Copious Notes The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:29:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kentucky Theatre Christmas classics Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:24:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Jimmy Stewart talks with Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life” 1946. © AP Photo.

Jimmy Stewart talks with Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life” 1946. © AP Photo.

The Kentucky Theatre‘s Christmas present to the Bluegrass is a quartet of holiday movies that will play in repertory through Christmas Day. OK, you will have to buy a ticket, but the downtown movie house is giving you the chance to enjoy these classics on the big screen in glorious digital projection with your fellow Lexingtonians, and maybe their visiting friends and relatives. Can we get some snow for your stroll to the theater, Chris Bailey?

Here’s the lineup:

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). This is now pretty much regarded as the holiday classic. Is there any other 1940s movie that gets annual showings on network TV? With the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington combo of director Frank Capra and star Jimmy Stewart, it was expected to be a huge hit, but wound up taking a loss and was regarded as communist propaganda by the FBI because of the portrayal of bankers and wealthy characters as bad guys.

But Stewart maintained is was his favorite of his films, and in the 1970s and ’80s, it enjoyed a revival on TV and home video that endures to this day.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947). The late ’40s was a pretty good time for Christmas films, this one telling the tale of a Macy’s Santa who claims to be the real Santa Claus while generating a spirit of generosity and good will in those around him. So, of course, he must be crazy, and winds up in court.

This film also wound up in a little trouble, here with the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency, which classified it as objectionable because one of the lead female characters, Susan (Natalie Wood) was divorced. But, it went on to win three Academy Awards and become regarded as a Christmas classic.

Holiday Inn (1942). We know this movie for one song: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. It was introduced in the course of the story about Jim (Bing Crosby) trying to convert his farm into an inn only open during the holidays.

The song, by any account written in the warm and sunny Southwest, has gone on to be the best-selling single of all time. The sentimental, melancholy tone of the song was regarded as particularly resonant during World War II. It was so successful, a decade later it led to the next film in the Kentucky’s lineup. But far from a one-hit wonder, the film is a Christmas delight, well worth revisiting.

White Christmas (1954). Crosby returned to a similar story to Holiday Inn, this time in Technicolor and with Danny Kaye and Kentucky’s own “Girl Singer” Rosemary Clooney. Unlike the other films in this lineup, it is actually White Christmas that was the biggest initial hit, landing as the top moneymaker in 1954.



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Follow up: The ‘Amahl’ countertenor went on Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:05:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Mother (Laura Salyer) and Amahl (Grace Brown) lament their poverty at the beginning of "Amahl and the Night Visitors." Brown was understudying the role for Joshua Steinbach, who was ill during rehearsals this week. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

Mother (Laura Salyer) and Amahl (Grace Brown) lament their poverty at the beginning of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Brown was understudying the role for Joshua Steinbach, who was ill during rehearsals this week. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

We ended last week noting some drama around the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors.

Countertenor Joshua Steinbach, whose voice reportedly helped persuade UK Opera to revive the show, fell ill on production week and was in bed with the flu while the rest of the company* worked toward opening night. SCAPA student Grace Brown, who had sung the role before, was brought in to sing for Steinbach for dress rehearsals and potentially play the part in some or all of the three weekend shows.

Well, Steinbach rallied and sang all three performances at the Lyric Theatre this weekend. Since I had a son in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra contingent that played for the performances, reviewing it would be a clear conflict of interest. But I will say Steinbach has a luminous instrument and delivered engaging performances that never seemed to betray any effects of his illness. It was nice that he was able to complete the story of being a freshman taking on a lead role in his first semester, and a treat to opera fans, who it seemed turned out good crowds for each show, particularly considering there were a number of more familiar shows around town in better-known venues.

* Junior Jonathan Adams didn’t have quite as happy an ending, for this show, at least. As Amahl director Gregory Turay and his colleagues were absorbing the news that their title performer was down with the flu, they learned Adams, cast as King Balthazar, suffered an appendicitis. As Wednesday night’s rehearsal went on, he was in surgery. Fortunately, he is recovering well, and we will sing for Lexington again. But he was replaced this weekend by assistant director Thomas Gunther. The costume fit.


