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.

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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.

Let the Doorbells Ring!

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

Book of Mormon

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.

Book of Mormon

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.

Pippin: The Search for Fulfillment

I have always thought of musicals as not quite my cup of tea; Pippin, however, bucks this trend. This production is the tale of Prince Pippin (played by Brian Flores) and his search for fulfillment. His family is set in their ways, but Pippin, a recent college graduate, is clueless on what he should be doing in this life — a story that many of us can relate to. For two hours, the audience joins the unsated prince in his crusade to achieve true happiness in this amusing adventure.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Brian Flores as Pippin and Gabrielle McClinton as the Leading Player (Photo by Joan Marcus).

But what makes this play truly special is the fact that it is a show within a show. The setting is actually a traveling circus led by the bustling ringmaster. The Leading Player (played by Gabrielle McClinton) and her troupe of players will take you on this glorious journey filled with song, dance, magic, and incredible stunts. These players were the highlight of my theatregoing experience; besides their dancing and singing, they provide some of the most incredible action of the play through acrobatics and magic tricks. You’ll see some incredible feats of the human body sprinkled throughout the play that will truly captivate your attention. One of the players, in particular, stands out (literally and figuratively); this giant man stands, at least, a head above everyone else on stage (he may even be twice as tall as some of the other cast) and anchors many of the acrobatics stunts. This one cast member alone may be worth the price of admission, but Pippin provides much more excitement.

There are bits of delightful entertainment strewn throughout Pippin. One of the best parts of this show is the music and dance numbers; two of the songs in particular, “War is a Science” and “Extraordinary” really stood out to me. Early on, “War is a Science” provides some of the funniest moments of the whole show and showcases Pippin’s silliness as a character. The backdrop for this song is King Charles (played by John Rubinstein, who coincidentally played Pippin in the original 1972 version) and his army marching and preparing in an orderly fashion while Pippin’s charges off in an exuberant, yet ill-considered manner. My second favorite song, “Extraordinary”, showed Pippin living a life that was anything but. You’ll see Pippin step out of his comfort zone and hear a few clucking “chickens.”

Photo by Terry Shapiro

Some of the Player acrobatics (Photo by Terry Shapiro).

Another notable element of Pippin is its tendency to break the fourth wall. Throughout the play characters will run off stage towards the audience and a few of them may even appear in seats. There is also a sing-along section which had everyone around me gleefully singing with one of the show’s most enjoyable characters (Berthe played by Sabrina Harper). The breaking of the fourth wall leads to some truly remarkable moments, but none better than the production’s finale.

All in all, Pippin was a joyous experience that you should not miss. You’ll laugh, be enthralled by the acrobatics, be stunned by the costumes, and have a wonderful time. For more information about the Broadway Sacramento production check out the Sacramento365.com listing here.

Note: I would consider leaving the kids at home because Pippin has a couple moments that some parents might find inappropriate for young ones. I would recommend this show for ages 13 and older.

***This post was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content Specialist, Dylan Fisher.

Elf-tastic: Spreading Holiday Cheer for all to Hear

Elves are known to be musical creatures who love to share joy through song and dance. After seeing Broadway Sacramento‘s production of Elf: The MusicalI felt compelled to join them. I watch Elf (the movie) every year around Christmas with my family, so when I heard Elf: The Musical was coming to town I knew I had to go. I loaded up my family into my version of Santa’s sleigh (a Honda) and headed down to Community Center Theater.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

The Christmas musical is the tale of Buddy the Elf, a human orphan who was accidentally brought to the North Pole by Santa. Though raised by the elves of Santa’s workshop, it becomes apparent that Buddy just isn’t cutting it as an elf. He is sent on his way to meet his real father…who just so happens to be on the naughty list. While most people would be devastated to learn their whole life was a lie, Buddy heads on his journey to magical New York City with pep in his step. Once Buddy arrives in NYC he seems to be the only person with any joy in town — he bothers every New Yorker he comes across. Furthermore, his first interaction with his father doesn’t go as planned and Buddy ends up in the Christmas section of a high-end department store. Buddy is then conscripted into the “elf force” to help prepare the store for Santa.

Anticipating the Jolly Good Soul’s NYC arrival, Buddy encourages the department store staff to decorate like they never had before. In the process, he meets his love interest, Jovie. Far from jovial, she turns out to be the link Buddy needs to finally reconnect with his family.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

The rest of the tale of Buddy the Elf is full of songs, tinsel, and enough cheer to raise Santa’s sleigh. The entire production, from the whimsical set changes to the spot on casting, will help get you and your family ready for the holiday season.

Buddy, who is played by Daniel Patrick Smith in this production, will make you say, “Will Farrell, who?” Smith fills the elf suit perfectly with his overexuberant spirit. His dancing and singing would even bring a smile to the grumpiest Grinch. While the whole production is hilarious — the rest of the cast are no slouches! — Smith’s Buddy the Elf is lively and more cheerful than Santa gobbling down a plate of cookies.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

This production is perfect for any and all ages; you’re guaranteed to see children and adults alike bursting at the seams from laughter.

Buddy the Elf will only be in town this until November 15, so if you want to see some holiday magic you better get on it! For more information on Elf: The Musical, check out the Sacramento365.com event listing.

***This blog was written by Sacramento365.com’s Content Specialist, Dylan Fisher.

Once is Pure Gold

Once Tour 0011

Stuart Ward and Dani de Waal shine in Once. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Once is a love story, just not the one you might expect. Centered around two musicians, one Irishman and one Czech women, Once is really about the love of music.

You might remember Once (2006) as the sleeper-hit film that only took 17 days and $150,000 to make and went on to gross $20 million and win an Academy Award. Like the film, the touring musical is charming, lyrical, and simply gorgeous. For those of you who have seen the film, take note that the stage version is lighter in tone and feels more like a romantic comedy than the indie film.

What’s really special about the musical is that it’s an actor/muso, which means that all of the music is played by the actors in the show. There’s no invisible orchestra playing in a pit, so there’s no separation between the audience and performers. With dozens of mirrors on the back wall of the stage, theater-goers really get to see the virtuosic performers at every angle.

Once is about the beauty of friendship, collaboration, love, and music. It tells the story of a brokenhearted Irish musician and a Czech woman who meet and, over the course of a week, find healing in the music they create together. It’s nuanced, grounded, funny, and sometimes, even a little tragic.

Both lead actors (Stuart Ward and Dani De Waal) manage to balance a Broadway-level performance with a subdued folk tone. And the ensemble a capella reprise of “Gold” in Act II is simply showstopping.

Once Tour 0005

Unlike a traditional musical, the actors of Once play the musical accompaniments of the show. Photo by Joan Marcus.

If you love folk music and charming love stories, Once is your kind of show. You’ll enjoy the ensemble of musicians and performers as they weave around the stage playing violins, guitars, and pianos while singing beautifully harmonized folk music.

Don’t miss your chance to see this high energy performance! Once will play at the Community Center Theater through April 19. Tickets range from $22-$99 and are available by phone at (916) 557-1999, online at tickets.com, or in person at the Wells Fargo Pavilion box office. For more information, visit the musical’s Sacramento365.com event page here.

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This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com contributor Allison Baker.