The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Mar3Filed under: ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Theater; Tagged as: Actors Guild of Lexington, Andy Haymaker, Beaumont Center, Joe Artz, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Chinese-American Association, Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater, Scott Sherman, Tim Haymaker
It’s almost time for the first full season of performances at the Moondance at Midnight Pass amphitheater behind Beaumont Center. Since it is still such an unknown quantity to many presenters in Lexington, LexArts is holding an open house at the theater from 2 to 5 p.m. March 19.
The $2 million theater was built by developer Andy Haymaker and his father Tim Haymaker as a community gathering place in the Beaumont Center area. It opened last fall and had a few performances by groups such as Actors Guild of Lexington, the Lexington Ballet and the Lexington Chinese-American Association before it had to close for winter.
But spring is getting ready to … well, it’s just around the corner, and LexArts, which manages the facility, is working to get it booked up for the warm months.
Manager Joe Artz and technical director Scott Sherman will be at the open house to give tours, answer questions and field ideas for the facility, which seats around 1,000 people. For more information, visit moondancelex.com or call (859) 225-0370.
Nov3Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Lexington Art League, Visual arts; Tagged as: Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center, Contemporary Dance Collective, Habitat for Humanity, LexArts, Lexington Art League, Lexington Ballet, Stephanie Pevec, The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, The British Are Coming
The first event Stephanie Pevec attended in Lexington after moving here from Wooster, Ohio, was the opening reception for the Lexington Art League’s Nude 2008 exhibit.
“We were used to 50 people at an opening being a big crowd,” says Pevec, who was the exhibitions and education director for the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster. “To see 300 to 400 people at that opening completely energized me, and I said, ‘I have to work with the Art League.’”
At the time, Pevec was starting to make connections in town, getting to know leaders at most Lexington arts groups in an effort to find a place for herself. One of the first leaders she contacted, and who she says was one of the first to call her back, was Art League director Allison Kaiser.
Now, less than three years later, Pevec is the new executive director at the Art League after Kaiser left to take the same post at the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra.
“This is what I have been working for my whole professional life,” Pevec says, sitting in the kitchen of the Loudoun House as the galleries undergo the transition from the early fall KY.7 Biennial show to the Art Fever fund-raiser.
Sep24Filed under: Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, ballet, Classical Music, Country music, dance, Lexington Ballet, Music, Opera; Tagged as: Alicia McCorvey, Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Cherryholmes, Cynthia Lawrence, Dan James, Denyce Graves, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Gregory Turay, Haitian Harmony, Jim Newberry, Lashelle Allen, Leo Delibes, Lexington Ballet, Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Mario Contreras, Mark Schlackman, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Ronan Tynan, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Stacy Westfall, Steve Beshear, Tanya Harper, The California Cowgirls Equestrian Drill Team, The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Tommie Turvey, Vince Bruce, Woody Guthrie, Wynonna Judd
Rehearsals for the opening ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games moved to the outdoor stadium of the Kentucky Horse Park Thursday night. The semi-dress rehearsal started at showtime, 7 p.m., and clocked in right around three hours.
With many marquee starts still yet to arrive, there were amusing moments, such as emcee Roger Leasor introducing Wynonna Judd and UK voice student Lashelle Allen taking the stage (and delivering a My Old Kentucky Home Wy might find hard to follow). That happened again when Alicia McCorvey stood in for Denyce Graves and Gregory Turay subbed for Ronan Tynan.
While not a complete show, the stumble-through rehearsal gave us some ideas what to look for Saturday night, whether you are coming out to the Horse Park or watching on WLEX.
Local talent: Much has been made of the big name acts lending their talent to the show, including Bluegrass stars Cherryholmes and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. But there is plenty of local talent on stage and behind the scenes, from the legion of more than 150 area children that will pop up frequently and the dancers with the Lexington Ballet to the lighting design by UK’s Tanya Harper and production supervisor Mark Schlackman, who keeps everything moving.
Beautiful blends of horse and man: The show has been billed as a mix of human and equine talent, and they frequently mix beautifully. One to really watch for is Dan James’ ride atop two horses as Metropolitan Opera Stars Graves and Cynthia Lawrence, now part of UK’s voice faculty, sing Leo Delibes’ Flower Duet from Lakme.
Brushes with history: The entertainment portion of the program, which will begin with a parade of nations and proclamations from Mayor Jim Newberry, Gov. Steve Beshear and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, president of the International Equestrian Federation, purports to tell the story of America. One moment to appreciate is Woody Guthrie’s granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, singing her granddad’s anthem This Land is Your Land as Stacy Westfall rides bareback in the ring.
Three ring circus: The Wide Open West segment floods the arena with The California Cowgirls
Equestrian Drill Team, Vince Bruce, The Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, Tommie Turvey and Dan James, one of several times you don’t know quite where to look because so much is happening.
Stories: Mixed in amongst the tunes and horse tricks are numerous stories of artists and their journies to that stage. Think about Wynonna Judd, once living in poverty is rural Madison County, now singing Kentucky’s song at one of the Commonwealth’s biggest events ever. Think about the Haitian Harmony children, who just departed their impoverished nation Wednesday and now sing before thousands of people with major stars.
It’s quite a way to start a fortnight of huge dreams.
Lexington Ballet executive director Joe Tackett has left the company to take the same position with the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Reading, Penn. Tackett came to the Ballet just over a year ago and helped the company re-launch its professional performing company after nearly a decade of operating as school that hired outside professionals to dance with its top students for public performances. The Ballet now has nearly 20 dancers in its professional company.
Tackett came to the Ballet from the Lexington Philharmonic, where he was the education director and music librarian. He also performed with the Philharmonic as a bassist through the 2009-10 season.
Former Philharmonic executive director Peter Kucirko, who retired earlier this year and was succeeded by Allison Kaiser, is serving as the interim executive director while the Ballet searches for Tackett’s successor.
The Lexington Ballet announced its 2010-11 season at performances of Hard Rock Ballet this weekend. It includes variations on hits like Hard Rock Ballet 2, a major classical work and a performance during the World Equestrian Games.
Fabric of Dance: 3′s Company – Three choreographers challenge the Ballet in the season kickoff. Sept. 3-5, Lexington Opera House.
Hard Rock Ballet 2 – The sequel to this weekend’s performances of dance to songs like Queen’s We Will Rock You and Aerosmith’s Dream On. Oct. 9, Courthouse Plaza as part of the Spotlight Lexington Festival.
The Haunted – Artistic Director Luis Dominguez premiers a new work based on supernatural stories from all over the world. Oct. 22-24, Downtown Arts Center.
The Nutcracker – The Lexington Ballet is back in the Opera House for the classic holiday dance spectacle. Dec. 10-12, 17-19, Lexington Opera House.
21st Century Ballet – The Ballet says this will be in the tradition of this year’s Nonsense and Koln Concert, mixing classical, neo-classical and modern dance. Feb. 18-20, Downtown Arts Center.
Giselle - The company ends the season with one of ballet’s major works. April 16-18, Lexington Opera House.
This summer, the Lexington Ballet expects to introduce its newly expanded professional company. In 2009-10, the ballet brought in a nine-member professional troupe, its first pro company in nearly a decade. The new lineup will include several male dancers, the lack of which was a problem in December when the dancer hired to be the Cavalier in Nutcracker was injured and Dominguez had to step in after more than a decade off the stage.
Subscriptions are $130 for adults, $100 for seniors, $80 for students. Single performance tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, and $20 for students. They are available at the Downtown Arts Center Ticket Office, 141 E. Main St.; by calling (859) 225-0370 or visiting www.tix.com.
For more information, call (859) 233-3925 or visit www.lexingtonballet.org.
LexArts’ decision to name a program coordinator for the Downtown Arts Center could be seen as a reaction to a drop in use of the 8-year-old facility since Actors Guild of Lexington pulled out.
