Posts Tagged: Kennedy Center

Linda Beers from The Kennedy Center is “Wick” & Amazing

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Last week I missed my ticket to see Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Kennedy Center because I had a flu with a fever.  When I called the Kennedy Center to see if there was anything they could do so I wouldn’t miss a show I paid around $100 for.  The first two people I talked to were fairly rude (they just sounded annoyed and agitated which really wasn’t a good experience), but the one said that I should call someone names Linda Beers who may be able to help me.  I figured why not try calling a third time since the third time’s a charm and I did.

I called Linda’s number and got her voicemail.  I left a message (guessing I would never hear back based on the other two people) telling her what happened and that I didn’t want to get anyone else sick at the show.  The next morning I got a phone call and it was a happy, perky and friendly Linda Beers.  Linda was amazing.  Not only did she ask if I was feeling better and thank me for not bringing the flu into the Kennedy Center, but she asked if it would be ok to call me back on Monday and then she could help me locate a seat so I wouldn’t have to miss the performance.  She even actually talked to me about Irving Berlin and how we both love his music.  It was an awesome experience talking to someone who works at the Kennedy Center who actually loves the arts and wants to make sure that everyone gets to have exposure to them.  That is why I called her “wick” above.  It is a song from the Secret Garden.

The song and term wick means that there is some life left within something, even if it looks dead.  When I was talking to other employees at the Kennedy Center, I felt like it was pointless and that they could care less about providing good service or helpful advice.  Then when I talked to Linda, it was clear that there is still life at the Kennedy Center that loves the arts and wants to help people be able to see and hear amazing shows.  She also proved that although numerous employees are there because it’s a job and not because they love the theatre and wanted a job in it, they still have some people who love what they do and really help people to fall in love with the theatre and performing arts.

I wanted to thank Linda for helping me get to see a performance of White Christmas and I’ll be putting my review up within the next couple of days.  I also wanted to share a kind of cool version of the song “Wick” from the Secret Garden that I found on YouTube.  This version is really neat because they use people and props as the set.  Because they did this they can have a moving set that is actually alive.  Even though the people blend in, the set is always alive so it’s kind of cool that they did this and they did it for the song “Wick” as well.

Bernadette Peters Stars in DC Revival of Follies

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Ok, so a huge giant gasp of air just left my lungs when I saw a headline in the Washington Post about the talented and one of my personal favorites, Ms. Bernadette Peters coming to Washington DC to star in a revival show of one of Stephen Sondheim‘s greatest musicals, Follies.  Not only did I almost go to see Bernadette Peters star in another Stephen Sondheim show, A Little Night Music with Elaine Stritch (who I love from Stephen Sondheim’s show Company with the song Ladies Who Lunch), but I have had an insane obsession with Bernadette’s Voice ever since I saw Into The Woods (another Stephen Sondheim show) when I was younger.

Bernadette Peters is not only an amazing actress and singer, but when you combine her talent with Stephen Sondheim’s music and shows and with the number of revival shows coming back (Promises Promises, La Cage Au Follies, A Little Night Music, etc….) this is one that may end up making its way back to NYC and broadway.

One of my very favorite songs from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies is definitely I’m Still Here.  Its not only fun to sing but it is also a fun one to dance to and sing a long with at karaoke nights.  It is one of those fabulous songs that everyone knows and loves but doesn’t always remember unless someone brings it up.  Unfortunately I don’t think that Bernadette Peters has the right voice for this as I think the song should be sung by someone whose voice is more rough and deep, but then again with her ability to morph her voice from a gorgeous light and opera sounding voice and her ability to hold a solid note, she may be able to pull it off or turn it into her own version.

I cannot wait for Bernadette Peters and Follies to open up at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and when tickets go on sale I will definitely be one of the first to get them.  Watch out broadway, another $6 million revival show is coming to NYC.

The Kennedy Center in Washington DC

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Washington DC isn’t somewhere you wouldn’t normally think of when you think hit broadway shows or broadway celebrities, but surprisingly enough we do have one venue that not only has produced some of the greatest and most well known and loved shows in the world, but also has had some of the most well known and biggest stars in the world come through it.  This venue is probably one of the largest cultural centers for the arts I have ever seen with the massive theatres you are used to and even classic styled theatres with all shapes and sizes in the other sections.

People travel from all over the world to not only see this massive building dedicated to the arts, but every year thousands of students and instructors go to the Kennedy Center to learn to sing, act, dance, teach, put on a production, work lights, and even more people flock to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to see world class talent and shows.

The Kennedy Center was inspired and sort of dreamed up by a man named Roger L. Stevens.  Not only was Roger one of the visionaries who brought the idea of a huge national center for the arts, but he also was the person who redesigned and rediscovered how the Musicals would become what they are and always found shows that would push limits and work on taboo subjects.

Roger brought the idea of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and after he convinced John F. Kennedy to come on board and get congress to back it, he then got to see his dream of this building begin to come to life and after 10 years of building this massive structure his idea for a National Conservatory for the Performing Arts became a reality and the US now had it’s very own National building dedicated to one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever and one of America’s biggest visionaries running it.

Roger Stevens believed so much in theatre and pushing boundaries that he used his personal bank accounts to fund numerous shows, especially ones that no one else would touch.  He also did something else that people wouldn’t expect.  He launched them and tested them right here in Washington DC instead of off broadway or in cities like San Francisco.  Instead he used the Kennedy Center and brought us some of the most well known shows and songs that people still sing and recognize today.

