Segerstrom Center previews the 2014-2015 Season with special performances

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Last month, August, brought Segerstrom Center for the Arts Executive Vice President Judy Morr along with EVP of Marketing for Broadway Across America Bob Bucci back onstage to present a preview of their 2014-2015 season. This year the preview had performances from MOTOWN, Once, Pippin and the revitalized Phantom of the Opera.

This a simple show the center presents showcasing not just next year’s big musical productions lineup, but also for the music and dance series featured in the gorgeously grand Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and Samueli Theater.  Every year they continue to expand these series with more shows and dates.  Here’s hoping that eventually we’ll be able to catch a concert at Segerstrom Center for the Arts every week.

There are so many exciting Broadway shows coming next season delivering unforgettable experiences with Center premieres, new productions, and cherished classics.

Pippinis also back on Broadway for the first time since the original stint 40 years ago.  This is all new production directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Hair) and it features new choreography and breathtaking acrobatics.  We were treated by a performance from Pippin himself, MIKE SCHWITTER, as well as an incredible acrobatic performance by 5th generation circus performer VIKTORIA GRIMMY that was like something I could see win on “America’s Got Talent”.  This had the audience screaming in excitement!

This new production is focused more on the circus aspect and really appears to be full of fun stunts and energy giving this classic new life.

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We had the opportunity of speaking with the new Pippin, MIKE SCHWITTER, who was most recently seen in The Book of Mormon and has been through many regional shows.  He is one of 5 siblings and got the itch in 7th grade.  Fresh out of school in Cincinnati he booked the The Book of Mormon tour and then left to New York and is currently gearing up to start rehearsals for Pippin.  He also did the original premiere of Next to Normal where he played “Gabe”.  This was one of his favorite roles he has ever had being that it was an all-star cast and one of if not the best scores in his opinion.

I asked if Pippin has a lot of crossover with the acrobatics.  While he states the dancers and acrobatics are pretty separate, he will be performing some magic with disappearing acts and more.  However, SCHWITTER discussed about how important trust is within everyone as there is still a lot of interactivity between everyone.

When asked what makes Pippin stand out SCHWITTER mentions how its success is based on it already being such a classic.  He states it is perfect for kids, families and adults with this production featuring “gymnastics, magic, fire and awesome lights that’s sort of what you see on the surface” but it’s what you see when you see past all of that.  He continues that at the heart of the show is an awesome script, timeless music that’s just solid with strong relationships and a total team effort that makes it sort of like a real circus show!

Pippin – ­November 11-23, 2014

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL is coming to Segerstrom Hall for the first time next summer. This incredible show about Motown founder Berry Gordy’s journey from boxer to music mogul is truly about music bringing America together.  Berry launched the careers of such giants like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson.  The musical features 60 memorable songs including “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.

We were treated to one of the songs by ensemble cast member and Berry’s understudy JAMARICE DAUGHTRY (Member of the stellar award winning group, Group Therapy) along with a powerful duet later with TRISHA JEFFREY (2013 Broadway World Chicago Best Actress for Celie in The Color Purple, Tour: Sister Act, Rent).  They also shared some of their feelings toward this important story and it was clear how much passion these two have for MOTOWN.

I had the pleasure to speak with each of them and they are an absolute delight. They are so passionate and it was quickly evident how happy they are to be a part of MOTOWN.  With there being such a large catalogue of music within the show I asked about how grueling of a task it is on the cast.  TRISHA JEFFREY explained that many songs are performed as a way to progress the story, but there are many songs that are performed as they would in that time period.  Therefore the leads are not singing through 60 songs.

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DAUGHTRY also performs as Berry and he only has 4 songs, but he stated it adds so much for his character to be singing helping bring more life to the story.  Berry wasn’t a singer in real life, but this is the story of his life through his own eyes.  A lot of the groups like The Supremes, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, etc. are featured and the music tunes into their relationships between them all.

I also asked about the feeling of the show and with such a strong song selection if it is upbeat and high-energy the entire show. Trisha said, “This time in the world there was a lot of hatred and music and the whole point of Motown was to use music to bring people together; he did just that.  In doing that it was scary with the changes, John F. Kennedy dies, a whole bunch of stuff happening, so yes there are some serious moments too.”

MOTOWN June 16-28, 2015

Other Center premieres include:
Kinky Boots December 30, 2014 – January 11, 2015
Dirty Dancing February 3 – 15, 2015
Nice Work If You Can Get It March 17 – 22, 2015
Along with How the Grinch Stole Christmas for a short stint from December 10 – 14, 2015.

We even got to see our host Bob Bucci wearing a pair of the famous large red high-heeled boots seen in Kinky Boots.  This is one I’m personally thrilled to see as it’s a touching story with great choreography and big musical numbers.

Returning to Segerstrom Hall includes Annie The Musical May 14 – 24, 2015 and Guys and Dolls April 15 – 19, 2015; an already impressive lineup, no doubt.  Nonetheless, we need one more big production to round out the year.  Returning is an all-new production of the beloved Phantom of the Opera.

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Two cast members from the new production of Phantom were on hand to perform and have a brief discussion of the new show.  There was also a short video sharing some of the new stage design and special effects we can expect.  No worries here folks, the chandelier will return, and with a new special mechanism!  This will be sure to wow the audience as new scenic design PAUL BROWN marries updated technology with classic design as this show has to fit the late 1800s after all.

We sat down with ERIC RUIZ (King Lear, South Pacific) who plays multiple roles including The Phantom and CELIA HOTTENSTEIN (National tour debut, 2013 graduate of The Boston Conservatory) who plays Princess and understudy for Christine Daae.

I first asked what they both thought people will enjoy most about this new amped up production.  HOTTENSTEIN started off explaining how both productions are very different despite the same music and costumes.

HOTTENSTEIN: What I think they are going to like about this production is it’s a darker grittier production so they get a little slice of the backstage of the opera house and it’s more true to life. The phantom is as magical as he is in the Broadway production, you see a real man.  You get to see how he ticks, and into his psyche, why he does the things he does.  You have the same show but told in two very different ways.

Me: This is such a pivotal, iconic role; do you find it kind of surreal for both you to be in a role like this?

RUIZ: You know, this is a child hood dream come true first of all, and then I think you really you have to get to your brass tax.  You know ‘I’m here. This is amazing. I am in the amazing role that I always wanted to play’ and that’s all great and wonderful and has its place too, but there is also so much work.  There is so much of a technical aspect to the show that you have to be right on your mark for too, so it’s challenging at the same time.

It’s a show that in certain aspects is made with stage combat, fights that are out of control and have to be choreographed so distinctly that must play the same every night, which is a challenge to do something like that and [still] make it look like a mess…

Also, with this being such a BIG show it takes such a large support team to make everything look good.  He went on to state how for every cast member there is 1-5 people to support because of the costumes, wigs, make-up and all the technical aspect as well.  They have 21 semi-trucks to bring this show to fruition! That’s a HUMONGOUS production.

Phantom of the Opera returns August 5 – 16, 2015.

As mentioned before, there is so much more Segerstrom Center for the Arts offers.  There are great ballets apart of their International Dance Series, incredible music in a smaller setting in the Jazz and Cabaret Series and class it up with checking out a performance in their Chamber Music Series.  More information is listed below and on SCFTA.org.

Later this year is some special engagements from Shirley MacLaine, Yanni, Fiesta Navidad and Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan.

Single tickets for shows will go on sale approximately six weeks prior to the engagement.  More information can be found on SCFTA.org.  All of us here at Socalthrills look forward to seeing you at the theater!

There is entirely too much to be able to post it all here, but below is a complete line up of Segerstrom’s offerings for September:

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Shirley MacLaine
September 20, 2014 | Saturday at 8 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $39.

Academy Award®-winning actress, dancer and author Shirley MacLaine will share with the audience a montage of memorable film moments and private revelations about her extraordinary life, career and spiritual journey. MacLaine’s five decade career includes 50 feature films, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, six Emmy Awards, the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award and the title of international best-selling author. A longtime outspoken advocate for civil rights and liberties, women’s rights and spiritual understanding, MacLaine remains committed to boldly speaking her truth, unedited and uncensored.

