Ordway Blog: Stay connected here with what is happening at Ordway and take a look at what is going on behind the scenes.
Wed, May 8, 2013 2:39 PM by Alan Post
The Ordway Extra, which took place prior to the Pilobolus public performance on May 4, featured members of the Campus Connections Pilobolus Project, a collaboration between the Ordway, Pilobolus, Macalester College Dance Department and students in three courses at University of St. Thomas (Social Dynamics and the Environment, Urban Ecosystem Ecology and Videography). Speaking together about the project’s goals, artistic process and interdisciplinary focus were key members of the project from Pilobolus, Macalester, University of St. Thomas and the Ordway.
*All photos by Kristie Gaalswyk
Mon, Mar 18, 2013 1:44 PM by Alan Post
Delve into the unique artistic process of a dance company that navigates between traditional and contemporary forms and is guided by a mission of social justice. Twin Cities-based Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea and dancers from her company, Ananya Dance Theatre, will speak to the topics that inform their artistic work and draw comparisons to that of Black Grace.
Tuesday, March 19
6:30 – 7 pm, Black Grace performance follows at 7:30 pm
Ordway’s Marzitelli Foyer
Free for Black Grace ticketholders
Wed, Feb 6, 2013 3:42 PM by Luke Anderson
The Ordway will turn into a Mardi Gras party-like atmosphere this Friday, as C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band march into the music theater. Bring your dancing shoes for this upbeat, energetic and fast-paced performance!
With a solo career dating back to 1987 and several albums under his belt, C.J. Chenier is widely regarded as one of the best zydeco singers, musicians and performers in the world. He has been called “the crown prince of zydeco” by The Boston Globe and “the best living zydeco singer and accordionist” by Living Blues Magazine.
C.J. Chenier’s earliest musical influences were an eclectic mix of funk, soul, jazz and Motown, and his first musical instruments were piano, saxophone and flute. He earned a scholarship to attend Texas Southern University, where he studied music and starting playing Top 40 music.
Son of the “King of Zydeco” Clifton Chenier, C.J. joined his father’s famous Red Hot Louisiana Band playing the saxophone when he was 21-years-old. His father was the first Creole musician to win a Grammy Award for his album “I’m Here,” which featured C.J. playing the saxophone.
After making the switch to join his father’s band, C.J. Chenier admits it was a bit of a transition and that he didn’t quite understand zydeco music at first.
“I just didn’t understand it. It all sounded the same to me,” he says. “Until I started playing it. Then I was able to understand what was going on. Every time I heard it my feet were tapping and my head was boppin.’”
When his father passed away in 1987, C.J. Chenier decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue his legacy by picking up the accordion and becoming the leader of the band. Since taking over the band, C.J. has become well-known for his own unique musical and performing skills. He has spread word of zydeco music to the world, all the while pushing the genre to new heights.
“My daddy always told me to do the best I can do in my style,” he says. “You master what you do. He told me, ‘Be yourself.’ Clifton Chenier already did his thing. I’m trying to just be C.J. Chenier.”
Although traditional zydeco remains the core of the band’s music, C.J. Chenier has continuously pushed those boundaries, adding in new elements of modern funk with healthy does of blues, R&B, swamp pop and even country. C.J. Chenier’s mastery of the accordion, combined with his rich and satisfying voice, is the driving force behind this powerhouse zydeco band.
The band’s most recent album, “Can’t Sit Down,” was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award in the Best Regional Roots Music category. Focusing on freshness, energy and capturing the “live” moment, the album was recorded in only one recording session.
C.J. Chenier is a crowd pleaser and an authentic zydeco master.
What is zydeco music?
“You go to a gig by a jazz band, and everybody's sitting down, sipping drinks. You play zydeco and you see shoes flying off. You can’t come to my show and stay unhappy all night long. You’re going to break a smile and stomp your foot before too long. This is happy music, and it makes you dance.” – C.J. Chenier
Zydeco is the music of southwest Louisiana’s Black Creoles, a group of people of mixed African, Afro-Caribbean, Native American and European descent. It is a relatively new genre of music, branching out as a unique style of its own in the mid 1900’s.
