Philharmonic cellist hit by truck seeks funds for prosthetics

Many artists go to funding websites such as Kickstarter to raise money to make albums, films or put on shows. Lexington Philharmonic cellist Lisa M. Schaeffer has launched a campaign for prosthetic legs after a tragic accident in November.

Lexington Philharmonic cellist Lisa M. Schaeffer. Photo via gofundme.com/a3egx8

Lexington Philharmonic cellist Lisa M. Schaeffer. Photo via gofundme.com/a3egx8

Schaeffer, an active hiker and bicyclist, was riding her bike on Winchester Road on Nov. 6 when she was run over by a semi tanker truck and pinned under its wheels for 25 minutes. According to the information on her GoFundMe page, Schaeffer endured 10 surgeries in an attempt to save her right leg, which was technically achieved. But with her mobility severely limited and constant, “horrific” pain, she elected to have the leg amputated below the knee in May.

On the advice of her attorney, Schaeffer has declined to speak to the media about her situation until litigation pertaining to the accident is complete. She did say via email that while she just lost the right leg, several prosthetics are needed for different situations and insurance falls far short of covering all costs. The $500,000 campaign, she said, is only for prosthetic legs.

 

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Cerlan and Henkel’s friendship on exhibit

Longtime Lexington artists Gayle Cerlan and Georgia Henkel, who have lived across the street from each other for 18 years, have collaborated on 'Strange Sympathies, an exhibit of both of their work, up through June 2014 at the MS Rezny Studio Gallery, 903 Manchester Street, in Lexington, Ky. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Longtime Lexington artists Gayle Cerlan and Georgia Henkel, who have lived across the street from each other for 18 years, have collaborated on ‘Strange Sympathies,’ an exhibit of both of their work, up through June 30, 2014 at the MS Rezny Studio/Gallery, 903 Manchester Street, in Lexington, Ky. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Artist Gayle Cerlan was out walking her dog one afternoon last summer when she saw the most amazing thing.

It was a pigeon that had just been killed by a hawk. She ran the dog home, grabbed a box, got in her car and raced back to where she had found the pigeon.

“She came over and was saying, ‘I found something for you! I found something for you!’” her across-the-street neighbor, fellow artist Georgia Henkel, says. “It was beautiful, like this whole specimen.”

A dead bird carcass might seem more like a gift you would get from the dog, or more likely, the cat.

Georgia Henkel's 'Fork' and Gayle Cerlan's 'Insomnia Pillow' on exhibit at MS Rezny Studio Gallery. Photo by Mary Rezny.

Georgia Henkel’s ‘Fork’ and Gayle Cerlan’s ‘Insomnia Pillow’ on exhibit at MS Rezny Studio Gallery. Photo by Mary Rezny.

But Cerlan and Henkel have gotten to know each other and each other’s sensibilities over the past few decades, particularly each other’s artistic “image bank,” as Henkel calls it. So it was not entirely surprising — though it was somewhat to them — that they found complementary pieces as they began putting together their current exhibit, Strange Sympathies, which is on display the rest of this month at the MS Rezny Studio/Gallery on Manchester Street. The artists will be on hand for Gallery Hop on Friday, June 20.

A big part of those mutual sympathies is a taste for found objects, particularly natural objects, from plant life to road kill, which both incorporate into their art. Cerlan does that quite literally with her sculptures and assemblies, and objects often end up being images in Henkel’s paintings, usually created on surfaces like old coal-mining maps.

“I can’t work with a clear surface,” Henkel says.

Now that they have put an exhibit together, it seems like quite a natural fit.

“Gayle really had this idea, because when she would come to my house, or I would come to her house, we would admire each other’s collections of things,” Henkel says. “Whenever we go to each other’s houses, we wanted to see each other’s latest finds.”

Henkel traces her fascination with natural objects back to growing up on a farm and observing the circle of life. Though she has been a vegetarian since she was 10, she has no qualms about taxidermy and using dead animals in her art. She says it is a way of honoring creatures that otherwise die in anonymity.

Cerlan describes her interest as more of a natural attraction.

Georgia Henkel's 'Bird Mate' and Gayle Cerlan's 'Freudian Dream' on exhibit at MS Rezny Studio Gallery. Photo by Mary Rezny.

Georgia Henkel’s ‘Bird Mate’ and Gayle Cerlan’s ‘Freudian Dream’ on exhibit at MS Rezny Studio Gallery. Photo by Mary Rezny.

Putting together the show, they found they were frequently drawn to the same things, such as the bird that appears in Henkel’s Bird Mate and Cerlan’s Freudian Dreams.

It is the first time Cerlan and Henkel have exhibited together, though Cerlan did present a show of Henkel’s work when she had her own gallery in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

They both say they appreciate Rezny, a fellow long-time Lexington artist, providing a venue to do a show such as theirs, though they also appreciate an evolving Lexington visual art scene where younger artists are finding ways to create and present art outside of traditional venues.

“They’re creating these pop-up events,” Henkel says. “Even A Cup of Common Wealth is presenting these coffee sleeve, coffee cup decorating events. So there are a lot of efforts being made to get the younger people, the college kids and even high school kids involved in community art projects.

“And the murals that have become such a part of urban landscape have come from this generation as well.”

A major thing both have found is that at this point in their careers, they like the sort of push they can provide each other in their work as much as the inspiration they give each other.

“I need something going on,” Cerlan says.

“We’ve seen each other grow in so many ways. And I don’t think I could have pushed her or she could have pushed me this way seven years ago. There is a trust, and friendship.”
Henkel adds, “And creativity as artists.”

“That’s really important,” Cerlan says, “because not everyone understands artists as well as other artists.”

Henkel says, “We forgive each other’s trespasses.”

And they know the perfect gifts to get each other.

This story will appear in the Living Sunday section of the June 22, 2014 Herald-Leader.
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Listening to … Jamie Lynn Spears, ‘The Journey’

 Jamie Lynn Spears arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas. The former teen star of “Zoey 101” has been working behind the scenes in Nashville learning the craft of songwriting. She’s already got a music video and put out an EP called “The Journey” on iTunes with five new songs. (Photo by Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision/AP, file)

Jamie Lynn Spears arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas. © AP/Invision photo by Al Powers/Powers Imagery.

This year’s Red, White & Boom has a big name among teen TV fans in Lucy Hale, better known — for now — as Aria on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars than for her debut country album, Road Between, which came out earlier this month. More on Lucy, and our interview with her, soon.

But it’s a safe bet a lot of teens who obsess over PLL now watched another Red, White & Boom artist when she ruled Nickelodeon a few years ago. Jamie Lynn Spears was initially known best as Britney’s little sister but earned positive reviews for her work on the variety show All That and the series Zoey 101, which ran from 2005 to 2008.

That all came to a halt when Spears became pregnant at age 16 by her boyfriend Casey Aldridge. Since then, her life has been minor league tabloid fodder. But now, she is newly married to a media businessman and embarking on a country music career.

Spears-The JourneyHer debut EP, The Journeyfeatures five songs, the best of which come across as at least somewhat autobiographical. Shotgun Wedding walks right into Spears’ past with a song that feels confessional but not apologetic. “It aint ’cause momma didn’t raise me right, It aint ’cause daddy didn’t try try try, Two bored kids on a friday night, Got to kissing in the dark in a parking lot … ” she sings in a spirit that echoes Miranda Lambert as much as anything her sister ever did.

The EP unfortunately cools down a bit from the opener to cover some fairly routine country tunes like the grooving Run. But Spears brings a gentle sincerity to How Could I Want More, the EP’s debut single, a peaceful declaration of contentment.

It’s easy to contextualize Big Bad World, The Journey’s finale, with Spears’ life, but hard to see her quite as naive as the character the song portrays. But we already knew Spears is a good actress, and her performance of this song is as natural and effective as any of the tracks on the EP.

It is hard to say at this point if Spears has a country career ahead of her that will make people forget her past or her famous sister. But clearly strong voices run in the Spears family, and that name and some good material will give her a better shot than most Nashville singers get.

With Red, White & Boom in a couple weeks, we’re giving a listen to music by some of the supporting acts in the 18-band lineup to give you a sense what you’ll hear while you tan July 5 and 6.

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Former Herald-Leader arts writer returns as artist

'Montrose Beach,' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘Montrose Beach,’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

Kevin Nance’s last story for the Herald-Leader was about Central Kentucky photographer James Archambeault, famous for his evocative pictures of the commonwealth’s landscapes.