The National Acrobats of The People’s Republic of China
September 13, 2014 | Saturday at 3 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $19.

The National Acrobats of The People’s Republic of China have entertained audiences worldwide for more than 60 years with astonishing feats of acrobatic agility and stunning display of martial arts. This elite group of acrobats continues a remarkable 2,000-year-old tradition of mastering precision, balance, grace, strength and artistry that result in dazzling and high adrenaline performances that also feature beautiful costumes, thrilling choreography and both traditional and modern music.

The Best of Jethro Tull Performed by Ian Anderson
September 18, 2014 | Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Segerstrom Hall. Tickets start at $39.

The legendary Jethro Tull frontman returns to Segerstrom Center with concert that spans his groundbreaking career as one of rock’s most innovative creators. This unforgettable evening features Anderson and his band (guitarist Florian Opahle, bassist David Goodier, keyboardist John O’Hara, drummer Scott Hammond and backing vocalist/actor Ryan O’Donnell) performing his new album, Homo Erraticus, in its entirety, along with a selection of best-loved Tull classics.

Engelbert Humperdinck
September 20, 2014 | Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Segerstrom Hall. Tickets start at $56.

The “King of Romance” makes his Segerstrom Center debut with an evening filled with classic songs from his vast catalogue of hits. A music legend with legions of fans around the world, Engelbert Humperdinck has released more than 80 albums of tender, beloved ballads, earning him an outstanding 63 gold and 24 platinum records, four Grammy® Award nominations, a Golden Globe for Entertainer of the Year and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Praised for his longstanding career, ultra-smooth stylized performances and dozens of hit songs, such as “Release Me,” “A Man Without Love,” “Spanish Eyes” and “The Last Waltz,” Humperdinck is considered one of the world’s consummate entertainers.

Special V.I.P. “After the Lovin’ Lounge with Engelbert Humperdinck” packages are available. V.I.P. package includes a meet and greet with Humperdinck after the show, autographed V.I.P. tour laminate, autographed greatest hits CD and more.

Shirley MacLaine
September 20, 2014 | Saturday at 8 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $39.
www.scfta.org

Academy Award®-winning actress, dancer and author Shirley MacLaine will share with the audience a montage of memorable film moments and private revelations about her extraordinary life, career and spiritual journey. MacLaine’s five decade career includes 50 feature films, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, six Emmy Awards, the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award and the title of international best-selling author. A longtime outspoken advocate for civil rights and liberties, women’s rights and spiritual understanding, MacLaine remains committed to boldly speaking her truth, unedited and uncensored.

Yanni
September 21, 2014 | Sunday at 7 p.m.
Segerstrom Hall. Tickets start at $59.

A phenomenal composer and live performer, Yanni has brought hundreds of millions of fans and fellow world citizens together via his concerts, with more than two billion more experiencing the magic of his music through television broadcasts worldwide. His iconic performances at the Acropolis in Greece, the Taj Mahal in India, the Forbidden City in China, the Royal Albert Hall in England and El Morro in Puerto Rico have crossed countless borders and have resonated with billions across the globe. Yanni has been awarded more than 40 platinum and gold albums worldwide and has sold more than 25 million albums globally.

Joshua Bell
September 25 – 27, 2014 | Thursday – Saturday at 8 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $25.
www.pacificsymphony.org

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin

Program includes:
Williams: Sound the Bells!
Rouse: Supplica (West Coast Premiere)
Glazunov: Violin Concerto
Straus: Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome
Ravel: Suite No. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe

Like no other violinist of recent times, Joshua Bell has captured the imaginations of both critics and audiences. Interview Magazine once said his playing “does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live.”

Pacific Symphony presents:
Afternoon with Joshua Bell
September 28, 2014 | Sunday at 3 p.m.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets start at $15.
www.pacificsymphony.org

Carl St.Clair, conductor
Joshua Bell, violin

Program includes:
Glazunov: Violin Concerto

A true classical music superstar, Joshua Bell enjoys a successful concert career, famous chamber music collaborations, partnerships with artists outside the classical arena and performances on movie soundtracks including, famously, The Red Violin. Glazunov’s lyrical Violin Concerto is a colorful, bravura showpiece for this special guest.