Through July 1st
The Ogunquit Playhouse
Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
You know summer will soon be here when the stage at the Ogunquit Playhouse raises its curtain for a new season. And this year for their 85th anniversary they have kicked it off with the very popular jukebox musical Mamma Mia! With an energetic cast led by Jodie Langel as Donna and Patrick Cassidy as Sam it is a fun evening of music and laughs that has the audience on its feet singing and dancing along.
The story about Sophie (Briana Rapa), Donna’s daughter who was born out of wedlock twenty-one years earlier, takes place as she is preparing for her wedding day in Greece where she lives with her mother Donna who runs a local taverna. Sophie desperately wants to find out who her father is and has, by peeking into her mother’s diary, narrowed the possibility down to three men all of whom she invites to the wedding. This leads to some confusion and much laughter as she tries to figure out which of the three is dad.
…an evening filled with laughs, music, and great dancing…
The story is a great vehicle for the music of Abba, and that is what it was written to be. But this is not an Abba tribute show. It is an evening filled with laughs, music, and great dancing, all set on a beautiful stage meant to be the Greek seaside. The story is fun and touching, filled with vivid colors and loaded with energy. Those colors and the changing sets along with beautiful lighting, had me feeling the sea breezes of the Mediterranean. Of course, it helps being within a stone’s throw of Ogunquit Beach.
Oh, did I mention this is fun? The music is fun, the dancing is fun, the story is fun. Seeing dancers performing wearing huge yellow swim fins is, well, fun. There are so many moments like that. The Playhouse has given us all a welcome to summer gift.
This is not Chekov or O’Neil, and you won’t leave the theater contemplating the mysteries of life. It is simply a nice story that will have you feeling good. You will leave the theater feeling happy, with a lot of music dancing in your ears. After an evening of Mamma Mia! at the Ogunquit Playhouse you will be more than ready for summer. This is a production that calls out “Take A Chance On Me”, and will have you saying,”Thank You For The Music”.
Through July 1st
The Ogunquit Playhouse, 207.646.5511
The Ogunquit Playhouse is proud to be the New England premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, on stage from July 13 to August 6, making the Playhouse one of the first regional theatres in the U.S. to stage this new musical. Victor Hugo’s epic tale of hope, love
and passion, with book by Peter Parnell (On A Clear Day You Can See Forever Broadway revival) and music by composer Alan Menken (Newsies) and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked), soars to life in this emotionally charged retelling of the celebrated classic. The love story of the beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda, the scorned bell-ringer Quasimodo and the dashing Captain Phoebus comes to glorious life in this powerful rendition of the timeless tale. The bold and dramatic theatrics, combined with the music’s orchestral power and choral beauty provided by a thirty-two member choir that accompanies the cast, promise to transport audiences back to fifteenth century Paris and inside the cathedral walls made famous by Victor Hugo’s novel.
The stellar cast is led by F. Michael Haynie who is making his Ogunquit debut as Quasimodo. On Broadway he performed in Wicked and Holler If Ya Hear Me, on television in Peter Pan Live for NBC, and the film Not Fade Away for Paramount. The beautiful gypsy girl Esmeralda is played by Sydney Morton who has performed as part of the original Broadway casts of Memphis, Evita, Motown and American Psycho, the National Tours of Flashdance and Jersey Boys, and appeared in The Sound of Music Live broadcast on NBC. Christopher Johnstone returns to the Playhouse as Captain Phoebus after playing Lt. Cable in the award-winning production of South Pacific (Best Actor nominee Broadway World). His many theatre credits include the National Tours of the recent revival of Evita, Lincoln Center’s production of South Pacific and regional productions of Fiddler on the Roof, A Little Night Music, and Pirates of Penzance, among many others.
Bradley Dean joins the cast as Claude Frollo. Mr. Dean is also making his Ogunquit debut and has appeared on Broadway in A Little Night Music, The Last Ship, Company, Doctor Zhivago, Spamalot, The Story of My Life, Evita, Jane Eyre, Man of La Mancha as well as many Off-Broadway, National Tours and regional theatre productions. Paolo Montalban joins the cast as Clopin. He was last seen at the Ogunquit Playhouse in The King and I (Lun Tha) and Cinderella (Prince Christopher). On Broadway he appeared in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Pacific Overtures and Off-Broadway in Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The Romance of Magno Rubio, as well as many regional theatres across the nation. On television Montalban is most recognized as the Prince in the ethnically diverse ABC production of “Cinderella.”
