Here’s how you can get a great deal to see ‘Rent’ in Austin

Broadway hit “Rent” is coming to Bass Concert Hall for a short run Oct. 13-15, and you can score a great ticket for not a lot of dough. Seats in the first two rows of the orchestra section of every performance will be available for $25.

Contributed by Carol Rosegg, 2016

Now, you do have to work a bit to get that deal: Tickets can only be purchased in-person on the day of performance, two hours before each show, at the Bass  ticket office, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive. These sales are cash only, and there’s a limit of two tickets per person. Performances are 8 p.m. Oct. 13-14, 2 p.m. Oct. 14 and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 15.

According to Broadway in Austin: “The tradition of $25 tickets began in 1996 in New York when the show moved to Broadway after a sold-out run in a small downtown theater. The producers of the show are committed to continuing the tradition of offering orchestra seats for $25 in each city the show will play.”

Freelance arts critic Andrew Friedenthal talked with national tour director Evan Ensign about the show for Austin360; here’s a little peek:

Long before people were lining up around the block in hopes of getting a ticket to “Hamilton,” a very different kind of show was praised for reinvigorating Broadway with its appeal to younger, more diverse audiences — Jonathan Larson’s “Rent.”

Loosely based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera “La Bohème,” “Rent” tells the story of a group of 20-something New Yorkers living in Manhattan’s Alphabet City neighborhood while dealing with the hassles of adult responsibilities and the deadly specter of the then-rampant AIDS disease. The show was a massive critical and commercial success in its original run, winning multiple Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize (issued posthumously to writer and composer Larson, who died the night before the show’s off-Broadway premiere), and it became one of the first Broadway shows to feature an affordable lottery system for sold-out performances.

With such a distinguished pedigree, you would think that Evan Ensign, the director of the show’s new national tour, might feel some pressure to live up to audience expectations. Ensign, though, is confident in the strength of the material. “I don’t feel that much pressure because I think the show stands up for itself,” he says.

You can read the full interview at

How to get “Hamilton” tickets in Austin
Your guide to the fall arts season in Austin

Bawdy humor, Shakespeare and Broadway glitz – ‘Something Rotten!’ has it all

Adam Pascal, center, plays Shakespeare in “Something Rotten!,” which comes to Bass Concert Hall May 30-June 4 as part of Broadway in Austin. Contributed by Jeremy Daniel

There have been quite a few attempts to turn Shakespearean plays into musicals over the years, with varying degrees of success, but it’s far less frequent to find a musical that features Shakespeare as a character, let alone the villain.

Welcome to the world of “Something Rotten!,” the 2015 musical that tells the story of the Bottom brothers, Nick and Nigel, as they attempt to stage the world’s first musical in order to compete with their rival, rock star playwright William Shakespeare. After a successful, Tony-nominated run, the national tour comes to Austin this week, thanks to Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts, and will be playing through June 4 at Bass Concert Hall.

“Something Rotten!,” with a book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, displays a mix of various influences, from Disney animation to envelope-pushing musicals like “The Producers” and “The Book of Mormon.” Karey Kirkpatrick, in fact, began his career at Disney Animation, while Nicholaw was co-director of “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. (Read more about the “Something Rotten” origin story.)

Set against a fairy tale-esque interpretation of Elizabethan England (brought to vivid life by Scott Pask’s cartoon-influenced scenic design), the show features a panoply of references and homages to the history of musical theater, alongside broad, ribald, deliberately offensive humor of the kind found more recently on the Broadway stage.

Part of the plot revolves around contrasting splashy, empty, meaningless musicals against art that comes directly from the heart — yet the show unfortunately chooses to embrace the former over the latter at every opportunity.

Fortunately, the very human and surprisingly nuanced performances in the production redeem it from the cynically conflicting messages of the text. Rob McClure, as Nick, plays the Zero Mostel-like lead whose own conniving threatens to undo him, even though he means well at heart. Pierce Cassedy, as the sensitive, head-in the-clouds Nigel, bounces wonderfully off McClure’s manic energy, giving the leading duo a marvelous chemistry (that, once more, reminds one of the leading men from “The Producers”).

The supporting characters are also given many opportunities to steal the show, especially Blake Hammond as the soothsayer Nostradamus, who manages to be over-the-top (in all the right ways) in an already over-the-top production. For the character of Shakespeare, the play demands a charming conniver who can give off a rock star vibe, and Adam Pascal (“Rent”) has the perfect personal gravitas and star persona to pull that off delightfully.

Though the story and script of “Something Rotten!” often leave something to be desired, an immensely talented cast picks up the slack to help create a piece of purely enjoyable entertainment, with all the Broadway frills one could ask for.

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Cost: $25-$125

Update: This story was updated to correct the name of the actor who played Nigel at Tuesday’s performance.


‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is the height of Broadway spectacle

Derrick Davis (The Phantom) and Katie Travis (Christine) star in “The Phantom of the Opera.” Matthew Murphy

“The Phantom of the Opera,” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Charles Hart’s “rock opera” adaptation of Gaston Leroux’ classic French novel “Le Fantôme de l’Opéra” is officially in the third decade of its original run. Premiering in London in 1986 before transferring to Broadway in 1988, the musical has become an international sensation, and is the longest-running show in the history of Broadway.

Now, it once again comes to Austin, courtesy of Broadway in Austin and Texas Performing Arts and playing through April 30th at Bass Concert Hall. This is a relatively new staging of the show, directed by Laurence Connor and produced by Cameron Mackintosh. It started touring in 2012, while the original Broadway and London runs (directed by Harold Prince) continue unabated.

Though Connor has reimagined the look and design of “Phantom,” adding a few new technical tricks to the show’s repertoire, the music and lyrics, as well as the book by Webber and Richard Stigler, have remained the same. What Connor has achieved most successfully is to reinvigorate the sense of large-scale grandiosity and spectacle in “Phantom.”

“Phantom” is decidedly melodramatic, with one-dimensional characters and a decided lack of subtlety, but that is, after all, part of the charm that has allowed it to last for over thirty years. Connor’s production leans into this, focusing on an epic design scope. Paul Brown’s set is monolithic yet surprisingly mobile and mutable, dwarfing the actors in order to create an immense sense of scale. Maria Björnson’s costumes are sumptuous and plentiful, lending the show much of its sense of pageantry. Paule Constable’s lighting, unusually for such a large show, is largely done from the side, emphasizing the production’s fusion of opera and ballet with musical theater.

The touring cast of “Phantom” is also up to the challenge of reaching the melodramatic heights this kind of design scheme requires. Katie Travis, as tortured ingénue Christina Daaé, is a perfect counterpoint to the good-guy leading man bluster of Jordan Craig’s Raoul. Derrick Davis, as the titular Phantom, provides the strongest performance, thanks in no small part to a script that provides him with much deeper nuance than any of the other stock characters.

The true stars of “Phantom,” though, in both its original form and in this production, are the epic, operatic music and the large-scale spectacle that only money can buy. In this, the production does not disappoint, nor does it spare any expense.

“The Phantom of the Opera” is a bit like a blockbuster movie; it’s quite entertaining and enjoyable, the spectacle is often breathtaking, but ultimately it doesn’t have a larger point other than to provide an evening’s diversion, which it does with great gusto.

‘The Phantom of the Opera”
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday through April 30
Where: Bass Concert Hall, 2350 Robert Dedman Drive
Cost: $34-$154
Information: 512-471-9166,


How you can get tickets to see ‘Hamilton’ in Austin

Yes, it’s really happening: The smash Broadway hit about our nation’s founders is coming to Austin during the 2018-2019 Broadway in Austin season.

Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, and Lin-Manuel Miranda in "Hamilton: An American Musical." CONTRIBUTED
Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos and Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Hamilton: An American Musical.” CONTRIBUTED

You can’t buy those tickets yet — and when they do go on sale, they’re sure to sell out. But there is a way you can act now to get your shot at seats: Subscribe to the 2017-18 season. Subscriptions go on sale at 11 a.m. today, starting at $135, and subscribers get to be first in line for the 2018-19 season.

The 2017-2018 season of Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts features “School of Rock,” “The King and I,” “Finding Neverland,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and “An American in Paris,” plus “Rent” and “The Book of Mormon” as special subscriber options.

The national touring show of “Hamilton” will also be making stops in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston.