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The 12-13 season is underway! THE BOOK OF MORMON kicked off its First National Tour in Denver. Based on how fast tickets sold, and the response of critics and bloggers, this first engagement certainly looks like a good omen for a show that presenters love, but who are also probably a bit nervous, at least in some markets, about how the material will be received by their subscribers.

FOX 31

DENVER POST

5280 – THE DENVER MAGAZINE

COLORADO SPRINGS INDEPENDENT

THE COLORADOAN

WESTWORD

BREITBART TV

HE SAID/SHE SAID CRITICS

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Happy Birthday, America! Now that the 2011-2012 is just drawing to a close, let’s see what some of your cities had to say about various theatre tours that criss-crossed you over the past six months. (Note: All of these shows below will be back out on The Road for the 2012-2013 season):

AMERICAN IDIOT

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

BILLY ELLIOT

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES

THE LION KING

MAMMA MIA

MEMPHIS

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET

SHREK

WEST SIDE STORY

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The highly publicized and anticipated new NBC television series, SMASH debuts on Feb 6th. If it is a success, there has been discussion that the musical within the show may actually get produced on Broadway. And if it’s a hit on Broadway, could SMASH possibly hit the Road? Crossing my fingers that SMASH is indeed a success, as this small screen to White Way adaptation route could be a new paradigm that entices more people to get interested and get hooked on live theatre.

Here are some recent features and reviews related to the series:

BOSTON GLOBE

BUSINESSWEEK

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

CHICAGO TRIBUNE

GATHER

GAWKER

HARTFORD COURANT

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (Review)

HUFFINGTON POST (Review)

LOS ANGELES TIMES

NEW YORK MAGAZINE

NEW YORK MAGAZINE (feature on Megan Hilty)

NY1

REUTERS

THEATERMANIA

TORONTO STAR

WALL STREET JOURNAL

WALL STREET JOURNAL (Review)

WNYC

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It may be a new year, but we’re only at about the halfway mark of the 11-12 touring season. Want to see what critics have been saying about the various 11-12 tours so far? Just check out these links below…

WICKED – Pittsburgh

SHREK – Yakima

MEMPHIS – Memphis

MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET – Cleveland

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Toronto

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF – Regina

THE ADDAMS FAMILY – Palm Beach

YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN – El Paso

BILLY ELLIOT – Philadelphia

ROCK OF AGES – Akron

LES MISERABLES – Minneapolis

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES – Chicago

MAMMA MIA! – Columbus

AMERICAN IDIOT – Toronto

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – Calgary

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If you’re looking to get even more into the holiday spirit and see one or more seasonal musicals during what remains of the holiday season, some of these tours are still on The Road through early next year. Here are a few reviews and features…

Musical of ‘A Christmas Story’ tours America

West Michigan can count on a ‘White Christmas’

‘Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas’ review

GrooveLily – Striking 12

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This past summer a Mandarin version of MAMMA MIA opened in Beijing. More and more over the past several years theatre producers have been looking to China as a place to present musicals.  In this particular case, this was the first time a Western-style musical was translated into Mandarin, as opposed to being performed in English. Clearly, the actual language would be understood by the locals, but did the story and style translate to this vastly different culture?

Here is an article from TIME that discusses the MAMMA MIA Beijing engagement. I also talked a bit about the challenges of American and Western-style musicals in general translating in other countries, both literally and culturally, in my post entitled “Lost In Translation” back on May 28, 2009.

Here is a news clip that covers the Mandarin version of MAMMA MIA. And here is a review of the show.

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The 2011-2012 touring season is just about to begin, and may have even officially begun in certain markets. For 11-12 The Road will include shows that opened on Broadway during the 09-10 season such as MEMPHIS, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET, THE ADDAMS FAMILY and LA CAGE AUX FOLLES. In addition to these new shows, there will also be the usual blockbusters that have been on The Road for years such as WICKED, JERSEY BOYS and MAMMA MIA.

In between the old standby blockbusters and the new productions, you will also have your titles that come back after having gone out last season, and possibly even the season before that, and maybe even a season or so further back. Most of these traditional shows have at this point been restructured to be less expensive, and so are now either at a lower AEA contract, or may have been rebuilt altogether as Non-Equity tours.

The thing about Non-Equity tours is that, just like the bigger, more expensive AEA shows, these productions also need to book a minimum number of weeks to build a viable tour, or else they simply can’t afford to go out. Many of the smaller markets are typically on the route of Non-Equity tours and so the folks in these areas will likely be accustomed to the scaled down, less seasoned feel of this level of production. But ultimately, these tours do need to potentially hit more major markets, simply for routing purposes as they move from one place to another. This isn’t always the best of circumstances for a Non-Equity show since larger cities are used to a certain level of quality.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is one example of a tour that has been out for several years now and, while it was indeed on Broadway at one point, it is now a Non-Equity tour. While reviewers are not necessarily on the same wavelength as ticket buyers, and this show continues to draw audiences around North America, here is a review of the show that takes issue with the show being Non-Equity and playing a large theatre market like Chicago:

“Belle and Mr. Beast save an otherwise hairy production”

As a basis of comparison, here is what smaller market Providence had to say about the same touring production back when it first started in Feb 2010:

“A beauty of a ‘Beast at PPAC”

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