“Annie” at Papermill Playhouse

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Annie , the world’s best-loved family musical returns to Paper Mill Playhouse just in time for the holidays. Little Orphan Annie is taken from her orphanage, and the clutches of cruel Miss Hannigan, to stay at billionaire Oliver Warbucks’ mansion for the holidays. When Annie wins the hearts of Warbucks and his staff, they set out on an epic mission to find Annie’s parents. Winner of the Best Musical Tony Award, Annie includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “A New Deal for Christmas,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

The principal cast will feature Paper Mill Playhouse favorite Tony Award winner Beth Leavel as the irascible Miss Hannigan and Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber as Oliver Warbucks, Erin Mackey as Grace Farrell, Cooper Grodin as Rooster Hannigan, Kim Sava as Lily St. Regis, Kevin Pariseau as Franklin D. Roosevelt, and alternating in the role of Annie are Peyton Ella and Cassidy Pry.

The production team includes original set design by Beowulf Boritt, scenic coordination by Jared Rutherford, original costume design by Susan Benzinger, costume design for Paper Mill Playhouse by Leon Dobkowski, lighting design by Charlie Morrison, sound design by Randy Hansen, hair, wig and makeup design by Leah J. Loukas, and animals by William Berloni. The production stage manager is Victoria Navarro. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Rebecca Scholl, CSA.

Performances begin Wednesday, November 22, 2017, for a limited run through Sunday, December 31, 2017 at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive) in Millburn, NJ. Opening Night is Sunday evening, November 26, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.  Visit https://papermill.org to get your tickets.

NAI-NI CHEN DANCE COMPANY at NJPAC June 3rd

NAI-NI CHEN DANCE COMPANY:
World Premiere of First Touch
to be performed at NJPAC
on Friday, June 3, 2016 at 7:30pm
The critically-acclaimed Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center(NJPAC) on Friday, June 3, 2016 at 7:30pm. The dances of choreographer Nai-Ni Chen fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the elegant splendor of Asian art. Enjoy a full evening of her work which The New York Times calls “endlessly proliferating forces of cosmic energy.” An extraordinary cast of dancers and musicians takes you on a fantastic journey that blossoms with color, energy, and motion. NJPAC audiences have experienced the Chinese Lunar New Year spectacles that Nai-Ni Chen produces each year and have witnessed the power and grace of her work alongside traditional dances. This summer performance is a presentation not to be missed!
NJPAC is located at 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ 07102. Tickets are $20-$50 and can be purchased at http://www.njpac.org/events/detail/nai-ni-chen-dance-company-1
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About The Nai-Ni Chen Program at NJPAC
From her own cultural journey as a Chinese immigrant in America, Nai-Ni Chen created Calligrafitti with noted composer Huang Ruo – a new piece which links the graceful, elegant lines of Chinese calligraphic art with the grit and rebellious freedom of American graffiti. According to Ink Painting Today “Calligraphy is sheer life experienced through energy in motion that is registered as traces on silk or paper, with time and rhythm in shifting space its main ingredients.”. By this definition, calligraphy reflects Nai-Ni Chen’s own background in Chinese dance, Peking Opera, and Chinese martial art. On the other hand, graffiti was born out of thirst for expression in the urban environment. For Nai-Ni, it reflects her immigration to America: her search for a sense of freedom as an 18-year-old performer first visiting New York City. Calligrafitti – will be performed with live music by the New Asia Chamber Music Society.
Mirage (2009) further showcases Nai-Ni Chen’s unique integration of Chinese philosophy and art into her work. Mirage originates from her journey to the Silk Road and integrates the essence of sculptures and paintings found within ancient Buddhist caves and the ecstatic rhythm and shifting motions of the Uyghur culture.
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WORLD PREMIERE: First Touch, a new piece that will have its world premiere at this concert, is a sensuous, physical duet that examines the human primal desire to connect.
ABOUT NAI-NI CHEN DANCE COMPANY
The dances of Nai-Ni Chen fuse the dynamic freedom of American modern dance with the grace and splendor of Asian art. The Company’s productions take the audience beyond cultural boundaries to where tradition meets innovation and freedom arises from discipline. The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company is a vital resource of culture in the eastern United States. Each year, thousands of audiences are transported beyond cultural boundaries to the common ground between tradition and innovation, discipline and freedom, and form and spirit. According to The New York Times, they “…essentially recreated nature…”

A Bronx Tale at PaperMill Playhouse

My son and I recently saw the show “A Bronx Tale” at PaperMill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ.  For those of you who don’t know anything about the story, it’s based on the real life of Chazz Palminteri, who then wrote a play about it as well as preformed a one man show.  There is, of course, also a movie with the esteemed Robert De Niro, which did very well. Now preformed with a full cast, music, dancing- the works- A Bronx Tale is a fun musical theater production that you should see before it closes it’s doors.

