It is fun to have fun at Seussical the Musical

Jason Graae as the Cat in the Hat. Photo by Kevin Graft.

As we streamed through the front gates of the Wells Fargo Pavillion, my 9-year-old daughter and I were giddy with anticipation for the opening performance of Music CircusSeussical. The welcoming courtyard with fountain added just the right ambiance to assure us that we were going to have a wonderful time.

Once seated, we noticed the stage set up was simple, yet impressive; there was a giant red and white striped Cat in the Hat hat, placed in the center of the round stage. As soon as the show started, you were quickly drawn into the whimsical world of all your favorite Dr. Seuss characters. The main theme for Seussical is “a person’s a person no matter how small,” but there are many, many other familiar messages hidden throughout the show as well. My daughter loved the story line; she was especially impressed when Horton the Elephant saved the Who’s in the end of the play. Young actor Josh Davis and his wonderful voice were truly impressive.

Josh Davis as JoJo. Photo by Kevin Graft.

While this was not the first time we’ve seen Seussical, we were delighted to see that Music Circus had added a few embellishments of its own to the musical. Having the moving stage in the middle of the room, like a circus arena, made the performance very intimate and gave everyone in the audience a great view of the stage.

All in all, Seussical is a whimsically fun treat for people of all ages. Seeing audience members from ages 4 to 84 reminded me that Dr. Seuss’ stories are just as relevant today as they were when first published.

Seussical takes over the Wells Fargo Pavilion through July 17. For tickets and showtimes, visit the musical’s listing on Sacramento365.

Note: If you and your little one are planning to snack, head to the concession stands before the show (treats are welcome inside the theater during performances.) The 20-minute intermission gives you enough time to stand in line to purchase food, or run to the restroom, but probably not both.


This blog post was written by Sacramento Kids contributor Ida Christian.

Our Night Out with Elle Woods

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Lauren Zakrin as Elle Woods and Chico as Bruiser in Legally Blonde. Photo by Charr Crail.

In honor of the start of the Music Circus 2016 season, Sacramento365.com is giving you two perspectives of Legally Blonde the Musical. Read up on how two-thirds of our team — Karlee Cemo and Jamila Khan — rate the musical that proves staying true to one’s self never goes out of style.

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15 years ago a little film called Legally Blonde debuted on the big screen and left a big impact on our teenage selves. After watching the hilarious Reese Witherspoon-led comedy, we both became a little obsessed. Karlee wanted to be blonde, a lawyer, and Reese Witherspoon’s carbon copy, while Jamila wore a lot of pink accessories and would respond to her friend’s butchering legal jargon like Ms. Elle Woods. The film was Jamila’s first ever DVD and Karlee’s favorite film on VHS (Jamila’s note: Kickin’ it old school, Karlee!). To this day, it’s each of our favorite movies and we can pretty much recite the script from beginning to end.

When hearing that a musical rendition of the film would kickoff of the 2016 Music Circus season, we were stoked. Music Circus has been a summer tradition for both of our families, so seeing this non-conventional opener piqued our interest. Given that the film wasn’t originally a musical, we both wondered how exactly song and dance would be incorporated into the storyline.

Our excitement and expectations were high, and the luckily, the production did not disappoint. Elle Woods, played by Lauren Zakrin, sensationally channeled her inner Reese Witherspoon with a spunky performance that fantastically captured the perky essence of Elle Woods. We both coveted her chic pink wardrobe and well-trained Bruiser, Elle’s beloved chihuahua, played by two very cute dogs. Bruiser’s few appearances definitely provided for some hearty laughs from the audience; but then again…who doesn’t love a tiny dog “acting” on a live stage?

Karlee’s highlights:
– The clever and upbeat song lyrics lyrics incorporated a mixture of lines from the film, modern day references, and a pinch of adult humor. A few of my favorite numbers were “There! Right There!”, “Bend and Snap” (obviously), and “Whipped Into Shape,” which had fitness phenom and defendant Brooke Wyndham (Grace Stockdale) singing while jumping rope. Very impressive.
– The exaggerated mannerisms of hairdresser Paulette Bonafante’s (Ryah Nixon) love interest Kyle the UPS guy (Seth Danner) make him an unexpectedly entertaining and hilarious addition to the show.

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Seth Danner as Kyle in Legally Blonde. Photo by Kevin Graft.

Jamila’s highlights:
-Female empowerment and sisterhood is even more front-and-center in the stage production than in the film. Without spoiling the revised plot, let’s just say that mousy Vivienne Kensington (Shannon O’Boyle) is a little less witchy…
-Added to the story is a hilarious subplot related to Paulette’s Bonafante’s obsession with Ireland. I now will use the line “give my love to the leprechauns” whenever I can.

