December 21, 2008 in Features

Dance the night away at First Night

Jim Kershner
 

First Night Spokane, Spokane’s big downtown New Year’s Eve celebration, is all teed up – all you have to do is buy a $12 button and take a big swing.

And we do mean swing. One of the themes of this year’s installment is New Year’s Eve Dance Party.

First Night will host six simultaneous dance parties, three of which will feature swing music: Tuxedo Junction at the Doubletree Hotel ballroom, 6 Foot Swing at the Masonic Center’s Commandery Room and Generations (jazzy rock) at the Masonic Center Auditorium.

The other three are a street dance in front of River Park Square on Main Avenue; a salsa dance party (with instruction) at the Masonic Center Ballroom; and the Masquerade Disco Ball at the Spokane Convention Center’s Ballroom West.

At that last one, you must wear a costume or a mask; masks will be available at the door.

Here are a few of the other changes you’ll see at this year’s First Night:

• New venues have been added – including, for the first time, the INB Performing Arts Center, which will become Celtic music central.

• The 11th Hour music event for teens has been scrapped. In its place, the Rail Jam Snowboard Competition will be bigger than ever, with music and more. It has been moved to the Riverfront Park Lilac Bowl.

• The opening Masquerade Parade will feature the First Annual Running of the Marmots. Kids (and adults) will be encouraged to wear marmot masks and costumes.

• “Art Fusion,” a series of free downtown art exhibits and demonstrations, will kick things off early, starting on Friday and continuing through Jan. 1. (See Thursday’s Today section for more details.)

You can experience these events and about 120 other acts by purchasing a button, $12 in advance, at any Zip Trip location, any Tomlinson Real Estate office, Auntie’s Bookstore, Mountain West Bank in the Spokane Valley, City Perk at the STA Plaza or the concierge desk at River Park Square.

Buttons will also be available downtown on New Year’s Eve, but then they’ll cost $15. Kids 10 and under are admitted for free.

So get ready to party downtown with about 25,000 of your closest personal friends. (See all the details at www.firstnightspokane.org.)

Gunther on Bach

Gunther Schuller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning artistic director of Spokane’s world-class Northwest Bach Festival, has something he’s burning to tell you.

The festival this year will expand to include composers who were working 150 years before and after J.S. Bach. This means the festival will be more musically diverse than ever.

“I have developed an exciting six-year festival plan and assure you that there is no one on my list of composers that wasn’t very important musically, the most famous and successful of their time and in their country,” said Schuller, in an e-mail statement.

“I will continue to include the famous Bach masterpieces each year, which are only available to Spokane audiences with the annual festival.”

In other words, you’ll get plenty of Bach, but you’ll also get, for instance, Mozart’s “Solemn Vespers, K. 339.”

The festival runs Jan. 23 through 31 at various Spokane venues. Tickets are available through TicketsWest outlets (325-SEAT, 800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

For a complete schedule, go to www.nwbachfest.com.

A reduced review of ‘Reduced’

In the condensed spirit of “A Reduced Christmas Carol,” now playing at Interplayers, here’s a reduced review:

“A Reduced Christmas Carol” is a lot like one of those funny and frantic “abridged” Shakespeare shows. It’s an irreverent treatment of the Charles Dickens tale, with a lot of audience interaction and plenty of improv-style goofing around.

This show, cleverly written by Ann Whiteman, consists of a 15-minute version, a five-minute version and a one-minute version. You’ll be surprised at how well the cast can tell the story in such a brief time – and by how much fun the actors have.

The cast members – Reed McColm, Maynard Villers, Damon Abdallah and John Hart – are quick-witted and good-natured.

This makes a nice, under-one-hour break from Christmas shopping.

You still have one more chance to see it, today at 2 p.m. at Interplayers, 174 S. Howard. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for juniors and $2 for children 2-12, available at the door.

Interplayers season subscribers can get free tickets.

CdA Summer Theatre lineup

Summer seems far away, but the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre is already at work on an audacious 2009 season.

They’ll have a helicopter onstage, for one thing.

Here’s the lineup:

• “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the rollicking Andrew Lloyd Webber perennial, based on the Bible parable.

• “Dames At Sea,” a parody of and homage to the classic Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s.

• “The Producers,” the smash musical version of the Mel Brooks movie.

• “Miss Saigon,” the powerful story of love and anguish during the Vietnam War – and the show with the helicopter.

Call (800) 423-2849 for season subscription information.

Jim Kershner can be reached at (509) 459-5493 or by e-mail at jimk@spokesman.com.

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