Have the Time of Your Life During the Current Tour of Dirty Dancing

(PCM) When Jennifer Mealani Jones was a young girl growing up in Maryland, she wanted to do everything that her brother did; including baseball, gymnastics, and dancing.

The now 25-year-old professional performer believed that dancing was her destiny, since her mother’s side of the family was doing the Hawaiian Hula, and her father’s side was Salsa dancing. “So whatever music was playing, I remember everyone around me was dancing,” Jones recalled. “I have been dancing since I was seven years old.”

Now, she is starring as dance instructor Penny Johnson in “Dirty Dancing” which is playing at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater in Philadelphia from May 16-21.

The classic show, which was a beloved 1987 movie, is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the release of the film. The movie starred Patrick Swayze as Johnny and Jennifer Grey as Baby. Also, an ABC-TV remake of the movie will air as a special on May 24, shortly after the tour engagement in Philadelphia.

The movie became memorable because of the classic chorography, including the move that everyone waits for – “The Lift” – during the finale of the film and stage production. The still-popular music and songs, including “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me,” “Wipe Out,” and the classic, “I’ve Had The Time of My Life.”

What film and musical lovers have appreciated about the show is the popular music, coming-of-age story, and the nostalgia of Kellerman’s resort, evoking our happy memories of family trips to the Catskills, Poconos or Wisconsin Dells.

PCM: What does dancing mean to you? Why do you feel that dancing is your destiny?

Jennifer Mealani Jones: It has always been a part of my life. I started when I was seven years old. We were always dancing – Hula, Salsa, and everything in between.

PCM: Did your parents give you encouragement? I know that years of auditions can be tough, and fraught with let downs?

JMJ: My mom and dad were always extremely supportive of my career and gracious about paying for my dance lessons. I also had great encouragement from two teachers, my dance teacher, Olga Tozyiakova, who took me under her wing and taught me how to have technique, and another teacher, Kevin Malone, who also took me under his wing and believed in me when I didn’t know what I was capable of.

PCM: Tell me what you love about this show “Dirty Dancing.”

JMJ: There is so much about it that I have enjoyed. But one thing that stands out is that I had never done ballroom dancing before and that was amazing to learn. I learned the foxtrot, the mambo, and the merengue. This is also my first time speaking in front of an audience like this, so I went from being a dancer to acting in a show.

PCM: Why do you feel this show has remained relevant for 30 years?

JMJ: I feel that it is a classic because it is relatable in so many ways. I always resembled the character of Baby – the shy but passionate girl in the corner who always wanted the bad boy. I have always enjoyed that the dancing was so gritty and dirty – and believed in the message.

PCM: Which message?

JMJ: The way that you discover the things in life that give you what you want, but that you never thought you could have. The show is relatable and fun because of the dancing, the music and the grit that you get from it. I love that the audience becomes so invested in the show, we can feel the energy from town to town and city to city.

PCM: When did you first see the movie?

JMJ: When I was a kid, and I loved it so much. I would tell my friends that I would love to go back in time and do this movie, so it’s really amazing to perform in the live show.

PCM: When did you start with this tour?

JMJ: I was an ensemble member starting last April and took on the role of Penny in August.

PCM: How do you feel about the upcoming TV remake?

JMJ: I used to feel that classic movies shouldn’t be touched, but I am curious since it is the 30th Anniversary. I hope that it encourages people to watch the original and see our show, as well.

PCM: I know you work long hours, but when you have some free time on the tour how to you enjoy spending it?

JMJ: I love to explore the cool, smaller cities I would never have seen without the tour. We love to spend our off time eating or sightseeing. I also like to do yoga and read.

PCM: What genre books do you enjoy?

JMJ: Self-help and philosophy books. I am reading “The Four Agreements,” and “Women Who Run with the Wolves.” I recommend both of them.

PCM: What do you hope for your future performance career?

JMJ: Where ever life takes me. I live in Los Angeles, after moving there in 2014, and I did a lot of commercial work there and concert work in Philadelphia, where I lived for six years. There is a whole world of opportunity ahead, so it depends what my jam is.

PCM: I understand that you have strong ties to Philadelphia. In fact, you started your dance career in Philly after graduating from the University of the Arts.

JMJ: Yes. I performed there with Philadanco, was featured on “So You Think You Can Dance” (Season 10), and I was an NBA 76ers Dream Team dancer. I also worked with the brilliant Gunnar Montana.

PCM: So what do you look forward to upon your upcoming return?

JMJ: I love that I will be performing at the Kimmel Center again. Seeing all of my friends still in Philly will be great. I know they are coming to see the show and so are some of my professors. So I will be getting some feedback and hopefully they will say that I am on the right trajectory.

PCM: I have to know, did your brother pursue his early endeavors of gymnastics or dancing, the same things that inspired you to pursue your passion for dancing?

JMJ: No, he happily rides motorcycles now.

PCM: When you wake up in the morning during the tour, what are you thinking?

JMJ: I’m just thankful getting paid to do a job that I love. And that I’m able to travel across the US – traveling for work and enjoying what I do.

PCM: What advice do you have for young people who wants to pursue a difficult career like you did in the performing arts?

JMJ: Work hard and work smart. Focus on your education, while pursuing your dreams. I’m so glad I want to college for dance. I would say work hard, give it everything that you’ve got and stay educated.

For tickets and information, please go to: https://www.kimmelcenter.org/reserve/index.aspx?performanceNumber=29444

The post Have the Time of Your Life During the Current Tour of Dirty Dancing first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

Exclusive Interview With Anthony Chan Star Of Philly Broadway Series ‘The King And I’

(PCM) When Anthony Chan thinks of the many children who play his siblings in the Philly Broadway Series production of “The King and I,” he gets a wide smile on his face.

The 24-year-old Chan is playing the part of the King’s eldest son, Prince Chulalongkorn in the current production at the Academy of Music, from March 22-April 2.

This is the national tour of the Lincoln Center Theater Production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical, and the tale of east meets west.

“We are thrilled to welcome a fresh, award-winning take on this classic American musical as we continue our 2016–17 Broadway Philadelphia season,” said Anne Ewers, President and CEO of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“We love when theater can become part of a family tradition,” she said, “and this long-running show, with its celebrated songs and unforgettable story, is a must-see for fans of all ages.”

Directed by Tony Award Winner Bartlett Sher, the “King and I,” won four Tony Awards in 2015, including best revival of a musical. This production features choreography by Christopher Gattelli, based on the original work by Jerome Robbins.

As musical theater lovers across the ages already know, “The King and I,” one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, boasts a memorable score, which features such beloved songs as “Getting To Know You,” “Hello Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance,” and “Some Wonderful.”

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher, who the modernist King, in an imperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. As Anthony Chan knows, life lessons abound from this classic.

Q: When did you join this tour?

ANTHONY CHAN: I auditioned in March and April of 2016, and heard back in May. We started rehearsals at the end of September and opened in Providence, Rhode Island on Nov. 1.

Q: What is the main difference between this and the Broadway production?

AC: Bartlett Sher Ba brought the show from Lincoln Center to a proscenium stage. What is exciting is that half the cast had done the production on Broadway or performed in the show before, so it wasn’t a new story for ever one to tell, yet it was a difference aspect of “The King and I,” to tell around the country.

Q: When was your first introduction to “The King and I?”

AC: I saw it at Lincoln Center about a year ago, before my audition for the role. I am a little embarrassed to say I still haven’t seen the [1956] movie musical. I wasn’t a musical theater kid while I was growing up. But when I saw the show last year I could see it was phenomenal.

Q: Please tell me about your character, Prince Chulalongkorn?

AC: I play the prince who is heir to the throne. He is the son of The King and Lady Thiang. He is a 15-year-old boy who is curious and wants to know everything. He wants to be like his father. He is also forced to grow up quickly when Mrs. Anna comes.

Q: What else is going on?

AC: She brings the modernization of 1862 Siam. But the only thing he knows is what he has learned from his father The King. He’s never known that different parts of the country exist. When Mrs. Anna comes this kind of squashes everything that he has believed. There is a beautiful arc of growing into a man, being true to who he is and being able to teach as well so that one day he may possibly rule a country.

Q: Your character has dozens of younger siblings. What is it like working with the youngsters in the show?

AC: I kind of see myself as a Den Brother. I enjoy it because I guess you could say that I grew up having a lot of younger cousins.

Q: What are they like?

AC: These kids are real bundles of energy. They are real rascals. We definitely have to look after them. They can get into a little bit of mischief, but the first thing I think of is that they put a smile on your face. I am smiling and laughing, thinking about what they will do tonight. Being a long side these children make me feel 10 years younger.

Q: What is the more challenging aspect of the show for you – the singing or the acting?

AC: Neither really. Every day brings something new to the table. What I love about this show is that every actor, singer, and dancer brings something new and fresh to the stage. There is so much meat for us to attack; so we are constantly talking about the show, and telling the story. I truly I love telling this story every night.

Q: Where are you from? How did you get to this place in your life?

AC: I grew up 10 minutes from San Francisco. My younger sister is the brains in the family. She is graduating from the University of Oregon in the physical therapy and science fields. My dad is the manager of a company and my mom is an accountant.

Q: Did your parents want you to pursue a career in the theater arts?

AC: My parents are supportive of everything that I do. Before college, I was in school for forensic chemistry.

Q: I didn’t expect to hear that from you.

AC: Well, in high school I performed in theater and loved it. So I started auditioning for musicals in New York City. I thought about science, medicine, and law, but I found my one true love for the arts and performing doing regional gigs. My parents never pushed me to find a back-up plan, or make sure that I had a steady job. Just as long as I am happy, they are happy.

Q: When you are not performing in the show how do you spend your free time?

AC: I love traveling, so doing a tour means seeing different parts of the country, and exploring places I wouldn’t necessarily have gone to otherwise. I also enjoy running, working out, and finding adventures in the cities and towns we visit.

Q: When the weather doesn’t permit a run how do you kick back?

AC: On a cloudy day, I don’t mind being inside reading a book and chilling out at the hotel or the Air B & B.

Q: What do you hope for your future?

AC: To keep performing, and to make sure that I am happy with whatever I am doing. I would like to pursue story-telling, which I feel is such a good form of art and expression. In the future I would like the arts to become more of a priority, especially in the schools. Younger kids are the best story tellers; so when I have my own family I would definitely encourage my kids to perform in the theater. I feel that the arts, especially theater, opens people up and helps them become more human, because they are hiding behind the box.

Q: If someone has seen the movie, or other stage productions, why should he or she come to see this touring production of “The King and I.”

AC: Laura and Jose, as Anna and The King, bring so much of themselves to these roles. I love Laura as Mrs. Anna because she brings so much humor and vitality to the way she plays the character; it is completely different from other actresses in the role. When you see a show like this, with new actors it takes on a whole new meaning; new actors bring new energy.

Q: Are there life lessons that fit modern times in this show?

AC: Oh, yes. I see a bunch of life lessons here. The show is about modernization, society, and a lot of what it means to grow up. Each character goes through a whole arc. There is so much to explore; lovers, kids forced to grow up, and a family that has to stay together. It is about a king who is confused, yet he has to rule a country. I believe there are a lot of lessons in each character and in each story line. East meets west, as well as a classic musical theater story that you can absolutely connect to.

For tickets, please call: 215-893-3333, or visit www.kimmelcenter.org.

The post Exclusive Interview With Anthony Chan Star Of Philly Broadway Series ‘The King And I’ first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

Exclusive Interview: Adam Langdon is Stellar in ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”

(PCM) Spending an evening with Adam Langdon in the leading role for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is truly a transformative experience for the senses.