Were you a fan of the original Legally Blonde, too? Then make sure you grab a ticket to the pop-culture musical before it’s too late. Production runs through Sunday, June 19. Tickets start at $45. For times and ticket information, visit Legally Blonde’s Sacramento365.com event page.

***This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content and Marketing Manager Karlee Cemo and Content and Social Media Coordinator Jamila B. Khan.

Hitsville, USA Comes to Sacramento

Motown the Musical CLIFTON OLIVER (Berry Gordy) Clifton Oliver is honored to be a part of the Motown family. Broadway: The Lion King (Simba), In The Heights (Benny opposite Jordin Sparks), Wicked (Fiyero). Nat'l Tours: The Lion King (Simba), Rent (Benny & Collins), Ragtime (Ensemble). Regional: Pal Joey (Arkansas Rep.), Kinky Boots (Lola's standby for Bill Porter), West Coast Tour of The Scottsboro Boys (Charlie/Victoria), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Victor), Godspell (Judas) MUNY. Television: "Law and READ MORE ? ALLISON SEMES (Diana Ross) Chicago native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown the Musical, Florence Ballard & The Book of Mormon, Nabalungi U/S, Swing. Other credits include: The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. I want to thank you Bethany and everyone at Telsey, Renee, my CCC/ KACC/ GIAME families, Momma & Poppa Bear, Emile, QVD, and my friends for the unconditional love and support! READ MORE ? NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER (Smokey Robinson) Born in Bermuda and raised in Boston, MA. Studied at both The Boston Conservatory and The Juilliard School. 1st National Tour: In The Heights. Off-Broadway: Rent, Hurt Village. Thank you family, friends and SMS for your lurve and support. JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn't be happier living his dream. God is good yall. Broadway/NYC: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Dreamgirls; International Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Regional Theater: Marriott Lincolnshire, Portland Center Stage (Will Parker in Oklahoma!), Goodspeed, Fulton Opera Houses, Pittsburgh CLO. Thank you to Mr. GORDY, Charles, and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage READ MORE ? ERICK BUCKLEY (Ensemble) Broadway/National Tours: Valjean in Les Miserables, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, Dave in The Full Monty, Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera, Gangster #1 Kiss Me, Kate, Roger in Grease

Photo by Joan Marcus.

“To get to [the people’s] heart, you have to get to their feet.” – Berry Gordy

And that’s what Motown Records and its hit-making artists did. Despite operating during the time of overt de facto discrimination, the black-owned powerhouse and its iconic Motown Sound persevered and, quite literally, moved a generation. Broadway Sacramento caps off its successful 2015-2016 season retelling the company’s vibrant origin story with Motown the Musical.

The musical’s book, penned by Motown’s founder Berry Gordy, begins and ends with Motown 25th Anniversary Show. Filling most of the 160 minutes of stage time are a series of flashbacks, highlighting the trials, tribulations, and artists that shaped the legendary independent record company. (You’ll see everyone from Marvin Gaye to Rick James.) Of course, Berry Gordy’s love affair with Diana Ross is examined as well. Projected TV clips and the company’s changing fashions give temporal clues for the 45 years covered during the show.

Lean on character development, the musical instead makes room for the legendary Motown catalog to shine; of the over 180 hits produced under Gordy’s leadership; 66 Motown songs were infused throughout the production. Diana Ross’s campy, interactive solo debut at the Frontier Hotel and any The Jackson 5 number were the hands-down highlights of the already spectacular show. Also impressive was the fact that many cast members played up to five different characters, makes sense given Motown’s revolving door of talent.

Motown the Musical CLIFTON OLIVER (Berry Gordy) Clifton Oliver is honored to be a part of the Motown family. Broadway: The Lion King (Simba), In The Heights (Benny opposite Jordin Sparks), Wicked (Fiyero). Nat'l Tours: The Lion King (Simba), Rent (Benny & Collins), Ragtime (Ensemble). Regional: Pal Joey (Arkansas Rep.), Kinky Boots (Lola's standby for Bill Porter), West Coast Tour of The Scottsboro Boys (Charlie/Victoria), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Victor), Godspell (Judas) MUNY. Television: "Law and READ MORE ? ALLISON SEMES (Diana Ross) Chicago native. B.M. Opera at UIUC, M.M. from NYU-Steinhardt. Broadway credits: Motown the Musical, Florence Ballard & The Book of Mormon, Nabalungi U/S, Swing. Other credits include: The Color Purple National Tour, Dreamgirls, Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Wiz, Candide. I want to thank you Bethany and everyone at Telsey, Renee, my CCC/ KACC/ GIAME families, Momma & Poppa Bear, Emile, QVD, and my friends for the unconditional love and support! READ MORE ? NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER (Smokey Robinson) Born in Bermuda and raised in Boston, MA. Studied at both The Boston Conservatory and The Juilliard School. 1st National Tour: In The Heights. Off-Broadway: Rent, Hurt Village. Thank you family, friends and SMS for your lurve and support. JARRAN MUSE (Marvin Gaye) A native Jersey boy couldn't be happier living his dream. God is good yall. Broadway/NYC: Motown The Musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Dreamgirls; International Tours: American Idiot, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, 42nd Street. Regional Theater: Marriott Lincolnshire, Portland Center Stage (Will Parker in Oklahoma!), Goodspeed, Fulton Opera Houses, Pittsburgh CLO. Thank you to Mr. GORDY, Charles, and Telsey for this new opportunity to bring Marvin to stage READ MORE ? ERICK BUCKLEY (Ensemble) Broadway/National Tours: Valjean in Les Miserables, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family, Dave in The Full Monty, Piangi in The Phantom of the Opera, Gangster #1 Kiss Me, Kate, Roger in Grease

Photo by Joan Marcus.

In Motown the Musical you’ll learn the lessons of loyalty, pride, competition, but most importantly, never giving up on your dreams.

Don’t miss your chance to hear the music and magic of Motown the Musical. The Motown Sound takes over the Community Center Theater stage now through Sunday, May 29. For ticket and show details, click here.

Disclaimer: While this is an all ages show, the “n-word” is used briefly in during the traveling Motortown Revue scene. There is also an implied (though hilarious) sex scene.

***This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content and Social Media Coordinator Jamila B. Khan.

NEWSIES Gives You Something to Believe In

Newsies, a Disney Theatrical Production under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Newsies, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, book by Harvey Fierstein, starring Dan Deluca (Jack Kelly), Steve Blanchard (Joseph Pulitzer), Stephanie Styles (Katherine Plumber), Angela Grovey (Medda), Jacob Kemp (Davey), Zachary Sayle (Crutchie), Anthony Rosenthal or Vincent Crocilla (Les) and Matthew J. Schechter (Les) under the direction of Jeff Calhoun, choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, North American Tour premiere Thursday October 30 Philadelphia

Newsies, “the ragtag raggamuffins” with heart. ©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer.

I am always down to see a musical, but I must admit when first getting the assignment to see Disney’s NEWSIES, I was a little confounded. The premise of the musical from outward appearances is odd; what would compel someone to write a musical based on the Newsboys Strike of 1899? Having not seen the cult 1992 movie of the same name, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Was the musical going to be Les Misérables set in NYC? Did I need to brush up on my history to understand its plot? Luckily, having an open mind paid off. Using my best Brooklyn accent, I can say that Disney’s NEWSIES was a delight “for shoire.”

The family-friendly musical is evergreen, detailing a feel-good story of David versus Goliath. Inspired by New York’s trolley strikes at the time, newsboy Jack Kelly and his gang of friends, affectionately called “newsies”, form a union when New York publishing kingpins raise distribution prices at their expense. Through rallies, a few fights, and the power of words, the boys successfully defeat corporate greed.

Along with touching upon the subjects of child labor laws and workers’ rights, the musical pokes fun of fame, the one-percent, and what today we call “clickbait” news. (There was even a musical number on the writing process, something to which I can relate!) It turns out, as mentioned tongue-and-cheekily by the youngest newsie, “theatre is entertaining and educational!”

The musical also shines because of its cast. While characters Jack Kelly (played by Joey Barreiro) and Katherine (played by Morgan Keene) give us “Something to Believe In,” the entire company blows you away with its talent; these young actors carry a tune through flips, tap dance numbers, playing the spoons, and even when swiveling on newspapers. Adding to the theatre magic was its impressive set. The stage, consisting of large maneuverable steel stairwells grew in size, replicating tenant homes, rooftops, and skyscrapers at the change of a curtain.

See this underdog story now through Sunday, April 17. A limited number of tickets are still available. For ticket show times and prices, visit the show’s Sacramento365.com page here.

Want more musicals in your life? Season tickets for the 2016-2017 Broadway Sacramento season are now on sale. For more details, click here.


