Well, this is really exciting. It's not often I get to be surprised by and discover new talent. The American entertainment scene is so over processed and over exposed there is little left to actually discover. I generally just end up reminding my readers of old favorites of mine that still deserve attention.
However, this gifted performer, Matt Goss, is from England and very few Americans including myself have ever heard his name before, which seems implausible given that he and his twin brother, action adventure film star Luke Goss (Hellboy, Death Race 2&3, Diary of a Hitman) were part of a pop/rock group in the UK which sold over 16 million records.
The group named Bros achieved a total of 11 top 40 singles and 3 Top 20 albums in the United Kingdom, making them one of the biggest acts in British music between 1988 and 1991 and at one time were outselling U2. They reached number one when "I Owe You Nothing" was reissued in 1988.
They weren't just one hit wonders either, singing other peoples songs. Often, boy bands were assembled by managers or record producers with an eye toward the predilections of preteen girls. Normally, the boys didn’t play instruments, but they sang in harmony and had some swoon-worthy moves.
Although Bros were managed by former Pet Shop Boys manager Tom Watkins, Matt and Luke wrote their own songs, played all their own instruments and continued having hits throughout the late 1980s, including "Cat Among the Pigeons" and "Too Much", both which made UK #2 during 1988 and 1989. After taking huge losses financially due to early contract signings and a true savaging at the pens of their own once adoring British press as backlash to their overwhelming early success, you can flash forward twenty five years and both Bros have landed on their feet with solid and lucrative entertainment gigs. Luke Goss with a burgeoning acting career and Matt Goss with a solo songwriting career and a sweet weekend gig headlining at Caesars Palace Friday and Saturday nights and always to a sold out house.
Now I'm just going to tell you flat out that you will enjoy Matt's concert, whether you are a seasoned Vegas traveler like myself who has seen all the big shows, or a new Vegas vacationer looking for a real, old school Vegas entertainment experience. I love a big Cirque show, yes, but after a few days of these mammoth thousand seat auditoriums, I really do love the idea of relaxing in a darkened booth, in a cozy, little theatre with a drink on the table right in front of me and the performer himself within eye shot. Matt Goss' concert in the ambient venue The Gossy Room located in Cleopatra's Barge at Caesar's Palace is cozy, intimate, ambient and dynamic at the same time.
Matt Goss does a combination of classic romantic standards mixed with his hits from the UK and brand new solo music. Even if you don't recognize all the songs, there is no denying that you are hearing a world class vocalist with tremendous vocal range and intricate phrasing on a par with young contemporary song stylists like Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Michael Buble' and Harry Conick Jr. as well as old blue eyes, Sinatra himself. Funnily enough I was most impressed by a short burst of brilliant, Jazz/ska scat singing which briefly turned the room into a full on island party! It was marvelously energetic and very impressively performed. I'd love to hear an entire EP with more of that youthful, bouncy, ska rhythm.
Goss's show in the aptly named Gossy Room really does try to provide a little bit of the old school glamor and charm we imagine was present during the Rat Pack days. Matt Goss pumps up the sun burnt Vegas crowd and celebrities in the house with a dynamite 7 piece band, two sexy back up singers and half a dozen, hot, leggy showgirls who have been cast and choreographed by Pussy Cat Dolls creator Robin Antin.
I loved Cleopatra's Barge, the cozy venue which reminded me of sailing in a plush Disney Pirate ship like Pirates of the Caribbean, and I wouldn't trade the experience of seeing Matt sing in a small venue. I would love now to hear Matt Goss rich vocal styling in a larger auditorium. As he performs and jokes with the audience and his band on the intimate stage, Matt gives off an energy like a large caged panther, pacing restlessly, longing to stretch his legs, dance and move more and burst out vocally as he has in the not so distant past at the Royal Albert Hall. I could easily see Goss' show being just as successful in a larger more elaborate Vegas showroom/set , or in a classy New York night club of the same size.