The 24-year-old actor from Brooklyn began his thrilling national tour in September, portraying 15-year-old Christopher Boone, a boy who learns and communicates differently than many of us do, yet he has numerous life lessons to share with everyone who crosses his path.

This emotional story is making a big local splash since it is part of the Broadway Philadelphia series playing at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music from Feb. 28-March 5; while at the same time the novel is the focus of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s “One Book, One Philadelphia 2017” program through March 23. The book has also been chosen as the featured book selection for many other cities around the nation.

The 2003 mystery novel was written by British author Mark Haddon, and adapted into a stunning and life changing play by Simon Stephens, that went on to win five Tony Awards in 2015, including best play. The title of the book and the play quotes the fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1892 short story “Silver Blaze.”

The author has been lauded for imagining a new kind of hero, and for showing all of us that the best lives are lived when our differences are cherished, and those themes persist in the play.

The character of Christopher has an extraordinary brain, yet despite his exceptional intelligence, he is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life, reminiscent of many teens on the autism spectrum.

The math and science concepts he can grasp would make him on a trajectory to become an astronaut or a research scientist, but for his lack of ability to communicate effectively or socialize and his disdain for being touched, stand in the way.

When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to a journey that will change his life forever.

Langdon has performed in several regional theater productions, as well as on TV’s “The Good Wife,” and is co-star and co-creator of the web series, “Moe and Jerryweather.”

Langdon said he first read the book when it was published, after it was recommended by his British mother, and it was a time when the actor was just a few years younger than his character.

The show is bold, emotional and unique. It is a rare glimpse inside the mind of this boy who grapples with sensory processing overload in so many areas of his life, yet he is brave enough to go on a difficult train trip alone, learn forgiveness for those who disappoint him, and fight for his right to be the best that he can be, especially in the areas in which he excels.

Watching “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” one cannot help cheer for Christopher, the young man portraying his complicated journey, and the reflections that we see in ourselves.

PCM: So what is it about this story that strikes a chord with everyone?

ADAM LANGDON: The themes really resonate. One of the themes I see, and what people get out of it, is embracing and celebrating difference, and showing this difference in a complete way. It leads all of us be more accepting.

PCM: The role of Christopher is physically and emotionally demanding, and the sheer volume of material to memorize would seem a bit staggering. So how do you remember these staggering number of lines?

AL: The moment I became involved with this show it wasn’t the lines that concerned me. My biggest fear coming into it was the physical aspect, because I never considered myself as having the physical stamina that the play required. The people who put the movement together, Frantic Assembly, were so patient, that it all came together very well for me. I also feel that the bravery Christopher has really requires everyone in the show to be brave.

PCM: What has been one unexpected positive benefit of doing the show?

AL: I have had the opportunity talk to many parents and teachers of individuals on the spectrum. When I hear all of those heart-felt reactions it makes all of the blood, sweat, and tears that we spill over this show, totally worth it.

PCM: It is well known that audience members are heard weeping during some scenes and cheering in others. Tell me why you feel that people should see this play?

AL: There is really no other play like this. It is sort of like “Hamlet” combined with “Cirque du Soleil,” and so much more. Everyone can connect with this show, and I believe it is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

PCM: How important has the support from your parents, Alan and Deborah, been in regard to your education and career?

AL: I could not have done it without them. They have always been the most supportive parents in the world. My mom is an actress and my dad is an acting teacher. My mom was key on finding me the right summer programs and helping me apply to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, while my dad encouraged me to audition for Julliard. They said wherever I ended up was the right place for me to be,

PCM: Getting into Julliard must have been quite an endeavor, please tell me how it went?

AL: The audition process is really intense. There was a lot of waiting around. The final part of the process involved three days of taking actual classes. They were trying to put together a group of 18 people who were going to become a great company. They wanted people of different ages and backgrounds, as well as people like me were right out of high school.

PCM: Had you read the book before becoming involved with the show?

AL: Yes. I read the book when it first came out at the age of 12 or 13. My mom is a Brit, so she knew the book. I watched the Tony Awards when it won five awards and I auditioned to replace Alex Sharp on Broadway. It was not a great audition but they remembered me and brought me back for the tour.

PCM: How do you view your future?

AL: I love being an actor, so really it’s about whatever the world is able to give me. If it’s a Broadway show, a TV show, or a break in the movies. I grew up on classic movies. I would like the next step. I love to work, and I have written some scripts and had meetings with producers and directors about some of them. It is a huge process to get a film made. The budget of $500,000 is nothing in the film world; yet it is everything to a 24-year-old.

PCM: What is your advice to younger actors who want to follow in your footsteps?

AL: You need to be confident that where you are in the moment is where you need to be. You must be 100 percent involved in your pursuit!

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” is playing at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music through March 5.

Tickets: www.kimmelcenter.org or call, 215-893-3333.


The post Exclusive Interview: Adam Langdon is Stellar in ‘Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” first appeared on Movie News & Reviews.

Exclusive Interview With Lizzie Markson About Her Role As Sophie In Mama Mia’s Final Tour

(PCM) It is time to say farewell to the well-loved tour of “Mama Mia,” a show that has for decades been making memories for fans of Abba and musical theater.

Front and center in the role of bride-to-be Sophie, is 23-year-old Lizzie Markson, who has fond memories of her childhood and teen years in Allentown, PA., and always dreamt of an opportunity like she is having with the current national tour, The Mama Mia Farewell Tour, which began in October.

Before being chosen for the current tour, which comes to the Merriam Theatre in Philadelphia, for a holiday engagement from Dec. 27-31, she was familiar with Abba’s music, and the movie starring Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, but had not yet seen the Broadway show. Now, she is thrilled to be exciting audiences far and wide. “I had seen the movie, but when the tour came along, I didn’t really remember it,” Markson recently recalled from a tour stop in Vancouver, B.C.

Q: Tell me how this amazing role happened for you?

LIZZIE MARKSON: I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Elon University in North Carolina in May [2016]. I majored in musical theater. My friends urged me to audition, saying they thought I’d be good for it. I also listened to an Abba cover band called “A’Teens,” while I was growing up, so I knew the music.

Q: Tell me about growing up in Allentown PA.

LM: it was a lovely childhood and I really love it there now. This may sound annoying but when I was growing up I wanted to be somewhere else. But now I appreciate growing up there.

Q: Why?

LM: There was great theater, arts, and dance training and a perfect community for me. Parkland High School where I graduated had a great theater department and a wonderful dance studio. It is an inspiring place.

Q: While you are traveling so much through July 30, 2017, on this tour, how often do you get home?

LM: Allentown is a centrally-located place so I went home often. I am going home for five days for our first break.

Q: Who still lives in Allentown from your family?

LM: My parents. I also have a sister who goes to medical school in Philadelphia and a brother in New York. So, Allentown is very convenient gathering place for everyone.

Q: What do you love about theater?

LM: So many things. I love that it let’s people – from so many different walks of life, perspectives, backgrounds and races — come together for two hours and get lost in a story.

Q: What else?

LM: I think that stories are incredibly powerful tools. Stories are able to carry out many functions — heal, start conversations, and ultimately make you feel something. It is super important to keep the arts alive right now, and I think theater has a special way of touching and reaching people.

Q: What about “Mama Mia?”

LM: This show in particular is really special because we get to bring it to so many different corners of the continent, not just the 10 blocks that make up Broadway in New York City. It also lets people smile and have fun for two hours. Especially, with the climate of our country and the election – this lets people escape and have fun and forget whatever else is going on in their lives.

Q: Tell me about how you see your character of Sophie?

LM: Sophie, the bride-to-be. She sets the whole show in motion, and I think I enjoy playing her so much because she has a child-like optimism and hopefulness and thinks everything will go perfectly. Of course it won’t. But she is doing her best to keep all the chaos at bay that she has unintentionally created, but she finds herself unable to do so.

Q: I know theater lovers who have seen “Mama Mia,” many, many times, so they sing along and dance in the aisles, and think of it as an old friend. They enjoy the music, and the characters, and keep going back.

