WEST SIDE STORY


If ever a Broadway musical deserved to be called a classic, that musical is West Side Story.  What must Broadway audiences have felt as they first discovered it back in 1957?  This was, after all, a Broadway whose most recent Tony-winners were My Fair Lady, Damn Yankees, and The Pajama Game.  What must audiences who were accustomed to this sunny fare have thought about a show whose leading man and leading lady didn’t have the proverbial happy ending, and whose characters lived dismal lives in the worst parts of Manhattan and hated anyone whose differences threatened their go-nowhere existences? What must they have thought about Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy, operatic score, about Stephen Sondheim’s poetic lyrics, about Arthur Laurents’ Romeo and Juliet inspired book, and above all about Jerome Robbins’ truly revolutionary choreography? How must West Side Story have rocked the world of those Eisenhower-era 1950s New Yorkers and, even more so, of the out-of-towners who make up so much of a Broadway show’s audience?
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CURTAINS


It’s always an event when a regional theater gets its first crack at a recent Broadway hit—and when that show is John Kander & Fred Ebb’s very last musical (and the recipient of eight Tony Award nominations), the event is well worth a road trip.
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LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S PETER PAN

Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan has returned to Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre for the second Christmas in a row, good news for children from now through January 3.
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THE MUSIC MAN


If you want to know why The Music Man is one of the three longest-running musicals of the 1950s, head on up to Solvang for proof positive that Meredith Willson’s biggest hit is also one of the best Broadway musicals ever.
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THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE


It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.” 

It’s highly doubtful that any of the preteen contestants in William Finn’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee have ever taken these words of advice to heart. For these regional spelling bee finalists, and for many of their parents, winning is everything, and if you have any doubt that kids can be every bit as competitive as adults, Finn’s quirky, highly original musical will soon cure you of this misconception.
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LES MISÉRABLES


When a musical runs over thirteen years on Broadway, it’s a long, long wait until regional theaters get a crack at it. Les Misérables lasted from 1987 to 2003 (6691 performances) and again from 2006 to 2008 (another 480 performances), and during those two decades, the show was never playing in more than two American cities at any one time. There was the Broadway production and there was the National Tour, and both of them featured Trevor Nunn and John Caird’s original direction, as well as the original design team’s sets, costumes, and lighting. Though casts changed, and changed, and changed again, it was still the same basic Les Miz, and no more than a few thousand theatergoers could ever see it on any given day (except of course for two-performance days).
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PETER PAN


If asked what songs they associate with Peter Pan, most people would likely answer with “I’m Flying,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” or “I’ve Gotta Crow” from the Broadway/TV musical (music and lyrics by “Moose” Charlap and a quintet of others), or “Second Star To The Right,” “Following The Leader,” or “You Can Fly!” (music and lyrics by the Sammys (Fain and Cahn) among others). Songs that probably don’t pop into folks’ heads are “Who Am I?”, “Build My House,” and “Spring Will Come Again” (music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by … Leonard Bernstein).
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