The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
The death of Lexington actor and director Sidney Shaw Tuesday was on the minds of artists involved in several shows that opened Thursday night.
At Studio Players Funny Money, critic Tedrin Blair Lindsay reports that director Bob Singleton gave the curtain speech and spoke about his friend and colleague.
”With all the great theater opening around Lexington tonight, lights will be dimmed a little bit because of the passing of one of our local greats, Sidney Shaw.” He went on briefly to describe Shaw’s achievements and his own personal involvement with him in shows and what he had gained from that.
At Actors Guild of Lexington, artistic director Eric Seale said it would be inappropriate to dedicate the new zombie play, William Shakespeare’s Land of the Dead, to Shaw. But he said they dedicated the process of preparing the play to the late thespian.
“He was about the discovery, the page-to-stage, working through the material,” said Seale, who shared the stage with Shaw and was directed by him. “When we came for our final dress rehearsal last night, we were all aware of that, and I think we worked just a little bit harder for Sidney.”
Visitation for Shaw will be 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Peter Claver Church; funeral Mass will be at 2:30 p.m. at St. Peter Claver, followed by a reception including a champagne toast at Natasha’s Bistro and Bar.
Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch, items from the 1860 presidential election, and other Lincoln artifacts from the Kentucky Historical Society will be lent to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library for an exhibit this summer.
The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln will open at the Simi Valley, Calif., museum on June 1 and will run until Sept. 30. Included in the exhibit will be artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives. The Historical Society’s contributions will include “Lincoln’s pocket watch, a campaign medal from the 1860 presidential election, a campaign ribbon from the 1860 presidential election, a World War I-era poster reading ‘Books Build Character’ that features Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, and a print of Lincoln’s early home in Kentucky,” according to a news release.
The pocket watch was in the spotlight late last year when sound specialists from Steven Spielberg’s biopic Lincoln traveled to Frankfort to record it because Spielberg wanted sounds Lincoln heard in the movie.
Violinist Benjamin Beilman, guitarist Jason Vieaux, and the Escher String Quartet will bring a youthful vibe to the seventh annual Chamber Music Festival of the Bluegrass, Memorial Day Weekend at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. Rounding out the lineup are pianist Wu Han and cellist David Finckel, who have served as the event’s artistic directors since its inception in 2007.
In that short period, the festival has seen a number of changes, including the departure of one of the original co-presenters, Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts, and a change in leadership at the Shaker Village. But the appeal of hearing musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center perform in the pastoral beauty of the Shaker Village and the directors’ affection for the venue have sustained it.
“It’s the community; it’s the setting,” Wu said last year, in an interview with the Herald-Leader. “Management will come and go, from our experience, but art, if you have a community to support it, if you have the audience and, in the case of the Shaker Village, that particular setting, it’s irreplaceable.”
While the Escher will play several times together in the four concerts over two days, there will also be several chances for the group to mix with other musicians on pieces such as Johannes Brahms’ Sextet No. 2 in G major for Two Violins, Two Violas, and Two Cellos, which will close out the festival in the May 26 concert at the Meadow View Barn.
The event will open late on the morning of May 25 with Wu and Finckel, one of classical music’s celebrated couples, teaming up for Claude Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano.
That concert will also give Beilman a solo turn performing Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata in E Minor for Violin and the Escher will play Benjamin Britten’s Three Divertimentos for String Quartet. The next morning, Vieaux will have the stage to himself with Isaac Albeniz’s “Sevilla” and “Asturias” from Suite española for Guitar. And then there will be plenty of mixing and matching over the four performances. The festival really is a chance to watch world-class musicians play, in several senses of the word.
Beilman’s star is rising quickly in the 2010s with appearances around the world, particularly in chamber settings, and an Avery Fisher career grant to his credit.
Vieaux has recordings of works by J.S. Bach and Astor Piazolla to his credit, serves as the head of the Guitar Department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he is a co-founder of The Curtis Institute of Music’s Classical Guitar Department.
The Escher String Quartet does take its name from the Dutch artist M.C. Escher, famous for works such as interweaving stair cases, and has racked up a distinguished list of venues and achievements over its eight years together, including being invited to perform at Itzhak Perlman’s summer festival. Its recorded catalog includes works by Alexander von Zemlinsky and Amy Beach.
Despair not, ye who desire to hear the Bard’s words in the midst of the warm breezes of summer.
