by David Cohen

One of the most well loved fairy tale ballet of all time The Sleeping Beauty was first performed at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg in 1890 to the music that was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

Ballet West returned to the Auditorium to premiere The Sleeping Beauty, last Friday, October 4, 2013, a newly conceived and produced by Ballet West Artistic Director Adam Sklute, formerly of The Joffrey Ballet. With a live orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, Ballet West at their 50 years anniversary delivered a perfect performance that would satisfied any ballet goer. 

Adam Sklute’s goal was to keep this fairy tale an exciting and relevant tail that will continued to attract the modern audience while maintaining the classical purity of the beloved story. 

The Sleeping beauty has become one of the classical repertoire's most famous ballets of all time. it is a story of Princess Aurora who was welcomed into the world,  but the King and Queen forgot to invite the evil wicked fairy Carabose to celebrations of Princess Aurora’s birth. Carabose and her crew came to party anyway, but with evil intentions, to curse the Princess with a wicked spell, that on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger and die. Quick to save the Princess, the good Lilac Fairy casts another spell saying that she will only fall asleep after pricking her finger. The 16 birthday celebration of Princess Aurora arrived and she is doomed to an eternal sleep when she pricks her finger on a magical spindle. Lilac the good Fairy casts a spell on the entire family and court to fall asleep ensuring them of their safety.

100 years later, Prince Desire is led to Aurora by the enchanted fairies,  and to the castle to rescue the beautiful Princess and put an end to the evil fairy Carabose. The prince find the castle and battle his way trough the evil fairy Carabose and her supporters.  He breas the spell with a magical  kiss that he gives Princess Aurora, demonstrating the triumph of good versus evil. With new characters, costumes and vision, Sklute’s The Sleeping Beauty, takes audiences on an enchanting journey through time and fantasy.

The Sleeping Beauty is a sweet good performance. It is a collaboration of good dance, music and design that will forever continue to influence ballet,  as well as fulfill the audience hearts with joy and happiness. 

photos courtesy of Ballet West

LOS ANGELES, September 18, 2013 – The Spotlight Entertainment Series at the Geffen Playhouse presents Bette Midler in the West Coast premiere of the Broadway smash I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers for a limited three-week engagement. The critically acclaimed show by Tony Award winner John Logan (Red)and directed by Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Wicked) will appear in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse December 3-22. Opening night is December 5. The previously announced return engagement of Donald Margulies’ “Coney Island Christmas” cannot take place this holiday season due to schedule conflicts with the creative team.

Tickets are available to Geffen Playhouse subscribers beginning September 27 and the general public in October.

Tony and Grammy Award-winning superstar Bette Midler plays the legendary Hollywood agent Sue Mengers (1932-2011) in the new play, her first appearance on Broadway in nearly 40 years. Midler’s performance was hailed by The New York Times as “the most lusciously entertaining performance of the Broadway season.”

"Bette Midler is Broadway and Hollywood royalty," says Randall Arney, Artistic Director of the Geffen Playhouse. "John Logan has created a tour de force role and with Joe Mantello's artful direction, audiences will have an experience like no other."

Arney adds "The intimacy of the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen is unmatched by any Broadway house and it will feel like we've all dropped in at Sue's for dinner."

I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers was produced on Broadway at the Booth Theatre by Graydon Carter, Arielle Tepper Madover, James L. Nederlander, The Shubert Organization, Terry Allen Kramer, Stephanie P. McClelland, Jeffrey Finn, Ruth Hendel, Larry Magid, Jon B. Platt, and Scott & Brian Zeilinger.

Sue Mengers was an American original. She was the first female “superagent” at a time when women talent agents of any kind were almost unheard of. She came from near poverty, a refugee from Hitler's Germany, and worked her way up through pluck, charm, and a legendary wit. In that uniquely American way, she invented herself; and when the career she wanted didn't exist, she invented that as well: “Superagent.” It was a term Hollywood all but coined for her. By the 1970's, she represented almost every major star in Hollywood and went on to become the town’s most renowned hostess.