Shaun Kerrison returns from England to direct this epic production for the Ogunquit Playhouse. He has directed many Ogunquit productions, receiving many IRNE and BroadwayWorld nominations for Best Director. Mr. Kerrison was last in Ogunquit in 2014 to direct Mary Poppins the Broadway Musical and The Witches of Eastwick and in 2012 he directed the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic South Pacific. He also directed the U.S. regional premiere of Sunset Boulevard at the Ogunquit Playhouse starring Stephanie Powers, as well as Les Miserables and My Fair Lady for the Ogunquit stage. On Broadway, Mr. Kerrison was the Resident Director of Mary Poppins and was the Associate Director for the Broadway revival of Les Miserables and he redirected the National Theatres production of My Fair Lady for its 50th Anniversary U.S. National Tour. He recently reunited with conductor John Wilson to direct Kiss Me Kate for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Choreographer for the Ogunquit production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is Connor Gallagher who recently received an Astaire Award for his work on The Robber Bridegroom at the Roundabout Theatre in New York City. His many show credits include the world-premiere stage adaptation of Disney’s Tangled with director Gordon Greenberg; Robert Schenkkan and Neil Berg’s The Twelve at Denver Center; The Fabulous Lipitones for Goodspeed; and Perez Hilton at Lincoln Center. Mr. Gallagher will next choreograph the Broadway-bound musical FOUND for the Philadelphia Theatre Company and as a director, a new musical with Disney Creative Entertainment for fall of 2017.
Fight Director Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum joins the creative team to direct the fight scenes in the show. He has worked on many Broadway productions including Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher, Cyrano de Bergerac, and On the Twentieth Century as well as many Off-Broadway and regional theatre productions and the television production of Peter Pan Live for NBC/Universal.
Brent-Alan Huffman returns to Ogunquit Playhouse as Conductor/Music Director after having conducted last year’s Playhouse hit Sister Act. Mr. Huffman conducted the recent Billboard number 1 cast recording of Hunchback of Notre Dame, and was Conductor/Music Director for the original U.S. companies in 2014-15. His Broadway credits include Leap of Faith,Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and National Tours include Sister Act, Little Shop of Horrors and Beauty and the Beast. For television he served as Production Music Coordinator on ABC’s The Music Man starring Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, and as Associate Music Producer on NBC/Hallmark’s A Christmas Carol starring Kelsey Grammer. Assisting Mr. Huffman is Associate Music Director Jeffrey Campos and Chorus Master Wendell Scott Purrington.
An all new set has been designed by Adam Koch exclusively for the Ogunquit stage that reaches out over the audience complete with areas for Quasimodo to venture. Mr. Koch previously designed sets for the Ogunquit Playhouse productions of Sister Act and Saturday Night Fever. He has designed sets for theatres across the nation, including the landmark outdoor production of Carousel and The Sleepy Hollow Experience for Serenbe Playhouse; the original Chicago production of Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre; Hello, Dolly! for Ford’s Theater; Miss Saigon, Dreamgirls, Kiss of theSpiderwoman (2008 Helen Hayes nomination), and See What I Wanna See for Signature Theatre; and Bat Boy for 1st Stage for which he received a 2015 Helen Hayes nomination. His Off-Broadway credits include Rooms: A Rock Romance, Loaded, We the People, Pinkalicious and Freckleface Strawberry. Associate Scenic Designer Steven Royal, who has collaborated with Adam Koch on over thirty musicals, plays and live events including Miss Saigon (Signature Theatre), Carousel (Serenbe Playhouse) and Hairspray (Syracuse Stage) also joins the creative team for the Ogunquit Playhouse.
Also joining the creative team for Ogunquit Playhouse is Costume Designer Martha Bromelmeier who designed costumes for hundreds of theatrical productions including The Kennedy Center Honors, The New Victory Theatre, The Cocteau Rep, The Lucille Lortel Theatre, and Primary Stages among many others. Martha has worked with leading ladies including Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Audra McDonald, Sutton Foster, Kelli O’Hara, Jessie Mueller, Laura Benanti, Laura Osnes, Patina Miller and Anna Kendrick.
