Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

Tap into the holidays with Backwards in High Heels

(l to r) Benjie Randall, Christianne Tisdale, Anna Aimee White, James Patterson and Matthew LaBanca

This Holiday season the San Jose Repertory Theatre is playing Backwards in High Heels, a musical biography of Ginger Rogers, and two hours of toe tapping fun.  It is a fantastic show that is great for an all-age audience, even those who have never heard of Ginger Rogers.

Who hasn’t heard of Ginger Rogers??  Oh, just my 18 year old daughter, to my mortification.  However, when lights went up at intermission she turned to me and exclaimed, “OMIGAWD I LOVE THIS!”  As I’ve said before, this girl is San Jose theatre’s toughest critic, so this says a great deal about the show.  She is young enough to not understand many of the old Hollywood references, but the story does not depend on them, neither do they depend on the singing and dancing.  It is just a really great story about a very interesting woman.  Oh, and there is quite a lot of great singing and dancing as well!

Anna Aimee White as Ginger Rogers

It follows Ginger from age 14 in 1925 until the Academy Awards in 1940.  Much of the story is narrated by her mother Lela, played by Heather Lee.  One of the most entertaining scenes in the show is when Lela tells the story of Ginger’s alcoholic father, whom Lela divorced when Ginger was 4 – played with over-the-top physical acting and a strobe light, it appears you are watching an old time silent film.  An interesting woman in her own right, Lela ends up watching her adoring and very attached daughter grow into a strong business woman who insists on making her own decisions in life.  Not a lot of time is spent on Fred Astaire, which is probably how Ginger Rogers would want it.  She seems to have spent much of her adult life trying to convince people she could be successful on her own, not just as half of a team.

Anna Aimee White quite capably plays Ginger Rogers from a perky teenager to the self assured woman she becomes, and is a great singer and dancer.  Heather Lee is outstanding as the mother who truly wants only the best for her child but must stand back and watch her make mistakes on her own.  A surprise standout is Christianne Tisdale who plays everyone from Ethel Merman, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, to, cross-dressed, Ginger Roger’s French fourth husband.  While Heather Lee brings a quiet seriousness to the story, Christianne Tisdale brings a lot of comedy.   Most of the cast outside of White play multiple roles, and they are all outstanding.

Backwards in High Heels
San Jose Repertory Theatre
Through December 19
$35 – $74
Tix:  408 367-7255
Online Tickets

To make it even easier for the family to enjoy this show during the holiday season, Creative Playshops are held during each Saturday matinee for children ages 6 to 12 in the Rep’s upstairs studio theatre.  Led by SJ Rep professionals, these playshops explore the imagination through interactive theatre activities related to the themes of the play.  Just drop the kids off before the show, enjoy the performance and pick them up afterward!  Single tickets are $10, Playshop subscriptions are $48.

LGBT Night: Out ‘n’ About Night will be Friday, December 10.  The evening will start with a VIP pre-show reception with wine, appetizers and a festive goodie bag.  Participants will be treated to parterre seating for the show, and immediately after the show they can meet the cast in the Curtain Call Patron Lounge.
Friday, December 10, 6pm to Midnight
Price: $49
Call the Box Office at 408 367-7255 and ask for the Out ‘n’ About rate.

OMIGOD You guys! Elle Woods has brought her case to San Jose!

Elle Woods and Bruiser

And she has won!  Broadway San Jose has brought Legally Blonde the Musical to the Center for Performing Arts and it is an outstanding show.  Opening to a packed house on Tuesday evening the audience was laughing, cheering, clapping and (happy) crying throughout the evening.

I am not usually thrilled when musicals are adapted from films, but Legally Blonde is perfectly suited for such a thing.  It’s a delightful, uplifting story with a change in tone at the halfway mark, plenty of quirky characters, and a happy ending.  The musical sticks with the storyline from the film, only making minor changes to make pop culture references more current.  There is also the addition of a Greek chorus – Elle’s sorority sisters, of course!

The story of Elle Woods and her move from Malibu to Harvard, though sometimes described as “bubblegum,” is actually inspiring and empowering to both females and males, young and old.  If you have never seen the film you need to understand that it is not about a bubble-headed blonde with a love for pink Gucci and aspirations to be a senator’s wife.  Okay, Elle does start out as this person, but she figures out before intermission that taking advantage of her brain is a better idea.  I love how the story shows that valuing the superficial is not important, however putting your best face forward is.  Elle learns that chasing love should not be the priority, but the story acknowledges the need for having love in one’s life.  Above all, girls are encouraged to support each other and use their brains, and to be the very best they can be.

