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Good morning, Netizens…
I watched the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks and despite the chaos at the end of the game, I admit a personal preference for Seattle, win, lose or draw. Until ESPN announcer John Gruden made an offer to jump out of the press box over the call by the temporary referees in the last seconds of the game, I could barely restrain myself from having a genuine gut-busting laugh over the outcome of the game.
There are some who will go to their graves debating whether the Seahawks scored a touchdown or were guilty of offensive pass interference. Green Bay Packers fans, of course, may have their own opinions of how things should have been called, because they lost the game because of the errant call on the field.
Either way, the Seahawks won the game by a very confusing ruling on the field by the temporary referees, and the entire collective view of Internet commenters set to howling like a pack of wolves in search of fresh game for dinner. Everyone, it seems, holds strongly-held opinions about the play call at the end of the gane, and they are not the least bit shy about expressing how they would have called the play were they in charge.
The ultimate judgment, which came later from the NFL matters most of all, when they stated, “The result of the game is final.”
Lest everyone lose sight of the purpose of Monday Night Football, that being it is entertainment, pure and simple and, for a moment there, I was entertained. As we enter the middle of the week, on this Wednesday morning, the national and regional news agencies are still playing the videos of the final play of the game. Ah, yes, the entertainment that continues to serve long past its usefulness.
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 www.comedypet.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Spokane Symphony will play Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Vivaldi's "Summer" from "Four Seasons" for some of Spokanes "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," and it is 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.
Here's the lowdown on the concert itself: It will cost $20, now on sale at (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 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.
The second part of the symphony’s “Best of Spokane” event – officially titled “Say Wow! Celebrating the Best of Spokane” – will consist of the Community Open House and Showcase on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox.
It will be a lot like the open house the symphony hosted when The Fox re-opened in November 2007. This event is free, and includes performances by local groups, tours of the theater and hands-on children’s activities.
Here’s the performance schedule:
9 a.m.: Blessing and Drum Circle.
10:30 a.m.: Floating Crowbar, traditional Irish music.
Noon: Master Class Jazz Orchestra, Big Band Swing.
1:30 p.m.: Spokane Civic Theatre’s Musical Showcase, previewing its season.
3 p.m.: Big Red Barn – Rhythm and bluegrass.
Please note that this free day on Aug, 20 does not include a performance by the Spokane Symphony. The symphony is sponsoring it, but not performing. The symphony's appearance is only at the Aug. 18 event.
Comedian Kathy Griffin's appearance at the INB Performing Arts Center has been switched from Aug. 20 to Aug. 28. All tickets dated Aug. 20 will be honored on the later date.
No word on the reason for the switch, except she now has no tour dates between July 23 and Aug. 26.
Go to TicketsWest for tickets details.
Ah, memories. Growing up, I watched Captain Planet and the Planeteers, a show that made environmentalism look very cool. Now, blogging seems more courageous. But the story of five young people from every corner of the Earth who are chosen by Gaia (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg!) to save the planet is slightly informative, often hilarious. When their forces unite, they summon a dude with a grass-green mullet and a sunlight globe insignia on his chest that flickers and turns grey if exposed to pollution.
See, very cool.
And now there will be a movie.
Beginning soon, the Spokane Public Library will offer you a legal way to download music for free.
It's called Freegal, and in mid-July the library will be offering the entire Sony music catalog, which includes a half-million tracks, including songs by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Adele, Britney Spears, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bartok and Beethoven, along with thousands of others.
Library card holders can download three songs a week for free. And, unlike the old-fashioned method of checking out albums from the library, you never have to return them. They are yours to keep.
The library pays for the Freegal service, but it's a good deal for the library, since it's a lot more cost effective than shelving and maintaining that many CDS (and trying to keep them from getting stolen).
Go to the Spokane Public Library website to access this service. The library has not been any more specific than "mid-July" for the launch, which means we can start looking for it in the next two weeks, at least.
Comedian and celebrity gadfly Kathy Griffin has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center, 334 W.
Tickets in advance will be $75, $50 and $35, on sale June 24, 10 a.m., through TicketsWest outlets.
I took this photo Saturday night at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino's tuneup concert for its new outdoor venue, this one featuring local acts Soul Proprietor and the Ryan Larsen Band.
As you can see, it's a flat expanse of lawn between the parking garage and the hotel. Folding chairs are set up and numbered (seating is reserved). There are booths and tents selling food, drink and merchandise.
The acoustics? OK, although we were distracted by the Monster Trucks roaring at the speedway next door.
As you can see, the crowd was not huge for this test-run concert. The first big test will come June 25 with the Judds, followed by the Steve Miller Band on July 14, Willie Nelson on July 31, the Beach Boys on Aug. 6, Toby Keith on Aug. 18 and Santana on Aug. 26,
It's hard to convey how much respect Guy Clark has in the world of folk, country, alt-country and Americana.
He has been a major influence on artists like Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith. This Texas singer-songwriter is held in the same esteem as fellow songwriters John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker.
And now Clark is coming to the Bing Crosby Theater, Aug. 3, 8 p.m. He'll be accompanied by longtime sideman Verlon Thompson and a guest act to be announced.
Tickets wil be $27 and $37, reserved, and $52, Golden Circle, on sale June 13 at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest.
Michael Bublé has been booked into the Spokane Arena on Aug. 10, at 8 p.m.
This popular crooner will be appearing with guest artist Naturally7.
Tickets will be $49.50, $65 and $85, on sale June 17 at 10 a.m. through all TicketsWest outlets.
George Duke, the funky keyboard master associated with Frank Zappa, Michael Jackson and Miles Davis, has been booked into the Bing Crosby Theater for a show on Aug. 11.
Duke toured with the Mothers of Invention in the 1960s, played on Jackson's "Off the Wall" album, and produced Miles Davis' "Tutu" album.
Duke will be accompanied by a couple of other big names: David Sanborn and Marcus Miller.
Tickets are $41.50, on sale Thursday here.
The opening show at the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, “The Wizard of Oz,” which runs June 9-19, has had a robust pre-sale – just 300 tickets behind the theater’s all-time biggest seller, last year’s “Cinderella,” at a comparable date.
That’s a good harbinger going into the season. Executive director Laura Little said “The Sound of Music” (Aug. 11-21) is also selling well, because – well, because it’s “The Sound of Music.”
The other two shows – Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” (June 30-July 10) and “Once Upon This Island” (July 21-31) – may not be quite as well-known but are just as promising – at least, from a theater critic’s viewpoint.
Be warned: The CDA Summer Theatre has reduced the run of each show this year from nine performances to eight, which increases the risk that procrastinators will have trouble finding good tickets.
Call (208) 769-7780 for tickets.
Here we go again: Another Spokane-made movie, direct to DVD, complete with atrocious reviews.
"The Big Bang," the Antonio Banderas movie shot here in fall 2009, came out on DVD last week and the critics have been merrily brutalizing it.
Andrew Barker of Variety called it "unintelligible," scattershot" and "a Lynchian neo-noir that takes intellectual and aesthetic risks it has no reasonable attempt at pulling off."
Stephen Holden of the New York Times called it "a low point for Mr. Banderas, who is painfully miscast as a tough guy and whose Spanish accent has never been more of an impediment."
Other top critics called it "trash," "budget-bin" and "bleary."
Leave it to Rex Reed of the New York Observer to muster the most vituperation, calling it "brain-damaged, inept, unsupervised and moronic."
Check out a collection of reviews here, on Rotten Tomatoes.
What? You say you don't trust those snooty film reviewers? The general public hasn't been kind either, with a 2.5 star audience rating (out of five) on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.5 rating out of 10 on IMDB.
I would see this movie for myself , except I still haven't recovered from the trauma of watching three other Spokane filmed movies, "Give 'em Hell, Malone" with Thomas Jane , "Wrong Turn at Tahoe," with Cuba Gooding Jr., and "Lies & Illusions" with Christian Slater.
And that was more than a year ago.
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:
- May 31, 7 p.m. – Lewis and Clark High School Auditorium.
- June 1, 7 p.m. – Lewis and Clark High School Auditorium.
- June 8, 7:30 p.m. – Spokane Civic Theatre, 1020 N. Howard.
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.
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:
- Raucous sellout crowds are whooping and hollering at "The Full Monty," continuing at the Spokane Civic Theatre's Main stage through June 19. Here's the review.
- More than 40,000 people are attending the national tour of "Wicked," which continues through May 29 at the INB Performing Arts Center. Here's the review.
- "The Miracle Worker" at Interplayers Professional Theatre has been making national news because of Patty Duke, who has closed a circle with this, her first time directing the show that brought her an Oscar and an Emmy. It has been extended a week, through May 29, because of popular demand. Here's the review,
- "Frost/Nixon" sold out its first weekend at the Spokane Civic Theatre's Firth Chew Studio Theatre and continues through June 5. Here's Tracy Poindexter-Canton's review.
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:
- Rickie Lee Jones, Aug. 4, 7:30 p.m. — She's the jazz-pop chanteuse of "Chuck E.'s in Love" and she'll be with her 8-piece band. Openers will be Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. $34.95.
- Brandi Carlile, Aug. 5, 7:30 p.m. — This big voiced singer-songwriter is a particular favorite in her native Northwest, and a Sandpoint Fest favorite. She returns by popular demand.
- Chris Isaak and Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Aug. 6, 6 p..m. — This is the Super Saturday show, with the "Wicked Game" singer, along with a band fronted by Willie's son. $44.95.
- "Disney Symphantasy," Aug. 7, 4:30 p.m. — This is the Family Concert, with the Spokane Youth Orchestra and many other kids' activities. $6.
- Josh Ritter, Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m. — The Moscow, Idaho, singer-songwriter-star returns to Sandpoint, where he has been a major draw. Darren Smith opens. There will be a microbrew tasting prior to the concert. $29.95.
- Michael Franti & Spearhead, Aug. 12, 7:30 p.m. — Franti's another returning Sandpoint favorite. Jason Spooner opens. This is the festival's designated dance concert, so be prepared to move. $49.95.
- Rodney Crowell, Aug. 13, 6 p.m. — This is the Super Country Saturday show with opener David Nail. $44.95.
- Grand Finale Concert with the Spokane Symphony, Aug. 14, gates open 4:30 p.m. for the Taste of the Stars Wine-Tasting — The concert theme is "Spanish Serenade" featuring classical guitarist Mak Grgic and soprano Hailey Fuqua. Selections include pieces by Rimsky-Korsakov and Bizet. $34.95 for adults, $9.95 for youth.
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 Robert Cray Band, an old favorite among Spokane blues aficionados, will play the Knitting Factory Concert House on July 2, 8:30 p.m. Cray was a fixture in Spokane clubs before he broke out and became an international star. Tickets will be $25 general admission in advance, on sale Friday through Ticketfly outlets, or $27.50 at the door, day of show.
- John Prine, one of America's premier singer-songwriters, will play the Bing Crosby Theater, on Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $53.50, on sale Friday through TicketsWest.
The people at WestCoast Entertainment have a few important reminders for people who have tickets to "Wicked," which opens a two-week run Wednesday.
- Leave the babies and toddlers with the sitter. No one under 4 will be allowed in the theater. And although 'Wicked" is family entertainment, it is recommended for ages 8 and above.
- Get to the show on time, preferably at least 10 minutes before show time. If you arrive late, they're not going to let you in to the performance until after the first number, nine minutes after the show starts.
People with Saturday (May 21) tickets will really have to plan ahead. Here's what the West Coast people say:
"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.