I lived in Manhattan for several years and It's ironic I ate at a restaurant in the New York casino across the street from my hotel ,the MGM Grand, before seeing Matt's show because when I walked in I felt a very strong NY swagger about the place and a bit of NY attitude. I also sensed a strong NY/ European vibe which proved to be correct as Matt asks at one point in the show how many here are Americans and only a few of us raised our hands. Then Goss asks how many are Brits and the room swells with the applause of at least 50 per cent of the audience. I just think that's extraordinary, that we have kind of an English superstar performing right here in Vegas and yet very few people here in the US know about his fantastic voice.
Truly there is something for everyone in Goss' concert, the super sexy dancing “Dirty Virgins” for the men, for the ladies, Matt Goss - a smokin' hot performer with the most piercing, actually smoldering blue eyes you've ever seen and a nice, tight, talented band for fellow musicians and real music lovers like myself.
I got to experience something really special as well before the show which really sums up the glamorous, “eye of the tiger” energy Matt Goss brings to the Gossy room each night.
I was in Matt's suite before the show, when time and energy allows he hosts a small, mellow gathering of friends and assorted guests in his lofted 4bed 4 bath Penthouse suite at Caesars'. I got a chance to make "the walk" with him and his security personnel through the vast Caesar's Palace casino floor to the stage
I could barely keep up with him in my heels with a bum knee as well, but I won't soon forget the sweeping rush of being swept back in time, almost as if I was in a movie watching Sinatra or Dean make this same power walk through Caesar's Palace with such terrific magnetism, greeting the guests and waving as the fans parted to let this stunning gentleman sweep through the crowd.
I used to go to Vegas several times a year, and there are a few shows like “O” and my old friends Louie Anderson and Frank Marino that I must see over and over again to really get back into the swing of Vegas spirit and humor.
Now we go to the strip just once a year for our Buzz Vegas Feature but I will definitely add my new friend, Matt Goss, and his concert at Caesar's Palace to my personal Buzz list of “must see” entertainment each time I return. You and all your crew are invited, too!
Showtime is 9:30PM Friday and Saturday nights.
You can buy tickets for Matt’s show in person at the Coliseum Box Office in Caesars Palace or from the Ticketmaster website.
Stay tuned for my interview with Matt next week and also check out Matt Goss's website for news and updates at www.MattGoss.LA.
*Middle photo by Ken Payne
*Bottom photo - Matt Goss in Las Vegas with Kimberly Katz
David Cerda and Scott Lamberty, the creators of “Sexy Baby”, have once again taken a touchy subject, child beauty pageants, which are already riddled with parody and camp, and unleashed a veritable whirlwind of funny on Chicago audiences.
I fall in comedy love with pretty much every show David Cerda's Hell in a Handbag Productions puts out and “Sexy Baby” doesn't disappoint. I asked David after the show if he realizes what an incredible feminist he is, because the way he views the glamour of women and the unique predicaments in their life is always so dead on funny and supportive at the same time. “Sexy Baby” should be adapted for school age children because it hits on every single thing that little girls and boys are subjected to by their stage-momsters on the way to what they hope is pageant and Hollywood fame - without losing heart or one beat of funny.
Cerda's casting is always spot on as well and he never fails to attract some of the funniest and most talented singer/dancers in Chicago. The entire cast of “Sexy Baby” blew me away but stand-outs this time were Alex Grelle as “Beyansay Riddle” and Edlyn Griffin as “Epiphany Jones” who both absolutely had me screaming with laughter every time they came on stage. Grelle and Griffin's faces reflected the exact wide eyed, sugary sweet and plastic stare and over extended posture of the five-year-old girls you see on the TV show “Toddlers and Tiaras”. Billie Bryant as the wheelchair bound, white trash stage-momster “Cindy Jones” was also very, very funny, and Heather Currie has a wonderful singing voice.
Run, don't walk to see “Sexy Baby” at Mary's Attic in Andersonville, and don't forget your sash and tiara!!
“Sexy Baby” has 7:30pm performances Thursdays-Saturdays and has just been extended to July 23rd. Tickets are a super reasonable $15-$22 and VIP packages are also available. Mary’s Attic is located in the heart of Andersonville at 5400 W Clark Street. For more information on “Sexy Baby”, visit http://www.handbagproductions.org/.
