Thursday, September 22, 2011

The hills are ALIVE!!!

The musical The Sound of Music is a story based on the extraordinary life of a real family and is being performed at Vive Les Arts Theatre in Killeen. Performance dates are September 23rd, 24, 30, October 1, 2, 7, 8, 9.

No doubt, without the von Trapp Family, there would be no Sound of Music. So, how did this wonderful story come to life and how much of the story is true? It started with the real Maria von Trapp, then Maria Augusta Kutschera who was born on a train going to Vienna. She grew up and went to teacher training college and then joined The Roman Catholic Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg as a novice. This is where the story begins and is largely based on the first section of Maria’s book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.

The Baron Georg Ritter von Trapp had retired from the navy and lived in what is now Pula, Croatia. When his wife died of scarlet fever he, and the children could no longer stand to live in the place they had been so happy. He sold the property and moved the family to Salzburg. He was now a widow with seven children. The oldest was actually a boy named Rupert. Next came Agathe, Maria, Werner, Hedwig, Johanna and Martina.

The Baron approached the Reverend Mother of the Abbey seeking a teacher for his sick daughter, Maria, who was weak with rheumatic fever. The Reverend Mother decided to send Maria because of her training and skill as a teacher.  She was to stay with the von Trapps for ten months and then return to the Abbey and formally enter the convent.

Maria fell in love with the children immediately. She tutored young Maria and had a loving relationship with all of the children while singing and getting them involved in outdoor activities. In reality Georg was far from the detached, cold-blooded patriarch of the family. He was actually very warm hearted and enjoyed music with his family. But it made a better story to have his character being healed and softened by Maria and the children.  Georg and Maria married in 1927 and had three more children: Rosmarie, Eleonore and Johannes.

The family lost most of its wealth through the depression and Maria dismissed most of the servants and took in boarders. It was about this time that they began considering making the family hobby of singing into a profession. Just as in The Sound of Music the family won first place in the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936. They became successful singing Renaissance and Baroque music, madrigals and folk songs all across Europe.

When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, Georg refused to fly the Nazi flag, declined a naval command and a request to sing at Hitler’s birthday party. They could have taken advantage of the offerings from them – greater fame as a singing group, a medical doctor’s position for Rupert and a renewed naval career for Georg. But they were aware of what the Nazis were doing and knew they could not compromise their principles and left their friends, family, estate and all their possessions.

The von Trapps traveled to Italy, not Switzerland, then later to London and on to New York to begin a concert tour in Pennsylvania. When their six month visas expired they went to Scandinavia for a short tour and returned to Ellis Island for Immigration and Naturalization.

In the early 1940s the family settled in Stowe, Vermont where the landscape reminded them of Austria. They bought a farm and ran a music camp when they were not on tour. It is now a 2,400 acre resort known as The von Trapp Family Lodge and is still owned and managed by members of the von Trapp family themselves. Georg died in 1947 and was buried in the family cemetery on the property.

The von Trapp Family Singers decided to stop touring in 1955. In the years following Maria ran the Trapp Family Lodge for many years. And what about the children? Rupert was a medical doctor; Agathe was a kindergarten teacher; daughter Maria was a missionary for 30 years; Werner was a farmer; Hedwig taught music; Johanna married and returned to live in Austria; Martina married and died in childbirth; Rosmarie and Eleonore both settled in Vermont; and Johannes managed the Trapp Family Lodge. Maria died in 1987 and was buried next to Georg.

Entertaining is still very much a part of the von Trapp family’s life today. Elisabeth, a grand daughter of Maria and Georg is a singer, songwriter and pianist who performs and records her own music. Justin, Amanda, Melanie and Sofia, great grandchildren of Baron von Trapp and his first wife, formed a singing group called J.A.M.S.
In the end it was Maria who sat down and wrote an account of her life in the book called The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. It sold well but later the film rights were sold for a modest fee to German producers and the Trapps did not make much money. The German films Die Trapp-Familie (1956), and a sequel, Die Trapp Familie in Amerika (1958), were quite successful. The American rights were bought from the German producers. The book was later adapted for the Broadway stage show and then was made into the much loved movie, The Sound of Music.

No matter if you love the book or the movie version of the story, you are sure to enjoy the performance of The Sound of Music at the Vive Les Arts Theatre in Killeen. Please visit our webpage, to purchase your tickets today! Don’t miss your chance to see the hills come to life one more time.

This story contributed by Jennifer Leaton

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Drowsy Chaperone
By Bob Martin and Don McKellar
music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison
Well, if 5 out of 5 stars is not enough incentive, audiences should come see this show to simply escape! You can't help but laugh the whole way through and get lost in the world inside the head of show narrator "The Man in Chair".  The musical within the comedy is 'The Drowsy Chaperone' a story of love, marriage, gangsters, blindfolded roller-skating, misunderstandings, hilarious characters, and yes, a drowsy chaperone.
So what is The Drowsy Chaperone really all about?
In a nutshell, it’s about a man sharing his love of an obscure 1928 musical with the audience, about the joy he gets from a type of escapist musical that's a bit out of style now. He knows the show in great detail, including the back-story of the actors who play the roles, and he shares all that information with the audience. He plays the cast album of the musical for the audience, and the story comes to life right before the audience’s eyes.
How did the show come about?
It all started in 1997, when Bob Martin – a Toronto based comedian, performer and Second City alum – was getting married to his wife, Janet Van de Graaf, and [show lyricist] Lisa Lambert was his "best man.” Instead of throwing a stag party, she rented a small nightclub in Toronto and she and Greg Morrison and Don McKellar and a few other people created this homage to a 1920s musicals called The Drowsy Chaperone. It was about 40 minutes long and was a series of songs about a show-girl bride leaving the business to get married. Janet and Bob were so enthralled by it that they decided to mount The Drowsy Chaperone at the Fringe of Toronto festival and make it a more fully realized show.
In its first incarnation, there was no Man in Chair, the musical styles ranged from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the jokes were more risqué. When the show was reshaped for the Toronto Fringe Festival, Martin became a co-writer, creating the Man in Chair character to serve as a narrator/commentator for the piece. It was a huge hit. People lined up to see the show, scalped tickets, and it was reviewed by Variety, which is very unusual for a Toronto Fringe festival show.
The Broadway production opened in May 2006 at the Marquis Theatre, and closed in December 2007 after 674 performances and 32 previews. Among the awards for the show: 2006 Tony Award for Best Book, Best Costume Design, Best Featured Actress, Best Original Score, and Best Scenic Design of a Musical.  It also won seven Drama Desk awards, and numerous other international citations. It has toured successfully in Canada, England, Australia and Japan. It has enjoyed life as a favorite on YouTube and as a staple in regional and community theatres throughout the United States ever since.

Don’t miss VLA’s final show of the 2010-2011 Season – The Drowsy Chaperone!  This production opens on July 22nd and with your purchase of an Opening Night ticket you are invited to a FREE reception with a Champagne Bar and Appetizers. Enjoy a sip of Fluttering Heart, Moonlight Mimosa or Classic Chaperone just before this fantastic performance that will have you laughing all the way home!  Show dates/ times: July 22, 23, 29, 30, Aug. 5 & 6 at 7:00pm and July 31 & Aug. 7 at 2:00pm. or call 254-526-9090.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Animated Film and VLA Children's Theatre

Today is the opening of the animated film CARS 2.  I can't wait to go see it! Who knows, maybe it will be one of the children's shows we do here at Vive Les Arts someday!  You are probably wondering how I made that leap - animated film to stage. Really? Well let me back up a bit.

I must say I truly thought that as I "grew up" and became more "sophisticated" that I would not have the need nor the want nor the interest to go see animated movies.  They are for children, right? Well, well, well, hasn't animated film come a long way?

Think back to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, Fantasia, Pinocchio.  Then came Song of the South, Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella, I could go on and on down this memory lane but instead check out this great list of animated films  Let the memories come flooding back.

Isn't it interesting too as you stroll down memory lane, to see how the story lines have evolved. By that I mean it seemed to start with stories of sweetness and wonder and moved into quick witted jokes, play on words and humor that is meant more for adults than the children sometimes.  Not that I am complaining one bit! I am merely saying that I'm just as excited to see the animated films of today as I was when I was a child.  They still give me the feeling of wonder, fun and laughter. How about you? Doesn't it make you feel like a kid again as you sit and watch the animated films of today?

Now you are probably thinking "how on earth does that relate to community theatre?"  Well look at what VLA is doing with childrens theatre.  Beauty and the Beast was brought to life last summer, Cinderella this summer and previously VLA has performed Aladan Jr., Mulan Jr. and the Aristocats Jr. Do you follow? We are gaining "speed" here! That's what I meant when I said someday CARS could be right here on the VLA stage.  These shows aren't just for the kids, they are for big people too.  So when you see the children’s programs and productions being promoted here at VLA don’t think for a minute that they are just for the kids.  I applaud the creative minds that have continued to evolve these types of films to what they are today as well as the script writers who make it possible for us to translate them to the stage. 

On a more personal note along these lines, I can tell you that when I was in high school, a very quiet guy sat behind me in English class and sometimes needed help as he was always drawing pictures on his papers and sometimes not listening to what was going on.  His name is Paul Ruddish. Well all that drawing payed off.  In fact, if you have seen the original CareBears movie you have seen his initial work.  That’s why he was so distracted in class, he was drawing the black Trojan horse for that film in high school.  Week after week he was drawing what seemed to be the same thing over and over again.  Currently he is credited with animated hits such as the PowerPuff Girls, Dexters Laboratory, Samarai Jack and was the lead animator for Star Wars: Clone Wars. Hard to believe that someone I sat in front of in English class is a part of this creative and evolving process. Who knows what he and others in this industry will bring us tomorrow but I can tell you this....... I will be in that theatre watching.  Will you?

This article contributed by Jennifer Leaton, marketing for Vive Les Arts, Killeen, TX.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Antoinette Perry, the name behind the Tony Awards

The silver medallion of the masks of comedy and tragedy, known as the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award®, is theatre's most prestigious and coveted prize. But, you may wonder, how in the world did a theatre award get the name 'Tony'?  Who was this Tony, and what's his or her claim to theatre history?

Tony -- actually Toni -- was the nickname of a stunningly beautiful but tough-as-nails Denver actress, Antoinette Perry, who later turned successfully to producing and directing in an era when women in the business were usually relegated to acting, costume design or choreography. 
Miss Perry, from age three, showed innovative theatrical instincts. Once established in New York, she scored an enviable roster of hits and became one of theater’s most influential women. She's still one of the most revered. Amazingly, well into the 1970s, Perry was the only woman director with a track record of Broadway hits.

Reflecting on her career in 1935, Miss Perry wrote, "I wanted to be an actress as soon as I could lisp. I didn't say I was going to become an actress. I felt I was one. No one could have convinced me I wasn't."

She went on to become the dynamic wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing that established an awards program to celebrate excellence in the theatre.  Miss Perry had recently passed away when The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards® made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947.
Vera Allen, Perry's successor as chairwoman of the Wing, presided over an evening that included dining, dancing, and a program of entertainment. The dress code was black tie optional, and the performers who took to the stage included Mickey Rooney, Herb Shriner, Ethel Waters, and David Wayne. Eleven Tonys were presented in seven categories, and there were eight special awards, including one for Vincent Sardi, proprietor of the eponymous eatery on West 44th Street. Big winners that night included José Ferrer, Arthur Miller, Helen Hayes, Ingrid Bergman, Patricia Neal, Elia Kazan and Agnes de Mille.

During the first two years of the Tonys (1947 and 1948), there was no official Tony Award. The winners were presented with a scroll and, in addition, such mementos as a gold money clip (for the men) and a compact (for the women).

In 1949 the designers' union, United Scenic Artists, sponsored a contest for a suitable model for the award. The winning entry, a disk-shaped medallion designed by Herman Rosse, depicted the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side and the profile of Antoinette Perry on the other. The medallion was initiated that year at the third annual dinner. It continues to be the official Tony Award.

Since 1967 the medallion has been mounted on a black pedestal with a curved armature. After the ceremony, each award is numbered for tracking purposes and engraved with the winner's name.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

American Idol

American Idol first began in 2002 and 9 years later is still a hit show on television. Although it is still a hit, ratings have decreased over the last few years, which leaves the question, what is the cause of this?

When the show first began, Idol consisted of three judges including English music executive and television producer, Simon Cowell, multi-talented singer, dancer, and choreographer, Paula Abdul, and record producer/music manager Randy Jackson. Now, several years later, the show has experienced several changes from first losing Paula Abdul and adding on judges, comdedian/talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres and singer-songwriter, Kara Dioguardi, to then losing Ellen and Kara along with critical Idol judge, Simon Cowell. As we approach the middle of Season 10 with new judges, Aerosmith star, Steven Tyler, and singer, dancer, and actress, Jennifer Lopez having been added on to the judge panel, many are left wondering whether the judges are the main cause for the decrease in ratings Idol has received.

Although questioning began when Ellen and Kara joined back in 2009 and 2010, as many believed the two were two lenient, now with the crowd's favorite, blunt Simon having left the show, is it possible the entire judge panel is being too nice? Are they giving too much positive feedback instead of giving constructive criticism? This is not to say the current contestants aren't doing a good job, but even on past seasons when amazing talent was  heard, more criticism was involved. Sometimes that's what the audience/viewers wants to hear.

So, what do you think will happen next year? Will American Idol keep the same judges? Do they need to bring on a judge, like Simon, who will voice his opinion for the sake of creating a worth while American Idol? Or what will happen if the same panel remains next year?

Check out this article from

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Coming in April, Of Mice and Men!!!

 "It's the story of best friends Lennie and George who find themselves unemployed in Depression-era, California, unable to maintain a stable working pattern for long because of Lennie's low mental capacity. They soon get hired at Tyler Ranch, working under strict supervision of Curley, the boss's mean-spirited son. But after settling in and making friends, their world is ripped apart by tragedy when Curley's beautiful but unhappy wife becomes the innocent victim of Lennie's compassion."

You don't want to miss this fantastic opportunity!

Show Dates: April 8th-April 10th & April 15th-April 17th
Show Times: 7:00 Friday & Saturday, 2:00 Sunday

Visit or call us at the box office, (254)526-9090, to purchase your tickets today! Also note, if you check into VLA Theatre via Facebook Places, you can receive 20% off regular ticket prices!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Thank you to all who attended our yearly fundraiser, Legends. This years, Billboard's 40 Greatest Hits was a success, and we hope everyone enjoyed themselves! Please check out some pictures from the night's events!