Archive for May 2011
I just walked through “Leonardo da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius” while installers and curators readied it for a June 3 opening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.
Among the highlights:
This exhibit, which will run all summer, ought to be a hit with kids and adults. Tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets.
Please note that I said “reproductions” of the paintings. The originals are far too valuable and delicate to be hauled around the world. In the case of “Last Supper,” you’d have to uproot an entire Italian church. It’s painted on a wall in Milan.
The folks in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are feverishly raising money to go to Rochester, N.Y., for AACT/Fest, which is the national community theater competition.
They’ve already come up with $20,000. They have $10,000 more to go.
This Spokane Civic Theatre production qualified for the nationals by winning the state and regional competitions. It costs a lot of money to transport everybody to New York and house them during the competition, so they are staging three “dress rehearsal” fundraisers. No tickets are required, but donations will be gratefully accepted.
The dates are:
Director Kathie Doyle-Lipe says they are “working feverishly to get this accomplished, but we can use any help we can get.”
The competition takes place June 20-26. It’s worth noting that the Civic has had more success in this national competition than just about any theater in the country. The Civic has won it twice and finished second once.
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) has escaped the death sentence.
We just received word that the museum received $2.965 million in the state budget, which is a cut of five percent. That's far less severe than feared.
The museum will have to trim some services or operations — but will be able to remain open. Watch for an SR news story soon with more details.
I received an e-mail from a reader pointing out that what I called a “a giant dragon looming over the proscenium” in “Wicked” was, in fact, a giant bat.
“Don't you remember the bats in the 'Wizard of Oz?” she asked.
I was ready to kick myself for my poor bat-identfication skills, but I decided to do some research.
You know what? I think it is a dragon, something called the Clock of the Time Dragon, an apparition which comes right out of Gregory Maguire's book.
For one thing, it has a pair of horns. I am clearly not a bat-identification expert, but I dont think bats have horns. They do have bodacious ears, however.
What do you think? Is it a bat, or a dragon?
Let's take a moment to savor an exceptional moment in Spokane theater. Rarely, in my 22 years covering local theater, have I seen so much creative energy, at the same moment, enlivening our cultural scene:
So, if you have any hankering whatsoever to see live actors tell a story on a stage, the time doesn't get much riper.
Here's my unedited review of “Wicked.” It will appear in Saturday morning's print edition, after more editing and refinement:
“Wicked,” Thursday night, INB Performing Arts Center, continues through May 29, tickets available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)
The first thing a newcomer to the “Wicked” phenomenon will notice is that this production has a great “eye” — a rich visual style, all gears, cogs, clock-faces and Emerald City glow.
And then, as the story unfolds, you’ll find that “Wicked” also possesses — unlike certain Oz denizens — a heart and brains.
Brains, because this “Wizard of Oz” spin-off has a funny, first-rate script by Winnie Holzman (“My So-Called Life”) that brilliantly distills Gregory Maguire’s novel into its essence. It’s the story of the fraught love-hate relationship between Elphaba and Glinda (the Wicked One and the Good One, respectively). They’re more than just Oz witches; they’re universal archetypes, familiar to everyone over age 8.
Heart, because Holzman and composer Stephen Schwartz (“Godspell,” “Pippin”) make us sympathize deeply with Elphaba – yeah, the Wicked One. The last thing I expected from “Wicked” was to be moved emotionally by the plight of a green-skinned witch on a broom. But I was.
This is all delivered nearly flawlessly by a tremendously talented cast, led by Anne Brummel as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda (or Galinda — the two spellings are actually a plot point).
“Wicked” has a rich cast of characters ranging from talking goats to flying monkeys to surprisingly tall Munchkins. There’s a side-plot, lifted from the novel, about animal liberation. There are many, many nods to the great 1939 film, some of them sly, others earnest and some of which will take you by surprise.