Paulette and the UPS Guy with Rufus

Aside from the fantastic story, the musical is insanely well done.  Gorgeous backdrops are switched out super fast, the choreography perfectly conveys personalities and mood changes, and the costumes are well thought out and show Elle’s character development.  The audience is hooked from the catchy opening song (which you will be singing for days after), and the attention is held by the very talented cast and a few scene stealers.  The UPS Man and his accompanying porn-like soundtrack are played to perfection, and lesbian classmate Enid received loud shouts of approval with every line.

The real scene stealers come to Broadway San Jose straight from animal shelters.  The adorable dogs who play Rufus and Bruiser are all rescue animals that are trained for the stage.  They are used minimally in the show but have a magnificent presence every time they run across the stage.  Any time those adorable dogs were on stage all eyes were on them.

At Harvard Law

Broadway San Jose is turning into an arts powerhouse , but unfortunately Legally Blonde is only running through March 21.  You should NOT miss it.  Everyone at Tuesday’s show left the CPA with huge smiles and ready to take on the world.  “When I was young, Elle Woods taught me that a girl can be pretty AND smart,” said the gorgeous Stanford graduate who attended with me, “and now I really want a sparkly pink Harvard shirt.”

If you have pre-teen or teenage girls in your family, take them with you to this show.  Take the boys and men in your life too, and get ready for an exceptionally fun evening.  Even those of us who have seen Elle Woods on screen many times before will feel renewed and inspired after seeing this musical.

Putnam County extended, plus two new Summer shows!

The good news is the SJ Rep has extended the run for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  The bad news is The Rep’s carpet is completely worn out (see great news below!).  Fortunately, we have delightful news on both counts plus two new shows for the summer!  Read the announcements below and then donate some money, go see a great show, and why not have a nice dinner with Dine Downtown before the curtain goes up!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has been extended:

Due to packed houses, overwhelming great reviews and exuberant standing ovations, The San Jose Repertory Theatre has extended the Putnam County Spelling Bee through June 14.  As we have said before, this musical production should not be missed.  It will appeal to adults and college students, and high school kids will also love it.  You don’t want to lose your last chance to see it and now The Rep has made it easier to go:  They have reserved 25 seats at every performance for the low price of $25 each.  You can purchase one or you can purchase all 25, but once they are gone they are gone.  If you miss getting that deal, you may fall into one of the below categories:

Price range: $33-$62

Students (full-time, with valid ID) – 1/2 off tickets for all performances, all seats.

Seniors (65 yrs +) and Teachers – $6 off tickets all performances, all seats.

ADA or ASL discount – $6 off your ticket and your companion’s ticket.

Subscriber Single Ticket Discounts – $6

Rush Ticket Discounts – Balcony price for that performance


By phone: 408.367.7255


By fax: 408.367.7236

In person: Rep Box Office, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose

REMINDER: The SJ Rep has received a Challenge Grant, needs your help!

I noticed recently that the carpet at the SJ Rep is in horrible condition. Thank goodness someone else noticed too – If the SJ Rep can raise half the money through donations, they’ll receive a grant to pay for the rest of it.  Click this link for details:
The SJ Rep gets called to the carpet
UPDATE!  The Rep has already met their goal!


Two new Summer Shows: Forbidden Broadway and The Second City

Tickets on Sale June 10th!

Forbidden Broadway opens July 7 and runs through July 12.  New York’s longest running musical comedy revue that parodies, jeers and cheers American musical theatre celebrates its record-breaking 25th year.  This year’s special victims include the puppets of “Avenue Q,” the witches of “Wicked,” “Billy Joel’s Movin Out” and new look at old favorites such as “La Cage aux Folles,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Les Miz,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Chicago.” Rounding out the laughs are Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” Abba’s “Mamma Mia” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie;” with lots more Broadway past and present.


The Second City, running from July 14 through July 19, provides audiences with the chance to see comedy stars in the making, but they will also have the opportunity to see absolutely hilarious satire and cutting-edge improvisation.  No topic or subject matter is off limits for The Second City.  If your parents asked you not to speak about it at the dinner table, chances are it will be made fun of in an evening with The Second City.

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