LM: I hear very often that this is a favorite show for many people, and they say they have seen it many times. A lot of people have specific memories of Abba’s music and that’s why they are attached to the show or specific memories of seeing the show on Broadway.

Q: Do you have any favorite fan stories?

LM: Yes. A woman came up to me after the show the other night to say ‘She said this was the first show she had seen with her mother who passed away several years ago; so now she will see the show every year when it tours in honor of her mom and it makes her happy.

Q: What is one of the best aspects of being in this musical?

LM: Well, people really, really, really love this show. People in the show are itching for it to start they are just so excited. So it is really great to be part of a show that people are that excited about.

Q: Do you ever get homesick on the road?

LM: Actually, two weeks ago I started getting very homesick. It’s such a new experience and a big part of it is that things are constantly changing. You have no home base, but it’s in a different sense than I am used to. You are not in the same bed every night, and you have to cart your things around every day or every few days. All of this makes you crave home.

Q: Your career really took off quickly.

LM: Yes, I just graduated earlier this year, and I am having the time of my life. When I get a little tired I can say that it’s easy to crave the idea of home. The cast is really wonderful and now at this point being with all of them feels like a family. I feel comfortable and at home here, even though I often miss my family.

Q: Since you are from Allentown, who is planning to come and see you perform in Philadelphia?

LM: A lot of my really close friends from home and the local Jewish Community Center are taking a bus trip to Philly to see the show. My parents, friends and people I haven’t talked to since high school will be there. I will probably have someone at each of the Philadelphia shows – which is super exciting.

Q: Have your parents seen you in the show already?

LM: Yes, they came to see me in Tucson, Arizona, at the end of October.

Q: When you are not rehearsing, performing or traveling how do you spend your time?

LM: Exploring a new place that I’m in since we are going to some really wonderful places. I enjoy running – it is a nice and visceral way to get a sense of a place and breathe it in. I also seek out yoga studios or funky cafes. I have loved Victoria, B.C. it is cold, but it feels good, and it is absolutely beautiful

Q: Do you eventually want to perform in a Broadway musical?

LM: Well, it’s never been something I was set on. What I want professionally is to feel fulfilled, and artistically stimulated and happy. I’ve never personally felt a super important pull to be on Broadway; so if I am able to continue to do what I love to do, I will be elated.

For information on the tour please go to: http://www.mammamiaontour.com/mm/

For more information about Lizzie, go to: www.lizziemarkson.com

The post Exclusive Interview With Lizzie Markson About Her Role As Sophie In Mama Mia’s Final Tour appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

Did The Cast Of Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ Go Too Far In Calling Out Vice President Elect Mike Pence?


(PCM) The cast of Broadway’s “Hamilton” recently stirred up quite a bit of controversy when they made the decision to call out Vice President elect Mike Pence, who was attending a performance, on some issues they had regarding his election platforms. When Pence first entered the theater there was a mixture of both cheers and jeers, but that is not that surprising, however many feel that Pence should not have been put on the spot in such a way.

During curtain call perform Brandon Victor Dixon (who plays Aaron Burr in the show) noticed that Pence was about to make his exit from the theater and stopped him with a message from the cast. Dixon explained to Pence that the cast of “Hamilton” represents a very diverse group of individuals that tell this particular American story. He reiterated that they were alarmed by the income administration, people of all colors, creeds, and orientations—and urged him to uphold their “inalienable rights.”

Many felt that this was neither the time nor the place for Pence to be called-out, so to say, on these types of issues, while others feel that the “Hamilton” cast took a brave step exercising their right to free speech. Dixon told Broadway.com,”It was a message from the producers the creative and the cast. If you have differences, say something! What better place than on this stage telling this story with these people? I hope he thinks of us every time he has to deal with an issue or talk about a bill or present anything.” On the other hand, it is hard to even begin to imagine what Pence much have felt like in that moment, as it could be viewed as a form of public harassment. 

