Friday, January 27, 2006

More Wicked curiosity

A few more questions we're received on Wicked, stemming from my last entry.

Q: How long do they travel at a time?
A: The WICKED Company travels every 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the tour itinerary

Q: How much do they practice before going on the road and once they get on the road?
A: They rehearsed 5 weeks before they went out on the road

Got questions about anything to do with the shows coming to TBPAC? Want some more insider knowledge? Ask a Wizard today!

- David J.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Wicked wondering

We get a lot of questions here about how these huge shows tour all over the country and set up in such a short amount of time. Wicked is bringing a lot of new people to TBPAC, and of course they have questions. It's prompted us to blog a few of these things, and it's also prompted me to offer to answer any of your questions here about TBPAC.

We'd like to make this blog a little more two-way, so if you have something you've always wondered about The Center - now is your chance to ask. We will select questions sent to the blog, or to, and answer them here in this space from time to time.

Now I'll go ahead share some of the recent questions we've gotten:

Q. How long do shows like Wicked have to travel and get ready between cities?
A. Usually shows close on Sunday in one city then open on Tuesday in the next city. Travel time is only between those dates. So, a company gets out of town late on a Sunday night and typically drives to the next city to start it all over again. Wicked has an extra day, as they typically move out on a Sunday night and re-open on a Wednesday.

Q. Are stages the same size in every theater?
A. Stages are different sizes from building to building, but a bare minimum area is required for any given show. Advance teams visit ahead of time and check out what's needed before the set arrives, and works up plans for any alterations that need to be made.

Q. Where was Wicked before it came to Tampa?
A. They were in Houston.

Got a question yourself? Fire away!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Road Watch

Another smash Broadway hit heads out on the road -- Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

The tour begins Aug. 6 a the Paramount Theater in Seattle. Keep an eye out to see if it's heading our way soon.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (based on the hilarious 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine) has quite a pedigree associated with it -- with three cast and crew members being inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame on Jan. 30. Who are the inductees? William Ivey Long (costume designer), Graciela Daniele (director and choreographer) & John Lithgow (actor).

William Ivey Long:
Graciela Daniele:
John Lithgow:
hilarious 1998 film:

- Summer B.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Many artists have learned to reach out directly to their fans through e-mails and their fan sites.
One of the best at harnessing this technique is the upcoming Club Jaeb artist Catie Curtis (Feb. 23).

Here's a recent e-mail she sent to her fans:

January 18th, 2006

When I was in high school, I learned to play guitar by listening to songs and picking out the chords. At least twenty of those songs were by Karla Bonoff. This weekend, I will share the stage with Karla (, in Weston, MA and New York City. We will each play our own set, but she suggested we end with "The Water is Wide," TOGETHER. Breathe.

The following weekend, on January 27th, I am playing the Ann Arbor Folk Festival (, which is the biggest winter folk festival out there. Worthy of a road trip… Then in early February I play two shows in Virginia (Vienna and Ashland). Guitarist, songwriter and producer John Jennings (Mary Chapin Carpenter’s collaborator and also the producer of Acoustic Valentine) will accompany me for both those shows. Next stop after that, Florida! See info below, and find more at

I am deeply in to the process of recording the new album. Last week, my car transmission died at about 11:30 PM, as I was leaving the studio. Producer Lorne Entress and guitarist Mark Erelli followed me, going about 5 miles per hour until I arrived home. That's kinda what they're doing in the studio, too. Patiently following where I need to go. We tried lots of different approaches for each song, until we felt that "ahhh." I am loving the vibe of this project, thanks to Mark, Lorne, John Sands on drums and Mike Rivard on bass. I will be posting photos on my website in the next couple weeks as the process continues.

Best to you from a winter-warm blustery Boston,


- Michael K.

Friday, January 13, 2006

They're not kidding when they say FOREVER Plaid ...

Forever Plaid opened Thursday night to a packed and appreciative house. The show has a loyalty unlike any I've ever seen. It really put our Jaeb Theater on the map in contrast with the building's much larger halls, and to be fair it's really the perfect show for the space. It's one of those shows that people, for whatever reason, come to see again and again and ask about all the while in between engagements.

I also have an interesting thread that ties me to that show and this building. It was the first Center-produced show I saw at TBPAC in my 1993-94 school year at USF. I'd come through the building many times in high school as part of the State Thespian Festival, so I'd seen more than my share of high school productions, and I am pretty sure I'd seen Eric Bogosian at TBPAC earlier that same year.

My friend Neela in the theater dept. had a boyfriend named Billy who was the stage manager of the show. I recall thinking that the show was squeaky-clean and very well sung. It's a clever piece, to be sure. I also remember really enjoying all of the action that broke the 4th wall (what we call it when an audience disregards that invisible wall seperating the stage from the audience to interact with them), particularly when the cast runs into the house with poles topped with light-up bananas and multi-colored light strands into the audience. My absolute favorite though has to be the whole Ed Sullivan Show done in 3 minutes and 11 seconds.