Yet the “Wicked” creative team never lost sight of the key arc of the story, which goes like this: Elphaba, the green-skinned outcast, and Glinda, the blonde popular girl, are thrown together at school. They loathe each other. I mean, really loooathe each other. Then, slowly, they learn to understand each other. A deep friendship forms. That friendship is stretched and broken by events. But even in the darkest times, that bond never completely dies.
It’s no coincidence that the most entertaining musical number is “Popular,” in which Glinda tries to do a makeover of Elphaba. Daradich, an expert comic actress, flounces around the stage, tossing her blonde locks, flinging herself petulantly on the bed and cooing adoringly at her own face in the mirror.
Brummel is equally funny and charming as she tries gamely to learn the art of feminine lock-tossing. This is an impressive acting feat, since her character is not naturally funny and charming. Elphaba is brilliant and talented – yet also glum and resentful over the fact that in Oz, as in our own world, happiness is easier to achieve by the shallow and superficial.
Ultimately, Brummel delivers the show’s most emotional moments, the most amazing of which is the first-act closer, “Defying Gravity.” It’s a stirring anthem of empowerment, conveyed through Brummel’s strong, controlled voice and through some astonishing lighting and technical legerdemain. I won’t give it away except to say you’ll be left with a bright and uplifting image at intermission.
The design team deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the success of this show. Even before the show starts, your eyes can feast on the curtain-sized map of Oz and the giant dragon looming over the proscenium. Once the show starts, we get a dizzying array of sets, most of which share a common circular theme. There are many toothed gears, a number of gigantic clock-faces, enormous round windows and immense green-lit arches Emerald City arches.
The costumes owe a debt to the movie, yet they are endlessly imaginative. Think “Harry Potter” crossed with “Alice in Wonderland.”
And finally, this show delivers some true surprises at the end, the kind that will make you ponder what really happened at the end of that 1939 movie. It’s a complete package of comedy, song, creativity and emotion.
No wonder this show will draw somewhere around 40,000 people over its two-week Spokane run. My guess is that the majority of those 40,000 people will file out of the INB Performing Arts Center feeling the way I did – satisfied, happy and yes, even a little bit uplifted.
Just got in from 'Wicked' and I will write a full review for Saturday's print edition. But here's my quick initial reaction:
“Wicked” is a feast or the eyes, with exceptionally creative sets, costumes and lighting. And it works for the heart and the brain, as well. I was affected, sometimes deeply, by the story, about the stormy relationship between Elphaba (“The Wicked”) and Glinda (“The Good”). The acting talent is first-rate.
I approached this musical with some trepidation, since I was not a big fan of the book. Yet “Wicked” does an outstanding job of distilling the novel to it's essence. The musical is clearer, more focused, and altogether more fun.
I'll post a fuller review on Friday morning.
The Festival at Sandpoint lineup was announced this morning and went on sale at 9 a.m. Here's the list:
Individual tickets are available at the Festival office, in the Old Power House at 120 E. Lake St., Suite 207 or by calling (208) 265-4554 or (888) 265-4554 or through TicketsWest.
We found an online photo album from Monday's Cannes Film Festival beach party for the premiere of the Spokane-filmed “The River Sorrow,'” directed by North by Northwest's Rich Cowan. It looks like a glamorous event, with stars Sarah Ann Schultz and Gisele Fraga. Here's a link to the photo album.
On a more sobering note, the movie did not get a stellar, to say the least, review from the Hollywood Reporter. The words “amateurish,” “lousy” and “quagmire,”are not words you want to see in the review of your movie. Here's the link to the Hollywood Reporter review.
Two new shows to report:
The people at WestCoast Entertainment have a few important reminders for people who have tickets to “Wicked,” which opens a two-week run Wednesday.
“Saturday, May 21 is an exciting day in downtown Spokane with two sold-out performances of WICKED and the annual Spokane Lilac Festival Parade. Please allow extra time to find parking downtown as some congestion is expected.
Spokane Falls Blvd. will be closed at Browne Street. Guests who need to drop off theatre attendees will be allowed access to drive to the front of the INB Performing Arts Center, drop off guests, and will be rerouted to Bernard. If you need this access, please advise the police officer at Spokane Falls Blvd. and Browne that you need brief access for WICKED theatre attendees.”