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“Based on the real life story by Chazz Palminteri‚ A Bronx Tale: The Musical is set against the backdrop of racial strife and organized crime in the 1960s. It is the story of an Italian-American teenager finding his path in life as he must choose between the father who raised him and a mob-boss father figure who fascinates him.”

My son and I enjoyed the show.  I had explained the premise to him beforehand, and since he understands what the civil rights movement was, and how things “used to be in the olden days” as he puts it, he was prepared.  I don’t know that all children of all ages would be able to see the show- there is cursing and some violence (gunshots, people are beaten up, there is a car explosion off stage, etc), but it’s not vulgar- you would need to be the judge of what your child is mature enough to handle.  It is in no way a show I found to be explicit or over the top- but your child would need at least a basic understanding of the times, and you would need to be OK with them hearing bad language now and again.  (It’s not “Jersey Boys” bad language- just now and again.)  You are exposing your child to both history and theater, which is a good thing- just make sure they are mature enough for it at the time.

Picture via PaperMill Playhouse

Picture via PaperMill Playhouse

The show is about a young Italian boy from the Bronx, Calogero (who grows into a man) who is torn between the father he loves and the gangster he admires.  His father is a hardworking, honest, middle class man who adores his family, while the racketeer is fun, wealthy, exciting- and takes the young Calogero (“C”) under his wing.  As he gets older, he falls in love with a black girl from his school, which of course brings about problems for both of them and their friends.

The show hopes to make it to Broadway, and it would be great if it does.  The cast is wonderful, the themes of loyalty, family, and a classic “coming of age” story will resonate with most people. Will “C” change with the times, or be stuck in the past?  Whose footsteps will he follow in- his father’s, or his mentor’s?  Will he find his way in such turbulent times?

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A Bronx Tale: The Musical will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:30pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm, Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 8:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Tickets are on sale now starting at $32. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  College students may order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

Next up is West Side Story- one of my all time favorites.  Check out all PaperMill has to offer, including children’s shows, shows for special needs families, and more by visiting www.PaperMill.org.

NewYork.com for Broadway tickets @NewYorkcom

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New York is a very big, confusing place to visitors especially if you don’t do your homework before going.  This is true of a seasoned semi-local or visiting tourist.  A great place to start is NewYork.com, for all levels of New York visitor.  On one site there are attractions, restaurant suggestions, tours, and even Broadway plays, Musicals, and Ballets. They are all listed out for easy browsing.  The user also has the ability to purchase tickets from NewYork.com as well.  The purchasing experience is easy and quick.  The tickets arrive on time for your show (right to your inbox) giving you one less thing to worry about for your trip.  Each show has lots of information on it, there are synopsis of the stories, video previews, and articles about the show.  These shows vary from long playing favorites like Les Miserables and Lion King to new shows like Aladdin and School of Rock.  Prices are very clear and present for each show as well.

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A trip to New York can be planned based on the included schedules for shows and events as well.  Everything for your visit can be planned including giving you options for hotels in various areas.

People living in New York and the surrounding areas also have a reason to visit NewYork.com.  Including articles about the various destinations, restaurants, and shows there are job listings as well as real estate listings, articles about local topics and restaurant reviews as well.

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No matter what your reason for being in New York, it is well worth your time to plan ahead with NewYork.com.  One of the best New York destination websites where you can learn quite a lot and also plan quite a bit of your next get away.

The Pajama Game at Merkin Concert Hall

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Kaufman Music Center Presents

BROADWAY PLAYHOUSE

*  2016 Season  *

Kids love musicals! The family-friendly Broadway Playhouse performances introduce young theater fans age 4-11 to Broadway classics through mini musicals, medleys, games and sing-alongs. This season, children will discover the great 1950s songwriting duo Richard Adler & Jerry Ross (Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game); the groundbreaking Dorothy Fields (Sweet Charity), Broadway’s first woman lyricist; and rock legend Elton John (The Lion King). Some kids will be invited on stage to roar with Simba from The Lion King or play baseball with the devil from Damn Yankees! Hosted by Sean Hartley, Broadway Playhouse features music director Jihwan Kim and stars Jason Robinson, Martin Landry, Kathryn Markey and Gabrielle Stravelli.

