You Know This Wise Guy

Chazz Palminteri took a moment of his childhood and parlayed it into the cultural phenomenon known as A Bronx Tale. We’ve seen him in The Usual Suspects, Bullets Over Broadway, Analyze This and as a cop, mobster or some form of tough guy in a ton of other film and TV roles. We caught up with Chazz on the phone in December to interview him for the “Behind the Persona” feature of INSIDE magazine and talk about the musical adaptation of A Bronx Tale coming to The Straz Jan. 29. [Note: Chazz isn’t in the musical but he did write the book and DeNiro directed.] During the conversation, we uncovered what he thinks is the greatest acting work he’s ever done—which happens to be a little film that not many people know about. And, shockingly, it’s not A Bronx Tale.

We published the whole interview on Act2, our official podcast, this week, and we’d love for you to hear the wealth of stories Chazz brought to the conversation.

For this blog, though, we’re going rogue. We’re going first person.

Chazz Palminteri in A Bronx Tale on Broadway. (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Hello, Strazzers. Marlowe Moore here, the senior writer for The Straz and normally the anonymous voice of this blog on behalf of our favorite performing arts center. I decided to step out from the fourth wall on this occasion because my conversation with Chazz revealed the kind of tales and insights that performing arts nerds like myself die a thousand deaths to know.

With Chazz, I died two thousand deaths—first, when he shared the anecdote about the time Arthur Miller (Death of Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, husband of Marilyn Monroe and my personal writing hero) gave him writing advice; second, when he disclosed that he believes his greatest acting work was his role as the father in Dito Montiel’s shattering and extraordinary film, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

Chazz in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

In 2014, I met Dito Montiel at the Sanibel Island Writers’ Conference, which, by the way, happens to be one of the dopest writing conferences in the country. I went, not because I am dope but because I am frugal. SIWC is also in the sweet spot budget-wise for nonprofit mavens like myself. If you’re a writer, a dope person or frugal, you should check it out.

I had no idea who Dito Montiel was, but screenplay writing happens to be my favorite form, and Dito was slated to talk about how he managed to land A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints in Hollywood. I found a seat in the small classroom, then a shaved-head, thick-shouldered New Yorker ambled through the door, taking a small space on the side of the room. “Hey, everybody. I’m Dito,” he said. “I’m not really sure I’m qualified to give this workshop, but here goes.”

Dito and Dwayne Johnson filming Empire State.

Often gazing at his shoes or shifting his eyes toward the doors and windows, Dito unfolded his life story. A kid in Queens. A bad neighborhood. A best friend. An affront by a rival gang member. A baseball bat.

Dito got out. He wrote. He played music. He kept his head down after his boy got a life sentence and found a way to Los Angeles. But he lived with the ghosts. To make peace with them, he doodled a graphic memoir during a day job in an audio lab. He titled it A Picture Guide of Saints.

“This is really good,” a friend told him. “Hey, did I ever tell you I know Robert Downey, Jr? Bob? I think I could get this to him. This is the kind of weird shit he loves.”

The doodles made it to Bob. Bob made it to Dito. They became friends. In 2001, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Dito’s memoir of his friends in Astoria, gets published. In 2006, RDJ—along with Sting and Trudie Styler—produce the film.

“A lot of it was luck,” Dito told us during the workshop. “Bob and I are weird in the same way. It just worked out. I didn’t even know how to write a screenplay. I thought the ‘EXT’ for exterior shot meant ‘exit’ like the character was leaving the scene. I didn’t know. But I wrote the screenplay. I directed it. Things went from there.”

I realized at the end of the workshop that Dito Montiel is, by nature, a shy guy. I don’t believe he meant for the big take-away for screenwriters to be “hope you know a random person who knows Robert Downey, Jr.” Although, I do believe that’s probably honest writing advice. I think he wanted with his whole heart for his story to be known because he had—in his heart—a debt to pay to a friend he loved. In the weird way stories work, it found its way because Dito wouldn’t give up on it.

If you know anything at all about Chazz Palminteri and how Robert DeNiro ended up making A Bronx Tale into a film, you’ll understand why Chazz fell in love with A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.

After the conference, I went home and checked out A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints from the public library. I was expecting the typical Mean Streets tropes, but this movie is different.

In the film, Robert Downey plays the adult Montiel with Shia LaBoeuf playing the younger Montiel in Queens during the flashback sequences. Antonio, Montiel’s best friend who ends up with life in prison, is played by Eric Roberts, whose acting in this film is The Pope of Greenwich Village-level. Just stellar. The young Antonio acting opposite LaBoeuf? Channing Tatum. Tatum, whose performance skills I’d just studied intensely in multiple viewings of Magic Mike and knew from his work in the Step Up franchise, changed my life. The fact that he can take himself to the place he had to go to for A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints makes me even angrier about Jupiter Ascending. Nobody better talk junk to me about Channing Tatum’s acting skills. Nobody. We just need Dito directing every time I guess.

Dito’s foil, his antagonist, his god and his oppressor take the form of his emotionally complex father Monty, played by Chazz. “I’ve done 60 movies,” Chazz told me, “and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is one of my favorite all-time movies. I think it’s probably my best performance,” Chazz told me.

Hands-down I think it’s Palminteri’s best performance, and I believe his work as Sonny in A Bronx Tale is so sublime his gestures alone should win an Oscar. But what he does as Monty is whatever actors do when they go to that place beyond performing. When Monty enters the scene, my heart races, my blood pressure spikes, I feel so much loss for Dito that I can barely keep my seat.

The film conjures the thing we never talk about when we talk about tough guys, when we glorify their violence in films: that boys get sucked into a world that buries love in anger so thoroughly that, as men, they cannot function for their confusion about how to care for themselves and the people they love. “At the end of the film,” Chazz said, “when my voiceover is talking about, ‘Don’t worry, Dito. Antonio didn’t have anybody [to care for him]…’ Oh. I think about it even now, and I can cry.”

Which is precisely what I did at the moment Chazz refers to here. For reasons I still struggle to articulate, my natural reaction to the conclusion of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints was to run in the bathroom, shut the door, fall on the floor and bawl. I lived alone at the time, so I had no reason to do any of those things. I could have cried in bed, but I was running from or to something that I needed to experience privately despite the fact that I was already alone; I don’t know. Dito—and Chan, and Bob, and Chazz and Shia—made me look at something so deeply sad about men trying to love in their culture of violence and being oblivious to the fact that they were trying to love at all that stayed with me all this time. There is something about men’s love and the debts they feel towards each other that I don’t understand. Dito’s story cracked some understanding inside of me, and I believe that’s what art is for, why we doodle our ghosts into existence. I consider myself profoundly lucky to have had a few moments to talk about it with someone in the film.

Please see Chazz in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. Then check out the interview with him on the podcast. And see A Bronx Tale the musical. Chazz promised you’ll love it.

Frequently Asked Questions about HAMILTON on-sale Nov. 16

Here we go, Strazzers. The public on-sale for HAMILTON starts Friday morning at 9 a.m. This handy FAQ guide tells you what to do to get ready and what to expect the day-of. Whether you’re planning to buy online, in-person or on the phone, this official information will help you be as prepared as possible for your shot at seats.

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Company – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2018


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Because of the nature of live events, details are subject to change.

WHEN IS HAMILTON COMING TO THE STRAZ CENTER?
Feb.12 – March 10, 2019

WHEN DO TICKETS GO ON SALE?
Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, at 9 a.m. Tickets will be available through the Straz Center’s official Ticket Sales Office – online, by phone and in-person. Only tickets purchased directly from the Straz Center at STRAZCENTER.ORG, 813.229.7827, 800.955.1045 or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office are guaranteed to be legitimate tickets for the Tampa engagement of HAMILTON.

WHERE CAN I PURCHASE?
• Online: STRAZCENTER.ORG/Hamilton. You must set up an account through our ticketing system before you purchase online. See “What Should I Do Now To Get Ready To Purchase” below.
• By phone: 813.229.7827, 800.955.1045 (outside Tampa Bay)
• In-person at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office at 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, FL 33602; the Ticket Sales Office is located on the south side of the Straz Center campus off of Tyler Street

Online: Log in to purchase HAMILTON tickets by typing STRAZCENTER.ORG/Hamilton into your browser on Nov. 16, 2018 starting at 6 a.m. Everyone will be placed in the Virtual Waiting Room and will be randomly assigned a place in line when sales open at 9 a.m. Those arriving after 9 a.m. will be placed behind those who arrived earlier. You must set up an account through our ticketing system before you purchase online. See “What Should I Do Now To Get Ready To Purchase” below.

Phone: Those choosing to purchase by phone do not have an option for advance queueing. The Ticket Sales Office phone system will be activated at 9 a.m. Please do not call before that time.

In-person: On-site sales will also occur at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office on Nov. 16, 2018, at 9 a.m. Sales will be conducted using a wristband lottery and random selection of wristband numbers. Wristband distribution will begin at 5:30 a.m. and continue until 7 a.m. under the Grand Canopy in front of Morsani Hall. (No overnight camping allowed.) Arrival prior to the start of wristband distribution is not advised or necessary since the purchase line will be based on random selection. However, you must be in the wristband line by 7 a.m. to get a wristband. Wristbands will only be distributed to those 13 and older. There is no guarantee everyone receiving a wristband between 5:30 – 7:00 a.m. will be able to purchase tickets. Those arriving after 7 a.m. will be placed in queue (and given different sequentially-numbered wristbands) and will not be eligible to make a purchase until everyone who arrived prior to 7:00 a.m. been served, if tickets are still available.

HOW MUCH WILL TICKETS COST?
On-sale prices will range from $86 to $196 with a limited number of $489 premium seats. Handling fees apply. Prices are subject to change.

ARE THERE ANY DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE?
There are no discounts available for HAMILTON.

HOW MANY TICKETS CAN I BUY?
There is a strict limit of four (4) tickets per household. All orders will be checked before tickets are mailed, and orders will be cancelled if we discover duplicate accounts, bots or other means being used to circumvent the four-ticket limit.

WHY AM I ONLY ABLE TO PURCHASE 4 TICKETS?
To allow as many people as possible the opportunity to purchase tickets for HAMILTON, the number of tickets any household may purchase has been limited. Guests found in violation of this policy will have ALL their tickets cancelled.

ARE THERE GROUP SALES AVAILABLE IF I WANT TO PURCHASE MORE THAN THE TICKET LIMIT?
Group sales are not available for HAMILTON.

WILL I BE ABLE TO PICK MY SEATS?
When purchasing online the ticketing system will assign you the best available seat(s) in your preferred performance/price level at the time you purchase. In-person selections will be made the same way. If asked to search an alternative performance for different/better seats, the original selection will be released and could be purchased by another buyer in the interim.

IS THERE AN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE?
Yes. There are two – the Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019, 7:30 p.m. performance and the Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, 2 p.m. performance.

WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW TO GET READY TO PURCHASE?
1) Make sure you have an account in the Straz Center’s ticketing system and that you know your password. The name and address on your account must match the name on the credit card and billing address you use for payment. To confirm or create your account, go to STRAZCENTER.ORG and click on the My Account tab at the top of the page, or go here. If you experience any problem with your account, call 813.229.7827 between 12-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday or 12-6 p.m. Sunday or email us at comments@strazcenter.org. Please contact us for assistance no later than Nov. 15.

2) Decide which performances and price levels meet your needs. Choose several options in case your first choice is not available when your turn to purchase arrives.

HOW WILL ONLINE SALES WORK?
Because of the extraordinary interest in HAMILTON, The Straz will use a virtual waiting room to facilitate the online sales process. Below is detailed information how online sales will work and what to do ahead of time to prepare to purchase.

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Jon Patrick Walker – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2018


Online Purchase Guide for HAMILTON

BEFORE NOV. 16, 2018:
Make sure you have an account on STRAZCENTER.ORG and that you know your password. The name and address on your account must match the name on the credit card and billing address you use for payment.

Check your account information by going to STRAZCENTER.ORG and clicking on the My Account tab at the top of the page, or go here.

If you experience any problem accessing or setting up your account, contact The Straz for assistance by Nov. 15. Call 813.229.7827 between 12-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday or 12-6 p.m. Sunday or email us at comments@strazcenter.org.

Decide in advance which performances and price levels you want to purchase. Choose several performance options in case your first choice is not available when your turn to buy arrives. Go here to see the performance schedule and price levels or visit STRAZCENTER.ORG/Hamilton.

PRICE LEVELS – subject to change without notice; handling fees apply
Premium: $489; select center front orchestra seats in rows FF-A
1: $196; front and mid orchestra; mezzanine front, sides and boxes
2: $186; mid-to-rear orchestra; rear mezzanine
3: $146; rear orchestra; balcony front, sides and boxes
4: $116; rear balcony
5: $86; gallery

ON FRIDAY, NOV. 16, 2018:
1. Type STRAZCENTER.ORG/Hamilton into your browser to log in to the Virtual Waiting Room.
• You can log in to the Virtual Waiting Room starting at 6 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2018.
• You will be RANDOMLY assigned a spot in line at 9 a.m.
• Buyers who log in after 9 a.m. will be placed behind those who logged in earlier.
• Once you are assigned a position in the virtual line, you can either leave your browser open and/or sign up to receive an email alert when it’s your turn to buy.
• Any key updates on performance availability will be posted in the Virtual Waiting Room as they become available. They will appear on your screen if you have the Waiting Room tab open.

2. You will have 10 minutes to complete your order if your turn arrives.
• Don’t miss your shot! Watch your email if you sign up for an alert, or keep a close eye on the Virtual Waiting Room tab.
• Know which performance and price level you want before your turn arrives.
• The credit card you use to purchase must match the name and address on your account. We will check orders and will void those where credit card name/address do not match.

3. Buy your tickets.
• The purchase limit is four (4) per household
• The use of bots, duplicate accounts or other methods to circumvent the four-ticket limit will result in cancellation of all tickets.
• You may choose your performance and price level. Select Your Own Seat is not available. The system will assign you the best seat available in your chosen performance/price level at the time of purchase.
• You may split your tickets between different performances and price levels. Add all tickets to your cart before entering your payment information and checking out.
• You will be asked to log in with your STRAZCENTER.ORG account to checkout. Make sure you have an account and know your password ahead of time. You can confirm/create an account here.

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Shoba Narayan, Ta’Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2018


On-Site Purchases for HAMILTON

HOW WILL THE ON-SITE SALES AT THE STRAZ CENTER TICKET SALES OFFICE WORK?

On-site sales will occur at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office on Friday, Nov.16, 2018.

Sales will be conducted using a wristband lottery and random selection of wristband numbers. Wristband distribution will begin at 5:30 a.m. and continue until 7 a.m. under the Grand Canopy in front of Morsani Hall. (No overnight camping allowed.) Arrival prior to the start of wristband distribution is not advised or necessary since the purchase line will be based on random selection. However, you must be in the lottery wristband line by 7 a.m. to get a wristband.

Lottery wristbands will only be distributed to those 13 and older.

There is no guarantee everyone receiving a wristband between 5:30-7:00 a.m. will be able to purchase tickets. Those arriving after 7 a.m. will be placed in queue (and given differently colored and sequentially-numbered wristbands) and will not be eligible to make a purchase until everyone who arrived prior to 7 a.m. has been served, if tickets are still available.

The purchase line will be organized based on a RANDOM selection of lottery wristband numbers. The first group will be pulled at approximately 8:30 a.m.

There is no guarantee that everyone receiving a lottery wristband will be able to purchase tickets. Sales will end when the available seats have all been allocated.

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Shoba Narayan and Joseph Morales – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2018


DO YOU PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE SERVICES?
Yes. Detailed information about all Straz ACCESS programs and services are available at STRAZCENTER.ORG/Plan-Your-Visit/Accessibility. Wheelchair-and scooter-accessible seating may be purchased in person, by phone and online. Bariatric seating is also available when purchasing in person or by phone.

WHEN WILL I RECEIVE MY TICKETS?
On Nov. 16, you’ll receive an email confirmation of your order. Tickets will be mailed on or around Jan. 8, 2019. All HAMILTON tickets will be mailed to the address specified in your account. Digital delivery is not available.

WHAT IF I CAN’T FIND MY TICKETS OR THEY GET LOST IN THE MAIL?
Tickets will be mailed on or around Jan. 8, 2019. Tickets that have not been received, for any reason, including lost or stolen, will be reprinted with a new one-of-a-kind barcode and held at Will Call under the original account-holder name, and may be picked up with a valid photo ID beginning two hours prior to curtain time on the performance date ONLY. No exceptions. No name changes on tickets are permitted.

DOES THE STRAZ CENTER MAIL TICKETS INTERNATIONALLY?
The Straz Center does not mail tickets internationally. All orders placed with an international mailing address will be held at Will Call for pick-up beginning two hours before the scheduled performance.

PROTECT YOUR TICKETS AFTER YOU RECEIVE THEM.
Each ticket has a one-of-a-kind barcode, and your tickets can be compromised if you share your tickets along with your personal information online. You can still share your excitement online, just make sure to #CoverTheCode by covering the bar code and any other personal information on your ticket.

I FOUND TICKETS ONLINE THAT ARE TWICE AS EXPENSIVE AS YOUR LISTED TICKET PRICES. WHAT GIVES?
If you search “HAMILTON Tampa,” you will likely find many reseller sites advertising HAMILTON tickets at prices higher than those of our official site. Be aware of what site you are on before you make any purchase. Only tickets purchased directly from the Straz Center at STRAZCENTER.ORG, 813.229.7827, 800.955.1045 or in person at the Straz Center Ticket Sales Office are guaranteed to be legitimate tickets for the Tampa engagement of HAMILTON. Buyers who purchase from a ticket broker or third party should be aware the Straz Center is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance, and they run the risk of overpaying or purchasing fraudulent tickets.

HOW CAN I BE SURE I’M ON THE OFFICIAL STRAZ CENTER SITE?
A good check is to look for strazcenter.org or shop.strazcenter.org in your browser window. Reseller sites sometimes use similar URLs and graphics to fool buyers, so pay close attention and look for this exact name.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I BUY FROM A RESELLER OR BROKER?
When you buy from a non-official source:
• The Straz cannot be responsible for tickets purchased through unauthorized third parties.
• The Straz cannot guarantee that your tickets are valid and, therefore, cannot guarantee admittance.
• The Straz cannot replace your tickets if they are lost or stolen.
• You may be paying much more than the ticket’s face value.
• The Straz cannot contact you with information regarding time changes, show cancellations or other information.
• The Straz cannot issue a refund to you in case of an event cancellation.

CAN I RESELL MY TICKETS IF I CAN’T GO?
Pursuant to s.817.36, Florida Statutes, a Straz Center ticket may not be offered or resold for more than $1 over the face value of the ticket. Significant penalties apply. We regularly monitor resale sites and we void sales when we discover violations of our resale policy and/or the Statute. Tickets are a revocable license; tickets found for sale on the secondary market, through third parties or brokers, or accounts found to have exceeded maximum allotments will have all their tickets cancelled.

WHY ARE YOU USING A VIRTUAL WAITING ROOM?
This is an important tool for combating ticket brokers and bots, and it guarantees you keep your virtual place in line. You will get regular updates on your place in line and ticket availability.

WILL THERE BE A LOTTERY DURING THE ENGAGEMENT?
There will be an electronic lottery through “HAMILTON–The Official App” for 40 $10 orchestra seats for all performances. Details about the lottery will be announced closer to the engagement. The best way to be informed about how the lottery will work is to subscribe to Straz Center text alerts by texting HAMILTON to 73005. Standard text messaging rates will apply.

WHAT ARE LIMITED-VIEW or SIDE-VIEW SEATS?
Limited-view and side-view seats are in locations that may have an obstructed view of the full stage.

WILL MORE TICKETS BE RELEASED LATER?
Any additional inventory will be released for sale if and when it becomes available. Check STRAZCENTER.ORG/Hamilton regularly.

CAN I GET ON A WAITING LIST FOR TICKETS?
No. There is no waiting list for HAMILTON tickets. We encourage you to text HAMILTON to 73005 to be notified if any additional inventory is released. Standard text messaging rates will apply.

WHAT IF I CAN’T ATTEND MY PURCHASED PERFORMANCE?
Since all sales are final; we are unable to offer refunds. Be sure to check the following information before completing your purchase: show title, day, date, time of performance, and number of tickets. Tickets can be donated to the Straz Center’s Operation Tickets program which provides theater experiences to underserved persons in the Tampa Bay area. The Straz Center is a 501(c)(3) corporation and your donation is tax-deductible.

HOW CAN I REQUEST A DONATION FOR HAMILTON TICKETS FOR MY FUNDRAISER?
We are unable to accommodate donation requests for HAMILTON.