President-Elect Trump was not pleased by the entire ordeal and took to his Twitter account to urge the “Hamilton” cast to issue an apology to Mike Pence. Some Trump supporters were even calling for a boycott of the “Hamilton” show.  Pence himself released a statement saying “I know this is a very disappointing time for people that did not see their candidate win in this national election. I know that this is a very anxious time for some people. My daughter and I and her cousins really enjoyed the show. Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there.” He also went on to say that he “wasn’t offended” by the cast’s statement at the curtain call, or the audience’s booing as he entered the theater: “I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like”. 

“Hamilton” actor Dixon appeared on CBS This Morning to further address some of the controversy saying there was nothing to apologize for and the statement was important to them and they wanted it. He further commented “Art is meant to bring people together, it’s meant to raise consciousness. And when you have a platform…I told [Hamilton producer] Jeffrey Seller after the show, I said, ‘I applaud you all for not throwing away your shot, for taking a moment to spread your message of love and unity.” They have also invited President-Elect Trump out to see a show, as they feel it is truly important for everyone to see a show like theirs, as it’s power in truly undeniable. Sounds great, if we could ever find tickets!!  

Do you think that the cast and crew of “Hamilton” went too far by putting Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on the spot, especially in front of his children and loved ones?  Or do you feel that the cast of “Hamilton” used their platform wisely to get a point across?  


The post Did The Cast Of Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ Go Too Far In Calling Out Vice President Elect Mike Pence? appeared first on The World Of Pop Culture.

Love Is In The Air For An American In Paris Leading Lady Sara Esty

04(PCM) Before her 30th birthday Sara Esty has discovered that dreams do come true. The lovely and accomplished ballet dancer, is playing the leading role of Lise Dassin in the current tour of “An American in Paris,” the Tony-Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl, and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war.

Acclaimed director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon brings the magic and romance of Paris into perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season. With rich storytelling and ravishing and nuanced dance numbers and memorable show tunes, the show is, as the Gershwin brothers would say, simply s’wonderful.The show comes to the Academy of Music from Tuesday, Nov. 22-Sunday, Nov. 27, the perfect time to enjoy this romantic show with family and friends during the holiday season.

The lovely Esty, a former soloist with the Miami City Ballet, received her training at the Maine State Ballet, the School of American Ballet, and the Miami City Ballet School. She received a Princess Grace Fellowship Award for excellence in dance. This accomplished dancer has performed various works by legendary choreographers, including George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Q: The current national tour of “An American in Paris” just started. How long have you been with this musical?

SARA ESTY: I have been with the show since the inception; about two and a half years.

Q: Tell me about the early beginnings of this show for you?

SE: I started rehearsals in New York and then we had a two-month trial run in Paris, which was incredible. After that we brought it to Broadway. So, I have seen it in all of its stages of development –- which has been thrilling for me.

Q: Have you had the same part all along?

SE: No. I started in Paris as a stand for the lead, and I had the honor of performing the show a few times in Paris. I went on twice a week and was in the ensemble, and now I’ve graduated to playing the lead; it has been an awesome ride. Ironically, my current leading man in the tour, Garen Scribner, was the alternate for the leading role in the beginning.

Q: Please tell me about your background.

SE: I grew up in a small town Gorham, Maine, which is about 15 minutes outside of Portland. My identical two sister, Leigh-Ann, and I started dancing at the age of three. After high school I had to decide if I wanted to pursue dancing, or college.

Q : Your decision was…

SE: Dancing. Basically, at age 18, and right out of high school I started auditioning for dance companies and was accepted into the Miami City Ballet. I was there for 10 years, and my sister, who is also my best friend, got a job dancing there as well.


Q: How did you wind up performing in musicals?

SE: I’ve always loved the performing arts and Broadway, and I have also long enjoyed singing. I was in the chorus and chamber choir in high school, but I never knew that I would have an opportunity to exercise all of my passions in one outlet.

Q: How did “An American in Paris” come about for you?

SE: I heard about the great names behind the show. The idea of entering the world of a big Broadway musical really got me excited. I auditioned, and almost three years later, here I am.