Visit OgunquitPlayhouse.org or call the box office at 207-646-5511 for tickets.
Let It Be – A Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles
reviewed by Bobby Franklin
Wow! Let It Be – A Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles is burning up the stage at the Ogunquit Playhouse. This is not simply a tribute band performing Beatles’ songs; it is
a solid theatrical production that brings us back in time
a solid theatrical production that brings us back in timeand allows us to experience Beatlemania from its very beginnings and on up to the post band day when each member was working on his own.
From the opening number, I Saw Her Standing There, you know you are in for more than just a night of nostalgic music. These five extraordinarily talented musicians, Neil Candelora (Paul McCartney), Michale Gagliano (John Lennon), Chris McBurney (Ringo Starr), JT Curtis (George Harrison) and Daniel A. Weiss (Keyboards) were tight and sharp. They were not only able to recreate the music, but they each also took on the look and personalities of the Fab Four at the different stages of their careers.
The show opens with the band playing behind a mesh material in what represents the Cavern Club in Liverpool where the boys got their start. The stage has two large television monitors in the style of early sets perched atop two gigantic transistor radios on each side of the stage. Live shots of the Ogunquit stage are seen on these screens interspersed with vintage footage from the various eras the Beatles played in. This is very effective and brings back so many memories of all that occurred during the group’s rise in popularity. We relive their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show along with their sold out performance at Shea Stadium where they stood before over 55,000 screaming fans.
That excitement fills the Playhouse.
That excitement fills the Playhouse.
All the early numbers are there including Please Please Me, All My Loving, I want to hold Your Hand, and She Loves You. A marvelous animation accompanies A Hard Day’s Night, that is vintage perfect.
The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band set is breathtaking
The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band set is breathtakingwith the boys dressed up in full regalia to bring the album cover to life. It is magical. Projections on the back wall along with amazing lights that spin in multi colors on both the stage and the audience make this a very interactive show. John (Michale Gagliano) constantly eggs on the audience and gets a fantastic response. He looks like he is having a great time, and I think he would have stayed all night. This show will have you on your feet rocking with the Beatles for a good portion of the over two hours they are performing more than forty songs. You’ll be surprised at how well you know the lyrics as you sing along.
JT Curtis as George not only has a wonderful voice, but he is a very talented guitar player. His solos on Here Comes The Sun and My Sweet Lord were fantastic, but his guitar solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps was classic. The boys joked that Eric Clapton might make a surprise visit the evening I was there, but since he didn’t, JT certainly kept him from being missed.
Towards the latter half of the show the performance shifted to a what would it have been like if the Beatles had had a reunion mode. This could have been risky, but it worked just fine as the band got together and played the songs they had each written after having gone their own ways. This is just how it might have been. Chris McBurney (Ringo) was right on doing It Don’t Come Easy while perched high up on the drums.
Neil Candelora was Paul McCartney
Neil Candelora was Paul McCartneyon Band On The Run.
The entire cast captured the Beatles throughout every step of their careers as both a band and solo artists. We see them age before our eyes and got to, for those of us old enough to remember, see so much of what we grew up with. When I’m Sixty-Four had a very special meaning for many in attendance.
You would think all I described here would have been plenty, but they were not through yet. The Beatles, and by now I was fully convinced I was spending the evening with the Beatles, kicked off a tribute set to the greats that influenced them including Chuck Berry and Little Richard. They ripped out, with the crowd dancing and screaming their approval.
I now feel like a late night television ad man when I am saying there was still more. The title song, Let It Be, was as touching as ever. Hey Jude had everyone singing along, and Back In The USSR sent us out rocking.
I would also like to note that during the performance of Imagine the boys asked the audience to light up their cell phones and wave them during the song. What fun.
Daniel A. Weiss on keyboard is also the Music Supervisor, and he was also outstanding. This was a tremendous amount of music to present in one evening. Add to that the whole theatrical aspect of the show and this was one huge challenge. This team pulled it off on the stage of the Ogunquit Playhouse. Just incredible!
What a start to the season. I would urge all of you to
make tracks north and catch this show
make tracks north and catch this show. I would also strongly suggest you buy a season subscription to the Playhouse. If this is any indication, it is going to be a very exciting year in Ogunquit.
Let It Be – A Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles