The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Starting next fall, theater and music majors will be able to earn musical theater certificates while studying at UK. The certificate program will be available by audition and students in it will need to complete courses such as musical theatre, jazz dance, ballet, voice, vocal ensemble, and acting.
UK theater department chair Nancy Jones, who will oversee the certificate program, said the introduction of the certificate program was the culmination of a number of moves in the College of Fine Arts including the introduction of a dance minor under the direction of dance lecturer Susie Thiel and adjunct musical theater instructors Jeromy Smith and Lyndy Franklin Smith. The last several years, the theater department has presented musicals, including last year’s presentation of Thoroughly Modern Millie and this year’s production of Spring Awakening, which opens Thursday.
Auditions for the musical theater certificate program are in April and it will accept 10 to 12 students a year.
Where can you find the comedy of Arthur Sullivan (half of Gilbert and Sullivan) and the pathos of Giacomo Puccini on one stage this weekend?
First Presbyterian Church is where the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s Undergraduate Studio is presenting two one-act operas: the Sullivan comedy Cox and Box and Puccini’s convent drama Suor Angelica.
Yes, there will be nuns filling the Presbyterian church’s dias.
Suor Angelica is the directorial debut for UK distinguished professor of voice Cynthia Lawrence, and it tells the story of a sister who was sent to a convent as punishment and seeks redemption.
Cox and Box is, as Monty Python might say, “something completely different” — credit to UK Opera photographer Sally Horowitz for planting that quip in my noggin. Sullivan’s opera is the story of two men who unwittingly share an apartment. One works at night, the other in the day. But when one gets the day off, the landlord’s ruse is discovered.
This opera also has an aria about bacon. (See video, below.) An operatic aria about bacon?! Oddly, appropriate.
Cox and Box is directed by Patrick Joel Martin and Gregory Turay, UK Opera’s most celebrated graduate.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13. Tickets are available through the Singletary Center ticket office (use the links in the last sentence) and at the door starting at 6:30 each night. Prepare to laugh … and cry.
The series follows Brown and his friend Neal James through adventures in Kentucky removing critters from places where they aren’t wanted and releasing them in their natural habitats. Brown’s signature is diving into ponds to capture snapping turtles, but in the first season, he also took on raccoons, rattlesnakes, cows and his favorite, skunks.
The new season will take Brown beyond the Kentucky state lines and even south of the border, to Mexico. Some of the “live action” that Animal Planet promises in Kentucky and beyond include:
~ Brown’s mom joining him to rid her pond of the turtles he has had since childhood.
~ A visit to Louisville’s Waverly Hills Sanatorium, which has been featured on SyFy’s “reality” show Ghost Hunters, where Brown has to root out some animals that have disturbed the regular paranormal tours.
~ Birds in the Marion County Court House that are literally messing up renovation efforts.
~ A search for a missing llama, a creature that Brown had never dealt with.
~ A one-hour special featuring Brown’s and James’ first international rescue, in Mexico.
Since premiering, Call of the Wildman has gained a healthy following, particularly among kids who enjoy the animals and Brown’s big personality, including his yell.
New episodes will air at 9 p.m. Sundays, starting June 2.
Wild at Heart is a 1990 crime drama about a couple, Sailor (Nicolas Cage) and Lula (Laura Dern), who attempt to run from North Carolina to California with Lula’s mother’s (Diane Ladd) goons on their trail. One of those goons is a detective and the mother’s on-off boyfriend played by Stanton. Glover played Lula’s cousin, who puts cockroaches in his underwear — hey, it’s a Lynch film. The story contains strong allusions to The Wizard of Oz and Elvis movies — again, it’s a Lynch film.
Glover, 48, is best known for his portrayal of eccentric characters such as George McFly in Back to the Future (1985) and Andy Warhol in The Doors (1991).
Stanton, 86, is a native of West Irvine, graduate of Lafayette High School, and he attended the University of Kentucky. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he pursued acting and has had a long career primarily playing character roles. In its first two years, the Harry Dean Stanton Fest, presented by the Lexington Film League, has screened classic Stanton fare including Paris, Texas (1984), Repo Man (1984) and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973).
Earlier this year, the festival announced it will include a screening of the original Red Dawn (1984) on May 31 at the Fountain Films on Friday series at Triangle Park.
Jones says complete festival information will be announced later this week.
This news comes on the heels of Monday’s announcement that Lexington native and Oscar nominated actor Michael Shannon will be in town April 26 for the opening of Mud, in which he co-stars with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepherd, who has a home in Midway. The event, which includes a pre-show reception and Q&A with Shannon after the movie, is a fundraiser for Friends of the Kentucky, which is working for technological and cosmetic upgrades to the theater.
His name is Brad Paisley, and he will be your cowboy-hatted global tour guide.
This is a role the guitar slinger has played before, like on his 2009 song Welcome to the Future, in which he sang about video chatting with companies in Tokyo. Paisley may play music most deeply appreciated in the rural and Southern United States, but he has seen the world and wants to let his fans know there is more to it than mom, baseball and apple pie.
That’s sort of the unifying message of Wheelhouse, Paisley’s 10th studio album, which leads off with Southern Comfort Zone, a song advising listeners, “Not everybody drives a truck … drinks sweet tea … owns a gun, wears a ball cap, boots and jeans … goes to church or watches every NASCAR race.” Globalism is just one of several serious themes Paisley touches on with this new album, which also includes domestic abuse, religion and the Internet sensation du jour, racism and reconciliation.
Almost as quickly as it was released, Accidental Racist, an earnest duet with LL Cool J, was buried under criticism from all sides of the political and cultural spectrum. Paisley brings it in with an intriguing scenario: a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan puts on one of the band’s T-shirts, which includes the Confederate Battle Flag, goes to Starbucks and inadvertently offends his black server with the garment. He laments he was, “lookin’ like I got a lot to learn.”
If Paisley had cut the song off at the customary three-and-a-half minute mark, it would have been a nice, bluesy offering from a guy whose history says he is honestly trying to bridge some divides. It’s when LL comes in that the song becomes overwrought six-minute slog and makes missteps like trying to equate Confederate flags and do-rags. Surely Paisley could have found a better and more current collaborator than the NCIS: Los Angeles star. It’s unfortunate that walking into controversy, Paisley doesn’t have a better song to stand behind.
And for the most part, Wheelhouse is full of good songs, like the domestic abuse revenge anthem, Karate, the divorce ballad Tin Can on a String and Those Crazy Christians, which deftly defends and tweaks both the faithful and their detractors. The latter shows Paisley as a well-rounded ambassador, not only trying to open his core audience to a bigger world but trying to cultivate greater appreciation of his roots.
With such serious topics, there are a few goofy tunes that feel out of place here, such as Death of a Single Man, a fun song that may have worked better on a party-hearty album like American Saturday Night (2009). The album could also benefit from more guitar indulgences, one of the primary reasons to listen to a Paisley album, like the end of Beat This Summer and the instrumental Onryo.
Wheelhouse may not be Paisley’s masterpiece, but it may be the clearest articulation of his voice.
Holly Henson was known in Central Kentucky as the artistic director of the Pioneer Playhouse, but she was also an active and accomplished comedian.
The Playhouse will present a comedy benefit starring Jim Wiggins and Bob Batch in Henson’s honor at 8 p.m. May 11 at the theater’s indoor stage. Proceeds from the event will benefit Stand Up 2 Cancer.
Henson died May 27, 2012, after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 51.
The show was organized by Henson’s husband, Tom Hansen, a comedy agent who met Henson when Wiggins advised him to go check out her show. Wiggins, who has performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Last Comic Standing, is billed as “The Last Hippie in America” and presents a show called Silly Stuff and Sad Stories: Reflections of a ‘60’s Reject. He has also lived with cancer and often commiserated with Henson as they were undergoing treatment.
Batch is a Louisville-based comedian who has appeared on the Today show and Good Morning America.
In addition to the comedy, attendees will have a chance to bid on auction items including tickets to The Tonight Show and meeting Leno after the show, tickets to a taping of The Soup and meeting with host Joel McHale afterward, a tour of E! Studios, tickets to Chelsea Lately, The Fashion Police, and a chance to bid on a “swag bag” from the 2013 Oscars.
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of the show, and available from the Pioneer Playhouse box office or by calling 1-866-597-5297.
After two swings through Rupp Arena as a supporting act, The Band Perry seems destined to take over headlining duties. The group’s second album, Pioneer, is a prime vehicle to take it there with a dozen numbers that will play to big rooms just fine without betraying the trio’s string-band roots.
Folks who tuned into the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night saw that with the band’s performance of DONE, one of two fierce numbers that lead off the follow-up to the group’s self-titled debut.
The first thing most people heard of The Band Perry was the wistful 2010 crossover hit If I Die Young, and we certainly get that sweet feeling on several new tracks, particularly Mother Like Mine, a lovely tribute from a sibling group. But The Band Perry has always wanted to rock and frontwoman Kimberly Perry has always had edge, which is what is really exploited on Pioneer.
Better Dig Two, the opening track and lead-off single, is a fierce declaration of possibly ill-advised loyalty ’til death — “If divorce or death ever do us part, the coroner will call it a broken heart.” Other barn-burners include Chainsaw and Night Gone Wasted, and while the wah-wah guitar opening of I’m a Keeper might seem to indicate brothers Reid and Neil want to indulge the rock-star fantasies their haircuts betray, there are anchors like the steady plucking below the surface of DONE that anchor the band. There’s also Kimberly’s exasperated grunt at the end of the song that indicate this is not as tidy as the country pop we are used to.
Indeed, it did seem that The Band Perry may use a second album to veer off into a rootsier pose, at one point courting one-time Johnny Cash producer Rick Rubin. But they ended up engaging Dann Huff, architect of several of Rascal Flatts’ successes, as well as arena stars Reba McEntire, Celine Dion, and Michael Jackson.
The Band Perry may be a trio of kids, but they know exactly where they want to go, and that’s playing second fiddle to no one in arenas.
Growing up in the late 1970s and early ’80s, I did not realize how seriously the movies were taken until I saw a little show on PBS called Sneak Previews. It featured two movie critics from Chicago, easily identified as the skinny guy (Gene Siskel) and the fat one (Roger Ebert).
True, they gave the world the now-often-derided moview review shorthand of thumbs up and thumbs down. But in between the prestidigitation were passionate, enlightening conversations about films destined to become classics such as Raging Bull and Ordinary People, and some not so much — I remember being a bit disappointed the Mad Magazine movie Up the Academy got a fairly quick and dismissive thumbs down.
Ebert and Siskel’s show soon became the commercial, syndicated At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and continued to show that movies were something to be passionate about, and people could disagree without being disagreeable. They and my hometown newspaper critic, The Virginian-Pilot’s Mal Vincent, were my early film education, and undoubtedly helped lead me to where I am today.
When I started working toward a career in journalism, with the hopes of breaking into arts and entertainment writing, I discovered the Pulitzer Prize-winning, entertainment journalism icon that was Ebert, who died last week after a long and heroic battle with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands.
The disfigurement and loss of the ability to eat, drink or speak after numerous cancer surgeries would have led many to retire from the pressures of a day job, and living life on deadline is pressure. But in some ways it seemed to invigorate Ebert and give him a stronger sense of purpose both in his film reviewing and broader political and cultural commentary. His work became a lesson in overcoming obstacles and using the platform he was given, as much as his previous work was a lesson in developing taste, discernment and an independent voice.
Listening to Fresh Air’s tribute to Ebert on Friday, he reiterated a philosophy of reviewing I have heard him articulate before and should be a guide star to anyone who takes up the craft of reviewing: “You have to realize you’re not writing for the filmmakers. You’re writing for the potential film audience. And I would much rather hurt somebody’s feelings who made the picture than send somebody to see a movie and spend two hours of their life seeing a movie that I don’t think is worth seeing.”
This is a man who published two books filled with scathing reviews: I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie (2000) and Your Movie Sucks (2007), the latter being a frequently intriguing look at the role of a high-profile critic frequently dealing with the people he trashed. But those were validated by the numerous raves for films he thought were important for people to see, and vice versa.
In 2005, I was at the Toronto International Film Festival’s screening of Elizabethtown, and I spotted the unmistakable Ebert on his way into the theater. It was an electric moment thinking I would be in the same screening as the icon. And it was tempting to go up and tell him what his work had meant to me and how it influenced my career.
But how many times had Ebert heard that from many, highly accomplished scribes? Anyone who does this sort of job, chronicling culture, owes Ebert a debt for raising the profile and seriousness of this profession. It was a job he seemed to have to do, particularly as he confronted the challenges of his last few years. And it was a job he defined.
Institute 193 isn’t just for visual art. Folks who have followed the gallery know that it has frequently put on music performances that pack out its tiny space on Limestone. Just in time for Record Store Day, April 20, the Institute is gathering together recordings by artists that have played there, worked with the Institute and Southern artists for a compilation album.
A lot of the artists on 193 Sound are familiar to Lexingtonians including Ben Sollee, Idiot Glee and Matt Duncan. There are also performers that may be better known as visual artists such as Louis Zoellar Bickett II. With a range from experimental music to bluegrass, the album promises to be one of the more eclectic compilations of area music out there. On Record Store Day, Alabama artist and musician Lonnie Holley will perform at CD Central and the Institute website promises more information to come on a release party.
Institute 193 is still seeking monetary support for the project. Folks interested in supporting it should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859.749.9765.
Raylan Givens is the hero of Justified, the good-lookin’, Lexington-based U.S. Marshal who’s usually one step ahead of the bad guys on the FX television series.
But with four seasons almost done, fans will tell you Harlan County crime boss Boyd Crowder is every bit as essential with his mix of literary reverence and ruthless discipline of his henchmen.
The man who plays Boyd, Alabama-born, Georgia-raised actor Walton Goggins, has another essential character in mind with the show.
“Harlan County has a real mythical, mystical quality in the context of the show,” Goggins says during a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s the seventh character in the show.”
He compares it to the way the city of Los Angeles worked into The Shield, the FX series on which he played Detective Shane Vendrell for seven seasons.
“Lexington and Harlan County are what the show revolves around, what the nature of the show revolves around, so it looms very, very large,” Goggins, 41, says. Referring to the author whose short stories about Raylan Givens inspired the series, he says, “What we try to do is be true to the characters that Elmore Leonard created, and the ways in which they are unique to that part of the country.
“Always, in the back of our ears, are people from Kentucky whispering, ‘You’d better get it right.’”
Goggins has gotten it right and grown his role as much as any character in the show, starting as a white supremacist explosives fiend, becoming a backwoods preacher and eventually evolving into the crime boss of Harlan, though he always seems to be fighting off Northern aggressors who think they can do crime better.
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