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Backstage with Carbonell winner Ron Hutchins Spamalot to Ain't Misbehavin'

The Carbonell Awards fund local arts scholarships. Purchase group tickets now.
The Carbonell Awards fund local arts scholarships. Purchase group tickets now.
Broadway Global and Theatre Chat

'Spamalot' produced by Actors' Playhouse at The Miracle Theatre

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How do you review your partner's choreography when he works in the majority of South Florida theatres? You don't! You share the reviews of respected fellow arts critics like Ron Levitt (Florida Media News), Bill Hischman (Florida Theatre Scene), Christine Dolen (Miami Herald), which agree with Broadway Global, that Actors' Playhouse Spamalot is the musical comedy of the Season. Then you share an exclusive Q and A with Ron Hutchins, who has one of the biggest theatre seasons of his career. Critics are raving this season for Ron's work from 42nd Street, Pippin and now "Spamalot'. "Among the highlights of this "Spamalot" is the excellent choreography at every level directed by Ron Hutchins. The choreography is so in step, it easily can be compared to the crew which made this show a must-see when it opened on Broadway 10 years ago." Ron Levitt.

Enjoy this exclusive backstage look at Ron Hutchins' entire theatre season that included "Pippin" for Boca Raton Theatre Guild, Sold out extended runs of "42nd Street" at Wick Theatre and now rave reviews for "Spamalot" at Actors' Playhouse. Did we mention performing arts schools and public schools competitions, University of Miami, American Heritage, Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre. Ron has also been teaching dance and tap to The League For The Hard of Hearing kids, a production of "Aladdin" at Kids in Distress, which was just highlighted, with the new film starring a young black actress and our true life local Annie story. Ron's production of "West Side Story" with SPHS Drama Teacher Jason Zembuch was spotlighted on national TV with The Spirit of America.

We share the strong message from a past Carbonell Award winner Ron Hutchins "What is most important to know about The Carbonell Awards? Every theatre in Florida should start selling the idea now, to buy record breaking number of tickets to this ceremony, because the monies from the awards honor local arts scholarships. Visit www.carbonellawards.org." Special thanks to Ricard J. Gonzalez III of Beaux Arts Gallery and Trustee Of The Estate Of Carbonell. Ricardo's donation of twenty works of the one of a kind art, each cost $8,000 a piece. The Carbonell Awards honor Florida theatre artists, theatres and production teams, keeping Florida as the fun in the sun arts destination. Ron's picture includes Ricardo J. Gonzales and Joyce Lowry at Actors' Playhouse opening of "Spamalot", who are local arts philanthropist.

We start with the rave reviews, "Choreographer Ron Hutchins contributes splashy, witty dance numbers that are perfectly in the spirit of the show." Christine Dolen (Miami Times, CDolen@MiamiHerald.com). Old England was never so merry — nor so silly — as in Monty Python’s Spamalot. Winner of the 2005 Tony Award as best musical, Spamalot is the spring’s big-deal production from Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. And in terms of the talent onstage, the goofy amalgam of Arthurian legend, musical theater and the Python sensibility delivers as promised." Then you quote Florida's most respected critic who finds good in most every production, as he follows his quest to cover arts in South Florida and NYC for Florida Theatre on Stage.

"A delightfully demented cast enhanced by the inventive imagination of chief jester/director David Arisco and choreographer Ron Hutchins make this a satisfying pleasure even on its fourth or fifth visit to South Florida. “The Knights of the Round Table,” which sports a Las Vegas-style finale when a cast of 20 are dancing shoulder to shoulder from one end of the proscenium to the other, garbed in Ellis Tillman’s hilarious array with smiles beaming like floodlights and warbling to the full-bodied sound of a live eight-piece band. The only adjective is glorious. Amping up the feeling of the originality is the work by Hutchins who is having a hell of a year from Pippin to 42nd Street. Even when some bits are dictated by the script, such as quoting Jerome Robbins’ bottle dance from Fiddler on the Roof, Hutchins brings his own stamp and plié while joyously embracing every Broadway chorus line move and adding daffy runs at tap dancing knights, disco infernos, an arty pas de deux between a friar and a nun, even a bit of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Bill Hirschman of Florida Theatre on Stage.

