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Broadway Fast 5: December


This month was a great won to reflect on what a year we’ve had on Broadway and what exciting things there are to look forward to in 2016.

1_1752891.London’s Harry Potter show gets main characters
Magical casting? Broadway alum Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley and Olivier winner Noma Dumezweni will take on the roles of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, respectively, in Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. The first installment of the play, which will run in repertory in two parts, is scheduled to begin previews on June 7, 2016. The official opening day, where both parts will be performed, is set for July 30 at the West End’s Palace Theatre.

1_1741102. Hamilton will get Windy City run, plans tour
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster Broadway musical Hamilton will launch its first national tour in Chicago. The production will kick off with an open-ended run at the Windy City’s newly named PrivateBank Theatre beginning September 27, 2016. According to The Chicago Tribune, a second production will launch on the West Coast before continuing to cities across the country. Casting and further dates for the tour have not yet been announced.

4_1752613. Grease:Live to feature live audience
When Grease: Live airs on Fox Jan. 31, be on the lookout for not only an all-star cast (including Aaron Tveit, Julianne Hough and Carly Rae Jepsen), but also an audience filling the halls and bleachers of Rydell High. Director Thomas Kail and production designer David Korins (the team behind Hamilton) recently revealed that unlike its NBC-produced predecessors, Grease will invite audience members (by the hundreds) to be a direct part of the live broadcast experience.

1_1750304. The Color Purple opens on Broadway
The stripped down revival of The Color Purple opened on Broadway Dec. 10 featuring the Broadway premiere of American-Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson (also known for her award-winning role in the Dreamgirls film), Orange is the New Black’s Danielle Brooks and West End’s Cynthia Erivo. Oprah Winfrey, who appeared in the original film, is a producer of the musical.


1_1752355. Fiddler on the Roof returns to Broadway
Now we have everything! Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s classic tuner Fiddler on the Roof officially returned to the Great White Way on December 20. Directed by Bartlett Sher, the revival is playing at the Broadway Theatre. The timeless classic Fiddler on the Roof is back with five-time Tony nominee Danny Burstein in the central role of Tevye.

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The History of The Band of the Royal Marines

With so much rich history, precision and pageantry associated with the upcoming production of the The Band of the Royal Marines And The Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards, we thought it was great to start at the very beginning and relive the history of two of these prestigious regiments.

Mountbatten festival of music 2013 held at the Royal Albert hall, london 11-13 April. The massed bands of her majesty's Royal Marines under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel N J Grace OBE BMus(Hons) FLCM LRSM Royal Marines and introduced by John Suchet . They gave the audience a trip down memory lane with music from the iconic group QUEEN, Andrews Sister Medley And of course rounding off with sunset and A life on the Ocean wave. Royal Britannia raised the roof with audience participation and lots of flag waving. Pictured The Massed Corps of Drums of Her Majesty's Royal Marines

Pictured The Massed Corps of Drums of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines

The Pipes & Drums of The Scots Guards were formed in 1642 by the Marquis of Argyll to act as a royal bodyguard to King Charles I.

Although very much part of the fabric of the Regiment there is no mention of Pipers in the Scots Guards before 1704. Queen Anne authorized the formation of a Highland Company of Scots Guards, which was to include one Piper.

Pipers continued to serve with the Regiment but purely in a private capacity funded by the Officer Commanding each Company. In 1836 the War Office officially recognized Pipers in the Regiment when each Battalion was established for one Pipe Major and five Pipers. Today, in addition to their musical role, pipers and drummers are fully operational Infantry Soldiers and carry out the roles of Infantry Assault Engineers and Tactical Intelligence Specialists. On operations or training the tradition continues with each Company having at least one Piper attached to it.

The uniforms of the regiment are purposefully meaningful with colors and fabrics delineating roles in the company.

photo-6The original Royal Marines Band Service (RMBS), together with its headquarters, the Royal Naval School of Music, was founded in 1903 to provide Bands for the Royal Navy.

Today all Royal Marines Bands are required to provide every imaginable musical ensemble including orchestras and dance bands. To achieve this, most musicians, except solo specialists, are required to attain a high standard on both a string and a wind instrument.

As a result of this special amalgam of expertise, Royal Marines Musicians are regarded as one of the most versatile in the military musical world. The Corps of Drums receive an equally thorough training and pride themselves on maintaining the highest standards of drill, bugling and drumming. Their glittering presence at the front of all Royal Marines Bands on the march gives the bands a visual impact that is second to none.

In addition to music making, Royal Marines Musicians and Buglers are trained for a specific military role. Royal Marines Bands were involved in both the Falklands conflict and Operation Granby in the Gulf.

In the latter part of 1998, Scotland Band were deployed in HMS Ocean and assisted in relief work in Nicaragua and Honduras in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.

More recently the RMBS distinguished themselves on both Operation Fresco (Fire Strike) and Operation Telic (Iraq) in 2003.


