Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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 Spokane Children’s Theatre has announced its 2011-2012 season:
- “Disney’s Aladdin,” based on the popular movie.
- “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” the classic holiday comedy.
- “Go Dog Go,” an Inland Northwest premiere of a Seattle Children’s Theatre favorite.
- “Miss Nelson is Missing!” another Inland Northwest premiere.
- “Narnia,” a musical version of the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
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.
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.
A second show has been added to "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" at the Spokane Arena on Nov. 13, 4 p.m.
The original show was scheduled on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. and it has evidently sold well enough to justify another date. This is a Jackson tribute and celebration, presented by Cirque du Soleil.
Tickets to the second show range from $50 to $250, on sale Monday at noon through TicketsWest.
I taunt you not — "Monty Python's Spamalot" is returning to the INB Performing Arts Center for a one-night-only performance on Nov. 11.
This will be an add-on show to the Best of Broadway series, announced earlier. Subscribers can now add it on to their ticket package. Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, to be announced.
This show, based on the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," did a week long run in Spokane in 2009. It was, without a doubt, the funniest musical I'd ever seen.
The Spike TV sitcom pilot, “Thunderballs,” will start filming in Spokane next week and the casting call speaks volumes about the show.
For one thing, they are seeking someone to play the “Olympia Beer Bikini Girl.”
The show is about a group of 30-something guys on a bowling team and, like every show on Spike, it is aimed at the male market.
Or should we say, the dude market.
Here are a few of the fictional bowling teams being cast locally through Big Fish NW Talent:
The Mullets (plus a Mullet Mom and Mullet Baby).
The Super Vixens.
The Blue Ballers (a team of cops).
The Sunset Towers Assisted Living Slingers (an elderly team).
The Gutter Gals.
North by Northwest will be filming the pilot into the middle of May. If the pilot gets picked up, expect to see plenty more of the Super Vixens and the Gutter Gals.
Oh, one more thing. The child cast as the Mullet Baby must have a real mullet. No wigs.
If you can’t afford to pay full price for tickets to “Wicked,” May 18-29 at the INB Performing Arts Center, here’s a way to get your witch fix.
On every performance day, a $25 “Wicked” ticket lottery will he held.
Here’s how it will work. Show up two-and-a-half hours prior to each performance at the INB Performing Arts Center box office. Your name will be placed in a lottery drum. A half-hour later, a limited number of names will be drawn from the drum.
If your name is chosen, you can purchase up to two tickets at $25 apiece. You must be there in person and you must pay cash.
These tickets will be a bargain, since tickets normally sell for $42.50 to $142.50. And these tickets are in the orchestra section, i.e., the main floor.
KISS has been booked into the Spokane Arena for a June 24 show.
Tickets will be $47.50, $67.50 and $97.50, on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through TicketsWest outlets. They played a sold-out show at the Arena in 1996.
The Arena called this "the most BADASS rock show that we've had in over a decade."
I thought I'd point out a few other acts that have played the Arena in the past decade: Kid Rock, Motley Crue, Linkin Park, Nickelback, the Eagles, Mudvayne, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tool.
So ,,, does that claim hold up?
The Beach Boys. John Denver. Celine Dion. Jack Johnson. Miley Cyrus. Stacey Anderson compiled a list of the fifteen silliest odes to Mother Nature. "Faced with the deteriorating condition of our planet, people react in various ways. Some donate to charity, some sift trash along the highway," writers Anderson. "A select few pen well-meaning but cheesy songs."
The 2011-2012 Best of Broadway season will feature the Chairman of the Board, an English nanny and a guy with a bolt in his neck.
Here’s the lineup of touring shows for next season, announced Thursday by WestCoast Entertainment.
“Come Fly With Me,” Nov. 17-20 – The Frank Sinatra musical revue, with choreography by Twyla Tharp.
“Young Frankenstein,” Dec. 15-18 – The musical version of the great Mel Brooks movie comedy.
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Jan. 26-29 – One of the most popular and successful stage adaptations of a Disney animated film.”
“In the Heights,” April 12-15 – The 2008 Tony-winner for Best Musical, filled with the music and dance of New York’s Dominican community.
“Mary Poppins,” June 12-17, 2012 – The popular stage version of the classic Disney musical film about a magical governess and her charges.
WestCoast Entertainment also announced a few “specials” – shows that are not part of the regular subscription package, but can be added on: “Defending the Caveman,” Oct. 8; “The Official Blues Brothers Revue,” Nov. 13; The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Jan. 14; and the “New Shanghai Circus,” Feb. 18.
Season tickets are now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com). Individual on-sale dates will be announced later. All shows will be at the INB Performing Arts Center.
I've always been curious if readers my age - 27 - grew up like me watching Captain Planet on Saturday mornings and found their calling. Maybe it was the green mullet.
