of Oz starring Danielle Wade who won a Canadian reality show contest for the role of Dorothy.

Her performance was outstanding. What made this version of The Wizard of Oz entertaining was the voices of the cast members, they could really belt a tune. Plus, the video that was embedded in the performance.

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The video technology made the tornado scene very real. You may want to have a conversation about this with your children before you go to the show because otherwise it may scare them. Although, it did not really seem to upset any of the children who were sitting by me.

I think the show would be a great family outing. It is important to expose children to the theater early so they learn to love it for the rest of their lives. The Wizard of Oz runs until December 29th.

because there is no place like home.

@mplsgossipgirl

Disclosure: I am an Ordway Blogger and received free tickets to the show. All opinions are my own. I choose to be an Ordway blogger because I believe theater is very important and I love that we have such a wonderful theater community here in the Twin Cities.

MN Fringe Fest 2013


Fringe Fest, Fringe, Theater

The Fringe Fest is going on right now and it would be a disservice to my readers to not mention Fringe for its final weekend. This is your chance to see some performances of some great artists.

Each performance was chosen by random selection, sort of like at a bingo hall, that way everyone gets a chance to participate. The core of the mission is that they believe everyone has the ability to create great art and more importantly they are given the chance to try.

All shows are 45-60 minutes long and every evening they have shows at different venues at 5:50, 7:00, 8:30, and 10:00. On Saturday and Sunday there are some afternoon performances as well.

On Sunday, the Audience Pick Awards preform at 8:30PM at each venue these are the performances that did the best during their run. It is your chance to catch the best of the best.

Otherwise, go online and read the audience reviews. They will give you a look into what the performance is like and if you would be interested in it.

If you want my suggestion: If You Give the Devil a Cookie is playing tonight at 10:00PM at the Cowels Center and involves a large baby suit. Seriously, you cannot go wrong with that.

Tickets are 12 dollars but you also need to buy a fringe button for 4 if this is your first show. So, 16 in total for adults. 5 Dollars for kids 12 and under.

because it’s time to try something new tonight.

@mplsgossipgirl

Sound of Music Sing-A-Long – The Ordway


Sound of Music 1Guest Post: mplsgossipgirl’s Mom

If you thought you were going to the Ordway to just watch “The Sound of Music” on a big screen and sing along to all those beautiful songs that you already know by heart, you were very surprised.   Not only were theatergoers encouraged to dress in costume, (my favorite was the ten women who dressed as the goats) but you were also given a goodie bag with props to use at different parts of the movie.   They included a piece of edelweiss, cards to hold up during the song “How do you solve a problem like Maria” and best of all, a party popper to pop the first time that Maria and the Captain kiss.

Sound of Music 2

Erin Schwab was the host for the movie and before the movie started she came out on the stage and gave the go ahead for the frequent audience participation parts of the movie; cheering whenever you saw Maria, booing at the Nazis and the hand motions for Do Re Mi.   This got the audience whipped into frenzy for the start of the movie.   It had the feeling of an Austrian Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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Even if you weren’t into all the participation parts of the movie, it was wonderful to see this beautiful movie on a big screen.   Most people under the age of 50 have only seen the movie on their television screens.   The beautiful scenery of the Alps and Salzburg definitely was conducive to seeing it on a big screen and it didn’t disappoint.  So, if this is one of your favorite movies make sure you put the Sound of Music  Sing-A-Long on your list of shows to see.

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because it will definitely become one of your favorite things

@mplsgossipgirl

I’m on a boat – Anything Goes at The Ordway


Ordway Anything Goes 1

Anything Goes is a feel good musical and the perfect way to start out springtime here in Minnesota.

This is the musical that never goes out of style. Anything Goes debuted in 1934 and has been entertaining people ever since.This is a family friendly show about love. You will hear familiar songs, such as, “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “It’s De-lovely.”

Roundabout Theater Company does not disappoint with their take on this fun musical. They hit all the right notes by keeping the audience laughing. Everyone around me could not keep themselves contained during “The Gypsy in Me.”

I appreciated that the entire show was perfectly choreographed and that each and every member of the cast was a triple threat. The tap and ballroom dance numbers were a joy to watch.

If you are in the mood to see something light-hearted,  visit St. Paul for Anything Goes from May 7-12th at The Ordway. Tickets start at just $26 including fees.

Because it’s easy to love

@mplsgossipgirl

C.J. Chenier at The Ordway


C. J. Chenier , The Ordway, Zydeco

As an avid fan of the show Swamp People I was familiar with Zydeco music before attending The Ordway on Friday night to see C.J Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band. This was my first time at a World Music and Dance Series event and had no idea what to expect. Are people really going to sit and watch a Zydeco band and not dance?