I thoroughly enjoyed Spider Saloff's performance at Victory Gardens Theater. Spider has a wonderful, smooth, rich tone to her voice and impeccable phrasing. Although there were serious technical difficulties
with her microphone that continued throughout her performance, she unflinchingly “drove right through it”
and maintained her focus on the eight characters she has so lovingly handcrafted.
Spider has a great sense of humor and her Marlene Dietrich inspired character and dance number,
“Falling for Everyone” was absolutely spot on and completely adorable.
I highly recommend seeing “Roar Of the Butterfly” for appreciators of fine Jazz vocals who are looking for a delightful evening of light yet poignant and meaningful entertainment.
Spider Saloff on the creation of her one woman show;
"This performance is in the tradition of Lily Tomlin and Tracey Ullman, so I portray eight different characters in what's best described as a musical comedy," Saloff said.
"When my husband died, the play took a complete turnaround, and I eventually decided to write myself out of it and turn it into the story of Butterfly," says Saloff, whose show launches its Chicago premiere engagement Thursday night at Victory Gardens' Richard Christiansen Theater.
Saloff plays multiple characters who gather for Butterfly's memorial service, all soliloquizing and singing about how the late drag queen changed them.
"It's about an individual who touched so many lives in so many different ways,"says Natalija Nogulich, who's directing the show. "But it's not like he got up and sang a song to a bunch of schoolchildren and they were wowed. He had an alternative lifestyle. He seemed to touch everyone: a hairdresser, the waitress, the man who drove his limo.”
"Not only do they remember him, but he did something significant in their eyes. He sparked someone to follow a dream for dancing. He sparked someone (else) not to give up on his daughter's addiction. But I also made the decision that I was going to talk about loss, and not have it just be a crazy comedy. I mean, it is a silly comedy, it has wild characters, it's based on weird people … but it does talk about loss and death."
"The whole story has a kind of leavening feeling. Even though it's a memorial, like many memorials, it's a celebration."
Spider Saloff’s ‘The Roar of the Butterfly” is playing through May 20th. For ticket information, visit www.victorygardens.org.
Wouldn't you know it? The opening of South Pacific at the Cadillac Palace here in Chicago fell on the day after Valentines' Day and I was really looking forward to enjoying the truly romantic, Pulitzer prize winning' play which features several of my favorite Rodgers' and Hammerstein songs of all time, and I get stuck in front of the one intoxicated audience member who insisted on singing alongwith all the performers' best high notes.
Audience etiquette notwithstanding, this is a really lovely production based on the Lincoln Center production of an absolutely brilliant classic Rodger's and Hammerstein's show that still packs a punch emotionally.
Ensign Nellie Forbush, the young nurse who falls in love with French owner is well played by Jennie Sophia. Jennie has a good sense of humor in the role. Also, Sophia’s look and manner convey well the period quality of a 1958, spunky “cock eyed optimist” of a gal from Little Rock.
Marcelo Guzzo is very good as the lonely and in love Emile De Becque and has excellent chemistry with Jennie Sophia. Good chemistry in these lovers' roles is crucial to understanding the soaring passion their two characters create on stage when just weeks after meeting each other, De Becque proposes marriage to Nellie Forbush.
Guzzo has a wonderful, rich operatic voice and is very likable in the role. One note, his thick accent for the role was consistent and obviously well prepared and thought out, but the thickness of it seemed to detract here and there from the great work he was doing overall.
Cathy Foy- Mahi, was excellent in the role of Bloody Mary, her voice was clear and rich during my favorite song from this show, “Bali Hai” and both desperate and wry during “Happy Talk” as she tries to talk the Lt Joseph Cable into staying with her beautiful native daughter, Liat.
The scene stealing songs of the evening go to Marcelo Guzzo for his heart wrenching rendition of “This was Nearly Mine”, Shane Donovan as Lt. Joseph Cable singing a poignant and joyous, “Younger Than Springtime” to Liat in the jungle, and the sensitive reprise of “Some Enchanted Evening”, another of my all time favorite songs by Jennie Sophia and Marcelo Guzzo.