The post-show talkback sessions at Interplayers Professional Theatre are always worthwhile — but this is the talkback not to miss.
Director Patty Duke will attend the May 29 matinee of “The Miracle Worker” at 2 p.m. and will be there for the after-performance discussion. This means you will be able to hear stories about Helen Keller, Anne Bancroft and Arthur Penn from the woman who was at the center of both the Broadway and Hollywood versions.
As someone who has had the privilege of interviewing her on this subject, I can tell you that she is an exceptionally fine storyteller. She'll give you insight into “The Miracle Worker” that no one else on earth can give.
“The Miracle Worker” had been extended through May 29 due to popular demand. Tickets are $24 available through the Interplayers box office at (509) 455-PLAY or Ticketswest.
The Spokane Symphony has announced the return of the Soiree on the Edge concert at the Arbor Crest Winery, July 9, 6 p.m.
This annual summer concert combines the elegance of the Symphony’s “Soiree” series with the experimental nature of the “Symphony on the Edge” series.
Both concepts come together on the Arbor Crest lawn, with wine and food available for purchase. Picnic baskets are permitted. Tickets are $20 each, on sale through the symphony box office (509) 624-1200 or TicketsWest outlets.
Spokane novelist Jess Walter's latest book, “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” has just been picked up as a Jack Black movie vehicle, re-titled “Bailout.”
The screenplay was also written by Walter, and the director will be Michael Winterbottom. Filming is scheduled to begin in August.
This news came of the Cannes Film Festival and was reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Here's the link.
The New York Times ran an interview on Wednesday with Tony Krantz, director of another Spokane-filmed thriller, “The Big Bang,” starring Antonio Banderas. Here's a link
The Times said the movie is “undoubtedly one of the stranger films to make it to theaters this year,” and compared it to some of David Lynch’s movies.
The movie will be released today in New York and L.A. only. That will probably be the extent of the theatrical release. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 24
Spokane will be represented at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera on Monday.
That’s the day that “The River Sorrow,” filmed in Spokane by North by Northwest, will have its European premiere and an after-party in a giant tent on the beach.
Star Christian Slater will be there, along with director Rich Cowan of North by Northwest. It also stars Ray Liotta and Ving Rhames. This murder mystery/thriller has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.
An American release date is scheduled later this summer, but that could change depending on how well the movie is received at Cannes.
We're expecting Cowan to check in with updates— unless his head has been turned by sun and stars.
Neko Case, the indie singer-songwriter, has just been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, July 7, 8 p.m.
She has a big fan base for her solo work as well as her work with the New Pornographers. Tickets go on sale Friday, $30, through Ticketswest..
Here are the “Wicked” performances in Spokane that have the best ticket availability: May 18, 7:30 p.m., May 19, 2 p.m., May 24, 7:30p.m., May 25, 7:30 p.m., and May 29,, 1 p.m..
Many of the other “Wicked” performances are already sold out and many others have only a few tickets left. So if you want to catch “Wicked” at the INB Performing Arts Center (and it appears that 40,000 people will), you might want to start with the above dates.
Go to the Ticketswest site for tickets.
Eric Greitens, the author of “The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL,” will do a reading and signing at Auntie's Bookstore, 402 W. Main, on Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Greitens has been in the news lately, commenting on the Navy SEALS takedown of Bin Laden. He's also scheduled to appear on “The Colbert Report” tonight on Comedy Central.
“The Heart and the Fist” is the story of his extraordinary life: Rhodes Scholar, Oxford student, Navy SEAL Lt. Commander, and now, CEO of the non-profit group The Mission Continues, dedicated to empowering wounded and disabled veterans. For more, check out his website.
“The Miracle Worker” has just been extended a week, through May 29.
I thought I'd post my unedited review of last night's performance, which should appear in Sunday's print edition:
“The Miracle Worker,” Interplayers Professional Theatre, Friday night, continues through May 29, call (509) 455-PLAY for tickets
The capacity crowd at Interplayers on opening night may have been drawn because of Patty Duke, but their thundering applause was for Sarah Denison and Sophia Caruso.
Those are the two talented young actresses who make the characters of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller come to vivid life in this moving production of “The Miracle Worker.”
Duke, of course, had plenty to do with it too. She directed this production, marking one more milestone in her 55-year history with this play. Her direction is not showy, and it never calls attention to itself, but Duke’s lifelong immersion in Keller’s story and William Gibson’s script is evident in many of the performances in this 14-person cast.
It is most evident in Denison’s rock-solid performance as Annie Sullivan. The set of Denison’s jaw and her rigid posture are particularly suited to communicating obstinance, stubbornness and determination, the three absolutely vital characteristics needed to portray the woman known as “Teacher.” However, Denison’s performance reaches deeper and discovers something even more touching: Sullivan’s fear.
Occasionally, and powerfully, Denison lets Sullivan’s mask slip, and with a slight quiver of the lips and a momentary dart of the eyes, shows us that Sullivan is a 20-year-old girl who is, essentially, winging it. She’s been sent to a do a job that she has no idea how to do and she has to improvise. She’s almost sure she’s doing the right thing — but not entirely. I wonder if this is an approach Duke helped Denison develop. In any case, it makes the story even more compelling.
It’s already one of the more compelling stories in American theater. Gibson has done a masterful job of distilling young Helen Keller’s story into its essential elements. Helen, blind and mute, is a wild child, striking out in her rage and frustration (and her own canny sense of entitlement) at everyone who loves her. Annie Sullivan is brought in to tutor and tame her. But to do so, she must not allow herself or the Keller family to indulge in the easiest and least helpful of emotions, pity. She hardens herself and hardens the family and eventually, she gives Helen the key to unlock the world: language.
Caruso is a riveting Helen. She’s 9, but she’s tiny and plays even younger. Yet her Helen is no wispy little creature. She’s a flailing dynamo of anger, thwarted will, calculated outrage and manipulation. The lasting image I’ll have of her is that of a tiny bundle of calico, with fists and feet flashing out in a blur.
Caruso’s face is exceptionally expressive. She glowers into the middle distance with lowered malevolent brows. Her mouth turns up in malicious glee over some outrage she plans to commit. Yet in several crucial scenes, we also see the pain, the frustration and the utter, childlike despair over the fact that she can’t even communicate her despair.
Many of the most powerful scenes arrive in the second act of this three-act play, when Annie moves out to the garden house with the girl. Alone with each other, they fight, they make life hell for each other, and they bond. It helps that these scenes are played far downstage, with the audience surrounding them.
Several key scenes in the first act lost some power because they were played so far upstage, on the floor of Annie’s room, with pieces of scenery intruding on the view.
The rest of Duke’s ensemble cast is polished and professional. Patrick Treadway, as the beleaguered father and Elisha Gunn, as the heartbroken mother, are especially sympathetic even as their love for Helen causes them to do exactly the wrong things.
And the audience response? Well, I’ve attended every Interplayers production for 22 years, and I have never, ever, seen the audience continue applauding long after the actors had left the stage.
Even the actors didn’t quite know what to do. They finally came back out for one more bow when it became clear that otherwise, the audience was never going to leave.
“The Miracle Worker” hasn't even opened yet — it previews tonight (Thursday) and opens Friday — yet it is already setting ticket records for the Interplayers Professional Theatre.
It has sold more first-week tickets than any show in Interplayers history and some performances are sold out. It will likely be extended at least another week, to May 29.
The reason? Patty Duke, of course. She won an Oscar and a Tony for “The Miracle Worker” and now, for the first time, she is directing it. It's making national theater news.
You, too, can take a gander at that Oscar and Emmy. They'll be on display in the theater's Gellhorn Gallery.
For tickets, call (509) 455-PLAY or go to TicketsWest.
The Spokane Children’s Theatre has announced its 2011-2012 season:
These shows will be held at SFCC, in either the Spartan Playhouse or the new Music and Performing Arts building.
And don’t forget about this season’s finale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a reprise of the SCT’s inaugural production in 1946.
“Snow White” runs May 14 through May 29, at the Spokane Masonic Temple’s Commandery Room, 1108 W. Riverside. Tickets are available through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).
While you’re at “Snow White,” you can purchase discounted tickets to the new season. Check www.spokanechildrenstheatre.org for more details.
I have to admit: I didn't think the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's new outdoor venue would be having acts of this magnitude. Here's the summer lineup they just announced this morning.
As part of The Last Encore Tour, The Judds will perform on Saturday, June 25.
On Thursday, July 14, the Steve Miller Band takes the stage.
Willie Nelson and Family will perform Sunday, July 31.
The Beach Boys take the stage on Saturday, August 6 as a part of their 50th Anniversary Tour.
2011 Country Hall of Fame Inductee Reba McEntire performs on Friday, August 12 with special guest Sunny Sweeney.
Toby Keith will perform with special guest Eric Church as part of his Locked and Loaded Tour Presented by Ford F-Series on Thursday, August 18.
Santana, along with special guest Michael Franti, performs on Friday, August 26.
This new outdoor venue will be in the grassy area between the hotel and the parking garage. It will have a covered stage and seating for around 4,000 or 5,000. It's still under construction.
All seats will be reserved. Tickets to Keith are already on sale; tickets to the Judds go on sale today (May 4) and tickets to remaining shows go on sale May 17 at 10 a.m. Call (877) 777-5252 or go to TicketsWest.
They are calling this the Pepsi Outdoor Summer Concert series, having obviously landed a corporate sponsorship.
The Northern Quest says “people will be able to see performers in Spokane they would otherwise have to travel to Seattle or Portland to see.”
To which I would say: Or at least to The Gorge.
Craig Heimbigner, who books acts for Spokane's Pig Out in the Park festival at Riverfront Park on Labor Day weekend, has just confirmed Leon Russell and a whole list of other Pig Out acts.
Here's what he just sent us:
Charlie Musselwhite Sept. 1
Too Slim & The Taildraggers will open for Charlie.
Leon Russell Sept. 2.
Leon Russell in Moses Lake's Centennial Amphitheater, also Free, Sept. 3rd
Marcy Playground Sept. 3.
A band called Carbon Leaf will open for Marcy Playground.
MarchFourth Sept. 4. (This is a big world beat band with circus, really, like vaudeville, like unicylces and juggling and dancing girls, 24 people in all).
Jr Cadillac will be back. There will be a reunion performance by Spokane's once very popular band Ten Minutes Down
Another reunion show by The Exploding Fifis
Men In The Making are also back at Pig Out
Remember, Pig Out shows are all free.
George Winston, the patriarch of what used to be called New Age music, will make two appearances in the region in September.
He'll play the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane n Sept, 21, 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale May 6 through Ticketswest outlets.
Then he'll be at Sandpoint's Panida Theater on Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale through TicketsWest on May 13.
Winston's eclectic style includes jazz and stride piano. And now, he also plays guitar (slack-key) and harmonica.
News is slowly trickling in about the summer outdoor concert season in Spokane.
Pollstar lists Leon Russell, fresh from his Elton John duets, headlining Pig Out in the Park at Riverfront Park on Sept. 3.
Pollstar also shows Weird Al Yankovich booked into the Spokane County Interstate Fair on Sept. 13.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is listed at Liberty Lake's Pavilion Park on Aug. 6.
Also, Jr. Cadillac will come back for another “Sea Cruise” aboard the Mish-an-Nock on Lake Coeur d;Alene on Aug. 20.
Keep an eye out for details.
Country acts Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker have been booked into the Spokane Arena on July 21, 8 p.m.
Tickets will be $19.50 and $29.50, on sale Friday, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets. This concert will apparently be in the Arena's smaller Star Theatre configuration.