Playwright John Logan, who won a Tony Award for Red and wrote the screenplay for the last James Bond movie, Skyfall, said, “I met Sue Mengers only once, at a dinner party. The kaftan, constant cigarettes, tinted glasses, and perfect blond hair were much in evidence; so too the deliciously wicked wit and stevedore language. But something else fascinated me just as much: a sense of sadness, a deep resignation; a woman whose time had passed her by. At one point I asked her what had changed most about Hollywood since she had arrived. She didn't hesitate for a second: ‘Honey, we used to have fun…’ Later in the evening she settled back and lit up a joint. There she was: a joint in one hand and a cigarette in the other. At that moment I knew I had to write the play.”

The creative team includes three-time Tony Award winner Scott Pask (scenic design), Academy Award winner Ann Roth (costume design), three-time Tony nominee Hugh Vanstone (lighting design), and Drama Desk Award winner Fitz Patton (sound design).

New and current Geffen Playhouse subscribers and donors will be provided priority access to I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers tickets on September 27.

Subscription packages including I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers will range from $229 for five plays to a $791 premium seat package for seven plays and will be available at the Geffen Playhouse box office or by phone at 310.882.6533.

The Geffen Playhouse is a 501c3 charitable organization serving the Los Angeles community with arts and education programs.  Donations may be made by calling 310.208.6500 x112. Single tickets will go on sale in October.

Opening night:                           Thursday, December 5
Closing night:                            Sunday, December 22
Monday                                        No performances
Tuesday – Friday                         8:00pm
Saturday                                       3:00pm; 8:00pm
Sunday                                         2:00pm
Top: Rudy Hogenmiller as the Emcee and the Kit Kat Klub dancers.

by David Cohen

What could be a better way to be introduced to a theater ensemble that delivers one of the best shows of the year so far? Cabaret presented by Light Opera Works at the Cahn Auditorium in Evanston is a powerful production. 

Not able to find the right actor, artistic director Rudy Hogenmiller was inspired to return to the stage for the first time since 2005 as the Emcee at the decadent Kit kat klub in Berlin. Hogenmiller ignite the stage with electrifying, brilliant and most dazzling performance as he captures the audience hearts with his commanding stage present in a role he was born to play. He delivers the essence of,an era long gone and he gives us the best execution of the Emcee role I have ever seen on stage before. He deserves a Tony for playing  this role.

The Tony Award winning musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, is a chilling production utilizing the original 1966 Broadway version, with 25-piece orchestra, including four-girl “Kit Kat Klub” band live and on stage.

Based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel “Goodbye to Berlin” and on John Van Druten’s 1951 play “I am a camera,”  Cabaret portrait the decadent life in Berlin, Germany in the early 1930’s.  This is a love story of an English nightclub singer, Sally Bowles (Jenny Lamb) with an American writer Clifford Bradshaw (David Schlumpf), and a landlady Fruelian Schneider (Barbara Clear) who falls in love with a Jewish shopkeeper Herr Schultz (Jim Heatherly). Each one is struggling with their own personal fulfillment as their future become uncertain with the rise of the Nazis, as Germany descends into madness.

The ensemble is brilliantly staged a great collection of satirical, parody and ironic numbers, including the enticing opening number “Wilkommen,“ Don’t Tell Mama” and the funny “Two Ladies.”  The ensemble’s work is first-class act as they helping in  creating an underlying powerful mood of German nationalism, decadence and the foreshadows of the horrors to come.

The title song Cabaret was beautifully sang by Jenny Lamb, but I must admit I missed the big hit from the movie “Money makes the world go around.”

Directed by Stacey Flaster and conducted by Roger Bingaman, Cabaret will be running until August 25, 2013

For tickets and more information visit
by David Cohen

What could be a better way to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Flashdance the movie that became a pop culture phenomenon and brought hip-hop into the main stream by making it into a musical? Unlike the 1983 movie the stage adaptation of Flashdance The Musical is way better than the original Paramount Pictures film.

Turning Flashdance into a electrifying and dynamic production, Flashdance The Musical is a big time winner. From acting and singing, to costume design (Paul Tazewell), stage design (Klara Zieglerova), lighting (Howell Binkley to superior directing and outstanding choreography by Sergio Trujillo, Flashdance is an explosion of continuous magnetic energy rarely seen on stage. 

