Ordway Blog: Stay connected here with what is happening at Ordway and take a look at what is going on behind the scenes.
Fri, Jan 20, 2012 2:30 PM by Marinda Bland
Ordway regular Joel Liestman talks about the transition from acting in our production of Cinderella to our new production of Broadway Songbook – The Words and Music of Contemporary Broadway. This production of Broadway Songbook runs from January 20 through January 22. You can purchase tickets here.
Closing a show like Cinderella is always an odd situation. With the holidays over, you mentally start to move on and look ahead to the projects of the New Year. But with the relatively short rehearsal process and run of Cinderella, as a company we finally started to get into the groove with the show. We were finally able to relax and really tell the story without having to focus on all the technical elements, such as "Am I in the correct stage light position?" or "Where is my horse head?" The show was "in our bones" and we were really starting to enjoy ourselves.
But now we're on to the Broadway Songbook - this time focusing on musicals currently or recently seen on Broadway. I was part of the Irving Berlin Songbook a few months ago and it was fascinating to see the evolution of a single composer throughout his life. With this concert, we get to see the influence of Berlin and others on the composers who are working right now. This music is incredibly exciting, difficult, and complex and really forces the performer to stretch themselves vocally and dramatically (which means I'm singing REALLY high).
What the music of today and the music of the past have in common is the ability to reach right in and grab you. Whether it’s a lyric or a musical phrase, composers like Adam Guettel, Jason Robert Brown, the guys from South Park (seriously? Yes, I say!), and others know that these songs have to have truth. They must invite the audience into what the characters are thinking and experiencing, and even though we are pulling these songs out of the context of their shows, it's still important that we try to tell their stories. Emotional truth is paramount in modern theater and the music you'll hear in the Broadway Songbook really emphasizes it.
I know it's snowy and cold, but you're really going to want to come out for this. Join Robb McKindles, Kym Chambers Otto, Allison Tilsen-Kassabian, Cinderella herself Jessica Fredrickson, Ordway big cheese James Rocco, piano maestro Raymond Berg, and me for this fun exploration of what is happening on Broadway right now.
Wed, Jan 11, 2012 4:24 PM by Marinda Bland
The Ordway collected ball gowns during the run of our production of Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella - and nearly 200 dresses were donated! On January 11, 2012, Operation Glass Slipper Director Pam Philipp, Cinderella star Jessica Fredrickson, and volunteers helped pack up the gowns, shoes, veils, and other accessories for transport to Operation Glass Slipper headquarters.
Fri, Dec 30, 2011 11:23 AM by Marinda Bland
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 was a special evening at the Ordway because Dave Blanchard proposed to Kaitlyn Krause...in Cinderella's castle! Dave called ahead to arrange for his proposal in the castle located in the downstairs lobby, which will shortly be moved to its new home at the Ronald McDonald House. Needless to say, Kaitlyn said yes, and she sent us this thank you note:
I just wanted to say thank you for all of the coordination and planning that went into making Dave's and my night magical. The show itself was fantastic and the venue gorgeous. Our night was incredible thanks to you. The set-up of the ring, camera, book, and champagne inside of the castle was perfect! I felt like a true princess inside the castle sitting on the bench next to the fireplace when Dave proposed. Our family and friends will be so excited to see the photos and I am very excited to put them into a photo album. This was my first time at the Ordway but I know we will be coming back for years to come! Thank you for your hospitality and making my night a dream come true.
Way to make your fiancee feel like a princess, Dave!
Fri, Dec 30, 2011 9:47 AM by Marinda Bland
Cinderella (Jessica Fredrickson) and Prince Christopher (Jeremiah James) visited Gillette Children's Hospital to perform for the children this December.
Wed, Dec 28, 2011 2:30 PM by Marinda Bland
Jessica Fredrickson performing for CLIMB Theatre
I had the pleasure of seeing "Cinderella" at the Ordway this year, and it was a particularly special experience. I don't just mean that it was a great production and it's always nice to be at the Ordway, although both of those statements are true. This show was a particularly special experience because I used to work with Cinderella.
In the fall of 2007, Jessica Fredrickson (Cinderella) and I both started our contracts at CLIMB Theatre, which educates K-12 kids on subjects of substance abuse, violence, diversity, harassment, and the environment. Jessie was a member of the Performing Company, which means that she toured the upper Midwest with two other actors, performing plays in school gyms/auditoriums. Her team performed plays on the topic of "friendship" (and a few others I can't recall) for grades K-5.
I'll be honest. When I first met Jessie, I fully expected to dislike her. As you know if you've seen her perform, she is absolutely gorgeous and exceptionally talented. Often in the world of young actors, that combination of assets belongs to people who are entitled and self-centered. I can't stress enough how WRONG my assumptions were! I didn't work very closely with Jessie, but all of my interactions with her showed her to be friendly, funny, and sweet. Every time I saw her, she was smiling and ready to help where she was needed. I enjoyed working with her and wished her the best when her contract with CLIMB ended and she moved on to other opportunities.
Over the next few years, I lost track of Jessie outside of the occasional Facebook post. I knew that she was still performing and our mutual friends mentioned that she was being cast in leading roles, which didn't surprise me. It was in October, when I was at the Ordway to see "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," that I learned she had been cast as Cinderella. I was FLOORED. As an actor, it is such a dream to work in a major production at such a reputable theatre. I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to be cast in the lead role! It didn't matter that I hadn't spoken to Jessie in three years. I knew immediately that I needed to see this production. I followed as the Ordway posted pictures and videos on their blog and Facebook, and I eventually won tickets through their Twitter contest. I gasped the first time I saw a picture of Jessie wearing the ball gown. She looked phenomenal!
