The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
For David Crowder, there is a master plan.
That would seem to be a natural position for Crowder, one of the most popular Christian music purveyors of the past decade. But we’re not talking master plan in a cosmic, God is in control of all things sense. We’re talking about Crowder’s music. Specifically, we are talking about his albums, which have been custom-designed in title and content to follow a trajectory to … to … well, maybe we’d better let Crowder explain:
“We’re in a three-record cycle,” he said. “We have three records, and then a second set of three records that are sort of mirror images or reannunciations of the first three records. Before we got into all of this, we had an idea for a seven-record kind of thing.”
Crowder grants that there have been EPs and remix albums thrown in. But for the band’s studio albums, they are executing the master plan of seven albums.
“We’ve been sitting on this title, knowing that it was coming as the mirror of the second title in the first three,” Crowder continues, referring to the band’s 2003 release, Illuminate.
Within all of this geekiness are things like number games: The first three albums were four syllable titles and the second are all three, because four plus three equals seven.
Out of all that complexity, the band has created numerous hits that contemporary worshipers know by heart, including Foreverandever Etc. and Oh, Praise Him. And writing songs for people to sing is, at its essence, what the band is trying to do.
But the structure, Crowder says, keeps them engaged and gives them direction.
Fans of Rocky Horror have two ways to see the show this Halloween weekend which as Mr. Tunis reminds us, is an hour longer on Halloween night.
The kids at the Berea College Theatre Laboratory are presenting The Rocky Horror Show, the original 1973 Richard O’Brien musical that started it all. Like it’s cinematic incarnation — we’ll get to that in a few sentences — audience participation is encouraged, and members of the Berea audience will actually receive participation bags with things like confetti for the audience to throw. Please do remember there are live people playing Dr. Frank and company, so don’t try to go and upstage them like you do at the movie. Tonight and Saturday, the students will put up two shows nightly at 8 and midnight at Berea’s McGaw Theatre. Tickets are $5-$10 and can be reserved by calling (859) 985-3300 from 1-5 p.m. Friday and one hour prior to curtain. Berea students get in free, but must present a valid Berea ID.
Anyone know if Transylvania University ever did Rocky Horror? Seems like it would be a lot of fun there.
Of course, the annual party at the Kentucky Theatre reconvenes at midnight tonight and Saturday for 1975′s The Rocky Horror Picture Show starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf and all the rest. Feel free to try to upstage Curry — just try. According to the Kentucky’s blog, Lexington ranked Numero Tres (I am probably phrasing that as competently as Chad Ochocinco says 85) behind only Chicago and San Francisco in Rocky Horror Halloween attendence last year.
So, there it is: Live from Berea or on film in Lexington. But really, there should be time to get from Berea after the 8 p.m. show to Lexington for the midnight movie. I mean, if you’re not going to Time Warp twice on Halloween weekend, when are you going to Time Warp twice.
Don’t forget: The Thriller dance marches through Downtown Lexington again, tonight.
It’s a typical rehearsal two days before a concert.
The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra is on the stage in the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall with conductor John Nardolillo stopping occasionally to tweak parts, but mostly letting the music flow.
Centerstage two violinists trade increasingly virtuosic, knee bending phrases, somewhat reminiscent of a little Peach State fiddle duel Charlie Daniels once sang about.
This is where things become less typical.
One of the violinists is UK graduate student Jessica Miskelly. The other is Mark O’Connor, a classical music star who has distinguished himself by successfully bridging traditional classical music and American folk. He’s currently in the midst of a short residency at UK which will culminate in a Friday night concert featuring O’Connor, several of his compositions, the UK Choirs and several students sharing his spotlight.
“I’ve been doing more residencies the last couple of years at institutions,” O’Connor said in his dressing room, a few minutes before Wednesday’s rehearsal began. “Every time I show up at performances around the country, there’s all kinds of questions about, ‘Where’s this music going?’ and what your background is. There’s always some kind of educational component to it, so I just decided to expand that.”
In addition to UK, O’Connor works with students at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the UK String Project, a primary school program, this week.
O’Connor has done his mini-residencies at prestigious schools such as the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and the University of California, Los Angeles.
But he wanted to come to Kentucky.
In part, it was because of a growing relationship between O’Connor and the orchestra, which included another visit several years ago and a performance in February with the UK Symphony at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Our Lincoln production.
“John Nardolillo has put a great emphasis on performance and getting the material ready,” O’Connor said, referring the UK Symphony’s director. “It’s just fantastic to see and hear . . . It’s going to be a darned good show for the audience.”
This visit also brings O’Connor close to Appalachia, a region he is strongly identified with thanks to his own music and several celebrated albums of Appalachian music with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer.
Studio Players is soliciting play proposals from potential directors for its 2010-11 season.
For several years, the theater in the Carriage House on Bell Court has programmed seasons by selecting plays from director proposals.
Hopefuls may submit as many as three scripts for consideration, and directors are encouraged to put together a mix of styles and genres. The theater generally programs two comedies, a drama/mystery/thriller, a classic or period piece, and one lesser-known piece. Musicals will be considered too, primarily as summer selections.
Submissions should include the title, author, publisher, number and gender of characters, and a brief synopsis of each play. Director résumés are optional. Send submissions by e-mail to Scott Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to 110 Kelly Avenue, Georgetown, Ky. 40324.
Oct24Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Arts administration, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, Paragon Music Theatre, Theater, UK, Visual arts; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Ben Sollee, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra, Children's Health magazine, Explorium, Kayoko Dan, Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Larry Snipes, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers' Children's Chorus, Living Arts and Science Center, Nathan Cole, Our Lincoln, Paragon Music Theatre, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Scott Terrell, University of Kentucky, Vivian Snipes
When I moved to Lexington in 1998, one thing that immediately struck me about the local arts scene was the prominence of children and organizations geared toward children.
The Lexington Children’s Theatre’s shows rated the same sort of attention as productions at Actors Guild of Lexington and other area stages.
The Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras’ events and personnel moves were prominent news. There were two institutions – the Explorium (then, the Lexington Children’s Museum) and the Living Arts and Science Center – geared toward children’s arts, particularly visual arts.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts had a prominent place in town, but there were stage, art and music programs at other schools also producing talented graduates who went on to arts careers.
Children’s Health magazine recently ranked Lexington No. 6 on its list of the 100 best places to raise a family. The criteria included crime and safety, education, economics, housing, cultural attractions and health.
I’d be willing to bet that if someone wanted to rank best places to be an artsy kid, Lexington would rate high on that list, too. By virtue of what is offered, we tell our children that the arts are something to do and be respected for doing.
The Lexington Philharmonic, the Horse Capitol of the World’s flagship arts organization, will celebrate young artists with its Youth Arts Day family concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Singletary Center for the Arts. It will include young singers from SCAPA, Fayette County Public Schools and the School of the Lexington Ballet.
The prominence of youth-oriented groups here is quite a bit more than other communities that I have lived in or observed. Over the nearly 12 years since I arrived, it has become clear that a big reason for that is quality.
Take the Children’s Theatre: In a town that has struggled with the concept of professional theater for adults, the Lexington Children’s Theatre has established itself with its own building on Short Street and a professional staff, including actors. What’s more, Larry and Vivian Snipes have developed a national reputation for the theater by being a venue that presents and creates new work. And the primary beneficiaries are kids.
And it really wasn’t terribly surprising that when the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras went looking for a new music director at the same time that the Lexington Philharmonic was trying to fill a similar job, it ended up attracting and hiring Kayoko Dan, also a candidate for the Philharmonic post.
CKYO has graduated numerous professional musicians, including Chicago Symphony Orchestra violinist Nathan Cole and hard-to-categorize cello soloist Ben Sollee.
Outside of groups directly geared toward kids, Lexington arts groups have been generous to kids.
Look at Paragon Music Theatre, which routinely loads the stage with kids, including Hello Dolly! this weekend, and even makes a place for them in its cabaret shows.
During years without a professional company, the Lexington Ballet featured its students in productions, and it and Kentucky Ballet Theatre, which has always had a pro troupe, always find ways to present students. Former Ballet Theatre dancer Adalhi Aranda Corn saw such value in Central Kentucky’s young artists she left and formed Bluegrass Youth Ballet and eventually built CulturArte, an arts facility that acommodates a variety of disciplines.
Possibly one of the biggest statements about valuing student artists was when the Lexington Singers’ Children’s Chorus was invited to perform in the Our Lincoln performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington in February.
And now LexArts has formed a Youth Arts Council to help focus young artists in the area.
Full disclosure: My children have participated in some of these groups, and one is in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, although not the ensemble performing Sunday with the Lexington Philharmonic.
In addition, I’ve gotten to know many other kids who participate in groups. Maybe the most important thing these groups engender is enthusiasm for the arts they are participating in. I hear spirited discussions about play rehearsal and genuine interest in Bach sonatas.
Like anything, Lexington’s youth arts scene isn’t perfect. I remain baffled, for instance, why SCAPA does not have a theater of its own. Then again, SCAPA regularly solves that problem by putting its kids on stages usually graced by adults and pros.
It occurred to me as I left a CKYO rehearsal last week with my daughter that by virtue of her participation in the orchestra, she’s on the University of Kentucky campus every week. Most of us didn’t get used to being on a college campus until we had enrolled.
That’s just one of many ways that through our youth arts, regardless of whether the students pursue arts careers, by supporting such substantial programs, we’re preparing our kids for the rest of their lives.
Oct23Filed under: Music, Musicals, Paragon Music Theatre, Theater; Tagged as: Adam Richard Fister, Alicia Helm McCorvey, Barbra Streisand, Carol Channing, Evan Pulliam, Greg Wilson, Hello Dolly, Jan Hooker, Jerry Herman, Liz Weyer, Michael Stewart, Paragon Music Theatre, Rebecca Rudd, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Ryan Shirar
If you can walk out of Hello, Dolly! saying, “That was fun,” then mission accomplished.
This is not one of those musicals that are supposed to help you realize deeper truths about life and the human condition or to leave you enraptured by compelling drama. Dolly is a little confection that says we take life a bit too seriously.
And Paragon Music Theatre has accomplished the mission of offering a fun evening with its production of the Jerry Herman-Michael Stewart musical, which opened Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Lexington Opera House.
Director Robyn Peterman-Zahn has created a traditional rendition of the show with some impressive set pieces designed by Josh Hurley and backdrops designed by Liz Weyer.
Much of the fun of this evening can be attributed to the leading actors and the men of the ensemble.
Alicia Helm McCorvey is not your Dolly Levi from Central Casting. If your deep desire is an idiosyncratic performance along the lines of Carol Channing or Barbra Streisand, this is not that. Then again, I don’t know who would be the Dolly from Central Casting in Lexington.
When you don’t have that obvious option, the thing to do is give the role to a terrific performer and let her make it her own, which is what McCorvey does.
Her Dolly is wistful, fanciful and maternal. McCorvey’s operatic voice also soars higher than traditional Dollys, presumably with some custom orchestration by music director Ryan Shirar. McCorvey has an instrument that’s different from that of anyone else on stage, but that’s fine, because Dolly is set apart from the rest of the characters.
McCorvey’s voice seemed to provide a particular challenge in the sound department: She frequently overpowered the microphone. If she is going to be miked, she needs to be more smoothly mixed with the other voices.
And there are other great voices on stage. With Dolly, Paragon continues a trend of making discoveries, principally Greg Wilson as Horace Vandergelder, Rebecca Rudd as Irene Molloy and Evan Pulliam as Barnaby Tucker.
Wilson sparks the show to life when leading the men in the ensemble in It Takes a Woman. He naturally steps to the front of the stage and engages the audience, and that is essential to soften Horace’s rough exterior.
Rudd was luminous in her rendition of Ribbons Down My Back. And Pulliam was a bolt of energy, elevating Barnaby above the role of simple sidekick.
This brings up one frustration: the lack of cast biographies in the program. I really wanted to know more about each of these new faces.
The familiar names of Jan Hooker and Adam Richard Fister rounded out the lead ensemble, and whenever any combination of that group was on stage, the show was fine.
It also was in great shape with the men, in Horace’s shop in Act I and as the staff of the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant in Act II. They had loads of personality and were a collective triple threat. It was in the large ensemble scenes that some of the air came out of the show. The movement felt confused, but the real letdown was a lack of vocal power, particularly in the opening number, Call on Dolly. The Act I closer defied that problem, again with a lot of help from the principals.
And again, the overall sensation was fun, which is exactly what a production of Hello, Dolly! should be.
As promised, here’s the slideshow from the first act of Paragon Music Theatre’s Hello, Dolly! Oct. 22-25 at the Lexington Opera House.
The managing director of Actors Guild of Lexington, Kimberly Shaw, is leaving the theater to become the stage manager of a production that will tour Europe through 2010.
Her departure leaves the embattled troupe with its top two management posts vacant and only one full-time employee remaining.
Although her departure comes at the end of a summer that saw the theater tumble into financial turmoil, the Lexington native says her resignation is not because of Actors Guild’s troubles.
“I had a meeting with the board’s executive committee Friday afternoon that was very productive and we were excited about some of the plans we were making,” said Shaw, who came to the theater in Sept. 2008 and had previously worked for the theater at Princeton University, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the New York International Fringe festival. “Then, out of the blue, I got this offer and it was personally and financially hard to turn down.”
Shaw said she is joining a show called India. It is a production of Franco Dragone Entertainment, which has produced shows such as Celine Dion in Las Vegas.
“It’s a sad loss for AGL,” said board president Jennifer Miller. “But I cannot say enough good things about Kim, and we could not possibly resent her for taking this amazing opportunity.”
With Shaw’s leaving and the departure of artistic director Richard St. Peter in August, Actors Guild now has only one full-time staffer left: associate artistic director Eric Ryan Seale.
Actors Guild produced a season-opening production — the Rodgers and Hart revue Beguiled Again, which closed earlier this month — but the theater has not announced any further productions.
Miller said the theater will be making some announcements about its future, including upcoming productions, soon.
Shaw said she is confident “the theater is poised to make it.
“The board is ready to answer the tough questions. It’s been a rough summer for AGL, but through that process, people have come on board and the staff is committed to work.”
Oct20Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Central Kentucky Arts News, Television, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Art, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Gravedigger, Hamlet, Jack Parrish, Kentucky State University, Merry Wives of Windsor, Polonius, Richard St. Peter, Richmomd Va., Shakespeare at Equus Run, Tim X. Davis, Yasmina Reza
Jack Parrish, a mostly Richmond, Va.-based actor and director who spent the last few years of his life enriching the Central Kentucky theater scene, died Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 56.
Mr. Parrish was born in Richmond and got into theater while he was in high school. His theater and film career included the roles of Brad Garrick on Another World and Brian Collier on All My Children, as well as stage work in New York and regional stages around the country, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In 2004, Actors Guild of Lexington’s then-new artistic director Richard St. Peter hired Mr. Parrish to direct the first production under his watch: Yasmina Reza’s play Art.
Mr. Parrish eventually moved to Central Kentucky, where he directed the drama department at Kentucky State University in Frankfort and continued to be active in area theater.
“Watching him act was like watching a master class in the craft,” said Tim X. Davis, Mr. Parrish’s predecessor at KSU and one of the actors in that 2004 production of Art. “I was proud to have Jack take my place at Kentucky State and continue to improve upon the program we had built there. His colleagues and students from KSU, many of whom I’m still in contact with, have nothing but the most positive things to say about him and his work. His work onstage here in Lexington, brief though it was, was simply stunning.”
Mr. Parrish’s roles in Lexington included Polonius and the Gravedigger in Actors Guild’s 2007 production of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He was set to take center stage as Falstaff in Actors Guild’s summer 2008 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor for Shakespeare at Equus Run but had to bow out because of his cancer treatments.
“It breaks my heart that the community never got to see his Falstaff … as it would have blown people out of their seats,” said Davis, who now directs the theater and film program at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Mr. Parrish eventually returned to Richmond with his wife, Kathy Ann Parrish. He was in hospice care when he died.
“I feel like I have lost a family member and one of my best friends all rolled into one,” said St. Peter, who resigned his post at Actors Guild in August. “He was an extraordinary actor, a brilliant interpreter of Shakespeare, a terrific director and a true ‘man of the theater.’”
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich