Friday, December 10, 2010

The Reviews Are in—Dreamgirls “Shines” in Memphis!

Friends, Memphians, countrymen—my name is Carolyn Fly and I’m the Press Coordinator at The Orpheum. Amy is temporarily away in the Big Apple for Pat Halloran’s Annual New York Trip so I’ve been given the privilege of letting you all know what’s been taking place at Memphis’ finest Theatre.

As most of you know, last week the Broadway sensation, Dreamgirls, made its Memphis premiere at The Orpheum. Rather than giving you an avalanche of commercial reviews, I’m giving you the scoop straight from The Orpheum’s favorite patrons, the students.

As part of the Education & Community Programs, The Orpheum’s STAR (Students Take A Role) reporters are a group of students selected from alumni of education programs—they help promote, produce, and report on events geared toward their generation. Below are excerpts from two Dreamgirls’ reviews written by Orpheum STAR reporters.

Lesley Stevenson is a student at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. This is her second year as a STAR reporter.

“Dreamgirls’ costumes glitter. Dreamgirls’ set sparkles. But it is Dreamgirls’ cast that truly shines.

Taken collectively, the costumes, set, songs, choreography, and individual performances maintain the eye-catching, awe-inspiring spectacle. Set in the 1960s and focusing on a singing trio of strong African-American women, Dreamgirls never stops. Though the production includes some actual show (or rather, concert)-within-a-show moments, the characters’ lives are comedic and dramatic enough to be the bulk of the production.

That’s really Dreamgirls’ point. Past the glitz and glam of the showbusiness life, the characters slowly but steadily expose the audience to the secret opportunistic and merciless world that produces the music we crave. Effie White, Deena Jones, and Lorrelle Robinson begin their journeys as the na├»ve Dreamettes, a soft-singing trio with aspirations of stardom, and they end as the mature Dreams, having been backup singers for James “Thunder” Early, replaced Effie with Michelle Morris, and reunited for a final farewell performance.”

“The show was wholly impressive. Its plot is simpler than others, but a straightforward plot allows for the extravagance of the songs, costumes, and lights. All of the elements come together to contribute to the overall theme of the production- a theme that pushes through the sequins and secrecy to comment on a basic idea: friendship. The Dreamettes formed a friendship with Curtis Taylor, Jr., and too slowly they realized its toxic, unstable nature. Deena and Lorrelle forsake their friendship with Effie, but realizing their wrongs, they reunite with a better understanding of themselves and of the world. A non-stop show filled with comedy, drama, and plenty of glitter, Dreamgirls is, without a doubt, a stunning performance.”

by Lesley Stevenson

Kevin Do is a student at Arlington High School. This is his second year as a STAR Reporter.

“Hello Everybody! I just saw the recent revival of the six-time Tony Award-winning musical Dreamgirls at the Orpheum, and this production is stellar. For just over two and half hours I was transported to the music scene of the sixties and seventies, a story about family told through a Behind the Music-esque plotline. Here’s my critique of the show based on Aristotle's Six Elements of Theatre on a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being the worst, 10 being the best) and my comments."

“Character: 9. Everybody remembers Jennifer Hudson’s performance in the Dreamgirls movie, and Moya Angela (the Effie on tour) is just as spectacular. Her energy is matched only by the other Dreams Syesha Mercado (in the Beyonce role Deena Jones) & Adrienne Warren as Lorrell and Chester Gregory as the electric Jimmy Early. One criticism would be that the ensemble was too comfortable in the show often showing on stage. But as the show progressed, the company began to gain energy and focus."

“Music: 10. Obviously, Henry Kieger’s music is the strongest component of Dreamgirls. With its soaring ballads and groovy dance songs, there isn’t much room for improvement in the show’s music. Dreamgirls and its amazing music is an iconic piece of musical theatre!”

