Five Fabulous Questions with Stan Hess

Published by Sara at 1:57 PM under

We’re thrilled to introduce you to Stan Hess, a veteran balloonist and Tour Director for the United States Hot Air Balloon Team that pilots the WICKED hot air balloon. As a balloon pilot, Stan has travelled to nearly every state in the U.S. and counts flying in Australia, Japan, Switzerland and others among his favorite adventures. We are thrilled to welcome Stan to St. Louis where he will pilot the WICKED hot air balloon in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race on September 19. But before Stan takes off in the balloon, we sat down to ask him five fabulous questions about his work with WICKED and what it’s like to defy gravity.

1. How did you get started piloting balloons?

I was assigned to a sponsorship for a Hot Air Balloon Festival in 1981 and I immediately fell in love with ballooning. Within 6 months of that flight I bought my first balloon and became a commercially rated pilot within that same year.

I’ve been piloting the WICKED balloon since 2013 when the balloon was created for the 10th Anniversary of WICKED on Broadway. Our team, The United States Hot Air Balloon Team, was selected by WICKED to represent the Broadway musical at balloon races across the country.

After many thousands of flights I cannot explain the attraction and affection that human beings, young and old, have toward hot air balloons. I consider it an honor to represent ballooning to everyone I encounter.

2. What is your favorite experience flying a balloon?

There have been too many fantastic experiences to remember a favorite!  However, some of the highlights include the Trans Australian Balloon Challenge, a 16 day hot air trek from Perth to Sydney.  Another great experience was my flight across Maui, Hawaii where I flew over Mount Haleakala, a 10,000 ft. inactive volcano.

3. How many crew members does it take to pilot the balloon?

We typically have a crew of 2 to 4 people depending on the conditions and the program. During the Great Forest Park Balloon Race we will have four crew members. One crew member is responsible for logistics and driving while three crew members prepare the balloon for flight and retrieve the balloon at the end of each flight.

4. How often do you fly or travel with the balloon?

We typically fly in a new location each month. The WICKED balloon travels to a different location 10 to 12 times each year. I also fly balloons for the state of Pennsylvania, S.C. Johnson, Olympus, ING Direct, and Hershey’s Chocolate.

5. What’s your favorite song from WICKED?

POPULAR, of course!

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WICKED Returns to the Fabulous Fox Theatre December 9 – January 3

Published by Sara at 9:06 AM under

After breaking box office records in the four previous engagements, WICKED, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, will return to the Fabulous Fox Theatre this holiday season from December 9 – January 3.  Tickets for the return engagement go on sale Saturday, September 19. Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 314-534-1111 and in person at the Fox Theatre Box Office.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, Academy Award®-winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”), WICKED, the untold story of the witches of Oz, is directed by two-time Tony® Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Vagina Monologues) and features musical staging by Tony® Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…).

Based on the best-selling 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, WICKED, winner of over 100 international awards, including a Grammy® and three Tony® Awards, is the untold story of the witches of Oz.  It is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.

“We are thrilled to welcome back WICKED to the Fabulous Fox this holiday season,” said Fox Theatre producer Kristin Caskey. “With its powerful story and dynamic score, WICKED has captivated St. Louis audiences for the past ten years. It truly is a spellbinding experience you can share with the entire family.”

Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the Land of Oz.  One – born with emerald-green skin – is smart, fiery and misunderstood.  The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular.  WICKED tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, and how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

WICKED has been declared “A Cultural Phenomenon” by Variety and “The Best Musical of the Decade” by Entertainment Weekly.  Since its New York premiere over a decade ago, WICKED has been performed in over 100 cities in 13 countries around the world (U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Japan, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, The Philippines, and Mexico) and has thus far been translated into five languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish, and Korean.  The musical has grossed over $4 billion worldwide and has been seen by over 50 million people across the globe. WICKED currently has four productions around the world, in New York, London, a U.K. Tour, and a North American National Tour.

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Single Tickets for the Fabulous Fox Theatre’s 2015 – 2016 U.S. Bank Broadway Season Shows Go On Sale Saturday, September 12 at 10 a.m.!

Published by Sara at 8:32 AM under

Single tickets for the Fabulous Fox Theatre’s 2015 – 2016 U.S. Bank Broadway Series shows will go on sale Saturday, September 12 at 10:00 a.m.

Tickets will be available online at, by phone at 314-534-1111 and in person at the Fox Theatre Box Office for the following shows: MAMMA MIA!, IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS, CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE, Disney’s NEWSIES, RIVERDANCE The 20th Anniversary World Tour, BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical, Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, IF/THEN, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and JERSEY BOYS. Visit for current pricing for individual shows.

Pepsi Co. will provide light refreshments to guests in line at the Box Office and souvenirs will be available to adults 18 and older, one per household, while supplies last. 

MAMMA MIA! | November 6 – 8, 2015

MAMMA MIA! is the ultimate feel-good show that has audiences coming back again and again to relive the thrill.  Now it’s your turn to have the time of your life at this smash-hit musical that combines ABBA’s greatest hits, including “Dancing Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Super Trouper,” “Take A Chance on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All,” with an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship.  Whether it’s your first visit or your fourteenth, see the show that has the whole world coming back for more, because every time feels like the first time at MAMMA MIA!. 

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS | November 17 – 22, 2015

This holiday season discover the perfect gift for everyone on your list! The timeless movie “White Christmas” is adapted for the stage in a lavish new production that the New York Times says to “put on your wish list.” IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS tells the story of a song-and-dance team putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and falling for a stunning sister act in the process. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written! Give everyone the gift they’re dreaming of with this merry and bright holiday musical.

CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE | December 4 – 6, 2015

In CIRQUE DREAMS HOLIDAZE, Broadway director Neil Goldberg re-imagines the holiday season with over 300 costumes, 20 acts and 30 performers showcasing an endless variety of imaginative, heart-pounding and gravity- defying feats you have to see to believe. The show celebrates the most wonderful time of the year with singers, choreography and exciting production numbers. Performers twirl, bounce and soar thru the air to original music and seasonal favorites brought to life within a stage setting of gigantic gifts, colossal candy canes and 30-foot towering trees & soldiers creating a wonderland of amazement. Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation will present Kids Nighat the Fabulous Fox Friday, December 4. A free child’s ticket will be offered with the purchase of an adult ticket at the Fox Theatre Box Office while supplies last; some restrictions apply. The evening will include pre-show activities in the Fox Theatre lobby. For more information about Kids’ Night at the Fabulous Fox, please visit

Disney’s NEWSIES | January 19 – 31, 2016 

Direct from Broadway comes NEWSIES, the smash-hit, crowd-pleasing new musical from Disney. Winner of the 2012 Tony Awards® for Best Score and Best Choreography, NEWSIES has audiences and critics alike calling it “a musical worth singing about,” says The New York Times. Filled with one heart-pounding number after another, it’s a high-energy explosion of song and dance you just don’t want to miss.  Based on true events, NEWSIES tells the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. It’s a rousing tale about fighting for what’s right…and staying true to who you are.  NEWSIES was brought to the stage by an award-winning creative team. It features a score by Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Jack Feldman (“The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride”); a book by Harvey Fierstein (“La Cage Aux Folles”); choreography by Christopher Gattelli (“South Pacific”); and direction by Jeff Calhoun (“Big River”).

RIVERDANCE – The 20th Anniversary World Tour | February 12 – 14, 2016

The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song.  Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland - in rock, music, theatre and film - nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance.  Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour is composed by Bill Whelan, produced by Moya Doherty and directed by John McColgan, and comes directly to North America from a sold out run across Europe and Asia.

BEAUTIFUL–The Carole King Musical | February 23 – March 6, 2016

BEAUTIFUL–The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. BEAUTIFUL features a stunning array of beloved songs written by Goffin/King and Mann/Weil, including “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and the title song.  BEAUTIFUL has St. Louis connections with lead producer Paul Blake having served as Executive Producer at The Muny for 22 seasons. St. Louisans Mike Bosner and Terry Schnuck are also on the producing team while director Marc Bruni directed numerous shows at The Muny including this season’s critically acclaimed “My Fair Lady”. The book is by Tony Award®-nominee and Academy Award®-nominated writer Douglas McGrath and choreography is by Josh Prince.  BEAUTIFUL took home two 2014 Tony Awards and the 2015 Grammy® for Best Musical Theater Album.

NETworks presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST | March 11 – 13, 2016

Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress.  If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity. The Academy Award-winning music by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with additional lyrics by Tim Rice, includes “Be Our Guest”, “If I Can’t Love Her” and the title song.

IF/THEN | March 15 – 27, 2016

IF/THEN is a contemporary Broadway musical about living in New York today – and all the possibilities that tomorrow brings.  With unforgettable songs and a deeply moving story by the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award®-winning creators of “Next to Normal,” this “fascinating, ambitious, and original new musical” (New York Post) simultaneously follows one woman’s two possible life paths, painting a deeply moving portrait of the lives we lead, as well as the lives we might have led.  The Toronto Star calls it “The bravest new musical in a long time. Led by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s dazzling score, it is one of the few Broadway shows that looks and sounds like the world of today.“  “A smart, deeply touching and big-hearted new musical” says The Washington Post. “Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's score is invested with melodic urgency, bringing you to tears or breathlessness.” And the Chicago Tribune calls it “A thoroughly fascinating, intellectually and musically rich new musical.  It is a zesty, savvy and ambitious original.”


THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, one of the most romantic stories ever written, first captured the nation’s attention as a best-selling novel by Robert James Waller and is now an irresistible, two time Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical. This stunning new production features gorgeous, soulful music by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown (“Parade,” “The Last Five Years”) that the Daily News hails as “one of Broadway’s best scores in the last decade.” With a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (“The Secret Garden,” “The Color Purple”) and direction by Tony winner Bartlett Sher (“South Pacific”, “The Light in the Piazza”), THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY is the unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.

THE SOUND OF MUSIC | April 26 – May 8, 2016

The hills are alive with the brand new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by Jack O’Brien.  The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with its Tony®, Grammy® and Academy Award® - winning Best Score, including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss” and the title song. THE SOUND OF MUSIC features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, as suggested by “The Trapp Family Singers” by Maria Augusta Trapp.

JERSEY BOYS | May 18 – 22, 2016

JERSEY BOYS is the Tony®, Grammy® and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the true story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30!  JERSEY BOYS features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” “The crowd goes wild!” proclaims The New York Times.

In addition to the aforementioned 11 shows, the U.S. Bank Broadway Series also includes MATILDA THE MUSICAL (single tickets already on sale) and WICKED (single tickets on sale date to be announced soon). The six-show season ticket package is currently on sale and subscribers to the package can purchase advance tickets for any of the specials, including WICKED. Call 314-535-1700 for more information. Group reservations of 15 or more are also available now by calling 314-535-2900.

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Casting Announcement! Elizabeth Stanley and Andrew Samonsky Join the Cast of the Bridges of Madison County

Published by Sara at 3:16 PM under

The producers of the upcoming national tour of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY have announced that Elizabeth Stanley, currently starring in the role of Claire De Loone on Broadway in the revival of On the Town, and Andrew Samonsky, last seen in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Paper Mill Playhouse, will star as Francesca Johnson and Robert Kincaid. Featuring gorgeous, soulful music  by three-time Tony Award®winner JASON ROBERT BROWN that draws upon the rich textures of Americana and folk and the sweeping balladry of classic Broadway, Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News hails it as “one of Broadway’s best scores in the last decade.” Tom Geier of Entertainment Weekly exclaims that Brown “has written a lush and deeply romantic score, filled with rich and melodic duets,” and NPR proclaims it’s “MAGIC! An evening you will cherish long after the show is over!” As previously announced, the production will visit the Fabulous Fox in St. Louis April 5-17.

 Elizabeth Stanley is currently starring as the man-crazed anthropologist Claire De Loone in the Broadway revival of On the Town (Drama Desk Nomination). Other roles originated on Broadway: Dyanne in Million Dollar Quartet; Allison in Cry-Baby, and April in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company  First National Tour: Kira in Xanadu. Off-Broadway: Gussie in the New York City Center, Encores! production of Merrily We Roll Along, and The Nurse in Hello, Again (Transport Theatre Group—Drama League Nomination, best ensemble). Favorite regional roles: Kate in Kiss Me Kate, Sugar in Sugar, Constanze in Amadeus.  TV: Black Box, Made in Jersey, Fringe, The Chappelle Show, and PBS Great Performances --Company. Graduate of Indiana University.

Andrew Samonsky recently played Captain Phoebus in the American premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Paper Mill and La Jolla Playhouse. Broadway: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Neville), Scandalous (Kenneth Ormisten, original cast recording), and South Pacific (Lt. Cable, including the Live From Lincoln Center PBS broadcast). Off-Broadway: Queen of the Mist as Frank Russell (Drama Desk Award nomination, original cast recording), and Encores! productions of Fiorello! and Merrily We Roll Along.  Original productions of Somewhere in Time (Richard, Portland Center Stage), Tales of the City (Beauchamp, ACT), Little Miss Sunshine (La Jolla Playhouse, Joshua), and Disney's On the Record (Original Cast Recording).  He's a soloist with symphonies across the country.  TV/Film: ElementaryGuiding Light.

The critically acclaimed musical of THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY features one of Broadway’s most accomplished creative teams with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award®-winning composer JASON ROBERT BROWN (Parade, The Last Five Years), book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer MARSHA NORMAN (The Secret Garden, The Color Purple, ‘night, Mother), and led by the Tony Award®-winning director BARTLETT SHER (South Pacific, The King and I, The Light in the Piazza).

The team also includes scenic design by two-time Tony Award®winner MICHAEL YEARGAN (The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific), costume design by six-time Tony Award® winner CATHERINE ZUBER (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, The Coast of Utopia), lighting design by two-time Tony Award® winner DONALD HOLDER (South Pacific, The Lion King), sound design by JON WESTON, orchestrations by JASON ROBERT BROWN, and movement by DANNY MEFFORD.

Based on the best-selling novel by ROBERT JAMES WALLER, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY tells the story of Iowa housewife Francesca Johnson and her life-changing, four-day whirlwind romance with traveling photographer Robert Kincaid. It’s an unforgettable story of two people caught between decision and desire, as a chance encounter becomes a second chance at so much more.

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Casting Announcement! Newcomer "Star in the Making" to join Broadway Veterans for THE SOUND OF MUSIC at the Fox!

Published by Sara at 10:59 AM under

Casting has been announced for the brand new production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, directed by three-time Tony Award® winner Jack O’Brien. This lavish new production launches this September at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, under the auspices of the Center Theatre Group, and will then tour North America for multiple seasons, playing multi-week and week-long engagements. THE SOUND OF MUSIC opens at the Fabulous Fox April 26-May 8.

BEN DAVIS (Broadway’s Violet, A Little Night Music, La Bohème) will play Captain Georg von Trapp and ASHLEY BROWN (Broadway’s Mary Poppins, NBC’s The Sound of Music) will play The Mother Abbess with MERWIN FOARD as Max Detweiler, TERI DALE HANSEN as Elsa Schraeder, DAN TRACY as Rolf and PAIGE SILVESTER as Liesl. The von Trapp children will be played by ERICH SCHUETT (Friedrich), MARIA KNASEL (Louisa), QUINN ERICKSON (Kurt), SVEA JOHNSON (Brigitta), MACKENZIE CURRIE (Marta) and AUDREY BENNETT (Gretl).

And introducing Jack O’Brien’s brand new discovery, KERSTIN ANDERSON as Maria Rainer.  A current student at Pace University, Ms. Anderson won the coveted role from hundreds who auditioned.  This will be her first national tour.

“I’ve always believed Maria was a “star-making” part, rather than the leading role we remember from the movies; so I went looking for someone with star-making magic,” says director O’Brien.  “And in through the audition door one day walked Kerstin Anderson, still studying at Pace University in New York.  She opened her mouth, she sang and the tears welled up in my eyes.  If ever there were an enchanting young woman standing on the brink of discovery — this was it!  And now, the discovery is about to be all of ours!”

The ensemble includes Carey Rebecca Brown, Ron Brown, Caitlin Burke, Christopher Carl, Kyla Carter, Austin Colby, Daniella Dalli, Elisabeth Evans, Donna Garner, Meghan Hales, Adam Hill, Jenavene Hester, Jeremy Lanuti, Darren Matthias, Kelly McCormick, Julia Osborne, Andrea Ross, Brent Schindele and Jim Schubin.

According to director Jack O’Brien, “THE SOUND OF MUSIC has been in our ears for decades, as it deserves to be. But it might be time to look once more, and more closely, at this remarkable work which, I feel, begins to reveal itself as deeper, richer, and more powerful than ever. It’s no longer ‘your mother’s’ familiar SOUND OF MUSIC. We are tearing off the varnish of the past from one of the great glories of our theatergoing experience and making it fresh! This is an opportunity we’ve all longed to create!”

Producer Beth Williams (Grove Entertainment) said, “It’s a great privilege to bring this beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein musical to theaters across North America. We hope that people of all ages will continue to fall in love with it for the first time, or all over again, and that it will truly become one of their ‘favorite things.’ From our distinguished team led by the creative master Jack O’Brien, audiences can expect a truly magnificent production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC.”

THE SOUND OF MUSIC enjoyed extraordinary success as the first live television production of a musical in over 50 years when “The Sound of Music Live!” aired on NBC in December, 2013; 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the film version, which continues to be the most successful movie musical in history. The spirited, romantic and beloved musical story of Maria and the Von Trapp Family will once again thrill audiences with such songs as “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Edelweiss” and the title song.


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