The supporting cast member of nurses and soldiers and officers including Robert John Biedermann as Captain George Brakett were all excellent singers and dancers, and character actors- really getting the audience laughing and involved during the adorable numbers for “There is Nothing Like a Dame” and “I'm In Love with a Wonderful Guy”.
I highly recommend seeing this production with your entire family for a romantic and meaningful show filled with many of the best Rodger's and Hammerstein's songs ever written for the Broadway stage.
“South Pacific is playing through February 22nd. For more information please visit www.BroadwayinChicago.com.
I was completely under the spell of this dazzling, tribute to romance and the magical vocal stylings of Frank Sinatra by Twyla Tharp in “Come Fly Away”, performed at the Bank of America Theatre. Twyla Tharp’s 15 amazing dancers bring to life the stories of four couples falling in and out of love with tremendous style and some of the best choreography performed by some of the best dancers I have seen on the stage in a long time.
If you are a huge Sinatra fan like myself, get ready to get drunk with pleasure and fully satisfied on this smorgasbord of his best recordings brought to life including: “Let’s Fall in Love”, “Witchcraft”, “I’ve Got a Crush on You”, “Teach Me Tonight”, “Body and Soul”, and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”. Sinatra sings all the songs with music performed by a fantastic 20-piece plus big band, which really gave the audience the feeling of being in the nightclub with all the dancers.
I believe the best dancers are also fine actors who emote their characters’ inner life through their faces as well as their bodies. Tharp’s stunning dancers, all of whom are superbly trained in ballet and modern dance equally, exude a raw sexuality that is a treat for the eyes. Twyla Tharp’s choreography is expert at dramatizing the flirtation and complex emotions of falling in and out of love that Sinatra standards describe so well.
I can’t recommend highly enough this winning combination of my favorite singers of all time, Frank Sinatra’s standards about love interpreted and brought to life by one of my favorite choreographers of all time, Twyla Tharp. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that taste great together!
“Come Fly Away” runs through January 22nd. For more information, visit www.broadwayinchicago.com.
After a 12 year run at Bailiwick Repertory, The Christmas Schooner sails again in a wonderfully revamped form at The Mercury Theater.
The Christmas Schooner relates the true story of German immigrants who risked their lives on the freezing waters of wintry Lake Michigan to bring Christmas trees to Chicago back in the 1880's.
The entire cast is excellent with lovely voices. 12 year old, Daniel Coonley (Karl Stossel) is very good in his role and not too saccharine sweet as some child actors can be.
Jim Sherman, (Gustav Stossel, Karl's grandfather) holds down the fort with his solid character study and really choked me up during the scene when he laments his dead son with a strangled cry of
“I miss him!”
Cory Goodrich (Ana Stossel, Karl's Mother) has a really rich, beautiful singing voice. Goodrich performs the role with grace and a great sense of humor. Goodrich’s character Ana Stossel, really is the heart and center of the entire production, the schooner, if you will, that propels her son, husband, and father in law to become a part of history by attempting these dangerous but much lauded heroic voyages to Chicago.
This is a really lovely holiday production to bring your family to, as it makes you feel a part of the true history of Christmas in Chicago. The Christmas Schooner also elucidates the history and magic of the Christmas tree itself as one of the things that helped families get through the long cold Chicago winters inspiring well wishes with it's beautiful shining lights and hopeful meaning.
At the end of the show the cast passes a branch of a Christmas tree hand to hand, right into the audience who continued to pass it along with the wish that each who touches it find love this holiday season.
The theater space at Mercury is really perfect for this show, as it is both intimate and expansive at the same time. I also loved that they served cookies, hot chocolate and Peppermint Schnapps in the lobby at intermission and that you can step straight out of the play and slip straight into the cozy confines of Cullin's Pub without going out in the cold.
I highly recommend making The Christmas Schooner at The Mercury Theater a new tradition in
Christmas Theater going for the entire family to enjoy together. For more information, visit www.mercurytheater.com.
