“A MONSTER HIT” from the “MAD GENIUS”

If you are looking for an evening of “truly exhilarating” entertainment (New York Times) written by a “mad genius” (Washington Post); if you are longing to loose yourself in a “dizzy, glitzy, delicious, clever, funny” show (New York Post) by “the funniest man on the planet” (WNBC TV) head for the Van Wezel’s production of  Mel Brooks’ “high spirited and spectacular”musical (New York Daily News) Young Frankenstein.

This “blissfully funny monster mash” (Newsday) won the Outer Critics Circle and Broadway.com’s Audience Awards for Best Musical of 2008 and was the recipient of nominations in nearly every category for the Tony, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Drama League Awards along with a Grammy,  for the Best Musical Comedy Album of the year.

This “wickedly inspired re-imaging” of the Frankenstein legend based upon Mel Brooks’ classic comedy movie masterpiece follows bright young  Dr. Frankenstein (that’s Fronkensteen) as he attempts to complete his grandfather’s masterwork and bring a corpse to life.  Together with his oddly shaped and endearing helper Igor (that’s Eye-gor), his curvaceous lab assistant Inga, and in spite of his incredibly self-involved madcap fiance Elizabeth, Frankenstein succeeds in creating a monster-but not without  scary and hilarious complications.

With such memorable tunes as “The Transylvania Mania“, “He Vas My Boyfriend” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein is scientifically-proven, monstrously good entertainment!

FALLING IN LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN….SOUTH PACIFIC

The first Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC in over half a century was presented at the Lincoln Center in New York City and played to sold out houses for over two years.  The heartwarming revival of Rogers and Hammerstein’s masterpiece which won 7 Tony Awards is taking the road and the Lincoln Center production will be featured at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for two nights on April 3 and 4.  Although known for its endearing score which includes “Some Enchanted Evening,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “Bali Ha’i,” “There Is Nothing Like A Dame” and “A Wonderful Guy,”  South Pacific is also a deeply felt drama.  Its portrayal of Americans stationed in an alien culture in wartime combating not only the enemy but fear, loneliness and prejudice is as relevant today as when it was first presented in 1949.   It brings a message whose relevance reaches out to all generations. A message which captured the hearts of generations of theater goers whose love affair with South Pacific has not diminished with time.

“I’ve loved the show since I saw the movie as a kid” Tony Award winning scenic designer Michael Yeargan stated. “There’s something about it that is just perfect.  Sadly, a story about kids going off to war always seems to be timely. And the depiction of racism unfortunately is still a timely topic.”  It was Yeargan and director Bartlett Sher who were given the go-ahead by the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate to put together the first Broadway revival of the musical drama in more than 50 years.  “They really do look on it as the jewel in the crown,” Yeargan said of the position South Pacific holds in the Rodgers and Hammerstein canon.  “Originally, a 2001 London revival staged by Trevor Nunn was set to move to Broadway, but the estate was unhappy with the liberties the director took with the material and the Rodgers and Hammerstein office nixed a New York engagement. They held back on their permission ….convinced that it couldn’t be done again.  But Mary Rodgers, the composer’s daughter, saw the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of A Light in the Piazza directed by Sher and designed by Yeargan.  She was convinced that they would “put their trust unconditionally in the original material” and they were granted the much-coveted South Pacific revival right (for with they both won Tony Awards).

South Pacific is not just another revival.  It has been reconstructed in the way that a vintage photograph is restored….. not with fuzzy, hand-colored prettiness but with a you-are-there clarity. Though Michael Yeargan’s perspective-stretching beach scape of a set isn’t photo-realist, you somehow accept it as more real than real, just as the score feels from the beginning, like thought made effortlessly audible. Above all though, what impresses most about this South Pacific is how deeply, fallibly and poignantly human every character seems.  Nearly 60 years ago Brooks Atkinson, writing in The New York Times, described the show as a “tenderly beautiful idyll of genuine people inexplicably tossed together in a strange corner of the world.”

I think a lot of us had forgotten that’s what South Pacific is really about.  In making the past feel unconditionally present, this production restores a glorious gallery of genuine people who were only waiting to be resurrected.

“Searing hot choreography and agressive sensual energy”…..New York Times

Critical acclaim for the Joffrey Ballet:  “….classic ballet stretched to its modern limits, searing hot choreography and aggressive sensual energy”….New York Times                    “……A heart stopping beautiful creation”….Chicago Tribune “sumptuous beauty and shimmering possibilities”….London Telegraph “Chi town” swagger and athletic power exhibiting machismo and energy …….tense, rapturous and achingly sensual. Combines classical technique with contemporary sensibility” Ottawa Citizen Herald

The Joffrey Ballet is interrupting its regular October-May schedule in Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre to embark on a domestic and international tour which will include a performance at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota Florida.  For more than half a century, The Joffrey Ballet has made a commitment to take world-class artistically vibrant work to a broad and varied audience so as to create a solid foundation that continues to support the company’s unprecedented capacity for achieving important “firsts”. Hailed as “America’s Company of Firsts”, The Joffrey’s long list includes being the first dance company to perform at the White House at Jacqueline Kennedy’s invitation.., the first to appear on American television, the first classical dance company to use multi-media, the first to create a ballet set to rock music, the first American company to perform a rock ballet in Russia (bringing with it the first American Rock band ever to perform in Russia), the first and only dance company to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, and the first company to have had a Major motion picture based on it……Robert Altman’s The Company.

The company was formed in 1956 and toured in a station wagon pulling a u-haul trailer.  They performed original ballets that were created by Robert Joffrey.  While Joffrey stayed in New York City to teach ballet classes and earn money to pay the dancers’ salaries Gerald Arpino led the troupe across America’s heartland.  The ensemble’s first performance in a major city was in Chicago in 1957.  The company then settled down in New York City where the 1960’s and 70’s were the golden era for the company.  They collaborated with the greats of the dance world-Alvin Ailey, Rudolph Nureyev, and Twyla Tharp.  In 1995 the ballet company left New York (retaining its New York based School of Ballet) to establish a permanent residence in Chicago. It now boasts a company of 42 dancers hailing from Maine to California and Canada to Rio de Janeiro. Its dancers have come from nine foreign cities-Istanbul, Paris, Madrid, Caracas, Rio, Buenos Aries, London and two from the Republic of Georgia.

  The company’s dancers, classically trained to the highest standards, express a unique, inclusive perspective on dance, proudly reflecting the diversity of America with its company and audiences and repertoire which includes major story ballets, reconstructions of masterpieces and contemporary works under Artistic Director Ashley C. Wheater (only the third person to ever serve as artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet following Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino).  The Joffrey Ballet (including its New York based Joffrey School of Ballet) has become one of the most revered and recognizable arts organizations in America and one of the top dance companies in the world.

“THE FAB FIVE”……People Magazine

When you think of crossover artists you usually think of artists making the transition from country to pop or blues to soul.  But that term has now taken on a new meaning.  The 5 Browns, “one family, five pianos, and 50 fingers,” has not only achieved unanimous critical acclaim but has “crossed over” to capture the attention and imagination of young audiences worldwide. These inspired young pianists were hailed as “the biggest classical sensation in years,” by the New York Post following their debut concert in New York.  With all of their critical acclaim and success the most inspirational aspect of their careers is their effect on young audiences.  To quote a young Swiss fan “may God bless you for all you do, and I hope there is music in heaven….you guys are way too beautiful.  I am Swiss and I love classical music.  God bless, especially after what I heard today, you are strong and the music will carry you through a life of beauty and peace.”  And from the U.S.  “I was browsing YouTube and I discovered some of your videos.  Your work is impressive!  I’ve never heard anything like this and never imagined a concert with not one, not two, not three but FIVE pianos.  And these pianos sound awesome!  You are an inspiration to me….I love you guys!”