Usually including a fast tempo dominated by the button or piano accordion, Zydeco music was originally created at house dances, where families and friends gathered for socializing. In addition, zydeco bands typically include a modified washboard called frottior, the electric guitar, bass and drums. Secondary instruments include the fiddle, keyboards and horns. The music style itself sounds much like the blues, but the upbeat, fast-moving zydeco style is made for dancing.
For more information about zydeco music, visit http://www.cjchenierandtheredhotlouisianaband.com/CJ_Chenier/Home.html
Puchase your tickets for C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band here.
Mon, Dec 10, 2012 2:46 PM by Luke Anderson
Critics are raving about Elf The Musical at the Ordway! Below are several local reviews from last weekend’s performances.
Star Tribune, “‘Elf’ is a sweet holiday treat,” By Rohan Preston
Pioneer Press, “‘Elf’ review: Ordway’s musical could become Christmas classic,” By Rob Hubbard
HowWasTheShow.com, “Elf at the Ordway,” By Janet Preus
TCJewfolk.com, “Elf The Broadway Musical - A Christmas Extravaganza,” By Monica Routman
WCCO Online, “Curiocity: ‘Elf’ Strays From Film, But Provides Festive Fun,” By Sara Boyd
Twin Cities Daily Planet, “Elf the Broadway Musical”: The Ordway delivers a holiday gift—wrapped in brown paper,” By Jean Gabler
Elf The Musical is at the Ordway through December 30. For ticket information, click here.
Mon, Oct 22, 2012 2:43 PM by Luke Anderson
Below is a guest blog post from Joan Holman, member of the Ordway Circle of Stars Board of Directors
The Ordway Circle of Stars annual gala is coming up fast, and this year there are two ways you can participate.
Puttin’ on the Glitz is the theme for this year’s traditional gala, to be held at the Ordway on Sat., Dec. 1. The event will start at 5 p.m. with a gourmet reception that takes guests back in time to the glamour of the 1920s with Prohibition-themed entertainment, cocktails and cuisine – culminating in dancing on stage at 9 p.m. to The Wolverines Big Band. There will be special guest performances throughout the evening featuring music from a bygone era, as well as a silent auction, live auction and prize drawings. More info at www.ordway.org/gala.
This year, there will be another fun, new option for attending the Gala for people who would like to start their evenings a bit later. For the Black Tie Blitz, guests will dress to the nines and arrive fashionably late for the already in progress Puttin’ on the Glitz gala. This group will join gala guests for the dance on stage with The Wolverines Big Band and other featured performers. Both black tie or 1920’s attire is admired but not required. For more info on this event, visit www.ordway.org/blitz.
Both events benefit the Ordway and its education programs, and will give guests a chance to dance onstage at the Ordway.
And we have some really exciting activities planned for the dance portion of the evening as well: a wine ring toss, dance lessons from Arthur Murray, some instant photo printing sponsored by Comcast and provided by Photo.bo (bring your smart phones!), and complimentary beer, wine and dessert buffet while you dance the night away onstage at the Ordway!
I hope to see you all there!
OCOS Board of Directors
Wed, Aug 8, 2012 2:47 PM by Luke Anderson
Critics are buzzing about Chicago at the Ordway! Below are several local reviews from Tuesday night’s opening performance.
Star Tribune, "'Chicago' brings back razzle-dazzle," By Rohan Preston
BroadwayWorld.com, "It's All Show Business, CHICAGO Razzle-Dazzles Minneapolis," By Kristin Frosch
TCJewfolk.com, "'Chicago at Ordway Has It All...But They're Not My Aunts From Chicago," By Phil Goldman
HowWasTheShow.com, "Chicago at the Ordway," By John Olive
Twin Cities Daily Planet, "At the Ordway, 'Chicago' still has fishnet-clad legs," By Dana Hanson
Lavender Magazine, "Chicago really is All That Jazz," By Kathleen Watson
Tru Magazine, "Review of 'Chicago'," By Stephanie Allensworth
Chicago is at the Ordway through this Sunday, August 12 only. For ticket information, click here.
Fri, Jun 15, 2012 10:59 AM by Luke Anderson
Critics are buzzing about FELA! at the Ordway! Below are several local reviews from this week's performances.
Star Tribune, "Afrobeat music is the weapon in 'Fela!'," By Graydon Royce
Pioneer Press, "Fela! tells a powerful story with spectacular staging," By Ross Raihala
MSHALE, "Fela! a production like no other," By Susan Budig
WCCO, "Curiocity: Fela! Packs A Powerful Punch," By Sara Boyd
Howwastheshow.com, "Fela at the Ordway," By Janet Preus
Lavender Magazine, "Fela! Bombards the Senses with Spectacle and Sound," By Kathleen Watson
Twin Cities Daily Planet, "It's a Felabration! 'Fela!' shines at the Ordway," By Bobby Kahn
Citypages blog, "'Fela!': No zombies here," By Ed Huyck
FELA! is at the Ordway through this weekend only! For ticket information, click here.
Thu, Mar 22, 2012 11:30 AM by Luke Anderson
As we move closer to Ballet of the Dolls’ performance of Faith: A Dance For Life at the Ordway on Friday, May 4, the dance company’s Artistic Director/Choreographer Myron Johnson is reaching out, along with the Ordway, to educators, students, and the Twin Cities community to engage them in the artistic process of creating his new piece.
Johnson and the Ordway are providing this unique learning opportunity through a series of open rehearsals, focus groups and discussion sessions. In February, Johnson held a focus group with school teachers to discuss his concept for Faith: A Dance for Life, generating support and ideas, and setting the foundation for translating the performance piece into a multi-cultural learning experience focused on faiths of the world. He also shared his artistic vision with faculty and staff of Macalester College’s Interfaith Council, which led to spirited discussion and intriguing questions about art as a tool for creating cross-cultural awareness and understanding.
Going forward, the Ordway and Ballet of the Dolls are offering various opportunities for the community to engage in the artistic process of Faith: A Dance for Life. They include the following:
1st Open Rehearsal
Wednesday, March 28, 6 – 7:30pm
[345 13th Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis 55413]
Parking available on neighborhood streets surrounding the theater
2nd Open Rehearsal
Wednesday, April 18, 6 – 7:30pm
Ordway’s McKnight Theater
[345 Washington Street, Downtown Saint Paul]
*Please enter through Ordway’s main entrance
Suggested parking: metered street parking or parking ramps near the Ordway
3rd Open Rehearsal
Wednesday, April 25, 6 – 7:30pm
Ordway’s Drake Room
[345 Washington Street, Downtown St. Paul]
*Please enter through Ordway’s Stage Door on 5th Street
Suggested parking: metered street parking or parking ramps near the Ordway
Admission is FREE, but space is limited. Please RSVP to Amy Miller at email@example.com or 651-282-3017 to reserve your space.
Ballet of the Dolls’ Faith Panel Discussion: Dance Inspired by Faith and Spirituality
Tuesday, April 17
7 – 8:30pm
University of St. Thomas
Owens Science Hall, 3M Auditorium
Admission is FREE and open to the public
You are invited to a discussion with Ballet of the Dolls’ Artistic Director Myron Johnson and other Twin Cities-based dancers/choreographers who create artistic work inspired by their faith and spirituality. They will share examples of their artistic work and will explain how their styles of choreography evoke images and ideas that correlate with their religions and spiritual beliefs from across the globe.
Thu, Mar 8, 2012 11:56 AM by Luke Anderson
Derek Nelson, a local restaurant manager and designer enthusiast, attended the March 1st, 2012 performance of Blind Date. Below is an explanation of his experiences that night, both before and after he was chosen to go on stage with Rebecca Northan.
Preliminary Note: The evening of February 29th (Leap Day) was an epic break-up with my sweet girlfriend leaving myself in a state of haze, sadness and tears to be unrivaled. At 32-years-old I was starting over and scared of what would be.
March 1st 2012, 4:35p.m. After having attempted to keep my head up all day I was working ferociously in the warehouse opening patio umbrellas for my restaurants upcoming patio season. The phone rings and a long-lost buddy asks if I would be interested in getting out of the house for some tickets to some show of comedy and drinks. I oblige and tell him I will be there. At this moment I have no idea my life is about to change.
7:15 p.m. My ticket gets scanned at The Ordway entrance and I notice cast members mingling about. Over the next 15 minutes my friend and I are approached by Mimi, the female adorable lead cast member of this comedy and escorted to the bar with some small chit chat.
7:30 p.m. I get to my seat in the theatre and decide to finally read the program to see what I am getting into tonight. Opening page has a synopsis and a DISCLAIMER of what contract as a guest of “Blind Date” you are entering into. My heart races immediately after reading that now I have agreed to possibly be chosen for on stage activity. Terrified to speak in front of people, I settle myself down by remembering that my odds are slim of being chosen due to a full house.
7:33 p.m. Mimi on stage tells the audience she needs a member to be her date. She exits stage right and I am nervous but okay because I am sitting stage left; however she wanders in my direction and the unthinkable happens.
7:35 p.m. I am ON STAGE for the next hour in a whirlwind of emotion and nerves and love and KISSING and awkwardness and every other possible feeling one could have. In just over an hour now I have experienced an entire relationship in front of a couple hundred strangers. I did it with zero stage training but with all the years of figuring out who I really was to deliver the truth of my being on this planet to strangers and it was AMAZING to say the least.
Conclusion: This event has completely changed my life. It refreshed my soul. It made me feel alive. It made me think there is nothing that can’t be conquered in life. It showed me hope and the future that one day anything is possible. This show isn’t just a comedy or something to do around town. This show is a connection for everyone watching it about their own lives of love and happiness. I will never be able to repay Rebecca Northan (Mimi) in my lifetime for what her and her production did for me. She is an improv comedy goddess that can dig deep, laugh and change everyone’s lives by attending this show. I am truly saddened that this production isn’t a Twin Cities yearly staple and only a tour because I believe it has the longevity to remain relevant. I will never forget this experience…IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!
Wed, Mar 7, 2012 11:44 AM by Luke Anderson
David Bryan is the founding member and famous keyboardist for Bon Jovi. Bryan won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Original Score, Memphis (along with Joe DiPietro), as well as the 2010 Tony Award for Best Orchestrations, Memphis (along with Daryl Waters). Memphis will be at the Ordway beginning March 13!
You have been with the rock group Bon Jovi for more than 25 years. What do you think is the key to the band’s continued popularity?
Writing good songs, making good records, and always giving your all at every live concert.
How did you and Joe DiPietro meet and when did you begin collaborating on MEMPHIS?
I got Joe’s script from an agent and when I read it, I immediately loved the story and I heard all the music in my head. I know that last part sounds a little crazy, but what’s there now on stage is what I heard. I called up Joe and introduced myself, and when we got together it was magic. We work very well together. Joe is a great collaborator.
What attracted you to write the musical MEMPHIS?
The story. It’s an epic American tale about the birth of rock & roll, I just love that we not only portray one of the first white DJ’s to integrate the radio, but we also dramatize an interracial love story (when it was against the law in many states to have an interracial marriage). Ultimately, it’s a story about how music helped bring about social change, and how this music helped bring people together.
Can you describe why Broadway musicals are so difficult to write?
There are so many parts and it takes a lot of time to get them to work together. And you have to get it right before you get to Broadway. Joe and I work like crazy to make sure it’s a good as we can make it. With MEMPHIS, we put together a great creative team and we had the good fortune of working with great producers. And in the end we have a multiple award-winning show because of it. But man, we worked hard.
Name some of your favorite 50s songs and why they are your favorites?
There are too many songs to name, but I am always struck by how much joy and hope there is in that music. It was the beginning of social change in America - and music was at the forefront.
You have won many honors as a rock musician, including winning a Grammy Award. How was the Tony® awards presentation different than the Grammy Awards?
The three Tony® awards I won is unbelievably special. It was a long road with MEMPHIS, but I always believed in our show. To be honored and welcomed by the Broadway community for my work feels great. And it is just the start. Joe and I have a new show in the works called Chasing The Song (about American song writers from 1962-1964). We’ll continue to create new works for a long time.
Why do you think fans of rock and roll, people who might have never even seen a Broadway musical, would love MEMPHIS?
It’s an important American story that celebrates what we have in common as human beings rather than what separates us. And it ROCKS!
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.
The purpose of this blog is to engage with you in the blogosphere. We wish to let you know that our posts do not go through any official editorial process for spelling, grammar or fact checking, therefore errors may occur – please be kind! Every blog post is open for public comment, questions or suggestions and the Ordway chooses not to pre-screen these responses. That being said, we do reserve the right to remove any offensive, illegal, or inappropriate content at the Ordway's sole discretion.
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