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City Stage and Symphony Hall plan on expanding

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By G. Michael Dobbs Managing Editor SPRINGFIELD -- Downsizing may be a common occurrence throughout American businesses, but not at City Stage and Symphony Hall. The schedule of events for the two arts facilities is increasing for the 2009-10 season. Cindy Anzalotti, the president of Springfield Performing Arts Development Corporation (SPADC), explained that attendance was very good this year despite the nation's economic troubles and she decided to add shows because people who with entertainment dollars are spending them closer to home. In 2008, the ticket gross was $841,000 and this year it will be about $815,000, she said. Among this year's features will be comic legend Bill Cosby; 1950s and '60s musical stars the Coasters, the Platters and the Marvelettes; political satire with the Capitol Steps; musicals such as "Annie," The Wedding Singer" and "Avenue Q"; magic with Curtis Adams and Bill Blagg III; and stand-up comedy with shows featuring Kevin Meaney and Wendy Leibman. Anzalotti has booked some shows this upcoming season that are not full Broadway productions so the ticket prices could be lowered. SPADC's mission remains dedicated to bringing quality entertainment to downtown Springfield to act as a catalyst for economic development, she explained. The more shows Anzalotti presents the more people are employed in downtown as the average persons spends at least $10 to $15 over the price of a ticket when attending a performance at either venue, she said. She said that CityStage "did very, very well this year," while Symphony Hall had a more difficult time. She said there was a marked decrease in the number of outside promoters renting Symphony Hall for shows, as they didn't want to take the risk in the present economy. Symphony Hall also poses a logical problem when being considering for traveling productions, as its size is a restriction. Anzalotti said many of the traveling theatrical shows arrive in five to 10 trucks of sets and equipment, but Symphony Hall can only accomodate shows that take up two and half trucks, she said. She added the size of the area and its potential audience doesn't allow long runs for the shows either. She is very excited about his year's line-up and said that corporate sponsorships are doing well. SPADC was to have received a $200,000 grant from the Massachusetts Offices of Travel and Tourism for his fiscal year, but only saw $50,000 of it before Gov. Deval Patrick made the line item one of his 9C cuts last fall. The shows at City Stage include: • "Girls Night: The Musical," Oct. 13 - 18 and 20 - 25 A touching and hilarious "tell-it-like-it-is" look at the lives of a group of female friends, "Girls Night: The Musical" promises to have audiences around the country laughing, crying and dancing in the aisles as it follows five friends as they relive their past, celebrate their present and look to the future on a wild and hilarious karaoke night. Adult content. • "'Til Death Do Us Part," Nov. 11 - 15 "'Til Death Do Us Part: Late Nite Catechism Three" is the latest class to be unveiled in this sinfully funny series. After teaching countless students all about the saints, venial sins, guilt, limbo and more, Sister is now offering up hilarious lessons on the Sacraments of Marriage and Last Rites, including her own wacky version of the Newlywed Game. • "Bill Blagg III: A Night of Magic," Nov. 20 and 21 "A Night of Magic" is a Las Vegas-style family show, full of grand scale magic and illusion and unmatched audience interaction. Bill Blagg III is breaking the mold of the typical magician. Critics refer to his show as "The Second City meets David Copperfield." • "The Kinsey Sicks," Jan. 21 - 23 For nearly 15 years, the Kinsey Sicks, America's favorite dragapella beautyshop quartet, have served up a feast of music and comedy to audiences across the United States and internationally. Combining award-winning a cappella singing, sharp satire and over-the-top drag, the Kinsey Sicks have developed a large and loyal following. Adult content. • "Mike Dugan's Men Fake Foreplay," Jan. 26 - 31 Take a hilarious and insightful tour of the male psyche with Emmy Award winning writer and "Tonight Show" comedian, Mike Dugan, as he takes an unflinching look at the secret life of men. Adult content. • "Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was," Feb. 17 - 21 It is unlikely that the two powerhouse voices of the century would have ever shared the same stage...until now. They never worked together, exactly, except when they taped a duet in separate recording sessions, but it's tantalizing to think what it would have been like to have Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra teamed up for a concert tour. • "The Four Bitchin' Babes Presents Hormonal Imbalance," March 11 - 13 Start with four gifted singer-songwriters add three-quarters cup married life, four kids, three cats, one piano, four guitars, a rockin' purple bass, a dollop of sharp social commentary and a pinch of PMS. Set this on the road to tour for 17 years, throw in a hot flash or two and you've got "Hormonal Imbalance: A Mood Swinging Musical Revue." • Bud Light presents "Stand Up! Comedy Series" Kevin Meaney will appear on March 19 and Wendy Liebman on March 27 with more comedians to be announced. • The Capitol Steps, April 14 - 18 What's funnier than the Congress? It's the view from the Capitol Steps a bipartisan troupe of current and former Congressional staffers performing musical political satire straight from the headlines. Symphony Hall performances include: • Bill Cosby, Oct. 16, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Without resorting to gimmickry or lowbrow humor, Bill Cosby's comedy has a point of reference and respect for the trappings and traditions of the great American humorists such as Mark Twain, Buster Keaton and Jonathan Winters. • "Avenue Q," Oct. 29, 8 p.m. "Avenue Q" is Broadway's smash-hit 2004 Tony Award winner. A hilarious show full of heart and hummable tunes, "Avenue Q" is about trying to make it in NYC with big dreams and a tiny bank account. Called "one of the funniest shows you're ever likely to see" by Entertainment Weekly, "Avenue Q" features a cast of people and puppets who tell the story in a smart, risque and downright entertaining way. Recommended for ages 13 and up. • "Bruce In The USA," Nov. 13, 8 p.m. "Bruce In The USA" is much more than just another tribute this high-energy musical experience is a note-perfect and visually accurate recreation of a Bruce Springsteen & The E. St. Band show. Matt Ryan, from the world famous "Legends In Concert" cast, played the Springsteen character for eight years the Las Vegas show. • "That's Amore: A Celebration of Dean Martin & Friends," Nov. 27, 8 p.m. Mark Adams perfectly captures the style the looks, the charm, the voice and the magnetic appeal of Dean Martin. He stars with "The Golddiggers" and his fabulous band to bring you such hits as "Memories Are Made Of This," "Volare," "Little Old Wine Drinker," "Return to Me," "Gentle on my Mind," "Ain't That A Kick" and "That's Amore." • "Annie," Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Leapin' lizards! Annie is coming to Springfield! The timeless tale of Little Orphan Annie is back, giving a whole new generation the chance to experience this classic musical about never giving up hope. Boasting one of Broadway's most memorable scores, including "It's the Hard-Knock Life," "Easy Street," "N.Y.C." and the ever-optimistic "Tomorrow." • "Groovaloo," Feb. 10, 7:30 p.m. Winner of NBC's hit television show "International Superstars of Dance" and based on the award-winning troupe's true-to-life experiences and told by the dancers who lived them, "Groovaloo" combines the authenticity of "A Chorus Line" with the energy of "Stomp." • The Coasters, the Platters and the Marvelettes Feb. 12, 8 p.m. Join us for a special performance from the Coasters, the Platters and the Marvelettes. You'll enjoy hits like "Poison Ivy," "Charlie Brown," "Love Potion #9," "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "Please Mr. Postman," "Don't Mess With Bill" and many more! • "The Wedding Singer," March 4, 7:30 p.m. With a score that pays loving homage to the pop songs of the 1980s, "The Wedding Singer" takes us back to a time when hair was big, greed was good, collars were up, and a wedding singer might just be the coolest guy in the room. This musical is based on the hit film starring Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart and Drew Barrymore as Julia. • Le Grand Cirque: March 20, 8 p.m. Featuring an international cast of 50 world champion acrobats and performers from over 15 countries, this award winning spectacle will quite simply take your breath away This thrill a minute production delivers incredible talent beyond your wildest imagination that will take you to the edge of your seats and back again! Le Grande Cirque is perfect for all the family, with fun and happiness written all over it! • Curtis Adams, April 24, 8 p.m. Curtis Adams' show is a fusion of dance and illusion. This interactive extreme variety experience has cutting edge dance, side-splitting comedy, death-defying stunts and stunning visual effects. Whether Adams is cloning himself, melting through a sheet of steel, or stopping bullets in mid-air coming from a machine gun, this roller coaster ride of excitement is 90 minutes of jam packed fun.

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