Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Q&A with Glen Burtnik

A Q&A with Glen Burtnik about Jersey Beatles Bash V coming to the State Theatre on Sat., July 23 at 8pm

Q: What can the audience expect to see different at this year’s Beatles Bash?

A: Enhanced orchestration. I pretty much know all Beatles albums by heart. And so before I carefully went over it, I originally—and absent mindedly—thought doing a note-for-note performance of Revolver could be fairly straight forward, executed by a simple ‘rock band’ (just bass, a few guitarists, pianos, and drums backing the vocals) as the Revolver album seemed to feature somewhat straight ahead, uncluttered arrangements.

But then I remembered “Eleanor Rigby”, the one and only song on the album with a string section. A song that’s a big fat landmark in the marriage of pop music and classical arranging. A masterpiece for sure.

Now, I love working with live strings and have grown fond of the group of players I’ve been working with—a quartet consisting of violinists Dana Marchioni, Linda Heffentrager, Taylor Hope and cellist James Celestino.

Upon informing them of my plans to tackle “Eleanor Rigby”, violinists Dana & Linda appealed to me that we go the distance with this important song and do it for real. To me, this would mean using the absolute correct orchestration (on the record, George Martin had arranged it for 8 strings: 4 violins, 2 violas, and 2 cellos).

Loving such enthusiasm, I took the bait, deciding to expand the string section by double. But upon going through the process of hiring eight classical string players to play for only one tune seemed an inefficient use of musicians (or kinda stupid, as we rock musicians would say).

Instead of missing an opportunity, since I’ll have all these cellists, violinists, and viola players hanging around backstage with nothing to play all evening except “Eleanor Rigby”, I figure let’s add some of the more orchestrated Beatles material to the show. It seemed a good idea to include other, more ambitious productions. The bigger, more classical & symphonic songs like “She’s Leaving Home”, “Yesterday” and “The Long And Winding Road,” “Across The Universe” as well as the wilder “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “All You Need Is Love,” “I Am The Walrus,” and “A Day In The Life.

Of course, once I got the ball rolling in such a direction, it behooved me to assemble a large horn section (featuring James Egan) and a 25 voice female choir. This music deserves 100% effort and the audience certainly deserves such as well. This event is as much a celebration as anything, and I’m planing to fill the State Theatre with the sound and passion of 40 musicians all joyfully performing this amazing music from the soundtrack of our lives.

Q: How was it different preparing for this with Revolver as opposed to other Beatles albums?

A: The Beatles began experimenting during the making of this 45-year-old album. George Harrison delved much deeper into his eastern influence with “Love You To,” a song featuring Indian instrumentation of sitar and tabla. Then there’s the beautiful French Horn of “For No One.”

And most importantly, there’s the avant gard “Tomorrow Never Knows”—an iconic breakthrough for rock music, featuring tape loops, and guitars played backwards.

Q: What is your favorite Revolver song?

A: Very difficult to say, as it’s such an interesting album. “Good Day Sunshine” makes me happy.

Q: How has Beatles Bash evolved over the years?

A: Each year the stakes are higher, at least in my mind. It is a self imposed task to try to recreate this classic music as meticulously as possible, and with each year I strive a little harder to get closer to this “holy grail” type journey. We, my fellow musicians and I, up the ante a bit each time—we get into more and more heated discussions about how each sound was produced. We’re truly music nerds about this material, and each brings their own knowledge and research to the table. There’s a sort of competition and because of this, the attention to detail grows each time.

I’ve been approaching each year as an Anniversary. In 2007 it had been 50 years since Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. 2008 was the 50th birthday of what’s known as The White Album, 2009 was the anniversary of Abbey Road’s release. Each year we performed those albums. And since last year it had been 50 years since Let It Be and 45 years since both Help! and Rubber Soul (both came out in ’65) we performed all three.

But here’s the real deal; as our musical drive and ambition for perfecting this great music has grown in intensity, so has the audience. The evenings have become a bit of a love fest—attended by both aficionados and music fans all sharing my passion for what is truly some of the most important, powerful and beautiful music ever made.

For tickets to Jersey Beatles Bash V with Glen Burtnik & Friends on July 23, 2011, visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/jersey_beatles_bash_v

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Springing" into the Music Industry

By Audrey Yeager, Marketing & PR Intern

When I was younger, I used to work as a camp counselor. I always found it interesting to ask children what they wanted to be when they grew up, mostly because the question elicited so many original (and occasionally comical) responses: an ice cream man, a rock star, a princess, a doctor, a teacher, a painter, an actor. I was amazed by the amount of responses I received that dealt with professions in the arts. Take a “rock star,” for instance. I know many teens that have followed their passions and started their own bands, practicing out of their garages and booking local gigs. I think it is fabulous that teens today are so involved with music.

I wonder if Rick Springfield knew how successful he was going to be when he formed his first band named “Icy Blues” in high school in 1964. At that time, he was 15 years old. Now seeing the sensation that Springfield has become in his career, it is easy to forget about the fact that he was once a kid too, starting off in music the same way thousands of rock star hopefuls do today. After all, it was only two years earlier, at age 13, that Springfield had received his first guitar as a birthday present. Nevertheless, Springfield’s talent for music was unquestionable. After leaving high school, everything began to fall into place. Pete Watson asked the young Springfield to join Rock House, and the emerging musician accepted. While with the band, which changed its name from Rock House to MPD, Ltd in 1968, Springfield got the opportunity to play gigs in Vietnam. After returning, Springfield formed his own band, Wickedy Wak, but then decided to join the Australian band Zoot in 1969. (Did you know Springfield was born in Australia?)

It was clear that Springfield’s musical career had taken off by the time he recorded and released “Speak to the Sky.” At this point in his life, Springfield had moved to the United States. “Speak to the Sky” was his debut single at age 22; it became a hit. We all know what happened from there: Springfield went on to write and record more and more music that topped the charts. Springfield has released 17 top 40 singles throughout his music career. In 1982, he won a Grammy for Best Male Vocal Performance for the song “Jessie’s Girl.” Other hits include “Affair of the Heart,” “Love Somebody,” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” Springfield also branched out into acting and appeared in General Hospital. He most recently made appearances on Californication and Hawaii Five-0.

See Rick Springfield live on Sunday, July 10 at 7pm.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

“Workin’ for a Livin'” - Huey Lewis and the News Had to Do It Too

By Alyssa Selvaggio, Marketing/PR Intern

With the way our economy is today, a day rarely goes by without someone talking about how hard it is to find a job and be successful. For Huey Lewis and the News, that topic of conversation is all too familiar. While they have sold over 20 million albums and had 19 top-ten Billboard hits in the past 30 years, the road to get there was definitely a bumpy ride.

Starting off as two rival bands in San Francisco, they put their differences aside to become one. They released their first self-titled LP record in 1980 and experienced little success. Their efforts to create a live sound by only doing two or three takes for each song did not turn out to be sensation they had hoped for. For their second album, Picture This, they learned from their first album and took their time making a cleaner sound. When this album was released in 1982, they had one hit song, “Do You Believe in Love,” which helped them become more popular, but they were not a big name yet.

Still determined to become superstars, Huey Lewis and the News quickly ran back to the studio to record their third album in 1983. Delays in debuting Sports because of record label issues left the band in a tough situation. They wanted to reach out to people with their music, but their album was stuck in the studio. The band decided that they needed to go on tour to get noticed by more than just Bay Area fans. They travelled around the country touring in small clubs and bars to get their name out to the public. As they were on tour, Sports was released and they got news that their album had climbed its way to the top of the Billboard charts. They had finally reached stardom.

From then on, Huey Lewis and the News only became more famous. With their humorous and memorable videos on MTV (remember them buried in the sand in If This Is It?), each of their singles shot to the top of the music scene. Having a career and doing well is not always easy. Huey Lewis and the News proved that sometimes even music stars have to spend their days “Workin’ for a Livin’.”

See Huey Lewis and the News live at the State Theatre on Tuesday, July 12.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Can't Help But Dance Along...

By Audrey Yeager, Marketing & PR Intern

As a classically trained ballet dancer, my friends laugh at me every time I bust a move to anything that isn’t Mozart or Tchaikovsky. But I can’t help but start dancing when I hear that ultimate feel-good party song that has undoubtedly ‘survived’ the decades. The hit is a staple at all karaoke nights, and is as much a symbol of female empowerment today as it was when it was first released in 1978. (And yes, I will admit to butchering the song at many a karaoke gathering with my friends and family—I wish that I could hold a tune!) Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” is doing more than surviving; this hit is here to stay.

This song is just one of the reasons why Gaynor is a disco music legend. The lyrics are about a woman letting go and moving on after getting out of a difficult relationship. Mixed with Gaynor’s extraordinary vocals, the toe-tapping pump-up disco beat, and its relatable theme, it’s no wonder how quickly “I Will Survive” came into the limelight.

Let us follow the song from when it was first introduced to its place amidst music today. After being released in October of 1978, “I Will Survive” became immediately popular. The song was first released on the “B”-side of a record. (Gasp! Remember the time when there weren’t CD’s or iPods?!) The “A”-side of records were usually the more popular ones, and were often heavily edited with changes to the song’s speed and pitch. Luckily, “I Will Survive” did not undergo many changes.

Only one year after its release, the song secured the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The next year, “I Will Survive” won a Grammy for Best Disco Recording. Since then, it has been recorded in over 20 languages. It is incredible to see how many famous music artists reproduced this hit. Among the singers that released covers of Gaynor’s song are Diana Ross, Cake, Gladys Knight, Chantay Savage, Shirley Bassey, and Selena. In 2000, "I Will Survive" was ranked Number 1 on VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Dance Songs, beating out classics party hits such as “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge and Aretha Franklin’s “RESPECT.”

See Gloria Gaynor live with the Village People on Saturday, June 25 at 8pm.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Summer Tour Kick-off in New Brunswick

By Kayla Steinbach, PR & Marketing Intern

As a child I would carry around three different cassettes tapes with me everywhere I went. (You know…the primitive way of listening to music where songs were placed inside a plastic rectangle on a thin ribbon that would constantly get stuck inside and around any machine that would supposedly play your songs. You would then need to use your finger or a pencil to re-wind the tape hoping you wound it properly or at least didn’t rip the ribbon because then the tape was useless!) I carried a tape full of lullabies, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s The Food Album, with classics like “I love Rocky Road” (a satire on “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” made famous by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts) because I did, I loved rocky road ice cream. I preferred Al’s “Eat It” to Michael’s “Beat It” any day of the week. “Eat It” even earned Yankovic his first of three Grammy® Awards.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, is the undisputed king of pop culture parody. He has sold more comedy recordings than any artist in history, with six of his albums going gold (including my beloved The Food Album), eight going platinum, and Alapalooza going double platinum. His satirical twist on songs like Coolio's “Gangsta's Paradise” (“Amish Paradise”), and Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“Smells Like Nirvana”) have made him a household name. Some of Al's other hits include “Gump,” “White and Nerdy,” “I'm Fat,” “I Lost on Jeopardy,” “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi,” “Like a Surgeon,” and “Bedrock Anthem.”

Al's live show is family-friendly with lots of surprises, costume changes, and all the antics you'd expect. I can’t wait to see him and sing along with all my favorite food inspired songs plus so many more! See you at the State Theatre on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 8pm for a laugh-out-loud event that is sure to bring tears to your eyes!

For tickets and more information please visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/weird_al.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Get ready to Rock & Roll in July!

By Kayla Steinbach, PR & Marketing Intern

The month of July brings sunshine, pool parties, and Rock & Roll to New Brunswick. We have four rockin’ acts set between July 10-23 including four Grammy® Award-winners!

On Sunday, July 10 at 7pm come out to the State Theatre for Grammy® Award-winning singer/songwriter, Rick Springfield. He has had 17 top 40 singles, including the smash hits “Jessie's Girl,” “Don't Talk To Strangers,” “Affair of the Heart,” “Love Somebody,” “Celebrate Youth,” and “Rock of Life.” Springfield is also a TV actor starring in General Hospital and Californication.

Huey Lewis and the News are set to perform on Tuesday, July 12 at 8pm. For one night only, the Grammy® Award-winning band will pay tribute to Memphis soul with the Soulsville Tour including songs like “Respect Yourself” and “Got to Get You Off My Mind. But don’t worry, the band will also play all those classic Huey Lewis and the News songs you know and love— like smash-hits “The Power of Love,” “If This is It,” “Doing It All For My Baby,” “(Too) Hip to be Square,” “Workin’ For A Livin’,” and “Back In Time.”

That weekend on Saturday, July 16 at 8pm, Shawn Colvin & Loudon Wainwright III will take the stage. In her 19-year career, singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin, best known for her Top 10 hit “Sunny Came Home,” has won three Grammy® Awards and released eight albums. Grammy® Award-winning folk singer Loudon Wainwright III has recorded over 20 albums. His songs include “Dead Skunk,” “Needless to Say,” and “My Girl” with John Hiatt. Wainwright has also appeared on the TVshow M*A*S*H as the singing surgeon, Capt. Calvin Spaulding.

To close out the month, Glen Burtnik & Friends are back at the State Theatre on Saturday, July 23 at 8pm for their fifth annual Beatles Bash. Marking the 45th anniversary of Revolver, Glen and friends are to perform the Beatles album note-for-note! Songs include “Eleanor Rigby,” “Got to Get You into My Life,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “I Want to Tell You,” and “Taxman.”

For tickets and more information please visit www.StateTheatreNJ.org.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring Awakening – One of the Best Musicals Out There

by Kelly Blithe, Director of Public Relations

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Spring Awakening on Broadway with the original cast, many of whom are now well known including Lea Michele, who is now in the TV show, Glee; and Johnny Gallagher Jr. who won a Tony® for his portrayal of Moritz, and went on to star in the Green Day musical American Idiot. Since that night, I have had nothing but admiration for this show. From its catchy tunes to the powerful messages within the storylines (some very obvious, others not as much), it has become one of my favorite musicals of the last 10 years. The story is something that many people can relate to, growing up and the pains that come with being a teenager—peer pressure, seeking your parents/friends approval, and the general feeling of just wanting to be accepted. The storylines combined with the music provide such a strong backbone for the actors that when they perform the song “The Bitch of Living,” everything just clicks right into place. And even though it has been a few years, this CD still makes regular appearances on my playlists (especially, “Don’t Do Sadness/Blue Wind” “The Song of Purple Summer,” and of course “The Bitch of Living”) and I can’t say that for every musical that comes out these days.

So, I look forward to seeing the national tour performance of Spring Awakening this Saturday, April 2 because as much as I love my soundtrack, nothing beats live theater, don’t you agree?

For tickets or more information on the April 2 performances of Spring Awakening, visit: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/spring_awakening

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How long have I been a Jeff Beck fan?

Contributed by Garry Owen, Group, Advertising, & Sponsorship Consultant

From the first day I picked up a guitar and began a life long journey into rock and roll music, psychedelia etc….Jeff Beck has been a part of my life. I remember well that first time I tried to play "Over Under Sideways Down," spending countless hours trying to figure out how he made that sound. Even today, I listen to him, watch him play, and I’m still trying to figure out how he makes those Jeff Beck sounds!

Now one of my dreams is about to come true, right here in our humble theater, we welcome a true guitar god! Not just anyone that people might consider a good player or accomplished… this is Jeff Beck! But with a twist because he will be playing the hits of none other than Les Paul how exciting is that!

I had the fortune of seeing Les play at his club in New York and although he was certainly not 100% physically (92 yrs. old) he was hilarious, great stories between songs, totally a pro, one of the highlights of my guitar life. And now, I get to see Jeff Beck play his version of Les’s songs and I can hardly wait!

Us gear heads will note that Jeff is going to be playing an array of guitars, full bodied stuff, as well as his signature Strat, Les Paul’s of course, and will be using a much different amp setup than “normal.”

All in all, and this is quite evident, I am absolutely excited about Mr. Beck and the female singer Imelda May and her band joining us at that State Theatre and I have the date plastered on every calendar in our house! I just can’t wait!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ONE SINGULAR SENSATION -- Come see A Chorus Line!

By: Katie Stoppiello, Marketing and PR Intern

Desperate for a job, wondering if you’ll make the cut, hoping for a chance, dreaming for a future... We’ve all been there. It’s the reason why A Chorus Line is a timeless classic. Winner of 9 Tony ® Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and the fourth longest running Broadway show, A Chorus Line tells the stories of 17 dancers hoping to be cast in the newest Broadway production. They open up about their dreams, their life, and the decisions they made to get where they are. A Chorus Line is not your typical musical. It is more than just song and dance or smoke and mirrors; it’s based on the true stories of real dancers.

The musical was formed from several taped workshop sessions with Broadway dancers, known as "gypsies," including eight who eventually appeared in the original cast. The two dancers running the sessions hoped that they would form a professional dance company to make workshops for Broadway dancers. Instead, their workshops quickly developed into one of the most well known musicals of all time. With book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics by Edward Kleban, and music by Marvin Hamlisch, A Chorus Line has been playing around the world for the last three decades.

A Chorus Line, will be presented ONE NIGHT ONLY, on Thursday, March 10th at the State Theatre. Visit StateTheatreNJ.org for more information.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Irish Music Legends Make a Long Awaited Appearance

Originally set to perform back in March, The Chieftains are rescheduled to perform on February 18th at the State Theatre! Not even a power outage can hold these traditional Irish musicians from the stage!

Together for almost 50 years, The Chieftains are a six-time Grammy®-winning band. They have performed around the world including places such as London, in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., on China’s Great Wall, and for the Pope in front of an audience of over ONE MILLION people.

Formed by Paddy Maloney in 1962, The Chieftains sound has become instantly recognizable.

Although their early following was purely a folk audience, the range and variation of their music has captured a much broader public, making them today the best known Irish band in the world. Beginning as a traditionally Irish band, The Chieftains have transcended music-genre barriers and their distinctive sound can be heard with some of the biggest names in rock and pop including in Paul Mc Cartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Rainclouds” and in Art Garfunkel’s “Watermark”.

The Chieftains have been able to share their love of Irish music with millions of music lovers across the world. Now it’s your turn to come share in the love of music and see Ireland’s Official Musical Ambassadors, The Chieftains, at State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The Chieftains include:

Paddy Moloney, Uilleann pipes/Tin Whistle;

Matt Molloy, Flute; Kevin Conneff, Bodhrán/Vocal;

Triona Marshall, Harp/Keyboards;

Jon Pilatzke, Fiddle/Dance;

Jeff White, Guitar/Vocals;

Alyth McCormack, Vocals;

Deanie Richardson, Fiddle/Vocals

Nathan Pilatzke, Dance

Cara Butler, Dance

For tickets and more info go to http://www.statetheatrenj.org/the_chieftains.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Reviews are in - 5th graders Love STREB!

Jessica Kennedy, a 5th grade teacher at New Brunswick’s Roosevelt Elementary School gives us her review of the dance group STREB’s recent school day performance on Feb. 4. Also, the kids themselves share a few words with us.

Inertia, motion, force, energy, load, effort, work...the kids are making so many connections to our just-completed science unit on levers & pulleys: today they are seeing trained artist-athletes interact with machines. And it is beautiful. I've never seen the excitement level so high: in the first 5 minutes, when i heard a kid behind me shout, "I LOVE THESE PEOPLE." The loud music, the lights....as fun and unpredictable—and scary—as any rock concert i've ever been to. I ADORE, and so do the kids, the subversive boom of directions hurled among the performers...a vital communication missing from all the dance I’ve ever seen...Could there be a more perfect break in the tedium of almost two months of cancelled outdoor recreation at school, where the kids have to sit quietly in the auditorium during recess, because the teachers need to park their cars on the "blacktop" instead of the icy streets. Something like this gives me a much-needed referent to talk about art, commitment, passion...possibilities...wish dance were emphasized as much as sports in our schools.

Glad I was with my 10-year-olds who could explain to me exactly what was going on...they missed nothing! Evocative of Houdini, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls...How brilliant when physical and intellectual bravery are experienced hand in hand.

Reviews from Jessica Kennedy’s 5th grade class:

AJ: “That show made us excited and still. Elizabeth Streb is a genius for making Streb.”

AP: “It reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci. The part where the women spread out like a star reminded me of Leonardo da Vinci’s VITRUVIAN MAN!”

SM: “Streb is unspeakable. It took my breath away. Amazing.”

AA: “The performance was so awesome. Everyone was cheering for Streb when the performance ended.”

KB: “I thought STREB actioneers had a lot of skills. When everyone was in the box I was speechless, also when they were doing their dives. AMAZING'.”

DV: “My favorite part is when the performers climbed this ladder to get on this moving bar. Then this performer said to move the bar as up as it can so she can jump off it, then everyone was screaming then she jumped for the bar and landed on a drop bed and I was amazed. I loved it.”

MA: “My favorite part of the show is the part when you guys got on the round circle because you guys were brave and I saw your owner he was cool you guys rock!”

DS: “The polar wander was the coolest performance in the show.”

JB: “My favorite part was when all of the actors threw themselves from the high spot. It was amazing because it was a high height.”

PM: “This performance was so great!! I was scared when they threw yourselves from a high surface to a sponge all the way down to the floor!!!”

SM: “I liked the way the performers threw themselves off the poles.”

EH: “The show was amazing. They threw themselves like if they action figures. Please be careful when you perform. Have luck when you perform.”

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Poetry of Coming Home

With all the snowstorms, it is hard to believe that Spring is just around the corner and so is my return to New Brunswick, NJ, where I will be working at the State Theatre. I will be Poet-in-Residence for the month of March. Since this is my third return visit, I now think of NJ as my home away from home. Last year I enjoyed working in the schools, senior citizen homes, vocational centers, corporations, and several halfway homes. The great joy last year was culminating with a community reading at the theater with the participants that took my workshop. They were people from all walks of life. The joy in the room that night made me an even more fervent believer that poetry is a great equalizer.

This year, as every year, I am taking my lead from what is weighing on my heart: Place. I will be facilitating workshop participants to reflect and discover their own Sense of Place. It is my belief there are two types of landscapes: the external and the internal, when we reflect and go deep we make connections and find the nexus between the two and what generally surfaces is poetry. I look forward to returning to my 2nd home and having great conversations and classes that will lead to powerful expressions.

Glenis Redmond

Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Days, 44 Shows (Really.)

By Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

The week before last I was in Tampa Bay, FL, at the annual IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth) Showcase and conference. And yes, I really did see 44 shows in just 4 days. And went to workshops, meetings, lectures, and a party or two. Despite the grueling schedule, I came home reenergized and excited about the things I saw, heard, and did.

I’ll begin with the sheep. Or, I should say, Les moutons. That’s the name of this bizarre but inspired interactive performance piece presented by a dance company from Toronto called Corpus. They set up a sheep pen (complete with sheep dung that I hope wasn’t real) on the plaza alongside the river walk. Through the crowd came a shepherd driving his flock: dancers dressed in sheep’s costumes. The dancer/actors who played the sheep should all win awards for never once breaking character during the show. They did the usual sheep-y things, including getting shorn and milked. I tasted the milk, warm from the udder. (Don’t ask.) Kids in the audience had a chance to come up to the pen and feed the critters. This show was totally goofy and unexpected. I’d like to figure out a way to work Les moutons into our State Theatre season. Can you hear me out there, Cook College?