And that is correct, to an extent.
“I have been thinking about it ever since I got here,” says LexArts president and CEO Jim Clark, who arrived in Lexington about eight months after the DAC opened.
He and Lexington actor and businessperson Leslie Beatty would talk about what sorts of things could be done in the center. But there didn’t seem to be much point in devoting a full-time position to the job.
“Actors Guild had all the good weekends for its shows,” Clark said. “There wasn’t any room for us to be creative.”
Now, with financial travails forcing Actors Guild to abandon its DAC schedule, LexArts has brought in Beatty to direct the center’s programming. Clark says Beatty’s combination of artistry and business acumen made her an ideal candidate.
“You have to know the numbers and what things cost,” Beatty says, “and have to know what the artists need.”
Talking about the future of the Downtown Arts Center, Clark and Beatty are in some ways taking a curatorial approach to the space, looking for interesting local programming, and regional and national artists for the black box theater and, eventually, the third floor.
When the DAC opened, the third floor was unfinished, but plans were announced to make it a cabaret and rehearsal space. That never happened, but Clark says LexArts is hoping to work with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government to develop a business plan for finishing the space, which Clark says should cost $300,000 to $500,000.
“We want to keep the space fairly raw,” says Beatty, who admires the third floor’s exposed brick walls and ceiling beams.
Mar11Filed under: Classical Music, Lexington Opera House, Opera, UK, video; Tagged as: Arena Stage, Berman’s and Nathan’s, Brünnhilde, Carmen, Die Fledermaus, Johann Strauss II, La Traviata, Lady Macbeth, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Shakespeare Festival, Lucia di Lammermoor, Macbeth, Pagliacci, Richard Kagey, Richard Wagner, Ring Cycle, Susan Dudley Wigglesworth, Tannhäuser, The Crucible
In almost any opera, University of Kentucky costumer Susan Dudley Wigglesworth will have to create looks for at least one iconic character. For this weekend’s production of Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus, she’s creating a who’s who of opera icons.
“Often the party scene (in Die Fledermaus) is done as a costume party,” says director Richard Kagey. “So it just made sense to give it an opera theme.”
Wigglesworth, a multitalented theater artist on stage and behind the scenes, says, “I’ve learned a lot about opera doing it. I learned, for instance, that Brünnhilde doesn’t wear horns. She in fact wears wings. But, everyone thinks of her wearing horns, so … ”
Wigglesworth stepped across her shop in the basement of UK’s Memorial Hall and picked up a pointy helmet with horns on it to portray the heroine of Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” operas.
Wigglesworth — who might be best known to area audiences for her on-stage performance of Lady Macbeth in the Lexington Shakespeare Festival’s 2001 production of Macbeth — has been settling into this shop over the past year as the UK Opera’s staff costumer.
It is a role she came to through parenthood.
The Lexington Ballet presents an original production Feb. 5 and 6 at the Downtown Arts Center. “Nonsense” is a collection of works that draw on a variety of styles, from classical ballet to James Brown. Enjoy Matt Goins’ rehearsal photos above and make sure to read Robert Parks Johnson’s preview.
Dec26Filed under: Actors Guild of Lexington, Arts administration, Balagula Theatre, ballet, Central Kentucky Arts News, Classical Music, Current Affairs, dance, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Opera House, Lexington Philharmonic, Lexington Singers, LexPhil conductor search, Music, Opera, Singletary Center for the Arts, Studio Players, Theater, UK, Visual arts, Woodford County Theatre; Tagged as: A Bluegrass Tapestry, Actors Guild of Lexington, Always Patsy Cline, Balagula Theatre, Bob Edwards, Heather Parrish, James Archambeault, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Kentucky Humanities Council, Kim Shaw, LexArts, Lexington Ballet, Lexington Children's Theatre, Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Lexington Singers, Long Time Travelling, Lorne Dechtenberg, Luis Dominguez, Norton Center for the Arts, Our Lincoln, Paragon Musisc Theatre, Richard St. Peter, Robyn Peterman-Zahn, Scott Terrell, Studio Players, The Christmas Presence, The Infamous Ephraim, The Koln Concert, The Last of Mrs. Lincoln, The Magical Tales of Beatrix Potter, The Woodford Theatre, Token of Affection, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre, University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra
New Year’s Day 2009, I assumed by New Year’s Eve I would have written about at least one Lexington arts group closing its doors. The economy was buried nose-first in the ground and theaters and other arts organizations were closing their doors around the county. While Actors Guild of Lexington did give us plenty of offstage drama, there actually were no fatalities here as far as arts groups go, and some even thrived despite the nation’s foundering fortunes.
The poster child for doing quite well, thank you very much, was Studio Players. In the depths of our national despair, Studio put up a winter show about Mary Todd Lincoln it thought would probably have limited appeal. And “The Last of Mrs. Lincoln” was a sold out hit that had to add performances to accommodate the audiences.
And that’s pretty much how 2009 went for Studio, the pinnacle of the year being the summer production of “Always, Patsy Cline” that added numerous performances including unprecedented, for Studio, Wednesday shows.
Studio was not alone in bucking trends. The Lexington Ballet went out and hired a new company of professional dancers, the ballet’s first pro troupe since the early part of this decade. Paragon Music Theatre presented its first two productions directed by new artistic director Robyn Peterman Zahn at the Lexington Opera House.
Now Lexington and Central Kentucky were not immune to economic challenges. Donations to campaigns cooled a bit and the Kentucky Arts Council has had to endure several cuts due to state cuts. But, everyone came out alive.
Of course, there were other big arts stories this year:
A new maestro: After two years of searching, the Lexington Philharmonic named Scott Terrell its new music director. He succeeded George Zack, who held the Philharmonic’s baton for more than three decades, and so far, it seems the change has done the orchestra good.
“This orchestra is coming alive,” Herald-Leader critic Loren Tice wrote, reviewing November’s MasterClassics concert. “There is a sense of cohesion, of belief that there is first-rate music being made here.”
The new face has given the Philharmonic a chance to rebrand itself with a more youthful profile, helped by a group of hip, young soloists to start Terrell’s debut season. In all, it has been a profound change for Lexington’s flagship arts group.
Actors Guild melts down: Lexington’s one-time flagship theater had a very different year. Actors Guild of Lexington has long been angling to become the area’s fully-professional theater for adult audiences — Lexington Children’s Theatre has been a professional house for years. In May, it announced plans to make that move, but less than a month later, the bottom fell out. LexArts, exasperated after years of AGL’s financial roller coaster, withdrew annual general-operating funding from the theater. That nearly-$70,000 hit sent the theater into a tailspin, with both artistic director Richard St. Peter and managing director Kimberly Shaw eventually leaving to pursue other opportunities.
This fall, AGL has presented an abbreviated and altered schedule from what was announced in the spring. The December production of “The SantaLand Diaries” was reportedly sold out, and Actors Guild says it is making plans for 2010. But none have been announced.
It should be noted that at the same time this story has played out, other area theaters including the ones mentioned above plus The Woodford Theatre, Balagula Theatre and Children’s Theatre have thrived.
“Our Lincoln” in Washington: Many Lexington artists and groups go to perform in other areas on celebrated stages such as Carnegie Hall and even Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. But taking 375 performers from a diverse ensemble of groups to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington was a whole new level of ambition.
The Kentucky Humanities Council pulled it off, traveling – despite the epic ice storm that befell Central Kentucky – on the first days of February to put on a show for 1,463 people. The performance, narrated by Bob Edwards and including the Lexington Singers and the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, is now available on DVD from the Humanities Council Web site.
Film incentives pass: In June, the state General Assembly passed a bill providing financial incentives to filmmakers who shoot in Central Kentucky. The incentives – a 20 percent refundable tax credit for production and post-production expenses for feature filmmakers who spend at least $500,000 in Kentucky – are seen as essential to attract filmmakers. An immediate result was Disney’s “Secretariat” chose to come to Kentucky for filming in October.
New works: It’s always important to remember new performing arts works, because they help keep the disciplines vital and relevant.
This year started with the Lexington Ballet’s production of artistic director Luis Dominguez’s “The Magical Tales of Beatrix Potter” in March and concluded with The Woodford Theatre’s original holiday show, “The Christmas Presence.” In between, Actors Guild launched Silas House’s second work for the stage, “Long Time Travelling;” Pioneer Playhouse director Holly Henson presented “The Infamous Ephraim,” about Danville physician Ephraim McDowell’s historic abdominal surgery; the UK Opera Theatre premiered composer Joseph Baber and librettist James W. Rodgers’ opera “River of Time,” about young Abraham Lincoln; the Lexington Singers premiered “A Bluegrass Tapestry,” which was 11 songs accompanying the photography of Scott County’s James Archambeault; the Lexington Ballet presented “The Koln Concert,” set to Keith Jarrett’s iconic jazz concert album and the UK Symphony premiered Lorne Dechtenberg’s “Token of Affection.”
Lexington’s Michael Shannon was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for “Revolutionary Road.” … Lexington musical theater artist Christopher Tolliver was fatally shot at Lexington Green. … The New York Philharmonic played a sold-out show at Danville’s Norton Center for the Arts. … Lexington Children’s Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary. … The Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras named Kayoko Dan its new music director. … Former UK Opera star Reshma Shetty landed role on the USA TV network’s series “Royal Pains.” … LexArts announced Horse Mania will return in 2010. … UK’s Cliff Jackson was named “coach of the year” by Classical Singer magazine. … Winchester’s Jason Epperson, runner-up on Fox’s “On the Lot” film-director reality series, shot his feature film debut, “Unrequited,” in Central Kentucky. … Norton Center completed a $3 million rennovation. … The Men of Note big band played its last gig. … Former Kentucky State University drama teacher and area director Jack Parrish died. … Norton Center director George Foreman announced he is leaving for a University of Georgia job. … The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes came to Rupp Arena for the first time with the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”
The 46-year-old artistic director of the Lexington Ballet had to take the stage for three performances last weekend after New York-based dancer Jason Jordan was injured during the opening night performance. He will dance in this weekend’s remaining four performances at the University of Kentucky’s Guignol Theatre and a school show Thursday.
“This has been a nightmare year for Cavaliers,” Dominguez said Wednesday afternoon.
Prior to Jordan, two previously scheduled Cavaliers had to drop out of the production.
When Jordan was injured, Dominguez said he contemplated scrambling to import another dancer to take over the part. But when the logistics were too daunting, he saw it was time for him to step in.
“It’s the first time I’ve danced in a production in more than a decade,” Dominguez said.
The Cavalier is the leading male role in “Nutcracker.” He dances a famous pas de deux in Act II of the ballet with the Sugar Plum Fairy, danced by Lauren Tenney in this year’s “Nutcracker.”
Dominguez has played parts in Lexington Ballet productions that did not require ballet dancing. In fact, he is playing a parent in the party scene in Act I of this year’s “Nutcracker.”
Since the Lexington Ballet’s professional company does not have a male dancer, Dominguez has rehearsed with the dancers. But then he has stepped aside for visiting artists who come in on production weeks.
That rehearsal, he says, has allowed him to stay in good-enough shape that he can pull off the emergency performance.
“I’m conscious of presenting something I am proud of that is good, quality dancing,” Dominguez says.
Dominguez insists that while last weekend’s performances were a surprise return to dancing, this weekend’s shows will be his swan song in ballet performance.
He is enjoying it though, saying, “I’m having a blast. This is one of the exciting things about live theater: you can slip, you can trip, or you can be beautiful.”
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