“Spectacle: 9. Robin Wagner’s series five of LED panels make up Dreamgirls’s minimalistic set, but they definitely aren’t minimal on wow factor! Within seconds the audience is moved around the nation simply by having transforming images projected on the screens, and by shifting the location of the panels on the stage, new settings are created instantly. Although very successful, there were moments in the show where the bright panels upstaged the performers and their gorgeous William Ivey Long costumes. The dance numbers choreographed by director-choreographer Robert Longbottom were true to the time and yet accessible and modern in form.”

by Kevin Do

The Orpheum Theatre impacts the lives of over 40,000 children and families each year with our Education & Community Programs. Learn more about our programs here:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No One Mourns the Wicked

Here at the Orpheum, we actually celebrate the Wicked. The cast and crew of the Broadway Musical, anyway. If you are reading this blog, I doubt I have to tell you about the phenomenon that is Wicked. On Facebook all I had to do was mention "ticket contest" and I had over 100 comments within an hour! I loved seeing everyone's enthusiasm and reading stories about the different experiences you all have had with the show. So, since we are all fairly educated on the story, I thought I would take you behind the scenes a bit and share with you some of the things that go on specifically in Memphis with this touring group.

On Tuesday the gigantic semi-trucks carrying all of the set pieces arrived and the crew wasted no time getting to work on the stage. I went downstairs with our Marketing team to greet some of the press who came to interview the company members and watch the set being built. I first spoke with the company manager Erica, who has been travelling with Wicked for five years, about how they get started in a new city. She said they employ 75 crew members, which is pretty large for a travelling show and really demonstrated just how big this production is. What I didn't realize was that bringing in a musical of this scale actually creates jobs in our community. Wicked hires local stagehands and dressers to help bring the production to life in addition to their regular crew members. On the first day when the set is being built, 100 Memphians are hired to work with the crew and 50 of them stay on throughout the run of the show for daily work. What a great way to get involved!

After speaking with Erica I proceeded into the auditorium where I was excited to find that the great dragon, who watches the story unfold from above the proscenium, had already been raised to his overhead perch. This guy's red eyes light up and his wings and talons flap and grab throughout the show.

He's a little intimidating. Did you know that there are two crew members who actually operate the dragon from inside of him throughout the entire show? They spend over three hours 55 feet above the base of the stage. I learned this from my interview with Justin, the head carpenter of the show. He was kind enough to let me do a backstage interview with him! Check out the video below.

This is my debut as a vlogger. If I was a better one I would figure out how to edit out my voice so you could only hear Justin talking about the show, but alas, you have to put up with my silly comments this time.

You can see a crew member working on Glinda's bubble here.
And we have lift off! It was really amazing to peek in on the stage and see how quickly the set came together. The lighting tests were especially cool to watch.

I have to say though, after all of the interviews and backstage tours, my favorite part of the day was listening to the Orchestra practice. I would sneak out onto the Mezzanine above the lobby, sit in one of the benches, and listen to them rehearse while I checked over everyone's contest responses on my phone. The acoustics out there were much better than I thought they would be, and the songs sounded gorgeous. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed listening to them even though I have them all memorized from the soundtrack. There was just something extra organic about hearing it live without the singing that I really enjoyed, like a personal karaoke session just for me with a full orchestra. Of course I couldn't do too much actual singing or I would give away my position :)

What is your favorite part of Wicked? What night are y'all coming to see the show??

For more behind the scenes information, click here to visit Wicked's official site.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Camels and Horses and Snakes, OH MY

Happy Monday and Columbus Day, friends! As a holiday treat I have some fun backstage photos for you. This is definitely my favorite entry thus far. I am a HUGE animal fan - I never got over my love for ponies as a little girl and currently claim Daisy the dog and Mabel the cat as my animal family. I haven't had the chance to own a horse yet, but someday readers, someday.

However we are going to go a little more exotic than cats and dogs. Today we venture to ancient Egypt('s stage set on the load-in dock and backstage...) to meet camels, pythons and horses! Opera Memphis' production of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi was playing this weekend, replete with its own collection of creatures. So you better believe I was backstage in a flash as soon as I heard they were bringing some friends with them. The animals are from a local petting zoo and their handlers were required to be in full-on costume as they walked the animals across the stage for their cameos as you can see above. This is Ernie with his handler donning the Egyptian garb. The larger camel behind him is, of course, Bert.

This is Abner and he was my absolute favorite! Don't you just want to take him home?? He was such a sweetheart!

This is Abner again with his similarly-sized owner, pre costume change :) The picture is a little fuzzy - I took them with my cell phone because flash photography isn't allowed around the animals.
And here we have a lovely shot of Travis and Big Red Ted, the majestic horses presented to the Pharaoh. They weren't extremely interested in me interrupting their meal.

Travis did end up saying hello.

This is an 8 ft albino python named Eddie Munster. He is gorgeous and even more intimidating in person than he looks in his cage. They do not even sedate these things before they take them on stage. I hope they have been fed recently...

This is Machale, also known as Shell. She is also an albino python like Eddie but she is "only" 6 feet long. During the show a ballerina performs an entire dance with this enormous snake draped across her body. She might be the bravest person with whom I have ever come into contact.
And this little guy has my favorite name! He is another smaller python who goes by Julius Squeezer. He only had a brief appearance in the production but compared to the other giant snakes he is downright adorable. You can see him peeking out from his bundle to check out the camera.

The Opera's production of Aida was gorgeous - the sets were truly breathtaking. Luckily they had screens that projected the words to the music, since I do not speak Italian and wasn't familiar with the story. Having the animals there really added to the scale of the show - it was so impressive! I felt very lucky to have had some backstage time with them :)
Did y'all see Aida? What did you think?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Introducing: Our New Marquee!

Greetings blogisphere, and apologies for my long hiatus! I have a fun behind-the-scenes post for you today. Here you see me pictured in front of our old marquee. If any of you have been driving or walking down South Main recently and are particularly observant, you may have noticed a small architectural change and significant wattage increase above your head. Yes, we have installed a new marquee! No more dead light bulbs or Chicago - era antique displays. We have entered the 21st century, complete with LED screens! Outside anyway.

In the office we had been discussing getting the marquee for a while, but I had pushed it to the back of my head until last week when I saw three large looking men walking through our upstairs windows onto the ledge above the lobby. Most of the work for the project had to be done at night after the Trolley stops running so it was a surprise to see them during the day. Our building manager amazingly showed up for work every day after working long through the night to get the display up and running.

Hope y'all enjoy the pictures! Has anyone noticed the difference??

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Before I get ahead of myself, I should let you know that I in no way claim to be a "music person." I know what I like and have a reasonable amount of (legally! of course...) downloaded music in my iTunes, but Rolling Stone isn't looking to hire me any time soon. Which is good, because I personally prefer the perks I have here.

For instance, the ability to hop over to the Train concert last night here at the Orpheum. I wouldn't describe myself as a die-hard Train groupie, but hearing their staples I grew up with was a great experience. The second song they played was "Meet Virginia" and once the baseline started I was sold. Front man Pat Monahan's antics onstage are highly entertaining as well - he brings so much adorable, happy energy to his songs that I couldn't help but grin at him through the whole concert. The band picture above does nothing to illustrate his giddy stage presence. During "Drops of Jupiter" in the encore he literally sailed across the sun, arms waving in the air and all. I also have to say that when he covered Aerosmith's "Dream On" he killed it. To be able to hit those high notes after hours of singing onstage with his energy is no small feat, and he gave a great performance. Lead guitarist Jimmy Stafford was also given some pretty sweet solo riffing spotlight time. But I have to say, my favorite part was when Monahan decided to test out the indoor acoustics and chuck the microphone for a song. I expected to have a good time, but I didn't know how much I would be singing along and waving my cell phone in the air like the 16 year olds sitting next to me. And since I listened to Train when I was 16, it made me feel like I'm still relevant.

