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Archive for August, 2009

The Mahalia Jackson Theater for The Performing Arts

The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts

Four years ago, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, and live theater was not immune. The Road, however, is returning to New Orleans for the 2009-2010 season! The Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, which enjoyed its grand re-opening in January of this year, and has since hosted a variety of events and programming, will now also be the home of a lively Broadway Series, which will include the National Tour of “Wicked.”

Check out this article for an update on the other 2009-2010 Broadway Series shows scheduled for The Mahalia Jackson Theater.

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The Road is Ageless

Estelle Parsons

Estelle Parsons

Topol
Topol
Chazz Palminteri
Chazz Palminteri

The Road often provides that “big break” for unknowns looking to make a name in the theater business, as well as opportunities for actors to perform roles that they otherwise would not have been able to play on Broadway for one reason or another. New and young performers aren’t the only ones though reaping the rewards that The Road has to offer. In recent years it seems more and more middle-aged, and beyond middle-aged celebrities are also getting into the touring act.

Why do they do it? And are these big enough names to make a real difference at the box office?

Chazz Palminteri, most widely known for his roles in films such as The Usual Suspects, Bullets Over Broadway, and his career-launching turn in the autobiographical stage to screen adaptation of A Bronx Tale, not only performed his one-man tour-de-force on Broadway in the 2007-2008 season, but then went on tour with the show the following season. Performing an eight show week is already a daunting task. Add touring on top of it and that likely makes the experience even more exhausting. At age 56 though, Palminteri was still eager to go out and tread the boards beyond Broadway according to this article.

67-year old stage and film actor, Stacy Keach starred this past season in the National Tour of Frost/Nixon. He suffered a stroke while out on The Road, but was soon able to return to the tour. He did so with great enthusiasm and appreciation, which he expresses here.

The legendary Chaim Topol, 73, will soon be wrapping up his “farewell tour” performing his world-famous incarnation of Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof. The running time of the show clocks in at three hours. This, along with an eight show per week schedule, and just one week stays in some markets would require a great deal of stamina at any age. “Fiddler” over the years has been an extremely popular show around the globe, and this tour has also been successful, but did Topol really need to go out there again? He explains his love for the show and the role here.

This upcoming touring season some more familiar names are hitting The Road. 45-year old Melissa Gilbert best-known for her role as Laura “Half-Pint” Ingalls in the sweet and wholesome 70’s/80’s TV show, Little House on the Prairie will now be playing the role of Ma in a touring stage musical version in 2009-2010. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, the intense, award-winning, darkly comedic family drama, August: Osage County is also going out on tour in 2009-2010. And who will be playing the drug abusing, sharp-tounged family matriarch, Violet Weston? None other than 81-year old Estelle Parsons, who recently wrapped up her run on Broadway in the same role. She explains her ability to play this demanding role here.

“Fiddler” continues into the 2009-2010 touring season, and like that perennial favorite, “Little House” also has a chance of striking multi-generational cords. It will be interesting though to see how “August” grosses on The Road, and if it can ultimately be determined whether Parsons’ name has anything to do with sales. “August” is an emotional, complex play with a raw center that may not consistently agree with folks outside of Chicago and New York, as this recent review of the Denver engagement portends. Whether Parsons is a big enough name to draw in audiences, most particularly those single ticket buyers who would have otherwise stayed away, remains to be seen. In the end though, box office booster or not, she certainly is an inspiration.

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