2016 Performances:

Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 11 am

Broadway Playhouse: Richard Adler & Jerry Ross

One of the great songwriting duos of the 1950s, Richard Adler and Jerry Ross hit the Broadway big time with three wildly successful shows in three years: Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game and John Murray Anderson’s Almanac. Their partnership was cut short when Adler died tragically in 1955 at the age of 29, but their shows have lived on in film adaptations as well as numerous revivals. Come visit the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory, where Love is on strike, and find out if “Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets”!
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 11 am

Broadway Playhouse: Dorothy Fields

Broadway’s first woman lyricist wrote more than 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films, paving the way for the likes of Lynn Ahrens (Seussical) and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home). She wrote classics like “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and won the 1936 “Best Song” Oscar for “The Way You Look Tonight,” a collaboration with Jerome Kern. This family-friendly celebration of one of Broadway’s greatest woman writers features songs from the musicals Sweet Charity, Seesaw, Redhead and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and the Hollywood films Swing Time and Roberta.

Sun, Mar 6, 2016, 11 am

Broadway Playhouse: Elton John

Broadway musicals are known for memorable songs that feature big production numbers with lots of glitz, glam and show-stopping moments. So it’s no surprise that when one of rock music’s most entertaining and successful performers turned his attention to Broadway, the results were phenomenal. Join the as we explore Elton John’s recipe for Great White Way success – inspirational stories that feature mega-watt style. Come roar with Simba from The Lion King and sing along to hits from Aida and Billy Elliot.

Kaufman Music Center is New York’s go-to place for music education and performance.

It’s where music lovers, from curious fans to renowned performers, come together to explore their musical passions. Founded in 1952 as a community music school, today’s Kaufman Music Center is one of the city’s most vibrant cultural organizations and home to Merkin Concert Hall; Lucy Moses School, New York’s largest community arts school; and Special Music School, a groundbreaking K-12 public school for musically gifted children.

A Christmas Story: The Musical at Paper Mill Playhouse

Disclosure- I received tickets to the below in order to review.  All opinions are my own and honest.  For more information,  please see ” I Disclose”.

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As most of you know, we love the Paper Mill Playhouse.  It has Broadway quality shows without having to travel into NYC- and the parking is a whole lot easier and less expensive, too.  My son and I have seen about a dozen shows there over the years, and never once have we been disappointed.   The acting, singing, and dancing are top notch- in fact, you can see many people who have been on Broadway, movies, and TV at the Paper Mill Playhouse, and many stars got their start there, too. It’s a wonderful place with fantastic shows, and we really enjoy it.

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The most recent show we saw, and is playing right now, is “A Christmas Story: The Musical”. This is one of my husband’s favorite holiday movies, and he actually came to see the show with us, which is somewhat miraculous.  He WANTED to see the show.  I know. The show was fun, just like the movie, but had lots of festive and some silly song and dance numbers, one being “Ralphie to the Rescue”, in which our hero Ralphie imagines all the ways he will save the day when he gets his cherished Red Ryder air rifle- and of course he really needs it!

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This show was great for the whole family, kids included.  My son enjoyed it, and it made him want to go home and watch the movie again.  Check out this cute video, I’m sure it will make you want to run out and get tickets right away (if you don’t want to already, that is!)

And this one as well, it’s really sweet.

More About The Show

Ralphie wants only one thing for Christmas: an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. A Christmas Story: The Musical is the hilarious account of Ralphie’s desperate quest to ensure that this most perfect of gifts ends up under his tree this Christmas. Straight from Broadway‚ this musical captures holiday wonder with such deliciously wicked wit that it is sure to delight children and grown-ups alike. Bring the whole family‚ again and again. The holiday movie that the whole world loves comes to musical life.

Buy Tickets

A Christmas Story: The Musical will be performed at Paper Mill Playhouse eight times a week, Wednesday through Sunday. Performance schedule: Wednesday at 7:00pm, Thursday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm, Friday at 7:00pm, Saturday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm and Sunday at 1:30pm and 7:00pm. Check Paper Mill Playhouse’s website for special holiday week schedules. Tickets are on sale now starting at $29. Tickets may be purchased by calling 973.376.4343, at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office at 22 Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at www.PaperMill.org. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express accepted. Groups of 10 or more can receive up to a 40% discount on tickets and should call 973.315.1680.  College students can order $20 rush tickets over the phone or in person at the Paper Mill Playhouse Box Office on the day of the performance.

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Do You Have A Special Needs Child?

Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a special autism-friendly performance of A Christmas Story: The Musical on Tuesday, December 29, at 1:30pmThis performance is designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum or with other developmental disabilities, and is planned in cooperation with Paper Mill Playhouse’s Autism Advisory Team. This is the third time Paper Mill Playhouse has expanded its autism-friendly performances to a mainstage production after successful performances of Elf and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound.

Additionally, Paper Mill Playhouse will host a free open house titled Meet Your Seat on Monday, December 28, 2015, from 4:00 to 6:00pm.  This is an opportunity for children who are new to the theatrical experience to visit the theater space before the show. Often children with autism or other developmental disabilities become anxious in new surroundings, new experiences, and they need time to transition. The Meet Your Seat open house provides an opportunity for children to come to the theater in advance of the performance and take time to feel comfortable in this new space.

What’s Next?

What’s coming up next for Paper Mill Playhouse?  Shows you won’t want to miss, like A Bronx Tale, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and Westside Story.  Sign up for their email list today so you won’t miss a single show!

Finding Neverland on Broadway @NeverlandBway

After spending most of our life hearing about the magic of Neverland, have you ever wondered what inspired Peter Pan and Neverland? That is what the play Finding Neverland brings to light. Based on the Academy Award®-winning film, that has the same name, the show tells the story of a play-wright, J.M. Barrie and he was inspired to write the stories of Neverland.

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Barrie has been lacking on his creativity and inspiration when he meets the beautiful widow Sylvia and her 4 sons, Jack, George, Michael and Peter.  (Incidentally, currently playing Barrie is Matthew Morrison, of Glee and about a million other things.  Not only were we delighted to see Matthew Morrison live, but also got to see So You Think You Can Dance season 10 winner Amy Yakima, who is as of now playing Peter Pan as well as dancing in the show.)

After hearing the young boys tell stories of magical escapades in the world of Neverland, Barrie write a play that most of the high-society theatergoers in London have ever seen. Despite taking a giant risk, Barrie wrote the play and discovered, just like in his play, When you believe, you can fly.

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Finding Neverland, directed by Tony® winner Diane Paulus, also known for Pippin, Hair, features an original score by composer Gary Barlow and Grammy® winner Eliot Kennedy, with a book by celebrated playwright James Graham and choreography by three-time Emmy® winner Mia Michaels.

This is a great play to see with your family. Packed with beautiful visuals, lots of laughs and songs that will stick with you, this timeless story will remind you that you never really grow up.  The staging was really fun and quite something to see- the ending was really sad but amazing and beautiful, but I don’t want to ruin it for you .

Many people (including yours truly) have enjoyed Finding Neverland, including Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews, who absolutely loved it. Ms. Andrews came with her daughter and grandchildren. And, after the show, they all took pictures with the cast and gushed over how much they enjoyed it.

The cast was ecstatic. Check out this photo taken backstage of Julie Andrews and Finding Neverland star Laura Michelle Kelly (who, coincidentally, originated the role of Mary Poppins in the stage version both in London and on Broadway).

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Below are links to Instagram photos of the cast members and Julie Andrews if you’d like to see some more.

https://instagram.com/p/7l92ItI4E3/
https://instagram.com/p/7lmUghAo48/

https://instagram.com/p/7l80wbv_K4/

https://instagram.com/p/7l7XzEgtt9/

Finding Neverland plays at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater (205 West 46th Street). The schedule is as follows: Tuesday at 7:30pm, Wednesday at 2pm & 7:30pm, Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. Tickets can be arranged online at www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com, by calling Ticketmaster at (877) 250-2929 or in person at the Lunt-Fontanne box office, located at 205 West 46th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenues.  For more information, please visit www.FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com.

Follow the magic on Twitter and Instagram: @NeverlandBway

Radio City New York Spring Spectacular

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This past weekend, we took my son to see the Radio Cit Music Hall show, the New York Spring Spectacular. He loved the Christmas Spectacular, so we hoped he would love this one just as much.  The show is set in NYC, and is about a tour guide who has been bought out by a company that wants to go virtual. The performers visit all the highlights of NYC’s tourism hotspots, complete with random visits from the Easter Bunny (hey, it’s Spring after all).   You can also see some other fun characters- we saw Minions, Paddington Bear, Dora the Explorer, and Power Rangers who made appearances.

There is familiar music throughout the show, as well as some new.  There is also quite a bit of audience interaction, including one singled out and made to sing on camera (and broadcast on the large screen on stage).  Everyone is handed 3D glasses for some fun experiences, and you are loaned “magic” bracelets that glow and sparkle at certain points during the show. (Give them back at the end.)  The dance numbers are fun and new- our favorite was “Singing in the Rain”, where the Rockettes all danced in raingear with umbrellas, and two male members got fairly well soaked while tapping away.
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