Flashdance tells the story of a steel-town girl Alex Owens (Jillian Mueller) who is up for the fight of her life. Although her day job as a welder and her night job as an exotic dancer keep her pretty busy, this fiery go-getter has higher aspirations of getting into a premiere ballet school. Helping her reach her goal are Hannah (Jo Ann Cunningham), a retired dancer who acts as a benefactor and mentor, her closest friend Gloria (Kelly Felthous), and her fellow dancers Kiki (DeQuina Moore) and Tess (Katie Webber). And let’s not forget her boss-turned-boyfriend, Nick Hurley (Matthew Hydzik).

Just like in the movie the characters remain the same, with the exception of Nick. The younger new version of the  steel mill boss who goes after his employee Alex is the essence of what the film needed. With great stage present, commanding voice and magnetic personality, Hydzik does a fantastic job as the younger, all American boy, which makes him more approachable and more sympathetic. 

Alex’s story and character gets a face-lift. Unlike Jennifer Beals a soft-spoken giggly schoolgirl, Mueller infuses her character with confidence and ambition. This curly-haired firecracker has a bit of boyish edge which works well with her character. It is very rare to find an actor who has the ability to dance and sing, but Mueller has both. Even though Mueller is a good dancer she still throws out some surprises through different dance styles, and she manage to get some applauds for her singing, but her winning moment is when she does the famous water scene which you must see.

The musical features original hit songs from the movie including “What a Feeling,” “Maniac,” “Manhunt, “Gloria” and others. Robbie Roth and Robert Cary added 16 original new numbers, including a knockout love ballad “Here and Now.” Hydzik’s can make your heart melt, and it is the core of the musical, while Mueller’s dancing is the essence of the show. Together they complete each other by being strong, gutsy and bold, as they deliver the essence of singing and dancing. 

Director and choreographer Sergio Trujillo does an extraordinary job. He maintains the spirit and moves of the 80’s, while adding some moves of todays style, making the show current and more dynamic. 

Flashdane The Musical is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre through August 18.
Chicago, IL – Pride Films and Plays continues its exciting, award-winning development of new works for the stage with Kill Your Boyfriends, a world premiere fever dream of movement and text created, choreographed, and directed by PFP Artistic Associate Derek Van Barham. “You must kill your boyfriends,” poet Alex Dimitrov tells us. “You must kill what wants, like death, to keep you.”

On a hot night, we find two couples in a single bed.  It’s just an old mattress, really.  Finding each relationship at a moment of strain, we watch the characters try to make it through one more night, each unable to sleep, refusing to rest.  The performance uses text – from Richard Siken, Alex Dimitrov, Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, Thom Gunn, Marty McConnell, Amanda Nazario, Shakespeare, Edward Albee, and Walt Whitman – that voices the panic and obsession that threaten to consume.  Fear of sex.  Fear of death.  Fear of sleep and the fight against its tranquil oblivion.  You always hurt the one you love.  Or, at the very least, the one who sleeps next to you.

Kill Your Boyfriends features James Nedrud, Erik Strebig, Sarah Goldberg, Karen Vance, Carmen Molina, and Christopher Young. Music is by The Dresden Dolls, Mogwai, Cat Power, Lana Del Rey, The Civil Wars, Portishead, Andrew Bird, Patsy Cline, with original compositions by sound designer Alex Mauney.  

Kill Your Boyfriends will perform as part of The Naked July Festival at National Pastime Theatre (June 28-August 10).
Saturdays - July 6, 13, 20, 27 @ 8PM • Sundays - July 7, 14, 21, 28 @ 3PM • Friday, July 26 @ Midnight
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at Brown Paper Tickets

Photos by Alissa Pagels Photography (from left to right.)
1 - James Nedrud (left) and Erik Strebig are featured ensemble members in Pride Films and Plays' Kill Your Boyfriends, part of The Naked July Festival at National Pastime Theater.
2 - Erik Strebig (left) and Christopher Young are featured ensemble members in Pride Films and Plays' Kill Your Boyfriends, part of The Naked July Festival at National Pastime Theater.
3 - Karen Vance (floor), Sarah Goldberg, and Carmen Molina are featured ensemble members in Pride Films and Plays' Kill Your Boyfriends, part of The Naked July Festival at National Pastime Theater.
4 - Erik Strebig (above) and James Nedrud are featured ensemble members in Pride Films and Plays' Kill Your Boyfriends, part of The Naked July Festival at National Pastime Theater.
 In an inspirational performance full of energy and excitement, The Tenors took center stage at the Auditorium Theatre (50 E Congress Pkwy) on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2013, in Chicago. 

With electrifying performance The Tenors delivered one of the best shows I have seen by any group  in a long time while bringing the audience to their knees, as they performed songs from their new album Lead With Your HeartThe new album debuted at #1 on the Billboard crossover charts and stretches the boundaries of classical crossover by combining timeless songs and modern hits. 

From Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” and Elton John’s “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” to the inspirational anthem “Amazing Grace” and one of the most recognizable and heroic Tenor arias, “Nessun Dorma”, the diverse track list is a mix of pop favorites and classical staples along with new compositions written and co-written by The Tenors. 

 “The Auditorium is always trying to expose our audiences to diverse and innovative programming,” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson. 
Since their inception only five years ago, The Tenors have had over 600 performances, thrilling audiences around the world with their powerful voices and memorable melodies.  Their blend of classical music, contemporary pop and undeniable charm has garnered them international success with music lovers of all ages. The Tenors have performed worldwide and shared the stage with legendary artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion (on the Oprah show) Sting, and Paul McCartney, to name a few.  

More recently, The Tenors were featured performers on two primetime international broadcasts: The Emmy Awards live from Los Angeles and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations from Windsor Castle in the UK, where The Tenors performed for Her Majesty.
Confirmed cities for the US Tour thus far include:

05.12.2013      Chicago, Illinois                       Auditorium Theatre

05.15.2013      Detroit, Michigan                  Music Hall

05.19.2013      Denver, Colorado                    Paramount Theatre

05.31.2013      San Diego, California              Balboa Theatre

06.01.2013      Los Angeles, California           Greek Theatre

06.02.2013      Las Vegas, Nevada                 Smith Center

06.08.2013      Wichita, Kansas                      The Orpheum

06.09.2013      Des Moines, Iowa                   Des Moines Civic Center

06.12.2013      San Francisco, California        The Palace of Fine Arts

06.14.2013      Minneapolis, Minnesota         The Auditorium at the Minneapolis Convention Ctr.

06.15.2013      Indianapolis, Indiana               Murat Theatre        

06.16.2013      Cleveland, Ohio                      Playhouse Square

06.19.2013      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania       Benedum Center

06.21.2013      Vienna, Virginia                      Wolf Trap

06.22.2013      Boston, Massachusetts           Symphony Hall

06.23.2013      Newark, New Jersey             NJ Performing Arts Center

06.26.2013      Atlanta, Georgia                    Symphony Hall

06.28.2013      Dallas, Texas                           Winspear Opera House

06.29.2013      Houston, Texas                       Bayou Music Center 

Additional information is available at

by David Cohen

With hundreds of fabulous costumes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is the 2011 Tony Award winner for Best Costume Design. Aside from a plethora of colors, this musical production also features some of the most popular pop songs like It’s Raining Men, I Say A Little Prayer, I Will Survive, What’s Love Got To Do With It, Boogie Wonderland, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. But beyond the glitz and glamour, Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a story about family, friendship, and acceptance. 