Comedians Scott Thompson and Kevin MacDonald Live at Mayne Stage in Chicago
I really enjoyed the dueling comedy sets by “Kids in The Hall” cast members, Scott Thompson and Kevin MacDonald. There is a certain type of ripple effect laughter that really great comics can get out of an audience that I think of as a “bouncy wave” or “bouncy ball” where the audience continues to laugh and giggle to themselves in between the jokes about the last joke. Then the laughter just continues to and build and bounce like a rubber ball even when the comedian isn't saying anything!
Thompson and MacDonald really got that bouncy ball of laughter going to the point where I was actually wiping tears from my eyes.
Scott Thompson was over the top raunchy with a great story about how autographing a fan's penis turned into a full-blown sex romp and another great bit about his search for a genuine “Unicorn- the uncircumcised Jewish male.”
Thompson also covered some interesting ground when he described how bizarre it was to be a man diagnosed and treated for breast cancer- “The hospital elevators and even the medical forms are all PINK!!”
Kevin MacDonald's comedy was a little bit more tame but also very funny when he came out and told the audience that he is not really a stand-up comic that his jokes only have “middles” not beginnings or ends.
Kevin and Scott alternated sets and shared the stage three times, making for a generous, very funny, satisfying and balanced night of comedy.
Kids in the Hall' alumna, Dave Foley, happened to be in Chicago performing at the Improv and joined Thompson and MacDonald on stage at the end of the night for a little bit of funnin' around that involved Scott Thompson's' hand in Dave's pants. Foley also stuck around after the show with Scott Thompson to meet the audience.
Thompson recalls meeting a young Uma Thurman backstage early in the groups' career.
"Uma Thurman at the time was the sexiest woman in the world," he says. "We had never met a celebrity before. We all thought she wanted to sleep with us. It really was a big launching pad for us. It made us think that wow; we're in the big leagues. She was the first responder."
if you are a Kids in the Hall fan, Thompson and MacDonald live is a real treat , you must check out “Two Kids in the Hall” while they are on tour.
Yuri Lane was a child actor, almost cast as Doogie Howser until the producer decided to go blond.
Lane has performed on the stage with Matt Damon and has many commercials under his belt but fame eluded him until one of his videos showing his amazing beat box skills went viral on YouTube with a million hits. Yuri was flown around the country by Google, Yahoo and many other corporations came calling with offers, some paid, some not. After a while he says he “kind of lost himself” in the process of trying to make the phenomenon of his number one YouTube video profitable at 1/20th of a penny per hit.
Lane has made an interesting and funny one man show about his wild run with YouTube, which showcases his unbelievable vocal skills as a beat box artist as well as his sense of humor.
Yuri plays his own father by projecting himself as his dad on a video screen above his head and it was a very effective and funny way to illustrate their relationship. Yuri's recollection of his own Jewish artist father, a painter who is living precariously on Social Security, is revealing. Yuri's dad tries to help by making suggestions like “Just walk into advertising agencies and sell yourself!” The way Lane's father constantly plies Yuri with guilt trips about why Yuri isn't making more money to help support him and questions about how much “art “Yuri is creating in the meantime, really hit home with me.
Lane brings up many interesting points about the process of becoming a star on YouTube and also how very difficult it is to make any money on YouTube even with a video that gets over 2 million hits.
“MeTube” also shows that a performer like Lane who is obviously multi talented as a vocalist and writer/ producer but in such a unique and unusual ways that it sometimes it is very difficult to get a lasting break in Hollywood.
I am always amazed by experiencing Sting performing live in concert. Sting has an incredible knack for creating an infinite number of new and compelling variations on his rich 25-year catalog of hit music. He never just rehashes his hits or performs them by wrote, he actively uses the fantastic musicians around him and his own life experience to innovate hip new arrangements that take each song to a whole new, truly new, level of intensity and meaning.
Sting appears on the stage for his Back to Bass Tour casually stripped down, with shaved head, zero body fat and wearing sheer gray T-Shirt and jeans. Sting appears relaxed yet energetic and completely in command of his band and the audience.
Sting has chosen such a small and an interesting group of players for this tour. Sting's right hand man, longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller, is on this tour, as well as Dominic's' 26 year old son, Rufus Miller. Rufus is a very good rhythm guitarist and already displays some of the handsome, pouty, nonchalant stage presence of a more seasoned player like his dad.
Drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, is dynamite on the sticks, serving up some really great and tricked out yet solid rhythms for these arrangements. On backing vocals Jo Lawry, has a rich, dramatic vocal presence, and also provided fiddle and additional percussion, which is doubly impressive. The show stealer is another young musician, Peter Tickell, who brought our house to a roaring standing ovation with his fiddle solo during “Love is Stronger than Justice”. Tickell really is an amazing player, like a Stevie Ray Vaughn on the violin. I've seen other young people solo with great skill like Peter, but in that boring, cold and speedy, “music school” showing off sort of way. Tickell has the soul and rhythm to really feel out the emotional crescendo of his solo and it's catharsis and is a surprisingly mature, dead on rockin' and passionate player for his age.
I love that the Back to Bass Tour is utilizing smaller more intimate venues this time around. Sting has no difficulty projecting a great performance to a roaring outdoor crowd of 40,000, like with the Police Reunion Tour at Wrigley Field. However, I personally find that enjoying the superior quality of his voice and intricacies of his arrangements is so much more affecting in a smaller indoor venue.
Sting really is a master of transforming- or “trance- forming”- musical performance. The combination of his detailed, lyric story telling, ultra-rhythmic bass lines and intensive Yogic training over the years come together perfectly in a shaman like fashion, drawing the willing listener into a musical “trance” that is both entertaining and healing at the same time. I enjoy walking around after his concerts seeing the relaxed, happy, meditative looks on the faces of his satisfied audience members after the show.
Sting mentioned that he enjoys a great sense of “continuity when playing in Chicago, that it always feels like coming home to perform here.”
I feel a sense of continuity when Sting plays here as well because I have so many great memories of his concerts, meeting him and interviewing his band mates Dominic Miller and Chris Botti over the years.
In a way, Sting and Dominic gave me one of my very first breaks as a journalist when they allowed me to come backstage to do a live interview just 15 minutes before they ran out on stage in front of over 10,000 excited fans during the Sacred Love Tour.
I did not have my own Chicago magazine or PR firm established. Back then, I was writing for a teeny, tiny newspaper in Brookfield Illinois. My cameraman and I drove six hours from Chicago to Grand Rapids but we were a full hour late for the scheduled interview because we forgot about the time change in Michigan, but they still had the ushers lead me back into the dressing area to conduct the interview with only minutes to spare before curtain.
I remember I had undergone a disastrous tanning booth experience the day before hoping to look good for the meeting wherein the entire back of my body ended up with 3rd degree burns from double exposure and my front remained untouched and completely white. Now, I always make a point of giving my celebrity interview guests a big hug when we finish and I remember thinking, I don't care if it hurts- I am hugging Sting and Dominic for doing this interview- no matter what!
Then there was the wonderful, encouraging, 50 minute plus, phone interview that Chris Botti gave me just moments before taking the stage that night at Carnegie Hall. Chris Botti called me for the interview from Stings' condo in Manhattan, which Chris had just purchased from Sting and had barely moved into.
There are many wonderful and synchronistic events that I have experienced seeing Sting but the best has to be when he provided two wonderful seats to a rehearsal concert in Miami for my mother and I. My mother was having major health problems at that moment and I flew to Miami to help her.
For my mom, attending Sting's concert that night turned out to be a miraculous, healing, dream-like, turning point for her and I really am indebted to him on a soul level for reviving her. After that concert, Danny Quatrochi, Sting's personal bass assistant since The Police, hung out with my mom and I in the hotel bar and made her feel like the Belle of the Ball at the age of 73. The entire evening was amazingly generous and sweet.
Well, I could wax rhapsodic about more of my Sting-chronicity's over the years but I am sure with the shape Sting is in, there will be many more great concerts and mysterious dreams come to life in years to come.
I'll leave you with this about the show last night. Sting has a great practice of really allowing his players to shine and temporarily take the spotlight away from him on stage, but just in case you were starting to get distracted by all the bells and whistles of his band, Sting takes his last of three encores alone, with only his voice and an acoustic guitar filling the excited space.
When he does this, the energy in the room stays strong and climbs even higher, proving without a doubt that Sting's voice and compositions alone are the reason we have congregated here and that Sting's magnificent voice and songs really need no adornment whatsoever.
I highly recommend seeing the Sting, Back to Bass Tour. When it comes to your city in 2011.
The performance of Back to Bass that I attended here in Chicago at The Rosemont Theater was sheer concert perfection, a “must see” concert event of this season for any Sting fan.
For Tour dates through December of 2011 visit www.Sting.com.
I actually started cutting my teeth as a booking agent 20 years ago. by booking my own band into nightclubs. It seemed straightforward at first, there was a contact name and number and process for submitting your band's music but then I found out each club had a huge stack of unopened music and it was difficult to get the manager on the phone. If the manager wasn't a friend or at least a friend of a friend who liked your band you may get the runaround for months or wind up being given an opening slot at 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night that you can't possibly get your fans to show up at, let alone make any money playing. After a few rounds of this time wasting futility, I learned that by booking other bands along with my own for a whole night of music or a festival, I could get a lot more respect from the club, and more control over the split of funds from the door and which band got the prime slot- mine.
*(above) Kimberly Katz with Taylor Negron
Theatrical booking by comparison is about 100 times more selective, complex, political, and cliquish than club/musical booking.
For ease of explanation, I group theatrical bookings in three tiers, based on length of run, not size of venue. For example a Tier One booking is for one or two nights max including speaking engagements. It doesn't matter if the theater is 300 hundred seats or 3000. A Tier Two engagement is a week or longer up to two weeks max. A Tier Three is the most intensive booking logistically; it lasts for two weeks or longer and may include a run extension of several months in the same venue.
After 25 years in the New York and Chicago theater scene, I know exactly what each theater or venue is like to see a show in from top to bottom. I know what type of experience theater goers and my productions' members will have right down to the restrooms, bar area, parking options, and disabled access. I am aware of the general age and personality of the theaters' subscriber audience as a whole and I am aware of the success or failure of each of their past productions season to season. The artistic directors and general managers who decide which productions to run, know me from reviewing their shows for Buzz and are friends from college or just respect my taste in theater and talent.
Booking a theater for a production is a lot like hosting an important party. I have to find the best room with the best vibe for that style and size party, with all the right amenities, ample parking and bar/restaurant foot traffic in the right neighborhood. Then if there is competition for that venue, and those dates, I have to really sell my production to a number of company heads based on what I project will be it's success and get the best deal financially for my clients.
Of the three aspects, the vision, the budget and the schedule, the schedule is actually the most pivotal. The vision for a show changes and evolves. The budget or lack thereof, also changes over time and alters the execution of the vision but not necessarily in a bad way. You may have a large budget and pump a lot of money into a play with big sets, lighting design, and costumes but it doesn't mean the show will be successful in proportion to the money you have spent. Bigger isn't always better, in fact, it may gild the lily to the point where the show is ruined. For example, actor, writer, Jeff Garlin from Curb Your Enthusiasm did a successful two-week run at Steppenwolf this past summer with no set at all. Garlin performed his piece “No Sugar Tonight” with just an old ladder, some scaffolding strewn about and a plastic pumpkin with ladle full of water and a ukulele he said he would not play but was there for visual suspense. Garlin said he thought the ladder, etc. would indicate that this was a “work in progress” and that he did not even have a name for the show until the theater pressed him for one.
When I look at the calendar as a booking agent I see years flying by, not weeks or days because in a sense the best dates of the theatrical calendar year are already booked well before it begins.
Imagine the entire theater community on a big Monopoly board of the United States. On the board there is a fixed number of major theaters in each of the major cities. Every agent or producer already knows which venues and which dates they need for their production’s tour schedule that year.
The in- house subscriber series are locked in a full year in advance. Major Holidays like Christmas are always in the same place and have either a good effect on your particular show (A Christmas Carol) or a dead zone effect that you want to avoid, etc. Booking is done as far in advance as possible to get the best slots and have ample time to promote the show and fill seats.
For more information visit www.KimberlyKatzPR.com
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