Saturday, October 4, 2014

Free Christmas opera Oct. 7

Posted By on Sat, Oct 4, 2014 at 12:46 PM


The International Youth Fellowship’s (IYF) New Orleans chapter is hosting a performance of the Christmas Cantata, an opera-like re-enactment of Christians’ traditional Christmas story, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the UNO Lakefront Arena. Admission is free. Call 504-2 08-2911 or visit to g et free tickets.


In the musical, the story of Jesus Christ’s birth is told through music, elaborate sets and costumes and includes a version of Handel’s MESSIAH, performed by the award-winning Gracias Choir. The choir has performed internationally, and this year earned grand prizes at the Concorso Corale Internazionale in Italy and the Montreux Choral Festival in Switzerland.

This is the fourth time the choir will perform in New Orleans.


Inho Choi, IYF New Orleans regional director, says IYF volunteers are personally delivering thousands of invitations with tickets to homes across New Orleans in an effort to bring Gracias Christmas Cantata to a wider audience. IYF presented the production at the Saenger Theatre last year, but opted for UNO Lakefront Arena for the 2014 show in order to accommodate a larger audience.

The choir’s 2014 U.S. tour includes 20 cities.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: A Lie of the Mind

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 1:55 PM


“She’s not gonna pull outta this one,” Jake yells frantically to his brother through a pay phone receiver. “She’s dead.”

The phone call starts Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind, which The Elm Theater is running at Mid-City Theatre. Jake (Garrett Prejean) has severely beaten his wife Beth (Becca Chapman) in a fit of jealous rage. But Beth is not dead. She’s badly injured and her brother Mike (Andrew Vaught) is helping care for her in a hospital. The drama spares the viewer from viewing the horrific event, but the tension only increases as Beth tries to heal.

Chapman delivers a standout performance. Beth wakes up in a hospital and believes she is a “zombie” because she is so bandaged. She speaks in clipped sentences, frequently dropping words and letting her thoughts wander. It’s heartbreaking to watch her struggle to communicate, but Chapman gives Beth complexity, pride and determination.

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Artistic Director Cassie Steck Worley resigns from Le Petit Theatre

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Cassie Steck Worley guided Le Petit Theatre through financial crisis and change during her tenure as board president. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cassie Steck Worley guided Le Petit Theatre through financial crisis and change during her tenure as board president.

Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre announced Artistic Director Cassie Steck Worley has resigned. Worley starred in the recently completed run of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the first show of its 2014-2015 subscription season (a lagniappe production of Nine Lives: A Musical Witness of New Orleans ran in August). Worley joined Le Petit Theatre's board of directors in 2007 and became president in 2010.

Leon Contavespie will take over as interim Artistic Director as the board begins a search for a new director.

"Cassie decided to pursue other things and she tendered her resignation," Contavesrpie said. "We're moving forward. The staff is working together to move on with the season, and we're starting rehearsals with Peter and the Starcatcher next week. ... We're going to miss her. She was fantastic at her job, but she felt she wanted to move on."

Worley guided the theater through financial difficulties that left it shuttered it for two years. The theater cancelled its 2010 season and in December 2011 sold 60 percent of its space to the Dickie Brennan Restaurant Group for $3 million. The building's corner spot on Jackson Square is now occupied by the restaurant Tableau, which shares an interior courtyard and entrance with the theater. Le Petit reopened in July 2013 with a staged reading of Love Loss and What I Wore.

Contavesprie said all productions since reopening have made money and fundraising at the theater is up.

"Things are looking up financially," he said.

Contavesprie served on the Le Petit board from 1996-2000 and 2010 to the present.

Reached by phone for comment, Bryan Batt said he is on leave from Le Petit's board of directors.

There have been some changes to the board of directors. Gerri Jumonville and Ned Benjamin joined the board in the last month.

Board member Simone Boustead resigned yesterday.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Broadway at NOCCA's 2014-15 season includes Cheyenne Jackson, Ana Gasteyer

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 3:41 PM

(Clockwise from top) Cheyenne Jackson, Ana Gasteyer, Christine Ebersole and Joanna Gleason will be coming to New Orleans during the third annual "Broadway at NOCCA" series. - BROADWAY AT NOCCA
  • (Clockwise from top) Cheyenne Jackson, Ana Gasteyer, Christine Ebersole and Joanna Gleason will be coming to New Orleans during the third annual "Broadway at NOCCA" series.

