In The Pipeline: More than monkeying around on stage

EntertainmentMusical TheaterTheaterTelevisionWicked (musical)Lifestyle and LeisurePets

It's a role sure to make other singer-dancers green with envy, that of Chistery, the head flying monkey in the musical smash hit "Wicked."

But for a young performer who lived in Huntington Beach, it's all part of a soaring career that also included a recent stint with the national company of another hit musical, "Cats."

KC Fredericks lived in Huntington Harbour while attending Orange Coast College just a couple of years ago, so when "Wicked" opens this week at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, it will be a homecoming of sorts.

"Oh, I'm sure a lot of my HB friends will be showing up for this," he said recently while on the road with the show in Texas. "I'm not sure it's just me, though, they're coming to see. 'Wicked' brings people out no matter what. But either way, getting the guest list together is going to be a challenge. A lot of people!"

While living here, Fredericks maintained a busy schedule singing, dancing and giving dance lessons. And he was already highly accomplished, having competed regionally and nationally, earning him the titles of Mr. Teen Dance America, Mr. Dance USA and Mr. Global Dance. He also earned numerous scholarships allowing him to train at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in New York.

But living here was special.

"I loved living in HB," he said. "It's such a peaceful place. I always felt like I could escape from all of the craziness of performing when I got back to my home in Huntington Beach."

I wondered if it's easier or tougher to perform when you know a lot of people in the audience.

"I prefer having people there I know, friends and family," Fredericks said. "It makes the show that much more special for me. When I don't know anyone out there, it's still great; there's a high level you always maintain on stage. But there's an extra jolt of energy with friends and family in the house. I'm constantly thinking, 'How are they enjoying the show?'"

While living in Huntington Beach, Fredericks would see shows in the same hall where he'll be performing in "Wicked."

"I saw the National Ballet of China there, 'Sweet Charity' and a few other things, as I remember," he said. "And I also performed there once before in 'Cats.' It's an amazing theater, just stunning. And what's interesting, this is the only theater where I've ever seen a show as a spectator and have also performed in before. So that's special too."

And he encourages everyone to come to see this production of what's become one of the world's most beloved musicals.

"It's important to let people know that 'Wicked' is an important show because everyone can relate to it on some level," he said. "It has tons of comedy, tons of touching moments, incredible music and incredible costumes. It has the power to change the way people look at live theater."

The show runs through April 3, and there's something to keep in mind regarding some of the best seats in the house: A day-of-performance lottery for a limited number of orchestra seats will be held daily for "Wicked."

Each day, two and a half hours prior to show time, people who present themselves at the box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum, and 30 minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only. This lottery is available only in person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person.

Regular tickets start at $38.75 and are available at http://www.scfta.org, by calling (714) 556-2787 and at the box office at 600 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa.

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Root, root, root for the home team

Also, a heads up for Angels baseball fans: A new TV commercial for the team has started running for the 2011 season. It features my son and I talking about a special moment that occurred at the ballpark years ago involving Tim Salmon.

We also just got back from a spring training trip to watch the team in Tempe, Ariz., where we had a chance to see Huntington Beach High School's Hank Conger work behind the plate. Here's hoping he has the chance to catch a lot of games this season. We'll be catching up with Hank in the column here once the season starts.

CHRIS EPTING is the author of 18 books, including the new "Hello, It's Me: Dispatches from a Pop Culture Junkie." You can write him at chris@chrisepting.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentMusical TheaterTheaterTelevisionWicked (musical)Lifestyle and LeisurePets
  • KC Fredericks, who plays Chistery in the current touring production of "Wicked."

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