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ArtyFacts: Sundance and Grammy honors for Lexingtonians Sat, 13 Dec 2014 14:16:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Ashley York

Ashley York

Pikeville native and University of Kentucky graduate Ashley York will be taking her documentary Tig to the Sundance Film Festival in JanuaryTig tells the story of how comedian Tig Notaro’s career shifted after a legendary performance at the Largo in Los Angeles where she led off telling the audience she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. York co-directed the film with Kristina Goolsby. Both York, a former Herald-Leader intern, and Goolsby have extensive careers making films and series for theatrical, TV and web release. Tig is one of 13 documentaries premiering at Sundance next year covering topics including late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, National Lampoon magazine and the Black Panther Party. York, who has produced two previous Sundance selections, is currently working on a documentary that will take her back home. According to her bio on the Catapult Film Fund page, with So Help You God, “she returns to Appalachia to visit and interview some of her former high school classmates who are serving life in prison for a violent crime that happened in the late 90s.” Sundance is Jan. 22 to Feb. 1.

Honors just keep coming for the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the Lexingtonians involved in it. Composer Stephen Trask and music director Justin Craig are up for the Grammy for best musical theater album as producers of the Original Cast Recording of Hedwig, featuring Neil Patrick Harris’ Tony Award Winning performance in the title role. Harris left the production in August, while Craig and Lexingtonian Matt Duncan have continued in the onstage band. In January, Hedwig writer and co-creator with Trask John Cameron Mitchell will take over the title role.

Also up for a Grammy, of course, is Jackson’s Sturgill Simpson with his somewhat ironically titled, in this case, 2014 hit Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. If  you’re reading this on Dec. 13 — 12/13/14 kids! — check out tomorrows Herald-Leader for more on great country music by Simpson and other Kentuckians in 2014.


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George Clooney to appear on ‘Downton Abbey’ Mon, 08 Dec 2014 02:38:17 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

If you are like a number of people I know who (A) love George Clooney and (B) love Downton Abbey, prepare to have your mind blown.

Gorgeous George is going to be on Downton Abbey, or at least part of a Downton Abbey event.

It does not appear we have much information on the extent of his appearance or his character. But according to Entertainment Weekly, Clooney will appear in a short Downton Abbey charity film that will debut Dec. 18 on the British network ITV. Britain’s Daily Mail has a bit more information on the appearance, part of a “Text Santa” charity campaign, including who the Lexington native and Augusta-raised star plants a kiss on. According to the story, Clooney and Downton star Hugh Bonneville struck up a friendship when they worked together on The Monuments Men.


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Christmas arts overdrive Fri, 05 Dec 2014 14:53:50 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and Lexington Chamber Chorale will present George Frideric Handel's "Messiah" Dec. 2 and 3 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd., in Lexington, Ky. This photo was taken at a rehearsal at the cathedral on Nov. 30, 2010. © Photo by Rich Copley | Lexington Herald-Leader

The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and Lexington Chamber Chorale rehearsing George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” in 2010 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 299 Colony Blvd., in Lexington, Ky. The orchestra will present “Messiah” at the Cathedral this year on Dec. 6. © Photo by Rich Copley | Lexington Herald-Leader

My birthday is Nov. 28. So I always know that if my birthday falls on Thanksgiving or that weekend — Black Friday baby, this year — Christmas is coming fast.

And there’s nothing like being an arts editor to affirm that. The holiday weekend ended with the realization that there are only two really good weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and everyone who wants to put on a holiday show is trying to get in there. (Yes, there is the weekend of the 19th. But that’s when school lets out, and people start scattering to the winds.)

So, this weekend you have:

And I am sure that’s not everything and your school or church has a holiday concert, play or some other extravaganza going on too, if not this weekend, next. Personally, I am eagerly awaiting my church’s Christmas presentation next week.

It is easy, lo obvious to say that we can’t get to everything. Most of us can’t. Then again, we aren’t necessarily supposed to. The Christmas season naturally lends itself to the arts, which have found a way to express the season in a variety of ways and styles. Some may find the spirituality of Messiah fill their soul, while it may take the fantasy of Nutcracker or nostalgia of A Christmas Story to get others in the mood.

The fortunate thing is that in Central Kentucky, we have a lot to choose from.


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Review: Sundy Best – ‘Salvation City’ Tue, 02 Dec 2014 01:28:33 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Prestonsburg natives and Lexington residents Nick Jamerson and Chris Bentley, aka Sundy Best, already made a big splash this year with their March release, Bring Up the Sun. But, as if they want to make sure we don’t forget them at year’s end, they are dropping a second 2014 album Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Cover art for Sundy Best's Salvation City.And we mean album. It’s not a live compilation, a b-side collection (like there are b-sides these days), EP or tribute disc.

Salvation City is a full-fledged album of mostly new material that expands the duo’s sound while keeping its personality and spirit in tact.

It is not an album that finds them making a big play for country radio, as there aren’t nearly enough songs about trucks, bonfires, tanned girls in cut-off jeans, beaches, small towns, heavy drinking or country braggadocio for that.

While the material is more varied, it is fundamentally sincere, coming from the same place songs like I Wanna Go Home and Mountain Parkway came from.

The primary change here is a group that has previously recorded mostly acoustic, stripped down music is now adding more elements, filling out its sound. Under the direction of producer R.S. Field, the changes suit the band well.

One holdover from Best’s earlier material is the ballad Distance, which reflects some of the changes Salvation City represents with a wash of electric guitar and drums. It’s a different take on the song about separation, though the original, more spare acoustic version suits the lyrics better. But this recording shows the guys’ tunes can hold up to interpretation.

The production works for songs like Four Door, sprinkles of pedal steel and fiddle seeming like the world swirling around the couple alone in the title ride.

Then there’s I Want You to Know (World Famous Love Song), sounding like a Latin-infused piece of 1970s-era country and western. It may be the one we are most curious to see in Sundy Best’s traditional duo alignment. Fishin’ is a deceptively fun track that starts out with low-slung banjo grit and slowly gears up to a guitar-driven bounce — and am I hearing that lyric right, “Hillbilly dopamine”?

Really, for less than a year between releases, the thing Salvation City reflects most is a striking maturity. Lyrically, Best’s perspective is broader and musically, the guys are far more adventurous, lo, experimental. There aren’t any songs that could be categorized as trying too hard, and as much as we love their Kentucky pride, the home state is becoming less of a theme for the guys.

But they do love home, and the album does have hints they miss it.

Get Back to You has its roots in the past year with lyrics about wanting to get away from crowds of strangers and back to loved ones — OK, a specific loved one.

Far from a quickie release, Salvation City is the work of a band that had something else to say in 2014.


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Movies are not books, and vice versa Fri, 28 Nov 2014 03:56:37 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in a scene from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” AP/Lionsgate photo by Murray Close.

Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in a scene from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.” AP/Lionsgate photo by Murray Close.

I am going to speak what may appear to be heresy to some people here: it does not matter if a movie was as good as a book or stays true to the book.

Yes, it can appear to matter, and at one point, it seemed to me it did. You read a book, you go to see the movie version, you want the pages to unfold before you onscreen like they did in the book.

Here’s the problem: movies are not books, and books are not movies. They each have their own ways of telling stories that are unique to themselves. Books use words that create images in your head, unbounded by space, time, or anything except your imaginations. Movies are visual stories told by writers, actors, directors, designers and other specialists that are very confined to what they create on the screen. In many ways, they do the imagining for us, though in their best executions, movies spark our imaginations.

But books and movies are not the same, so to argue a movie is not as good as the book is an inherently unfair argument. A movie cannot be a book, and vice versa. The complaints came to the forefront recently with the latest installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay, Part 1. As reviews came out saying the movie couldn’t stand on its own, was dark and somewhat lifeless, readers piled on as they can now do in the social media age complaining the critics didn’t get it because they had not read the book.

But that doesn’t matter.

I haven’t read the book. I probably won’t. I am more of a nonfiction reader. I have other things to do. But I have liked the first two Hunger Games movies. I will go see Mockingjay, Part 1,  for the cinematic experience. What I am reading tells me I may be disappointed by a movie that comes across as a big “and” between Catching Fire and Mockingjay, Part 2. That sometimes happens in series. For all the devotion to The Empire Strikes Back (1980), which was a very well done movie, it was an “and” between Star Wars (1977) and Return of the Jedi (1983). It really did not stand alone as a movie.

That seems to be the same sort of criticism Mockingjay, Part 1 is getting: it appears to be a bridge between two movies, not an entity unto itself. You know what? If you read and loved Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay novel, those movie reviews in no way invalidate your experience of the novel. And even if you love the movie, a critic’s review does not invalidate that either. It’s all opinion, and yours is really the most important to you.