Q: Generations of movie musical lovers know the show from the Gene Kelley version. What has this experience been for you doing it live each night?

SE: We really do love doing it. It’s a beautiful and an important story today – especially today when there is so much pain, war, and hate in the world, and so it’s about acknowledging that love is so integral to each of us and that it can conquer all. It feels really good to relay that message to audiences everywhere.

Q: The themes are truly universal; and it appeals to people who enjoy a wide range of the performing arts.

SE: Yes. I agree. I often talk to people who say ‘I’m not much of a ballet person,’ but I loved this show. Everyone has his or her own opinion, but it seems that our story is not only a big Broadway musical, it is telling an important story through movement. It’s so much more than people expect, so people often tell me that they are pleasantly surprised by how much they are captivated by every aspect of the show.


Q: So what is your sister doing these days?

SE: Happily she is on tour with me.

Q: That’s wonderful.

SE: She stayed with the Miami City Ballet for two extra years, and when I told her they were started auditioning performers for this tour, she said she was ready to leave the ballet company. She auditioned and was given the part of my alternate, so she goes on a couple times a week. I am over the moon that we are back together. We are best friends and one another’s biggest supporters. What they say is true about twins, it is an Indescribable connection. For us to experience that same character in the same show is amazing and remarkable. I love that we are back together sharing this incredible experience.

Q: Have your mom and dad seen this show?

SE: I can’t even count how many times. Both of my parents went to the recent opening in Boston a few weeks ago and I know that my mom is coming to Philadelphia, and that my dad will come back to see it again, soon. I have a feeling they are definitely going to be our tour groupies.

Q: So, why should people come to see the show in Philadelphia and other stops on the tour?

SE: Well, like I was saying, this is a story everyone can relate to in some way, shape or form.

Q: Why do you feel that way?

SE: I say that because everyone has gone through hard times and has had to rebuild after that and they come out of that hardship a better and stronger person.

Q: How do you relate this to the show?

SE: Our characters are rebuilding after a time of no hope, doubt, fear and terror – and they discover that love does triumph after all. We can all kind of relate to that. If you love a big Broadway musical, and a good story, and embrace the idea of love you should come to this show for sure.

Q: How do you spend your rare free time?

SE: It’s so funny because we are just kind of getting into our routine of having days off. So I will try to find local places for a massage, and experience fun local restaurants and markets. We have been to Buffalo, Hartford and Boston, and Philadelphia is next. I want to see as much of cities we are going as possible. I haven’t been to most of them. I know that a lot of our cast members keep journals, and I have been taking a lot of videos so maybe I can put something together on touring unique places.


Q: How long do you plan to be with this tour?

SE: I signed on for a year, so that takes me to October 2017. The tour is growing. In fact, it is opening in London in March, which is really exciting. There have also been talks about taking it all over the world, because the show is so amazing and everyone – far and wide –seems to really love it.

Q: I hear the excitement in your voice for dancing. Could you imagine a world in which you did not dance?

SE: No, not really. I have often said that it is probably something that I have to do. It is such a big passion of mine, I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. I am the worst relaxer you will ever meet. I do love having a day off here and there, but after an extended period of time I get really antsy. I am always much happier when I am dancing and when I am surrounded by music; it just makes me happy and fulfills me as a person.

Q: So what do you see for your future?

SE: After I am done with this show, I would love to do another musical. I hope to go back to New York and see what’s out there for me. I am enjoying the acting and singing, so I will see where this takes me. I can’t see not having dancing in my life or not being in the entertainment field in general.

Q: Why is that?

SE: It’s just in my bones, in my heart and in my soul. I have to pinch myself on a daily basis to believe this is what I do every day. The work is hard, don’t get me wrong, but – it just feels so gratifying and fulfilling. I love that I get to tell these beautiful stories and help transport us from our daily lives. People call it work; but to me it feels incredible.
For further information about “An American in Paris,” please go to: www.kimmelcenter.org

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