I saved the opening band for last because they ended up making the biggest impression on me even though they only had about 30 minutes on stage. I knew they were a group started by two brothers (Bear and Bo Rinehart - how great are those names?) from South Carolina and that's about it. What I didn't know is that their music has been featured on The Hills and the feature P.S. I Love You, that they also have 2 other band mates (Seth Bolt and Joe Stillwell) that are childhood friends, and that they all have really really great hair. And then there's the music. I LOVED their sound. My initial impression was that they are to the left of the middle of the Avett Brothers and Sister Hazel, with splashes of The Hold Steady and Nickel Creek. They claim U2, Wilco, Tom Petty, and Pearl Jam as official influences so apparently they don't quite agree with me, but you do hear those bands speak through their music. Like Train, they stated their excitement to be playing indoors after weeks of outdoor concerts and wanted to go unplugged. I could not have been more impressed - they had such an organic, perfectly blended southern grassroots sound that I got goosebumps, and everyone in the theater started circulating outbursts of "SHHH!" when the song started so they wouldn't miss a single note. It was one of those moments of pure musical joy that you can only get live. I think I need to learn how to play the banjo.

Whether you work for Rolling Stone or Cold Stone, if you're in Memphis, music becomes a part of your chemical make-up. Thanks for allowing me to indulge in my first Orpheum concert with you here on the interwebs. Perhaps one day I won't be so star-struck by the things I get to see and do here, but for now I'm perfectly content in allowing myself the excitement that comes with the job. And being able to see all of your great feedback on Facebook, Twitter and the comments section here only fans the flames. So I'll see y'all around!

For more info and touring details for Train and NeedToBreathe, please click the links posted under their pictures for the official websites.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Downtown Lunching

Greetings, blogisphere! And allow me to introduce myself. I am the most recent heir of the Orpheum's blog and one of the newer members of the Orpheum team. I was born and raised in Memphis, left to attend Auburn University, spent 2 years working in New York City, and have returned to my hometown where I belong. I couldn't have survived another New York winter - my body was just not built to trudge through the snow.

Memphis is my home and my comfort zone, but downtown is still fairly unmapped territory for me. So my current mission is to check out all of the lovely places to eat lunch. These are my recent discoveries.

Alcenia's was introduced to me by a friend and is perfect for when you need comfort food. The atmosphere is bright and intimate and you can bet on being treated like you're one of the family. I highly recommend the catfish and the spicy corn. There's something about being close to the Mississippi River and eating catfish that just makes me happy. The Little Tea Shop is actually closer to me and has a similar atmosphere. I've been going here for years so I can't call it a new discovery, but it will always be a favorite. Sometimes I just crave that Lacy special, and they have my favorite chicken salad so far. This is where I almost always take old high school friends. Going a little higher up on the price range, Flight is a new favorite. It's also around the corner from the theater and has a crab cake sandwich that I could probably eat every day for the rest of my life. The Majestic Grille is another great restaurant of similar caliber and has been my go-to more than once a week because it's so close and they're all so friendly there. I love the atmosphere of the old movie palace. And while they have a whole menu filled with delicious options, I can't seem to get away from that grilled cheese. The Flying Saucer is also just a block away and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they have a great lunch menu! I had only ever been for the plethora of amazing beer options. And if I'm up for a drive, the Trolley Stop Market is pretty unbeatable. I am not an eat-your-veggies kind of girl (it took me until last year to eat a whole salad), but I went there today and ordered a veggie plate because they have the ability to get me to eat those greens with all of their amazing options. If they ever have the spinach pastry, drop what you are doing and go order one. The pizzas are also delicious and creative if you aren't into the vegetables.

That's what I've discovered so far and I'm pretty happy with what I've found. But here's the thing - I can't have a fancy lunch where I meet my lovely friends every day. My goal is to find a few quiet and cheap places with tables where I can sit down and read during my break. Lenny's right across Beale is actually excellent for this, but I think they're getting sick of me over there. They already know my order. So, Memphis, my question to you is, where can I find such a place? I would like for it to be within walking distance (but as a New York veteran my walking range is fairly broad), to be reasonably priced, and to be a place I could go by myself without making a waitress sad that she's only getting a tip from one person. Where do y'all go?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Memphis is coming to Memphis

It is official: the new musical Memphis will launch its national tour at The Orpheum Theatre! This is exciting news for both The Orpheum and the city of Memphis!

The producers of the hit Broadway Musical Memphis announced today that the critically acclaimed production will launch its U.S. national tour in Memphis in October of 2011.

"On behalf of my producing partners, I am thrilled to announce that the national tour of Memphis will begin at the Orpheum. We couldn't be more excited to be kicking off the tour with our friends at the Orpheum," said Sue Frost, a producer of the show.

"This is a huge coup for Memphis!" said Pat Halloran, President and CEO of the Orpheum Theatre. "This is the first time a national tour or a Broadway show has been mounted in Memphis. In addition to the enormous economic impact, this project will provide our community yet another opportunity to take pride in our rich heritage and significant place in American music history."

Memphis takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 50's, a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun fell in love with everything he shouldn't: rock and roll and an electrifying black singer. Memphis is an original story about the cultural revolution that erupted when his vision met her voice, and the music changed forever. For more information visit

Monday, March 29, 2010

A message from Neighborhood School

The Neighborhood School is a kindergarten through eighth grade Christian School for children who had no hope. Most students come from Binghampton with the largest number coming from Walnut Park, the housing project adjacent to the school. The goal of this school is to have children appreciate who they are while they succeed academically in school and live a meaningful life.

A few of the eighth graders were given tickets to come and see Alvin Ailey: American Dance Theatre here at the Orpheum. Here is a thank you note their teacher wrote us.

"Your generosity is humbling. I have been working with the children at the Neighborhood School since 2006 when they were bright eyed fourth graders. They are now eighth graders and are about to part ways and determine what impact they will have on our world. My goal has always been to help expand their horizons and help them dream big. Thanks to the Orpheum Theatre, the girls can now dream in vibrant and living color. They loved it! We loved it! And we love you! God bless."

The Orpheum Theatre impacts the lives of over 40,000 children and families each year with our seventeen Education Programs. Learn more about our programs here:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Year of Broadway

So our new Broadway Season was announced and includes a lot of really great and highly diverse Broadway shows. We have shows that range from huge Broadway hits (Wicked), to witty, sarcastic shows (Spamalot, Young Frankenstein) to family shows great for kids and adults alike (Shrek, Beauty and the Beast), as well as brand new shows that just left the big ole city of New York (9 to 5).

The 2010-2011 Broadway Season Line Up includes:
The Color Purple - August 24-29, 2010
An inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who-through love-finds strength to triumph over adversity

WICKED - October 13-31, 2010
The story of how two unlikely friends end up as the Wicked Witch of the West and the other as the Good Witch - the untold story.

9 to 5 - November 2-7, 2010
A hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era with music and lyrics by Grammy Award winning songwriter Dolly Parton.

Dream Girls - November 30-December 5, 2010
The musical that shows what comes with the dream of making it big in show business-heartache, triumphs, breakups and love.

Shrek - January 18-23, 2011
Based on the Oscar winning Dream Works film that started it all, Shrek brings the hilarious story of every one's favorite ogre to dazzling new life on stage.

Young Frankenstein - March 8-13, 2011
A wickedly inspired re-imagining of the Frankenstein legend based on Mel Brooks' classic comedy masterpiece.

Spamalot - May 6-8, 2011
Taken from the classic film comedy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the musical tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

Beauty and the Beast - June 14-19, 2011
Tony Award winner for Best Musical, it tells the story of Belle and the Beast based off of Disney's animated feature.

This next season is going to be great. Visit our website for more information and about Season Tickets

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Last Chance

Jersey Boys is coming to an end here at the Orpheum.

The past two weeks have been great and the show has received rave reviews! But no worries because you have one more week to squeeze in a performance of this wonderful, award winning show.

Jersey Boys has caused audiences to literally get up out of their seats and dance. Do not miss your chance because, trust me, you will regret it.

Jersey Boys farewell performance is on February 14th. What better way to say I Love You than two tickets to the Orpheum for a hit Broadway Show on Valentine's Day?

For more information about Jersey Boys visit our website