Cheyenne Jackson, Ana Gasteyer, Christine Ebersole and Joanna Gleason are the stars of this year's "Broadway at NOCCA" series, which kicks off Oct. 11 with a performance by Tony Award-winner Joanna Gleason (Into the Woods) in performance at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. The rest of the season's shows will be on the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts' campus.

Nov. 7 will bring Jackson, who has appeared on Glee and 30 Rock in addition to many New York stage performances. Ana Gasteyer, formerly of Saturday Night Live and the Broadway production of Wicked, will perform March 28. And the season closes May 23 with a performance by Christine Ebersole, who has won two Tonys for her work in the musicals Grey Gardens and 42nd Street. All performances (except Le Petit) will feature pianist Seth Rudetsky.

Tickets, including season passes to all four shows, are now on sale at the Broadway at NOCCA website.

Sat. Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.: Joanna Gleason (NOCCA at Le Petit Theatre)

Fri. Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.: Cheyenne Jackson (NOCCA)

Sat. March 28, 7:30 p.m.: Ana Gasteyer (NOCCA)

Sat. May 23, 7:30 p.m.: Christine Ebersole (NOCCA)

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Two reality TV favorites make their way to the Saenger Theater this October

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Reality-TV personage Theresa Caputo will grace the Saenger Theater Oct. 17.
  • Reality-TV personage Theresa Caputo will grace the Saenger Theater Oct. 17.

So You Think You Can Dance
, the Emmy Award-winning FOX reality show for dance, is kicking off its 70-stop North American tour here in New Orleans at the Saenger Theatre October 1. 

The tour celebrates the show's 11th season and features its top 10 finalists doing the kind of creative, optically alluring moves for which it's known. Tickets go on sale Friday, August 15. 

Also on sale Friday are tickets to see TLC's own Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo. The psychic medium, who communicates with the dead via a gift she can't "turn off" (making for some awkward situations brilliantly captured by reality television), will give interactive presentations of her gift with audience members at the Saenger Oct. 17. She'll also tell personal stories from her life. 

You can find tickets to both shows at the Saenger box office, through Ticketmaster or by calling (800) 745-3000.

It'd be really great if Caputo could predict the next SYTYCD winner, but you can't have everything. 

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Marigny Opera House Dance Company prepares for October premiere

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 11:18 AM

Marigny Opera House Dance Company choreographers Donna Crump, Maya Taylor and Diogo de Lima.
  • Marigny Opera House Dance Company choreographers Donna Crump, Maya Taylor and Diogo de Lima.

The recently launched Marigny Opera House Dance Company named its three choreographers, is finalizing a roster of six company dancers and began work on its premiere performances in October. The season will feature three programs, each with a piece by choreographers Maya Taylor, Diogo de Lima and Donna Crump.

Since its founding in 2011, the Marigny Opera House has produced programs of classical music, short operas, dance and puppetry and hosted a variety of events and been used as a rehearsal space by artists. It also has been a New Orleans Fringe Festival venue. Founder Dave Hurlbert initiated the Marigny Opera House New Dance Festival in which he commissioned new works by local choreographers. The new company's choreographers all participated in recent festivals.

The company's mission is to present all new works performed to live music, Hurlbert says. Most modern dance companies use recorded music. Taylor is developing a piece set to music by Italian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima. Crump is working working with musicians to compose music for baritone sax and violin to accompany her piece, tentatively titled The Fun Police.

The premiere is Oct. 24-26, and there's an opening night gala after the performance. The season continues with performances Jan. 23-25, 2015 and April 17-19, 2015.

Taylor is a former member of New York's Elisa Monte Dance and was recently commissioned to create a large-scale piece for Omaha Performing Arts' the Rite Returns festival. Donna Crump is a native New Orleanian and founder of Good Dance Since 1984. De Lima is a dancer/choreographer/actor from Brazil. He studied at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, performed with Grupo Corpo Brazilian Dance Theater and teaches at Tulane University. 