Though SummeFest has decided to make Shakespeare in the park a biennial offering, Josephine SummerStage in Frankfort’s Josephine Sculpture Park is presenting its third annual Shakespeare show in June. This year, the play is As You Like It, the tale of Rosalind fleeing her uncle’s court to find love in the Forest of Arden. That, and the assertion that, “All the world’s a stage,” seem particularly well-suited to the park setting.
The play is directed by Louisville-based director Kathi E.B. Ellis, who is also directing the production of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning TopDog/UnderDog next week at Balagula Theatre. Park artistic director Melanie VanHouten will again serve as the production designer, striving to integrate the play into the landscape of the park.
New this year will be three large scale sculptures commissioned from Louisville artist Andrew Marsh for the production.
Performances will be at 7 p.m. June 6 to 8 and 13 to 15 at Josephine Sculpture Park, 3355 Lawrenceburg Road. Visitors are invited to arrive early to picnic and look around the park. Tickets are $10 and $8 in advance at Kentucky Employees Credit Union and Completely Kentucky in Frankfort, and $12 and $8 at the gate.
Transylvania University’s May 25 graduation ceremony will have a dash of Hollywood: Actor and area resident Steve Zahn is to deliver the commencement address.
Zahn, who starred in films including Sahara; Happy, Texas; and Rescue Dawn, and the HBO series Treme, lives in Georgetown with his wife, theater artist and author Robyn Peterman-Zahn and their two children. They also are co-directors of The Rep, a Lexington-based musical theater troupe whose next production will be Georgie Boy! this summer.
Zahn took to the stage himself in December, playing the featured role of One-Man-Christmas-Show-Man in The Rep’s second annual production of Peterman-Zahn’s satirical revue Smackdown for the Christmas Crown at the Lyric Theatre.
On film, Zahn can next be seen in Dallas Buyers Club, the story of Ron Woodroof (played by Matthew McConaughey), an HIV/AIDS patient who created an underground resource of non-FDA approved AIDS medicines in the early 1990s. The film was recently acquired by Focus Features and is scheduled for release later this year.
Zahn attended the American Repertory Theatre’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University.
The commencement ceremony will be at 9:30 a.m. May 25 on the lawn at Old Morrison on the Transylvania University campus.
Eastern Kentucky University made news earlier this month with the announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama will address its graduates on May 11.
Even before the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre opened its blockbuster production of Phantom of the Opera last October, director Everett McCorvey knew there was only one show to do for an encore: Les Miserables.
So, the day after Phantom closed, McCorvey says he wrote a letter to the show’s original Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh, telling him of the success of Phantom, which sold out 11 performances at the Lexington Opera House, and asking if he could get the rights to Les Miz.
Mackintosh forwarded the request to the show’s rights administrators and UK Opera received permission to stage the Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil musical Oct. 10 to 20 at the Opera House. Like Phantom, this will be the first time a full production of Les Miserables has been presented in Lexington, as the Opera House is too small to accommodate the stages and sets of the show’s professional touring productions.
The full-Broadway version of Les Miserables just recently became available to colleges. Nashville’s Belmont College was the first to present it, in March.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts did present the school edition of Les Miserables at the Opera House in March, and has presented that version before. The Oscar-winning film version of the musical brought it back into pop-culture consciousness late last year.
McCorvey said the UK production will be similar to the near $400,000 Phantom production and involve many of the same personnel, including stage director and set designer Richard Kagey, music director John Nardolillo and choreographer Susie Thiel. Auditions will be later in April, so cast members can work on their roles through the summer.
There will be more performances of Les Miz than Phantom with 13 public performances and two student previews. Tickets will go on sale in April 25 for the entire UK Opera season, which will also include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni March 6 to 9 and the annual It’s a Grand Night for Singing show-tune revue, June 13 to 22. (This season’s Grand Night is still to come, June 7 to 15 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.) Season tickets will be available only by phone, by calling (859) 233-3535 or at the Lexington Center Ticket Office. Available single tickets will go on sale in the fall.
Starting next fall, theater and music majors will be able to earn musical theater certificates while studying at UK. The certificate program will be available by audition and students in it will need to complete courses such as musical theatre, jazz dance, ballet, voice, vocal ensemble, and acting.
UK theater department chair Nancy Jones, who will oversee the certificate program, said the introduction of the certificate program was the culmination of a number of moves in the College of Fine Arts including the introduction of a dance minor under the direction of dance lecturer Susie Thiel and adjunct musical theater instructors Jeromy Smith and Lyndy Franklin Smith. The last several years, the theater department has presented musicals, including last year’s presentation of Thoroughly Modern Millie and this year’s production of Spring Awakening, which opens Thursday.
Auditions for the musical theater certificate program are in April and it will accept 10 to 12 students a year.
Wild at Heart is a 1990 crime drama about a couple, Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern), who attempt to run from North Carolina to California with Lula’s mother’s (Diane Ladd) goons on their trail. One of those goons is a detective and the mother’s on-off boyfriend played by Stanton. Glover played Lula’s cousin, who puts cockroaches in his underwear — hey, it’s a Lynch film. The story contains strong allusions to The Wizard of Oz and Elvis movies — again, it’s a Lynch film.
Glover, 48, is best known for his portrayal of eccentric characters such as George McFly in Back to the Future (1985) and Andy Warhol in The Doors (1991).
Stanton, 86, is a native of West Irvine, graduate of Lafayette High School, and he attended the University of Kentucky. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he pursued acting and has had a long career primarily playing character roles. In its first two years, the Harry Dean Stanton Fest, presented by the Lexington Film League, has screened classic Stanton fare including Paris, Texas (1984), Repo Man (1984) and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973).
Earlier this year, the festival announced it will include a screening of the original Red Dawn (1984) on May 31 at the Fountain Films on Friday series at Triangle Park.
Jones says complete festival information will be announced later this week.
This news comes on the heels of Monday’s announcement that Lexington native and Oscar nominated actor Michael Shannon will be in town April 26 for the opening of Mud, in which he co-stars with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepherd, who has a home in Midway. The event, which includes a pre-show reception and Q&A with Shannon after the movie, is a fundraiser for Friends of the Kentucky, which is working for technological and cosmetic upgrades to the theater.
Holly Henson was known in Central Kentucky as the artistic director of the Pioneer Playhouse, but she was also an active and accomplished comedian.
The Playhouse will present a comedy benefit starring Jim Wiggins and Bob Batch in Henson’s honor at 8 p.m. May 11 at the theater’s indoor stage. Proceeds from the event will benefit Stand Up 2 Cancer.
Henson died May 27, 2012, after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 51.
The show was organized by Henson’s husband, Tom Hansen, a comedy agent who met Henson when Wiggins advised him to go check out her show. Wiggins, who has performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Last Comic Standing, is billed as “The Last Hippie in America” and presents a show called Silly Stuff and Sad Stories: Reflections of a ‘60’s Reject. He has also lived with cancer and often commiserated with Henson as they were undergoing treatment.
Batch is a Louisville-based comedian who has appeared on the Today show and Good Morning America.
In addition to the comedy, attendees will have a chance to bid on auction items including tickets to The Tonight Show and meeting Leno after the show, tickets to a taping of The Soup and meeting with host Joel McHale afterward, a tour of E! Studios, tickets to Chelsea Lately, The Fashion Police, and a chance to bid on a “swag bag” from the 2013 Oscars.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the show, and available from the Pioneer Playhouse box office or by calling 1-866-597-5297.
Trumpeter Caleb Hudson, a Lexington native who first turned heads in the Bluegrass before heading off to the Interlochen Academy and the Julliard School, has officially joined the Canadian Brass, arguably the world’s best-known brass ensemble.
Hudson’s appointment came in a surprise announcement at a March 15 concert at Goucher College in Baltimore that was played on SiriusXM Pops. Hudson, 25, had been billed as a guest artist, but then was announced as the Brass’ newest member. He will be joining the Brass for an eight-month tour of North America, Europe, Asia and South America.
Before last Friday, Hudson had already been making headlines with appearances such as his solo debut with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center performing J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and at the Aspen Music Festival, where he was soloist with pianist Vladimir Feltsman in a performance of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Orchestra. Last year he graduated from Julliard with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He is a performing and teaching artist with The Academy, a program of Carnegie Hall.
Hudson attended Paul Laurence Dunbar High School for his freshman and sophmore years, was a member of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, and went to the Governor’s School for the Arts in the Summer of 2005. Later that year, he returned from Michigan as a soloist with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.
At the pre-concert lecture for that performance, Hudson’s trumpet teacher Rich Byrd said the first thing that struck him about Hudson was his work ethic.
“Never in my 20 years of private teaching have I ever had a student as serious and hard working as Caleb Hudson,” Byrd, an Eastern Kentucky University trumpet professor, said. “No matter what I assigned Caleb, he always returned to me with his lesson completed exactly as I asked, and often would prepare more than I asked.”
Hudson, at Byrd’s urging went on to enter and win at the National Trumpet Competition multiple times.
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