Kalamazoo Wears the Kinky Boots!

By: Amelia Manley

Last week, a famous pair of red boots strolled their way into Kalamazoo! And a lot of famous Kalamazoo faces had a chance to try them on while they were here.

Kinky Boots opens Miller Auditorium’s Zhang Financial Broadway season for four performances from Oct. 20-22. To get ready for this very special event, we visited local celebrities with the red kinky boots in tow. I had the honor to watch the boots get zipped up and yes, they can be hard to put on, but we were there to assist.

Thanks to all the local boots wearers who took part: Dana Marshall with WKFR 103.3 FM, Mike McKelly with 107.7 WRKR FM, Bobby Guy with K-102.5 FM, Dr. David Montgomery with WMU’s Bronco Marching Band, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, Portage Mayor Peter Strazdas, Alan Park with Zoo City Cycle, WMU’s First Lady Mrs. Kari Montgomery, Kim Carson with FM 106.5 WVFM, Ken Lanphear with WKZO AM 590, Miller Auditorium‘s Director Rob Pennock and Daniel Brier, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra‘s Resident Conductor.

The famous boots have their own backstory with the show:

 

 

In a show called Kinky Boots, “you’ve gotta get the boots right,” says Gregg Barnes, costume and footwear designer for the Tony Award-winning musical. The show, based on a real story and independent film, about a failing English shoe factory which turned its fortunes around by niche-marketing sturdy boots for drag artists, has become a sold-out Broadway phenomenon. With a book by Harvey Fierstein and a Tony winning score by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, Kinky Boots relies heavily on its visual designs, and, of course, those boots by Barnes.

The designer says it was quite a challenge to create those thigh-high boots, with six inch stiletto heels. “What’s really funny about our experience with Kinky Boots is that my team, and the cobblers who made the boots, we had the exact same story as in the musical,” explains Barnes. “Everything they talk about in terms of reinforcing the heel and all of that stuff, we had the same learning curve!”

Learn more about Kinky Boots and reserve your tickets now at http://www.millerauditorium.com/kinky-boots.

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Theatre Memes Ranked and Rated

By: Amelia Manley

As a former high school theatre geek, my social media is littered with references and satire that I scroll through on a daily basis.

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So here are a few of my favorites that I have come across, tailored to Miller’s upcoming season, of course. Without further ado, here are the Impact font laden memes I promised.

10. Now, I recognize that Cats is not everyone’s favorite musical, but what would you expect from a show that is about Cats singing their names at the audience for two hours? However, since this contains an actual cat, it gets higher marks.

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  1. I run into this DAILY. Being a former theatre kid, as in no longer. My heart breaks a little more every time I reference Dear Evan Hansen or even Wicked and no one understands it.

Andrew

  1. This is a rule of thumb for theatre. Just look at some of the classics, basically everyone dies in the second act. Case in point: (spoiler alert!) Spring Awakening.

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  1. I have gotten literal sighs when I put on my music. But every once in a blue moon, I’ll hear a squeal of excitement instead–and those are the moments I live for.

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  1. Lion King is classic for my generation. That is all. (Also cat)

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  1. You have never hustled until you have danced to “Something Familiar” in double time.

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  1. There are so few consistencies throughout life, however one consistency is that for any moment in life, there is song in a musical.

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  1. Hamilton was not going to be left out of this list. Also, the final essay struggle is real.

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  1. The combination of these two musicals is so nonsensical, yet so perfect.

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  1. When you realize these musicals have similar songs in not at all similar sequences.

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Broadway Reading List

By: Lauren Hufford & Amelia Manley

We thought it would be fun to put together a little reading list for other book and theater enthusiasts, so here are some memorable shows that started out as books.

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Les Misérables is a French novel by Victor Hugo that was published in 1862. The musical version debuted in 1980 in Paris and lyrics were written by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer with music by Claude-Michel Schӧnberg.

Fiddler

Fiddler on the Roof was inspired by a series of stories by Sholem Aleichem. The stories center around Tevye and his five daughters, their Jewish and cultural traditions, and the eviction of Jews from their village. In 1964 the stories were transformed into a musical by Jerry Bock, for music; Sheldon Harnick, for lyrics; and Joseph Stein for the book.

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The String of Pearls: A Romance was a penny dreadful serial in 1846 and 1847 written by James Malcom Rymer and Thomas Peckett Prest and was put into book form in 1850. It follows the antagonist of the story, Sweeney Todd. In 1973 the serial was transformed into a play by Christopher Bond titled Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 1979 it debuted as a musical thriller. Music and lyrics were written by Stephen Sondheim and the book by Hugh Wheeler.

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was an American children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. Baum wrote the lyrics and book for the 1902 Musical version of his book and the music was written by Paul Tiejens. The well-known film version of the story came about in 1939.

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by Gregory Maguire in 1995, adapted from L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maguire created a revisionist view of the Land of Oz and the characters within, making this novel more suited for an adult audience. Wicked the musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 with lyrics and music by Stephen Schwartz.

Phantom

The original story of Christine Daaé first appeared in a serial in Le Gaulois 1909-1910, written by Gaston Leroux. Then story was later adapted into a novel volume in 1910 named le Fantôme de l’Opéra, which was later adapted by Andrew Lloyd Webber in his 1986 musical with lyrics by Charles Heart and Richard Stilgoe.

Matilda

Matilda, a precocious 5-year-old with the gift of telekinesis and a love of reading, originally came from the 1988 novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. With music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda the musical made its West End premiere in 2011, winning seven Olivier awards. It premiered on Broadway in 2013.

Camelot

Camelot is based upon T.H. White’s four part book The Once and Future King, written in 1958. The original 1960 production ran for 873 performance racking up four Tony awards with lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.

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The hustling and bustling Story of Sky Masterson originated from the short stories by Damon Runyon “The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.” The Guys and Dolls music and lyrics were written by Fran Loesser with the musical premiering in 1950. This also spawned a 1955 movie adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra.

MaryPoppins

Mary Poppins started with eight children’s books written by P.L. Travers from 1934 to 1988. The series was adapted into a musical film by Walt Disney in 1964. From there it was adapted again into a 2004 musical by Cameron Mackintosh, with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers. The movie Saving Mr. Banks (2013) was also inspired by the bewitching nanny, but it focused on the writer of the series, P.L. Travers.

Miller Auditorium’s Usher Corps

By: Lauren Hufford

Miller Auditorium on a show night is a fascinating orchestra of staff. Backstage, they are preparing lighting, sound, sets and the cast. The Ticket Office is selling tickets and working with will call pick ups. The front of house staff is preparing concession stands, the bar and the seating area. One of the essential parts of Miller’s event staff can be found in our Usher Corps. Founded in 1967 with only a handful of people, the Usher Corps has grown to be 250 members strong and consists of a dedicated team of students and community members.

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Ushers arrive approximately 60 minutes before the posted curtain time for a particular show. They are informed of the specifics for that evening’s event, any emergency policies and are notified of any schedule changes. They also stuff programs, help with concessions, assist with the bar and tend to any other pre-show needs. The ushers stay until 10:30 or 11 p.m. (depending on the length of the performance) to help clean the seating area. In addition to meeting new friends and catching up with long-time friends, ushers often get to enjoy the show they are volunteering for.

Does that sound fun? Well, you’re in luck–anyone is welcome to be a part of the Miller Auditorium Usher Corps. To be an usher, you must be at least 18 years of age or a student at Western Michigan University. You will also need to complete an on-line application. All ushers need to attend a training session before their first ushering assignment. During this training we will go over customer service, auditorium and university policies/procedures, and take a tour of the building. This training is in addition to the organizational meetings held each semester, where ushers are updated on policies/procedures and receive a schedule of events that need ushers.

If you are interested in joining the Usher Corps or would like more information, you can contact Shannon Rininger, Patron Services Manager, by email.

Summer Distribution

By: Amelia Manley

On a Tuesday morning, bright and bleary eyed, Lauren, my fellow marketing assistant, and I left in our matching Miller shirts for summer distribution. After spending the better part of this week in the Miller van – even getting lost a few times, we can safely say that summer distribution is underway. We hit the road and started distributing our 2017-18 Miller season brochures all around the greater Kalamazoo area. We have gone to Portage, Battle Creek and, of course, visited many local Kalamazoo businesses along the way. Now this may sound like a lot of driving, but we passed the time with dramatic sing-a-longs to the radio, so don’t worry.

Lauren and I had a great time traveling around southwest Michigan and meeting many different business owners. We came across a lot of people excited for the upcoming season, especially our Zhang Financial Broadway in West Michigan series. The 2017-18 Broadway lineup includes great shows such as Kinky Boots, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and Disney’s THE LION KING. Others were excited for our Lake Michigan Mailer Spotlight series, which includes big names such as Trevor Noah, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live! and STOMP. We braved the heat of the dog days of summer, so please pick up a brochure when you spot them at local businesses and hotels. We plan on visiting more businesses as the season progresses with updates on upcoming shows and new show posters, so keep an eye out!

P.S. Would you like us to drop off Miller season brochures at your business? Drop us a line at miller-comments@wmich.edu.

