Archived entries for LA Arts Online

Designated Survivor (

Designated SurvivorCast of Designated Survivor premiere September 21st on ABC

Designated Survivor!
By Ken Werther

In the United States, a designated survivor is an individual in the presidential line of succession who is placed at a physically distant, secure, undisclosed location when the President and the country’s other top leaders are gathered at a single location, such as during State of the Union addresses and presidential inaugurations. The intent is to maintain continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic occurrence that kills the president and others in the line of succession. Did you know any of that? I sure didn’t!

One of the most anticipated new television series this fall is — you guessed it — Designated Survivor. This ABC suspense thriller will star Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, the designated survivor who becomes president when very bad things happen. Without warning, Kirkman faces the challenges of keeping the country from falling apart while leading the search to find out who is responsible for the very bad things that landed him in the Oval Office.

After eight seasons of 24, Sutherland was disinclined to take on the rigors of another TV series. When he read the pilot script of Designated Survivor, however, he instantly changed his mind. I’ve seen that pilot episode but I’m not allowed to share anything about it here… so I’ll just say this: plan to watch.

Designated Survivor” premieres on ABC on September 21st.

Dancing Feet! (

42nd Street42nd Street hits the Pantages Theatre

Dancing Feet!

By Ken Werther

“Come and meet those dancing feet … on the avenue I’m taking you to … Forty-Second Street!” Theatre history was made on the evening of August 25, 1980 when this musical opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. After only six preview performances, 42nd Street opened and ran for a whopping 3,486 performances. It won Tony Awards in 1981 for Best Choreography and Best Musical.

Based on the 1933 film, 42nd Street focuses on the efforts of a dictatorial Broadway director trying to mount a successful musical at the height of the Great Depression. How did the stage adaptation of 42nd Street make history? The Broadway opening night triumph was overshadowed by tragedy when, following a lengthy standing ovation, producer David Merrick announced that the director/choreographer Gower Champion had died that afternoon from a rare form of blood cancer. Merrick had managed to keep the news a secret from everyone until that moment at the curtain call.

A revival of 42nd Street opened on Broadway in 2001, won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and ran for 1,524 performances. I had the good fortune of handling publicity on the LA production in 1984 and on the touring version of the revival in 2003, so the show is very close to my heart. This sparkling song and dance extravaganza is not to be missed!

42nd Street” opens May 31st at the Pantages, for tickets and more information, click here.

Kristin Hits the OC! (


Photo 1: Kristin Chenoweth hits Segerstrom Center for Performing Arts March 12, Photo 2: Kristin Chenoweth, Photo 3: Kristin Chenoweth, Photo 4: Segerstrom Center for the Arts – campus – Segerstrom Hall and Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall – RMA Photography

Kristin Hits The OC!

By Ken Werther

On the night of June 6, 1999, Kristin Chenoweth was beamed into homes all across America and around the world on the annual Tony Awards telecast. She treated us to “My New Philosophy,” a song she had been performing eight times a week on Broadway in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Approximately two minutes after finishing the number, Chenoweth won that year’s Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. I remember sitting in front of the television that night and being truly thrilled and excited. A star had been born.

In the years since, Chenoweth has conquered every performance discipline — theatre, feature films, television, radio, recordings, and concerts. Born Kristi Dawn Chenoweth on July 24, 1968 and adopted when she was five days old, she grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (a suburb of Tulsa). As a child, she performed gospel songs at local churches, and initially decided to train for a career in opera. She received a bachelor’s degree in musical theatre and then a master’s degree in opera performance at Oklahoma City University. While working toward her masters, Chenoweth performed at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, among other regional theatres, in productions of Gypsy, The Sound of Music, Promises, Promises, and The King and I, to name only a few.

After completing her masters degree, she participated in a number of vocal competitions and was named “most promising up-and-coming singer” in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, which came with a full scholarship to Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts. Two weeks before school started she went to New York City to help a friend move. While there, she auditioned for the 1993 Paper Mill Playhouse production of the musical Animal Crackers and was cast in the show. She turned down the scholarship and moved to New York to appear in the production and pursue a career in musical theatre. The rest, as they say, is history.

Chenoweth’s list of credits is truly astounding. She has appeared in seven Broadway shows. Her first, Kander & Ebb’s Steel Pier, was in 1997, and then came Charlie Brown. In 2003 she received wide critical and popular acclaim for originating the role of Glinda in Wicked, a now legendary musical that 13 years later is still playing to packed houses on Broadway. Her list of television and film credits is also extraordinary … literally too long (and ever-growing) to start enumerating here! It is definitely worth noting, however, that she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on Pushing Daisies.

And then … there’s that voice. She is a classically trained coloratura soprano able to sing the note “F6” (also known as “F above high C”). Her upcoming concert at Segerstrom Hall will include selections from her CDs, a few American standards, other Broadway fare, and fan favorites (“Popular” and “For Good” from Wicked). Chenoweth is always traveling and performing — she has dates booked through mid-2018! She has been quoted as saying that no two shows are exactly alike. Several years back I had the good fortune to see (and hear!) Ms. Chenoweth in concert. Her performance was delicious and unforgettable and there was also something unexpected … this woman has a ‘wicked’ sense of humor that she loves to share. Even when she’s not singing, Kristin Chenoweth is all personality. Oh, and one more thing. Her memoir, “A Little Bit Wicked,” was released in 2009.

Other events at Segerstrom this month include David Crosby in concert (March 5), a conversation with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (March 11), an afternoon with Mel Brooks (March 13), Yanni in concert (March 20), and a return engagement of the runaway hit The Book of Mormon (beginning March 22). The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is clearly the place to be!

Kristin Chenoweth performs March 12th. To purchase tickets and more details on shows at Segerstrom, click here.

KristinChenoweth2 Kristin  Chenoweth

Segerstrom Hall