Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spotlight: Getting the Rhythm Together

On Friday, March 27th, Rhythmic Circus will bring an electrifying evening of rapid-fire tap, sidesplitting humor, and finger-snapping tunes to the Bluff City with "Feet Don't Fail Me Now!"  This is not your old-school step-ball-change-type tap performance.  These guys (and gal) are bringing tap like audiences have never seen it before, with genre-hopping music and percussive dance.  Their infectious, unified style will have everyone moving to the beat, but believe it or not, the camaraderie is not just great stage presence - this group has known each other since they were kids!

Several of the dancers first met on the dance competition circuit as young performers.  While they were all vying for the top prize, they soon developed strong friendships and realized it was better to work together and grow faster as a team than to compete with one another.  As a result, they formed a group and got to work.

Meanwhile, Rhythmic Circus' talented band of musicians and singers were thinking along the same lines.  Some members of the band even met on the school bus in elementary school!  As they grew up, they collaborated and eventually built one of the most celebrated local bands in their home city of Minneapolis.

One fateful day, the two groups were competing against one another at a State Fair Talent Competition.  Once again, they didn't see adversity - they saw opportunity!  Tap is percussion; music is rhythm.  Not only was it a perfect fit, it took both creative endeavors to a whole new level!

Today, Rhythmic Circus has won several awards, enjoyed rave reviews, and have even toured across the globe.  Now, they're bringing it all to Memphis.  "Feet Don't Fail Me Now!" is more than great tap and phenomenal music, it's storytelling - their story in fact!  From being kids to joining the "Circus," they'll tell it all in their own special way, through a compelling performance that everyone in the family will enjoy.  But don't take our word for it.  Click the video above for a mini-documentary about Rhythmic Circus that includes scenes from the show and enlightening Q&A with the cast!

Rhythmic Circus' "Feet Don't Fail Me Now!" performs at The Orpheum Theatre Friday, March 27th at 6:30 PM.  Make plans to arrive early for engaging pre-show activities for the kids! Tickets start at just $15.  Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spotlight: Students Pounce on Opportunity to Learn With The Lion King

If our education students took nothing else away from the Broadway 101 master class with The Lion King we hope it was this: "Anything you do is uniquely you -- there's no right or wrong."

Amyia Burrell and Selena Moshell, members of the immensely talented Lion King ensemble, spent the afternoon on February 12 working with a group of more than 40 students from grades 7 to 12. By the end of the session, the students had learned a song and dance combination from "Lioness Chant." 

After a warmup, Selena and Amyia began teaching dance steps before passing the baton to Jamie Schmidt, the show's associate music director, to help the students learn the vocals for the piece, followed by one last dance lesson.

Amyia and Selena were quick to assure the students that perfection isn't necessary. 

"Once you get into character, the steps come easier," Amyia said.

Our students embraced the challenge enthusiastically -- check out our video above to see how it all came together.

The students also had a chance to talk with Amyia, Selena and James about their time with the show and how they got involved with theatre. They all agreed -- "try everything." 

Selena and Amyia both started as performers at Disney World before joining The Lion King and had great advice on the audition process. 
  • Ballet experience is always needed for dance auditions. Casting agents usually begin with a ballet combination, then cut some performers from the field. A modern dance combination follows, then another cut, then a piece from the show itself and a song that you've prepared.
  • Have several different song genres in your arsenal for vocal auditions. Start with what really showcases you, but make sure you have variety in your repertoire -- 4 or 5 songs -- in case a casting agent asks for an example of a different style or range.
  • Treat auditions like a free dance or vocal class, where you can learn new techniques alongside your peers.
  • Always keep your resume and headshot with you. You never know when an opportunity may find you.
  • Remember that all auditions are different, and that casting agents may make cuts without seeing everyone. If you are cut, the most important thing to remember is that it's not a direct reflection of your skill -- casting agents take several factors into account when making their decisions. By no means should you give up! 
We'll have more amazing Broadway 101 Master Classes to share with you in our 2015-16 Broadway season. Stay tuned for the announcement about our new series -- it's gonna be a great one!  