Now we share The exclusive Q and A with Carbonell Award winner Ron Hutchins. It took ten years to bring your choreography to Actors' Playhouse, you are possibly the first Black choreographer at Actors' main stage productions, so what would you tell other black choreographers trying to achieve your national recognition that has been recognized from Chicago's Jeff Awards, Arizioni Awards and Florida’s Carbonell Awards? "I would tell any minority choreographer that at this moment you stand alone, but you represent 10,000. Be confident, collaborative and embrace teamwork. Keep conflict to a minimum and know how to ask for what you need. Most importantly, listen to the needs of the artists and always be encouraging and positive."

You wrote your own script around Sammy Davis Jr. life and songs, "Once In A Lifetime from Harlem to Hollywood" that sold out in South Florida this season, what is next? "Yes I did write "Once in a Lifetime.. Sammy Davis Jr. iconic journey that was presented as a staged reading at Boca Raton Theatre Guild back in November 2013. When other things calm down a bit, there are tons of rewrites and a few venues to talk to that have expressed interest in the project. The ultimate goal is to workshop the show and get it to Broadway. What an honor it would be to educate America as to who this man really was. His personal struggles with debauchery, always trying to prove what no white man had to prove while being stuck in the “prison of his skin” is quite heart breaking and powerful. When I sat in the audience at Actors' Playhouse on opening night for "Spamalot". I was introduced as the new choreographer by the incredible Artistic Director David Arisco. He asked that I stand. Here I am in the 4th row, I stood right in the middle of a crowd that consisted of Coral Gables most elite and when I sat down, I had tears in my eyes, looked up to the sky and said Thanks Sammy! It was a very powerful moment in my career. It is my responsibility to keep the ball rolling with verve, style and dignity. I owe because I received and I am so grateful for that."

Could the season be any bigger? You choreographed at The Wick Theatre for "42nd Street", BRTG’s "Pippin", Actors' Playhouse "Spamalot".. Is there a local theatre company you have not worked with? "There are a few local theatres that I have not yet worked for and hopefully will in the future. I am proud to be a part of the South Florida Theatre community and know that the work has only just begun."

Having been involved in Arts education locally at FLCT, Parkway Middle School of the Arts , The League for the Hard of Hearing, South Plantation High School, University of Miami, American Heritage School, JP Taravella.. What has education taught you? "As in professional theatre, the kids represent every culture and reflect many levels of economic backgrounds, from private to public schools as well as Kids In Distress, where I choreographed "Aladdin". What I value the most about education is the ability to make everyone succeed. By success I mean opening the eyes of these students to their abilities, and guiding them to their most important virtue, courage. There is no success without failure, as there is no success without the courage to fail in order to succeed. Education has taught me to address the needs of every student regardless of background knowledge and ability while pushing and challenging the most advanced student."

Next you have Ain’t Misbehavin’ what will make this Wick Theatre production better than most around the nation..? "Charles Creath the musical director and the incredible cast that will be involved. The Wick Theatre has a great deal of passion and producer, Mariynn Wick has put her faith in me to make it happen. I cannot wait!! This is her inaugural season, and first all black show, so I will pull out every stop and be sure every detail is focused on."

Actors' Playhouse production of "Spamalot" its selling well for youth. What shows do you see bringing back families to live theatre? "Thats tough to answer. With the economics in the state they are in, I don't think the show matters, the price does. We must listen to our young patrons and see what they like. Theatre arts has always reflected life, so what is it that the younger audiences want to see..."

Can you tell us about "Ragtime" at Actors Playhouse? "All I can tell you is that I am thrilled to be working on the production with David Arisco and to be asked back at Actors' Playhouse. I also know it is large in size and so it will be a labor of love as with all shows."

For those who think black choreographers are just right for black shows, what shows under your belt prove them wrong? "Hmmmm. Hello Dolly, Spamalot, Chicago, Will Rogers Follies, Forum, Cabaret, Oliver, South Pacific, Damn Yankees, Beauty and the Beast.. I can keep going. Most of the shows I have been fortunate enough to direct and or choreograph have been produced by people who saw something in me. I can count the black shows on one hand that I have directed/choreographed."

If you had to look back at the young black inner city child that learned to sing and dance, and was a scholarship recipient to The Cleveland Playhouse - youth theatre program for 7 years. What advise would you give that young boy today as a mutil-award winning director/choreographer? "To be confident and courageous. Be a sponge and learn all that you can. Once you learn teach, when you get , give back and always be grounded."

Broadway Global has you listed as one of the top ten choreographers in our Nation, what choreographer do you look up to for inspiration, and what Broadway show do you hope to revive on Broadway someday? "I have three choreographers that I look up to. Two of them are no longer around Michael Peters (Tony Award recipient for co-choreographer for Dreamgirls. He also choreographed Michael Jacksons Thriller and Bad videos), Mike Malone (founder of the Duke Ellington School for Performing Arts), who inspired me to dance and led me to my first dance class, and saw something in me at age 17 that I did not see. I also look up to Megan Smith who believe it or not is one of my students, who has the courage to believe and who is still hungry to learn everything about the craft imaginable. She is just starting to scratch the surface of her amazing talent and will be a force to reckon with."

How can we support the Carbonell Awards as the funds from the event are used for local scholarships? "By buying tickets to the ceremony, as The Carbonell Awards give scholarships to fledging young artists helping them to pursue their dreams. Visit www.carbonellawards.org."

You have donated hundreds of dance shoes to date.. were you one of those kids in need of dance clothes or shoes to have the tools needed to educate properly..? "Yes, I was one of those kids. My freshman year of college I had one pair of sweats and had to sneak dance shoes from the theatre department, as I did not have the money to buy those things. Proudly working at FLCT I have discovered that cost or tools should never be a deciding factor in the development of a young mind or detour of their dream."

What question do you wish I would have asked to educate those who cant know you as I do? "What makes me laugh."

We share nomination process for The 2014 Third Annual Broadway Producer of the Year, because my partner Director/Choreographer Ron Hutchins was the inspiration for Broadway Global, who would love to see a "Regional Theatre Producer" honored this 2014 season, for creating a local arts legacy on the stage, that may someday be honored with a test run before a Broadway or global tour. Broadway also has one of the most important seasons to date, as the majority of new musicals are being produced from film box office hits, just like "Spamalot". You must nominate a current theatre producer that is leaving a legacy in arts, for the next century of artists and patrons, who will judge us by what shows we deemed inspirational and educational in our society. Follow Director/Choreographer Ron Hutchins on his Facebook fan page.

Shows that are still standing at the top of box office sales are "The Lion King" and our all time favorite "Wicked". "Aladdin" gives the most breathtaking magic carpet ride, a Disney magical moment in live theatre history. "A Gentalman's Guide to Love and Murder"offers a clever script and stunning performances. "Newsies" still has the best choreography in years, while "After Midnight" has Best Orchestrations and 2014 Best Choreography. "Matilda" has Broadway queen, Lesli Margherita. "Kinky Boots" Billy Porter should we say more! "Motown" offers the most hits ever in history of Broadway. "Rocky" gives you Broadway's biggest ending and love does win. Andy Karl and Margo Seibert may have to fight for best Broadway couple with "The Bridges of Madison County", but it's a knock down hit musical for Broadway "Rocky" finale! If you are trying to save a few dollars, or see a few shows, don't miss Broadway Global's off-Broadway top musical comedy of the season Seth Rudetsky's "Disaster".

Just because your favorite show is not listed in this "must see list for 2014", doesn't mean you can't choose The 2014 Broadway Global Producer of the Year. We want you to choose the Broadway producer that is leaving a legacy now, in our current society for decades to come. Choose a Broadway Producer who assessable on social media. If you only pick producers that are choosing to produce box office hits as movies, what will happen for up and coming artists and new works?

Now it is your turn to choose the best! You know the shows, you see the legacy that Broadway producers are trying to leave behind. These shows will represent our society of today for eternity. Choose your 2014 Broadway Global Producer of the Year, by sending in your nomination. For more information visit www.BroadwayGlobal.org and www.TheatreChat.net. Broadway Global would love to see a woman producer honored in 2014, like London's "Scottsboro Boys" Producer Catherine Schreiber, a producer from another country, or a producer who is bringing change to the stage and our globe, but the sky is the limit. Your vote chooses the winner!

"What regional or Broadway producer is leaving a legacy for the future of Broadway? A producer that represents today's issues, for tomorrows arts society is what we are looking for. Send your 2014 Broadway Global Producer of the Year Nominations direct to theatrechat@me.com. Everyone who nominates a 2014 Regional or Broadway Global Producer of the Year, will automatically have a chance to be our VIP special guest for The 2014 Third Annual Broadway Global Producer of the Year Official Ceremony, honoring the 2014 winner with Steve Marshall's one of a kind art piece, "Producer Puzzle" (art for creating arts)." Broadway Global.

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