The Irreverent and Wholly Unholy Presentation of “The Book of Mormon”

Written by Scott Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine 

Lexus Broadway in Austin has pulled out all the stops with the most irreverent and wholly unholy presentation of the hit Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon”, written by “South Park”’s Trey stone and Matt Smith and “Frozen”’s Robert Lopez!

The Book of Mormon Washington, D.C. November 17, 2017.  Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

The Book of Mormon
Washington, D.C.
November 17, 2017.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

As an exuberant army of young men and women are sent throughout all the world to share the glad message of salvation through Jesus Christ, the talented and overly confident Elder Price and the nerdy, pathological lying Elder Cunningham are called to be the most incompatible of companions to serve their two year missions in the war torn, poverty stricken, famine bound, AIDS epidemic ravaged East African country of Uganda.

Utter culture shock and despair overwhelms the eager companions as they realize that the people of their assigned village are much more preoccupied with curing themselves of AIDS and maggot infestations and not being killed or mutilated by a tyrannical warlord than learning about religion.

The Book of Mormon Washington, D.C. November 17, 2017.  Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

The Book of Mormon
Washington, D.C.
November 17, 2017.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

Feeling forsaken, Elder Price’s lifelong prayers and dream of serving in Orlando Florida in the shadows of Disney World are utterly obliterated before his eyes as he plunges in to an abyss of despair, all the while Elder Cunningham ecstatically receives yet another answer to his prayers by getting Elder Price as his new best friend, who according to mission rules can’t leave him!

All goes awry when Elder Price’s faith waivers and he decides to request a transfer and abandons Elder Cunningham, just when the villagers have been convinced by the young and beautiful Ugandan Nabalungi to listen to the missionaries message, as she clings to her hopeful dream that they all might escape their horrific lives by being baptized and trekking to the Promise Land, Salt Lake City.

The Book of Mormon Washington, D.C. November 17, 2017.  Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

The Book of Mormon
Washington, D.C.
November 17, 2017.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

Just when Elder Cunningham thinks he’s lost his “obligatory” best friend forever, his pathological lying kicks in to overdrive as he grapples with capturing and keeping the villagers attention with the seemingly irrelevant teachings of the scriptures and low and behold he hysterically creates some uncouth, yet relevant scriptures of his own that incites all of the villagers to choose to be baptized.

Never has any such success as this happened in the Ugandan missionary efforts, which brings recognition to Elder Cunningham by way of a visit from the Mission President, who is unexpectedly sat down and proudly presented a play created and performed by the villagers of their newfound teachings, all of which had barely a glimmer of resemblance to the actual teachings, which infuriates the Mission President who then fiercely reprimands Elder Cunningham and his unwitting fellow missionaries and the villagers.

The Book of Mormon Washington, D.C. November 17, 2017.  Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

The Book of Mormon
Washington, D.C.
November 17, 2017.
Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes.

Amidst incredible feelings of dejection, never will you hear a chorus fill the hall with such angelic hilarity as when the young group of missionaries revolt against their Mission President and band together with the villagers to form their own church based upon the scriptures of Elder Cunningham, bringing a joyous new life to all, including the Prodigal Son, Elder Price!

2017-2018 Broadway In Austin season packages are on sale now! For more information and to become a Broadway In Austin Season Subscriber, visit BroadwayInAustin.com or call 800.731.7469.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is a Hilariously Instructive Spectacle

Written By Scott Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Lexus Broadway in Austin’s presentation of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” is a hilariously instructive spectacle of just how absolutely ungentleman-like an impoverished Englishman can become, given the proper motivation!

National Touring Company. Colleen McLaughlin as Sibella Hallward and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

National Touring Company. Colleen McLaughlin as Sibella Hallward and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

Set in the early 1900’s, our protagonist, Montague “Monty” Navarro receives an unannounced visitor at his shabby flat on the night of his mother’s funeral and quite unexpectedly learns of a secret that his mother had kept from him all his life. Monty isn’t just the son of a lowly washerwoman, he’s a member of the aristocratic D’Ysquith family and ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst!

National Touring Company. (L-R) James Taylor Odom as Henry D’Ysquith, Kristen Kane and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

National Touring Company. (L-R) James Taylor Odom as Henry D’Ysquith, Kristen Kane and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

Emboldened by this new revelation, Monty races to share the incredible news with the love of his life, Miss Sibella Hallward, who has historically refused to marry him because of his poverty. As encouraging as Monty’s news is to Sibella, she dubiously remarks that eight people would have to die in order for him to become earl and the most whimsical and musically lyrical plots and acts of murder ensue!

 National Touring Company. Colleen McLaughlin as Sibella Hallward and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

National Touring Company. Colleen McLaughlin as Sibella Hallward and Blake Price as Monty Navarro in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

The spectacular music, hysterical lyrics, dynamic singing and soaring harmonies bound energetically throughout the performances as we’re introduced to all eight of the D’Ysquith family heirs to earldom including Asquith D’Ysquith, Jr., Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith, Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith, Lord Asquith D’Ysquith, Sr., Henry D’Ysquith, Lady Hyacinth D’Ysquith, Major Lord Bartholomew D’Ysquith, and Lady Salome D’Ysquith Pumphrey. Needless to say, the ultimate comical demise of each these hysterically unconventional family members leaves you bearing down in feeble attempts to stifle the fact that you’re laughing about their murders and cheering Monty on to his next unwitting target. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never laughed so uncomfortably hard in your life!

National Touring Company. James Taylor Odom as Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith in a scene from "A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder." Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

National Touring Company. James Taylor Odom as Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel.

