The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
It will be a rare, almost unheard of Saturday night concert for the Kentucky, which usually has to keep Saturdays open for movies. Troubadour Concert Series promoter Michael Johnathon said the Kentucky management, “bent way over backwards to help us,” once it was discovered the EKU Center had double booked its concert hall for the night of the Hornsby concert, June 16.
EKU Center director Deb Hoskins said the venue had already booked the room for a private event, and she deeply regretted the scheduling error.
Howard Stovall, one of the partners in the Kentucky Theatre Group, said, “Troubadour has been a longtime tenant in the theater and they were really in a bind, so we wanted to work to help them out.” The consequence may be that the theater has to book a second run or more niche market film for one of its offerings that week because most first-run film distributors will not allow a film to play a theater that won’t screen it Saturday night.
Johnathon said tickets will go on sale for the 7:30 p.m. June 16 concert at 1 p.m. April 21. Ticket prices have not been set yet.
Michael Johnathon’s folk opera Woody: For the People will be featured on the Feb. 22 (Note, this is a date change from the original posting of this story) broadcast of The Story, a show produced by American Public Media and North Carolina Public Radio that is heard locally at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday on WEKU (88.9 FM).
The opera was written by Johnathon, the host of Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, and focuses on the friendship between Woody Guthrie and fellow folk-singer Pete Seeger and the writing of Guthrie’s signature song, The Land is Your Land. The Story broadcast will fall the day before the 72nd anniversary of the day Guthrie wrote the song as a retort to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America.
Woody: For the People is a work in progress aimed for an eventual premiere in Lexington. A CD of five arias from the opera was recorded last February conducted by Jo Nardolillo with a 37-piece orchestra and Nick Provenzale as Guthrie, Gregory Turay as Seeger, and Reginald Smith Jr. as Paul Robeson.
Apr19Filed under: Central Kentucky Arts News, Film, Lexington Opera House, radio, Television, Theater; Tagged as: Adam Luckey, Anthony Haigh, Beth Kirchner, Doug Smart, Earth Day, Eric Johnson, Henry David Thoreau, Jessie Rose Pennington, KET, Michael Johnathon, review, Walden, Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau, WEKU
Michael Johnathon is pretty hard on his hero in the opening act of Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau.
We find Henry David Thoreau, as played by Adam Luckey, in his cabin at Walden Pond sounding like the years alone have really, really gotten to him. For a man with nothing on his calendar, he’s almost breathless trying to figure out what to do with himself. When he thinks, “music and art are born at sunrise,” he is torn between whether he needs to write that down or play his flute, thereby creating some musical art. He putters, chatting with his wood pile and snap beans until a blessed moment of self awareness: “Dear God, you’re having conversations with peas and finding it intellectual.”
Johnathan doesn’t shy away from the fact that even today, as Thoreau is now considered a literary giant and the forefather of the environmental movement, his personality and journey can seem a little bit odd and sad. But that acknowledgment and a steady refinement of Thoreau’s ideas through Ralph Waldo Emerson and two other visitors to Thoreau’s cabin raise this script well above two acts of hero worship.
Yes, the play can be a little preachy and preoccupied with Thoreau’s need for a woman. But it and the documentary segments that bookend the new video production are informative about Thoreau and particularly the ways in which he foresaw the impact of modern technological progress on the environment. The video was made last fall, with segments filmed at Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., some Lexington woods, and at performances of the Walden play at the Lexington Opera House last fall.
With supporting performances by Eric Johnson, Anthony Haigh and Jessie Rose Pennington, and solid stage direction from Beth Kirchner and video direction by Doug Smart, the film fulfills a popular environmentally-based slogan: Kentucky Proud. The production will be broadcast on KET and WEKU-FM 88.9 locally and be seen around the country this Earth Day week. The script is available for free download at the Walden play site to anyone who wants to perform it, so long as they register their performance. According to Johnathon, more that 7,000 people or groups have already done that. The program is also available on DVD.
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