Join Forces with the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera!

SPO-StarWars-WebSliderDarth Vader, Hans Solo, and Princess Leia invade the classical musical institution this Saturday!


This season the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera has had a true rebirth. They have been pushing the envelope of a typical philharmonic through pop-up concerts throughout the city, music invasions at libraries, concerts for over 4000 children, live tweeting (yes, people can join a crew to tweet throughout an entire concert), and innovative programming.

About that innovative programming…when was the last time you saw a Queen cover band perform front and center with a full orchestra playing as back-up…well, if you are like most Sacramentans, the answer is probably never. What about acrobats flying up, down, and around the Sacramento Community Center Theater to the classical hits? Maybe if you’ve been to Vegas, but did they have a full orchestra on stage or was it a recording?

Now to end Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera’s Pop Series for the year, they are bringing the music of John Williams, a.k.a. the music genius behind some of Hollywood’s most famous movies: Indiana Jones, Superman, Harry Potter, and of course…Star Wars. With the excitement of the new Star Wars film that came out last year, the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera decided to bring its great cinematic music to life!

On Saturday, April 23, come hear all of your favorites themes, songs, and catchy tunes from these blockbuster films performed by an entire live orchestra!

But let’s get back to Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Princess Leia joining the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera…in keeping with their envelope-pushing season, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera wants you to come dressed up as your favorite Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Superman characters — capes and all.  Yes, rep your fandom with pride this weekend! 107.9 The End will be joining the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera to have a live costume contest. The best Princess Leia buns may just help you snag the top prize!

You will not want to miss this epic concert event. A limited number of tickets are still available by phone; may the force be with you! For more event details, visit the concert’s Sacramento365.com event listing.

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

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A Day in the Life with The Sugar Plum Fairy

behind the sceneSacramento Ballet’s principal dancer Alexandra Cunningham shares how she and The Sacramento Ballet Company dancers prepare for the region’s holiday tradition.


As the orchestra tunes their instruments there is a certain magic in the air. It’s almost opening night of Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker and I can hardly contain my excitement! All the memories of performing in this classic holiday production for the past 22nd years come flooding back to me.

From my humble beginnings as a Baby Bunny in the “Battle Scene”, I always knew that one day I wanted to be a professional dancer for The Sacramento Ballet. I would watch the ballerinas in awe as they accomplished their choreography with the confidence and grace that comes with years of experience. Still a youngster, and just starting my ballet training, I couldn’t imagine exactly how they did it — but I knew that I wanted to be just like the dancers on stage.

Now, 22 years later, there I am backstage in my Sugar Plum tutu preparing my pointe shoes and trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach. Yes, even after all these years, and after all the hours of rehearsal, I still get nervous before every show. I know all the choreography inside and out, but the thing about a live performance is that you never know what might happen on stage — and that thrill is one of the many reasons why I love to perform.

This year alone, the Company dancers and I have spent over 200 hours in rehearsal for The Nutcracker. This year’s Nutcracker is certainly not our first rodeo –if you add up all the years each Sacramento Ballet dancer has performed a version of the Nutcracker, we dancers bring audiences a total of 361 years of experience! For many, like myself, The Nutcracker was our first experience on stage and the reason why we eventually pursued a professional ballet career.

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The life of a dancer is one that requires immense dedication, discipline, and vision. We start our workday with a one and a half hour ballet class to improve our ballet technique and build stamina, followed by up to five hours of rehearsal, six days a week. We rehearse our choreography for our Artistic Director or ballet master (equivalent to a coach) who constantly corrects us in an effort to helps us achieve our best possible performance. Over time, we develop tough skin like the calluses around our toes. Dancers are taught to strive for perfection, although we all know that it is unattainable. Our work never ends as there is always a next level to reach.

All the hard work and hours of training however become instantly worth it once we step onto the stage. The Nutcracker is particularly treasured by the dancers as, in our Sacramento version, we work with over 500 children throughout the performances. To see their smiles and genuine joy as they take the stage alongside us reminds us of the reason we pursued our chosen profession in the first place.

The Nutcracker is so much more than just a ballet performance — it’s a holiday tradition that celebrates our community in the most meaningful way. It’s truly a miracle to watch people from all walks of life spend their time and invest their hearts into making The Nutcracker a success. For me, it wouldn’t be the holiday season if I wasn’t backstage preparing to dance The Nutcracker. Now, as I prepare for opening night, I am filled with a special kind of happiness that comes from knowing I am part of a legacy that inspires the spirit of the holiday season for generations.


See The Sacramento Ballet’s hard work throughout the month of December. Ron Cunningham’s The Nutcracker will be performed December 12-22 at the Sacramento Community Center Theater. To learn more, visit its Sacramento365.com event listing here.


This blog post was written by The Sacramento Ballet’s principal dancer, Alexandra Cunningham.

Theater in The Eyes Of a Child

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Ryan Williams as Pharaoh and Ace Young as Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Photo by Daniel A. Swalec.

Guest writer Alyssa Green takes her son to Broadway Sacramento’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The result? A new theater fan is born.

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Last night I accompanied my 11-year-old son to his first Broadway musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Not only is Joseph a beloved musical for veteran theater-goers, but it is the perfect production for a first-timer. It offers something for just about everyone: a little country, a little rock-n-roll, a little seriousness, along with a lot of dancing, singing, fun and flash. It’s a seriously good time. With favorites “Close Every Door” and “Any Dream Will Do,” how could you go wrong?

I was beyond excited to share this experience with my son — to see this production through his eyes. He was excited too, but not quite sure what to expect with his past theater experiences consisting of a few high school plays and a couple of B Street Theatre Family Series productions. Once he walked into the Community Center Theater and saw the vastness of its size, he realized that this show was going to be different.

As the lights came over the stage and the music began, I watched my son. I saw his eyes open wide as if truly seeing something for the first time. The story line, the music (Joseph’s Coat!), the dancing, the lights – all of it kept his attention throughout the first half. However, the real highlight for him (and the audience by the sound of it) was when Elvis/Pharaoh made his appearance in the second act singing “Song of the King.” Eyes became wider, and a smile turned into laughter as the King sang, pointed to the audience, winked and shook his hips in true Elvis fashion. This is when Joseph turned from being a great show to “magnificent and hilarious” in the eyes of my 11-year-old boy. My job was done. I sat back with a smile and enjoyed the rest of the show. Not only because it was immensely entertaining, but because a mother’s first attempt at raising a theater-loving child had been a success.

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To say Joseph’s coat is amazing would be an understatement! Photo by Daniel Brodie.

Don’t miss your chance to see the trials and triumphs of Israel’s favorite son. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will continue to wow audiences through February 1 at the Community Center Theater. For showtimes and ticketing information, visit the show’s Sacramento365.com event page.

***This review was written by Sacramento365.com contributor, Alyssa Green.

The Jersey Boys are back in town

Are you ready to see a four-time winning Tony Awards show right here in the City of Trees? Presented by Broadway Sacramento, Jersey Boys takes audiences back in time to the 1960s where the joyous harmonies of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons command the pop-music scene. With toe-tapping falsettos, a riveting storyline — and spiffy suits — there’s no question to why this production is so popular.

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Photo by Joan Marcus.

Written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice and directed by Des McAnuff, the musical starts off with the group’s petty crime beginnings in Bellville, New Jersey. Eager to move the group out from bowling alleys to the big time, the founding member of the band, Tommy DeVito, relies on the help of a local yet benevolent mobster. With the help of friends in low places, The Four Seasons top the charts with classic hits “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Walk Like a Man.” But success comes with a price. Behind the Lurex luster, the show brings to light Tommy’s gambling habit, which leads the group into crippling debt. By the end of the show, the power of friendship overcomes jail time and the group’s sweet harmony lives on.

The talented cast includes Drew Seeley, Keith Hines, Nicolas Dromard, and Hayden Milanes as Frankie Valli. Milanes is a joy to watch and he sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” with the talent of the real Valli. The choreographer, Sergio Trujillo, recreated the movements of The Four Seasons impeccably. The amazing set design allows parades of horn musicians to march above the stage, adding to the fun and energy of the musical.

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The musical’s uproarious finale. Photo by Joan Marcus

Don’t miss your chance to hum “Sherry baaaaaby!” The Jersey Boys will continue to wow audiences through November 22 at the Community Center Theater. For showtimes and ticketing information, visit the show’s Sacramento365.com event page.

Note: The musical contains sexual situations, drug references, and “authentic Jersey language.”

***This review was written by Sacramento365.com contributor, Ruth Chambers.

Fall Under Wicked’s Spell

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Glinda the Good Witch (Gina Beck) and the Wicked Witch of the West (Emma Hunton) standoff in Munchkin Land. Photo by Joan Marcus.

I never understood all the fuss about Wicked. Friends and coworkers gushed with schoolgirl delight when I mentioned that I’d be seeing the long-running blockbuster musical, but I had my reservations (I like stories firmly planted in reality, thank you very much)… but that was until last night.

Earlier this week, Broadway Sacramento gave me a behind-the-scenes-look at the stage setup, but little did I know that I would be completely floored by the musical. This Thursday night, the Community Center Theater transformed into the Magical World of Oz, seamlessly transitioning from the cornfields of Munchkin Land to the Emerald City and back. Full with high flying acrobatics of the witch and flying monkey variety, dazzling lighting, and a parade of glimmering gowns and wigs Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestants would envy, I found myself entranced by the fantasy of it all.

The high production value wasn’t just smoke and mirrors to a lackluster plot – Wicked’s story and lyrics pack a punch! At times silly and other times serious, the musical, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, tells the untold tale of the witches of Oz and asks how wickedness happens. You don’t necessarily need to have read the book to understand the plot, but basic knowledge of The Wizard of Oz will help understand the number of hilarious quips peppered throughout the musical.

Before Dorothy hit the Yellow Brick Road, the Land of Oz was preoccupied with two other “It” girls. The first is Elphaba (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West), played by Emma Hunton (a spitting image of Idina Menzel), who is smart, yet misunderstood because of her emerald skin. The other, Glinda the Good Witch (née Galinda), played by the talented Gina Beck, is perfectly perky and popular. Despite their opposing personalities and viewpoints, the two forge an unlikely friendship.

Personal highlights for me included Act One’s closer and the musical’s most noted song, “Defying Gravity” (the stage lighting perfectly capturing Elphaba’s newfound isolation), Act Two’s “No Good Deed”, and the sentimental, “For Good.”

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Emma Hunton defying gravity at the close of Act One. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Want to fall under the spell as well? Performances of Wicked at the Community Center Theater are May 28-June 15 on Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. There are two special Sunday evening performances on June 1 and June 8 at 7:30pm.

Tickets availability is extremely limited. A lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held two and a half hours prior to each performance at the Convention Center Box Office. For additional details, visit the Sacramento365.com event page.

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