Scott Willis as Bernadette, an aging transsexual who tours the backwaters of Australia with her stage partners plays IS AN elegant woman and he is great in this roll, but his voice doesn't match the elegance of the fame fatal woman he plays, Mitzi (Wade McCollum) was my favorite as the young queen who just want to have fun.  Adam/Felicia (Bryant West) was ok, nothing special. Their act, well-known in Sydney, involves wearing lots of makeup and gowns and lip-synching to records, but Bernadette is getting a bit tired of it all and is also haunted by the bizarre death of an old loved one. Nevertheless, when Mitzi and Felicia get an offer to perform in the remote town of Alice Springs at a casino, Bernadette decides to tag along. The threesome ventures into the outback with Priscilla, a lavender-colored school bus that doubles as dressing room and home on the road. Along the way, the act encounters any number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while Bernadette becomes increasingly concerned about the path her life has taken.
The movie was the winner of the 1994 Academy Award filmand there is no doubt in my mind that the movie is a lot better then the stage production, but the stage production is still fun and entertaining. 

Catch the extraordinary performances of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Auditorium Theatre at 7:30 PM from Tuesday to Friday. The weekend show times are at 2 PM and 8 PM on Saturdays and at 2 PM and 7:30 PM on Sundays. 
Through March 31, 2013

For more information visit or

March 19 – 31, 2013 * Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 East Congress Parkway)
This outrageously fun show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed.  An international hit with more than 500 dazzling, 2011 Tony® Award-winning costumes, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including "It's Raining Men," "Finally" and "I Will Survive."  The Hollywood Reporter calls PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT "funny and fabulous! Joyous entertainment with eye-popping visuals and unexpected heart!" The New York Post declares “Queen of Broadway!  A feel-good show with a big, joyous heart!  PRISCILLA ramps up the thrills!” The New York Times raves "Performed with gleaming verve! Every conceivable surface has been decked with sequins, spattered with colored lights, or trimmed in feathers and fringe."

Davenport’s  Piano Bar & Cabaret is thrilled to welcome Tony Award Winner, Outer Critics Circle Winner, and multi-awarding winning singer/songwriter Levi Kreis on Saturday, March 2nd at 8:00 PM. Best known for originating the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in the musical Million Dollar Quartet, Levi’s albums have had prominent features on many major networks including CBS, NBC, FX, CW, and Logo.   A 2009 OUTMusic Award, Levi has been supporting his LGBT community for six years as an out recording artist with a positive, life-affirming message.  Levi is leading up to his 6th album release by launching the Flying Solo Tour.  The Chicago Tribune gives Levi’s last solo show “5 Stars”.

As proven by countless Ticketmaster and Goldstar reviews, fans across the country are quickly discovering what makes Levi so unique: more than his staggering vocal and piano ability, it is his gift for connecting with an audience in a deeply intimate way.  The spiritual and emotional insight inherent in his lyrics will leave you feeling like you’ve just received a healing.

About Levi Kreis
Levi Kreis is an internationally recognized recording artist, songwriter, and actor, best known for providing memorable musical moments on top shows such as The Vampire Diaries, Sons of Anarchy, The Apprentice, Days of Our Lives, Young and the Restless, and movies including Kiss The Bride.  He has performed on The View, David Letterman, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Don Imus, Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade, and more.  Levi just finished filming the music video to his award winning theme song for Del Shores new film Southern Baptist Sissies, currently in post-production

Saturday, March 2nd at 8:00 PM • Davenport’s Piano Bar & Cabaret • 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave. • Chicago. IL 
Admission: $25.00 + two drink minimum • To purchase advance tickets visit, or at the door. For reservations call  773-278-1830. 

This Week Only! Bloomington-Normal - Come Out and Support the Arts in our Schools Escape the cold by frolicking with Shakespeare's beloved A Midsummer Night's Dream, opening this Wednesday 1/23/13 at Central Catholic High School. The play, produced by the Illinois Shakespeare Festival in partnership with five area high schools, is a fun, frantic romp through 75 minutes of love, deceit, and fantasy. Our high school actors are from all five schools. The show will be performed at a different school each day, with all ticket proceeds benefiting the host school.

Wednesday at Central Catholic High School - 7 pm
Thursday at Normal West High School - 7 pm
Friday at Normal Community High School - 7 pm
Saturday at Bloomington High School - 2 pm
Sunday at University High School - 2 pm
Tickets at the door are $3 Students/Seniors; $5 Adults
This program is partially funded through a Town of Normal Harmon Arts Grant.