Friday, May 23, 2008

Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza - venue review

I have previously talked about my fascination with the Broadway musical "Mamma Mia". The running joke has now been that we have to see the show in as many different venues as possible, but we're running out of places locally. I think we've been everywhere in Los Angeles and Orange County where it could possibly play, and we've even gone down to San Diego, so when we found out that the touring company would be coming to Thousand Oaks, we decided that was next on the list.

The show was performed at the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. I hadn't known what the theatre seating looked like, so I was surprised upon entering the theatre to see that it wasn't very big. It wasn't as deep as many of the theatres I'm used to but was rather more shallow, like the theatres we'd been to in New York, so that even if you're towards the back of the theatre (which we were - row Q near the control booth), you still had a good view. The theatre does have a mezzanine and a balcony, both of which started further back than I expected.

Generally, I thought it was a very nice theatre. One downside that we didn't encounter because of the row we were in but people in almost all of the other rows would have is that like the Orange County Performing Arts Center, it's just one big section, with aisles only on the end seats, so if your seat is anywhere in the middle, you have to step past a whole lot of people to get to and from your seat.

All in all, I was very satisfied with our visit, and though because of the distance, it's not somewhere we'd go to on a regular basis, I could certainly see going again if they had a show I wanted to see badly enough.

The Civic Arts Center is conveniently located in that there are a number of places nearby to have dinner before or after a show, with the added benefit that you can comfortably walk between the restaurant and the venue.

As for the show itself, we did enjoy it, but it was probably my least favorite cast overall. According to the playbill, many were newcomers to the show, and I wasn't necessarily happy with how some of them performed. In particular, the actress who played the lead of Donna didn't really quite have the voice to pull it off. There are a few songs where Donna has to hit and carry a number of fairly strong notes, and on many of those points, the actress pitched it differently so she didn't have to. In particular, on "The Winner Takes It All", she didn't carry the song like she should have, only hitting the longer, stronger notes on the last verse rather than throughout the entire song. She also made some interpretation choices in the character that I didn't care for. "Sophie" was a very good singer, but she also had some characterizations that I didn't like. "Sam" was quite good overall and had a great voice for his solos and duets. "Tanya" was a bit more non-descript than I'm used to, and "Rosie" bothered me for reasons I can't really explain. "Harry" was good, though a quite different type than I'm used to for that character, but he did have a few blocking changes that I liked. I really enjoyed "Bill", who brought more humour to the role than I've seen from previous actors.

BTW, the "Mamma Mia" count is now at an even dozen: the Shubert Theatre (formerly in Los Angeles), The Ahmanson (in Los Angeles), Mandalay Bay (in Las Vegas), the Pantages Theatre (in Los Angeles), Orange County Performing Arts Center, the Pasadena Playhouse, the Long Beach Civic Auditorium, the Cadillac Winter Garden (in New York), Orange County Performing Arts Center again, the San Diego Civic Theatre, Mandalay Bay (in Las Vegas) again and the Fred Kavli Theatre at the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.

The show will be at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert in March of 2009, so we may be going to that to add yet another venue to our list. We were at that theatre earlier this year to see Mandy Patinkin and Patti Lupone in concert together, and I liked the venue quite a bit.


Broadway/L.A. said...

Hello, Cindy!

Just thought we'd let you know, in case you haven't already heard, that MAMMA MIA! will be returning to the gorgeous Pantages Theatre as part of Broadway/L.A.'s 2009 Season. Right now, tickets are available in only two ways - either as part of a Season Ticket package with at least 3 other shows (PHANTOM, GREASE and DIRTY DANCING) ... or for those who purchase 15 or more tickets to any individual show. Since you're such a fan, the latter might be fun for you ... and there's a long time to plan!

For more information, come visit us at:

Cindy said...

OK, I have no idea how y'all even found my blog, but that's cool!

I had remembered hearing that "Mamma Mia" was coming back somewhere locally, but I forgot where. I've gotten so used to ignoring the Pantages because I'm not a "Wicked" person, so I'm actually really happy that we'll be able to go to the Pantages again.

Let me know when individual tickets go on sale! :)

JeffG said...

So, when the movie opens this summer, are you going to try and see it at every theater where it is playing? :)

Sherry said...

I think the Pantages should give you free tickets to their "Mamma Mia" preview, so that you can post a comment about it on your blog. That's just too cool.