From the Grand National Theater in China to Symphony Hall in Chicago and from Suntory Hall in Japan to Lincoln Center in New York, The 5 Browns are delivering on their dream to wake up classical music by introducing it to the widest, largest and most excited audience they can find. Whether performing individually or together in various combinations from duo to complex five-piano arrangements, The 5 Browns reveal a deep connection to the intent of their material while   bringing a fresh energy and dynamic character to the color and tonal spectrum of their sound.

The 5 Browns, Ryan, Melody, Gregory, Deondra and Desirae, all attended New York’s Julliard School.  In fact, they became the first family of five siblings ever accepted simultaneously. The quintet enjoyed their first wave of critical acclaim in February 2002 when People Magazine dubbed them the “Fab Five” and at about the same time they were featured on Oprah and 60 Minutes.  Each of their CD’s went to #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Classical Album Chart. As the New York Post said “when these kids do Rachmaninoff, they’ll make you forget about Marshall Amps….this is all just pure sound.”  Entertainment Tonight called them “….five young prodigies who all play scorching piano.  Thundering down on five Steinways together, they’re button-down cute and somewhat otherworldly.”

This past summer The 5 Browns premiered a new work for five pianos and orchestra at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Watch The 5 Browns live! (click here for more info)

Psychedelic, conceptual, provocative=PINK FLOYD “WISH YOU WERE HERE”

Pink Floyd is rarely discussed without using words like psychedelic, conceptual and provocative.  Their shows are described as being theatrical with mind-blowing lights and unsurpassed sound.  Their music cannot be referred to without making mention of their record breaking status.  Pink Floyd remains one of the most influential rock bands of all time, selling over 200 million records

“Wish You Were Here” is their transitional album, referred to often as their “favorite” release.  After the phenomenal success of their all-time “best seller”, “Dark Side of the Moon” (over two consecutive years on the Billboard’s charts), Pink Floyd was physically and emotionally drained.  “It was a difficult period, I have to say. All of our childhood dreams had been realized…biggest selling records in the world and the things you got into it for.  Everything had sort of come our way and you had to stop to re-assess what you were into it for.”  WISH YOU WERE HERE was the result of that introspection and re-evaluation.  Re-energized, the group premiered the album to great critical acclaim on July 5, 1975 and it soon reached #1 worldwide!  The Pink Floyd Experience recreates “Wish You Were Here” in its entirety so as to create the true Pink Floyd Experience.  Their vision was not to produce a stadium show.  In fact, in an effort to create the true Pink Floyd experience, it would be just the opposite.  Two key factors were at the core of the plan:  KEEP IT INTIMATE…put the legendary combination of music, sound and lights in a theatre atmosphere and ENSURE THE SENSUAL ATTACK OF FLOYD…Give it top priority along with the music. The show is a full-on sensory assault…interpretive videos, plane crashes, flying pig, helicopter, psychedelic lighting and full quadraphonic sound which not only surrounds the audience but immerses it in a mind blowing experience…it’s all there LIVE….a show for the ultimate Floyd fan!

FAQ about Pink Floyd:

  • Where did the name Pink Floyd come from?  The group was named for two singers: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council
  • Who were the original band members?  Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Syd Burnett and a later addition David Gilmore
  • Are they all still alive?  Three of the original group are still with us, Mason, Waters, and Gilmore
  • When was their last performance?  The survivors re-united for a single benefit performance in 2005
  • When was Pink Floyd formed?  1965
  • When was their first gig?  May 22, 1965 at Homerton College,  Cambridge
  • How many records did they sell and what was their most successful single?  Well over 200 million records sold and their top single was “Another Brick in the Wall, part 2.”  PF has four Grammy nominations spanning 3 decades, and is the all-time chart breaker on the Billboard top 200 with “Dark Side of the Moon” appearing on the list for 741 weeks.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996
  • How large is their current fan base?  They have over 11 million Facebook followers!  Over 1 million Pink Floyd catalog albums are sold each year worldwide!
  • How were their successors chosen to carry on Pink Floyd?  The idea was not to choose a “tribute” band, but to assemble a group of 6 musicians who could bring the most authentic Floyd experience possible.  They were chosen not only to “play” the music but to interpret it a way to embody the very “soul” of the compositions.
  • Who are the Pink Floyd Experience musicians?  Tom Quinn:  bandleader, lead guitarist and relentless crusader for all things “Pink Floyd.”  Gus Beaudoin: bass guitarist, originally teamed with Quinn in 1977 “to play PF music for the pure love of the music”.  Zachary Throne:  guitar and vocalist,  has performed as a touring musician with many of the top rock groups, as a session vocalist for television and film, as a composer of commercial jingles and as an actor.  Jesse Molloy: saxophone player, a dynamic complement to the PFX sound.  John Cox:  a keyboard artist since the age of 9,  a leader of the “space music” group.  Bob Sale:  percussionist,  has been playing drums professionally since he was 15.  Has backed up some of the top groups and performers as a touring musician and also works on movie soundtracks.

 

A PLAYWRIGHT KIBITZES ABOUT GROWING UP JEWISH

To paraphrase the title…. “it’s a drama, it’s a comedy, it’s a musical…no, it’s a Jew Grows in Brooklyn.”  It is the dramatic story of a Jewish family, one of the wealthiest in Poland, ending up in a work camp and their immigration to the United States;  it’s a comedic tale of a young  boy growing up in an Hasidic family who wants nothing more than to be an all-American boy;  it’s a story told in a large part through music backed by four instrumentalists.

When Jake Ehrenreich was growing up in Brownsville Brooklyn in the 1960’s, he wanted nothing more than to be an American.  But his Yiddish-speaking parents, who failed to understand the game of baseball or make sense of rock music, made it difficult for him to feel part of the mainstream culture.  In his critically acclaimed, Broadway smash show Jake explores how his family history, dominated by the shadow of the Holocaust, shaped the man he turned out to be.

A fan favorite on Broadway, where it played for almost two years, A Jew Grows in Brooklyn is presented as a multimedia show told through stories and comedy, video and photos, and music performed by a live band.  This young boy’s search for identity and the meaning of life ranges from the streets of Brooklyn and the struggle with his family’s past, to the laughter and rebirth of Catskills summers.  The New York Times rave review stated that it was “funny , touching and beautiful…you don’t have to be Jewish or Brooklynish…Jake Ehrenreich is dazzling”.    FOX TV said that it was “lots of laughs, but also a very serious show that has taken New York by Storm.  It has played to sold out audiences since it opened”. The New York Daily News said “it was a ball!  Enjoyed every minute of it”.  ABC TV  was quoted as saying, “it speaks to anyone hoping to live out the American Dream”! 

Jake’s story is personal and universal at the same time, and has now spawned a book by the Chicken Soup of the Soul publishers titled A Jew Grows in Brooklyn, the Curious Reflections of a First Generation American;  a TV documentary is due out this year and a related feature film is in  production.

LINDA EDER and TOM WOPAT…Getting to “NOW”

Two careers, instant success and then a step back.  Huge success early in a performer’s career is certainly not the norm, except in the careers of Linda Eder and Tom Wopat.

LINDA EDER has been recording music for 20 years, but is still best known for her early success in her 1st Broadway show Jekyll and Hyde.  Her parents introduced her to music at an early age and started her musical career studying piano and organ for which she won several international awards as a solo performer.  But singing was always her passion.  She honed her craft by starting as a lounge singer at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.; she appeared on the hit talent show Star Search where her performance caught the notice of Angel Records and subsequently, producer Frank Wildhorn.

Thus began her recording career, which led to 14 solo Albums and 10 Broadway show albums.  In 1988 she was asked by Wildhorn to audition for a new show…the lead role of Lucy in his new show Jekyll & Hyde.  He was very impressed by her vocal skills and acting talent and she was immediately cast.  The show opened its world premier in Houston at the Alley Theatre, the first musical ever produced there.  It opened to rave revues for Ms. Eder.  This triumph was followed by a run at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre and subsequently a national tour in 1995 and 1996.  Its projected Broadway opening was delayed however… during this time she appeared in debut productions of Svengali and The Scarlet Pimpernel.  Wildhorn’s production of Svengali starred his two leading performers from Jekyll, Linda and Chuck Wagner.  During its 1991 tour it played at the ASOLO THEATRE in Sarasota! 

The long delayed Broadway production of Jekyll finally opened in 1997 to rave revues, and it established Linda as a rising star in the Broadway scene.  His first Broadway role earned her a Drama Desk Award nomination and an Outer Critics Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.  Her debut role culminated in the Theater World Award for Best Broadway Debut of the year

Strangely this overwhelming success was the changing point in her life, “I had a happy, successful life, a happy childhood, a successful recording career and my personal appearance tours. Nothing drove me into show business.  I got a taste of the “big time” with Jekyll and Hyde and decided it was enough!  For a moment there, I realized what it would feel like to be at that upper-echelon level as a celebrity. I just knew that I didn’t want that.  I am now doing that which I really love, recording and singing before my fans.  I finally reached “now” and I am totally fulfilled.”

Tom Wopat’s career has taken a similar turn.  He began studying music and singing as a child, and began appearing in school musicals from the age of 12.  Following high school graduation, Tom decided to avidly pursue a career in music. After attending the University of Wisconsin  he dropped out to front a rock band as both guitarist and lead singer, and eventually reignited his stage career with performances in  musicals such as South Pacific, West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar.   His stage career soon attracted the attention of Hollywood and by 1979 Tom was co-starring in the runaway television hit series Dukes of Hazzard.  He immediately achieved “heartthrob” status which continued during the show’s six season run and continues today in reruns. When the series ended (due to a breakdown in contract talks) Tom worked in movies and other television series. After the Duke Boys split up shop he decided to live a dual life splitting his time between Los Angeles and his TV and movie career, and in New York pursuing his true love Theater.

It was a career changing decision, giving up his status as a TV “heartthrob” for the grind of establishing himself as a Broadway star.   But it only got sweeter from there.  Starting with his Broadway debut in Love My Wife, he proceeded to be cast in commanding baritone leads in (to mention just a few) Carousel, City of Angles, Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, and Chicago.  Highlights include co-starring with Bernadette Peters in the reprise of Annie Get Your Gun, which garnered a Tony Nomination for Best Musical Revival.  His first non-musical role as the lead in Glengary Glen Ross was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play Revival.  Interspersed with his 17 Broadway shows was a Carnegie Hall recital, appearances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Symphony, and his national tour with close associate and friend Linda Eder.   Reaching the “NOW” in his career is our great gain!

Michael Feinstein ….A renaissance man

The image of an archivist, curator, researcher, librarian and educator is probably that of an aging scholar, sitting in a musty room pouring over dusty manuscripts.  Not at all compatible with the concept of a hip, young musician who travels the world wowing audiences with his  charismatic ability as a pianist and singer who is also a  multi- platinum-selling, five time Grammy nominated recording artist.

Michael began playing the piano as soon as he was able to sit on the piano bench.  At the age of five his mother decided it was time to begin his formal musical training.  After studying piano for several months his teacher became angered that he wasn’t reading the sheet music she gave him, since he was more comfortable playing by ear.  His mother saw no problem with Michael’s method and trusting more in his instinctive ability than in his teacher’s conservative approach took him out of lessons and allowed him to develop and enjoy music in his own way!  This insightful approach to his immense talent led him, after graduation to hone his craft in piano bars and cabarets.  At the age of 20 he moved to Los Angeles where he attracted the attention of the legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant.  Shortly thereafter he was introduced to Ira Gershwin who hired him to help catalog his extensive collection of phonograph records.  This assignment led to six years of researching, cataloging and preserving the unpublished sheet music and rare recordings in Gershwin’s home, thus conserving the legacy of not just Ira but also that of his composer brother George Gershwin who died four decades earlier. This collaboration led him to be named consultant for the 1983 Broadway show My One and Only a musical tribute and showcase of Gershwin’s compositions.