***This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content and Social Media Coordinator Jamila B. Khan.

Joshua Roman: Not Your Average Cellist

This Saturday, April 9, innovative Classical Cellist, Joshua Roman, will perform with the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera in Dvorák’s New World. Joshua, a TED fellow, gives us his take on new classical music and diverse collaborations.


Joshua-Roman-by-Hayley-Young-9

Photo by Hayley Young.

You were the youngest principal cellist of the Seattle Symphony winning the position at 22 — wow — what was that like?
It was great — they seemed very excited to have me and, of course, I was excited to be there. The orchestra chose me through the audition process, so I didn’t feel skepticism from them regarding my level of experience, but I was definitely the youngest in the whole orchestra! I felt very much like they allowed me to step into that leadership role, and it was beautiful. I loved it. I love Seattle.

Joshua, you are one of only a handful of performers who get the designation of a TED Senior Fellow. How did you get involved with TED talks, and what type of innovation do you hope to showcase?
A friend of mine from Seattle first introduced me to TED through a TEDx event. I gave a talk and played at the Seattle event, TEDxRainier. Through that process, I learned about the fellows program, and attendees encouraged me to apply. TED is a wonderful organization for the melding of minds. Their theme of ideas is worth spreading and is very relevant, especially for those of us in classical music. It’s important to think about the role of music in a larger space, the role of the cello, and what I can do to go broader and deeper.

You are a leader in bringing change to classical music; to reinvigorate it. Why do you think classical music needs to have its envelope pushed? How did you decide that you were going to steer away from the role of the performer to a change maker?
To me, classical music isn’t about a particular repertoire or canon — that’s a byproduct, and a fantastic byproduct — I believe that classical music is a tradition of creativity and innovation. We [as musicians] absolutely have to keep that alive. I never feel like that idea ‘steers me away’ from being a performer. Innovation has to be at the center of what we do.

Do you find that classical music audiences are receptive to new works, collaborations, and innovations that you are bringing?
I find that if you create an environment where people have a chance to open up and experience something, you can go many places, and they will go with you. Sometimes, you have to put in a bit of extra effort to create an emotional entry point, but if you get that, people will come with you and explore.

Sacramento is going through a renaissance; “Be the Change” is quickly becoming the motto for 2016. How can we — as audience members, classical music enthusiasts, and people who aren’t sure they even like classical music — make a change in this genre?
With classical music, it’s important to focus on the passion. At the core of music are connections between people and people respond to passion. Sometimes this gets lost in certain aspects of tradition. If we can pull barriers down and allow the passion from the music, musicians, and audience to be the driving force while sustaining quality — who knows what can happen!

Why do you think so little contemporary classical music is performed?
There’s a lot of contemporary classical music being performed, but much of it is happening in smaller and nontraditional venues. However, there still needs to be more, and the growth that’s happening on the big stage should be encouraged. Exploration and discovery have always been the cornerstones of classical music, so there’s no reason to fear that new sounds will render great music of the past obsolete.

The argument could even be made that our best chance of establishing a connection with those around us is through sharing something created in our time, for our time.

What is your main goal when performing? What do you want your audiences to get out of your performance?
For every performance, I want to communicate what the music is saying, and get myself out of the way. I try to let the passion, emotional quality, and spiritual connection be the carrying force — and of course, it’s my interpretation of these qualities that I share, but the goal is to find whatever is intrinsic in the music and give myself to that emotion.

I want the audience to feel engaged and present, and have an experience that connects us on a fundamentally human level.

This weekend, you are playing something a bit more traditional, Dvorák’s cello concerto. Do you play with a different, perhaps modern approach, or do you find that you stick to playing it in the traditional sense? What should audiences know about this piece?
A piece like the Dvorák is so huge within repertoire that it’s impossible not to be influenced by some of the traditions that have developed around it. But what I actually do at this point is go back to the score and try to free myself from some of the performance traditions that have accumulated since the piece’s premiere. I want to try to find what I think Dvorák is trying to do and say. In a way, that’s not traditional. In my own way, I’m trying to get as close as I can to his idea of what the piece should be.

For me, it’s one of the greatest pieces ever written because it’s such a colorful musical story and there is background in Dvorák’s own life. There’s love, tragedy, and homesickness. The way these emotions play out, even in the way the musicians and musical instruments interact on stage, is extremely powerful.


Hear Joshua Roman and the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera perform Dvorák’s New World this Saturday! For ticket and time information, visit the concert’s Sacramento365.com page.