Stay up-to-date on all of our education and community news with our Students and Families Facebook page!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Spotlight: Education Program Alum Shares Her Touching Vision of the Centre for Performing Arts & Education

Special Guest Column By Lesley Stevenson
In the last weeks of my ninth grade year, my speech and drama teacher handed me a flyer printed on red paper, an announcement detailing what became the beginning of my love affair with the Orpheum Theatre.
Thinking a weeklong summer intensive in acting techniques and business operations would benefit my interest in the arts, I signed up for the 2009 Orpheum Summer Institute. For that week, I worked with professionals from the theatre, performers from Voices of the South and actors from the second national tour of Wicked, which was then in its first Memphis run.
I memorized the name of every level of seating in the theatre and generated lists of new marketing and development ideas. I worked with my peers to choreograph a movement piece, and I learned one of the many dance breaks to “Dancing through Life.”
I met dozens of students from across Shelby County and the surrounding area, friends I probably never would have met otherwise. We did all this together that week in makeshift dance halls, classrooms and rehearsal venues; the three rooms adjacent to Main Street ­— the Broadway Club, the parlor and the concessions room — became our domain, out of the way of the Wicked professionals backstage.
Despite logistical challenges, we all relished the chance to be anywhere near the historic Orpheum stage. It didn’t matter a bit that there was barely enough room for us all to fit in the lobby, much less learn a dance from Wicked. We didn’t mind the pillars in the Broadway Club that imposed in the middle of any circles we would form — it was all part of the backstage experience. (Some students even affectionately named the pillars, fully embracing their intrusion.)
We and the Orpheum staff made the best of a logistical challenge, but the new Centre for Performing Arts and Education means future generations of performers, teachers and businesspeople don’t have to. With new classrooms, rehearsal space and a dance studio, the Orpheum’s educational programming, including Broadway Institute (the new version of Summer Institute), teacher training workshops, High School Musical Theatre Awards (HSMTAs) rehearsals and STAR Council events, can take place in spaces expressly designed for those purposes.
Education Coordinator Brittany Church, who took me on a hard-hat tour of the Centre, pointed out that the new building has an area built to match the floor space of the Orpheum’s stage. In the not-too-distant future, then, rehearsals for the HSMTAs can happen in the Centre, in a place where performers can feel how much room they’ll have on the actual Orpheum stage.
Teacher training sessions, which bring in educators from across the Mid-South (as well as some students like me), can accommodate many more individuals seeking to learn how arts education can improve a child’s school experience. Master classes, taught by professional artists, can take place in an actual dance studio.
My favorite part of the Centre, though, is the stage. Everything in the room will be entirely black, save for a sea of red chairs, as Brittany told me. The venue can host all kinds of performances, and the technical space allows for students to get hands-on experience in lighting and sound design alongside industry professionals — the control panel, for example, has room specifically built in for an operator and an observer.
The possibilities for learning of all kinds in the Centre are truly endless, and thinking of the ways in which the Orpheum’s Education staff will use the space makes me glow with anticipation and pride. Because of my experiences at three Summer Institutes and in the STAR Council, a student advisory committee that launched in fall 2009, I gained invaluable insight into theatre management beyond performing that has since guided my academic and professional paths.
Students in the coming years will get an even more holistic view of theatre operations, especially in components like management and lighting or sound design that are often lacking in most high schools.
This chance is not something the Orpheum has taken lightly. After years of seeing bits and pieces of the plans come together, I know that the building’s grand opening will be an immense tribute to the tireless efforts of the theatre’s entire staff and their dedication to the arts in Memphis.
But the best part will always be yet to come. The real payoff to the staff and to all of us who have been touched by the Orpheum’s educational programming will be seeing the hundreds and thousands of people who benefit from the new space. Students like me will come and grow older, but the Orpheum will always be there to inspire and encourage the delighted crowds of children and adults who believe in the power of the arts to make a difference in the world.
Lesley Stevenson is a junior at the University of Notre Dame, where she majors in Film, Television and Theatre and American Studies. She serves as Marketing Director for the Pasquerilla East Musical Company, Notre Dame’s only student-run musical theatre troupe. A 2012 graduate of St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Memphis, Lesley joined the Orpheum’s STAR Council in its inaugural year and worked at the first four High School Musical Theatre Awards from 2010 to 2013.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Broadway Buzz: The Lion King Kicks Off the Memphis Open Plus an Orpheum-Only Ticket Discount

