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Archive for March, 2012

Susan Egan

Last Thursday, in the middle of the busiest week in Palladium history, we hosted a wonderful show with the Broadway star Susan Egan. She was a Tony nominee for her role as “Belle” in Beauty and the Beast, and Broadway’s  longest running “Sally Bowles” in the revival of Cabaret.

She is a delightful person and a mesmerizing performer. Her show included a Judy Garland medley, some hits from her shows – including the showstopper “Maybe This Time,” from Cabaret. She also championed the wonderful work of some of Broadway’s younger composers. And shared stories about Tommy Tune, her mentor, and a hilarious meeting with Liza Minnelli backstage during her run with Cabaret

Susan told me that our intimate Side Door Cabaret, with just 170 seats, reminds her of the great cabaret rooms that used to exist in New York City. We’ll be doing all our Broadway Cabaret shows in the Side Door next season. For fans, it’s a chance to experience the magic of Broadway and an old New York supper club without leaving town. Stay tuned to this space for details on next year’s performers.

Me and my new pal, Susan Egan

And don’t forget to join  us for our final Broadway cabaret show this season – “Three Men And A Baby…Grand.”  Brian Lane Green is a Tony nominee, Lee Lessack is a national cabaret star, and John Boswell was musical director for Judy Collins, Andy Williams and Bob Newhart. The guys will sing some Broadway classics and some Rat Pack favorites. We’ll be in Hough Hall that night, but we’re throwing a pre-and-post-show gala in the Side Door.

The gala includes great food and drinks, and dessert with the stars of the show. It’s a fundraiser for Friends of the Palladium but it’s all entertainment – no auctions, no begging for money – just a great evening of Broadway pizzazz. Guitarist Nate Najar will be among the entertainers doing special songs in the Side Door during the gala.

Tickets for the show are available on the Palladium website at www.mypalladium.org. If you’re interested in attending the gala, call Cory at 727 341-7918.

In the meantime, enjoys these great photos of Susan Egan in concert.

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If you were part of the record-setting crowds attending shows at the Palladium last week, you might have seen our new outdoor sculpture. It’s located on our 3rd Street side and is very hard to miss.

The sculpture is called “Soul Survivor” and it is a work by Louisiana artist Russell Whiting. It had been part of the Gulf Coast Museum collection, which was aquired by St. Petersburg College when that museum closed its doors.

I got to pick a sculpture for the Palladium and “Soul Survivor” was my first choice. When I first saw it, it reminded me of two dancers on stage. But after our Cirque des Voix show last weekend, it conjures an image of the  two-man balancing act that mesmerized our audiences.

Whatever it reminds you of, I think you’ll agree it’s a powerful addition to the Palladium site. Thanks for the artist, to the college curator – Christine Renc-Carter – and to arts supporter Bonita Cobb for help in making this happen.

We will be dedicating the scupture at a future date when the artist is in town. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, enjoy the sculpture, which is now surrounded by beautiful landscaping, courtesy of the landscaping crew at SPC.

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I’m always promoting Palladium shows in this space, and we’ve had some great ones this year – including Monday’s sold-out Billy Joel event. But after hearing and seeing last night’s rehearsal for Cirque des Voix, I have to tell you – this is the most amazing show ever presented at the Palladium.

Our stage is filled with 150 choral singers and orchestra musicians. The sheer power of the music  in our acoustically perfect hall had me pinned to my seat. Add to that a collection of great circus performers – including “The Flying Wallendas” on the high wire – and you’ve got a tremendous amount of entertainment in a very intimate space.

 Musical masterpieces include works by John Williams and Beethoven, highlights from Carl Orff’s monumental “Carmina Burana” and one of the most beloved movie theme of all time, Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe.”

We’re looking into adding seat belts so the audience won’t be blown completely away! Okay, now I’m exaggerating, but PLEASE take my advice – don’t miss this show. Tickets are going fast for both the Sunday matinee and the Saturday night show. Bring yourself, your kids, your grand kids. It’s a winner for all ages.

For details and tickets visit www.mypalladium.org.

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Just in case you didn’t see the front page of the Tampa Bay Times today, here’s a link to Jay Cridlin’s coverage of our Billy Joel concert Monday night:

http://www.tampabay.com/features/music/billy-joel-talks-about-life-music-sings-a-little-at-the-palladium-in-st/1220892

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The Palladium’s Steinway Concert Grand has been visited by some of the world’s best pianists – jazzmen like Dick Hyman and Chick Corea; classical music’s Jeffrey Siegel; and New Orleans keyboard legend Dr. John.

Since we’re an 850-seat theater, we never thought our piano would get a visit from the Piano Man himself.  But on March 19, Billy Joel will spend some quality time with our Steinway, and with a sold-out crowd of St. Petersburg College students, staff and faculty.

The show is billed as: “Questions, Answers and A Little Music” and it’s a show Billy Joel has done at other colleges and universities. Our Steinway will share the stage with an electric piano and Billy Joel. That’s it. Students will get a chance to ask questions.

The SPC appearance is produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Friends of Music Education Outreach.

Tickets were available only to SPC folks and they had to buy in person. The tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. on a recent Saturday and sold out in 2 ½ hours. Some folks were on the doorstep by 2 a.m. and at its peak, the line wrapped around the back of the Palladium and down the alley.

