The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Apr26Filed under: dance, Derby, Fashion, Louisville, Music, Television; Tagged as: American Idol, Audrina Patridge, Betsey Johnson, Bob Costas, Chris Thieneman, Derby Eve, Fred Thompson, Illeana Douglas, Jamie Kennedy, Jennifer Tilly, Jordin Sparks, Julie Benz, Kia Hampton, Kris Allen, Linda Davis, Matt Battaglia, Miss Kentucky Teen USA 2011, Miss Teen Kentucky 2011, Nole Martin, Palace Theatre, Phil Laak, Stephanie Jones, Tom Thieneman Jr., Vicki Gunvalson
American Idol winners Jordin Sparks (Season 6) and Kris Allen (Season 8 ) top the guest list at this year’s Mint Jubilee, which will be Derby Eve (May 6) at the Palace Theatre in Louisville.
NBC sportscaster Bob Costas will be the host the event founded by actor, producer and former NFL player Matt Battaglia, along with former NFL player and Louisville real estate developer Chris Thieneman and his brother and fellow real estate executive Tom Thieneman Jr.
Joining them will be Dexter actress Julie Benz, comic and Scream actor Jamie Kennedy, former presidential candidate and actor Fred Thompson (also announced as a guest at the Barnstable-Brown Gala), actress and former Pegasus Parade grand marshal Jennifer Tilly, actress Illeana Douglas, The Hills and Audrina star Audrina Patridge, designer Betsey Johnson, Real Housewives of Orange County Star Vicki Gunvalson, country star Linda Davis, former America’s Next Top Model judge Nole Martin, professional poker player Phil Laak, Miss Teen Kentucky 2011Stephanie Jones and Miss Kentucky Teen USA 2011 Kia Hampton.
Tickets for the Jubilee are still available for $200 to $750. Proceeds go to benefit cancer research.
For ‘Peter Pan,’ some Kentucky Ballet Theatre performers are taking flight, with help from Louisville-based ZFX Flying Effects. Read more.
Mar18Filed under: ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, Music, Musicals, Theater; Tagged as: Adalhi Aranda Corn, Alexa Rose, Billy Elliot, Bluegrass Youth Ballet, Jeromy Smith, Jill Hall Rose, John “Eck” Rose, Lyndy Franklin Smith, Russ Bleck, SCAPA, School for Creative and Performing Arts, Tanner Bleck, Town and Village School of Dance, Youth America Grand Prix
Since 2000, boys in ballet have had an obvious icon: Billy Elliot, the English coal-miner’s son who chooses ballet over boxing in the hit 2000 film that bears his name.
Boys in dance could easily dream of being Billy. For one Lexington dancer, that could be an attainable goal.
Tanner Bleck, 13, of Lexington, who studies ballet at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and the Bluegrass Youth Ballet, is in New York this weekend competing in the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition and auditioning for the national tour of the musical version of Billy Elliot. (Because of child labor laws, his mother, Lori Bleck, says the tour is casting four or five Billys.)
“He would be perfect for the role,” said Jill Hall Rose, mother of Alexa Rose, Tanner’s partner in the pas de deux portion of the Grand Prix competition, which awards scholarships for ballet schools and summer intensives.
Alexa and Tanner were fresh off a private brush-up rehearsal with Bluegrass Youth Ballet founder and director Adalhi Aranda Corn on Tuesday night, just a few hours before they departed for the competition. As they went through each of the selections for the competition, which will run through Monday at the New York City Center, Corn was relaxed, reminding Tanner and Alexa to be mindful of the basics.
“I know you can do the big stuff,” Corn said. “It’s the little things you need to remember.”
Since he discovered ballet, getting Tanner to concentrate on perfecting his technique has not been a problem.
His father, Russ Bleck, said, “Sometimes school gets the short end, but he is always practicing.”
“It feels like I’m a whole new person when I dance,” Tanner said when asked about the attraction to dance. “Billy says it makes him feel like he’s flying, and it does feel like that.”
Like Billy Elliot, Tanner says he experienced some confrontations and bullying for being a dancer, before he went to SCAPA, where there is a more like-minded student body.
