The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Even before the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre opened its blockbuster production of Phantom of the Opera last October, director Everett McCorvey knew there was only one show to do for an encore: Les Miserables.
So, the day after Phantom closed, McCorvey says he wrote a letter to the show’s original Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh, telling him of the success of Phantom, which sold out 11 performances at the Lexington Opera House, and asking if he could get the rights to Les Miz.
Mackintosh forwarded the request to the show’s rights administrators and UK Opera received permission to stage the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical Oct. 10 to 20 at the Opera House. Like Phantom, this will be the first time a full production of Les Miserables has been presented in Lexington, as the Opera House is too small to accommodate the stages and sets of the show’s professional touring productions.
The full-Broadway version of Les Miserables just recently became available to colleges. Nashville’s Belmont College was the first to present it, in March.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts did present the school edition of Les Miserables at the Opera House in March, and has presented that version before. The Oscar-winning film version of the musical brought it back into pop-culture consciousness late last year.
McCorvey said the UK production will be similar to the near $400,000 Phantom production and involve many of the same personnel, including stage director and set designer Richard Kagey, music director John Nardolillo and choreographer Susie Thiel. Auditions will be later in April, so cast members can work on their roles through the summer.
There will be more performances of Les Miz than Phantom with 13 public performances and two student previews. Tickets will go on sale in April 25 for the entire UK Opera season, which will also include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni March 6 to 9 and the annual It’s a Grand Night for Singing show-tune revue, June 13 to 22. (This season’s Grand Night is still to come, June 7 to 15 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.) Season tickets will be available only by phone, by calling (859) 233-3535 or at the Lexington Center Ticket Office. Available single tickets will go on sale in the fall.
With Christmas week approaching, I am looking forward to finally making a date with our 16th president and Middle-earth.
The movie Lincoln, of course, has been out over a month and I’ve yet to see it. Last weekend, I was one of the potential (but, in the end, absent) viewers of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey who kept it from bringing in more than its disappointing $84.8 million opening-weekend box office.
I was psyched to see director Peter Jackson’s latest vision of a J.R.R. Tolkien classic, but there were family events to attend to, gifts still to buy and other holiday responsibilities. Between the job, the kids’ school activities and other demands, it was hard to come up with the time needed to take these cinematic journeys.
Why? Lincoln is two hours, 30 minutes. The Hobbit is longer: two hours, 49 minutes.
Then there’s Les Misérables, another movie on my to-see list. It opens Tuesday, Christmas Day, and clocks in at two hours, 37 minutes. And that’s not even counting the 10 to 15 minutes of commercials, previews and turn-off-your-cell-phone messages tacked on to the front of features these days.
But this is just part of the contemporary holiday movie season: Prestige flicks stalk for awards, opening just days before the Academy Awards’ Dec. 31 deadline, and challenge our appointment calendars and bladders with their prestigious running times.
This year, I actually started thinking about extensive movie running times in an odd place: while writing about performances of Handel’s Messiah and how Lexington music directors edit that epic piece to make it more palatable to audiences. The top reason they say they edit Messiah is because it runs nearly three hours when done in its entirety. Nobody wants to sit through something that long, the directors think.
Clearly Steven Spielberg and many other film directors believe otherwise. More and more, it seems, any film with a tinge of gravitas clocks in at well over two hours.
Aug10Filed under: dance, Music, Musicals, Paragon Music Theatre, Reviews; Tagged as: 9 to 5, Actors Guild of Lexington, Annie, cabaret, Carmen Geraci, Chris Duncan, Grand Night for Singing, Greased Lightning, Henry Zahn, Jan Hooker, Javier Pereira, Jennifer Parr, Jersey Boys, Katie Owen, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Kitchel, Les Miserables, Lexington Opera House, Meadowlark, Natasha's Bistro & Bar, Paragon Music Theatre, Rachel Hannah, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Side Show, Taylor the Latte Boy, The Devil You Know, The Lion King, William Arnold
Most of us who follow musicals have had those wow moments, where we see a song we’ve known for years in the context of the show it’s from and get what it’s all about.
One of the secrets to the success of Paragon Music Theatre‘s Summer Cabaret at Natasha’s Bistro & Bar is that it would leave you with few of those wow moments for the tunes it presents. Under Robyn Peterman-Zahn’s direction, the 90-minute show-tune revue delivers plenty of mini-dramas and comedies representing 17 different shows, and it has plenty of wow moments of its own.
Wow moments like:
■ Javier Pereira nailing Frankie Valli’s “I love you baby!” in Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You from Jersey Boys.
■ Jan Hooker’s precious rendition of Kristin Chenoweth’s Taylor, the Latte Boy.
■ Carmen Geraci leading a conniving take on Annie‘s Easy Street.
■ Katie Owen’s Meadowlark with a fluttery dance by Haley Fish.
■ A stirring five-song distillation of Les Miserables, a show we have yet to see here in Lexington, though you could have left Natasha’s feeling like you had.
In a market that’s coming dangerously close to being oversaturated with cabarets and show-tune revues – Grand Night for Singing, the Lexington Singers pops concerts, and the proposed Actors Guild of Lexington cabarets – Paragon’s offering makes a clear case for itself both to be seen as this edition continues Aug. 17 to 19 at Natasha’s and when the cabaret returns in the winter. Paragon will reconstitute its schedule this coming season to present Hello, Dolly! at the Lexington Opera House from Oct. 22 to 25, the cabarets in the winter and The Sound of Music at the Opera House next summer.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich