Tag Archives: Broadway

Kristina At Carnegie Hall Hits Stores Finally

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA first let audiences in on their masterpiece, “Kristina Från Duvemåla,” in Malmö, Sweden on October 7, 1995, then record buying audiences were able to obtain the 3-CD cast recording in September of 1996. Almost immediately there was talk about translating the work to English and bringing it to an American audience, particularly because the story of “Kristina Från Duvemåla” (translating to Kristina From Duvemåla) is just as much a story about Sweden as it is a story about America. However, it seems a lot of the work in bringing “Kristina” to America would have to wait due to the surprise success of a little show launched in London in 1999, called “Mamma Mia!” would demand a lot of time and attention for Björn and Benny.

The story for “Kristina” is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s “Emigrants” series of four novels, which follows the lives of a group of Swedish settlers which include Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina, as they make the tough decision to pack up and take their chances settling in the unknown wilds of America in the mid 1800’s. While the books follow the group, the show has singled out Karl Oscar and Kristina to be the central focus of the show. The novels are considered to be some of the finest works in Swedish literature, which is what attracted Björn and Benny to wanting to tell the tale of Kristina. Their earlier musical effort, a collaboration with Tim Rice on an original idea by Tim Rice resulted in the musical “Chess.” As much as “Chess” is praised for it’s incredible songs, it’s also panned for its relatively weak plot, which left Björn and Benny looking for a well crafted story to transform into a musical. Björn and Benny felt for their second musical, they didn’t want plot to be one of the problems to plague the show.

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The Touring Xanadu Stage Show Returns To Southern California

One of the highlights of 2008 for me was the opening of Xanadu at the La Jolla Playhouse. The stage show that became a surprise hit on Broadway and was even nominated for a few Tony Awards, made its debut as a touring show in San Diego. Following San Diego, the show moved to Chicago and then played a brief stint in Tokyo before going on a brief hiatus for a few months, but now the tour is back on the road starting in Costa Mesa, California, just a short drive from San Diego.

I immediately fell in love with the show when I first saw it and then proceeded to see it several more times before it’s run at the La Jolla Playhouse finished it’s two month run. I took several friends to see the show and one of the highlights was when I took my mom to see the show as I was able to get on stage seats for that performance. I didn’t tell my mom until we got there that we’d be sitting on stage, she wasn’t so amused by that, but we had a good time and she enjoyed the show.

With the return to Southern California, I definitely wanted to see the show again, and since my dad was back from doing work in Austin, Texas and my grandfather was in town it seemed like a good opportunity to take them to the show. I asked my mom if she wanted to see the show again, if we did the Christmas Eve matinée show and she said she was interested but had too much to do to prepare for my brother and his wife’s arrival and Christmas to take time out to see the show. But she did like the idea of me taking my father and grandfather to the show so that she could get some things accomplished while they were out of the house. So I booked the tickets for my dad, grandpa, and I to see Xanadu on Christmas Eve at 2 pm.

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Xanadu Is Coming To San Diego One Night Only

XanaduOne of the previews shown during last week’s “Mommie Dearest” screening was that their December movie of the month is their FilmOut monthly film series would be “Xanadu.” While “Xanadu” is considered one of the worst movies ever made, depending on who you ask. I happen to love the movie.

I’ve been an Olivia Newton-John fan for as long as I can remember and I’ve always had a soft spot for the movie. And when the Broadway musical version of “Xanadu” was here in San Diego last year, I had to bust out the movie version a number of times to enjoy it yet again. I’ve never actually seen the movie on the big screen so this will be an exciting night for me. To give you an idea of how much of a fan I am of this movie, I have the movie on VHS, Laserdisc, two different DVD releases, and the original soundtrack on vinyl, as well as three copies of it on CD. (The first was a cheap Australian release, the second was when it was finally released in the US with a really nice job done on the liner notes, and the third copy is because it was included for free with the latest DVD version.) And as for the stage show, I saw it eight times when it was here at the La Jolla Playhouse. And I am looking forward to it coming to Orange County later this year too.

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A Modest Proposal For San Diego Indian Casinos

Las Vegas StripUnlike Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay entitled “A Modest Proposal” that suggest the Irish should sell their children to rich people as food, my modest proposal is a thought on how to improve Indian Gaming especially here in San Diego county. What I view as a big problem for Indian Gaming here is that the reservations are on land that is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and in a lot of cases have fairly treacherous roads to get to them, and all the casinos are spread out way too far apart from each other to be a real draw.

The proposal I am suggesting is that the tribes should get together, and select one of the reservations that is either centrally located within the county or one that is easy to get to and in exchange for land or revenue from the other tribes, allow the other local tribes ownership rights to a section of the land in order to build their resort casinos. Essentially allowing for all the local Indian tribes to set up their casinos in one location and create a San Diego version of the Las Vegas strip. With all the local Indian casinos in a single location, it would create the ultimate Southern California gaming destination.

The benefit of a San Diego Strip of Indian Gaming casinos is that it would eliminate the problems of having horrible winding roads to get to the casinos. The reason being is that with ten current gaming tribes in San Diego county putting all their casinos in one place, between the ten of them, they could afford to create a set of large and safe roadways in and out of the strip area. The amount of effort to police the casinos could be consolidated, plus it would easier to market the casinos as all it would be easy to just advertise each casino as being part of the San Diego strip.

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On My Way To New York To See Björn & Benny’s Kristina

Kristina Carnegie Hall InfoLater today I will be boarding a couple of flights that will take me to New York City. My flights are “Red Eye” flights that will deliver me to New York first thing tomorrow morning. I’m excited to be seeing the new English translation of the epic musical, Kristina, written by ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. The show is based on Vilhelm Moberg’s epic novels in “The Emmigrants” series which chronicles the adventures of Swede Karl Oskar and his wife Kristina as they move their family from famine stricken Sweden to the wild’s of America in the late 1800’s.

Kristina is not being staged as a complete show, it is being staged in a concert style at the famed Carnegie Hall. The purpose of which is to record the show as well as gauge the reaction to it to see if there’d be interest in a fully staged version. The original Swedish epic was a definitely considered an epic masterpiece by those who saw it, but at a four hour running time, is going to have to undergo some trimming if its ever going to be staged fully here in the United States. The concerts will be a good indication of where some of the trimming has been done.

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Remembering September 11, 2001

New York City Cop October 2001In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since the tragedy of the World Trade Center towers in New York City falling due to two terrorist highjacked passenger planes aiming for and crashing into each tower. In other ways its hard to believe it hasn’t been longer. In any case, this year it seems a little more poignant to remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001 or 9/11 as it seems to be commonly referred to.

I think the reason why I feel like I need to honor the memory of September 11, 2001 is that I had my first trip to New York in October 2001 to attend the Mamma Mia! premiere on Broadway, and this year, in a couple more weeks I will be returning to New York for the first time since 2001 to see Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA launch the English language concert version of their musical, Kristina. Kristina is the musical Björn and Benny wrote that tells the story of Swedish immigrants coming to the United States in the late 1800’s. The story is based on the book series known as “The Emigrants” by Vilhelm Moberg. The New York performances are being staged as a concert version of the show instead of a fully staged production at Carnegie Hall. This will be in many cases the public’s first chance to experience the show in English. A workshop version of it was worked on a couple years ago but never heard if it actually had any public performances.

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Sad News: Avenue Q And 9 to 5 Closing On Broadway In September

Avenue Q & 9 To 5I’m sad to report that two great shows on Broadway are closing down in early September. Avenue Q, which has been running since July 2003 will close on September 13th, 2009. The musical 9 to 5 which opened in April of this year will be closing on September 6th, 2009. I’m really disappointed because I love both shows and was hoping at least to see 9 to 5 when I go to New York in late September and both will be done and gone by then.

Avenue Q, I first saw during its run in Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel and then saw it a few more times when it was here in San Diego before launching its national tour. I saw 9 to 5 during it’s pre-Broadway tryout in Los Angeles. The sad part with the 9 to 5 closing is that it was announced the day after the cast album was officially in stores nationwide.

If you happen to be in New York before these shows shut down, try and get tickets. For information on Avenue Q, visit AvenueQ.com. For 9 to 5 visit, 9to5TheMusical.com. In any case, both shows will live on in Touring versions. Avenue Q is currently on tour and 9 To 5 will launch on tour in Nashville in September 2010.

9 To 5 Cast Album Now Available

9 To 5 Cast AlbumOne of the cast albums I’ve most been looking forward to has finally been released – sort of. Last week, the cast album for “9 To 5” got released digitally, next week it gets released on CD. It seems a little unprecedented to stagger the releases for a Broadway show, but it seems to allow the label to double dip where the gotta-have-it-now crowd can get their instant gratification and those that prefer to have the physical product can wait a couple weeks longer or get both.

In the case of “9 To 5” I fall into the crowd that will double dip. I saw the stage production last September when it premiered in Los Angeles for it’s Pre-Broadway trial run. The show written by Patricia Resnick, the original screenwriter of the classic film, along with songs written by one of the original film’s stars, Dolly Parton, have come together to bring the classic to life in a new form. One of the disadvantages of seeing the show early is that the cast album wasn’t readily available to purchase following seeing the show, so I’ve had to wait from September until now. So the early digital release version, was a no brainer for me, and because I will want the physical edition, I’ll be getting that too.

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CHESS In Concert DVD & CDs Available Tuesday

Chess In ConcertIf you think the only musical theatre entry of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA is MAMMA MIA!, you’d be wrong. Shortly after the last songs of ABBA’s catalogue were completed, the members of ABBA decided to take a break from the group, and Björn & Benny decided to try their hand at writing a musical. Tim Rice, well known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, was in the market for new composers to work with for his idea of building a musical around the idea of a Chess championship. After having met Björn & Benny and deciding to work together, the process of bringing Chess to life was born.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice established a successful formula of trying out the songs from shows they wrote in a “Concept Album” format that got released to the public long before a staged version of the show got made. This methodology was an invaluable way to see if the songs were good enough to warrant the time and expense of launching a full scale musical. Instead of going to the expense of launching a full show, it’s a chance to release the album to the public and see if it generates enough interest. If the album tanks, a fortune has been saved, and if it succeeds, then it creates an audience for the show when it gets launched.

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Bea Arthur Passes Away At 86 Leaving Behind A Golden Legacy

Bea ArthurIt was sad news to hear that Bea Arthur, best known for her role as Dorothy Zbornak in Golden Girls. In addition to Golden Girls, her other major television role was as Maude Findlay which started out as a character giving Archie Bunker an outspoken foil to battle with on All In The Family. Her popularity in the role led to Bea spining the character off into her own show entitled Maude. And long before her television fame Bea was a Broadway star who created a legendary performance as Vera Charles in Mame, a role she would later reprise in a film version.

To me, Bea Arthur will always be a reminder of my late grandmother Beverly Severin. My grandmother preferred to be go by Bev, much like Bea was better known as Bea than Beatrice. Also my grandmother looked a lot like Bea Arthur, so much so, that she often got several double takes especially during the Maude years. As my grandmother’s hair was also transitioning from black to silver at the same time. She even got double takes during Bea’s Golden Girls years as well but not to the same degree as the Maude years.

In fact some of my best memories I have with my grandmother have been watching Golden Girls with her. My grandmother was also quite sassy as Bea was on the show. When my grandmother passed away in 2001, it made the episodes of Golden Girls all that much more important for me to feel a bond with my grandmother. So I will always love Bea Arthur for being a special part of my memories with my grandmother.

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