As I walked in to find my seat I thought I saw what looked like a dance floor and a diverse audience with people of all ages. I then searched my program for any sort of direction. It does not tell me if I can get up and dance or what is appropriate or not appropriate in this theater. During the opening act a few brave souls danced around what I thought was the dance floor but I was unsure if the staff at The Ordway was okay with this.

As soon as C.J. Chenier hit the stage there was no doubt left in my mind that everyone could and should get up and dance. People actually rushed the dance floor. Unfortunately, I was up in the highest balcony and only was able to watch from my high perch but I would have loved to bust a move to this lively music. My suggestion is to get tickets on the floor level for Dance events if you want to dance. If you are someone who is not up for cutting a rug I would sit up in the balconies.

The Ordway, C.J. Chenier

This upbeat, and fast-paced music was the perfect way to warm up on a chilly winter night. Zydeco music originated from southwest Louisiana where it is warm and it reflects just that. It comes from the Creole culture and much like the culture the music mixed many sounds. Even if it was only for a few hours I felt like I was in the Bayou eating some boiled crawfish and relaxing. I almost forgot that I was not on vacation. Hopefully, this event helped gain a few more Zydeco fans in the Twin Cities because I would love to hear this music more often.

because you should put on those dancin’ shoes

@mplsgossipgirl

*disclosure: I am a blogger for The Ordway and receive tickets to the shows.

Tony Bennett at the State Theater


State Theater

Tony Bennett is truly a master of his craft. I have been a fan of his music for as long as I can remember singing along with classics that stand the test of time.  I am not sure why I was 20 years younger than anyone else in the audience but it could be because my generation does not know what a real voice sounds like anymore. We are used to hearing people who have been auto tuned or not singing at all. Remember when Paris Hilton put out a single and Beyonce lip-synced at the Inauguration? Listening to Tony Bennett sing the words, “fly me to the moon,” without a microphone and projecting all the way to the back of the State Theater was a stark reminder of how much talent he possesses. If you ever have the chance to get a ticket to see Tony, do it.

because he melts my cold, cold heart

@mplsgossipgirl

Casey Kustak – Mill City Nights


Casey Kustak PNG

My friend Casey Kustak will be performing his comedy routine this Saturday, December 15th. It is a great excuse to try out the new venue in town Mill City Nights. They are doing a night of music and comedy with headliners My Lady Four. Tickets are only $8 or $5 with a student ID.

The show starts at 8:30 but make sure you are there in time to see Casey who will be starting his set around 9:45PM. He uses his real life experiences as an inspiration and with two young children he has no trouble coming up with material. It is all written by him and is orignal.  Some material may be slightly offensive so prepare yourself. Casey grew up in Minnesota and now lives out-of-state but I know he keeps Minnesota close to his heart.

because laughter can be the best medicine.

@mplsgossipgirl

Elf – The Ordway


Elf

Elf is the perfect show to bring your family to this year. It is a fun and entertaining show for all age groups incorporating both child humor and adult humor perfectly. Despite the target audience being children there is enough in the story to keep adults attention. Plus, it is really wonderful to see their smiling faces.

Elf 3

I was sceptical when I found out someone was making a musical based upon the movie Elf. Kind of like when you hear a book is being made into a movie. But, this musical combined all of the funny one-liners and new material.

This show does run about 2 hours which may be a little long for very young ones but I saw many 6 year olds in the audience watching Buddy intently as he joyfully bounced around the stage.

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Also, when you come to The Ordway you will be transported into the world of Christmastown thanks to Bachmans Floral who created a winter wonderland to the utmost detail. Believe me, it is magic.

The best part of all of this is that tickets start at 35 dollars making it an affordable holiday celebration.

Don’t forget that by coming to see shows at The Ordway you are helping them bring 50,000 students in to see shows each year. You never know what show will bring a spark into a child’s mind and help them become who they want to be.

because the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

@mplsgossipgirl

Billy Elliot -The Ordway


Billy Elliot at The Ordway is the perfect show for Minnesota right now. It is a heartwarming story about being yourself and going after whatever it is that you want. If you want to wear a dress, wear a dress. If you want to dance, dance. And most fittingly, if you want to kiss a boy, kiss a boy. It reminded me of the innocence of childhood and how children tend to do what makes them happy until someone tells them that it is unacceptable.

This show has a great storyline and stars Billy Elliot who falls in love with dance after he mistakenly ends up in a dance class. Taking place in the 1980’s in England in coal mining country, Billy faces pressure from his brother, father, and community when they find out that he is in ballet class. They are not happy with his choice of activities and make it known that they do not think a boy should be in dance class.

