Monday, August 30, 2010. The feel when driving up to the set is almost like attending a house party. Despite the lack of music, audience members loiter around the front steps and porch (many with small cups of wine) hanging out. Concessions and box office are located snugly near the front door of the house on the porch, visible only after approaching closely, which doesn’t break the house party feel. After picking up the program from box office, everyone has time to settle or talk amongst each other. As a lone attendee this time around, I took it upon myself to dive into the program and its extensive reading material. With the program I was intrigued by the real history of the house and could learn more about the history of Muses’ annual tradition. There wasn’t much time for getting into the details on production crew and actors (also extensive) before an announcement was made to begin preparations for the show. Continue reading
I must admit that being a Stephen Sondheim fan has its perks- as I find I am not alone. I came to see City Theatre’s opening night production of “Into the Woods” with a packed house. I have seen two other productions of this show and knew the songs and words well. What I love about theatre is that with a cast and direction that you can be opened to a whole new way to appreciate the production and enjoy it from beginning to end.
I will not ruin the story for anyone who has not seen it but will offer this little blurb so those who are wondering what this show is about can have an answer. This musical intertwines several popular fairy tales and ties them together into a fascinating story. Kids of all ages will know tales of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and Beanstalk to name most of the stories origins. The basic plot line of all these characters is that they have a wish. I will let the audience discover what the wishes are and how they unfold. Continue reading
A-Team Member Mona Lisa attends the Fashion Week Kick-Off Party!
On first arriving at the Austin Fashion Week Kickoff I tossed my keys to the nearest valet and made a beeline for the Fashion Festivities at GSD&M. I got there right at 6pm, with plenty of time to figure out where the food, beverages, bathroom and runway and the best routes to get to and from each without missing too much of the action. It wasn’t long before the crowds began to form. Swarms of long legs, glitter, lipstick, fake eyelashes, big colorful hair, lots of hair accessories, very tall heels and gorgeous tattoos slowly began to fill the white chairs along the runway.
There was just so much to see and do. So I dabbled here and there sampling the food. Sushi, cupcakes, brownies and popcorn. Those all made me very thirsty so I headed for the beverage booth and had my pick of Smartwater, green tea, champagne, and Titos Vodka drinks. Feeling full and refreshed I wondered over to the silent auction to check out the fancy merchandise but became totally distracted by New Lotus, now that’s luxury sports car that anyone would feel fashionable in.
* * * (3 Stars)
A “Seriously Joyous” Play
Go ahead. Step out of your comfort zone. This is not your typical proscenium-and-footlights stage show. Even Nigel O’Hearn, Artistic Director for the one-year-old Palindrome Theatre (mostly St. Ed’s U. students or recent grads) admits “Melancholy” is “not a perfect play.” But it is strangely engaging with its choral musical tactic – characters singing and talking in unison — and subtitle messages (“Defense of Melancholy” projected on the back wall. Even Matthew Hines, the Composer/Musical Director who also plays Julian, distracts and draws our attention to his lofty perch with his rotating guitars and record player.
There’s a lot to like here, and not just the familiar Austin Playhouse stage with seating on three sides. The play’s pacing helped by the interchangeable set parts, almost like an on-stage transformer, moving audience from scene-to scene, and the sharply drawn characters and their competitiveness for the sad/happy Tilly, so well portrayed by Helyn Rain Messenger. Continue reading
Our Summer Interns will be Acting as Roving Reporters this summer- finding new and exciting arts events to feature. First up in this series- Intern Laura Romer reviews Musician Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. –S. Gidseg
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
I first heard of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros after one of my friends told me about them the day before Spring Break. “Edward Sharpe. With an E. They’re completely amazing. And they drive around in this old, white school bus.”
I watched the folksy, feel good music video for their song “Home” (which sure enough, featured that old, white school bus), and I was completely hooked. Soon after, I started hearing the song being played by students sitting around campus, strumming along on the guitar.
Summer came and so did my search for a concert that would fit my lack-of-summer-job budget. Enter La Zona Rosa on a Tuesday night plus a friend from San Antonio.
We got to the sold-out show and waited for the opening act – Aaron Embry. He played on this old-timey sounding piano and it reminded me of the ones you’d hear in a Western saloon. More and more members from Edward Sharpe joined him, including singing a “Love Song for BP.”
Break for what would be a long intermission.
After waiting, and more waiting…and even more waiting (seriously, these guys are not *that* famous yet), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros finally decided to take to the stage. As soon as “40 Day Dream” started, I forgot about my feet hurting, the long waiting, and my overpriced can of Shiner.
Edward Sharpe himself came out dressed in tan pants with just a blazer and a bright red scarf on top, but his crazy hair and beard were his most recognizable features. By the end of the first song, Sharpe threw off his coat. Complaining it was too hot he said, “Good thing I came prepared. With my skiiiiin.”
The band’s ten members, who all sang, had an array of instruments, including an accordion, a trumpet, and an absurd amount of tambourines. I didn’t even know that they made tambourines of that über size.
Some bands don’t do well live, but Edward Sharpe sounded better live than on the CD. While he gave a very theatrical performance (read: lots of flailing), it all felt spontaneous. And it made everyone want to dance/flail themselves.
Nearing the end of the set, the crowd recognized a familiar whistling. It was the start of “Home” and definitely became the highlight of my night.
“Om Nashi Me” closed the show, and my friend had to drive back to San Antonio that night because she had to work early the next morning so we ducked out before any sort of encore performance. Unfortunate, because I heard it was a good one.
Yes, Edward Sharpe comes across as a very unstable personality. No, I don’t understand what all his lyrics mean – I’m not sure even everyone in the band does. But my friend summed it up when she said, “They looked like they were having so much fun!” And so did I.
Thanks, Frank, for the Lessons!
Why? Really. Why does L. Frank Baum’s archetypal tale of hardship and loss, good vs. evil and fantasy vs. reality continue to fascinate and influence audiences decade after decade – whether it’s book, film or stage show? Because it explores those universal themes of homesickness, longing for a better world, protecting the helpless and discovering our inner strengths amid the trials, the tribulations and the storms.
From the overture to the last reprise of “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead,” the music and magical lines will stay with you. (Although the volume was a bit too loud, occasionally.) And whether dancing, singing or emoting, this road show troupe is more cohesive than super glue, with super creds preceding them. And I love the playbill advice from Kristin Stewart who competently portrays Aunt Em and Good Witch Glinda:
“My goodness, dream, whether you leave home or not.”
And I have to tip my hat to the great dancers and their choreographer, Leigh Constantine . . . to Tim McQuillen-Wright and Jimm (cq) Halliday for the stunning set and costumes and Wm. Berloni, the animal trainer, unless Toto was totally hypnotized.
Sure Father’s Day weekend is coming up, and it’s YOUR turn to be treated. But here’s your golden opportunity to hit a homerun with your family. Take THEM to see the “Wizard of Oz.” You’ll be not just a hero, but a thoughtful parent who will, like many adults, find many aspects of this show personally enjoyable.
And then, there are the lessons imparted to the younger, more impressionable viewers without your having to lecture, rant . . . or even say a word. Besides, Dad (or Mom), there’s the 3rd floor Café’, the 6th Floor Outdoor Terrace, the Landmarks Public Art Program in and around the “New” Bass Concert Hall, and some of the best people-watching I’ve encountered in my long time of lobby hopping. But none are as interesting as the Lullaby Girls, Lollipop Boys, the Munchkins, Trees, Crows and Dorothy’s beloved traveling companions.
Spicewood (Austin) Texas, USA
**** (4 Stars)
Quite a Ride!
What a treat to see a dress rehearsal for a play written and directed by an acclaimed playwright. Even though this comedic farce has already traveled around the country, we could see Steven Dietz making notes, fine-tuning his Austin production.
This clever show draws the audience into the life of a lady of “a certain age” who has decisions to make. Although she has a somewhat comfortable life (good husband, indecisive son), she isn’t completely happy. Given a chance at an exciting new life, should she take it? Continue reading
* * * * (4 Stars) Out of the Shadow . . .
Henri Matisse, perhaps better known as a sculptor and an extraordinary artist, is revealed at the Blanton as a thoughtful, sometimes edgy printmaker, exploring such techniques and processes for more than 50 of his 85 years.
Unless you’re a serious art student, you don’t really have to know an etching from an aquatint; a monotype from a lithograph; a woodcut from a linoleum cut. Simply appreciate this exhibition of graphic virtuosity. There are 61 pieces of art, some as series, drawings of his children and even a self portrait. However Matisse’s narrow range focused on one of his favorite themes, nudes (mine, too), typically reclining or seated. Continue reading
* * * * (4 Stars)
Film Noir Goes Stage Glam
This musical is a complicated, sexy, interesting, clever poduction. Easy to understand why it is a Tony Award winner, but be forewarned: Read the playbill before the show begins. Otherwise, you may have a little difficulty understanding the plots interplay with stage reality and fictional action.
The music isn’t exactly something you will sing to yourself later, but the show is written by three highly acclaimed writers, and the lyrics are simply amazing. The musical number “The Tennis Song” alone is worth the price of admission. (At $20 a seat, still a bargain!)
The trio of equity actors — Sarah Gay, Jamie Goodwin, David Long — is superb, and most of the students do a fine job as well. Jacob Trussell is a spectacular standout as the movie mogul. Lots of physical and vocal energy. Continue reading