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‘Leonardo’ hits its mark

The final numbers are in for “Leonardo da Vinci: Man – Inventor – Genius.”

About 38,000 people attended this summer-long traveling exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC).

It came close to the museum’s attendance goals and more than met its financial goals, according to the people at the MAC.

The final week – the week before Labor Day – was particularly strong, attracting 6,500 people.

“There were lines out the front door and even out in the street,” said museum spokeswoman Rebecca Bishop.

The MAC would have liked to have broken the 40,000-visitor mark set by the “T. rex Named Sue” exhibit in 2007. However, the T. rex exhibit charged regular museum admission while the da Vinci exhibit had special (higher) pricing.

“Leonardo” was also a hit with schools. A total of 3,400 people visited as part of school groups.

The MAC also signed up 500 new members over the exhibit’s span.

A classical Comstock party

Spokane Symphony music director Eckart Preu stood at the podium at Comstock Park Monday and wondered aloud if this was an even bigger crowd than usual. From this photo, you can see, it was a huge.

Thousands showed up for the Spokane Symphony's Labor Day concert at Comstock Park. Two reasons for the big turnout: First, the weather was perfect. Second, people can no longer take this event for granted.

There was no Comstock Park concert last year, for the first time in 25 years, because there was no funding. This year, Sterling Savings stepped up and sponsored it. They will also sponsor it for the next two years.

The symphony sounded great, and the traditional crowd-pleasers — “The 1812 Overture”  and “Stars and Stripes Forever” — got the crowd up and clapping

And let's applaud Sterling Savings as well. Now, more than ever, arts organizations need this kind of corporate support to stay healthy.

Pianist Dinnerstein at the Fox

I left a crucial bit of info out of a Spotlight item in print on Sunday: The location of the Simone Dinnerstein concert.

It will be at the Martin Woldson Theatre at the Fox., 1001 W. Sprague.

Here's the rest of the info, as printed Sunday:

A lot of classical piano fans were wowed by Simone Dinnerstein during her previous appearances here with the Gonzaga Symphony Orchestra.
Dinnerstein played with Gonzaga's orchestra in 2007 and 2009 - in between recording albums that topped the Billboard classical charts.
Now, she's coming back on Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m. for another concert with the GU orchestra. She'll play Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major and Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Tickets are a bargain for an artist of this magnitude: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students (free for those with a Gonzaga ID). Seats are general admission and you can purchase tickets at the door.


Pets plus comedy? That’s entertainment

Here's a just-booked act that sounds like a furry riot: the Popovich Comedy Pet Theatre.

This is an animal act from Vegas featuring cats, dogs and clowns, coming Nov. 9, 7 p.m. to the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague. Tickets are $17 for kids 12 and under, $27 for adults, available through TicketsWest outlets.

Trained dogs and cats doing tricks. That's entertainment. Heck yeah, I'm getting tickets.

Check out the trailer at and tell me if you can resist it.

And if the photos on the website are to be believed, it might even have trained ducks.

She earned her musical tuition

I have some excellent news to report: Meredith Oatman-Thompson raised enough money with her Sunday fundraising concert (see post from a few days ago) to pay for tuition and books for her entire sophomore year at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Her father said lots of people showed up in support, including a number of Interlochen Arts Academy alumni.

‘Much Ado’ about quality

I caught the Spokane Shakespeare Company's free production of “Much Ado About Nothing” on the lawn at Gonzaga Prep and I was astonished at how good it was.

This cast — mostly college-age or just a little beyond — brought this comedy to life. They did the three things required to turn Shakespeare from a mere recitation into a lively, engaging work of theater:

  • The cast, without exception, had great enunciation and projection.
  • They had fun with Shakespeare's language, delivering the juiciest phrases with evident relish.
  • They accompanied nearly every line with some kind of visual cue or comic business, which made it easier for us to grasp the meaning. It also, not coincidentally,  made the show funnier.

The credit for this must go to director Kevin Connell, who was endlessly inventive in helping his actors “suit the action to the word and the word to the action.”

The run is over for the summer. Here's hoping they're back next year. 

The Sculpture Walk, extended

Spokane’s official Sculpture Walk has been extended, by City Council resolution, westward from the Monroe Street Bridge to the Sandifur Bridge on the Centennial Trail, along the new Kendall Yards development.

Over the next 20 to 30 years, the City of Spokane Arts Commission intends to add a number of “major works of art” along this new extension.

You didn’t know we already had a Sculpture Walk? We do, and quite an extensive one at that.

 The existing Sculpture Walk, designated in 1988, already has 22 sculptures. It extends from the Washington State University branch campus at Riverpoint, through Riverfront Park to the Monroe Street Bridge, encompassing such familiar Spokane art landmarks as the Big Red Wagon, the trash-eating goat and the steel Bloomsday runners.