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Acro-Cats coming to New Orleans in December

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM

If you're not already a fan of the Acro-Cats  or the Rock Cats, check out the video above. (Or read reviews of past shows in Gambit herehere (with dog in tutu and groundhog Santa Claus) or here  Trainer/ringmaster Samantha Martin has built up quite a local following for the performing cats, who ride skateboards, balance on rolling barrels, play musical instruments and more. She brings the feline frenzy back to the AllWays Lounge & Theatre Dec. 4-21.

Fame has not been easy for the Acro-Cats. The group had its tour vehicle vandalized in Los Angeles in February. No-one was apprehended in the case, and Gambit can't offer any solid leads in the case. But we can offer a photo of a suspicious-looking character known to hang around Acro-Cats vehicles:
Local dog known to hang around Acro-Cats vehicles.
  • Local dog known to hang around Acro-Cats vehicles.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Posted By on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 at 2:42 PM

A Midsummer Night's Dream, presented by the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, presented by the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University.

When The NOLA Project staged Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in 2011, the company took advantage of the natural environment and let the comedy’s young lovers and bumbling thespians, aka the “rude mechanicals,” romp through the park in delightfully youthful fashion. In its Midsummer production, The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane University has brought the play indoors at Dixon Hall, and director Clare Moncrief’s work takes a somber tone as the young lovers are cast as British aristocrats who seem trapped in social class rigidity. It’s a competent production, but it is stuffy at times and the play’s romance and whimsy don’t reach full blossom.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Skin Horse presents its third annual 24-hour theater fest

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 12:21 PM


This Saturday, seven directors and seven playwrights will produce seven short plays in 24 hours, as part of Skin Horse Theater's third annual 24-hour theater fest. A handful of actors will rehearse all day and perform the fruits of the day's work at 8 p.m. at The Allways Lounge and Theater. The cost of the show is - you guessed it - $7.

Anna Henschel, the event's organizer, says the 24-hour theater fest was an end-of-the-year tradition at Bard College, where Skin Horse members all went to college. "We moved to New Orleans and thought, wow, this is perfect for it," she says.

Henschel gathers actors, writers and directors from a variety of companies and corners of the city, including Craigslist in the past, because she wants to make the contributors to the festival as diverse as possible in terms of background and experience. "We actually encourage people who have never been on stage before to do it," Henschel says, "so we have seasoned actors who've performed on a Southern Rep stage to newbies."

On Friday night, everyone involved in the project will get together to vote on a theme (last year's was "It's a Trap!"). After that, the playwrights get to work, and plays are due at 5 a.m. The results run the gamut from spoofs on film noir to absurdist dance pieces, though Henschel says the plays tend to air on the side of comedy.

"Comedy tends to be easier to access in 24 hours," she says.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Jesus Christ Superstar tour canceled; was to have debuted at UNO Lakefront Arena June 9

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 4:26 PM

The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.

This summer's touring arena production of Jesus Christ Superstar was abruptly canceled this afternoon after rehearsals had already begun in New Orleans. No explanation was given. It was to have opened at UNO Lakefront Arena June 9 before playing more than 50 dates at large arenas around the country, from Los Angeles' Staples Center to Madison Square Garden in New York.

Tamar Grace Gregorian, director of communications for the UNO Lakefront Arena, confirmed the cancellation, and a brief notice was just posted on the tour's website:

Options Clause Entertainment LLC, an affiliate of S2BN Entertainment, announced today the cancellation of the Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular Tour. The tour was scheduled to kick off in New Orleans on June 9. All purchased tickets will be refunded. Tickets purchased online and via telephone will be automatically refunded. Tickets purchased from outlets/venue box office must be returned to that location for refund.
The tour had gotten much publicity for its casting of pop stars from various genres, including John Lydon (Sex Pistols, Public Image Ltd.), Michelle Williams (Destiny's Child), JC Chasez ('N Sync) and Brandon Boyd (Incubus). British TV reality star Ben Forster, who was playing Jesus, tweeted that the cancellation came in the middle of a rehearsal:

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