Sidebar: What does Center-produced mean? There are many kinds of performances here at TBPAC. There are shows we book in with other partners, or co-promoters, which come as a ready-to-go packaged show (like the Broadway shows tens of thousands see here every year). There are shows that come through that simply rent the space from TBPAC and are usually self-sufficient otherwise. Then there are the shows that TBPAC builds from the ground up and are all "ours." We cast, rehearse, build the sets and costumes - you name it. Plaid is one of those shows.

Forever Plaid is the longest-running musical in Florida history, and it appears that most of the cast in this version of the show have been treated well by the musical comedy. Two cast members have done the show four times each (three of which were here) and the others, though having never played Tampa before, have also each done the show in multiple cities.

Try to catch this incarnation while you can.

- David J.

Soweto is hitting The Big Apple

It’s a long trek from South Africa to The Big Apple, but the Soweto Gospel Choir is going to make that journey to promote their album Blessed and the tour supporting it (which will stop here Feb. 1). If you’d like to see them in action before they come to Tampa, check out their upcoming TV appearances:

The Today Show (NBC), Monday, Jan. 16, during the 9 a.m. hour

Late Night with Conan O’Brien (NBC), Tuesday, Jan. 17

- Angela L.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Four-legged friends find fame and a home with Annie

Milo and Minkus, two adoptable dogs from The Humane Society of Tampa Bay, found fame and fortune (a loving home) with the touring Broadway production of Annie at The Center in December. I first met the energetic Milo and super-fluffy Minkus at the Kids' Night on Broadway event for Annie. That’s Milo (on the right, in case you can’t tell) playing with Jaxson Groom whose grandma had dressed him in a Dalmation costume to see the show. Adorable, right? Both of them.

The Center had partnered with The Humane Society of Tampa Bay to bring two of their adoptable dogs to have a walk-on part (they were actually rolled on-stage in a big cart) in Annie — playing stray dogs that had been caught by the dogcatcher. An announcement was made before each performance that the dogs were available for adoption. Minkus, a five-year-old black Pekingese, was adopted that same night. Milo, a five-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, went on with the show for a few more performances. (Me watching the Sunday matinee performance: “Turn around Milo! You won’t get adopted if the audience can only see your rear end!”) Milo was adopted by the end of Annie’s run. Happy ever after for both.

According to Cathy Bellatin, Special Events Coordinator at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Milo and Minkus were relinquished to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay for different reasons. Milo’s parents were not able to spend enough time with him. Minkus’ mom had very poor health and could no longer adequately care for him. There are lots of other animals who are waiting for loving homes and won’t ever make it on stage for an additional plug. So if you have room in your heart and home for a furry friend, contact The Humane Society of Tampa Bay. They would love to hear from you.

FYI - the next Kids' Night on Broadway (or KNOB for short) will be March 8, 6-7 p.m., before Little Women. This cool event is free and has performing arts-themed games, crafts, entertainment, etc. for the kids (and kid-like adults like me). There are even Buy-one, get-one-free tickets available. And who knows what new friends you might meet?

- Carol C.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Broadway gets a new long-running champion on Monday evening, Jan. 9 when The Phantom of the Opera plays its 7,486th performance to become the longest-running show in Broadway history.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will shatter the record held by current champ, Cats, which was also written by Lloyd Webber and produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Mackintosh is also the producer of Les Misérables, the third-longest-running show.

Since it opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on January 26, 1988, Phantom has grossed nearly $600 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total attendance is at 11 million. It has achieved a total worldwide box office gross of $3.2 billion, with worldwide attendance of more than 80 million people. On Jan. 26, Phantom will become the only production in Broadway history to celebrate its 18th birthday.

Phantom has played the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center four times in 1994, 1997, 2000 and 2004.

Here is a list of Broadway's longest-runs, as reported by Internet Broadway Database:

Production Number of Performances
1. The Phantom of the Opera 7,486 (and counting)
2. Cats 7,485
3. Les Misérables 6,680
4. A Chorus Line 6,137
5. Oh! Calcutta! (revival) 5,959
6. Beauty and the Beast 4,812 (and counting)
7. Miss Saigon 4,092
8. Rent 4,034 (and counting)
9. Chicago (revival) 3,812 (and counting)
10. 42nd Street (original production) 3,486

- Michael K.

Source: League of American Theatres and Producers

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bright lights, New York City

The lights are getting brighter on Broadway.

In addition to the annual numbers reported earlier in this space, the week that ended on Jan. 1 resulted in the highest gross receipts of any week since anybody started counting back in the early 1990s. Theaters played to 93.9 percent capacity, and took in $25.2 million. Big winners again were the musicals Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Light in the Piazza and the play Doubt.

- Michael K.

Source: League of American Theatres and Producers, New York Times