The Memphis Open kicked off on Tuesday night with an exhibition match pitting Pro Tennis Hall of Famer and 1997 Memphis Open champion Michael Chang against former world No. 4 and 2002 Memphis Open finalist James Blake. 

And to help get the festivities get going at this year's tournament, guests at the Racquet Club were treated to another world-class performance: cast members of Disney's The Lion King performing three of the musical's beloved songs.

Cast members Tshidi Manye (Rafiki), Blaine Alden Krauss (Simba) and Nia Holloway (Nala) will perform "Circle of Life," "Endless Night" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" live on the court. Check on the video above!

Nia will return to the Memphis Open Friday to sing the national anthem. The tournament is celebrating its partnership with The Lion King with a special discount offer for Orpheum fans only! Get special $24 tickets to the day and evening rounds on Friday — 40% off regular prices!  Click here to purchase your tickets!

The new and improved Memphis Open is back at the Racquet Club of Memphis through Feb. 15 and features No. 5 ranked player in the world, Kei Nishikori, top ranked American, John Isner and other top professionals.

Learn more about the Memphis Open at, or purchase tickets to tonight's events. Special event tickets are also available for a "meet and greet" with Chang and Blake, which also includes dinner and an open bar.

About the Offer: Tennis Rendezvous LLC IS THE ISSUER OF ALL TICKETS AND ALL TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE TICKETS VIA VERITIX • Limit of six tickets per purchase • VERITIX ACCOUNT REQUIRED TO COMPLETE PURCHASE • VERITIX IS A THIRD PARTY SITE NOT CONTROLLED BY THE ORPHEUM • Customers purchasing tickets must pick up their tickets at the on-site Will Call location. All Will Call tickets will be in the name used to place the order. This person must provide photo identification, the credit card used to purchase the tickets, and a printout of the confirmation email. • All sales are final - no refunds or exchanges • The deal is valid only for tickets on the date[s] and session as listed and may not be exchanged or redeemed for any other dates • May not be combined with any other offer; not valid on previously purchased tickets • Offer valid on select seats and performances only; subject to availability of tickets • Discount reflects the Tennis Rendezvous LLC ticket prices as of 2/9/2015; price may differ currently and/or on day of event • Additional fees and charges may apply; service fees and order processing fees are not included in voucher price • All Tickets will be subject to the terms and conditions printed on the back of each Ticket .

Friday, February 6, 2015

Spotlight: Feel Like a Star With These Orpheum Experiences

We're excited to tell you about three fun events happening here at the beginning of 2015! 

Dinner on Stage

Dine on the stage where the stars perform! Our next Dinner on Stage will be Thursday, March 19, and we'd love to wine and dine you! The evening includes a cocktail reception, a tour of the theatre and backstage, a brief film in the auditorium about The Orpheum's history, a three-course meal with wine, Broadway trivia, and an enlightening Q&A session. Pat Halloran will also give you an inside peek into the stories and history of the Orpheum as only he could!

Tickets are $75 per person, $50 for current season ticket holders, or $550 for a table of 8. The event is limited to 90 guests. If you'd like to join us, please call or visit the Orpheum Theatre Box Office at (901) 525-3000 for more information and to purchase tickets. Tickets are also available in-person at The Booksellers at Laurelwood.