“I don’t think I understood it at the time,” says Nance, who now lives in Chicago, “but even though we think of him as a photographer of subjects — in this case, the beautiful landscapes of Kentucky — when you look at his photographs, he is a stalker of the light, which is pretty much how he described it.”

Since that story in 1998, Nance has become a fellow traveler, often departing his Chicago apartment before dawn with his camera bag on his shoulder in search of marvelous light.

Kevin Nance. Photo by Brian Briggs.

Kevin Nance. Photo by Brian Briggs.

Nance, 54, is best known to Lexingtonians as the Herald-Leader’s arts writer for 10 years starting in 1988. On Friday evening, he returns as an artist in his own right, with an exhibit of his photography at the Hunt-Morgan House that is part of Gallery Hop.

Photography has been part of his journalistic toolkit since his days as a military journalist serving in the Army at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia, Nance says. He even took a graduate-level course in photojournalism at the University of South Carolina with Jack Hillwig, who went on to teach at Eastern Kentucky University.

“He taught me the history of photojournalism, a lot of the basic philosophies and theory of photography,” Nance says.

But then Nance went to work for several newspapers — including the Herald-Leader, The Tennessean in Nashville and the Chicago Sun-Times — that had their own photography staffs; there was rarely a need for him to shoot photographs for his work. At the time, he says, he probably would not have been able to approach the level of the work done by the staff photojournalists at the papers where he worked.

“Malcolm Gladwell, the author and New Yorker writer, has this theory that you have to have 10,000 hours of practice in an activity or discipline to go beyond a level of mere proficiency,” Nance says. “I didn’t have that.”

'He turns his back,' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘He turns his back,’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

But Nance shifted focus in 2012, after being laid off from a job as director of public affairs for a Chicago architecture firm. His primary source of income is still journalism; he is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other publications. But setting his own schedule has also given Nance time to work at his photography, much of which he says is taken within 10 blocks of his apartment near Lake Michigan.

It is different from the photojournalism he used to pursue. Nance says his work now is focused on capturing feelings, mood and light.

"Sunset," digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

“Sunset,” digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

The Internet, particularly Facebook, gave Nance a place to show his work, which caught the eye of Sheila Omer Ferrell, executive director of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. Nance used to write about Ferrell and her husband, Lexington theater director Joe Ferrell, when they ran the now-defunct Phoenix Group Theatre.

The Trust presents art exhibits at the Hunt-Morgan House as part of Gallery Hop, and Ferrell asked Nance if he would be interested in showing his pieces.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing my old friends from Lexington again,” Nance says. “I honestly don’t care if they buy a picture. I just want them to come see the work and see me and have a reunion. If they like a photograph enough to buy it, that’s the cherry on top.”

Nance, who also has a show on display in Chicago and is working on some other exhibits, says he hopes photography becomes a significant stream of revenue. Regardless, he says, he is happy the unpleasant experience of losing a job has opened up an invigorating creative outlet.

“While it’s probably true that nothing I do as a photographer has not been done before by somebody else, it hasn’t been done by me,” Nance says. “It’s a new way of seeing the world, and I enjoy it in a way that is very specific. It brings me a lot of satisfaction and joy.”

'Mediterraneo' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘Mediterraneo’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

Kevin Nance was my immediate predecessor as arts writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

This story will appear in the Weekender section of the June 20, 2014 Herald-Leader.
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Lexington fencing documentary premieres Thursday

Amgad Khazbak and fencer Lee Kiefer in a scene from 'The People in the Room.' Images courtesy of Sean Anderson.

Amgad Khazbak (black, in foreground) and Olympic fencer Lee Kiefer (white shirt, red shorts) in a scene from ‘The People in the Room.’ Image courtesy of Sean Anderson.

Lexington filmmaker Sean Anderson has worked on films and productions for PBS, Starz, ABC News, CBS Sports and other national and international outlets. For his latest project, the filmmaker fixed his attention on a small Lexington fencing club and its well-traveled director.

The People in the Room: One year with a small fencing club focuses on the Bluegrass Fencers’ Club of Lexington and its director, Amgad Khazbak, who once coached the foil team in his native Egypt and the U.S. women’s foil team in the 2012 London Olympics. The film covers the gamut of experiences for the group, from beginners to an Olympian. While it is about fencing, Anderson says the themes are universally applicable to a variety of endeavors. The film premieres at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the Farish Theater at the Central Library.

Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky and a Master’s in documentary film production from Stanford University.He has made several other documentaries that have been shown around the area and on Kentucky Educational Television, including … damn bad oyster: The Times of William Goebel, governor (2008) and Rock That Uke (2003), which was far ahead of the ukulele craze (may be a slight exaggeration) of the last few years.

Following the premiere, Anderson is seeking distribution for the film and to enter it into festival competition. He does anticipate further Kentucky showings of the film.

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Listening to … Parmalee, ‘Feels Like Carolina’

Josh McSwain, and from left, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of the musical group Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP)

(L-R) Josh McSwain, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of  Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. © Invision/AP photo by Wade Payne.

I know very little about Parmele, N.C., but it must be one heckuva a party town.

That’s at least the impression you get from Must’ve Been a Good Time, the signature song from the town’s namesake band, Parmalee (according to CMT, the spelling is altered to help outsiders pronounce it correctly). Singer Matt Thomas describes the aftermath of a throw-down at his home including people passed out on couches and in the yard, animals in strange places, re-purposed furniture and general automotive chaos. He can’t remember any of it happening, but concluded, “We must’ve had a good time.”

Parmalee-Feels Like CarolinaCertainly country and rock ‘n’ roll have had their shares of party-hearty anthems, but clever writing a strong groove steer this tune past clichéville, and Good Time really deserved a better ride on the Billboard  country charts than it got in 2012 (it peaked at No. 38 on country airplay, but did better in satellite radio surveys).

And Parmalee’s late 2013 release Feels Like Carolina contains a number of promising tunes that should make for a good set when the band shows up for Red, White & Boom on the Fourth of July weekend.

Probably the best-known tune is Carolina, the band’s first No. 1 from earlier this year, a touring musician’s homesick-heartsick anthem that’s easy on the ears. There are fun ideas like the “headlights are spotlights” rocker Dance and the  first-kiss song Close Your Eyes for This. Move does a good job affecting a rap cadence without sounding like a country band that really wants be a hip-hop act.

Some tunes aren’t as successful like Back in the Day, a standard issue nostalgia song we’ve heard from every guy who can’t get over high school (now that you’ve got that out of your system, move on). But then there are well-crafted tunes like My Mongomery, with a reverb-drenched guitar paving the road for the highway meditation.

The album ends on a strong note with Another Day Gone, a pretty sober regret song in a similar vein to Carolina.

The winners on the album make it seem Parmalee’s long, sometimes scary — these are the guys whose drummer, Scott Thomas, was shot in an attempted robbery in 2010 — trip out of North Carolina might take them somewhere.

With Red, White & Boom in a couple weeks, we’re giving a listen to albums by some of the supporting acts in the 18-band lineup to give you a sense what you’ll hear while you tan July 5 and 6.

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Summer Classic: ‘Dr. Strangelove’

Peter Sellers as the title character in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.'

Peter Sellers as the title character in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.’

We may not be staring down mutually assured destruction the way we believed we were back in the Cold War days of the mid-20th century. But the recent tensions between the United States and Russia can make you oddly nostalgic for those chilly years when we were sure we were just a push of “the button” away from annihilation.

If you are subject to that creepy reminiscence, the Kentucky Theatre has a very well-timed Summer Classic Wednesday: the 1964 Stanley Kubrick satire Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombIt shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The movie was loosely based on the Peter George novel Red Alert and takes place during a crisis in which crazy Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) — that name, alone, tells you where this film is going — has ordered a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, which would unleash the rain of nuclear weapons that would leave both nations and much of the world  in ruins. There are also characters named Maj. T. J. “King” Kong and Col. Bat Guano. Fun.

The real fun is the dark comedy of all the varied interests scrambling to deal with the situation, including comic genius Peter Sellers playing three roles including the title character, a former Nazi and nuclear weapons expert with an out of control hand who is one of President Merkin Muffley’s (also played by Sellers, and another funny name if you want to look it up) top advisers. As the danger deepens, Strangelove is the one that suggests gathering several hundred thousand people with a 10-to-one ratio of women to men to live in mineshafts and repopulate the country after nuclear devastation.