Some of the shows that Roger Stevens believed in and brought us, even when no one else would back them include Annie, West Side Story, Bus Stop, A Man for All Seasons, Tea and Sympathy, Love Letters, Shadowlands, She Loves Me and a heck of a lot more shows and hits.  He not only saw the value in pushing these controversial shows, but he found a way to take them and make them work.  What was even better was that instead of taking the shows straight to a city like New York, he launched them in Washington DC and more importantly at the Kennedy Center.  Besides Roger, other people have amazing memories of the Kennedy Center.   I went to the Spring Gala this year and was shocked to learn that Ben Vereen had one of his most memorable shows launch at the Kennedy Center as well, Pippin.

Not only was Pippin one of the most beloved shows and one of the shows that helped to launch his career, but he also thanked it for bringing many other shows to life.  It was amazing to hear about the impact and how many famous shows were tested here in Washington DC and how when they started here they went straight to broadway and shows like Pippin went on to win numerous Tony Awards and many other achievements.   It was absolutely amazing to get to learn how many of the most popular shows started here in Washington DC and even better at the Kennedy Center.

Although it isn’t as old as some of the classic theatres in the USA and the outside isn’t glamorous, it is one of the most massive structures and the inside of the theatres just scream class.  You can tell that the people who work there love their theatre and respect it and what is even more important is that they all work to really take care of it and its history.

Many people wouldn’t think of Washington DC and especially not the Kennedy Center when they think of historic Theatre and Broadway or as a city and theatre to test in, but oddly enough the Kennedy Center is one of the most popular and one of the best testing grounds for shows that go on to become hits and win tons of awards.

The Kennedy Center is one of those hidden structures that help to keep Theatre and Performing Arts alive and if you are ever in Washington DC, take a break from the monuments and museums and take a minute to visit this historic piece of Theatre history.

Liza Minelli

I’m going to see Liza!!! Yes with a Z

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Ok, I know you all are about to be jealous of this star studded Diva oriented weekend in Washington DC.  Not only do we never get the parties that NYC, LA, San Francisco, London, Chicago, etc… get, but we never have the amazing Broadway shows or variety that these cities get.  The one thing we do have that is unique though is the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

The Kennedy Center is not an amazing old styled theatre but it is a huge complex with amazing sound and can easily host all of the top shows in the world.  This is where I went to see Hairspray for the first time and many other shows.  We also have the touring cast of Mary Poppins coming through soon but more importantly we have the Kennedy Center Spring Gala coming through this weekend.

The Kennedy Center spring gala in Washington DC is sort of like the kick off season to Summer shows and events.  The Kennedy Center goes all out and brings in Broadway stars of all calibers and styles.  This year they have completely gone out of their way to bring in some of the best, most well known talent around.  The odd thing though is that there are still tickets available.  Some of my friends just bought theirs last night.  I found it shocking because of this years line up of talented performers and Actors.

The show headliner is none other than one of the original Divas, the great Liza Minelli.

Liza Minelli

Liza Minelli

Liza Minelli is not only the daughter of the famous Judy Garland, but Liza Minelli is an icon, one of the most recognizable faces and voices in American Pop Culture and history and no matter where you go or what you watch, you will probably run across a reference to her.  She has appeared in tons of movies, tv shows, jokes.  Liza has hit cds like like Liza with a Z and pretty much destroyed the show Cabaret for anyone else who would ever try to take it on.  Liza Minelli is a legend that I dare anyone to try to take on.  She is above and beyond going to be one of the highlights of this show.  This picture of Liza came from the Kennedy Center Website.

So if Liza Minelli isn’t enough of a headliner for you, the next star to take the stage is the amazing and seriously talented Ben Vereen.

Ben Vereen you’ll remember from countless Broadway shows including Wicked, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin and the list goes on.  For those of you not into theatre, which I don’t understand why you’d be here if you weren’t, he was in Funny Lady, All That Jazz, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Grace and the list goes on with his TV appearances and roles as well.  He is also the god father to R&B sensation Usher.  Ben is one of the most talented Actors in modern times and I cannot wait to see him perform.  He dances, sings, acts and steals shows.  Between him and Liza Minelli, can it get any better?  Actually yes.

Aaron Lazar, many of you will not know him, reinvented many roles and recreated some of the most loved characters on Broadway.  He was in the recent revival of Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities and the classic A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim.  Aaron has also been on TV in Ugly Betty, The notorious Bettie Page (if your name is Betty you better watch out for this one) and countless other show appearances.  Aaron may not be well known, but his talent should be.

The next Actor I would like to mention is one whose name you won’t remember but whose voice and image you will never forget.  Andrea McArdle was the original Annie.  Not only did she create the role of the red headed orphan, but I think she created one of the most memorable American Icons that almost everyone can remember from their childhood.  Everyone remembers watching it and everyone recognizes the red poster and red lettering for the red headed orphan.  Sure she has done other things since Annie but when you create such an iconic role and character as Little Orphan Annie, it is hard to do anything else.

Some other performers who will be there include Elizabeth Ashley, Raul Esparza, Opera Singers; Elmore James and Harolyn Blackwell and the list of show stopping celebrities goes on and on.  It is insane how much talent The Kennedy Center booked for the Kennedy Center Spring Gala 2010 and I cannot wait to watch all of these icons and amazing performers show why they are the incredible Actors and Actresses that they are and why they have reached Celebrity Status in the Theatre, Screen and Entertainment industry.

If you haven’t bought your ticket to the Kennedy Center Spring Gala yet, you seriously need to hurry up because if word gets out that people like Liza Minelli are in town tickets will sell fast!  Hurry up and buy your ticket today and then come back and share how you liked the show after.