See these groups perform on Monday, Feb. 8 at the Center. Tickets are still available; get yours today!

Artist (Mom) Q&A: Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek

We always love when a touring Broadway show brings home a Wisconsin native! After the Post-Crescent ran this great story about Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek, who will play Gaston in this weekend’s Beauty and the Beast, we thought, I wonder how the family feels?

Jan Mirenda-Smith, Christiaan’s mom, sat down and talked touring family, encouraging talent and her favorite part of watching her son in the show.

matt_dasilva_as_lefou_and_christiaan_smith_kotlarek_as_gaston_in_disneys_beauty_and_the_beast.__photo_by_matthew_murphy1. Tell us what Christiaan was like growing up.
Christiaan was a child who was curious, engaging and imaginative. He loved books, cars, music, nature and animals. He enjoyed playing with a few good friends and he liked games.  At two, he received toy musical instruments that he enjoyed playing and by 3 he was coordinating them with recordings.

He has always been fascinated with nature, loves the outdoors and is very comfortable mountain biking, snowboarding, whitewater kayaking or paddling a canoe solo, so he was in scouting from Tiger Cubs to Eagle.  His Eagle project, interestingly, combined his interest in people with music, and worked with faculty at Neenah High School to organize an extensive diversity fair.

2.Was he always into theater and music?
Christiaan was exposed to music, even before birth.  I am not musical, but I enjoy a broad variety of music. He listened to music and we would sing and dance. As I mentioned at 2 years old he received a toy guitar, at 3 he would arrange a drum set from pots and pans to play along with recordings (the Beatles Revolution was a favorite); by 4 he had a drum set.

3.What did you do to encourage his talent?
Since he seemed to enjoy music, he began piano lessons at 7. By 10 he wanted to play electric guitar and almost quit music lessons all together.  His insightful teacher, Barbara Hoffman, realized he needed something further so she recommended another instructor. The change of music type was an important point to continue his interest.  This eventually led to a garage band in middle school, and a few summers at the UW Green Bay Guitar Camp.  He continued with a relatively popular band through Neenah High School and broadening involvement in Madrigal, Jazz Band, Jazz Choir, Solo Ensemble competitions, and the high school musicals.  With this involvement, particularly his punk rock band, we suggested voice lessons to learn to sing properly, so he attended the LU Arts Academy studying with Phil Baruth, and continued guitar lessons.

4.Is it hard to have him away from home and travelling the country for long periods of time?christiaan_smith_kotlarek_as_gaston_and_the_cast_of_disneys_beauty_and_the_beast.__photo_by_matthew_murphy
He is pursuing his dream and very fortunate to be doing so.  As a child I tried to encourage travel as education, and he was a curious and cosmopolitan traveler.  I believe this has contributed to growth and his success.  As long as he remains in touch with family, remains the good natured person he is, we are proud to see him perform and love it.

5.What does it mean to you to have him so close to home so close to the holidays?
It is wonderful to have him close to home for any portion of time.  This schedule is demanding with 5 performances in 3 days, so our time will be extremely limited. We have always taken the attitude of making the best of it and being proud to be included in this life.

6.Have you seen him in Beauty and the Beast before?
Yes, my husband and I attended the performance at the Blumenthal Theater in Charlotte, NC.  We wanted to be supportive of the early part of the tour. It gave us a chance to meet a few cast members and see the audience impact, including those waiting for autographs at the stage door.  It was fun to stand in the background and absorb. Throughout his developing career, it has been an honor to have a good seat and watch the plot unfold.


See Christiaan as Gaston this weekend in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

Sneak Peek! Learn How to Do the Rip-Roaring Newsies Newspaper Dance on Broadway Balances America

It’s time to seize the day! Broadway Balances America, the special six-part series airing on The Balancing Act on Lifetime Television gave a behind-the-scenes look at the tour of Disney’s Newsies. Correspondent Amber Milt travels to New York and learns the show’s iconic “newspaper dance” from the thrilling Act I closer “Seize the Day.” She also talks with Christopher Gattelli, the musical’s Tony-winning choreographer, some of the show’s “newsies” and Broadway’s Liana Hunt about Disney’s “Get Up and Go” fitness initiative and what it takes to be a “newsie.” Click play now!

12 Days of Christmas: Cinderella Style

The Broadway cast members of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella wish you a very happy holiday through their very own “12 Days of Magic.”

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Tickets for Cinderella at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center would make a great gift! They are available through or the Fox Cities P.A.C. ticket office.

Boogie and the Yo-Yoz are ready to spend Christmas with you!

As Boogie and the Yo-Yoz prepare for their performance at the Fox Cities P.A.C.  Dec. 11, we got a moment to ask the group what patrons can expect, about their special guests, and of course how they got the name.

BXMS_71. What can people expect to see at the Boogie and the Yo-Yoz show Dec. 11?

It promises to be a fun filled show for all ages!  We have found a way to take all of the things Boogie is known for and focus it in a Christmas theme. Male and female vocals, horn section, diversity and special guests like local choirs and even a visit from Santa and a few other surprises make it a truly enjoyable experience.

2. How did you get the name?

We were originally called Yogi and the Boo-Booz after our original drummer Brian(Yogi) Yogerst.  We were doing well and somehow we caught the attention of Yogi Bear’s owners… They did not take kindly to our name and sent a cease and desist letter from their attorney. We merely flipped the y and b around and the rest is history.

3. The band is welcoming Hortonville and Greenville middle schools to perform with you, can you tell us more?

The show was written for guest choirs.  We always try to invite local talent for this.. Plus, Eric, one of our original members is a product of that school system.  This was a great fit this year!

4.Why did you decide to use local choirs?

We feel it is important to continue to promote music education.  We hope that by showing students how much fun AND hard work goes into this, then maybe we can help inspire new and budding future artists.

BXMS_15. Why is it important to give kids the opportunity to perform with an established band during a big show?

Experience and knowledge in all aspects of life are important.  We feel that it is important for them to be able to perform and feel that adrenaline rush as they look out into (hopefully) a full house.  There is truly no better feeling than the applause after a performance and we can’t wait for them to feel that on this scale. It is also important for them to understand that things like this don’t just happen without hard work.  They will get a taste of the work that we put in during dress rehearsal and get to see first hand.

Be a part of that full house, tickets are still available.

5 reasons to see Beauty and the Beast



1. The local Gaston
Join us in welcoming Christiaan Smith-Kotlarek back home! The Neenah native will be making the Silly Girls swoon in Belle’s small provincial town as Gaston! We can’t wait to see him!



2. The mystery and magic
With a story that starts with a spell, it’s easy to see why the captivating stage magic of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a reason you won’t want to miss this production. Watch as the final petals fall, as the enchanted objects welcome Belle to the be their guest and as the ballroom feels grand and yet familiar at the same time.


3. The costumes
This show is not easy to bring to life on stage. With actors who have to transform in and out of enchanted objects and a loveable but rough-around-the-edges Beast, the costuming team certainly works it’s magic to share these familiar characters with audiences around the country.



4. The classic, shareable story
The story, which was released as the Disney Film 24 years ago and first appeared on Broadway 21 years ago, has been shared already by generations. Whether the age of your group more closely identifies with wanting to be a princess, or envies the Beast’s personal library, something is the show appeals to everyone and what better way to spend the holidays then a night out at the theater the whole family can enjoy.



5. The message
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, the quest for knowledge, and the fact that true beauty comes from within, the importance of family; these are all lessons that are highlighted throughout the classic story and well, doesn’t the world just need all those positive messages being shared this time of year?


Tickets for Beauty and the Beast at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Dec. 18-20 are still available! Be our guest for this fantastic production!

The History of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Though the story of Cinderella has in some form been around for centuries, the development of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s version of the beloved tale brings Broadway magic.

After the live televised version of Peter Pan in the 50s, CBS was seeking a musical success story for their network in the form of a stunning live production.

Photo by Carol Rosegg. Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour company

Photo by Carol Rosegg.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour company

There are several versions of how the negotiations came to be, but CBS and Julie Andrews took a beautiful creation by Rodgers + Hammerstein and started what would become one of the most magical live experiences; one that would soon be shared around the globe in touring productions like the one arriving at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center this March!

Here’s a snapshot of how the musical came to be:



March 31, 1957 – The original televised musical airs on CBS starring Julie Andrews as Cinderella. It was filmed at the first color studio in New York and  seen by over 100 million viewers (about 60% of the US population at that time). It was later nominated for 2 Emmy® Awards.

December 18, 1958 – A limited engagement stage premiere at the London Coliseum was held.

Photo by Carol Rosegg. Kaitlyn Davidson from the Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour

Photo by Carol Rosegg.
Kaitlyn Davidson from the Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA tour

February 22, 1965 – The first televised remake of the original aired on CBS, introducing Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella with Richard Rodgers as Executive producer. This version was seen by over 22 million households.

1993, 1995 & 2004 – New York City Opera staged versions of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, keeping the story alive for a new generation of theater go-ers.

November 2, 1997 – In 1997, Walt Disney Productions released a remake of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella starring Brandy as Cinderella. The Disney production was applauded for its diversity in casting; the royal family was comprised of an African-American mother, a Caucasian father and an Asian-American Prince. This innovative choice showed the universality of the story, continuing to make it accessible to more audiences and had great success, with about 60 million viewers tuning in.

March 3, 2013 – The stage version of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella debuted on Broadway for the first time ever, featuring a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and direction by Mark Brokaw.

2014- present – The national tour travels around the country to share the magical tale and remind audiences that glass slippers are so back.

Tickets for Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella start at $45 and go on sale Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.