Those are just the most visible highlights. The Sculpture Walk includes many other statues, installations and fountains from artists including George Tsutakawa, Harold Balazs, Ken Spieringand David Govedare.

Check out the Sculpture Walk under “Public Art” on the arts commission’s website,

A tasty MAC fundraising idea

Here’s a different, and potentially delicious, fundraising idea from the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC): the “Week of 100 Dinners.”

A group of museum boosters called the MAC 200K Club is hoping to convince 100 hosts to hold dinners at their homes the first week of October. Each dinner party will have at least 10 guests who will agree to contribute $100 each to the museum’s general operating budget.

If this all works as planned, this drive would raise $100,000 to help overcome the MAC’s well-publicized budget issues.

If you want to be a host, sign up by emailing to or call Charlotte Lamp, (509) 536-4303 with questions.

By the way, you don’t have to hold a dinner party. It can be a breakfast party, a cocktail party or a beer and pizza party – although I would suggest that it should probably include above-average beer and pizza.

A musical way to raise tuition money

Here’s an excellent way to raise music tuition money: Give your own benefit concert.

Meredith Oatman-Thompson, a 15-year-old organ and piano student from Orofino, Idaho, will present “Bach to Goth” Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 127 E. 12th Ave.

Oatman-Thompson is on her way back to the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for her sophomore year and she needs to supplement her scholarship.

She’ll play several organ pieces by Bach and the Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann. She’ll switch over to piano to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.”

No tickets are required, but donations will be gratefully appreciated.

“I really like the learning environment on campus; everyone is focused on their art,” said Oatman-Thompson, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe

Lampanelli on-sale postponed

Today's on-sale date for Lisa Lampanelli tickets has been postponed.

But the show itself is still on schedule: Oct. 22 at the INB Performing Arts Center. Watch for further announcements.

‘Queen of Mean’ on the way to town

Lisa Lampanelli, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Mean,” has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center for a show on Oct. 22, 7 p.m.

She's gained fame for her insult comedy on various celebrity roasts.Tickets will be $37.75, on sale Aug. 19 at 10 a.m. through Ticketswest outlets.

Cokie’s coming to the Bing

Cokie Roberts, the great political reporter for NPR, has just been booked in to the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague, for a talk on Oct. 1, 8 p.m.

Spokane Public Radio is sponsoring her appearance. Roberts will talk about the issues roiling the other Washington, including healthcare, the debt, the economy and whatever new national crisis has reared its head by Oct. 1.

Roberts comes by her political acumen honestly. She's the daughter of two famous Congress members, her father Hale Boggs and her mother Lindy Boggs.

A lot of people, and I am one, rely on her for a level-headed view of what's happening in politics.

Tickets will be $40 (it's a Spokane Public Radio fundraiser), on sale Aug. 19 through Ticketswest.

‘Sperm! The Musical’? Really?

 “Sperm! The Musical” is on the way to the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint.  No, I don't think this is a joke.

It's an original musical comedy set in that most romantic of settings, a sperm bank.

It's about “sperm radiation therapy, and killer mutant sperm monsters,” or, to put it more directly, about a couple named Willy and Delouise Johnson who are having trouble conceiving. It's written by Sandpoint playwright Ben Olson with music by Brian Hibbard and directed by Andrew Sorg.

If it's anywhere near as entertaining as Olson's press release, this show could be a hoot.

One example: “Brian's songs are so catchy, you'd hum them all day if they weren't written about sperm.”

Another example: “This play is going to make you laugh, shout, blow milk out of your nose, cover your children's ears and rush home to tend to your lover, all at once.”

You probably shouldn't take the above sentence literally. First, the play is R-rated, so there probably won't be any children present  to require ear-covering. Second, you probably shouldn't be drinking milk during a play anyway. As for tending to your lover, well, the “all at once” part may be ill-advised.

It will run Aug. 19, 20, 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $15 at the door, but a couple of bucks cheaper if bought in advance at Eichardt's, Eve's Leaves, Main Street Music. Pack River Potions and other spots around Sandpoint

Brush up your Shakespeare

We have plenty of Shakespeare in the region this month, including:

  • “Much Ado About Nothing,” on the lawn at Gonzaga Prep, 1224 E. Euclid Ave., weekends through Aug. 21 – The Spokane Shakespeare Company, under the direction of Kevin Connell, continues its run of this sprightly comedy over the next two weekends (Fridays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.). Admission is free, and no reservations are required; donations will be accepted. Bring your own food and other refreshments and maybe a blanket. Seating is on the grass. The Spokane Shakespeare Company includes a number of area college actors and local theater veterans.
  • The Shakespeare Walla Walla Summer Festival, through Aug. 14 – This new festival is doing  “The Comedy of Errors” and “Swansong” (which is by Patrick Page but is about Shakespeare) – at two venues. “Swansong” runs through Aug. 14 at the newly renovated Power House Theatre, 111 6th St. (at Rose Street) in downtown Walla Walla, and is performed by Shakespeare Walla Walla.The two Shakespeare plays will be performed by the Seattle Shakespeare Company at the Fort Walla Walla Amphitheatre, 757 Myra Road. You’ve already missed out on “Macbeth,” since the last performance was Sunday, but “The Comedy of Errors” runs Wednesday through Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. For tickets and details go here. By the way, playwright Page, who won the American Theater Critics Association award for Best New Play for “Swansong,” is a Whitman College grad.
  • Montana Shakespeare in the Parks – This annual free tour, which covers Montana all summer, will sneak into our region for a couple of performances of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The show will be at the Heron, Mont., Ballfield on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. (Mountain Time) and at Liberty Lake’s Pavillion Park on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. Yes, Montana Shakespeare does sneak into Washington occasionally.

A local ‘Wipeout’ woman

Joelle Magner, a media buyer with Medio Advertising in Spokane, will be a contestant Tuesday on ABC’s “Wipeout” a game show featuring an obstacle course.

Magner was talked into auditioning back in February by her husband and children. She flew down for an on-camera audition and was picked over thousands of other contestants. Her episode was taped on May 18.

She’s not allowed to say how she did, but she volunteered that it was “truly a cool experience,” of the kind that made her feel like she had “been run over by a train the next morning.”

“If someone enjoys swimming in the mud and getting knocked out over and over and over, this is the show for them!” she said.

Watch for her on Tuesday, 8 p.m. on ABC.

The Rockin’ B’s last roundup

Sounds like the Rockin’ B Ranch Cowboy Supper Show, which has been a Spokane (actually Liberty Lake) tradition for 17 years, will be riding off into the sunset after this season.

Owners Scott and Pamela Brownlee announced this weekend that the shows will not be back in 2012. This year’s season continues as scheduled, through Oct. 1.

The Rockin’ B has been thriving for the last few years, but the Brownlees said that it was finally time “to take a summer vacation like normal people.” Both have demanding jobs: Scott is a film professor at the UCLA Film School and Loyola Marymount University, and Pamela is a music teacher.

They say this year's show and cast is better than ever.

“What better time than that to say to our audiences:  ‘Thank you and vaya con Dios,’” said Scott Brownlee.

So if you want see the show, you’d better get some reservations for this season, by calling (509) 891-9016.

George Winston cancels both local shows

Pianist George Winston has been forced to postpone his Sept. 21 concert at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane and his Sept. 22 concert at the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint.

Winston has cancelled all of his shows through September — at least 11 of them. The cancellations are for undisclosed medical reasons.

Ticketholders can hold on to their tickets and use them for a rescheduled show at a to-be-announced date, or they can get a refund at the point of purchase.

Check out the great ‘Badassdom’ trailer

“The Knights of Badassdom” trailer debuted at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego two weeks ago — and it makes me more convinced than ever that this could be that most elusive of creatures — a Spokane-filmed movie that might actually be a hit (if only a cult hit). It's funny and loaded with nice touches.

Symphony’s ‘Best of Spokane’ fest

The Spokane Symphony will play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi’s“Summer” from “Four Seasons” for some of Spokane’s “best” causes on Aug. 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.

We say “best” because the symphony is billing this as its first-ever “Best of Spokane Concert.” It will be both a tribute and a fundraiser for these Spokane institutions: Bloomsday, First Night, Hoopfest, the Lilac Festival, Musicfest Northwest, Spokane International Film Festival and Unity in the Community.

Tickets are $20, through the symphony ticket office (509-624-1200) or TicketsWest outlets.

Now, about that “Best of” idea: Those organizations will not only be honored at the concert, but they will also get a cut of the proceeds. Concertgoers are encouraged to wear T-shirts and hats representing any of those organizations.

Eckart Preu will conduct, and the concert will also include a patriotic sing-along. This event replaces the BestFest, which the symphony has held the last two summers.

For the second part of the Best of Spokane celebration, click on “continue reading” below.

On-sale dates for Best of Broadway single tix

On-sale dates for single tickets to the upcoming Best of Broadway shows and various add-on events have now been set by WestCoast Entertainment.

These will be the first time you can get tickets to these shows without buying a full subscription or group package. Here are the dates, all effective at 10 a.m.:

Aug. 12 – “Defending the Caveman,” “Spamalot,” Blues Brothers, Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and the New Shanghai Circus.

Aug. 26 – “Come Fly Away,” “Young Frankenstein” and “In The Heights.”

Sept. 16 – “Beauty & The Beast.”

Nov. 4 – “Mary Poppins.”

Tickets will be available through TicketsWest. For more information about the Best of Broadway shows, check out

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