CAN I PURCHASE PARKING DURING THE ON-SALE?
After receiving confirmation of your performance date and time, pre-paid parking may be purchased at strazcenter.pmreserve.com.

CAN I PURCHASE DINING DURING THE ON-SALE?
On Nov. 17, 2018, the Straz Center will contact purchasers via email with the opportunity to book dining reservations at Maestro’s Restaurant or The Café, both on-site at The Straz.

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Joseph Morales and Company – HAMILTON National Tour – (c) Joan Marcus 2018


About The Show

WHAT IS THE RUNNING TIME FOR HAMILTON?
Running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, including intermission.

IS THERE AN AGE REQUIREMENT/RECOMMENDATION?
HAMILTON is appropriate for ages 13+. The show contains some strong language and non-graphic adult situations. As with all Broadway shows, children ages five and under are not permitted. Every patron, regardless of age, must have a ticket.

IS THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST PERFORMING IN THE TOUR?
No. Tampa’s engagement of HAMILTON is part of the national tour. Casting for the tour reflects the same talent, attention to detail and high quality as the Broadway production. We encourage you to check out HAMILTON’s tour schedule at the official HAMILTON page. For more information about the cast in this U.S. tour, visit: http://www.HAMILTONmusical.com/#tour.

WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT HAMILTON?
Website: HAMILTONMusical.com
Facebook: HAMILTONMusical
Instagram: HAMILTONMusical
Twitter: @HAMILTONMusical

Make Sure Your Tix are Legit

Conventional wisdom holds that if you say something three times you’ll remember it. The safest, most affordable tickets to Straz Center shows come from only one place:
“Strazcenter.org”
“Strazcenter.org”
“Strazcenter.org”

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Shoba Narayan, Ta’Rea Campbell and Nyla Sostre in the HAMILTON National Tour. (Photo: Joan Marcus 2018)

With sold-out season ticket packages for the huge Broadway season ahead featuring a four-week run of Hamilton, we’re trying to get you the best information about single tickets before scam artists with fakes find you first.

People, this thing about our upcoming season and ticket buying is serious.

You may hear the thundering approach of a particularly revolutionary Broadway blockbuster.

But – there are hundreds of other people who hear cha-chinging cash registers racking up your credit cards with fake tickets.

Scams everywhere

Those people have already set up websites that look like they sell Hamilton and other Broadway tickets to Straz shows. However, they’re either lying and the tickets aren’t real, or they managed to buy season tickets from us and now they’re going to jack up the prices 500% and illegally sell our tickets to you. Another problem is that those illegal seats are often sold several times. If you don’t buy through us, we usually have no way of knowing whose tickets are legit, and we have no way of helping you get your money back.

So, the best choice you can make is the best choice you’ve always had: buy straight from strazcenter.org or our Ticket Sales Office (813.229.7827). We also invite you to come to the Ticket Sales Office in person so we can meet you and give you good, old-fashioned, face-to-face exceptional customer service. The bottom line is that we need you all to be extra vigilant this year and help us spread the word that 1) tickets are going to be more difficult to come by for all Broadway shows on the regular season because we have so many new season ticket holders and 2) predatory scalper schemes will be on the rise.

computer throw

We can learn a lesson from the folks in Los Angeles who posted their Ham tix on Facebook, only to have some very crafty people lift the barcode from the pictures and create counterfeit tickets they then sold online at exorbitant cost. If you don’t buy directly from us, there’s no way to prove the seats are yours if there has been a double sell – even if you believe you bought them fair and square. Trust us, this happens even during seasons when we don’t have the cultural phenomenon of our time, so please stay away from ticket brokers, scalpers or any source other than strazcenter.org or our Ticket Sales Office.

Hamilton has permeated pop culture, and no other show has done that, at least not off the bat. Theater people were excited about Wicked or The Phantom of the Opera. Everyone’s excited about Hamilton,” says Vice President of Marketing Summer Bohnenkamp. “There’s been a 68% increase in the number of season tickets we’ve sold since last season. That’s exciting for a number of reasons. We’ve never seen a jump like that in the 18 years I’ve been working on Broadway shows. The closest was the first time The Lion King came, which was about a 20% increase. The challenge for people wanting to buy single tickets, though, is that all of the inventory is now very limited. So, if you want to buy a ticket to, say, Hello, Dolly! or A Bronx Tale, there will be limited seats available because we have thousands and thousands of new season ticket holders.”

meme

If you’re not a season ticket holder and you still want good odds at seats to our shows, the best bet is to become an annual donor to The Straz. By doing so, you get priority access for single tickets, which means you get the chance to buy tickets to most shows before they go on sale to the public. Give our Development Department a call for more information.

“The inventory is still limited, but at least you’ll have early access to that inventory,” says Bohnenkamp. “Buy when the tickets go on sale. I know we’ve been saying ‘don’t wait,’ but we really mean it. We’ve been saying it for a reason, and that’s so you don’t walk away disappointed. We want everyone who wants to see a show here to be able to see that show. This year is going to be a little bit harder. Remember – don’t search for tickets online because the paid ticket broker ads show up first, not the real Straz. Just type in strazcenter.org.”

Squad

In addition to the regular Broadway season, we offer a boutique collection of Broadway encores not on the subscription season. Thus, these shows have many more seats available. If you want to grab dinner and a show without confronting the Hamilton effect, you’ll have some super choices throughout the year. “We’ve got the new tour of Les Mis which is gorgeous, and it will be here for a week,” Bohnenkamp reports. “We’re bringing back Kinky Boots, which everybody loved. We’ve also got Tap Dogs coming back – it’s having an international resurgence so we are really looking forward to presenting it in Tampa after almost 20 years. Then there’s Rock of Ages for an entire week over the summer which will be tons of fun.”

 

Epic Theater Fails

Our new Broadway season opens in two weeks with the side-splitting comedy The Play That Goes Wrong. To celebrate, we found this collection of Broadway and musical theater blooper reels.

Crying.

We were crying by the time we picked out this video mash-up of Broadway mishaps for your viewing pleasure for the Straz Center blog this week. As you know, our Bank of America Broadway at The Straz season launches Oct. 16 when The Play That Goes Wrong opens in Morsani Hall. As you may not know, The Play That Goes Wrong is about a show that goes completely off the rails … well, it never starts on the rails; the wheels fall off before the curtain rises. Trust us—the show is howlingly funny in that it’s nonstop physical humor that indulges in gag-after-gag of the greatest actor’s nightmare: forgotten lines, breaking props. Oh, and a lead who’s been accidentally knocked unconscious.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

The Play That Goes Wrong National Tour. (Photo: Jeremy Daniel)

A scene, a show, a line—these things can go sideways in live theater. Perhaps you’ve been in the audience when Dracula, grappling with townsfolk, accidentally rolled too far and tumbled over the proscenium into the orchestra pit (we saw this once). Or maybe you were there that fateful night in 2005 when a 97-pound Kristin Chenoweth didn’t know she was supposed to take only a half-Vicodin for her injured vertebrae, took a whole one, and arrived as Glinda in Wicked feeling like a reeeeeeeeeeeeally good witch. Too bad her tongue and face muscles weren’t cooperating with her brain although she notes that some fans regard that show as her best.

Things happen. People fall down. Props break or don’t get put on stage at all. Wardrobes malfunction. People fall down. Actors “go up;” i.e. blank on their lines. People fall down. Sometimes actors miss cues and don’t arrive onstage—at all. What’s left to do when the horrifying prospect of something going wrong becomes reality? Well, laugh. And, honestly, why is people falling so funny? Why?

Here’s a short video of productions from Broadway to middle school that captures the precisely hilarious moments when the plays go wrong.

Not theater but still funny: Sometimes You Sneeze into Your Trombone

He Had It Comin’

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Belva Gaertner (L) and Beulah Annan (R)

The true story of the accused but acquitted Chicago beauties who inspired musical legends Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly

The Bob Fosse masterpiece we know and love today as Chicago the musical actually started with two real women and two real murdered men. In Chicago. In the Roaring 20s.

1924 to be exact.

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A headline from the Chicago Tribune on June 6, 1924 (L) and Belva Gaertner sitting with her defense attorney, Thomas D. Nash (R).

In March of that year, Belva Gaertner, a comely cabaret singer, happened to leave a bottle of gin in her parked car. Unfortunately, she also left a dead man and a gun in the car as well. Accused of killing said man—a young car salesman named Walter Law—Belva found herself in the Cook County jail, the subject of newspaper headlines and journalists who voted her “most stylish” in the clink. Decked out in ravishing bell hats, furs and delicately form-fitting dresses, Gaertner endured her trial as one of the two most famous faces of Murderesses Row. (It was really called that.)

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A headline from the Chicago Tribune on April 4, 1924 (L) and Beulah Annan with lawyer William Scott Stewart on her left and her husband, Al, on her right (R).

The other, 23-year-old Beulah Annan, found herself in Belva’s company on Murderesses Row in April. Called “the prettiest woman ever accused of murder in Chicago,” Annan, in a lapse in judgement, confessed to the murder of her manstress, Harry Kalstedt, later backtracking, stating she and Harry “both reached for the gun” during a quarrel. We bet you’ve figured out which character Beulah becomes in Chicago by now, but if you haven’t, Beulah also came with a faithful and extremely naïve husband who stood by her during the trial despite having found a dead man in his bedroom with his wife.

Naturally, there’s also a lot of booze in the backstories as well as another beautiful woman—innocent of any crime other than being a flagrantly biased journalist. This woman, Maurine Dallas Watkins, worked for the Chicago Tribune covering crime “from a woman’s perspective.” Watkins wrote very descriptive and judgy accounts of Belva and Beulah, then, when all was said and done, she took her ultra-popular crime articles to Yale University to finish studying playwrighting, which she’d abandoned for the Tribune gig. [It’s worth noting that Watkins started her studies at Radcliffe College and was in the same class as Eugene O’Neill.]

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Maurine Watkins, the Chicago Tribune crime reporter who went on to write the play Chicago, circa 1927. (Photo: Florence Vandamm, Vandamm Studio)

At Yale, Watkins turned the stories into a play.

You guessed it: Chicago, starring Velma Kelly—a comely cabaret singer—and Roxie Hart, the gamine beguiler with a dopey, impossibly faithful husband. The show landed a spot on Broadway, ran for 127 performances before closing, then years later fell into the hands of another comely cabaret singer. That woman, Gwen Verdon, happened to be married to Bob Fosse. “Bob,” we imagine her saying, “you gotta make this into a musical. It’s what I want … give in!” [Gwen played the devil Lola in Damn Yankees, so whatever she wants … you know the rest.]

Fosse tried to convince Watkins to give him the rights to the script, but she wouldn’t. Watkins was pretty amazing, which you can read about in this tribute by the Tribune.

When she died, though, her estate granted Fosse and Verdon the rights. Chicago the musical, starring Verdon and Chita Rivera as the most famous Merry Murderesses, was born. Belva and Beulah faded to the corners of Windy City history while Velma and Roxie hot honey ragged their way into musical history.

Catch Chicago when it razzle-dazzles The Straz next week.

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Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart (L) and Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly (R) in the 1975 Broadway production of Chicago, directed by Bob Fosse.

About That Glass Slipper Thing

It’s hard to imagine wearing any article of clothing made from a substance known for its ability to puncture and shred flesh. And yet. Who’s Cinderella without a glass slipper?

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The basic idea of the Cinderella story—young woman, bad circumstances, objects incite a change of fate—dates back thousands of years to many, many cultures spanning the globe. The current givens about Cinderella—fairy godmother, prince, glass slippers—we owe to French author Charles Perrault. Disney’s animated film, of course, seared their adaptation of Perrault’s tale into our collective brains so completely that sometimes it’s hard to imagine the story without talking mice. Perrault added the elements of the fairy godmother, the pumpkin carriage and the glass slippers, which have become synonymous with the story.

Next weekend, we welcome back Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the musical theater duo’s adaptation of the Perrault-inspired folk tale which has nothing to do with Disney, please note. The show does very well because people love this story, and they never stop loving Perrault’s particular embellishments. If you want to see a crowd of disappointed faces, show them a version of Cinderella with no glass slippers. It would be like going to a version of Ireland with no green fields or Guinness. Just doesn’t compute. Shouldn’t exist.

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(L-R) Sean Ryan, Leslie Jackson and Tatyana Lubov in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

The glass slippers, like the fairy godmother and her magic, require a delightful suspension of disbelief to make the story work. It’s myth and folklore at its most enchanting. Naturally, science ruins myth with its evidence-based understanding of the world, and so it goes for our young soot-covered maiden’s infamous footwear.

First, let us give you the good news: the glass slippers could exist. It’s not like arguably-functional glass slippers are impossible. About three years ago, some mechanical engineers got together to determine the feasibility of glass slippers. They deduced that you could wear a pair of soda lime glass (i.e., coke bottle “everyday” glass) shoes if you stood perfectly still and weighed roughly 110 pounds.

Here’s the scientific assessment, though, and it raises the more important question of whether or not glass slippers should exist.

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First, you’d still have to be 110 pounds with a size 6 foot. The heel would have to be less than a half-inch to keep the shoes from shattering once you started walking. That’s roughly the height of nice pair of Florida flip flops which is to say “flats” which is to say who cares about the glass slippers if they don’t have a legit heel? The glass would have to be tempered safety glass, not regular glass. Safety glass seems okay until you start thinking about bending your foot, or slipping on the Prince’s polished ballroom dance floor, or running briskly down several stairs in a heart-pounding race against midnight. Safety glass is just thicker, not unbreakable. So, one step at the wrong angle and crash!, the weight pressure will shatter your instep, sending you to the ER at midnight in your raggedy dress.

The upside, however, is that it would have been much easier for the Prince to find Cinderella by tracking the trail of bloody footprints to the sliding door of the ER, and he never would have had to touch the feet of those odious step-sisters.

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L to R: Jimmy Choo design, Nicolas Kirkwood design, Paul Andrew design.

Back to reality: some of the world’s most high-profile fashion designers took the challenge of creating a glass-slipper shoe in 2015, when Disney released their live-action Cinderella film. Jimmy Choo, Ferragamo, Charlotte Olympia and six others whipped up fabulous shoes with enough sparkle and Swarovski to put a fairy godmother to shame. These designs turned into real-life buyable, wearable couture, and you can still get your hands on a pair with minimal Google-work. That same year in Japan, the glass artisans of Nakamura Glass Studio unveiled their hand-blown slippers, made by a process without cutting or molds, that took eight years to perfect and seem to contradict the mathematical findings of our aforementioned engineers. At $697.00 per shoe—that’s $1394.00 per pair—you yourself should probably be in the post-Prince part of the Cinderella story. We have no idea if you can walk or run in them, but you can buy them and put them on your feet. On a scale of 1-10, the comfort level looks to be around an H, indicating that some things may be best left in the realm of the imagination.

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Hand-blown glass slippers from Nakamura Glass Studio.

Come to the realm of imagination when Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella plays in Morsani Hall July 5-8.

The Julie Andrews Appreciation Blog

We love Julie Andrews. Naturally, she’s on our mind since The Sound of Music opens tonight, June 5, and runs through the weekend.

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No, Ms. Andrews doesn’t make an appearance in the new staging of this masterpiece, but for many of us, we can’t even see the words “the hills are alive” without picturing her sweeping, open-armed twirl atop a picturesque Austrian meadow.

It’s worth noting that some areas of the Alps can receive 78 inches of rainfall a year (for comparison, Tampa averages around 46 inches annually), so capturing a lithe young woman’s pastoral anthem with a stunning blue sky in the background was a bit of a challenge. Couple that obstacle with the fact that the shot, filmed on a camera strapped to a man who was strapped in the doorway of a giant helicopter, required several takes. With each re-set of the scene, the explosive downdraft of the helicopter’s rotor blades knocked Andrews off her feet, toppling her into the grass.

But you’d never know, right?, watching her sail through the sea of grass as Maria von Trapp, her austere postulant’s uniform transforming—for one wait-for-it kind of moment—into a delicate black bell as she swirled into the unforgettable opening words of the title song. Andrews’s voice, itself pitch-perfect and bell-like, rang out across the mountain tops as though Maria von Trapp, not the hills, were alive with the sound of music. It was the kind of iconic filmcraft that changed a Hollywood actor into a Hollywood star.

Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp made an odd Hollywood siren: she was a somewhat androgynous ingenue (see: hair-do) with a wizened sense of selflessness, a waifish warrior comforting children in thunderstorms and during Nazi attempts at world domination. She was, in a phrase, easy to love.

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Yet we loved her already from her turn as another non-traditional Hollywood heroine: the magical nanny with a really cool umbrella and the perfect solution to nasty-tasting medicine. The governess role came naturally to Andrews as she’d nailed the part of Mary Poppins with an Oscar for Best Actress in 1964, the year prior to the release of the film version of The Sound of Music (1965). Both musical films became staples of annual television broadcasts in the late 70s and early 80s, so Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp seared themselves into the pop-culture subconscious of the pre-Information Age generation. Julie Andrews, with her clear, mirthful blue eyes and handsome face with its dainty features, produced a commanding on-screen presence even before her four-octave, crystal-clear voice turned a Richard Rodgers’ tune into gold.

Here’s a fun bit of Broadway-Hollywood history: the other voice-related role Julie Andrews made famous was that of Eliza Doolittle during the Broadway run of My Fair Lady in 1956. In the 1964 Hollywood film, the studio offered the role of Eliza to Audrey Hepburn instead, saying Andrews lacked name recognition. This was, of course, prior to Andrews’ Oscar win with Mary Poppins and Oscar nomination for The Sound of Music. Hepburn, who had earned icon status already with her portrayal of Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, confessed to Andrews backstage at the 1965 Academy Awards that Julie should have had the movie role of Eliza. Soon after, Hepburn and Andrews became friends. In 1969, Andrews married Blake Edwards, director of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Edwards later directed Andrews in Victor/Victoria (1982), which garnered Andrews a nomination for the Oscar for Best Actress and a Golden Globe Best Actress win.

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Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews at the 37th Academy Awards in 1965.

All of that being said, let’s shine a light on Andrews’ most important work (at least for the generation of children watching Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music on TV): The Muppet Show. Jim Henson’s ground-breaking prime time “show about a show” mixed A-list artists of the day in skits with his cast of wacky puppets—Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Rowlf, Fozzie Bear and countless others. Not many people remember that The Muppet Show owes its success, in part, to an appearance on The Julie Andrews Hour in 1973. The Muppets joined Julie for several song-and-dance skits, including Rowlf’s duet, “Do You Love Me, Julie?” and the hilarious “Flower-Eating Monster” sketch.

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The Muppets landed their own show in 1976 thanks to the influence of British producer Lew Grade, who produced The Julie Andrews Hour. Andrews and the Muppets were a match made in heaven: full of magic, humor, a love for the ridiculous matched by a love of show business and an easy on-screen rapport. Julie and the Muppets worked together several times, creating some excellent comedic spoofs like the “Big Spender” sketch with Cookie Monster and the “Lonely Goatherd” reprise from The Sound of Music featuring a yodeling goat and Miss Piggy. So true was her connection to Kermit that Julie composed the dare-you-not-to-cry love song especially for him, “When You Were a Tadpole and I Was a Fish,” which aired during season two of The Muppet Show.

Here’s a clip of Julie singing the song to Kermit in season two of The Muppet Show.

In 2015, the Hollywood establishment spent the year recognizing the 50th anniversary of the film version of The Sound of Music. Vanity Fair published a darling interview with Andrews and “Captain von Trapp” Christopher Plummer with the requisite high-fashion-art photo by Annie Leibovitz. Lady Gaga paid tribute to Andrews with a special medley of The Sound of Music’s most memorable songs at the Academy Awards that year, training herself to sing in the exact key and pitch performed by Andrews in the original film. Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert (who let Andrews stuff his mouth with grapes as part of an elocution acting exercise) hosted Andrews on their shows, neither one hiding his enchantment with her.

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To this day, at 82 years old, Andrew still casts her spell of elegant charm and exquisite comic timing.

If you love Julie Andrews as much as we do and you have 33 million dollars to spare, you can purchase her old house in London’s Chester Square. The palatial townhome, which she shared with husband Blake Edwards during the early years of their marriage, went on the market this spring. The place was also home to Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mick Jagger and Margaret Thatcher at various times although after a complete remodel, we’re assuming the renovation can’t be quite as supercalifragilistic as it was in 1972. 

Or, for a lot less money, you can just come see The Sound of Music at The Straz this weekend and appreciate the timelessness of this musical masterpiece. Get your tickets here.

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