Tags: Center Stage Jackson, Legally Blonde the Musical, MT Pit
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The third of eleven local productions of Legally Blonde the Musical in the SE Michigan area came by way of Center Stage Jackson at the lovely Potter Center Baughmann Theatre.
This production was a very solid community theater production, with an energetic cast, some great voices, and a fast-paced production that was colorful and funny. Very good performances were turned in by Mary Krzesicki as Elle Woods; Adam Woolsey (Warner); Chip Mezo (Emmet); Timm Richardson (Professor Callahan); and Lisa Ykimoff (Paulette). M0st supporting roles were well-played, with some exceptions. The women’s ensemble was top-notch (if too young for some of the “kids” who were supposed to be in college); but a bit raggedy in the men’s ensemble — with some downright terrible thrown in there as well (in particular some of the younger cast members who were called on to play adults). Legally Blonde, like Annie, is a show that revolves around the younger folks, but it still requires a strong adult ensemble to back it all up. Not so much here.
The production was consistently high quality, with kudos to set designer Chris Fultz. Sound and lighting were also solid, and the costumes appropriate and colorful. I look forward to seeing future works by Center Stage Jackson, based on this very good community theater production. I would ask you to check them out as well — although I was able to only attend the last performance of Legally Blonde, so you’ll have to see what they have in store for next season at centerstagejackson.org
One final note: this is the first time that I have seen the use of The MT Pit musical recordings for a production. This is a company that records real orchestra tracks (not midi’s or reduced orchestrations) upon a company’s proof of paying the royalties and payment for the full orchestrations of the show. Instead of a live orchestra in the pit, the recorded tracks are played and sound-mixed with live voices on stage. The result was quite remarkable — it allows for the cranking of volume when needed, and decreasing volume where necessary to allow the vocalists to be heard. Don’t get me wrong, I will always opt for a real orchestra with live performers in the pit, and would never personally direct a musical without a live pit orchestra — that is what makes musical theater what it is — but for some community theater groups and high schools where this is not an option due to facility limitations; musician limitations, etc, this is a great option. In essence, you get a full orchestra without the physical players in the pit. It doesn’t save costs, though, as you still pay for the live orchestra recording, only those musicians were in LA, not in Jackson. I do not know what reasons Center Stage Jackson had to use the tracks, but it worked for this production.
Tags: Cedar Point, Cedar Point Paddlewheel, Winebego Paddlewheel
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So, as you most likely know (or if not, here’s the scoop) Cedar Point closed down the Paddlewheel Excursion last year to make way for this year’s Dinosaur’s Alive! animatronic display on Adventure Island (nee Millennium Island)…but that’s not the only Paddlewheel in town at The Point…
One of the ORIGINAL Paddlewheels (from the 70′s) has been retrofitted and makes daily sailings on the hour from the CP Marina (the same pier as Famous Dave’s Restaurant). It provides a tremendous 45 minutes trip out onto Lake Erie, past CP, and back again — and I guarantee you the absolute best views of Cedar Point, from the most unique angle. The boat is freshly painted; it is in remarkably good shape, and it provides a really comfortable ride.
Captain Brian and his assistant Caitlyn make your trip enjoyable and personable, and the cruise sails rain or shine (unless the rain is severe or blowing sideways). Its a remarkably breezy trip on a hot sunny day…and need I mention again the best views of The Point.
The cost is 10.00 per adult, 8.00 if you are a Platinum Pass holder, and children 5 and under are free. You can reserve in advance by calling 1 (419) 627-2334…or you can purchase your ticket at the Marina Office, which is located right next to Famous Daves. You can bring beverages onboard with you.
If you are Cedar Point, it is attraction Number 4 on your map — and it is located just outside the Marina Entrance — Get your hand stamped, just walk across the street and down the pier toward Famous Dave’s and the Paddlewheel is located at the end of the pier.
Please help support this awesome attraction! Cedar Point doesn’t seem to do a very good job of advertising it, and it really is a wonderful way to spend an hour of your day – relaxing and enjoying the Lake as well as the most unique view of the park available from anywhere. I might suggest the sunset cruise for some amazing color. If you are staying in the resorts, their flyer is inside your Resort Guide Notebook.
These photos were all taken on my cruise the other day. I highly recommend it.
Marlena Hilderley’s Elle Woods is superb in Legally Blonde (Croswell Opera House) – Review June 17, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Legally Blonde, Legally Blonde the Musical, Marlena Hilderley
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It seems you can’t turn a corner without running into Legally Blonde The Musical this summer/fall in Michigan — in fact, there are 11 productions slated in just a 30 mile radius of each other, several of them playing on the same weekend. But it would be hard to find a better Elle Woods than Marlena Hilderley in Croswell Opera House’s current production.
Uncanny resemblance to Paris Hilton aside, Hilderley grows the character from sorority girl to lawyer with believability, and singing chops to spare, which is a good thing since she is onstage nearly the entire performance. Even more surpisingly, if you have seen the Broadway production, or the tour, or the MTV airings ad-nauseum of the Broadway production, Hilderley (who is still studying theater and voice at Michigan) gives any of the professional Elle’s a run for their money.
Nicely matched here is Natasha Ricketts’ Paulette, whose “Ireland” brings down the house in the show’s second funniest number (the funniest is “Gay or European”, though not apparently to the elderly couple who sat next to me). She has acting and singing skills that help her convey both loud and intimate, sometimes at the same time. Also superb is Darin DeWeese as Emmett. The ensemble is strong throughout (although there were missed dance steps by some at Sunday’s performance); although there are also a couple glaring miscasts: one involving a male who can sing but not act (and who has zero chemistry with Hilderley), and one involving a fine actor with weak vocal support (turning one of the better-written Act I songs into not much of anything).
Jen Letherer directs a fast-paced comic-driven production that has few gaps, and a strong sense of heart. Dave Rains’ orchestra sounds great, and his musical direction is excellent — the diction and tone are very good in this cast, even if they at times are overwhelmed by the orchestra (particularly in large ensemble numbers).
The set by Justin Lang is serviceable, and projections are fine throughout. One really great gimmick is the scrolling Facebook page pre-show and intermission…Elle has 2698 Friends on Facebook! Lighting is generally good. The costumes by Natalie Kissinger are hit-and-miss; her designs for the women look great — the designs for the men are another story altogether, and particularly glaring is a suit for Warren early in the show which makes him look neither handsome nor manly.
Overall, this is a great production at the Croswell Opera House. Also coming down the pike are the student version of Les Miserables (with countless high school kids) and 7 Brides for 7 Brothers. Legally Blonde continues through next weekend.
Kings Island Live Shows 2012 (Review) June 10, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment.
Tags: Kings Island, Kings Island Live Shows, Kings Island Live Shows 2012
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Kings Island has an interesting array of live entertainment this year….and lets start with the oddest:
ED ALONZO’S PSYCHO CIRCUS OF MAGIC & MAYHEM at the Kings Island Theater is one of the oddest shows I’ve ever seen in a theme park. Fresh from Knott’s, the show mixes music, dance, comedy and magic that is really quite good. There is a bit of psycho, there is a lot of magic, and there is a modecum of mayhem (at the performance I saw, the show exploded in an unexpeted frenzy of mayhem when one of the children asked to participate in the magic peed on stage, leading to plenty of jokes, and (quite seriously) really really bad parenting on display as Ed Alonzo begged the parents to come get their wet kid, while a stage hand mopped the stage and the parents took photos thinking it was all hilarious.
AMERICAN COUNTRY is back at the Festhaus for the late afternoon/evening shows. Its a 25 minute mix of new country music. Its best suited for watching/glancing while you are chowing down on your Panda Express or your Pizza. At least it has a good cast and a decent mix of country music that goes down well with your chicken and rice.
BRITISH INVASION is the new daytime show at the Festhaus. The show is an entertaining mix of British pop rock, from the Beatles to Elton John. The costumes here are colorful, the cast very good, and the sound and light design adequate for the very large space. The problem here is not the enthusiasm of the cast, or the songs, or the sound. Its the god-awful show-choir staging of this 25 minutes canned-music mix entertainment. Its the worst kind of show choir, and you are likely to cringe my the time they get to the umpteenth set of touch-steps in the background while the lead stands front and center in the triangle.
Several of the Kings Island shows are not yet open. See them and comment when you do, since I won’t be back to KI for a few years. Just a side comment: seen on a Sunday, the park itself was very quiet. I spent 5 hours in the park and saw all three shows and rode all of the coasters and major rides and still had time for dinner along the way. KI is a great amusement park, but it doesn’t hold a candle to my homepark: Cedar Point, where a day isn’t enough to get everything in.