Tag Archives: Beacon Theatre

Tony watching

Jim Parsons (L) and Kristin Chenoweth announcing the 2012 Tony Award nominees. Photo courtesy of ASU Gammage.

Watching the Tony Awards ceremony is a longstanding tradition at our house, and our daughter Lizabeth was especially excited about viewing this year’s awards after seeing eight of the shows nominated for one or more 2012 Tony Awards.

I’m fondest of the acceptance speeches, which so often include odes to parents, spouses, partners and kids. Remarks by Audra McDonald topped my list this year. McDonald assured her daughter that although winning the award made it a very special night, the more important day was Feb. 14, 2001 — the day Zoe was born.

Lizabeth once recounted meeting McDonald after attending one of her shows. She was eager to ask her a few questions, but noted that McDonald’s daughter was with her and decided to let the opportunity pass — figuring she’d want to get home at a decent hour on a school night.

When a pair of gentlemen accepted an award for “Newsies,” one offered a simple “Look mom, a Tony!” And Paloma Young, winner for best costume design of a play for her work on “Peter and the Starcatcher,” thanked her father for giving her “way too much adventure for one little girl.”

John Tiffany, winner of a Tony Award for best direction of a musical for his work on “Once,” thanked his family for giving him the gift of music. Another director, Mike Nichols, recalled being at the Beacon Theatre as a child. Nichols won a Tony Award for best direction of a play for his work on “Death of a Salesman.” Seems the site of this year’s ceremony was once his neighborhood movie theater.

Christian Borle, known to many for rocking the Tom Levitt role on the television series “Smash,” earned the Tony Award for best performance of an actor in a featured role in a play for his work on “Peter and the Starcatcher.” His remarks shared thanks for “making my mom so happy.”

James Corden, who won the Tony Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play, thanks his “baby mama” and future wife for teaching him to say “us” instead of “I” and “we” instead of “me.” And Nina Arianda, winner of a Tony Award for best performance of an actress in a leading role in a play for her work in “Venus in Fur,” was ever so cherubic after Christopher Plummer handed her the award. “You sir,” she told him, “were my first crush.”

Most moving were remarks by Steve Kazee of “Once,” winner of a Tony Award for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a musical. Kazee lost his mother to cancer this past Easter, and shared something he recalls her saying — “Stand up and show them whose little boy you are.”

While most folks in Arizona were watching such moments on TV, others were enjoying the Tony Awards ceremony in New York. ASU Gammage organized a June 7-10 trip to NYC, with the option of staying an extra night to see the Tony Awards at the theater or in VIP seating in Times Square.

While in NYC, the ASU Gammage folks spent three evenings seeing shows and had several meals with Broadway professionals. Saturday’s itinerary included time with cast members from “The Book of Mormon,” “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and music types from both “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon.”

They also spent time with both the president and vice president of Disney Theatricals Group — and I’m hoping all involved resisted the urge to break into a rousing chorus from “Newsies” or “Beauty and the Beast.” The latter is a “special engagement” for the 2012-13 season at ASU Gammage.

In addition, they toured several parts of NYC — a “renaissance” portion of 42nd Street, the Art Nouveau-style New Amsterdam Theatre (where presidents Obama and Clinton appeared just last week), parts of the NYC subway system, the 9/11 Memorial and Manhattan’s financial district. I’ve experienced them all, and was happy this time around to be tucked under a quilt sitting on the couch next to Lizabeth.

Now that she’s attending college in NYC, annual traditions like watching the Tony Awards on television are bittersweet reminders of the fact that she’ll soon be creating her own traditions far from the nest that nurtured her love for Broadway.

— Lynn

Note: The 2012 Tony Award winning play, “Clybourne Park,” is part of Arizona Theatre Company’s 2012-13 season — click here for details.

Coming up: Go “Jimmy” Go, “Les Mis” meets movie theater, Reimagining “Stage Mom”

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings.

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Another Tony Awards adventure

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack (R) and daughter Kelsey on the ASU Gammage stage. Photo by Dan Friedman.

Arizona’s only Tony Awards voter, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, flew to NYC this morning to enjoy festivities leading up to Sunday’s Tony Awards ceremony taking place at the Beacon Theatre with host Neil Patrick Harrris.  Jennings-Roggensack is executive director for ASU Gammage in Tempe, which presents touring Broadway productions through “Broadway Across America.”

Tuesday was opening night for “Million Dollar Quartet” at ASU Gammage, which blends historical fiction with the music and larger-than-life personalities of Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye), Carl Perkins (Lee Ferris), Johnny Cash (Derek Keeling) and Elvis Presley (Cody Slaughter). Also Sam Phillips (Christopher Ryan Grant), whose Dec. 4, 1956 gathering at Sun Records in Memphis inspired the work.

Tuesday’s audience seemed to favor Cash tunes, but it’s Lewis’ bad-boy shenanigans that bring this story to life. I was most taken with the show’s technical elements and actors’ exquisite command of all things movement. Seven of the eight cast members play instruments, so audience members enjoy piano and guitar licks along with riffs on harmonica, bass and drums. Two jumbo speakers on either side of the stage delivered the best sound I’ve experienced in two decades of Gammage-going.

The 2012/2013 ASU Gammage season opens with “Anything Goes.” Folks who watched last year’s Tony Awards ceremony saw Tony-winner Sutton Foster and the “Anything Goes” cast sing and tap the show’s title number, plus performances from two other shows coming to ASU Gammage next season — “Sister Act” and “Memphis.”

I’ve been taking Lizabeth to ASU Gammage for Broadway shows and other offerings for more than a decade, but now that she attends college in NYC, she also gets to enjoy plenty of shows on Broadway. So far she’s seen eight of this year’s Tony Award nominees, and I can tell she has a soft spot for “Once” — a musical we hope to enjoy together during my next trip to NYC. “Peter and the Starcatcher” is another one of her favorites, hailed like “Once” for its breathtaking simplicity and storytelling.

This is the eighth year that “Gammage supporters and advocates” are joining Jennings-Roggensack for a special “Broadway Adventure” and the Tony Awards ceremony. While Arizona viewers watch the Tony Awards Sunday night on CBS (click here for details), team Gammage will have some folks inside the Beacon Theatre and others inside the Tony Awards VIP section in Times Square, where the ceremony is being broadcast on the Sony JumboTron.

Other items on the ASU Gammage itinerary include lunching with folks from “The Book of Mormon,” getting backstage peeks at Tony-nominated shows, mixing historical perspectives with a walk along the “Great White Way” and meeting with stars, directors and set designers of shows from the current and future ASU Gammage season. Also donning gowns and tuxes for the post-Tony Awards gala at The Plaza Hotel.

“In the wee hours of the morning,” says Jennings-Roggensack, “I will slip away to join the casts of the best musical, best play and best revival at their celebratory after-parties.” Still, she says “the best part of all this is that we are already planning on these Tony Award-winning shows making their way to the Gammage stage.”

— Lynn

Note: Watch for an article about Roggensack and daughter Kelsey in the July 2012 issue of Raising Arizona KidsClick here for Tony Awards t-shirts and other offerings for folks eager to rock the Tony Awards vibe. And click here to learn about this month’s “Million Dollar Quartet” auditions in Las Vegas, L.A. and Austin.

Coming up: Fun with outdoor concerts, Art meets solstice

How to succeed at Hogwarts

Lizabeth was thrilled to see Daniel Radcliffe perform in “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying” on Broadway during her last trip to NYC. But long before his stage work, which also included the play “Equus,” Radcliffe was working the wizardry angle as “Harry Potter” in a series of films inspired by J.K. Rowling’s books.

When Harkins Theatres put a special package of tickets for their upcoming “Harry Potter Week” at Tempe Marketplace on sale, those puppies went in a hurry. Something tells me that “Harry Potter Week” is about to become the Valley’s version of Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” — meaning tickets for those who wait will be hard to come by.

Thankfully, Harkins Theatres has since opened up more seats and added additional locations, something that won’t be possible on Broadway until elders Price and Cunningham agree to cloning — which isn’t likely given the rigors of performing eight live shows a week.

The “Harry Potter Week” package — which covers designated films from Mon, July 11 to Thurs, July 14 — is available (while supplies last) at Tempe Marketplace, Scottsdale 101 and Arrowhead 18 Harkins Theatres. It runs just $40 and includes tickets to all eight “Harry Potter” films.

Check the Harkins Theatres website for a list of additional benefits. Think free popcorn/drinks. “Harry Potter” swag. And early entry to the midnight premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” Be sure and read the fine print online because the brevity of blogging prevents me from sharing every detail.

For those of you who find a full week of “Harry Potter” just too thrilling to imagine, there’s another option — a “Double Dose of Harry Potter” package that runs just $18. It includes tickets to a 9pm showing of “Deathly Hallows” part one and the midnight premiere of “Deathly Hallows” part two (in 3D!).

The “Double Dose of Deathly Hallows” deal is available (while tickets last) at Arizona Mills, Arrowhead, Chandler Fashion, Gateway Pavilions, Norterra, San Tan Village, Scottsdale 101, Superstition Springs and Tempe Marketplace. Get your tickets at the box office or online at www.harkinstheatres.com.

