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.

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Music Circus Ends on a High Note with Hair

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Oliver Thornton as Claude (center) and the company of Hair. Photo by Charr Crail.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself! But to be fair, my silly pun works. This week Music Circus closes out its 65th season with Hair, and the iconic anti-war musical soars higher than the simulated pot smoke that wafts through the Wells Fargo Pavilion.

Like the hippie generation it depicts, the production is less than conventional: filled with social commentary, paisley prints, and hair, the show breaks musical standards and skips the dialogue. Instead, it takes the audience on the melodic trip, complete with 38 songs. The back-to-back musical numbers weaves the story of Claude (Oliver Thorton), a flower child from Flushing, New York (or Manchester, England, as he wants the audience to believe) as he is drafted into the Vietnam war. You’ll rediscover ‘60s pop culture through hits like “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” and of course, “Hair.”

Complementing the psychedelic score is the beautiful set design. The pavilion transforms into a hippie den with a beautiful array of hanging lanterns, (you will undoubtedly be snapping pictures of them before the show like I did), graphic projections, and oscillating floor. These staging elements combined will have you believing that you too are “tripping out” with the tribe.

Other show highlights include the Claude’s deliriously wacky hallucination in the second act, and one lucky audience member’s chance to disrobe Berger, the “psychedelic teddy bear.”

If you’re feeling a little rebellious, put on your flower crown on and end your summer with Hair. Performances run through Sunday, August 23, with evening performances at 7:30pm. Matinee performances at Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets start at $40. For more information, visit the show’s Sacramento365.com event page.

Disclaimer: The musical’s depiction of free love, pot smoking, and its infamous nude scene makes the production inappropriate for younger audiences.

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

Born to Stand Out

(L to R) Brian Steven Shaw (Angelique), Brent Barrett (Georges) and Adam Lendermon (Chantal) in La Cage aux Folles. Photo by Charr Crail.

(L to R) Brian Steven Shaw (Angelique), Brent Barrett (Georges) and Adam Lendermon (Chantal) in La Cage aux Folles. Photo by Charr Crail.

With hit after hit, Music Circus will wrap up its 64th season with the hilarious La Cage aux Folles. After reading about its storied Tony Award-winning history and catching a glimpse of the flashy musical’s theatrics at Badlands, Sacramento audiences are in for a treat. Truly, we all need a little glitz, glamour and a few white lies to shake up our weekly routines.

Based on Jean Poiret’s play of the same name (which I still struggle to pronounce) and the inspiration for the late Robin Williams’s film, The Birdcage, the bawdy musical takes the simple act of meeting the parents… and adds a fresh dose of drag, deceit and dance. Madness ensues as gay couple, Georges, the manager of a Saint-Tropez nightclub (played by Broadway veteran Brent Barrett), and his drag queen partner Albin (captured perfectly by touring regular Alan Mingo Jr.) attempt to conceal their true selves to blend in with the ultra-conservative parents of Anne, the fiance of Georges’s son, Jean-Michel. Thankfully their colorful personalities outshine their dull “masculine” caricatures.

Don’t miss your last chance to see Music Circus this year! Catch performances of La Cage aux Folles at the Wells Fargo Pavilion August 19-24.Tickets ranges from $35-$80. Performances will be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights; Thursday, Saturday and Sunday showtimes are 2pm and 7:30pm. For more information, visit the musical’s event page on Sacramento365.com.

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

Practically perfect in every way

Mary Poppins (played by Kelly McCormick) makes her grand arrival. Photo by Charr Crail.

In Music CircusMary Poppins, the title character is just as you remember her: a little bit sweet, a little bit sassy, and practically perfect in every way. This production of the classic Disney musical is perfect for theatergoers young and old and will ignite a certain whimsy that only Mary Poppins can.

Though this production is certainly reminiscent of the 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, it shines in its own light. With new staging and musical numbers alongside favorites like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” and “Feed the Birds,” Mary Poppins will be a delight regardless of whether you’ve seen the classic film.

Played by amazing young talents Noa Solorio and Ben Ainley-Zoll, Jane and Michael Banks are being raised by an increasing number of nannies, all of which have failed to fit the bill. The two decide to write an advertisement with their requirements for a new nanny, and within seconds, Mary Poppins arrives. While it seems she brings mischief wherever she goes, Mary Poppins is the only one who can bring the Banks family together in a meaningful way.

(L to R) Noa Solorio (Jane Banks), Kelly McCormick (Mary Poppins) and Ben Ainley-Zoll (Michael Banks) in Mary Poppins, produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion July 8 - 13, 2014. Photos by Charr Crail

(L to R) Noa Solorio (Jane Banks), Kelly McCormick (Mary Poppins) and Ben Ainley-Zoll (Michael Banks). Photo by Charr Crail

Just as Mary Poppins transforms an ordinary park into a magical wonderland, so does she transform those around her. With her tricks and treats, Mary teaches the Banks family perspective and empathy. My favorite Mary Poppins lesson, however, is: “anything can happen if you let it.”

There is no doubt that if Marry Poppins can improve the Banks family, she can also help to transform your thinking too.

Mary Poppins will have you clapping as characters fly, dance, and tap in merriment. If you need to escape the Sacramento summer heat, I suggest a spoonful of sugar and a visit to the Wells Fargo Pavilion to see Mary Poppins!

Mary Poppins will play at Music Circus through July 13 with very limited ticket availability. Tickets range from $35- $80 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.

***This review was written by Sacramento365.com contributor, Allison Baker.

Stay cool with “A Chorus Line”

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Cast members performing the musical number, “One.” Photo by Charr Crail.

Summer started officially on Saturday, and what better way to greet the season than with a true Sacramento summer tradition: Music Circus, which launches its 2014 season with this week’s performance of A Chorus Line. Head indoors and cool off from the heat at the gloriously air conditioned Wells Fargo Pavilion. (This native Sacramentan has vivid childhood memories of overheating in the old tent and remains unequivocally impressed with the new Music Circus digs, although they hardly count as “new” anymore!)

Every time I attend a musical theatre show or a pop concert I am intrigued by the backup dancers — people who are arguably as talented as the stars but, for whatever reason, haven’t made it to the forefront yet. So, I was doubly drawn to A Chorus Line, which focuses on just those folks. Set in 1975 New York City, the musical spotlights 20 plus people competing for a few precious spots dancing backup on Broadway.

With an ensemble cast, A Chorus Line gives equal light to myriad characters, all of whom share the trials and tribulations of a grueling life full of endless auditions, paired with a passion for dance that keeps them pushing forward even when all appears hopeless.

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A Chorus Line cast members jumping to reach their Broadway dreams. Photo by Charr Crail.

Although a bit meta — I admittedly spent a bit of time contemplating the fact that the real-life actors had to endure an audition to perform in a show about auditions — anyone who has pursued something with passion or engaged in a tireless job hunt will find something to relate to in this show. And, while the play treads on heavier subjects — awkward teenage years, broken homes, realizing one’s sexuality — it balances them out with lighter helpings of humorous lyrics and talented dancing, culminating in a glamorous closer complete with top hats and sparkles.

A Chorus Line continues through June 29 with shows Wed & Fri 7:30pm and Thurs, Sat, & Sun 2pm & 7:30pm. Tickets are $35-$65 and are available online or by calling the box office at (916) 557-1999.

The Music Circus season continues through August with performances of Mary Poppins (July 8–July 13), South Pacific (July 22–July 27), Brigadoon (August 5–August 10), and La Cage Aux Folles (August 19–August 24).

***This article was written by Sacramento365.com writer Alison Kranz.