It’s an art form most closely associated with girls, even though it requires peak fitness and strength and is often compared to basketball in terms of its athleticism. Corn says the ratio of boys to girls in her school is about one to nine.
This will be Tanner’s second time going to the Grand Prix in New York, where, unlike in Lexington, there was a larger population of male dancers.
Mar8Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Country music, dance, Lexington Ballet, Music, Musicals, Opera; Tagged as: 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Alltech Haitian Harmony Children's Choir, American Spiritual Ensemble, California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, Cherryholmes, Culver Academies Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes, Dan James, Dan Steers, Denyce Graves, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Everett McCorvey, Friesian Train, Global Creative Connections, Mario Contreras, opening ceremonies, Riata Ranch Ropers, Ronan Tynan, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Stacey Westfall, the Lexington Ballet, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Tommie Turvey, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Vince Bruce, Wynonna Judd
If you want to relive the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, or you feel like you never really got to see it in the abbreviated TV broadcast of the ceremonies, the event is now out on a 2-hour DVD from Everett McCorvey’s production company, Global Creative Connections.
The DVD includes performances from guest artists Wynonna Judd, Denyce Graves, Ronan Tynan, Cherryholmes, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Sarah Lee Guthrie – who just had her national TV debut with husband Johnny Irion on Last Call with Caron Daly – as well as the American Spiritual Ensemble, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Lexington Ballet and the Alltech Haitian Harmony Children’s Choir. It also contains performances by the equine acts including Culver Academies’ Black Horse Troop and Equestriennes, Mario Contreras, Stacey Westfall, the California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, roper Vince Bruce, the Riata Ranch Ropers, the Friesian Train, dressage cowboy Eitan Beth-Halachmy and extreme riders Tommie Turvey, Dan James and Dan Steers.
The DVD is $25, plus $4.50 shipping and handling, through the company website.
Mar7Filed under: Arts administration, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Country music, dance, Lexington Opera House, Music, Musicals, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater; Tagged as: Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Garth Brooks, Itzhak Perlman, Jason Aldean, Lexington Opera House, Luanne Frankin, rain, Rascal Flatts, Rupp Arena, sellout, Singletary Center for the Arts, sold out, University of Kentucky basketball
Last week at le blog and in Sunday’s Herald-Leader, I wrote about the recent wave of sellouts at Lexington venues, including three shows over the weekend – Jason Aldean at Rupp Arena, Itzhak Perlman at the Singletary Center, and the Beatles show Rain at the Lexington Opera House.
That raised some questions in a couple different ways, in part because empty seats were spotted at some shows we mentioned, and because of disparities in the numbers of patrons at “sold out” shows, particularly in Rupp Arena.
So what constitutes a sell out, and does it necessarily mean absolutely no seats are left?
In the case of Perlman, it did mean all tickets were gone, but generally the answer depends on a number of things.
Obviously, the first reason why we sometimes see empty seats at sold out shows is people don’t show up. Yes, it seems bizarre that someone would pay significant money to see a show and then not attend, but it happens for a variety of reasons.
Second is that sellout does not necessarily mean every seat has been sold. Read the rest of this entry »
Mar3Filed under: ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Andy Haymaker, Beaumont Center, Joe Artz, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Chinese-American Association, Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, Scott Sherman, Tim Haymaker
It’s almost time for the first full season of performances at the Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater behind Beaumont Center. Since it is still such an unknown quantity to many presenters in Lexington, LexArts is holding an open house at the theater from 2 to 5 p.m. March 19.
The $2 million theater was built by developer Andy Haymaker and his father Tim Haymaker as a community gathering place in the Beaumont Center area. It opened last fall and had a few performances by groups such as Actors Guild of Lexington, the Lexington Ballet and the Lexington Chinese-American Association before it had to close for winter.
But spring is getting ready to … well, it’s just around the corner, and LexArts, which manages the facility, is working to get it booked up for the warm months.
Manager Joe Artz and technical director Scott Sherman will be at the open house to give tours, answer questions and field ideas for the facility, which seats around 1,000 people. For more information, visit moondancelex.com or call (859) 225-0370.
