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Let's Hear It From The Girls! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Thursday, 20 June 2013 18:20

If your instant visualization of a jazz musician is a middle-aged gentleman, possibly with a receding hairline, a slightly wrinkled face and a constantly tapping toe, visualize again!

Bria Skonberg at the 2013 Elkhart (IN) Jazz FestivalNothing could be farther from the reality of two of the most talented jazz musicians being featured in the Elkhart Jazz Festival 2013.

Both are young, very talented, very attractive and very well-versed on the subject of jazz — past and present — and undoubtedly will play an important part in its future.

The only difference is that Bria Skonberg plays trumpet and flugelhorn and Ariel Pocock can be found at the piano.

Both will be familiar to regular visitors at past EJFs.

Bria came to the 2009 EJF as a member of the west coast sextet Mighty Aphrodite, an all-girl group which was a definite plus that year. She not only played but sang. Today she leads the Bria Skonberg Quintet and has changed her “coast of residence” to New York City.

Last Updated on Sunday, 23 June 2013 21:29
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'Addams Family' To Visit Kalamazoo PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Monday, 21 October 2013 19:24

The Addams Family Miller Auditorium Kalamazoo MI“They’re creepy and they’re kooky,

            Mysterious and spooky,

They’re altogether ooky,

            The Addams Family.


Their house is a museum

            When people come to see-um,

They really are a scre-um

            The Addams Family.

   (neat, sweet, petite)

So get a witch’s shawl on,

            A broomstick you can crawl on

We’re going to make a call on

            The Addams Family!”

The familiar theme for the TV version of Charles Addams’ famous cartoons in The New Yorker magazine is one song you won’t hear in composer Andrew Lippa’s score for the touring production set to play Tuesday and Wednesday evening in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

All the Addamses — Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Uncle Fester and even Lurch — will be ready to greet visitors at 7:30 pm. Also invited for dinner are Wednesday’s boyfriend Lucas Beinenke and his parents, Mal and Alice.

Word is this will be a ”spooktacular” meal. It seems everyone has something to hide and more than a few skeletons in their closets.

Book for this new Addams Family adventure is by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice who also are responsible for “Jersey Boys.”

Tickets range from $35 to $58. For reservations, call (269) 387-2300 or visit www.millerauditorium.com.


Last Updated on Monday, 21 October 2013 19:46
 
'The Winter's Tale' Is Number 16 for NDSF PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Friday, 21 August 2015 20:18

In 1623. the first published collection of the works of William Shakespeare, aka the First Folio, contained his 36 plays, divided as comedies, tragedies and histories.

The Winter's Tale Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival South Bend INNumber 14 among these is “The Winter’s Tale,” a production of which opened officially Thursday evening in the Patricia George Decio Theatre in the Marie P. DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame — a location worthy of the works it houses every summer.

“The Winter’s Tale” marks the 16th production in the annual Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival which has, to date, presented many of the best known works by the prolific Bard of Avon.

This “Tale” is listed in the First Folio as a comedy, a designation that seems to me rather iffy, considering others in this category including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “All’s Well That Ends Well” and “Twelfth Night,” offer a good many more laughs than this tale which, looked at in modern times, really has a closer connection with daytime (and sometimes primetime) drama.

The Winter's Tale NDShakespeare Festival South Bend INConsider the characters: a king whose undying love flips to raging hate faster than you can say paranoia; a queen who is punished harshly for following her husband’s request; a mysterious lady friend of the queen; a good friend who becomes the target of murderous rage; a faithful follower who puts his life on the line; an abandoned baby; a simple peasant (and his even simpler son) who unknowingly save the day, and a giant bear.

And that’s just act one.

Not a lot of laughs there, although the bear (considering the recent sightings in the area) gets a big reaction.

Everything does come right in the end, however, with happy pairings of all ages, and even a magical resurrection.

The Winter's Tale ND Shakespeaare Festival South Bend INComedy, tragedy or history, Shakespeare gets the royal treatment at the NDSF. The cast, which combines professional actors with students (and a very pre-teen young prince played alternately by local elementary students, a boy and a girl) is headed by performers whose resumes are extremely impressive and, for the most part, filled with Shakespearean credits.

But, credits aside, the proof is in the doing and this ensemble definitely does things right.

Heading the cast are the two kings Leontes of Sicilia and Polixenes of Bohemia, played by Grant Goodman and Jens Rasmussen, respectively.  Shanara Gabrielle is Leontes’ long-suffering, much-castigated and really too-good-to-be-true Queen Hermione. His faithful follower Camillo is Joneal Joplin,

The Winter's Tale  ND Shakespeare Festival  South Bend INThe mysterious lady Paulina, an obvious ancestress of Gloria Steinem and Elphaba, is Wendy Robie. L Peter Callender is Paulina’s husband Antigonus (act one) and The Old Shepherd (act two).

The young lovers who have no knowledge of their actual connection are Perdita and Florizel, portrayed with true Elizabethan restraint by Alison Morse and Xavier Bluel.

All work beautifully under the direction of Drew Fracher on the latest in a continuing line of amazing sets designed by Marcus Stephens. Costume designer Christine Turbitt has followed the scenically neutral color palette in dressing the players, excepting one brilliantly colored gown for Paulina and one for Perdita.

A crucial moment comes in the end of act one when lives and locations are forever disrupted by a monumental storm. For this, and for its flashingly thundering reality (faint-hearted take note!), credit goes to sound designer Matt Callahan and lighting designer Kevin Dreyer.

As mentioned, everything comes up roses (except for Paulina’s husband who is, unfortunately, eaten by that bear). The only question remaining for us was “Where did the title come from?’

So, right or wrong, I recalled Prince Mamillius’ (ill-fated son of Hermione and Leontes) answer when his mother asks him for a tale “As merry as you will.”

“A sad tale’s best,” he replies, “for winter.”

Especially one provided by Shakespeare!

“THE WINTER’S TALE” plays through Aug. 30 in the Patricia George Decio Theatre in the DeBartolo PAC on the ND campus in South Bend. For performance times and reservations, call (574) 631-2800 or visit Shakespeare.nd.edu

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 August 2015 04:01
 
Wopat And Rogers: A Likeable Pairing PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Thursday, 27 August 2015 18:30

There is nothing so good for an actor as having a faithful fan base, which means that Tom Wopat should be feeling very good right about now.

The Will Rogers Follies The Barn Theatre Augusta MIThe singer/actor opened Tuesday evening at The Barn Theatre in Augusta, MI in “The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue” and the audience erupted in applause, whistles and cheers even as the top of his western hat cleared the platform stairs spanning the stage.

It was Wopat they came to see and he did not disappoint.

Actually, like the role of Frank Butler in “Annie Get Your Gun” which earned Wopat a Tony nomination in 1999, that of Will Rogers fits him like a glove. His ability to communicate with the audience is a hallmark of Will Rogers’ low-key, straight-to-the-heart personality and it works well.

The Will Rogers Follies  The Barn Theatre Augusta MIFor those too young to remember, during the 1920s and ‘30s, until his death in 1935, Will Rogers was the best-known man in the world, his sly humor and all-encompassing good nature reinforced his best-known statement “I never met a man I didn’t like.”

The musical recap of his life, with book by Peter Stone, music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, is presented as a revue, resembling the Ziegfeld Follies in which Rogers starred on Broadway for several years.

The Barn production, directed by Ann Cooley, has an impressively sparkly show curtain which hides the aforementioned stairs, the edges of which light up when required.

Up (and down) these stairs climb the important players in Rogers’ life: his dad Clem (Charlie King), his wife Betty Blake (Brooke Evans), and a variety of Indians, showgirls and cowboys, all singing and dancing, frequently together. The stages of is life and career are introduced by Ziegfeld's Favorite (Julie Grisham), a perky showgirl who enjoys the spotlight. One of the most significant characters, however, fellow flyer Wiley Post (Hans Frederichs), remains in the audience, moving the years along with his never-changing request “Let’s go flying, Will.”

The Will Rogers Follies  The Barn Theatre Augusta MIEvans delivers a well-sung, sympathetic portrait of the lady who mostly waited for Will, first to be married, then to come home. On opening night, she was the target of an angry insect which Wopat managed to eliminate. Neither missed a note.

For whatever reason, the four Rogers children unfortunately are missing from this production as are the opulence and glamour for which Ziegfeld was famous, especially in the extremely bland costuming of the showgirls who frequently seem to be ads for a brassiere company.

The Will Rogers Follies The Barn Theatre Augusta MIThe most theatrical excitement comes in Act Two, beginning with AJ Silver who opens with a show-stopping “Roping Act,” followed soon by the show’s best-known number “Our Favorite Son.” Flanked by showgirls in red, white and blue, Rogers accepts his state’s request to run for president. The rapidly precise hand-and-foot work of the ladies — with Wopat in sync most of the time — was an example of what should have been displayed in the rest of the ensemble numbers.

For most of the evening, singers and instrumentalists were at odds, with the orchestra frequently overplaying the vocalists. Hopefully, a better balance has been achieved.

No matter what the plus and minuses of this “Follies,” the title character delivers the unmistakable humor and honesty of the man. His radio talk at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt is taken from Will Rogers’ actual speech. As recreated by Wopat, its impact remains stronger than ever and, sadly, even more relevant today than during the dark days of the Great Depression.

Also ahead of its time (the show was written in 1991) is a ballad, “Look Around,” sung by Wopat to his own guitar accompaniment, which warns of the continuing disappearance of America’s heartlands.

Note: For Wopat fans who can’t get enough, the star is on the bill in the after-show cabaret in The Rehearsal Shed where he IS the third set (except between the Saturday matinee and evening performances).

It’s definitely worth the wait!

“WILL ROGERS FOLLIES A Life in Revue” plays through Sept. 6 in The Barn Theatre on M96 between Galesburg and Augusta, Mi. For performance times and reservations, call (269)731-4121.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 August 2015 04:19
 
'Hair' Plays Tonight At Miller Auditorium PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcia Fulmer   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 15:30

The Age of Aquarius, it seems, is always with us.

hair  tour Miller Auditorium  Kalamazo MichiganOriginally on Broadway in 1968, the James Rado/Gerome Ragni/Galt MacDermott musical appropriately titled "Hair," returned to the Great White Way in 1977 and 2009, winning numerous awards with each incarnation. The most recent is now on tour, bringing its look at the movement of the '60s and '70s that changed America forever to theaters across the country. From its score, many songs have joined the list of hits on the Great American Songbook. Among these "Let The Sun Shine In," "Aquarius," "Good Morning Starshine" and the title tune.

Claude and his peace-loving friends will be on stage in (and out) of appropriate hippie attire at 7:30 p.m. today in Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University. For tickets, call (800) 228-99858 or (269) 387-2300 or visit www.millerauditorium.com.

For those who were "there" — and those who were not— its one way to review past mistakes and keep them from repeating themselves.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 03:38
 
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