Bebeto Matthews, Associated Press
Dolly Parton stands next to a poster for the new "9 to 5" musical in New York. The production will first open in Los Angeles.

Last August I, along with one of my dearest friends, trekked to Seattle for the weekend. The goal was not to go to the Space Needle but to see "Young Frankenstein: The New Mel Brooks Musical," before it trekked to the Big Apple.

That was the first time I had seen a pre-Broadway run of a show, although world premieres have been happening for years in places such as Los Angeles, Denver and Seattle.

We had a ball! We fit in plenty of touristy stuff — took a Seattle waterfront cruise, ate clam chowder while sitting seaside and shopped at Pike Place Market.

But on Friday night, we headed to the Paramount Theatre to get our first glimpse of the new musical. We enjoyed the crowds, seeing the sold-out house and gauging the audience reaction to something that folks in New York hadn't seen yet. We decided we ought to see it again on Saturday night — which we did, getting two of the final few seats left.

I bring this up because another world premiere is happening right now in Seattle, and you should consider making a quick trip.

"Shrek: The Musical," starring Brian d'Arcy James and Sutton Foster, opened Aug. 14. It runs through Sept. 21 at the 5th Avenue Theatre.

It takes two hours to get James into character for the DreamWorks hit, which they're hoping will go head-to-head with Disney's crop of musicals. Makeup designers Naomi Donne and Michael Marino use "film-quality prosthetics to ensure that James will have full control over his facial expressions."

His costumes also have "head vents and channels to allow sweat to drip out," and the padding "looks like Swiss cheese; hundreds of holes to allow air to go through." One thing though — there is no quick escape. So bathroom breaks are only possible when James can get completely out of his costume.

You'll see top-quality talent and a large-scale Broadway production without paying for the cost of a trip to New York. And the tickets are much cheaper, too: They start at $25 and top out at $77.

Go to to get your tickets.

Or, if Los Angeles is more your cup of tea (or grande soy latte or whatever), you can check out the pre-Broadway World Premiere of "9 to 5: The Musical."

With music and lyrics by Dolly Parton herself, this musical adaptation of the hit film stars Stephanie J. Block, Marc Kudish and Allison Janney. The first preview performance was supposed to be Wednesday, but it was pushed to Saturday because "the technical demands are enormous for this show."

It runs at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre, Saturday through Oct. 19. It then heads to Broadway's Marquis Theatre. Tickets range from $40-$100 (www.centertheatregroup


On another note, there's a lot happening with Broadway CDs.

Kristin Chenoweth's "A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas" is due in stores Oct. 14. The Tony Award winner's Christmas CD will include "Silver Bells," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Do You Hear What I Hear?" to name a few.

Sarah Brightman is also coming out with a Christmas CD titled "A Winter Symphony." Her collections of Christmas favorites, including "Silent Night," "In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Ave Maria," will be in stores Nov. 4.

The soundtrack to "Frankenstein," not the Mel Brooks musical but an off-Broadway telling of the green creature, will be available for digital downloads Tuesday. The CD will be in stores Sept. 30. The show stars Hunter Foster (brother of Sutton, who starred in the original Brooks version) and Christiane Noll, who has sung with the Utah Symphony numerous times.

OK all you Jason Robert Brown fans ("The Last Five Years," "Parade"), the cast of his new musical "13" has been in the recording studio. The recording by the all-teenage cast, the first of its kind on Broadway, will be digitally available Sept. 30, and the CD will be in stores in time for holiday shopping.

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