The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Eastern Kentucky University’s Giles Gallery will be opening an exhibit of portraits and Polaroids by 20th Century art icon Andy Warhol Nov. 1.
The exhibit, The Photography of Andy Warhol: Selections from the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Project, is on loan from the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg. While it’s not exactly the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s current Warhol exhibit, gallery director Esther Randall says in a press release, “The significance of this collection of that it gives the viewer a glimpse into the mind and into the creative process of Andy Warhol.”
The pictures, including celebrities such as Lauren Hutton, often served as jumping off points for silk screens and other images created by Warhol, and some simply documented his daily life including things he did and food he ate — just imagine if Warhol had Instagram.
The exhibit runs Nov. 1 to 20, and there will be a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 15.
Sep19Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, Eastern Kentucky University, Music, Theater; Tagged as: Acting Company, Barbara Bailey Hutchison, Cirque Ziva, Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts, Golden Dragon Acrobats, John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men, school shows, State Ballet Theatre of Russia, STOMP, The Nutcracker
The Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts will present daytime performance of five shows on its 2012-13 season for area school children. The shows are the State Ballet Theatre of Russia’s performance of The Nutcracker at 10 a.m. Nov. 30, dance and music ensemble STOMP 10 a.m. Jan. 17, children’s music performer Barbara Bailey Hutchison 10 a.m. March 6, the Golden Dragon Acrobats’ Cirque Ziva 9 and 11:30 a.m. March 26 and the Acting Company’s presentation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. April 17.
For all programs except Hutchison, tickets are $10 per student, one free adult admission for every 20 paying students and $20 each for additional adults. Hutchison is $5 per student, one free adult admission for every 20 paying students and $10 each for additional adults.
All teachers attending the shows will be given study guides in advance to prepare for the shows. Study guides are also available at ekucenter.com/school-shows. Call (859) 622-7469 for tickets.
All shows except Hutchison will also be presented in the evening for the general public. Visit ekucenter.com for a complete lineup.
It will be a rare, almost unheard of Saturday night concert for the Kentucky, which usually has to keep Saturdays open for movies. Troubadour Concert Series promoter Michael Johnathon said the Kentucky management, “bent way over backwards to help us,” once it was discovered the EKU Center had double booked its concert hall for the night of the Hornsby concert, June 16.
EKU Center director Deb Hoskins said the venue had already booked the room for a private event, and she deeply regretted the scheduling error.
Howard Stovall, one of the partners in the Kentucky Theatre Group, said, “Troubadour has been a longtime tenant in the theater and they were really in a bind, so we wanted to work to help them out.” The consequence may be that the theater has to book a second run or more niche market film for one of its offerings that week because most first-run film distributors will not allow a film to play a theater that won’t screen it Saturday night.
Johnathon said tickets will go on sale for the 7:30 p.m. June 16 concert at 1 p.m. April 21. Ticket prices have not been set yet.
Dec24Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Agape Theatre Troupe, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Balagula Theatre, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Eastern Kentucky University, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, SummerFest, Theater, Transylvania University, UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, UK;
We did not have a major international event in Lexington this year like 2010’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, but it felt like a big year in the arts.
WEG was a catalyst for a lot of big names and big plans for Lexington arts organizations and presenters, but the major events of 2011 came a bit more naturally. It was an important year for the arts in Central Kentucky as the organizational and physical landscapes shifted.
How many college orchestras could claim a year in which they played with superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and orchestral superstars the Boston Pops, complete with Keith Lockhart on the podium? The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra could, and it played a world premiere by Thomas Pasatieri. Major accomplishments are becoming routine under John Nardolillo’s direction.
Also coming from the UK School of Music was the Opera Theatre’s innovative production of Porgy and Bess, which recorded multiple sellouts at the 1,500-seat Singletary Center and employed a new video projection system created by UK’s Viz Center for the sets.
The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra opened its 50th anniversary season with another violin superstar, Midori, and continued some changes that it experimented with last year, including having Picnic With the Pops at Keeneland and taking its annual Messiah performances to area churches.
As is becoming more the case, numerous new works were premiered in Central Kentucky this year, including the orchestral version of Daniel Thomas Davis’ Book of Songs and Visions, which he originally composed for the chamber ensemble at the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington. This year’s festival world premiere was Daniel Kellogg’s Look Up at the Sky.
ActOut Theatre brought Stephen Currens’ The Happy Hour to the stage, and Christmastime brought two world premieres: Margaret Price’s musical Looking for Mrs. Santa Claus at Studio Players, and Robyn Peterman-Zahn’s Smackdown for the Christmas Crown at The Rep, a new company making its debut.