***This blog post was written by Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator Raymond James Irwin.

3 Reasons Families Love the Sacramento Food Film Festival

Sacramento Food Film Festival

Photo by Erin Alderson

Looking for a fun and educational event for the whole family? Look no further than the Sacramento Food Film Festival, taking place April 7-16. The festival pairs films with the best chefs in town resulting in delicious food and fun for all!

For those of you still unconvinced, here are three reasons to bring your family to this year’s festival:

1. It’s fun!

Enjoy a kid-friendly event fit for all of the spaghetti lovers in your family. Kids and adults alike will dine on a spaghetti dinner prepared by chefs Randall Selland and Ravin Patel of Selland Family Restaurants. You and your family can join Flint Lockwood as he develops new technologies to save humankind from oversized fruits and vegetables in the film, Cloudy with a Chances of Meatballs 2. For more event information, click here.

2. It’s educational!

On Tuesday, April 12th, join the Food Literacy Center for Open Sesame, a free event where your whole family can learn about the importance of seeds! In partnership with America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, Slow Food Sacramento, Valley Vision, UC Davis, and the Sacramento Public Library, the Center will screen Open Sesame, a thought-provoking film about the importance and impact of saving heirloom and open-pollination seeds on our health, environment, and economy. Following the documentary, local experts will discuss what we can do to save seeds locally.

3. It’s for a great cause!

You can have fun while supporting a watercress wonderful cause! Food Literacy Center’s mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. They teach low-income elementary children cooking and nutrition to improve our health, environment and economy.

Funds from these events will help the Food Literacy Center teach low-income children cooking, nutrition, and healthy food habits that will last a lifetime. So come help make the 2016 Sacramento Food Film Festival a celery success!

For the full festival schedule and ticket information, visit its Sacramento365.com event page.


This blog post was written by Food Literacy Center Community Relations Officer Melissa A. Granville.

Let the Doorbells Ring!

The Book of Mormon makes its first appearance in Sacramento with an overwhelming sold out welcome!

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Billy Harrigan Tighe in the Broadway Sacramento presentation of The Book of Mormon at the Sacramento Community Center Theater March 9 – 20, 2016. Photo by Johan Persson.

It was years in the making, but my mom and I finally got to see The Book of Mormon, and it did not disappoint. The hype of this nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical is the real deal.

My abs got a workout from the continuous laughter and there were many moments where my hands were on the side of my face in an “OMG — did they just go there? Yes, yes, they did” manner.

This politically incorrect production, written by South Park co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Avenue Q songwriter Robert Lopez, pokes fun at the institution of the Mormon Church. Throughout the production, the religion’s origin story is continuously skewered in enactments, which include Jesus in a light-up costume, Joseph Smith with a heavy spray tan and platinum blonde wig, and Brigham Young depicted as a stern and silent character.

The missionaries themselves are portrayed as good-natured, family-oriented young men that are faithful to their religion.

The remarkable 32-member cast is led by Billy Harrigan Tighe as Elder Kevin Price and A.J. Holmes as Elder Arnold Cunningham. Tighe’s character is the handsome and popular young man who experiences a spiritual crisis when he’s sent for missionary work to the violent and AIDS-plagued Uganda rather than his dream city of Orlando, Florida. His missionary partner, masterfully played by Holmes, is a socially awkward and truth-challenged individual, whose flawed personality makes him weirdly lovable.

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Company of the Broadway Sacramento presentation of The Book of Mormon at the Sacramento Community Center Theater March 9 – 20, 2016. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Another standout with a powerful voice is Alexandra Ncube, who plays Nabulungi, the sweet and genuine Ugandan girl who falls in love with both Mormonism and Arnold. Make sure to pay extra attention to their interactions, Arnold is always calling her by a different name (“Nancy Pelosi”, “Neutrogena,” etc.) because he can’t pronounce her actual name.

One of the most entertaining musical numbers is “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.” I mean, where else are you going to see Adolf Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, Johnnie Cochran, and a pair of life-size “Starbucks-looking” coffee cups kick-stepping in Hell?

From the opening number, “Hello” to “Turn it Off” and “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” the lyrics of all the songs are provocative, sometimes unrefined, but always hilariously brilliant.

This production is not for everyone and not suitable for children. It contains explicit language throughout its entirety.

The Book of Mormon runs from now through Sunday, March 20 at the Community Center Theater. While the production is sold out, there’s still a chance to get your hands on tickets through the pre-show lottery, which takes place 2.5 hours prior to each performance at the Community Center Box Office. For more lottery information, click here.

**This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content and Marketing Manager, Karlee Cemo.