So at the performance, my friend and I sat down in the balcony, surrounded by a diverse audience including several young girls wearing blue Cinderella dresses. Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" has always been one of my favorite musicals, and I could tell from the opening number that this production would do it justice. The set design, costumes, and lighting were all beautiful. Look specifically for the scene change when the clock strikes midnight - it goes flawlessly from the garden to the ballroom to the front staircase. Every member of the ensemble is talented and well-cast (I especially enjoyed the performances of the Stepmother and Lionel). And then, of course, there was Jessie. The first time she started to sing, I heard the audience collectively gasp. I started to tear up several times - during the transformation sequence of course, and again at the very end. She was phenomenal. I would expect nothing less!
It's a strange experience to see someone you know on the Ordway stage, performing every night for almost 2,000 people. During intermission, and after the show, I overheard numerous audience members commenting on how talented she is (and on the rest of the cast as well, of course!). Before the show started, there was a very young girl sitting near me who was starting to get a bit fussy. My friend leaned over to me and said, "Do you think it would help if we told her that you know Cinderella?" I just smiled and shook my head, but secretly, I wanted to shout it to the whole theatre: "I know Cinderella!" I'm just so excited for Jessie, and so proud of her. I'm sure that this will continue to open doors for her as an actress, and I can't wait to see her transformation continue. She didn't need a fairy godmother to change her from a young aspiring performer into a star at the Ordway. She did that on her own.
By Julie Janus, Teaching Company Director at CLIMB Theatre
Tue, Dec 27, 2011 4:19 PM by Marinda Bland
Good day there, blog-reader-people! Today, I’m going to talk a little about two-show days: days when we have a matinee and an evening performance. Once the show opens, two-show days are where we as a work family spend time together. During rehearsal, part of our job is to form close, intense relationships very quickly so the on-stage camaraderie seems real. We spend many hours in the rehearsal room hanging out, learning things about each other - like how we handle pressure and being overly tired. Once we get past opening night however, routines change and other priorities come to the forefront. So when we have two-show days, it gives us a chance to pass the long days together with card games and lots of story swapping - but at a more leisurely pace.
This company has a really good mix of personalities. Some are quiet, listening to music and getting work done - like writing blog posts on their iPad. Others are quite boisterous, telling jokes and playing the occasional prank. So far, we're doing a good job of balancing each other. Wait...I should clarify this. This is what it's like in the men's dressing room. I don't know what goes on in the women's dressing room. I assume they mostly talk about how handsome I am.
This week, there will be several two-show days. Whether we spend it running around doing errands or trying to catch up on sleep or trapping someone in the pumpkin for fun (though we would never do that), the most important thing to remember is why we're here: to tell this story as best we can. We may do the show a hundred times, but the audience is seeing it for the first time.
By Joel Liestman, joelliestman.com
Thu, Dec 22, 2011 2:09 PM by Marinda Bland
Check out the great pictures!
Wed, Dec 21, 2011 2:30 PM by Marinda Bland
Performances of "Cinderella" are in full swing at the Ordway, and we actors have nary a moment to catch our breath. But I’ve managed to snatch a few minutes backstage with my iPad, and since I have a little time, I thought I'd shoot you all a quick note of introduction: I'm world famous public reader of scripted lines, usually-on-tune singer of songs, and general bon vivant Joel Liestman. This is my 3rd show in the big theatre and the latest in many collaborations with Artistic Director James Rocco. I'll be checking in on this blog throughout the run of Cinderella, hopefully providing a bit of insight as to what goes into creating, opening, and sustaining this production.
First things first…With a show like this, casting is crucial. If you don't have the right young woman anchoring this show, everything else is like a Friendster account: it doesn't matter. Luckily, my friend and local actress Jessica Fredrickson is the perfect Cinderella. She has brains, beauty, and the voice to fill this beautiful theater. Having an actor you can rely on sets the tone for working every day. Everyone can relax and concentrate on telling this story. To a person, we all believe in Jess and know that you will fall in love with her.
We hope you enjoy this magical story and I look forward to sharing some of the behind-the-scenes stories and secrets over this holiday season. Feel free to post any questions on the blog about the show, our process of bringing it to life, or general musings on what it's like to be an actor.
Now off to the show!
Tue, Dec 20, 2011 3:58 PM by Danielle Schumann
The Ordway's production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella opens to great reviews and wonderful buzz in the media. Check out all the reviews here, along with preview articles and television interviews from the past few weeks.
Star Tribune “Finding the fit in ‘Cinderella’
Metro Magazine “’Cinderella’ Full of Magic”
Saint Paul Broadway World “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’ Delights Audiences through New Year’s Day”
Minnesota Monthly “Review: ‘Cinderella’”
How Was The Show “’Cinderella’ at the Ordway”
Star Tribune “A Cinderella Moment”
Pioneer Press “Local Actress Plays Fairy Godmother in ‘Cinderella’”
TV and Radio Interviews:
KARE 11 TV
Fri, Dec 16, 2011 12:00 PM by Marinda Bland
Announcing an additional performance of Cinderella! Due to the popularity of the show and high demand for matinees, the Ordway is now offering a 2:00PM performance on Thursday, December 29. There are great seats available, but hurry because good seats go fast! Hope to see you at Cinderella! Tickets are available for purchase here.
This blog is a group effort by Ordway staff, actors, artists, musicians, dancers and all those involved in the creative process of performances, programs and events at the Ordway to provide a behind the scenes look at what happens onstage, backstage and in support of the work presented at the Ordway. We also hope to discuss pertinent topics in our industry.
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