As expected, the choreography is absolutely wonderful. The use of the stage and the ever-changing formations keep the audience engaged and the story moving. With a young cast that travels, it is hard to take chances with active choreography because you are on a new stage all the time and it is always different. The more active, the more opportunity there can be for mistakes. They handled it with grace and kept the energy of the entire audience up.

Since this show is so dance focused, I appreciated the amplification of the tapping  with a microphone. It really added to the fact that these people are actually wearing tap shoes and they are actually dancing.

What makes this an enjoyable show is the choreography and cast, a very young cast. This group is full of the triple treats, people who can sing, dance, and act. Many of them come from Minnesota because we breed talent here. Janet Dickensen is from Bemidji, Minnesota and plays the part of the dance teacher. As well as, one of the Billy Elliot’s, Zach Manske who is from Woodbury Dance Center.

I cannot believe how much talent each and every young person in the cast has. This show does not have easy choreography or music. They had to be able not to only be ballet dancers but also be great at tap dancing all while singing.  The show also runs for about 3 hours total which requires stamina for this young talent. If you have young children that you would like to bring be prepared to be up late that night and there is a bit of swearing. Well, swearing with an English coal miner accent.

This show runs until October 14th at The Ordway and I suggest that you dance on down to Saint Paul and grab a seat. As someone who has never watched the movie or been to the musical before, it was something that cannot be missed. The dancing was fantastic!

Billy Elliot paints a very clear picture of what it can feel like when someone says what you are or what you are doing is, “not normal” or unacceptable and what it can look like when someone lifts you up and believes in you.  A lesson we can learn and re-learn no matter what our age.

You can buy tickets HERE

because if you needed another reason besides the dancing, The Ordway gives 50,000 tickets a year to school children to see the shows. So come and support them.

@mplsgossipgirl

“Mama’s Good to You” “Chicago” the musical -The Ordway


With a system called rec-i-pro-city, “Chicago” was one of the most entertaining shows that I have attended at The Ordway to date. The Audience was engaged from start to finish, clapping, cheering, and I think I heard a few cat calls. I would suggest front row seats to get up close and personal with some of the dancers and their convenient shirtless costumes. Goodness gracious, if you need an idea for a bachelorette party this would be the show to see.

I now know why Broadway does practice runs of their shows in Minnesota. We are awesome audience members who love a good performance. I cheered along with the other audience members in the middle of songs because I felt connected to each and every character. It was a genuine cast who played their parts much closer to what I saw as the original meaning of what the characters were supposed to be like. Roxy Hart (Tracy Shayne) was not the shy, kind, and nice character that I have seen portrayed in the role before. She wants to be a star and will be ruthless to get to the top. Amos Hart (Ron Orbach) was hilarious, self deprecating, nerdy, and most importantly not boring. I dread the song, “Mister Cellophane” and think it is the worst song in the show. Not this time, I found myself laughing along and enjoying Ron Orbach’s choreography and movements.

The star of the show for me was Matron Mama Morton (Kecia Lewis-Evans) who stole the show with her voice. Mama knew how to work the audience with her tough love and introduced me to a new song called “Class” that I normally overlook.

Another standout performance came from Billy Flynn (John O’Hurley) who is famous for the role of  “J. Peterman” on “Seinfeld”. Other performances of “Chicago” that I have attended missed the boat on this character by putting in someone famous who couldn’t sing at all. When this happens, you lose the magic in songs like “We Both Reached for the Gun” and “Razzle Dazzle” and it ruins the show. This was not the case with John O’Hurley, who delivered a wonderful performance with stunning vocals.

I cannot say enough about the wonderful cast. As an avid theatergoer I have seen “Chicago” several times. This version was different because of a smaller cast, a smaller set, and less props. There was only one part in the whole show that needed a bit more dazzle. Otherwise, in no way did smaller mean less entertaining. In fact, the “Cell Block Tango” was enhanced without the stupid jailhouse props that are usually used.  The performers did not have to hide their voices behind any unnecessary props.

I am giving this version a round of applause because the second act did not suck. In the past, after watching the first act with most of the familiar hits in it, the second half seems boring and hard to stay awake during. The characters were witty and the humor carried me the songs that when listening,  I usually wonder when they are going to be over and changed it to I don’t want this to be over. The humor of the exit music and the interaction between the characters and the orchestra made the difference. It tied up the show with a big red bow or rhinestone buckled shoes.

“Chicago” will be running from August 7th-12th at The Ordway. You can go to their website to find out how to get tickets to this show and other shows for the 2012-2013 season. Bring all of your friends, your bachelorette party, and your mother to see this show and enjoy it as much as I did. Oh, and get those front row seats too!

Many thanks to The Ordway for letting me participate in Blogger Night.

The Ordway

because don’t you deserve a sure thing?

@mplsgossipgirl

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