It was a beautiful day and despite the long lines people were jovial and  patient. When they came out with their tickets students cheered and flashed victory signs. It looked like young American Idol hopefuls getting their golden ticket to Hollywood.

And it was a bit of musical magic that we ran out of tickets just as we ran out of ticket buyers. Nobody was turned away!

The show is completely sold out and tickets are non-transferable, so please don’t call me or show up hoping for some scalpers. 

Billy Joel at the Palladium at St. Petersburg College – it’s a great gift to everyone in our college family. We’re all excited and so is our Steinway.

We can’t get you into Billy Joel, but next month we’re bringing in the great Jim Witter, who is touring the U.S. with his Billy Joel and Elton John show called “The Piano Men.”

Go to www.mypalladium.org for details on all our shows.

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I chatted recently with Broadway, film and TV star Susan Egan about her upcoming show at the Palladium, her family life in Southern California and her big break in the business – landing the lead in Beauty and the Beast in 1993 soon after her arrival in New York. Egan is vivacious and lots of fun. I loved spending 30 minutes on the phone with her and I know you’ll love spending a few hours with her when she’s in town later this month.

Egan, who was nominated for a Tony for her work in Beauty and the Beast and was the longest-running Sally Bowles in the revival of Cabaret, will appear in concert at the Palladium on Thursday, March 22. It’s the second in our Broadway Cabaret Series.

Here are some excerpts from our conversation:                                                   

Tell me about the show people will see here in St. Petersburg?

Susan Egan

What I love about doing live concerts is mixing up the music. I do lots of familiar Broadway and film music that the audience can hum along and sing the words. I like to juxtapose it with what is going on right now on Broadway.

When I first started people said Broadway was dying but that didn’t happen. Beauty and the Beast, and Rent, helped reignite interest in Broadway. You had lines of teenagers wanting to see Broadway shows. It was fun to be part of that.

And a lot of these great new songwriters have stayed in New York. There is a whole new generation of Rodgers and Hart and Kander and Ebb combos, new Cole Porters. They’re my friends.

I think Broadway has now reached its new golden era.

So I’ll do a great Judy Garland medley back to back with “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.

I see your blog is called Glamour and Goop. It looks like your life is a mix of show business and motherhood. Tell me about how you combine those two very different things?

I started doing concerts with Georgia (Songwriter Georgia Stitt) when we were pregnant called “Susan and Georgia All Knocked Up.”  And something happened – the audience really dug it. They were going through the same thing we were going through.

We started doing some cruise ships – big sparkly gowns on stage, then back with the kids. Our blog is from the point of view of the perceived glamour of what we do for a living and the kids throwing up on our sparkly dresses.

It’s doesn’t matter if you’re a Broadway star or a second-grade teacher – your kids don’t care.

I’ve been watching the TV series Smash, that revolves around Broadway and a young performer breaking into the business. What was it like for you at that stage of your career?

I was lucky. I got a big break really quickly. I was cast in a national tour with Tommy Tune. I was from Southern California and he told me “New York’s going to know exactly what to do with you.” So I went to New York and in 1993 I was cast in Beauty and the Beast.

It was a job I almost didn’t go in on. But I knew it was a great book and a great score. I also didn’t think I could play the prettiest girl in the village.

The show opened and New York hated us. We were an animated film turned into a Broadway show. And we were Disney. The reviews barely even touched on whether we could sing, dance or act.

But we were critic proof. And 17 years later the show closed! And that show was the start of the turn-around of Times Square. Disney bought a theater and that started it all.

For information and tickets to Susan’s show, visit www.mypalladium.org or call 727 822-3590.

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Our Side Door Cabaret has turned again into a costume shop as St. Pete Opera returns for another weekend of grand opera the Palladium. This time the show is Saint-Saens Samson and Delilah. Fittingly, the place is crawling with tunics and Roman military vests – it looks like the costume shop of a swords-and-sandals biblical epic, which is kind of is.

The show is sung in French with English super-titles. And for kids like me who grew up reading Bible stories and trying to avoid haircuts, this one should be familiar.

Characters include:

Delilah (mezzo-soprano) – Samson’s ex-lover, a beautiful Philistine woman who hopes to use her allure to discover the secret of Samson’s strength.

Samson (tenor) – The leader of the Hebrews. He is incredibly strong, but has a weakness for Philistine women. Samson also has a secret: if he ever cuts his hair, God will rob him of his strength,

High Priest of Dagon (baritone) – The High Priest of the Philistines’ god Dagon. Frightened that Samson’s strength will inspire a revolt amongst the Hebrew slaves, he hopes to use Dalila to bring Samson to his knees.

Abimélech (bass) – The Philistine satrap (provincial governor) of Gaza. He condemns the Hebrews for refusing to accept Dagon as their god.

Old Hebrew (bass) – Leads the Hebrews in prayer and advises Samson to resist Dalila’s charms.

Mark Sforzini, the maestro of St. Pete Opera, promises that Samson won’t pull down any of the giant columns holding up the Palladium ceiling.

And if you’ve never experienced a St. Petersburg Opera performance at the Palladium – what are you waiting for? The shows feature top opera voices from around the country and around our area, a full orchestra and extensive sets and costumes. The sound of great voices and orchestra music in Hough Hall is exceptional.

Shows are Friday (3-2) at 7:30, Sunday (3-4) at 2 and Tuesday (3-6) at 7:30. For info visit www.mypalladium.org or call our box office at 727 822-3590.

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