BWW Previews: THE GRAND/PLAYHOUSE/baby grand 2017 -'18 SEASON
In late May The Grand/Playhouse Management staged a Preview Party announcing the season in the 3 venues which includes the 300 seat baby grand. Included in the event were announcements regarding The Grand's resident companies: DE Symphony, First State Ballet and OperaDE.
Entertainment diversity is the core mission of long time Director of Programming Steve Bailey. There is a phrase in lacrosse, 'keep your head on a swivel', (i.e. to see the entire field). This year Bailey donned his full gear for the choices are all over the entertainment field.
Regarding The Grand, Bailey states "This year we were able to achieve a level of quality and variety that we think our patron base will be very happy with, and we're not done yet. As we have in recent years, we will work to continue to add shows to the calendar throughout the year as opportunities become available to even further expand the options our patrons have to see quality entertainment in Wilmington." The list is way too long to recite. Visit the site.
Aisle Say has been privileged to review The Playhouse for a number of years. That list fits compactly in this column!
I felt that last year's Playhouse season was the best in years. The curtain applause for KINKY BOOTS drenched the audience in thunderous tsunami-like cascades. Tony Award winning GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE was fiendishly clever but Bailey commented it did not do well...most probably due to name recognition. CHICAGO had the same leads as were on Broadway. RENT had a non-equity cast but did not falter. CINDERELLA offered Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes and gorgeous costumes.
Now on to this season:
When Dorothy Gale entered Oz, Judy Garland entered immortality. "Rainbow" was deemed the #1 song of the century by the NEA. The American Film Institute ranked it as the #1 movie song of all time. Okay, now you know where I'm heading. WIZARD OF OZ opens the season on November 14.
Direct from Broadway next up is THE ILLUSIONISTS on December 21, "outrageous and astonishing acts". After the new year (When you think OZ you think Judy. When you think CABARET you think Liza. She's not it this!) CABARET begins a 6-day run on a particularly celebratory day for all Delawareans, March 13, my birthday.
Opening April 3, who could forget the sensuality of the jazz routines in DIRTY DANCING. You may have "The Time of My/Your Life"!
I saw MOTOWN: THE MUSICAL in Philly a few months back. It was spectacular. Berry Gordy, the creator of Motown Records, sat in on casting and demanded OCD-vocal doppelgangers of Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and a young Michael Jackson. Ross's costume budget alone had to be in the neighborhood of $100,000.00...on the low end.
The season ends on May 18 with an intriguing concept and one that resonates with popular TV shows. DANCE TO THE MOVIES celebrates and some of Hollywood's iconic movie moments. Dancing With The Stars top finalists perform in concert with peers from American Idol and The Voice. Multiple choreographers stage classic dances from WEST SIDE STORY, CHICAGO, GREASE, HAIRSPRAY, MOULIN ROUGE, etc. (Can't have too much Jerome Robbins or Bob Fosse, I'll say!)
Grand Director Mark Fields summed up at the Preview Party: "We aspire to bring artists that appeal to as many of our fellow Delawareans as possible. We want everyone to feel that The Grand is their cultural home."
One of our state's greatest black tie parties is The Grand Gala on December 2. This year's main stage performer is Blood, Sweat & Tears. "Got To Get You Into My Life", 'Ride Captain, Ride", "And When I Die", "Spinning Wheel" and my fave, "You've Made Me So Very Happy", among a host of other classics. The jazz/rock band has been through many iterations. The lead vocal presently is Bo Bice, runner up to Carrie Underwood in the 4th year of American Idol.