Oh…I have missed two Mondays in a row to speak with you. So sorry but the drama around the last two weeks could only be done justice in a musical! Since I last talked to you: I was in NY and London with meetings and seeing shows, lost my voice (this is a difficult thing for anyone to imagine – Eileen without a voice), worked with the BIC team to open A BRONX TALE, along with a great final dress rehearsal and first preview of MARY POPPINS, PLUS delivered a talk at the Commercial Producing Conference. FYI: this was a great conference, put on by the League of Chicago Theatres. If you have interest in producing, you should definitely check it out for next year.
Hope you noticed the great Sunday article that the Chicago Tribune did on MARY POPPINS. It was a great spread with a headline above the masthead of the paper. Unfortunately they asked the question is “Are you coming to scare us, MARY POPPINS?” and the answer is NO – nothing about it is scary! In fact, every person in the audience from the youngest to the oldest is entranced by the story, the explosion of color, beautiful dancing and the great spirit leaves everyone feeling happier than when they came to the theatre. I have seen both London and New York, and to me this is by far the best MARY POPPINS ever! On the first preview, I sat up in the balcony as I often do to see what impact the show has for those in the balcony. It was amazing – this is one of those shows that whether you are on the main floor or the balcony you will have the experience of a lifetime. I always say that the shows that do the best are those that transform you from the time you walk in until the time you leave, those shows that reach you emotionally – and this is it!
We also have been working with the producers of THE ADDAMS FAMILY to finalize art for the show and plan a press conference for April – more details as they become available. The same producers, Elephant Eye, are also working with us to do a staged reading of SAVED The Divine Musical – based on the movie of the same name.
Plus, JERSEY BOYS is having a special performance on Wednesday to support Heart Health Night in partnership with Diet Coke – there will be a Red Carpet and many special guests in the audience.
In addition to all of that – my husband is producing a new play “The Quiet Man Tales” in the lower level of the Chicago Theatre that is in previews and opens on Sunday to the press.
For all those great supporters – PLEASE VOTE TODAY! The Chicago Tribune has created March Madness in search of the best cultural spot in Chicago. They have included JERSEY BOYS and MARY POPPINS in the running. Be sure to vote! Email selections to firstname.lastname@example.org. Voting ends at 9 AM on Tuesday.
Filed under A Bronx Tale, Bank of America Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, Jersey Boys, League of Chicago Theaters, Mary Poppins, Seating, The Addams Family
Elizabeth Stanley and Max von Essen Photo: Carol Rosegg
I have to admit that one of the best things about working in theatre is attending a press night when you know it is going to be a blast. Last Wednesday night, the press night of XANADU was so much fun. Most of us had seen the show either in NY or during previews but the entire staff showed up to root for the cast.One of our season ticket staff members, Bethany, got the chance to sit on stage. This may sound like a publicity stunt for press night but actually we have stage seating every performance for only $25. She told us that the actors made sure that everyone felt like they were part of the show. After the curtain call, Sharon Wilkins, who plays one of the evil muses, gave everyone hugs and thanked them for being not only being a great audience but an important element of the show. Of course, I can’t promise that one of the stars will greet people every night. Sitting in a regular seat at Drury Lane Water Tower, I was definitely jealous of Bethany when I saw her up on stage. I guess I will have to back and this time buy a stage seat and really be part of the show.
Linda Flasch, the Broadway In Chicago Group Sales Manager, also had a fabulous time. She bumped in into Kyle DeSantis in the lobby pre-show. Although, he now owns the theater, Linda remembered him from when he was two years old and she was a very young girl working for his grandfather at Drury Lane Oak Brook. They had a great time catching up.
Rob Ahrens, one of the producers, told me that Elizabeth Stanley, who plays Kira/Clio, made sure that everyone cast started off press night on the right foot. She baked roller skate-shaped cookies for everyone in the cast. It must have worked – XANADU got incredible reviews!
Selling theatre tickets isn’t brain surgery but sometimes I guess I over think things. Last week I spoke to a very nice woman. She needed a definitive answer to a simple question. Her question? Doris was on line at Ticketmaster.com and was trying to decide if Dress Circle or Loge (same ticket price) was better for MARY POPPINS. Easy question, right? Wrong! I have been trying to answer that one correctly for over eight years.Personally, I love the Dress Circle and always sit there, but during the long run of LION KING at the Cadillac Palace I told friend that she should buy Dress Circle, not Loge. The day after seeing the show she called to tell me that she went up to the Loge at intermission and thought it would have been better because although it is one level above Dress Circle it over hangs Row M on the Orchestra Level. Dress Circle down below is a horse shoe shaped balcony that overhangs the Rear and Side orchestra. Her thinking was that Loge is technically closer to the stage.
Not one to make a rash judgment, I took a deep breath and asked Doris two questions:
Who are you taking to the theatre?
My three grandchildren.
How old are they?
The three girls are six, ten and fourteen.
Now, I knew what to tell her. Dress Circle for sure! No second thoughts. When my daughter was six she seemed to have a secret mission to visit every Ladies Room in the city. I sometimes wondered if she was an undercover Health Inspector. I told Doris if her granddaughter had a sudden urge to visit the facilities Doris would be able to sneak out quickly without climbing over very many people and disturbing anyone.
Doris seemed happy with my rationale and booked Dress Circle. She won’t be seeing MARY POPPINS until April but seat locations aside — when they see Mary Poppins grab her umbrella and fly past them they will have an afternoon that they will never forget.