This association inspired his love of great American songs and by 1988 Feinstein was starring on Broadway in a series of five in-concert shows featuring the songs of great American composers from Berlin to Gershwin and Styne to Herman.  With this inspiration, he embarked on an ambitious song book project, recording the songs of the great American composers, often being accompanied by the composer himself.  After securing his recording career he returned to his first love, live performances, which he has been doing ever since.

Michael Feinstein is a self confessed cabaret singer in the mold of his friend and inspiration Frank Sinatra.  He tells of his initial contact with the legendary performer in Los Angeles when he was just 20 years old and was contracted to play at a birthday party for Sinatra at Chasens.  He was overwhelmed at the opportunity to play for his idol and to make an impression he studied all of Sinatra’s music from the beginning of his career to the present.  He chose music that included obscure favorites of Sinatra which were seldom performed. The night of the party he was overwhelmed when Sinatra and Barbara entered followed by a group of Hollywood’s elite ranging from Gregory Peck to Liz Taylor.  After a perfunctory introduction he began his performance totally unnoticed by Sinatra until in a desperate attempt to get his attention, he began to play the little known selections from Sinatra’s own songbook.  After an hour Sinatra approached Michael and said “hey kid, where the heck did you come up with this selection of my music?”  Michael explained that he was a student of music from what he called “The Great American Songbook” which contained the great songs from popular music’s illustrious past. Sinatra was captivated by the concept and that night the idea of the American Songbook was born along with a lifelong friendship with his mentor and collaborator Frank Sinatra. It was during this association that Michael perfected his style of “caressing the words”.  As his friend and mentor stated “you have to fall in love with the lyrics”…. a love affair that he shares with his audience.

In between his live performances Michael has written the scores for several Broadway musicals, is scoring his second movie and collaborating with MGM to turn the highly successful (in two incarnations) movie The Thomas Crown Affair into a Broadway musical.  In his spare time Michael was part owner of the Speakeasy Supper Club in Chicago and now is the owner of the Manhattan nightclub Feinstein’s at the Regency and Feinstein’s at the Shaw in London.

“On a personal note, we will never forget a night in Las Vegas many years ago when during a discussion with the manager of the Bellagio, one of the Strip’s major casinos; we were advised to catch an outstanding talent appearing as one of their lounge acts.  He said that “this young performer was one of the finest cabaret singers he had ever booked” and that some day we would boast that we had seen him “back when.”  What a night!  We will always be thankful to have experienced this awesome talent in such an intimate setting…and here we are many years later, boasting, while anticipating being enchanted once again, only this time as part of the Van Wezel Audience.” -Darrell Huntley

“The last genuine song-and-dance man”….Variety

He sings, dances and laughs his way through the glorious musical moments that made him a theatrical legend.  Backed by the multi-talented Manhattan Rhythm Kings the Van Wezel audience will be presented with a masterful evening that will leave us cheering and dancing in the aisles. With an unprecedented 9 Tony Awards Tommy Tune’s credentials are indeed impressive, but it’s his effortless charm that has brought audiences back again and again over his illustrious, timeless career in show business.  Tune, who was hailed by Variety as “the last genuine song-and-dance man”, presents a delicious evening of show standards with impeccable accompaniments provided by the Manhattan Rhythm Kings (“everything they do pulses with lively rhythms from dance to soulful harmonizing.” New York Times review)

Tommy Tune’s accomplishments and awards are too numerous to list individually.  He has appeared in 14 stage productions as a performer, choreographer and director.  He has been nominated for 13 Tony Awards and has won 9 times.  He has been nominated for 11 Drama Desk Awards with 8 wins to his credit. He has been awarded the National Medal of Arts, the Texas Cultural Trust’s Texas Medal of Arts, the Fred and Adele Astaire Lifetime Achievement Award, The Actor’s Fund of America Julie Harris Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2009 was inducted into the National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame.

The idea for his current show, Steps In Time came about shortly before he began directing Chicago’s Goodman Theatre production of the new musical Turn of the Century, which involves a time-traveling pair of entertainers.  “The show made me think about time, and all of a sudden I realized that I was about to mark my 50th year in show business and I started to take stock of my career.  I was starting to put together a new show and so I decided to base it on the time step, which is the square root of all tap dancing.  I’ve done a lot of time steps and personal steps over the past 50 years, which led to the title (although I admit I borrowed it from Fred Astaire’s autobiography.)”

The show is a mix of career highlights and new material.  “It’s been hard to figure out what to leave out since I’ve been in show business my whole life.”  One thing that will be included is Tune’s fascination with his life on the road.  “I actually love one-night stops, where you have to go out and give them everything you’ve got and it all feels new. It’s really good for a performer; it makes you fire on all cylinders.  Plus, after I did My One and Only, Carol Channing told me to take the show all across the country, because if you go to the audience’s towns, they will come to New York to see you.  I took that advice to heart and they certainly did!”

Tune won’t be alone on the stage; he’ll be accompanied by his old friends, The Manhattan Rhythm Kings.  “I found them on the corner by the Winter Garden Theatre when I came out of the subway many years ago.  They were singing all my favorite songs from the 1920’s and 1930’s.  I dropped my card in the hat and told them to call me.  And they did! So we got together and put together an act of songs that were written by Fred Astaire to be performed in a New York Club…until the Philadelphia Pops asked us to premier there with a symphony orchestra.  And the rest, as they say, is history.”

FAMILY NIGHTS at the VAN WEZEL! Frequently Asked Questions….

Q. What is Family Night?

A.  An audience development program designed to introduce young people to the magic of live theatre and make live theatre accessible to a new generation of theatergoers. Broadway, dance, orchestra, concerts and cultural programs are offered with the partnership of participating touring companies to make up a season of Family Night offerings. Borrowed from a similar concept on Broadway, it is for children and young adults between the ages of 6-18 who receive a free ticket when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Q. How do we know what shows are participating?

A. Each season, the Van Wezel sends out a Full-Season Brochure in early September and another Mid-Season Brochure in late December. All Family Night performances are highlighted in our weekly E-Blasts! Visit our website at VanWezel.Org to join our E-Mail Club today!

Q. What happens after the show?

A.  All Family Night ticket holders are invited to a post show “Meet and Greet” and party and an informal Question & Answer session.  All participants of our Family Nights enjoy delicious platter food, cake/cupcakes and beverages.

Q. How can we interact after Family Night shows on social media?

A. Pass the fun, enlightenment and education on to your friends by joining our Social Media conversations and view pictures from the event. Click here and join now.

Here are some quotes from a few of our attendees of Family Nights, some of which included our Total Access families at the recent performance of In the Heights.  This Tony Award-winning Broadway musical sent a message of ethnic conflict and redemption.  The Family Night attendees were effusive in their praise of the show and its message of hope and the joy of discovery.

“Sharing this performance with our children was awesome!  To show my children what the Latino Community is all about love, support and optimism despite adversity….the music and the beauty of the community, regardless of the exterior appearance of the neighborhood.”

“Great seats & friendly staff…..the performance enhanced my children’s cultural exposure.”

“Phenomenal show!  We are from Washington Heights and the sets, props and cultural portrayal was pretty accurate.  My son said, ‘wow mommy that looks like New York’!”

“A show like this makes us all proud of our own heritage.”

“We spoke about the show in the car on the way home and continued again the next morning and both of my children shared it with their teachers.”

Family Nights Cast Parties meet and greet are sponsored by Boar’s Head, Mattison’s On the Bay, Keiser University and Square 1 Burgers.