Sellers, who was known for performances playing multiple characters, also played British officer Lionel Mandrake who tries to face down Ripper and his derranged theories about Russians poisoning Americans’ “precious bodily fluids.” Sellers was also supposed to portay Maj. Kong, the Texas bombardier focused on fulfilling his nuclear mission, but had to bow out because of an injury giving Slim Pickens a chance to turn in one of his most memorable performances.

And the film is certainly remembered by people who experienced in the context of the fear it mocked, coming in at No. 3 on the American Film Institute’s list of funniest American movies and being called, “arguably the best political satire of the century,” by the late Roger Ebert.

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LexArts schedules public meeting on CEO search

LexArts will host a public discussion at 6 p.m. June 23 at ArtsPlace to discuss the search for a new president and CEO of the united arts fund.

Current president and CEO Jim Clark announced late last year that he would be stepping down from the post effective June 30. A search committee has been formed and the firm Management Consultants for the Arts has been retained to conduct the search, and the firm determined that a public forum should be held.

Lexington poet Bianca Spriggs will moderate the forum, which is opened to all interested parties. Spriggs is a member of the committee, along with chair J. David Smith, Jr., Virginia Underwood, John Long, Georgia Henkel, Stephanie Hong, Lori Houlihan, Allison Kaiser of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and Larry Snipes of Lexington Children’s Theatre.

A question the committee is aiming to answer is what role the new LexArts chief will play. The panel at the forum will be Smith, also Chair of LexArts’ Grants Committee; Kaiser and John Long, Chairman of the LexArts board.

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Norton Center for the Arts 2014-15 season

Violinist Lara St. John will return for her third appearance at the Norton Center for the Arts next season. Photo by Martin Kennedy.

Violinist Lara St. John will return for her third appearance at the Norton Center for the Arts next season. © Photo by Martin Kennedy.

Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts is downsizing a bit, by design, for its 2014-15 season.

“We wanted to condense it a bit and focus on the intimacy of the space,” says Steven A. Hoffman, who is ­programming his third full season as the Danville arts center’s executive director.

The lineup boasts 16 shows, down from 23 ­announced last year.

“There’s not a lot of ­redundancy in what we are ­presenting this season,” said Mandy Prather, the venue’s director of marketing and development. “There aren’t four orchestras or six plays. We tried to focus on the best we could find.”

That said, it is a season with names including Chris Thile and ZZ Top and an innovative ­presentation of an American television classic.

Hoffman said more shows might be announced.

Season tickets are on sale through NortonCenter.com or by calling 1-877-448-7469.
Here’s the season.

Sept. 4: “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, one of the nation’s leading military ensembles: As is the policy of military ensembles, this is a free performance to start the season, but getting tickets is highly recommended.
Sept. 23: Recycled ­Percussion, innovative and ­interactive percussion group: Everybody gets an instrument at the door, Hoffman says of this group, which is serious about the audience participation aspect of its shows.
Sept. 27: Smash Mouth, 1990s chart toppers with hits including All Star: For homecoming weekend, Hoffman says he tries to book acts that will have a cross-generational appeal. Smash mouth, he points out, was big with the parents of many current students, and then made it into their consciousness through things like the Shrek movies.

Chris Thile in performance with The Punch Brothers. © Invision/AP photo by Photo by John Davisson.

Chris Thile in performance with The Punch Brothers. © Invision/AP photo by Photo by John Davisson.

Oct. 1: Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer, bluegrass/Americana music: Hoffman describes Thile, who has visited the Norton Center before with The Punch Brothers, as “the Yo-Yo Ma of the Mandolin.” Thile and bassist Meyer have both teamed up with Ma and fiddler Stuart Duncan on Goat Rodeo, the most enchanting musical collaboration of the 21st century.
Oct. 11: Lara St. John and Marie-Pierre Langlamet, ­internationally acclaimed ­violinist and harpist: This is St. John’s third appearance at the Norton Center, and the evening with harp superstar Langlament promises music from Bach to polka.

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performs at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on December 28, 2013 in Hollywood, Florida. © Invision/AP photo by Jeff Daly.

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performs at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on December 28, 2013 in Hollywood, Florida. © Invision/AP photo by Jeff Daly.

Oct. 24: ZZ Top, iconic Texas rock and blues trio: Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill were sporting megabeards before they were so hipster, and like Smash Mouth, the Texas trio, including ironically-named drummer Frank Beard, have that cross-generational appeal.
Nov. 7: Russian State Symphony Orchestra, with pianist ­Vladimir Feltsman: Hoffman says having piano icon Feltsman perform at the Norton Center, “is special for the entire region,” and the concert will be an all-Russian affair of Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
Dec. 6: Wynonna and The Big Noise: “A Simpler Christmas”: This year’s Christmas show has a distinctly Bluegrass State flavor.
Jan. 27: Paul Taylor Dance Company: Hoffman says this will be the fourth time at the various venues he has directed he has presented Paul Taylor, and he emphasizes this will be the company’s lead troupe.
Feb. 5: Cyrille Aimée, jazz vocalist: Hoffman touts the smaller Weisiger Theatre as the perfect venue to experience Aimée’s French Gypsy swing stylings.
Feb. 19: Japanese Winter Plum Festival, Japanese music, theater, art, food and culture in an evening-long event: This is not so much a show as an evening-long cultural experience that is in part drawn from Centre College’s enduring international studies programs.
Feb. 21: I Love Lucy Live on Stage, show set up like two ­tapings of the iconic sitcom: This show will run for a week in Louisville but Hoffman brings it to Danville for a night. Sort of building on live-radio play shows, this makes the audience an audience for a live taping of I Love Lucy, seeing the behind the scenes goings on as well as the show.
Feb. 27: Cameron Carpenter, organist: “We have a wonderful organ that rarely gets used,” Hoffman says. “So this is a great chance to show it off.” Of the flashy, and sometimes controversial Carpenter, Hoffman says, “His whole reason to live is to make sure organ remains accessible to new generations.”
March 6: Aquila Theatre production of Wuthering Heights: The Emily Brontë classic comes to life on the Norton Center stage in Aquila Theatre’s return.
March 27: Memphis: The Musical, touring production of the Broadway show about the racial integration of radio: One of the the undisputed hits of the Lexington Opera House’s just-completed Broadway Live season, the Tony winner for best musical is the Broadway feature of the Norton Center season.
April 11: Bill Engvall, comedy: Hoffman describes Engvall as “one of the clean, blue-collar comedians,” and he also has the status of giving Jennifer Lawrence her first big gig when she played his daughter on the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show.

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Look for familiar Lexington faces on the Tonys

Neil Patrick Harris in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Behind him are Lexingtonians Justin Craig (top, right) and Matt Duncan (bottom, right). © AP/Boneau/Bryan-Brown photo by  Joan Marcus.

Neil Patrick Harris in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Behind him are Lexingtonians Justin Craig (top, right) and Matt Duncan (bottom, right). © AP/Boneau/Bryan-Brown photo by Joan Marcus.

Being in the most talked about show on Broadway usually means you are going to get a pretty prominent position on Broadway’s biggest night on television. And that will be the case for two Lexingtonians Sunday night when the 68th Annual Tony Awards are handed out.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch has been all the rage this year, in large part due to the presence of Neil Patrick Harris in the title role. But, just like when he takes the stage every night at the Belasco Theatre, Harris will be supported by a pair of Lexingtonians in Hedwig’s band: guitarist and music director Justin Craig and bassist Matt Duncan.

Duncan confirmed Friday evening that we will indeed see them in the Tony’s telecast.

Hedwig, of course, already had a strong Lexington connection before those guys joined the show in co-creator, composer and lyricist Stephen Trask. And it was Trask’s enduring connections to the Lexington music community that helped make Craig and Duncan part of the show when it made its move to Broadway.

Harris, considered a shoo-in for best actor in a musical, has been hosting the Tonys for several years. This year, he turns those duties over to fellow song-and-dance man, Tony winner and Wolverine, Hugh Jackman.

There is one other tangential Kentucky connection among the nominees: playwright Robert Schenkkan is up for Best Play for All the Waythe show about President Lyndon B. Johnson that stars Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Schenkkan, a North Carolina native, is also the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Kentucky Cycle.

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