Pat Halloran's New York Broadway Tour

Join Pat this April for four fun-filled days, three exciting nights, and two fantastic Broadway shows, all in one magical trip to New York City! Your trip includes:
  • Four days, Three Nights at the Renaissance Hotel in Times Square
  • Nonstop Round Trip Coach Airfare
  • Two Broadway Show Tickets Per Person for The King and I & Dr. Zhivago
  • Sunday Brunch at the Famous Sardi’s Restaurant
  • Transportation To and From La Guardia Airport
  • Baggage Handling at Hotel Check-in (Airline baggage fees not included)
Deadline for registration is Friday, March 20, 2015. The price is $1,975 per person with airfare (double occupancy). This trip is limited to 30 people, so act now! Get all the details over on our website or check out our flyer -- this trip will create memories for a lifetime!

The Orpheum's Weekly Online Auction

Every week from now until mid-October, we host an online auction full of luxury suite tickets to upcoming shows, one-of-a-kind memorabilia, Orpheum and Broadway collectibles, dining experiences and more. Recent boards have included tickets to the nearly sold-out Santana concert, a signed Marc Gasol Grizzlies basketball, an autographed West Side Story poster and tickets to Dinner on Stage!

New items go up for bid each Monday, and the bidding starts at a fraction of the item's value! There's even a new "Buy It Now" option for those moments when you just have to have something! Browse weekly at, and look for the featured weekly items on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and e-newsletters.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Spotlight: Local Teachers Further Their Own Education

We all know how hard teachers work, but the Orpheum regularly has the pleasure of spending time with some very dedicated educators. These tireless teachers, who after a long day at work and hours of grading ahead of them, come to the theatre for professional development workshops to improve their experiences in their classrooms and continue their own educations.

Recently, the Orpheum hosted two workshops, "Poetry Off the Page" with Glenis Redmond and "Addressing Bullying Through Drama" by Stacey Coates.

Glenis Redmond teaches poetry to creative writing
students at Georgian Hills Middle School.
Both of these workshops were developed in association with the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and encourage educators to use arts integration in their classrooms. Arts integration is an approach to teaching that engages students in a creative process connecting an art form with another subject area to understand lessons in both.

In the first of these workshops, Redmond brought tools for teachers to inspire young poets and enhance the quality of writing among all students. Performance techniques accompanied her lessons to empower students to perform as well as write their own works. Through their own writing and performances, teachers left this workshop with an arsenal of skills to help their students, including:
  • Using brainstorming techniques helping students strengthen their vocabulary and knowledge base
  • Teaching similes, metaphors and other poetic devices to enhance students' writing skills
  • Developing their own poetic voice to help students' find their own

Redmond also spent some time with area students, taking them through the lessons she had passed along to local teachers, including the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade creative writing students at Georgian Hills Middle School, seventh-graders at Kate Bond, and Orange Mound students in grades 6-12 at RedZone.

A group exercise during Stacey Coates' bullying workshop
was a fun way for the teachers to act out supportive techniques.

In Coates' bullying seminar, the teachers engaged in exercises aimed at creating empathy and confidence with each other -- exercises that these educators can practice in their own classrooms. Participants learned to encourage students to examine tolerance and support one another through drama exercises. From group experiences to improvisation exercises, teachers can adapt the techniques for various grade levels, content areas and the needs of special learners to create more harmonious classrooms. Thanks to these new skills, students will learn how to:

  • Identify others' feelings
  • See others' perspectives
  • Respond empathically
  • Use problem-solving skills to decrease aggression

Coates also had a chance to share her skills with students during two classroom visits, with fourth-graders at Promise Academy and seventh- and eighth-grade art students at Mt. Pisgah Middle School.

The Orpheum will be attending workshops at the Kennedy Center this week to prepare for its Professional Development Workshops for 2015. Watch our website for more information about upcoming programs, or email Rachel Knox, professional development coordinator, for additional information.