We all know protecting the Earth can lead to some interesting entertainment. Bio-Dome? Batman and Robin? On Deadly Ground?
The alt-country legend Steve Earle has been booked into the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox for a June 11 concert.
Earle, a gruff singer-songwriter in the Dylan-meets-Waylon Jennings tradition, will perform with the Dukes (and Duchesses) Featuring Allison Moorer.
Tickets go on sale Friday, $29.50 and $39.50, now on sale through TicketsWest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com)
WestCoast Entertainment will announce its 2011-2012 season at an event on April 21, 4 p.m. at the INB Performing Arts Center.
No, I have no inside information about the season. However, the WestCoast people say that they are "flying in a lead actress to perform a selection from one of the productions."
The last time they flew in a performer for a season announcement was in 2008 — and that was to announce the return of "Phantom of the Opera."
So I suspect the season might include a show of that magnitude..
Anybody have any guesses about what's coming?
The '90s alternative rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket have been booked into the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint on July 15.
They're known for the hits "All I Want" and "Fall Down" and a series of well-received albums.
Tickets will be $28, on sale April 21 at Eichardt's Pub in Sandpoint, the Long Ear in Coeur d'Alene, 4,000 Holes in Spokane and through Ticketswest outlets.
Their name, by the way, comes from an Eric Idle (Monty Python) monologue.
Toby Keith is the first artist announced for a new venue in Spokane, the Northern Quest Resort & Casino's 5,000-seat outdoor venue.
Keith will bring his "Locked and Loaded Tour" to this outdoor space on Aug. 18. Eric Church will be the opening act.
The Northern Quest plans seven more headliners this summer in their new venue. They haven't yet announced the rest of the lineup. Nor have they announced the details of this new outdoor space. We should be learning more soon, but this sounds like it will be a significant new spot on the region's summer concert scene.
Tickets for Toby Keith will start at $80 and will go on sale April 18, 10 a.m. through Ticketswest outlets (800) 325-SEAT or online, or through Northern Quest's box office, (509) 481-6700.
In addition to my late-night thoughts in the previous post, I thought I'd cut-and-paste the full unedited Elton John review, which will appear in print Sunday morning in what should be something close to this form:
Elton John and His Band, Friday night, Spokane Arena:
Elton John gave a sold-out crowd of 10,000-plus exactly what it craved Friday night: An unbroken string of hit after hit after hit, performed with professional polish and high energy.
It was a joyous and celebratory two hours and fifty minutes for Elton’s fans. If anyone was on the fence about Sir Elton – although I saw little evidence of that – this concert probably won them over for one simple reason. Elton has more quality hits in his enormous repertoire than almost any other contemporary artist you can name, with the exception of another sir (Sir Paul).
One early stretch of the show included the following songs performed in a row: “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Levon,” “Madman Across the Water,” “Tiny Dancer,” “Philadelphia Freedom,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Daniel” and “Rocket Man.”
They were performed expertly by his band, which included several key members who have been with him since the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone. It was a rock band, not a show band: One guitarist, one bassist, one keyboard player, one drummer, one percussionist and four backup singers.
“The last time I was here I played a solo show,” said Elton, in one of his few moments of stage banter. “But this time, we’re going to rock out!”
And yes, they did. He might be known for ballads like “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” (both of which he performed) but he and the band also blazed away on “The Bitch is Back” and the aforementioned “Saturday Night.”
He abandoned the giant hats and sunglasses many decades ago. He was dressed in striped black pants and a black tailcoat, which was embroidered with musical notes and a “Music is Magic” inscription. The effect was Nashville meets Hyde Park.
There was no flashy showmanship. His moves were restricted almost entirely to standing up between songs and pointing at various parts of the crowd (even behind the stage, which was also sold out). As for his general stage movement, I would sum it up as the opposite of spry.
But his fingers are as nimble as ever. The musical highlights of the show were his extended and exhilarating piano solos, performed as intros and interludes on several big mini-symphonic pieces, including the outstanding opening number, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” and an expanded “Rocket Man.”
He mixed classical-sounding themes with boogie-woogie, barrelhouse and jazz. In his intros, he dropped in tantalizing hints of familiar melody, which, in one memorable number, turned into “Take Me to the Pilot.”
The other happy surprise for the evening came after Elton asked the crowd’s indulgence while he played new material from his newest CD, “The Union,” collaboration with Leon Russell.
“If we didn’t have new songs to play, I’d be bored out of my life,” said Elton.
Leon didn’t show up (he has guested at other stops on this tour) but these new songs showed plenty of Russell’s influence, especially the bluesy “Hey Ahab” and wild rocker, “Monkey Suit.” He also played a bittersweet and haunting Civil War ballad, with touching lyrics by Bernie Taupin, “Gone to Shiloh.”
And then it was back to the hits. Just when I was convinced that he must have finally run out of familiar tunes, he unwrapped “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock” and, for an emotional encore, “Your Song.”
It was a vivid reminder that Elton John was, in fact, the No. 1 Billboard chart artist of the entire 1970s (beating out Sir Paul).
At age 64, his voice may be a step or two lower and he doesn’t leap onto his piano the way he once did. Yet those songs have aged exceedingly well.
Just got in from a happy and celebratory Elton John concert at the Spokane Arena and I thought I'd share a few quick impressions (I'll be writing a full review for Sunday print).
Opening Elton stage banter: "Last time I was here I played a solo show. This time we're going to rock out!"
Hits left out of this 2 hour 45 minute show: Hardly any, unless you consider "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to be an Elton John hit (see set list below).
Best costume: A couple of guys in the front row wearing pink feather boas. Runnerup, Elton's outfit. which consisted of a black formal tailcoat with embroidered musical notes and a "Music Magic" insignia on the back. Call it Nashville meets Hyde Park.
Most ambitious numbers: The opening song, "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," and "Rocket Man," both of which were turned into mini-symphonies.
Biggest ovation when the audience recognized the opening chords: Tie between "Tiny Dancer" and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me."
Biggest surprise: The high quality of the new songs from his new album "The Union."
Old song I forgot was so good: Tie between "Madman Across the Water," "Burn Down the Mission" and "Take Me to the Pilot."
Read on to see the (partial) set list:
Get ready for the busiest week of the year on Spokane’s literary scene.
Get Lit! begins on April 13 (Wednesday). The calendar holds so many events – 55 workshops, panels and readings – that the best way to find them all is to go to the Get Lit! web site at this link.
Click "continue reading" to see the main ticketed events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and some other noteworthy events:
The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival has become an annual tradition in the area.
Larry Weiser, a Gonzaga University law school prof, has been organizing this for several years. This year he assembled three films for screening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.
Here's the lineup:
“Saviors in the Night” — Saturday, 7:30 p.m.. The story of courageous Catholic farmers who hid Marga Spiegel and her family from the Nazis.:
“Black Over White” and "These Are My Names"– Sunday, 2 p.m. The first is a documentary about the popular Israeli music group, the Idan Raichel Project, and their tour of Ethiopia. Music takes the center stage, but there are also revealing scenes about identity and heritage amongst the musicians. The second is a short film about Ethiopian Jews.
“Seven Minutes in Eden” – Monday, 7:30 p.m. The story of a young couple on a bus, bombed by terrorists. The young woman attempts to stitch her life back together.
Tickets are $8, available at the door or at this site.
I just finished writing an advance story on Elton John's visit Friday to the Spokane Arena, and I was reminded of how many of his songs have become instantly recognizable standards. It's hard to think of a contemporary performer with more.
So I thought I'd throw out the question: What's the best Elton John song?
I'll kick it off by sayihg it is undeniably, unassailably, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting."
Here's another notable poetry reading to go along with the previous post, below.
Nationally known poet Michele Glazer will read her work as part of the Third Annual Nadine Chapman Endowed Reading at Whitworth University on Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Glazer is the winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize and the director of creative writing at Portland State University. She has published several poetry volumes.
The reading will be in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at the university. It's free.
I was unable to put together a Book Notes column last Sunday, but I wanted to make sure that everyone knew about the book launch of "Rust Fish" (Lost Horse Press), a volume of poetry by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller.
Zeller is a lecturer in Gonzaga University's English department who grew up on the Oregon coast. This volume has already garnered praise from critics for its evocation of the Northwest and its stories of "human ruin and hard-won grace."
Zeller will launch the book with a reading and party on Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at the Spokane Community College's Hagan Foundation Center for the Humanities, in the library (building 16).
The reading is free.
I was out of town last week, and got back in time to catch David Mamet's "Race" at Interplayers on Saturday. Here's an advance look at the review, which will run Tuesday or Wednesday in print:
This riveting Interplayers production of David Mamet’s “Race” jams both index fingers down hard on two of the hottest of hot-button issues – racial relations and sex — and doesn’t let up for 90 minutes.
Make that both middle fingers. This being a Mamet play, “Race’s” tone is one of incessant, startling, foul-mouthed cynicism. Ideals of justice, fairness and equality will be brusquely shot down, scorned and dismissed as naïve.
“The whites will screw you,” says the white lawyer Jack to the black lawyer Susan. “Any chance we get. We cannot help ourselves.”
That’s just one of several signature Mamet lines, others of which we can’t print, which all amount to the characteristic Mamet messages: People are out solely for themselves. Money and power always win. The truth belongs to whoever crafts the most cynical lie.
Clicke on "continue reading" to see the rest of the review: