Jeff Dunham gearing up for new TV special

29. July 2015 10:30 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

The man who not only single-handedly brought back the art of ventriloquism but also turned his act into one of the highest-grossing comedy tours in the past decade is now preparing to tape his first ever hour-long special for primetime network television. Jeff Dunham has experienced an illustrious career spanning for nearly four different decades, in which audiences have witnessed the evolution of his many puppet characters transform Dunham into a household name. Now, the comedian is all set to achieve another milestone, as he ventures into realms of network television.

 

Dunham going Hollywood
The title of Dunham's upcoming special is currently set as "Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood," and is scheduled to tape on August 19 at the famous Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. The hour-long special will be broadcast on September 17, and is looking to showcase more of a variety hour format, obviously demonstrating Dunham's ventriloquist talent. Dunham recently issued a statement confirming his involvement in the special as well as displaying his excitement for the once-in-a-lifetime project.

"NBC has been very good to me over the years, and it's a true honor to have a special on the network," Dunham said in a press release. "Walter said he's looking forward to performing again in the showbiz/divorce capital of the world."

The whole puppet gang will be on hand to join in the comedy extravaganza, including Walter, the grumpy old man, Peanut, the hyper imaginary animal and Bubba J, the NASCAR-loving, outspoken southern gentlemen. There have even been a few guest appearances announced for the special, including fellow funnyman and SNL alumni Chris Parnell, country music icon Brad Paisley and as ex-UFC fighting champion Chuck Liddell. Other sources have alluded to the program featuring new stand-up material from Dunham, as well as some behind-the-scenes features and exclusive interviews with some of Dunham's more well-known puppets.

Plenty of shows still available
While you can wait it out to watch the comedy spectacle unfold on NBC on September 17, there are still dozens of performance Dunham has lined up for the rest of the year. In addition to tickets being available to the tapings at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, Dunham will be performing at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino up until early October.

Jason Alexander joining the cast of "Fish in the Dark"

1. April 2015 07:15 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

 

Actor Jason Alexander is known to many as the character of George Costanza from "Seinfeld," better recognized as the exaggerated interpretation of Larry David, who co-wrote and produced the show along with Jerry Seinfeld. Now art is imitating life once again, as Alexander has been tapped to perform in another Larry David production, this time on the  Broadway stage instead of the television set.

Larry David's debut into theater is called "Fish in the Dark," a play that revolves around more than a dozen characters dealing with the death of a family member on their own, often comedic, terms. "Fish in the Dark" taps into the iconic comedy David has made a name for himself on with both "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," blending outlandish observational humor that borders between eccentric and absurd.

While David is currently playing the lead character to his Broadway debut, recent reports have indicated that Jason Alexander is set to replace him as the leading role later on in the year. Performances running until June 7, 2015 will feature David as the main character, and on June 9, Alexander will step in with leading role duties.

"Fish in the Dark" centers around the character of Norman Drexel, who possesses the trademark peculiar and inquisitive characteristics of George Costanza and David's fictionalized version of himself on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Drexel's father has fallen seriously ill in the hospital, resulting in a gathering of his family, each portraying their own distinct personality flaws that translate into one humorous monologue after another.

Variety reports that "Fish in the Dark" has performed exceptionally well since its debut earlier this year, and as of March 5, 2015, the play had earned more than $13.5 million in sales, converting to more than $1 million generated per week. Reviews have continued to be positive for the play, indicating that fans of David's previous work will surely enjoy this outlandish and rip-roaring look into how humor helps this family come to terms with the mortality of a loved one.

While David has been noted to be a natural on stage, if there's anyone who can tap the eccentric outrageousness of the famous comedian, it's definitely Alexander. Alexander flourished as the role of George Costanza, who was created by David and Jerry Seinfeld as being a more exaggerated version of David himself.

'Kinky Boots' goes international

19. December 2014 11:45 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

 

The musical "Kinky Boots" has become a hit since premiering on Broadway in early 2013. The book for the production was written by the Tony Award-winning playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, known for his work in "Torch Song Trilogy"  and "Hairspray." Fierstein teamed up with 80s pop star Cyndi Lauper, who wrote the score for the production. Lauper​, of course, is best known for her catchy, timeless hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." The production of "Kinky Boots" kicked off a national tour in Las Vegas in September 2014 with dates scheduled through summer 2015. Future productions have also been planned for international locales such as London. What's more, Playbill reports that Music Theatre International has acquired future worldwide licensing rights, meaning that "Kinky Boots" may soon be enjoyed in theaters around the globe. 

'Kinky Boots'
Fierstein and Lauper's production is based on a 2005 film of the same name that follows a young man named Charlie Price who inherits a shoe factory from his father. When Price takes over the factory is near bankruptcy, as it makes sturdy men's footwear that is falling out of fashion. He realizes he must find a new, reliable clientele to save the business. Fortuitously, he meets a drag queen named Lola, and notices that the high-heeled shoes of her and her friends do not adequately carry a man's weight. Price and Lola eventually come to an agreement to save the factory by creating thigh-high, kinky boots made especially for drag queens. 

"Kinky Boots" racked up five Tony Awards in 2013 and a Grammy Award for best musical theater album in 2014. The show's Tony Awards include best original score (Cyndi Lauper), best actor in a musical (Billy Porter), best sound design of a musical (John Shivers), best choreography (Jerry Mitchell) and best orchestration (Stephen Oremus). 

Lauper and Fierstein spent around four years writing the show, as both stars have extremely hectic schedules and pursued other creative ventures during their collaboration. Fierstein wrote other plays in this during this time, including the book for the musical production of "Newsies." Lauper​, in the meantime, recorded the album Memphis Blues and penned a memoir. According to the Los Angeles Times, the duo is slowly searching for another project on which to collaborate, hoping to have an idea that will allow them to work with a number of older female entertainers.

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