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‘Book of Mormon,’ ‘War Horse’ set for Proctors

Thursday, March 21, 2013
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Puppeteers operate a horse that will perform in the production of 'War Horse' during the announcement of the Key Private Bank Broadway Series for 2013-2014 at Proctors Theatre on Wednesday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Puppeteers operate a horse that will perform in the production of 'War Horse' during the announcement of the Key Private Bank Broadway Series for 2013-2014 at Proctors Theatre on Wednesday.

— “The Book of Mormon” may have received the biggest cheer, but it was a horse that unquestionably stole the show.

Proctors’ season subscribers and members of the media were invited to the theater’s mainstage Wednesday night to see the lineup of shows for Proctors’ 2013-2014 Key Private Bank Broadway Series, and they saw quite a show.

After listening to Broadway performers Bradley Dean and Rashidra Scott perform a handful of songs, things got down to business with each of the six shows presented to the audience “Oscar-style” and introduced by various local celebrities, including Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.

While news that “The Book of Mormon” will be coming to Proctors for one week, March 11-16, 2014, elicited the loudest applause, it was the horse, a cumbersome 90-pound puppet controlled by three puppeteers, that provided a wonderful climax to the night’s proceedings.

“Joey just knocked me out,” said Proctors’ CEO Philip Morris, referring to the central character in ‘War Horse,’ the story of a World War I army horse, that will be at Proctors Jan. 14-19 of next year. “I saw it at the Broadway League Luncheon in New York and it was unbelievable. It was amazing to me that the producers brought it to the luncheon, and when I found out it could come here we set our date for this event around its availability.”

About 2,400 people showed up at Proctors’ 2,700-seat venue Wednesday night, and learned immediately that instead of the usual five-show package, this year’s series would be made up of six shows, including Broadway blockbuster “Phantom of the Opera” in May of this year. The other shows coming to town are “Ghost: The Musical” (Sept. 14-20), “Sleeping Beauty” (Oct. 15-20), and “Sister Act” (Feb. 19-23, 2014).

“To get 2,400 people for a big infomercial is great,” said Morris, referring to the crowd. “Big is a funny word, but I’m really excited about the season. I think it’s one of our best series ever, and we can get these shows because I talk to the producers and I tell them that I’m confident about our numbers. We know the people will come.”

“The Book of Mormon” opened on Broadway in March 2011 and is still running there. The work of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it won nine Tony Awards and was called “the best musical of this century” by New York Times critic Ben Brantley.

It was “Phantom of the Opera” that ushered in a new era in Proctors’ history in March of 2006, staying in Schenectady for four weeks of packed houses. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production is considered to be the most successful musical of all time by many critics, winning seven of the 10 Tony nominations it received.

“Sister Act” ran for nearly 17 months on Broadway in 2011 and 2012, and earned five Tony nominations, while “Sleeping Beauty” is coming directly from a record-breaking season in the West End of London. Matthew Bourne, the only British artist to win a Tony Award for both directing and choreography, directed the show in London and is also in charge of the touring production.

When “Ghost: The Musical” comes to town for its one-week run in September of this year, the cast and crew will actually be staying a whole month in Schenectady.

“This is a brand new production and they’re going to do the ‘teching’ in Schenectady,” said Morris. “I’m really excited about that, and I guess it helps that we’re only two and a half hours from New York, but it’s great to have a show like that working on their production, and then we’re going to see it first.”

Based on the 1990 film “Ghost,” with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, the musical opened in Manchester, England in March 2011. It’s performance in Schenectady will be its first in the U.S.

“War Horse,” based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel and the Steven Spielberg film, opened on Broadway in March 2011 and closed in January of this year. The show won five Tonys, including one for Best Play.

“The horse was something to see, but it’s also a great story,” Morris said of ‘War Horse.’

 
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