But also, don’t jam a critic for what you perceive as his or her lack of knowledge about a book when they are reviewing a movie. That’s not their job. Their job is to review a movie. Did it work as a movie? What did it accomplish and not accomplish as a movie? If the critic has read the book, he or she may mention how it compares, but that is not the film critic’s job. The question a movie critic is there to answer is, how was the movie?

If that’s what you disagree with, debate on! But leave your literary snobbery as the box office.


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Listening to … Bryan Ferry and ‘Mockingjay’ soundtrack Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:09:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Bryan Ferry performs at the 2014 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on Friday, April 11, 2014, in Indio, Calif. © AP photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision.

Bryan Ferry performs at the 2014 Coachella Music and Arts Festival on Friday, April 11, 2014, in Indio, Calif. © AP photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision.

A few weeks ago, I was listening Bryan Ferry‘s Bête Noire album, enjoying the sensuous beats of songs like The Right Stuff and Limbo, remembering seeing the album’s tour in August 1988, which I still rate as the best concert I have ever seen, and generally reveling in the mood. It brought back specific memories that sort of made me think, “maybe I’m a bit old for this now.”

Then it occurred to me that Ferry wasn’t a whole lot younger than I am now when he recorded the album. And really, Ferry and Roxy Music’s work has always been rather adult; not much puppy love or teen angst here. It’s music that ages well.

And now, at 69, Ferry has proved that again with his latest album, Avonmore. Some tracks on the new release such as One Night Stand seem to echo right out of the Bête Noire era with an insistent beat and smooth vocal. Loop De Li opens the with a title that sounds ridiculous, but a delivery that comes across as cool as a white dinner jacket.

But the tour de force is a total remaking of Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns. The song has always been a meditation on human folly from someone who’s been around long enough to recognize it. Couched in Ferry’s beat, flourishes and unflappable delivery, that perspective is a guy who is going to take stylish cool right into his 70s.

Mockingjay albumWhat is not aging well is the music of The Hunger Games series. When the first movie came out in 2012, it was accompanied by a T Bone Burnett soundtrack that echoed the real region where the post-apocalyptic story is set and remained surprisingly earthy for the big names on the project such as Taylor Swift and Arcade Fire.

The Mockingjay soundtrack was curated by Lorde, and while it carries the heavy tone of the series’ current chapter, it is rarely engaging outside the quite brilliant Lorde centerpiece, Yellow Flicker Beat.


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Spotify affects artists in various ways Fri, 14 Nov 2014 12:21:03 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek in Stockholm, Sweden.  Spotify's Swedish CEO has voiced disappointment that Taylor Swift pulled her music off the popular music streaming service, denying claims it's making money "on the backs of artists." (AP Photo/TT/Janerik Henriksson)

Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek in Stockholm, Sweden. He has voiced disappointment that Taylor Swift pulled her music off the popular music streaming service, denying claims that it’s making money “on the backs of artists.” © AP photo by Janerik Henriksson.

The other night, I ended my workday finishing up a story about Jessica Lea Mayfield’s scheduled gig at Cosmic Charlie’s. Filling out the “If You Go” box on the story, I entered, “Opener: Bombadil.”

Hmmm. “What is this Bombadil?” I wondered. That question stayed with me as I got on the elevator to leave, so I got out my phone, hopped on Spotify, entered Bombadil and sampled the North Carolina band on my drive home.

This is one of the beauties of the mobile Internet age. Back in my days of recreational concert-going, if I wanted to sample the opening act, I had to go down to the record store, see if they had the band’s music and then shell out something in the neighborhood of $10. And I had to be really interested to do that.

Now, for $10 a month, I have a vast music library at my disposal. I can listen to almost anything I want and download onto my phone stuff I want full-time access to.

Except Taylor Swift.

Well, Taylor and a few other bands that have chosen for various reasons to sit out Internet streaming. There’s no AC/DC on Spotify, or other streaming services. No Beatles. Until recently, there was no Led Zeppelin. Garth Brooks isn’t there, and Jason Aldean just yanked his latest album off Spotify, which is the most prominent of numerous streaming services. Two others are Rhapsody and Pandora.

The move by Swift and her label was to make a point about what they think are small payouts by Spotify to host her music on their site.

Scott Borchetta, the CEO of Swift’s record label, Big Machine Records, told Time magazine, ““Don’t forget, this is for the most successful artist in music today. What about the rest of the artists out there struggling to make a career?”

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has responded to contentions by Swift and others that streaming and file-sharing services have cut into album sales. Ek said he co-founded Spotify to help protect artists against piracy, which pays artists nothing, whereas Spotify was set to pay artists more than $6 billion this year. His contention is that Spotify is building a new platform for music that will be profitable for artists, and that Swift seems to be advocating returning music distribution back to 1989,  (the title of her new album, which is not on Spotify).

That all caused me to wonder, because we have recently written about several Lexington-area bands, most of whom have their music on Spotify, along with top artists Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Drake and Swift’s buddy, Ed Sheeran. How did they view Spotify and its impact on their livelihoods as musicians?

All the Little Pieces are (clockwise from left) Rhyan Sprague (singer, keyboards, guitar, songwriter), Thomas Suggs (guitar), Billy P. Thomas (bass) and Chris Jones (drummer). Lexington-based band All the Little Pieces has released its new album, "Broken Little Soul," Nov. 1. This photo was taken at a rehearsal Nov. 4, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

All the Little Pieces, from left: Rhyan Sprague (singer, keyboards, guitar, songwriter), Thomas Suggs (guitar), Billy P. Thomas (bass) and Chris Jones (drummer). The Lexington-based band All the Little Pieces released its new album, Broken Little Soul, Nov. 1. Photo by Rich Copley | Staff

Julian Karpinski, who helps manage All the Little Pieces, fronted by his stepdaughter Rhyan Sprague, says, “If someone finds ATLP on Spotify, then that helps us more than if we hold out to make a sale on iTunes. And as outdated as it sounds, most of ATLP’s CD sales are of the actual disc at shows. People go to see a band and they like to grab that CD. We hardly ever sell a download card at a show. People either purchase the download online, or buy the disc at the show. Not sure that a band at this level is hurt by Spotify. Looking at our oline sales of music, we see more transactions for Spotify than any other form of distribution.”

Kim Smith, Joshua Wright, Severn Edmonson and Seth Murphy are Bear Medicine. Lexington-based Bear Medicine has released its debut full-length album, "The Moon Has Been All My Life," in October 2014. These photos were taken at a noon performance at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital on Nov. 11, 2014. Photo by Rich Copley | Herald-Leader staff.

Kim Smith, Joshua Wright, Severn Edmonson and Seth Murphy are Bear Medicine. The Lexington-based band released its debut full-length album, The Moon Has Been All My Life, in October. Photo by Rich Copley | Staff

Seth Murphy, bassist and cellist of Lexington’s Bear Medicine, says that streaming services such as Spotify are not how he would like fans to engage with the group’s new album, The Moon Has Been All My Life. He would prefer that they get the CD or record and experience it uninterrupted (free versions of Spotify and other services drop in ads every few songs). But he also understands the need for exposure.

“If it helps point them in our direction, then mission accomplished,” Murphy says. “If they enjoy the music and connect to what is happening, I believe that people who come into contact with our album will choose to purchase the album, forgoing distractions inherent in this new age of streaming media.

“Supply and demand work the same in the music business as in any other business. Once an artist reaches a level of fame where their music is accessible everywhere, the demand to posses their album starts to hold less value. In order to best connect with these fans, artists pull their music from streaming sources like Spotify and YouTube and make purchasing albums the only option.”

Clearly, there are a lot of sliding scales in this discussion. For All the Little Pieces and Bear Medicine, there could be clear advantages to being on an international platform like Spotify, in which people who probably don’t have a chance to buy their record at a gig can hear your music, even if they don’t make much from the plays. But as their star rises, does the same platform become a detriment if people continue to listen and download at $10 a month for the whole service rather than buying a physical copy or paying for a download? Can they make that up at the box office, as we hear many artists do today, so that the $100-plus concert ticket is becoming the norm?

Swift’s representatives have claimed that other artists also want to leave Spotify, which the service doesn’t want to happen because it would devalue the brand. Since subscribing, part of my routine on Tuesdays has been to check out the new releases and listen to the latest tunes. That’s cool if I am confident that most artists I want to hear are there. I will buy some of the albums if I decide that I really want to own them. A music-service download is not owning, as Swift’s move proves: If you had downloaded her previous records on Spotify, you no longer have them. I still have the first records and CDs I bought in the 1970s and ’80s.

If the service is suddenly a collection of oldies and “Who’s that?” artists, Spotify and other streaming services will lose their value. I’m not paying $10 a month to hear Uncle Dan’s Accordion Band cover Shake It Off.

I have seen some possible solutions in the past. Swift herself did not post her Red album on Spotify or other services until a while after it came out. So people who were dying to hear the new music did have to pay. And that makes sense for an artist at that level. When I used the legal, subscription version of Napster, which was eventually bought by Rhapsody, many artists allowed only streaming, and you had to buy the album to take it with you on a device or burn it to a disc.

It seems there could be happy mediums to make the streaming services valuable while still getting artists fair market value for their music. And that, as a music lover and consumer, is what I want. Certainly, I don’t want to lose the world where I can dial up a band that interests me while standing at the elevator. But music is a product of work. It is valuable, and the artists deserve to be paid, whether they’re Taylor Swift or your favorite local hopeful.


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Actors Guild of Lexington lays off Eric Seale Fri, 07 Nov 2014 15:33:24 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Former Actors Guild of Lexington artistic director Eric Seale. (c) 2011 file photo by Angela Baldridge.

Former Actors Guild of Lexington artistic director Eric Seale. (c) 2011 file photo by Angela Baldridge.

Actors Guild of Lexington has laid off its artistic director, Eric Ryan Seale, the last employee on the theater’s payroll.

Last month, Seale said the theater had left its home in the South Elkhorn Village shopping center off Harrodsburg Road because it was no longer able to pay for the space it had occupied since late 2010. Seale told the Herald-Leader Wednesday that he understood that the theater did intend to re-emerge in another location, possibly the Downtown Arts Center.

“They have decided the best thing they can do is remove the expense of a full-time employee, so they’re letting me go,” Seale said. “It’s because of money. There’s just not enough of it.”

Actors Guild board chairman Jim Gleason said, “I cannot emphasize enough, this is not a reflection on performance. Eric has been a hero and carried the company on his back the last four years.”

Gleason said both Seale’s layoff and the departure from the South Elkhorn Theatre were necessary for the company to regroup financially and continue.

“We’re going into hibernation, not dissolving, not shutting down,” Gleason said. “We’re getting into a place where we don’t have the burden of overhead and Eric’s salary so we can figure out a way to reboot and continue to do the work we do.”

Gleason said he hopes that Seale, 33, will be part of Actors Guild’s re-emergence, but he also understands that the director needs to get on with his own life and career.

The developments are the latest travails in the turbulent history of Actors Guild, which at one time was viewed as Lexington’s flagship theater company. The most recent crisis was a 2009 financial meltdown that resulted in the theater departing from its home in the Downtown Arts Center. About the same time, artistic director Richard St. Peter and managing director Kimberly Shaw departed to pursue other opportunities.

Seale was named acting artistic director and eventually artistic director, and he led the theater’s move from downtown Lexington to the Harrodsburg Road area.

“I have sacrificed several years of my life entirely to its survival,” Seale said of Actors Guild. “It was gone. It was dead, and I said I was willing to try to breathe life into it.

“It was incredibly hard, and if I have any regrets, it was things I missed out on while working those 18-hour days. I guess now I will have a chance to look into some of those things I missed out on.”

Gleason and Seale said that although Actors Guild had numerous successful productions in its nearly four years at South Elkhorn, the loss of several streams of financial support and loss of a rehearsal space, thereby limiting the number of shows the theater could produce, made staying there unsustainable.

“Ticket sales were good,” Gleason said. “But as we often say in this business, we can’t survive on ticket sales alone. We need support from the community and hope we will find that.”

In the past year, the Downtown Arts Center management was taken over by the Lexington Parks and Recreation Department after LexArts said it wanted to give up that role, and LexArts has hired a new director, Ellen A. (Nan) Plummer, who will start work Nov. 17. Gleason said he hoped both of those developments will help create a more supportive environment in which Actors Guild can re-emerge.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Gleason said. “We’re taking a breather.”


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