An arts district?
The Arena, Arts and Entertainment Task Force has primarily been a sports story, to this point, focused on what kind of home court the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team will have. But the whole project has major implications for arts and entertainment in Central Kentucky beyond what effect renovations in Rupp will have on arena acts that play Lexington. Included in the discussion have been possibilities for new venues, including an amphitheater near the arena, a possible new home for area orchestral groups, and a downtown campus for the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. The effort to reimagine the arena area also has revived a decades-old debate about whether Lexington needs a 2,000- to 2,500-seat performing-arts theater, which does not appear to be in the cards with recently approved plans.
This story will evolve over the years because the project reportedly will take more than a decade to complete. But 2011 is the year things seriously started to happen, and the arts have had a seat at the planning table.
Speaking of major performing-arts theaters, a new one opened this fall: the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts in Richmond. It is the first new major arts venue of more than 1,000 seats to open in Central Kentucky in several decades, although Lexington’s Singletary Center for the Arts and Opera House, and Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts have undergone major renovations in recent years.
EKU made a provocative move in hiring former Norton Center assistant director Debra Hoskins as its director, and she brought the Norton Center playbook, booking big names including B.B. King, Peter Frampton and Wynonna Judd for the opening season of the new theater.
In possibly a hint of how arts programming at Central Kentucky theaters might be realigning, new Norton Center director Steven A. Hoffman programmed more of a connoisseur/adventurer season at his venue, with shows like the Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata performing a reimagined Sound of Music and avant-garde violinist Hahn-Bin this fall.
A realigned theater scene
No genre realigned in Central Kentucky this year as much as theater in Lexington. Actors Guild of Lexington staged what has been a successful comeback, with a dizzying number of shows for one calendar year, mostly at its new venue off Harrodsburg Road, near the Fayette County-Jessamine County line. Meanwhile, several new theaters emerged, including ProjectSEE Theatre, which has programmed a season at the Downtown Arts Center and Transylvania University; SummerFest, which staged its first fall and indoor show with August: Osage County and has plans for a spring production; and The Rep, which grabbed the musical theater baton from Paragon Music Theatre, which went on possible permanent hiatus with the departure of founding director Ryan Shirar.
Other players moving around and positioning themselves in 2011 included On the Verge, which had a successful site-specific performance at a funeral home with Three Viewings and then presented its first theater production with God of Carnage at the Downtown Arts Center. And Balagula Theatre continued growing its own niche, performing Naomi Wallace’s contemporary classic One Flea Spare for the playwright and participating in a competition with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference that will result in a world premiere production early in 2012. Agape Theatre also has continued to innovate, with new productions illustrating the black experience in Kentucky and beyond, including a collaboration early in the year with eventual National Book Award winner Nikky Finney.
With all the shifting, the Lexington theater scene has become a true ensemble cast, with no leading theater — although Lexington Children’s Theatre is the leading professional house — but with lots of interesting character actors.
It’s a little over a week until NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! comes to the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts to record its Dec. 10 show. There are still questions about the EKU performance such as who will play Not My Job, the segment of the show where celebrities answer questions about fields they are completely unfamiliar with, and whether host Peter Sagal plans to key the EKU Center, in light of his promos promising to “ding up” the new facility.
But we do know who the panelists will be for the Richmond stand:
Charles Pierce, a staff writer for the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and author of Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.
Peter Grosz, a former writer and occasional on-screen personality for The Colbert Report who has served as a panelist and guest host for Wait Wait.
Kyrie O’Connor, the deputy managing editor for features and pop culture blogger for the Houston Chronicle.
And yes, Wait Wait faithful, WEKU-FM station manager Roger Duvall says Carl Kasell, the one whose voice we all want to grace our answering machines, will be at EKU for the Dec. 8 taping.
RICHMOND – It just kept getting better for Amy Tate and Ann Tate of Danville and Blake Alvey, who brought them to the Eastern Kentucky University Center for the Arts Saturday night.
Amy, who is confined to a wheelchair, was given free tickets to the Wynonna Judd concert that opened the brand-new center. Soon after they arrived, they were being escorted into the theater by Center Director Debra Hoskins. Entering the 2,100-seat theatre brought a set of oohs and ahhs from the trio. Then they were taken on a small elevator down to the floor and their seats in the front row, to a new round of excited gasps.
They were three of 1,752 people who attended the center’s first public performance Saturday night.
Gone was the long line at will call that made the lobby impassible at the mostly invitation-only event that served as a “soft opening” two weeks ago. Modest will-call lines were quickly dispatched by the center’s box office staff. Gone was any confusion about how to dress for the occasion, as this was definitely a casual night with a long established country star. There were hiccups, including confusion over the existence of some seats. But by all appearances, the show went off with no big hitches, Wy strutting onto the stage shortly after 8 p.m. and mugging for the crowd before launching into the blues and country classic If the House is Rockin’.
Wynonna followed it up with her own hit, No One Else on Earth, which seemed appropriate as it became hard to imagine anyone else opening Richmond’s new crown jewel.
Wynonna lived in Richmond for a few years during her childhood with her mother Naomi and sister Ashley, who she mentioned early in the show.
“Mom’s at home tonight, Ashley’s off making a movie somewhere, and tonight’s my party,” she said during a set that included a lot of stage patter and a wide variety of cover tunes – Merle Haggard to Bill Withers to MercyMe to Foreigner.
There were numerous riffs on being the parent of two teenagers – “Here, I’m a diva. At home, I’m a short-order cook and a driver. That’s why it’s nice to come here and hear people shout, ‘I love you!’” she said to more “I love you” shouts and knowing applause.
Wynonna looked spry and at numerous times unleashed her soaring voice, which showed off the center’s acoustics.
While there were no appearances by famous relatives – though a 2-year-old in the front row who had charmed Wynonna got on stage for a minute – the Judd girl did encore with two of her and her mom’s big hits, regular concert closer Love Can Build a Bridge and Grandpa (Tell Me ’bout the Good Old Days).
Wynonna left the opening night crowd hoping this was the start of good new days for Central Kentucky arts and entertainment.
May9Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Musicals, New York, Paragon Music Theatre; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Berea College, Diana Evans Pulliam, Eastern Kentucky University, Gypsy, Katie Owen, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Paragon Music Theatre, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Ryan Shirar, She Loves Me, The King and I, The Sound of Music, Tracey Bonner, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
Coming Thursday on LexGo: Mama Rose came at the right time for Katie Owen, though at first it did not seem that way.
For years, Lexington musical theater artists have wondered how long Central Kentucky could keep Ryan Shirar.
A multitalented musician, Shirar played in a wide variety of formats and locations, wrote orchestrations that enhanced productions of some of the great musicals of the American stage, and showed songs in new lights. He ultimately brought Lexington something it had not had for years: a theater company dedicated to presenting traditional Broadway-style musicals.
But with Paragon Music Theatre‘s presentation of Gypsy next weekend, the question has been answered. Shirar, 29, will leave his posts as executive and music director of the theater to pursue a master’s degree in orchestral conducting, specializing in theater, at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
The prestigious music school scouted out Shirar and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It’s a free degree,” Shirar said Monday over lunch. “It’s a full-tuition scholarship, plus stipend. So it’s very hard to turn down an offer to a conservatory for that.
“Ultimately, I love what I do now in Lexington, but even if I stay here and do what I’m doing, I need a graduate degree in order to have a little more stable job. It was the perfect time and perfect opportunity. Things had lined up, and it was almost like … ‘I put it all together for you. You’ve just got to go.’”
Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Paragon’s stage director, says, “Ever since I came here to work with Ryan — and I came because I am so blown away by his talent — I’ve been telling him he needs to leave.”
Peterman-Zahn, who has national stage and film work on her résumé, says Shirar’s talent rivals that of musicians she has worked with across the nation, including New York and Los Angeles.
“Ryan has a musicality you just can’t learn,” she says. “It’s a really special gift.”
Along with choreographer Diana Evans Pulliam, Peterman-Zahn and Shirar formed a trio that helped drive Paragon to some great heights, including a spring 2009 production of The King and I and last summer’s presentation of The Sound of Music.
The company started in 2004 with a production of State Fair, with Tracey Bonner as stage director. Read the rest of this entry »
Feb1Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Country music, Eastern Kentucky University, Music, Musicals, Norton Center for the Arts, Theater, UK; Tagged as: Center for the Performing Arts at Eastern Kentucky Univ, Centre College, Debra Hoskins, George Foreman, Katherine Eckstrand, Lexington Opera House, Luanne Franklin, Michael Grice, Norton Center for the Arts, Singletary Center for the Arts, Steven A. Hoffman
I am not aware of any historic rivalry between Centre College and Eastern Kentucky University. But it seems like one fired up on Monday morning, when EKU announced Debra Hoskins, the former assistant director at Centre’s Norton Center for the Arts, will run the new Center for the Performing Arts at Eastern Kentucky University.
Here’s the backstory on this move: Hoskins served for nearly two decades as the program and public relations director at the Norton Center before being promoted to assistant director late in her tenure. Over those years, she worked closely with center director George Foreman to bring an astonishing list of performers to the small liberal arts college in the small Kentucky town of Danville. The guest list included the Boston Pops, Kathleen Battle, Dolly Parton and many, many more.
In 2009, Foreman accepted a position as the director of the performing arts centers at the University of Georgia. Hoskins threw her hat in the ring for the director’s job at the Norton Center, but officials chose to bring in Steven A. Hoffman, a well traveled venue director whose last gig was the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif.
Despite his credentials, many of Hoskins’ ardent supporters saw this as an insult to a woman who, just days before Hoffman’s appointment was announced, had announced she had booked the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel for an unprecedented concert at the Norton Center last September.
Hoskins stayed on for a while, but departed the Norton Center in December saying it was time to move on.
Turns out, she moved about 35 miles east.
At the same time Hoskins was leaving Centre, the original director of EKU’s center, Katherine Eckstrand, announced she was leaving to tend to family medical issues in Ohio, opening the door for Hoskins to lead the new facility at what happens to be her alma mater.
Do we have to spell out the forming rivalry out anymore?
Well, at Monday morning’s announcement, some university and public officials did. Madison County judge executive Kent Clark couldn’t help but invoke the word “stupid” in describing Centre’s decision to let Hoskins go.
For her own part, Hoskins did not express any animosity toward her former employer. Read the rest of this entry »
Jan2Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Balagula Theatre, Classical Music, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University, LexArts, Lexington Philharmonic, Music, Norton Center for the Arts, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Theater, Transylvania University, UK; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Aloha, Boston Pops Orchestra, Downtown Arts Center, Eastern Kentucky University performing arts center, Eric Seale, Everett McCorvey, Itzhak Perlman, Joe Cannon Artz, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lyric Theatre, Naomi Iizuka, Norton Center for the Arts, Porgy and Bess, ProjectSEE Theatre, Rupp Arena, Say the Pretty Girls, Scott Terrell, Singletary Center for the Arts, Steven A. Hoffman, Transylvania University Theatre, UK Symphony Orchestra, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
Dec19Filed under: Balagula Theatre, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Current Affairs, dance, Eastern Kentucky University, Inside baseball, Lexington Opera House, Louisville, Music, Rupp Arena, Singletary Center for the Arts, The Humana Festival of New American Plays, Theater, UK; Tagged as: Actors Theatre of Louisville, Allan Cowen, Balagula Theatre, Berea, Bill Owen, Building Arts Communities, Charles Compton, Charles Farnsley, Fund for The Arts, Humana Festival of New American Plays, Jim Newberry, Jon Jory, Louisville Orchestra, Michael Grice, Montgomery County Arts Center, Pam Miller, Pat Gerhard, Ron Smith, Singletary Center for the Arts, Stu Johnson, Third Street Stuff, WEKU
I teamed up with the news reporters at WEKU-88.9 FM last week for a four-part radio series, “Building Arts Communities.”
The series looked at recruiting talent, establishing arts districts, our theater infrastructure and the success of Louisville’s cultural scene.
It was an interesting opportunity to step back from the event-of-the-week cycle that artists and arts journalists can get absorbed in and take a look at what is and isn’t working, what’s here and what’s needed.
Some recurring themes emerged.
The biggest one crystallized in the final installment, Ron Smith’s report about Louisville.
“So how does a city make a name for itself in the arts?” Smith asked. “In Louisville’s case, success can be traced to vision and leadership. The sparkle of what could be was in the eye of Mayor Charles Farnsley in 1937, when he helped create the modern Louisville Orchestra. Twelve years later, Farnsley founded the Fund for the Arts, making Louisville the first community in the nation to gather arts groups together for an annual fund drive.”
Smith then chronicled how that vision was handed off to Fund for the Arts director Allan Cowen, who joked that his tombstone would bear the inscription, “We’ve got one more campaign, and it’s going to be a difficult one.”
Smith could have chronicled other visionary Louisville leaders, including Jon Jory, the Actors Theatre of Louisville director, who had this crazy idea of staging a festival of new plays in Louisville and inviting the nation’s producers and critics to see what was going on. Nearly a decade after Jory’s departure, the Humana Festival of New American Plays remains one of the biggest dates on the American theater calendar.
There were other examples of leadership on equal and smaller scales. Stu Johnson started his report about arts districts by talking about how Lexington artist Pat Gerhard’s vision for a groovy little coffee shop and store has made Third Street Stuff the anchor of a developing artsy area around Third Street and North Limestone.
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