Thursday, February 9, 2012

What does it take to become an overnight success?

Each year shows like Shrek, Spamalot, Young Frankenstein and In the Heights—along with bus loads of talent—go out on the road. And, The Capitol Theatre is part of that road; it is one of a long list of stops on a National Tour. Here, in our hometown, a number of those talented people will be arriving .

They aren’t on Broadway yet and they probably don’t have a big movie deal waiting in the wings. They often sleep on busses, while someone drives all night. Sometimes they miss meals. Being out-of-towners for months at a time, life is filled with constant change: different people, towns, hotels, restaurants, theatres…. It’s the antithesis of the glamorous life—its showbiz—and if that’s what it takes to get them to Broadway, where they might become an “overnight success", they do it.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be following some of the touring cast from In the Heights and see what their lives looks like on this year’s national tour. So, look for updates on facebook (The Capitol Theatre), tweets on CapitolBuzz and of course…more blogs. Make plans to check back and follow along, post questions if you want, and get savvy on what it takes to tour a hit show! We hope to paint a real picture for you about what it really takes to become an overnight success.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Go Spidey!

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I posted on facebook last week about how much I enjoy it when the critics are wrong. Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark opened last year to horrible reviews and ridicule about the costliness of its production. The show continued to plug along, attempting to fix things with numerous changes.

Suddenly, it worked! Last week Spiderman took in almost $3 million—shattering the single week record for one of my very favorite shows, Wicked. Hats off to you, Spidey!

Those changes and the sheer will to succeed undoubtedly played a part in Spiderman’s story, which makes me think of the Capitol Theatre. When I first started working here, I remember being told that statistically, the Capitol shouldn’t be able to operate here. A community our size simply could not run a theatre of The Capitol’s grandeur… that in order to have more than 100,000 visitors each year (which it does), the Theatre needed to be in community more than double our size. According to normal trends, the Yakima Valley was just too small to keep a big theatre up and running.

And yet, since 1975, the Capitol Theatre has been ignoring the numbers, and defying the odds; busy nearly half the days of the year. And while that busy-ness and usage indicate the Capitol’s success, more importantly, I think those in-use days are the reason for that success.

Unlike many similar venues in other cities, our Theatre is home to so much more than just touring performances. The Capitol is the home for the Yakima Town Hall Lecture Series, and the place to enjoy Yakima Symphony Orchestra performances. The Capitol is the chosen venue for the Washington Music Educators Association conferences—providing thousands of aspiring musicians the opportunity to perform on a grand stage instead of a school gymnasium. It is the place where Pacific Northwest University medical students receive their ceremonial “white coats” before beginning their residencies. High school pageants, popular entertainers from Comedy Central, and (my favorite) hundreds and hundreds of little dancers… year after year they all choose the Capitol for their events, performances and recitals.

And that is the secret to the Theatre’s success and overcoming the odds. The Capitol is a true community theatre, utilized, loved by, and belonging to the community. Without those Town Hall attendees, those high school kids and those baby ballerinas, the Capitol simply couldn’t exist. Hats off to the Capitol and to the community, too! It’s so good to see the underdog win!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I have to admit, I’m no monster fan. The first time I stayed up late to watch a horror movie (I think I was 10), I discovered I was a devoted member of the “I-don’t-like-to-be-scared” club. In high school, while all my friends were screaming and laughing at scary flicks at the drive in, I was cowering in the back seat, counting the stitches of the car’s interior.

But Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein… now that’s a monster tale I’m completely ready to take in! Mel has replaced the scary scenes with funniness. He’s added in some ridiculous comedic romance (have you seen clips from “Roll in the Hay”?), and created a happy ending for the tale. And like Shrek (another monster show I completely adore), Young Frankenstein is a four truck show, which means huge production value… big staging… lots of lights… and I’m told “real” lightning for the “It’s Alive!” scene.

So count me in for Tuesday night’s opening performance. Along with 8 of my newest best friends (way to go, TweetSeat winners), I’ll be Puttin’ on the Ritz and kicking up my heels at the Capitol… and thoroughly enjoying this monster of a tale!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creating Christmas Memories

I think my two oldest babies, now 15 and almost 18, were just 2 and 4 the first time I took them to see The Nutcracker at The Capitol Theatre. We came early, dressed to the nines, and shopped for a watch for Daddy’s Christmas present. Then we joined the crowd shuffling into the magnificently decorated Theatre.

We were seated on the main floor, and as we waited for the show to begin, the kids and I gazed at the dome mural, pondering how anyone could paint up there. Though we had three seats, by the time the lights dimmed, the youngest, Kennedy, was on my lap and the oldest, Michael, was leaning in close.

The Magic began on stage, and for a little while they were both mesmerized by the dancers. Then the questions started.

“Why aren’t they talking?”

“Why is he doing that?”

“What’s happening?”

By the end of the first scene, when Michael asked, “Is it over?” I thought perhaps I had started them too young. I wanted a tradition, something they would always have. A special Christmas memory that would begin before they could remember.

But as the magic of the Nutcracker continued, I became reassured my babies weren’t too little to enjoy the show. Michael started to understand the story, and once the toy soldiers and the mice got into it, he was completely hooked!

Kennedy, though a bit younger, was quite content, and then fell asleep, awakening only briefly when the battle cannon went off, making us all jump with surprise.

Now, many Nutcrackers and A Christmas Carols later, Michael won’t accompany me to the Theatre—it’s just not cool to him—and Kennedy comes only if her busy social calendar allows. But the memory is there, the tradition set forth. And I imagine, in a few years, when they’re both off at college and they come home for the holidays, we’ll pull out the tradition once again. Thanks, Capitol.