Another show featuring herd animals was equally strange and wonderful: The Wolf and the Goat, by Italy’s Compagnia Rodisio. A wolf and a goat, natural enemies, take shelter one stormy night and, not recognizing each other in the dark, become friends. When daylight comes, will the wolf eat the goat? Will the goat manage to escape? Or will they break the accepted order of things and remain friends? (The audience never finds out.) The show is basically two actors—not in animal costumes, thank goodness—a red velvet settee, and three small lighted trees. Dressed in a simple white frock, Manuela Capece, playing the goat was all wide-eyed innocence, while Davide Doro, as the wolf, managed to be both sleazy and seductively sexy at the same time. The Wolf and the Goat was originally in Italian; my colleagues and I were further impressed when we learned that Davide Doro spoke no English, and had learned his part phonetically. Bravo, Davide!

Without a doubt, my very favorite showcase was Grug. Now, I will confess to you here that I normally don’t get too excited about shows for really little kids. But I lost my heart to a character who “began his life as the top of a burrawong tree” and who looks like this:

Grug was created by Australia’s Windmill Theatre and is based on a children’s book series that I confess I’d never heard of. The production was everything theater should be: imaginative, expertly performed, and completely captivating. I loved the clever design of the sets and puppets. Most of all, I was struck by how the actors seemed genuinely delighted to be performing for their young audience; there was no condescension and none of that exaggerated cheerfulness that makes me cringe at so many other shows targeted to kids this age. As we like to remind each other in my profession, children are just like our adult audience, only smaller.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

DrumLine Live – From the Football Fields to the Theatrical Stage

By Katie Smith, Marketing & PR Intern

People ordinarily anticipate football games for the general thrill and excitement of the game, the hype surrounding the players, and whether or not they will make plays in high pressure situations. However, there are many people who anticipate football games for an entirely different reason; the halftime show. At halftime, a show transpires that may often trump what occurs during quarters, and is put on by the athletes of the marching band who exhibit tremendous skills, well equivalent to their football playing peers. While dancing and “stepping” these individuals, play instruments to put on a memorable, high energy performance…and thus Drumline Live was born!

Drumline Live offers audiences a quick look into a popular tradition at America’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The musical team responsible for hit movie Drumline offered their creative talents for this theatrical production, which includes modern hip hop and R&B, classic Motown, brass section highlights featuring the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire, and a vast array of other instruments. The combination of passion and skill exhibited by this 39 member cast brings audiences alive and leaves them inspired.

If you are looking for a good time and a great show, Drumline Live will not disappoint, afterall, “It’s a marching band extravaganza that parades out of the football stadium onto the stage with explosive percussion, resounding brass and dazzling choreography,” said one audience member. What’s not to enjoy?! Tickets start at $32 and are sure to sell fast so visit the http://statetheatrenj.com/drumline_live for more ticketing information, and http://www.drumlinelive.com/ for information about the show!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

STOMP - What the Noise is About

By Kelly Backus, Marketing Coordinator

Thirty brooms, eight lids, five short bins, ten 6 foot by 6 inch poles, 15 pounds of sand, four blocks of athletes chalk, 12 pairs of drumsticks, 200 litres of water, eight bananas, and 12 boxes of matches. No, that’s not some crazy shopping list for Home Depot—that’s a list of the materials that the cast of STOMP uses in just one week of performances!

If you don't know what STOMP is, then that list probably confused you (I know I would be!) STOMP is an international percussion sensation that's been performing all over the world since it began back in 1991 (350 cities in 36 countries). As you can see, you won't find your normal percussion instruments in this group! Instead, these performers show us that anything can be an instrument and that normal everyday noise can be made into something beautiful. These talented cast members use anything and everything to compose complex and fun rhythms that will have you dancing in your seat!

And if you think the show is only banging on cans and sweeping up floors, think again! The show is also influenced by dance and martial arts like tap and Shaolin. And make sure to watch the performers interactions—you'll catch a lot of humor if you pay close attention. This is definitely a show you'll never forget!

So if you're looking for a rocking good time, come check out STOMP at the State Theatre in New Brunswick and see just how these talented performers unconventional instruments and turn them into an outrageous performance of rhythms, percussion and dance!

Be sure to check STOMP out online at their website stomponline.com!

For tickets or more info go to http://www.statetheatrenj.org/stomp
Photo by Steve McNicholas.