During my post-WEG vacation last week, much of which was spent on various home improvement projects, I fell in love with Q, a CBC Radio culture show that airs at 2 p.m. weekdays on WEKU-FM 88.9. Each show, host Jian Ghomeshi takes on a handful of topics from the worlds of film, recordings, stage, art, books and current affairs.
During a week of projects such as installing a new laminate floor in my living room, I heard guests from members of Gorillaz to Gloria Steinem to Rick Springfield – yes, another Aussie from the ’80s – and topics from the use of Facebook for spying to the new Broadway play about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
But the discussion that really caught my ear during the week was Is Ballet Over? It was a debate between New York-based ballet critic Jennifer Homans who wrote a New Republic article that posed that question and Karen Kain, director of the National Ballet of Canada. Homans’ position was that ballet has become a tired, self-referential form quickly losing its lustre, while Kain responded that she sees a vibrant environment for dance outside of ballet capitols like New York and Moscow, where tradition may hinder creativity.
It’s an interesting discussion I’d encourage you to listen to and then participate in, here. (Click here to listen. I couldn’t find an individual sound file for the debate, but if you click play on the Oct. 21 episode, you will start to hear the debate about five minutes into the episode.) Comment below and tell us what you think – I can think of a few people here in Lexington who should have strong emotions on this topic.
(Note: If you tried to comment a while ago – bet. 2 and 3 p.m. Oct. 25 – there was a problem I was not aware of, and it should be fixed now. Please try again. Thanks.)
Oct10Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, ballet, Country music, dance, Music; Tagged as: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Blake Shelton, J.D. Crowe, Jim Newberry, Juggernaut Jug Band, Laura Bell Bundy, Lula Washington Dance Ensemble, Sam Bush, Spotlight Lexington Festival, Trombone Shorty
The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games weren’t even over when Mayor Jim Newberry’s office said a committee will be formed to explore making the Spotlight Lexington Festival or something like it an annual fixture on Lexington’s events calendar.
When it was announced more than a year ago, Spotlight seemed like a somewhat shaky proposition. It appeared to lean too heavily on who stepped forward and said they wanted to perform and not enough on producers selecting people for the stage. The national artist component of the event had not come into focus either. But as the Games drew closer, it looked more and more poised for success: some top shelf national talent anchoring a number of nights at the Courthouse plaza stage with satellite parties at Cheapside and Triangle Park, all for free.
And people responded, overflowing the plaza for Blake Shelton’s opening-night show on Sept. 24, despite a torrential downpour that arrived the same time Spotlight did. Though official numbers are not in – Mayor’s office spokesperson Susan Straub told the Herald-Leader’s Andy Mean 125,000 were estimated to have attended the first 14 days of Spotlight – the event seemed to follow a basic producing logic: If you book big-name talent like a Shelton or Trombone Shorty or Laura Bell Bundy or J.D. Crowe, people will come out for it, particularly for free.
There were other nights that were not as great. I went down the first Tuesday night when the Juggernaut Jug Band out of Louisville was playing, and there were a hundred or so folks on the plaza, maybe just as many down at Cheapside listening to a blues act. You could regard it as disappointing, but then again, with all due respect to the Juggernaut Jug Band (which I enjoyed), would you expect them to draw thousands out on a school night? Other nights, I was told there were more people on stage than were in the plaza – again, probably a function of name recognition, getting the word out in a tsunami of activity and school nights.
With 17 days on its schedule, Spotlight had a lot of stage time to fill, which is one of the ways it looks like a good idea that could be improved upon. Here are a few things to look at:
Focus: Of course a legacy Spotlight would not be as long as the World Equestrian Games. Bring it down to a handful of nights over one or two weekends, fill each evening with a quality headliner maybe supported by Juggernaut Jug Band-level groups, and you have something more consistent. Read the rest of this entry »
Oct3Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, dance, Music, Musicals, New York, Theater; Tagged as: A Chorus Line, Avenue Q, Broadway Bound, Fred Ebb, How I Met Your Mother, J.C. Montgomery, Jason Heymann, Jeromy Smith, John Kander, Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory, Laura Bell Bundy, Law & Order, Lyndy Franklin Smith, Paragon Music Theatre, School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Smokey Joe's Café, SummerFest, The Color Purple, The Little Mermaid, The Scottsboro Boys, Thou Shalt Not
Monday night’s Spotlight Lexington performance on the Courthouse Plaza stage is designed to show off local triple threats — artists who can sing, dance and act — and who have made it to Broadway and some who hope to.