Drama and hysteria continue to run amuck as Monty comes to a successful end of his murderous antics and Miss Phoebe D’Ysquith, a fellow distant family member not in the line of succession shows a strong affinity for Monty. A love triangle forms as both Miss Phoebe and Miss Sibella realize they both fancy Monty’s initiative and rapid ascent to earldom, and while naturally pitted against each other, find themselves defending Monty’s innocence as Scotland Yard authorities erroneously charge Monty for the murder of Lord Adalbert. Just when you think your tummy will get a rest from laughter Monty is miraculously found innocent and a tenth heir to earldom, Chauncey D’Ysquith is discovered with his own sinister plans to be earl.

You’ll smile from ear to ear as the plot unceasingly thickens with the drop of the final curtain and the murderous attempts between Monty and Chauncey are left to your imagination as a euphoric exhaustion washes over you and you sigh, “Wow, that was insane!”.

Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
WHEN: March 20 – 25, 2018
Tuesday – Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.
WHERE: Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive | Austin, TX 78712
TICKETS: Start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, texasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060. For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com

The Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” is Royal

Written By Scott Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Photography courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

On Tuesday, December 12, Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts opened its 2017 – 2018 season with a proverbial bang with their presentation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I”.

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

The cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Opening night was truly a step back in time and a journey to a far off land.  The setting was Siam. The time was long before the modern day Thailand might ever have been imagined.  These were the times of pomp and pageantry.  These were the times of deep seated traditions and customs that were brought to bear upon the savy English widow Anna Leonowens, the “school teacher”, and her young son Louis as Anna enters the employ of the King of Siam.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Manna Nichols and Kavin Panmeechao in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

The feeling of joy felt throughout the audience was palpable as the Bass Concert Hall filled with the classic and familiar tune “I Whistle a Happy Tune” as Anna and Louis stepped off the boat with great trepidation and on to their new homeland.  Equally enthralling was watching Anna being introduced to the numerous royal wives and even more numerous royal children while singing “Getting to Know You” in the royal court.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Laura Michelle Kelly as Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Inevitably, amidst this newly forged arrangement, tensions arise as Anna must delicately, yet firmly, navigate a foreign society and a royal household known for great civility and even greater incivility.  These tensions come more acutely to light as we learn of the king’s personal struggles of being in absolute barbaric power before his subjects while privately and quite humbly, at times, questioning the very nature of the expansive world surrounding him.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I.

Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.

Not surprisingly, the bullying egocentric attitude of the king and Anna’s proud obstinate disposition make the plot ripe for confrontation both petty and literally deadly.  Yet, sweet undertones of admiration and respect for one another develop amidst their strife, and devotion flourishes as these unlikely companions become the greatest of allies.  As the final curtain fell, it was hard not to feel a great sense hope of being able to come together as one people.  For surely, if the barbarian king and the proper English lady can do it, then so can we.

Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts

The Lincoln Center Theatre Production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s THE KING AND I

December 12 – 17, 2017

Tuesday – Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Bass Concert Hall | 2350 Robert Dedman Drive | Austin, TX 78712

Start at $30.Tickets are available at BroadwayinAustin.com, texasperformingarts.org, the Bass Concert Hall ticket office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060.  For groups of 10 or more, call (877) 275-3804 or email Austin.groups@broadwayacrossamerica.com

Something Rotten! is an Absolute Thrill Ride of Entertainment!

Written by Scott Rigtrup, Entertainment Correspondent for InFluential Magazine 

The completely original new musical Something Rotten! directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin), with music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe Award and Tony Award nominee Karey Kirkpatrick and a book by Tony Award nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O’Farrell, opened at the Bass Concert Hall, May 30 – June 4, 2017.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

I attended Opening Night of this hilarious Broadway hit.  The range of music, dialogue, humor and eras spanned from the Renaissance to modern-day and left me feeling dizzy with glee, like a child stumbling off a roller coaster ride, laughing uncontrollably, while racing to back in line for another go-round!

From L: Rob McClure, Adam Pascal and the cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

From L: Rob McClure, Adam Pascal and the cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

Irreverent, only begins to describe the follies that ensue as the aspiring playwrights, Nick and Nigel Bottom, desperately pit themselves against Shakespeare, their arch rival, in creating the next big theatrical hit of the era.  Needless to say, the most unimaginable plots of love, lust, spying, deceit and rivalry spill onto the stage as an incredibly unwitting soothsayer foretells to Nick Bottom the future of theater performances, being full of song, dance and acting, all at the same time.  This, in turn, using the term loosely, “inspires” the confounded Bottom brothers to create the first Musical ever!

Autumn Hurlbert and Josh Grisetti. © Jeremy Daniel.

Autumn Hurlbert and Josh Grisetti. © Jeremy Daniel.

As I sat myself for this performance, I buckled up and expected nothing less than the most comically disorienting re-write of theatrical history known as of yet to man . . . and attendees had to keep arms and hands inside for the ride at all times!

From L: Rob McClure and Jeff Brooks. © Jeremy Daniel.

From L: Rob McClure and Jeff Brooks. © Jeremy Daniel.

The New York production opened in April 2015 on Broadway and continues performances at the St. James Theatre through January 1, 2017. Three of the current Broadway principals will be reprising their roles on tour: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

Cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. © Jeremy Daniel.

The award-winning design team of Broadway veterans includes Scott Pask (scenic design), Gregg Barnes (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Josh Marquette (hair design), Phil Reno (music direction / conductor), Glen Kelly (arrangements), Larry Hochman (orchestrations) and casting by Telsey + Company/Bethany Knox, CSA.

Something Rotten! is an absolute thrill ride of entertainment!

Stay up-to-date with what’s going at Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive, Austin, TX by visiting www.texasperformingarts.org.