For those of you eager to maximize this thrilling moment in movie-going history, Harkins Theatres presents “Arizona’s Ultimate Harry Potter Line-up Party” at Tempe Marketplace from 10am to midnight on Thurs, July 14. Think costumes, trivia contests, random drawings, freebie 2011 Harkins loyalty cups for the first 100 in line and more. (Please think water and sunscreen too.)

I’m told prizes for the random drawings include “Harry Potter” swag, Harkins Theatres movie tickets (also 2011 loyalty cups), gift cards, merchandise from participating Tempe Marketplace retailers and more. If you don’t see me there in line with you, there’s a simple explanation.

I’m traveling to New York with Lizabeth later this month, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll be living in “The Book of Mormon” ticket raffle line until my name gets called. Where is Harry Potter’s wand when a girl really needs it?

— Lynn

Coming up: “Stage Mom” posts from the Big Apple!

One singular sensation

A Chorus Line won the Tony Award® for best musical in 1976

I spoke Monday morning with Arizona’s sole Tony Awards® voter, a singular sensation in her own right when it comes to Arizona arts and culture.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and assistant vice president for cultural affairs at Arizona State University, is in New York this week and will be attending Sunday’s Tony Awards® ceremony at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway.

The Tony Awards® venue changed this year, says Jennings-Roggensack, because Cirque du Soliel inked a five year contract for the award show’s former home.

She notes that the theater is located in the area of Spanish Harlem and hopes the streets will be bustling with eager onlookers, adding to the festive nature of theater’s most important night.

The smaller theater means seats aren’t available for the general public. Still, I’d love to be there — if only to see Jennings-Roggensack negotiate the evening wearing the four inch heels daughter Kelsey told her were a must with the low-back white sequin gown she’s selected for the evening. I’m told there’s also a gown with purple sequins in the mix.

Tune to CBS Sunday night to watch the 2011 Tony Awards® ceremony

While others are busy predicting this year’s winners, Jennings-Roggensack has her hands full seeing those last few shows she’ll have to vote on before this Friday at 5pm.

She flew into New York on Sunday, saw “Baby It’s You” that night and has “Anything Goes” tickets for Thursday evening.

She’ll be attending the Tony Awards® with Michael Reed, senior director of cultural participation and programming at ASU Gammage — who works with Jennings-Roggensack to select and secure touring productions for each ASU Gammage season.

I ran into Reed and his family during this year’s Arizona School for the Arts “Showcase” at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix, but didn’t yet have Tony Awards® fashion on the brain, so I can’t speak to this element of his NYC experience.

Personally, I’d like to see all the men sporting white dress shirts and skinny black ties ala “The Book of Mormon,” this year’s most nominated show. But it’s unlikely.

It’s a treat to chat with Jennings-Roggensack each year as the Tony Awards® ceremony draws near — because she’s a walking Broadway encyclopedia who never loses her zeal for the art form or her enthusiasm for the artists and others who make it all come to life.

She’s got a pretty good idea of who’ll walk away with the best musical award, but describes the best play competition as “a real horse race.”

I’ll be seeing “War Horse,” one of four shows nominated for best play, when I’m in NYC with Lizabeth later this month. And spending lots of time in line with folks entering raffles for “The Book of Mormon” tickets. But talking with Jennings-Roggensack makes me want to see it all.

The Book of Mormon is this year's most nominated show, with 14 nominations including best musical

Jennings-Roggensack expects Bobby Cannavale to win the Tony Award® for best actor in a play for his performance in “The Motherf**er with the Hat” and says Sutton Foster, nominated for best actress in a musical for her role in “Anything Goes,” is on her way to becoming “Broadway royalty.”

She describes the cast of “The Normal Heart” as “stunning” — praising Joe Mantello’s work as both actor and director, and calling Ellen Barkin’s performance “wonderful.” Barkin is nominated for best featured actress in a play. Jennings-Roggensack describes “Arcadia,” also nominated for best play, as “cerebral.” Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing lies in the mind of the beholder.

Jennings-Roggensack says she was “surprised — in a good way” by John Leguizamo’s performance in his one-man play, and was pleased to see the work attracting “a very multiracial, multicultural audience.”

And she’s surprised that Robin Williams wasn’t nominated for his performance in the play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.” She describes Mark Rylance, nominated for best actor in a play for his work in “Jerusalem” as “the next Olivier.”

“I’ve been watching the Tony Awards® since I was a baby,” says Jennings-Roggensack. “It was a big deal at our house.”

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the 2011 Tony Awards® — including FAQs about who gets to vote, when the ceremony is being broadcast in your area, and how you can get tickets to see nominated and winning shows on Broadway.

Coming up: More pearls from Colleen Jennings-Roggensack — including her musings on “The Book of Mormon” and insights into Broadway trends