Cessy Newmon

Boeing, Boeing for liftoff off at Alhambra

BOEING, BOEING, currently onstage at the Alhambra, is listed as the most performed French play in the Guinness book of world records.  Marc Camoletti’s play (translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) is a farce: a comedy that seeks to entertain by being exaggerated, improbable and absurd.  The trick and challenge to producing a good farce is that the actors have to be believable in their unbelievable situation.  Timing and teamwork is everything. Perennial bachelor Bernard (Thad Walker), has the perfect life in 1960’s Paris, with no desire to settle down.  A beautiful apartment, his maid Berthe (Lisa Valdini Booth), …

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Picasso at the Lapin Agile at Theatre Jacksonville

Comedian Steve Martin’s first theatrical work, written in 1996, is PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE.  Set in one of Paris’ oldest Bar-Cabarets, Martin poses the “what if” scientist Albert Einstein met artist Pablo Picasso.  Both are historical figures, but in reality the two never met.  These men were both avant garde thinkers of their time, with Einstein exploring his newly developed Theory of Relativity and Picasso exploring how to transition the science of the fourth dimension (time) into art.  Picasso’s “Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon”, his seminal work transitioning from realism to cubism was unveiled just two years after Relativity was published. …

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The Wonderment of Disney’s FROZEN

As the last show in this season’s FSCJ Artist Series, FROZEN is Downtown Jacksonville April 27-May 4th.  With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and book by Jennifer Lee, the show is based on the 2013 film. I previously wrote about my conversation with Lauren Nicole Chapman (Anna) from the cast.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming sense of wonder that this cast and crew create.  While I did not have the privilege of seeing Caroline Bowman as Elsa nor Jeremy Davis as Olaf, the understudies in their places (Adrianna Rose Lyons as Elsa and Jason Goldston as Olaf) …

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FROZEN WILL WARM YOUR HEART

As the last show in this season’s FSCJ Artist Series, FROZEN will be coming to Downtown Jacksonville April 27-May 4th.  With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and book by Jennifer Lee, the show is based on the 2013 film. Lauren Nicole Chapman, who portrays Anna, spoke with me about the production and the cast.  She and fellow cast member Jeremy Davis (Olaf) have been part of the FROZEN family since its workshop days.  The workshop is the period when the show is being read and fine-tuned prior to being taken into rehearsals for Broadway, so Ms. Chapman (who was …

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Party and Escape to Margaritaville at Alhambra

Looking for a getaway evening where you party and sing with the cast when the mood suits you?  Then this is the show for you.  ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE was not the jukebox musical I was expecting.  With the number of these musicals recently in town, I was expecting this show to similarly follow somewhat the Jimmy Buffett story.  While aspects of his life are woven into the lead character, Tully (Matthew Fecko), it more follows his musical persona of “island escapism” than his actual life story.  Buffett passed last year. The setting for MARGARITAVILLE is an hotel (Buffett actually did …

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SIX – A ROCKIN’ HERSTORY

On Tuesday SIX, THE MUSICAL opened at the Performing Arts Center as part of the FSCJ Artist Series.  This show lives up to hype around it.  It is 80 minutes of high-energy entertainment that will have your eyes glued to the stage. Without giving away fun twists to this unique show, its basis it’s based on the wives of King Henry the XIII, and that many people know something about them, but not the names of the wives of most of other Kings of England.  Instead of talking about their individual histories , here is a snapshot of Henry’s Queens: …

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SIX Queen Aragon says there’s Something for Everyone

On Tuesday, 4/2/24, FSCJ Artist Series brings to the Center for Performing Arts the Broadway Boleyn touring company of SIX. In an era when women were more property than partner, SIX is derived from stories of the six women who married King Henry VIII.  Notorious for his use and abuse of women, SIX takes back these women’s power, telling their story through their eyes, not as victims of circumstance, but victorious despite their circumstance.  The message is that whatever your situation, you can rewrite and reclaim your own narrative. I had the privilege of speaking with Florida native, Ms. Gerianne …

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SHAKING IT PROUD DOWNTOWN WITH TINA, THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL

Born Anna Mae Bullock in Tennessee, the girl who was to become Tina Turner was born to a sharecropping overseer and worked picking cotton at an early age.  Homelife was tumultuous with an abusive father and a mother who abandoned her to her grandmother at age 11. It can be very difficult to take songs from an artist’s body of work and try to fit it into a 2-hour life story, so pieces of Tina’s life become abbreviated, as do many of the songs.  That does not take away from the talent onstage. Both the roles of Tina and Young …

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Cain’t Say No to OKLAHOMA! at the Alhambra

The first collaboration of the writing duo of Rodgers (music) and Hammerstein (book and lyrics), OKLAHOMA! is the epitome of a “book musical”, where dialogue and music intertwine seamlessly to move a story forward.  The show may have been written over 90 years ago, but it provides today’s audience with a glimpse of prairie life in the Western Territories before they became States.  While based on a failed play, Green Grow the Lilacs by Lynn Riggs, the musical reincarnation has been a tremendous success.  From the moment the show opens, the audience becomes invested in the intertwined lives of the …

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Ride Down(town) to HADESTOWN for a Helluva Show

Words by Cessy Newmon What a way to go to hell and back.  The first of Anaïs Mitchell’s stage endeavors, HADESTOWN intertwines two tales from Greek mythology:  Hades & Persephone and Orpheus & Eurydice.  It’s a very different approach to a tragic end to the love between two young adults versus the often-done Shakespearian Romeo and Juliet.  And Virgil’s Orpheus precedes Romeo by about 1500 years. HADESTOWN is unique from the opening.  One can’t really pinpoint a location, although the sense is that it is a tavern-style setting.  Although Ms. Mitchell is considered an Indie folk singer/songwriter, much of the …

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