Broadway Gives Back

By: Amelia Manley

In addition to providing great entertainment, Broadway productions commit their time and resources to giving back to those in need. Since 1987, Broadway has been actively fighting HIV/AIDS by providing financial support for lifesaving medications, healthcare, nutritious meals and much more. In 1992, two foundations combined to create Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This new organization was established as a not-for-profit fundraising organization that upheld the ideals of the two previous groups. Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS raises every dollar given; this, in turn, provides many services to those affected by HIV/ AIDS. Their mission statement not only includes the mitigation of HIV/AIDS, but also to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS uses its unique position in the entertainment industry to benefit those affected; this includes efforts nation-wide as well as international.

 

Though familiar to many theatre-goers, Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS use more than just red donation buckets to raise money.  One of their most popular events is Broadway Bares, an annual burlesque show fundraiser. This fundraising event has occurred since 1992 and has continued to raise more funds for HIV/ AIDS.  Broadway Bares has become highly choreographed and produced since its humble beginnings with eight dancers in rotation.  Since then, it has been presented two performances every June in front of sold out crowds in some of the largest clubs in Manhattan.

On June 18, 2017, in the Hammerstein Ballroom, just two performances raised $1,586,114. This year’s event featured a collegiate theme. Bearing the cheeky name ‘Strip U,’ the freshmen were shown the ropes in featured classes, such as chemistry, fine arts, feminist studies and a Pavlovian psychology lesson. The burlesque revue also featured other aspects of the Strip U student experience, including a pep rally, a shirts and skins Lacrosse game and a toga party.

 

This is only the second year on record that the online fundraising was the largest contributor to the grand total raised. All money raised is for HIV/ AIDS is not-for-profit and to date Broadway Bares has raised $17.4 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The creator of Broadway Bares, Paw Paw, Michigan native Jerry Mitchell, wrapped up the performances reminding the audience that “We must take the power of our diverse communities and dedicate our energies to the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other.”

To learn more about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit their site.

Maranda’s Park Party Recap

By: Lauren Hufford

Miller Auditorium was happy to take part in Maranda’s Kalamazoo Park Party in Bronson Park last week. Maranda, the host of WOTV 4’s “Where You Live,” has hosted her Park Parties for the last 23 years, inviting families to enjoy some free summer fun and a free lunch for anyone under 18 provided by the Michigan Department of Education. Maranda’s Park Parties are recognized by the USDA as one of the nation’s largest summer feeding programs and she knows how to make it fun!

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More than 4,000 people enjoyed the festivities at Bronson Park – it was PACKED! It was a day of fun acts on stage, big blow-up obstacle courses and a rock wall. Miller was there in full form, prize wheel spinning and a coloring table ready to go. Kids of all ages were having a blast spinning our wheel for candy, temporary tattoos, frisbees and more!

We have plenty of fun, family friendly shows coming to Miller Auditorium this season and we are so excited! We had coloring pages and crowns to decorate for each of the shows, and a drawing to win a family four-pack of tickets to either Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live: King for a Day or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.

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It was an amazing day! The sun was out and the sky was blue. Bronson Park was full of kids and parents alike just having fun – Miller staff included! Here’s our favorite selfie of the day featuring Miller’s Thom and Bethany along with the one-and-only Maranda!

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Amelia and I were also there, testing out our ‘Millergram’ frame in advance of WMU’s Bronco Bash this fall.

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To experience and learn about the excitement of live entertainment and Maranda’s Park Party was an awesome way to reach more kids and families to show them how much fun the theater can be!

If you would like more information on the Park Parties, take a look at Maranda’s page:
http://wotv4women.com/2017/06/12/2017-maranda-park-party-schedule-everyones-invited-and-everythings-free/

2017 Tony Awards Recap

By: Jimmy Brand

The 71st Annual Tony Awards have come and gone, but here’s your recap of the highs, lows and more from theater’s biggest night of the year.

Speeches:

2017 Tony Awards - Media Room

While you may never have wondered who would win in a fight, Bette Midler or and an entire orchestra playing her off stage, you now need to wonder no longer. The septuagenarian, winning on her first Tony nomination, continued her speech long past the play off attempt, at one point shouting, “Shut that crap off!” While her more than four-minute speech was the longest, it was by no means the best of the night.

Another notable speech of the night came from Best Featured Actress in a Musical winner, Rachel Bay Jones of Dear Evan Hansen. Jones told a heartwarming story of her Nana selling her engagement ring so that the young Jones could move to New York and become an actor. She also took time to thank her parents for “cursing me with a love of the theater.”

Honorable mention for the cutest speech of the night goes to Mr. Ben Platt. Platt was awarded the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical for his stunning performance as the titular character in Dear Evan Hansen. Platt, clearly emotional, addressed “all the young people watching at home” in his speech reminding everyone “Don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.” Here’s Ben Platt and the cast of Dear Evan Hansen‘s Tony performance of Waving Through a Window: https://youtu.be/0vkTxakkho4

Everything Else:

Photo from Getty images for Tony Award Productions

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Photo from Getty images for Tony Award Productions

Broadway musical Side Show had an unexpected revival on the Tony Awards stage when Tom Sturridge and Olivia Wilde presented the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play. With their similar looks and close stance, you can almost hear the Side Show showstopper, “I Will Never Leave You,” playing.

The musical Bandstand is likely to draw considerable post-Tonys attention due to a heartfelt introduction from Former Second Lady, Dr. Jill Biden. She received a standing ovation as she walked on the Tony stage. Dr. Biden talked about the partnership with the organization Got Your 6 and the musical Bandstand to highlight the experiences of American veterans. Dr. Biden went on to say, “To our veterans, on behalf of Joe, myself, the company of Bandstand and everybody else here, we’ve got your six.”

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Photo credit: Theo Wargo/ Getty Images

Proving that good things do eventually come to those who wait, Jane Greenwood took home the 2017 Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Play for Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. This nomination and subsequent win marks Ms. Greenwood’s 22nd Tony nomination. She did receive a Tony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Ms. Greenwood, who had been called the Susan Lucci of the Tonys, must be quite pleased to have her first competitive Tony.

Ending on a bright note, we have new friends to add to the EGOT watch list. EGOT of course referring to the short list of people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. After taking home a Tony Award for co-producing the revival of Jitney, John Legend is only one letter away from joining this select group of people. All he needs now is the E to add to his GOT.

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won the Oscar for Best Original Song for City of Stars from La La Land earlier this year and the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen, and are now 50% of the way to the coveted EGOT. They could be potentially Emmy-bound for their special musical episode of The Flash, which aired in March. They could also be strong candidates for the 2018 Grammys where they would be eligible for their original music from both La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen. While a long shot, the two are well on their way to EGOT status with the chance to do the whole kit and caboodle in just around 12 months.

Here’s to another great Tony Awards ceremony! You can get all the Tony details here: https://www.tonyawards.com/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Miller, Broncos!

By: Lauren Hufford

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I’m happy to welcome all the new members of the Western Michigan University family to campus! New students started arriving last week for orientation and it’s been great to see them here on campus. Our WMU community is built of so many different people, experiences, and events and I want to introduce new students to Miller Auditorium.

As students here at Western, you have the ability to buy tickets to most Miller season events at 50% off regular prices thanks to a fund established by the President’s Office. Now, you are limited to one discounted ticket per event with a Bronco ID, but this discount includes most shows presented by Miller Auditorium–including both the Zhang Financial Broadway in West Michigan Series and the Lake Michigan Mailers Spotlight Series.  Just make sure to visit or call our Ticket Office at (269) 387-2300 and have your Bronco ID handy.

This season is going to be filled with some absolutely amazing shows as we celebrate Miller Auditorium’s 50th Anniversary and I couldn’t be more excited about what is going to be going on around us. Kinky Boots, Trevor Noah, STOMP, Disney’s THE LION KING and so much more–and WMU students can use their 50% discount on all these shows!

I have loved being here at Western as a student and it has only become more exciting and fulfilling after I became involved with the amazing opportunities available on campus like being a member of the Bronco Marching Band and working events at Miller. The shows you get to see, the movies, the concerts, I promise you’ll love them all. Welcome to WMU, new Broncos!

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Broadway League Spring Road Conference

By: Tracey Lawie

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Every spring, I hear the call of the Big Apple….the annual Broadway League conference where performing art centers from across the country converge in New York City to network, learn the latest trends in marketing and Broadway buying behaviors, take in the latest Broadway shows and get to interact with the creative teams and actors of various shows.

My week started off with bang – I got to see the revival of Miss Saigon on my first night.  A young newcomer plays the lead, Kim, and hers is a special story.  Eva Noblezada was a 2013 finalist for Best performance by an Actress at the Jimmy Awards (the National High School Musical Theatre Awards). There, she caught the eye of New York casting director Tara Rubin who was in the audience. She was so moved by Noblezada’s performance that she spoke with her afterwards and contacted theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh who was preparing of the West End production of Miss Saigon at the time.  Long story short…Noblezada was cast in the role of Kim and made her debut in the West End in 2014 and now does 8 shows a week on Broadway.

Other shows I took in during the week include The School of Rock (my personal favorite), The Great Comet of 1812 (this show has the most interesting staging – the audience is on it and fully interactive throughout the show), A Bronx Tale (a lovely musical that reminded me a lot of Jersey Boys) and Beautiful: The Carole King Story (I dare you not to sing along with every song).

It was a fantastic week and I look forward to implementing some of the things I learned for our next season.  And, hopefully, you all will get a chance to see these great shows too when they tour and come through Miller in the years to come.

On a personal note…one highlight of the week was getting to meet Josh Groban who is currently starring in The Great Comet.  He is an amazingly nice person!

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