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Archive for July, 2016

Musical based around Petula Clark songs opens up in Connecticut. What to expect?

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

BlastingNews
Musical based around Petula Clark songs opens up in Connecticut
Published on:29 July 2016

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A stage-show based around the songs of the 1960’s British songstress, Petula Clark, has opened up in Connecticut, titled A Sign of the Times.

What to expect?
According to the press release, the story is not that of Petula Clark herself, despite featuring quite a good number of her songs. Instead, the play tells of an original story of a girl named Cindy who runs away from Middle America to Manhattan in the year of 1965, and the various misadventures that ensue. A press release give the show the tagline of “Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares —go “Downtown” and find out who you are!,” taken from Clark’s song, “Downtown,” which is one of the many songs featured in the show.

In the current show, Cindy is played by Ephie Aardema, a Broadway veteran. Other actors include Robert Lenzi, Bryan Fenkart, Nick Bailey, and Crystal Lucas-Perry. Esnsemble includes Lauren Boyd, Lauren Nicole Chapman, Jeremy Gaston, Alexandra Matteo, Kevin Santos, Keven Quillon, Dave Schoonover and Alet Taylor, many of whom have appeared in Broadway shows as well as other shows for the Connecticut theatre.

The book or libretto was written by Bruce Vilanch and the story was created by Richard Robin. Gabriel Barre serves as director. JoAnn M. Hunter serves as a choreographer. Performances will begin July 29 and will last until early September at the Norma Terris Theatre, which is owned by the Goodspeed Musicals theater company, in Chester, Connecticut. Tickets can be purchased through the theatre’s box office or online at Goodspeed’s website.

The show includes such popular Clark songs as “Color My World,” “Kiss Me Goodbye,” “Who Am I,” “Call Me,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” and “The Boy From New York City,” in addition to the namesake song, which can be seen below.

That said, Petula Clark is not the only icon of the Sixties to be a part of the show. In addition, the show is said to feature songs from other artists of the decade, such as Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” and the Fontella Bass number, “Rescue Me.” Even one Elvis number, “If I Can Dream,” will appear in the show. #Music

New Vilanch musical plans a tuneful, funny flashback that’s relatable

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

New Haven Register
New Goodspeed musical plans a tuneful, funny flashback that’s relatable
By Joe Amarante
07/22/16, 12:25 PM EDT

4-27-2013 3-49-54 AM

CHESTER >> In the news: Rancorous politics, nuts with guns, hateful cults of death and a drug-overdose “epidemic.”

In the theaters and galleries, meanwhile? Maybe a chance to catch your breath.

“I think theater as an escape is completely wonderful,” said director Gabriel Barre the other day, before rehearsals for the new musical “A Sign of the Times.” “There’s nothing wrong with that and a lot of entertainment can and should provide an ability to transport an audience; let’s call it that instead of escape.”

But what Barre is really drawn to, he said in a phone interview, is a show that can do that as well as “make you look at your life in a different way.”

“For me, I want people to be transported and laugh and have a good time and be dazzled and be surprised, of course,” Barre said. “But I also want them to think a little bit and to be emotionally moved, as well.”

Barre is directing “A Sign of the Times” at The Terris Theatre in Chester — about a woman from the sticks who moves to New York City in the 1960s amid the era’s backdrop of women’s liberation, the civil rights movement and anti-war protests. The musical runs from July 29 to Sept. 4 at Goodspeed Musicals’ development theater on North Main Street.

The title is based on the Petula Clark song, and Barre said it’s relatable.

“It’s quite interesting to juxtapose this song, and the protests of the ’60s that are depicted in this show, with the protests that are happening today,” Barre said. “And what’s remarkable to realize is… the signs of the times in the ’60s are not that different — sadly perhaps, tragically perhaps — than the signs of these times.

Still, Barre & Co. are creating a musical from scratch here, which is always daunting.

“That’s sort of the fun of it for me,” said Barre, who’s done several new shows at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre as well as established musicals elsewhere and at the main Goodspeed theater in East Haddam.

Barre likes the older musicals, but he enjoys the challenge of the development process, too — “making sure the shows are clear, not too long, not too short. I’m really looking at it as a dramaturge, as an advocate for the audience.”

This one involves taking older songs — many by British singer Clark — and weaving them into “a completely new and original story.”

That was one of the first challenges that writer Bruce Vilanch had to face on the project. You know Vilanch — the hefty, blonde-haired writer who was head writer for the Academy Awards for years, not to mention “Hollywood Squares,” where he also occupied a square near Whoopi Goldberg. He also played Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray” on Broadway and has written for Bette Midler and Diana Ross shows.

Richard Robin came up with the basic story idea and Vilanch took it from there, in later collaboration with Barre and the music staff led by Rick Fox and Joseph Church.

“I’m proud of the way we’ve woven these songs into the life of this young woman, Cindy, who’s from the Midwest and comes to New York to find her purpose in New York,” said Barre.

These types of shows — from tuneful “Bikinis” to the Queen tune-fest “We Will Rock You” — can be very thin in plot and real meaning. But this one is not just a jukebox musical, said Barre, although it does crank out the 1960s hits of Clark, Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra and others.

“We have six main characters who all have their own subplots and relationships. So we have a plot that’s very plausible… It’s more than a thin membrane that links the songs.”

Barre said the team is concentrating on the tone of the show. “We’re really investing in these characters and hope everyone else will, as well — taking the material seriously in the right places, but also having lots of fun here and there.”

Being a Terris show, the audience will help determine how that works and help the show find the right balance, Barre said.

Why Petula Clark music (“Downtown,” “I Know a Place”) as a focus? In the show’s notes, Vilanch says he always thought Clark’s songs sounded like they were from a musical.

“Like country songs, in a way, these songs have great character,” said Barre.

Barre said most of us know the tunes “but we sometimes dismiss the lyrics and just sing along. But in the context of a show, they actually (fit) quite well and come quite easily out of the mouths of characters that Bruce and Richard have drawn here.”

So much so that it sounds like a contemporary musical, Barre said.

And like watching the Abba musical “Mamma Mia!” the audience will have fun seeing “that engineering going on” and how the songs are justified.

There’s comedy with the music, of course.

Barre called Vilanch a “great, great person with a big heart… I’ve actually worked with him before on some benefits… I love watching him put together jokes and, of course, he’s been a laugh riot in rehearsals, which I expected. But what’s really surprising to me is his encyclopedic knowledge of … musical theater… He just knows every show that’s ever been done, who starred in it, when they left… But he knows a lot about the world (too).”

And there’s plenty of dance, said Barre, crafted by choreographer JoAnn Hunter and mainly performed by an ensemble of 10 dancers.

“The whole show was conceived by me and JoAnn and the team… as a constant flowing spectacle that never stops, in a way,” said Barre. “Even the transitions are all choreographed.”

If it works, the show indeed will transport viewers to not just another troubled time but a magical place.

“I think that (parallel) is one of the things that makes this show not just fluff or trivial or a jukebox musical that you can just go and escape… but that it’s a show that will actually remind people that Americans are still trying to find what it (America) is and who we are and what does it mean to be American.

“What does it mean to be patriotic? Does it mean you commit to the country as it is or can you be just as patriotic and be committed to changing it?”

Cindy (played by Ephie Aardema) goes from being an amateur photographer to a professional in the show, which gives the show license to use projections of images from the era, too. And evocative images are certainly a sign of both times, too, for bad or good.

Curtain times are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., July 29 at 8, July 30 at 3 and 8, and July 31 at 2 and 6:30. Tickets ($49 or less) are available a 860-873-8668 or online at goodspeed.org.

‘A Sign Of The Times’ world premiere production Friday, July 29, through Sept. 4 at Goodspeed Musicals’ Norma Terris Theatre

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Hartford Courant
‘A Sign Of The Times’
By Christopher Arnott
July 21, 2016

2016-07-22_5-15-58

A Sign of the Times” has some real star power associated with its world premiere production Friday, July 29, through Sept. 4 at Goodspeed MusicalsNorma Terris Theatre, 33 N. Main St., Chester.

The show, subtitled “A New ‘60s Musical,” is written by Bruce Vilanch, the comedy writer known for punching up Academy Awards monologues, appearing on “Hollywood Squares,” and starring in the first national tour of “Hairspray.”

“A Sign of the Times” is directed by Gabriel Barre, who helmed the Goodspeed and Broadway productions of “Amazing Grace.” It’s choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter, currently represented on Broadway with “School of Rock” and “Disaster.” The cast features Ephie Aardema, Nick Bailey, Bryan Fenkart, Robert Lenzi and Crystal Lucas-Perry, all of whom have cool New York and regional theater credits. Most of the members of the supporting ensemble have been in national tours of Broadway hits; Lauren Nicole Chapman, to name one, played Lauren in “Kinky Boots” at The Bushnell last year.

But the real motivating force for “A Sign of the Times” appears to be the creative team’s access to a cache of pop hits by Petula Clark, including “Call Me,” “I Know a Place,” “Downtown,” “The In Crowd,” “Color My World” (not the Chicago one), “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” and, naturally, “A Sign of the Times.” The show also features hits associated with Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore and others.

Performances are Wednesday at 2 and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $59, with special $25 deals for patrons aged “40 and Under” and $15 student rush seats. 860-873-8668, goodspeed.org.

Bruce Vilanch’s Petula Clark Inspired Musical, Sign Of The Times, Announces Cast And Songs

Friday, July 1st, 2016

Playbill
Goodspeed’s Petula Clark Musical, Sign of the Times, Announces Cast
BY ROBERT VIAGAS
JUN 28, 2016

download

Bruce Vilanch is writing the libretto.

A Sign of the Times, a new musical that uses songs made famous by 1960s pop sensation Petula Clark “and other hit-makers of the day,” has announced the cast for its summer production at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT.

Running July 29–September 4, the show has an original story by Richard Robin and an original book by comedy writer Bruce Vilanch. The score includes such period hits as “Downtown,” “Call Me,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” and “The Boy From New York City.”

Gabriel Barre will direct the musical, which tells the story of a young woman named Cindy who comes to New York in 1965. According to production notes, “Unexpected friends, lovers, careers, and conflicts are all a subway ride away in a pop-fueled new musical. Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares—go ‘Downtown’ and find out who you are!”

Cindy will be played by Ephie Aardema, who appeared in the Broadway production of The Bridges of Madison County and Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre production of Snapshots. Robert Lenzi from Broadway’s Tuck Everlasting and South Pacific will play Brian. Also in the cast: Bryan Fenkart (Broadway’sMemphis), Nick Bailey (Broadway’s Casa Valentina) and Crystal Lucas-Perry ( Little Children Dream of God at the Roundabout Theatre).

The ensemble includes Lauren Boyd (Broadway’s West Side Story), Lauren Chapman (Broadway’s Kinky Boots), Melessie Clark, Drew Franklin ( Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Goodspeed and Broadway’s Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Jeremy Gaston (Broadway’s Sister Act), Alexandra Matteo (Broadway’s Annie), Keven Quillon (Broadway’s Grease, Shrek the Musical and Annie), Kevin Santos (Broadway’s A Chorus Line, West Side Story), Dave Schoonover (Broadway’s Young Frankenstein) and Alet Taylor (Broadway’s The Producers).

Other creative team credits: choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, scenic design by Paul Tate dePoo lII, costumes by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Ken Billington, projection design by Benjamin Pearcy, sound design by Jay Hilton and music direction by Rick Fox.

Tickets are available through the Box Office (860) 873-8668, or on-line at Goodspeed.org.

Here are the songs used in the show, along with the artist who recorded them and who wrote them:

“Color My World,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Yvonne J. Harvey and Tony Hatch
“I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Yvonne J. Harvey and Tony Hatch
“I Only Want To Be With You,” Sung by Dusty Springfield, Written by Michael Edwin Hawker and Ivor Raymonde
“The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Yvonne J. Harvey and Tony Hatch
“I Know A Place,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch
“Turn Back The Hands Of Time,” Sung by Tyrone Davis, Written by Jack Daniels and Bonnie Thompson
“Round Every Corner,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch
“Baby The Rain Must Fall,” Sung by Glenn Yarbrough, Written by Elmer Bernstein and Ernie Sheldon
“Five O’Clock World,” Sung by The Vogues, Written by Allen Reynolds
“Call Me,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” Sung by Nancy Sinatra, Written by Lee Hazlewood
“Rescue Me,” Sung by Fontella Bass, Written by Raynard Miner and Carl William Smith
“The Boy From New York City,” Sung by The Ad Libs, Written by John Taylor and George Davis
“If I Can Dream,” Sung by Elvis Presley, Written by Earl Brown
“Who Am I,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Yvonne J. Harvey and Tony Hatch
“The In Crowd,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Billy Page
“A Sign Of The Times,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch
“It’s In His Kiss,” Sung by Betty Everett, Written by Rudy Clark
“Society’s Child,” Sung by Janis Ian, Written by Janis Ian
“Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Yvonne J. Harvey and Tony Hatch
“You’d Better Come Home,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch
“You Don’t Own Me,” Sung by Lesley Gore, Written by John Madara and David White
“Kiss Me Goodbye,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by John Barry Mason and Leslie David Reed
“Downtown,” Sung by Petula Clark, Written by Tony Hatch