"Talent without hard work won't get you anywhere" – Chatting with HADESTOWN performer Afra Hines!

"Talent without hard work won't get you anywhere" – Chatting with HADESTOWN performer Afra Hines!

I would like you to meet the wonderful Afra Hines. She will be performing in Hadestown on Broadway at The Walter Kerr Theatre with previews beginning March 22nd with the official opening on April 17th. Afra has performed on Broadway in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (in which she was honored with the Legacy Robe), Shuffle Along, Motown the Musical, Soul Doctor, Ghost, In The Heights and Wicked. Ms. Hines has also toured with Hamilton. I have had the chance to see this amazing actress perform several times on stage and it was quite the honor and privilege to have the opportunity to interview her.

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Student Strike Results in Cancellation of Theatrical Productions at Willamette University

Student Strike Results in Cancellation of Theatrical Productions at Willamette University

In 2015, we here at OnStage Blog ranked the B.A. in Theatre program at Willamette University as the best in the nation. We felt that the combination of academic rigor, bold production choices, outstanding faculty and ample scholarships made them stand out among the rest. Since then, the school has been in the Top 10 on our annual rankings and this past year came in at #3.

However, a recent student strike has led to the cancellation of the program’s two upcoming productions. And if what we’re hearing from the students is true, then it could lead to a swift downfall for one of the country’s best theatre programs.

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'Hamilton' Musical Ends in Chaos in San Francisco's Orpheum Theater

'Hamilton' Musical Ends in Chaos in San Francisco's Orpheum Theater

The wildly popular musical "Hamilton" ended in chaos Friday night in San Francisco's Orpheum Theater.

What audience members thought was an active shooter ended up being a medical emergency, officials said.

People reportedly heard there was someone with a gun inside the theater and started screaming, leading others into a panic, running out of the theater and sending the "Hamilton" cast backstage.

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“Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons” - Chatting with LEGALLY BLONDE’s Maris McCulley

“Make sure you’re in it for the right reasons” - Chatting with LEGALLY BLONDE’s Maris McCulley

I would like you to meet Maris McCulley. Maris is performing the role of Elle Woods in the National Tour of Legally Blonde (a role she has also performed regionally as well as internationally). Ms. McCulley has also performed with Royal Caribbean Productions, Prather Entertainment Group (PEG), Arizona Broadway Theatre, and The Phoenix Theatre. It was a privilege to have the chance to interview this talented actress who has had an amazing journey playing this role!

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The Show Must Go On: Iowa High School Cancels LGBTQ-Based Musical, Then Changes Mind

The Show Must Go On: Iowa High School Cancels LGBTQ-Based Musical, Then Changes Mind

Iowa High School administrators demanded their spring musical get cancelled after they say parents and students complained about the content. Cast members say the content the school was trying to censor is the LGBTQ main characters.

Now the school is changing its stance and reinstating the production.

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West End actress accused of being petty after audience member swore at her during performance

A West End actress has been accused of being "petty" after criticising an audience member who swore at her during a performance.

Hayley Tamaddon, 42, complained to her Twitter followers after a heckler shouted "f*** you" at her during a poignant moment of the musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie on Saturday night.

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Bringing the Barricades to New Jersey

Bringing the Barricades to New Jersey

Gas Lamp Players, located in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, is doing something that most youth theatre companies would rather not do- putting on one of the most well-known musicals of all time- Les Misérables. I was able to talk to Broadway Veteran Stephen Buntrock, who played Enjolras, leader of the student revolutionaries, during the Broadway run of the show in 1997-1998 who is co-directing this complicated production alongside Kristy Graves. 

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Startup Building Industry-First Career Tools for Professional Actors

Startup Building Industry-First Career Tools for Professional Actors

​Ned Donovan and Tony Aidan Vo, two New York actors with a foot in the tech world, have launched a startup company called Audition Cat (Consolidated Audition Tracker). This upcoming app brings all-new career management tools to the acting community. Ultimately, this app will empower actors to build stronger industry relationships and make more informed decisions pertaining to every future audition.

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A High School in the Philippines is About to Perform Unauthorized Production of HAMILTON Because of Course They Are

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Next week, the students at Mandaluyong Science High School are going to be performing their first musical production. I’m sure right now the sets are being finished, lighting cues are being entered and tickets are being sold. I’m sure the parents of the students at the Mandaluyong City school are getting excited to watch them perform.

There’s only one problem. The musical is Hamilton and they don’t have the licensing rights to perform the show. Because the amateur rights don’t exist.

According to the school’s drama club Facebook page, their production of the Lin-Manuel Miranda hit is set to perform next week.

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The school is selling tickets to the event and even offering VIP seating for 100 phs ($1.91).

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I wish I could say I’m surprised that this is happening. But like sands through the hour glass, so will a Southeast Asian school perform unlicensed musical theatre productions.

Mandaluyong Science High School is far from the first. In the past couple years we’ve seen this occur schools there trying to do productions of Coco and “Bombshell” based on the TV series Smash. Another school in the Philippines tried to be creative and changed the name of RENT to Seasons of Love to try to escape copyright violation.

This also comes off the heels of a school in Indonesia performing Hamilton as well. One break in the Southeast Asian trend was a school in Rio de Janeiro who performed an unlicensed production of The Book of Mormon complete with blackface. Yikes.

As I said earlier, I’m not surprised that foreign schools have produced popular musical theatre titles without obtaining permission in the past. But I am surprised that it keeps happening and the level of brazenness these schools have to flaunt it.

I do place some blame on the students, but not all of it. I didn’t know anything about copyright law as a high school student, so I can’t expect that these students are going to be knowledgeable of it either. However, I do blame the adults in the room. Whether it’s a teacher, director or adviser, someone at these schools need to know how to purchase rights and permission. By failing to do so, they’re teaching terrible lessons and putting their institutions at risk.

And before anyone brings up the stupid point of “Lin-Manuel already has enough money” blah blah blah, money has nothing to do with it. It’s the fact that foreign schools have no problem with stealing artistic property while almost all schools and organizations in the U.S. wouldn’t dare try. You would have to be Teresa Walker/Theaterpalooza level dumb to knowingly do that.

And the common defense of “Fair Use for Educational Purposes” doesn’t apply here because this a full-fledged theatrical production, performed outside the classroom, with admission being charged. But charging for tickets wouldn’t matter anyway. If an "audience" is invited or permitted—once again, whether admission is charged is not a factor—there no longer is "face-to-face teaching." Instead a "entertainment" is in progress. The spectators are not being instructed by the teacher. They are not enrolled in that particular course. Therefore getting permission is mandated.

But as I said before, foreign schools are keen on producing these shows without obtaining the rights. This is dumb and lazy, because most licensing houses have Asian departments to work with these schools. Why these teachers and schools choose to go the different path is beyond me.

So my advice to any foreign school that is even thinking about producing an unlicensed musical, please don’t. Go through the proper channels to obtain permission and this way you can save your students the heartbreak of not being able to perform a show because a cease and desist letter was sent a day before performances begin.

And to the Drama Club at Mandaluyong Science High School, I would pick a different show.

UPDATE: Within hours of this piece being publoshed, I’ve been told by sources that the show is cancelled.

Katie’s Art Project is Connecting Artists and Children

Katie’s Art Project is Connecting Artists and Children

Katie’s Art Project is an incredible non-profit organization that connects children with life-threatening illnesses with artists in their community to create and collaborate on a lasting legacy through art. Not a one time program, it is an organization that strives to connect the artist and child through a project that cannot be created in just one day, but one that takes time to fill a common goal and build relationships. I was fortunate to be able to speak with the President and the founder of the organization, Stephanie Klemons, a Broadway actress, choreographer, director, and educator.

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Help Bring the Untold Stories of Women in History to the Present

Help Bring the Untold Stories of Women in History to the Present

If you think too as far back as your grade school classroom, you might recall being asked to research and profile an impactful person in history. How many remember being frustrated by the apparent lack of information on influential women? There are women in our past that have done extraordinary things. They were inventors, scholars, artists, leaders, pioneers, and warriors, but their stories seemed to have been nearly omitted from history and are instead overshadowed by their male counterparts. Unless a woman played the role of royalty or heretic, humanity has failed to write down her story.

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Theatre Sues Company for Failing to Pay Donation

Theatre Sues Company for Failing to Pay Donation

Are family members of the Tyson Food Company being cheap with a Texas theatre? According to a lawsuit filed by the Zach Theatre in Austin, TX, that appears to be the case.

According to court documents, theatre officials are accusing Carla Tyson of coming up short on her word of donating $500,000 to the Zach to fund the construction and operation of the Topfer Theatre, in exchange for having a lobby named after her mother, Twilla Jean Tyson, and a wall featuring the name of her sister, Cheryl Jean Tyson.

Tyson paid $255,000 in August 2013, making her next payment smaller than the agreed $100,000. She owed $45,000 in June 2015 and $100,000 in June 2016 and June 2017. But those three last payments were never sent, the lawsuit says.

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HAMILTON's Isaiah Johnson discusses Puerto Rico and not beating yourself up between performing jobs!

HAMILTON's Isaiah Johnson discusses Puerto Rico and not beating yourself up between performing jobs!

I would like you to meet the amazing Isaiah Johnson. Isaiah just finished up playing the role for George Washington (a role he originated in the 1st National Tour) in Hamilton in Puerto Rico which has Lin Manuel-Miranda reprising his role of Alexander Hamilton. Isaiah has performed on Broadway in The Merchant of Venice (w/ Al Pacino), Peter and the Starcatcher, Side Show (2014 Revival), The Color Purple (2015 Revival). Isaiah will be starring in the upcoming original series for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) titled David Makes Man, which is from Academy Award Winner Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) and Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

The first time I saw him perform was in D.C. and he has been someone I have admired ever since. So to have the chance to interview this amazing artist is an honor and a privilege.        

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“Be kind to yourself and others!” – Chatting with ALADDIN'S Alicia Charles!

“Be kind to yourself and others!” – Chatting with ALADDIN'S Alicia Charles!

I would like you to meet the wonderful and talented Alicia Charles. This newlywed will be returning to the ensemble of Aladdin at The New Amsterdam Theatre. I first met this amazing artist while we were both performing in a production of Guys and Dolls at The Asolo Repertory Theatre (Directed by Josh Rhodes). Before making her Broadway debut in Aladdin, Alicia performed in the 2010 National Tour of West Side Story as well as regionally for major theatre companies such as the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, and Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) in Houston. I feel very fortunate to have the chance to interview this positive and beautiful spirit before her return to Agrabah.  

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