It’s a show that will feature several homegrown talents, including J.C. Montgomery and Jason Heymann, plus Lyndy Franklin Smith, who grew up in Lexington, went to Broadway and has now moved back with her husband, Jeromy Smith, who also is in the show.
They will be joined by members of Paragon Music Theatre, SummerFest, Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory’s Broadway Bound program, the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, and ACE.
“I’m going home and saying, ‘Look, I come from here, I’ve been lucky, I’ve been fortunate, I’ve met some great people, and it’s moved my career along,” says Montgomery, a Lebanon native and Georgetown College graduate. He is squeezing travel to Monday’s performance in between rehearsals for the upcoming Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys. “I’m humbled to be home and be able to perform for you guys. It’s an honor. I just wish I could come home more.”
Sep24Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, ballet, Classical Music, Country music, dance, Lexington Ballet, Music, Opera; Tagged as: Alicia McCorvey, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Cherryholmes, Cynthia Lawrence, Dan James, Denyce Graves, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Gregory Turay, Haitian Harmony, Jim Newberry, Lashelle Allen, Leo Delibes, Lexington Ballet, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Mario Contreras, Mark Schlackman, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Ronan Tynan, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Stacy Westfall, Steve Beshear, Tanya Harper, The California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Tommie Turvey, Vince Bruce, Woody Guthrie, Wynonna Judd
Rehearsals for the opening ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games moved to the outdoor stadium of the Kentucky Horse Park Thursday night. The semi-dress rehearsal started at showtime, 7 p.m., and clocked in right around three hours.
With many marquee starts still yet to arrive, there were amusing moments, such as emcee Roger Leasor introducing Wynonna Judd and UK voice student Lashelle Allen taking the stage (and delivering a My Old Kentucky Home Wy might find hard to follow). That happened again when Alicia McCorvey stood in for Denyce Graves and Gregory Turay subbed for Ronan Tynan.
While not a complete show, the stumble-through rehearsal gave us some ideas what to look for Saturday night, whether you are coming out to the Horse Park or watching on WLEX.
Local talent: Much has been made of the big name acts lending their talent to the show, including Bluegrass stars Cherryholmes and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But there is plenty of local talent on stage and behind the scenes, from the legion of more than 150 area children that will pop up frequently and the dancers with the Lexington Ballet to the lighting design by UK’s Tanya Harper and production supervisor Mark Schlackman, who keeps everything moving.
Beautiful blends of horse and man: The show has been billed as a mix of human and equine talent, and they frequently mix beautifully. One to really watch for is Dan James’ ride atop two horses as Metropolitan Opera Stars Graves and Cynthia Lawrence, now part of UK’s voice faculty, sing Leo Delibes’ Flower Duet from Lakme.
Brushes with history: The entertainment portion of the program, which will begin with a parade of nations and proclamations from Mayor Jim Newberry, Gov. Steve Beshear and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, president of the International Equestrian Federation, purports to tell the story of America. One moment to appreciate is Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, singing her granddad’s anthem This Land is Your Land as Stacy Westfall rides bareback in the ring.
Three ring circus: The Wide Open West segment floods the arena with The California Cowgirls
Equestrian Drill Team, Vince Bruce, The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Tommie Turvey and Dan James, one of several times you don’t know quite where to look because so much is happening.
Stories: Mixed in amongst the tunes and horse tricks are numerous stories of artists and their journies to that stage. Think about Wynonna Judd, once living in poverty is rural Madison County, now singing Kentucky’s song at one of the Commonwealth’s biggest events ever. Think about the Haitian Harmony children, who just departed their impoverished nation Wednesday and now sing before thousands of people with major stars.
It’s quite a way to start a fortnight of huge dreams.
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