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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Say “Hello” to Your New Favorite Musical

California Musical Theatre’s (CMT) production of Hello, Dolly! is brisk, animated, and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. Hello, Dolly! tells the tale of Dolly Levi, a matchmaker who rediscovers what love is truly about. This classic American comedy is sure to lift the audience’s spirit with fits of laughter. It was so much fun being surrounded by an audience who sang quietly or hummed along to every tune, laughing, smiling, and clearly enjoying every minute of the performance.

Photo by Kevin Graft

Photo by Kevin Graft

Of course, the key to an enjoyable production is the people behind it. Lynne Wintersteller (who plays the matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi) delivers each of her lines with perfect timing. She was funny, ironic, beautiful, and oozes charisma with every song, turn of a phrase, a flick of a hand, and even while comically stuffing food down her face. This is perfectly exemplified in the scene at the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant when all the young men fall at her feet. While Winterstellar may have stolen the show, she is raised up by the immense talent that surrounds her.

Photo by Kevin Graft

Photo by Kevin Graft

The casting was also superb across the board; not a single actor felt out of place or unprepared for their role. There is palatable chemistry between Cornelius Hackl (played by John Scherer) and Irene Malloy (played by the stunning Jacquelyn Piro Donovan). The intricate net of crushes and schemers will have you on your tip toes until the play’s end. This group of talented actors, featuring many Music Circus veterans, puts on a show that you won’t want to miss!

Photo by Kevin Graft

Photo by Kevin Graft

While the choreography and staging was exemplary throughout, the performances of “The Waiters Gallop,” and “Hello, Dolly!” were my favorites. As the cast sings and dances across the stage, the members of the audience around me lit up with excitement and cheer. When a production has the power to do this you know it’s a great show.

Cheers to Director Glenn Casale, Choreographer Randy Slovacek, and Musical Director Craig Barna for putting together a fantastic show that did more than just cheer me up on a hot Tuesday night after a long day of work. I can’t recommend Music Circus’ production of Hello, Dolly! enough.

If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful musical comedy, visit the musical’s listing on Sacramento365.com. The show will run until this Sunday, July 3, so make sure to get your tickets fast because soon Sacramento will be saying, “Goodbye, Dolly!”


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

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.

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!

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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.

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.

West Side Story Rumbles Its Way to Sacramento

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The Jets in West Side Story. Photo by Charr Crail.

The sound of love and war rolled into Sacramento at Wells Fargo Pavilion’s theater-in-the-round Tuesday night, bringing with it the tale of star-crossed lovers determined to make their way in the world despite the disapproval of family and friends.

West Side Story, based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is one of America’s favorite and most poignant musicals and has captivated audiences around the world since its Broadway debut in 1957. The story, set in New York City’s Upper West Side neighborhood in the mid-1950s, tells the tale of Tony and Maria — members of rival teenage street gangs of different ethnicities, the Jets (Caucasian) and the Sharks (Puerto Rican) — who are fighting for control of the neighborhood.

Tony, who is a former member of the Jets and is persuaded back to the gang for one last rumble in order to take the neighborhood once and for all sees beautiful Maria, sister of Bernardo and leader of the Sharks, across the room at a dance. As their eyes meet, the world fades away and they fall instantly in love. What follows is a love story turned tragedy infused with lighthearted songs like “I Feel Pretty” and captivating dance numbers like “America.” This show will stir your soul and bring tears to your eyes.

Desireé Davar as Anita in West Side Story. Photo by Kevin Graft.

Though you’ve likely seen this musical before, on stage and possibly on the big screen (the 1961 film starring Natalie Wood), you’ll want to see California Musical Theatre tackle the unforgettable story. The cast is chock full of experienced actors who’ve commanded the Music Circus stage, as well as Broadway and film. Justin Matthew Sargent (Tony) last appeared as Peter Parker on Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Carolann M. Santina (Maria), who’s voice is absolutely to die for, toured with the European and Asian tours of West Side Story. Most recently she went on the road as Marian in the first national tour revival of The Music Man. The supporting cast member resumes are equally impressive.

West Side Story through the Wells Fargo Pavilion until Sunday, August 9. Evening performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm; matinee performances on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2pm. For more information, visit the production’s Sacramento365.com event page.

Want to have a night on the town? Grab a drink or a bite to eat nearby before or after the show using Sacramento365.com’s Make It a Night map! To learn more, click here.

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This blog post was written by Sacramento365.com contributor, Alyssa S. Green.