Review: The Choir of Man

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By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Raise a pint to pub culture! We joined the cast for a fun night of dance and song when the Choir of Man hit the stage at the Lone Tree Arts Center on Thursday night, February 21, 2019.

With the stage set as an actual working pub (complete with Lone Tree Brewing Company beer on tap), we were invited to grab a pint as the cast members (all from the U.K.) mingled with the audience sharing selfies, and laughs. Blurring the line between stage and audience continued throughout the performance. It kicked off with the 80s hair-band hit “Welcome to the Jungle” which played surprisingly well with a folksy, Celtic twist. The cast dashed through the audience, on top of the bar, around the tables, playing all manner of instruments. Denis, the narrator, invited us “to be present for tonight: dance, sing, laugh, join in!”

We were drawn into the camaraderie between the men as Denis presented each one in funny vignettes of song and dance. An astoundingly multi-talented cast of Irish actors and singers, the performers played the piano, guitar, banjo, accordion, drums, ukulele, bagpipes, and fiddle. They pounded on trays and crates, and clapped beer mugs together. As Denis was weaving his tales, the energy of the pub was swirling around him. The boys were chatting, arguing, mopping the floor, talking on the phone, and spinning on the bar stools.

Playing the fiddle and banjo while singing Avicii’s “Wake Me Up,” they danced into the theater aisles, grabbing people from the audience to join them for a pint. Peter sang Katy Perry’s hit “Teenage Dream,” while staring longingly at his guest. As the song ended, she surprised him with a kiss on the cheek.

Andrew, “with the voice of Pavarotti, but dressed like an Agatha Christie character,” sang “The Impossible Dream” in a deep, rich tenor, while challenging his guest to build a card tower. The tower grew as the song crescendoed, and the rest of the crew joined in, topping the tower with a pint of beer and tossing cards at the audience.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” showcased Freddie’s tap dancing skills and featured a piano solo by Connor. As Denis joked, “the more you drink the better we sound and the better we look” he decried the loss of local pubs to make way for chain restaurants and bars.

In a break from the action, Tom sang Adele’s hit “Hello.” Cleverly presented in freeze frame, the cast stood in suspended animation as if they were watching their team on TV. Mark shared his love for his wife while singing “Pina Coladas” into a mop handle. The crew joined in with exaggerated hip swinging, a cheesy flute solo, and disco lights.

We sang along to “500 Miles,” dubbed as “Scotland’s Most Famous Song.” An acapella version of Sia’s “Chandelier” was sung under prism lights as if reflected off the baubles of a chandelier.

One of the funniest scenes featured Aidan facing us in front of a bank of urinals, relieving himself as he sang “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The other cast members joined in as the never ending “flow” splashed onto the stage.

As the performance began to wind down, Denis raised a pint to his mum, stating “don’t treasure the moments only when they are gone.” This lead to the Luther Vandross hit, “Dance with My Father,” with the emotional “dear lord, she’s dying to dance with my father again” tugging at our heartstrings.

As a final statement to the brotherhood of pub life, Denis proclaimed, “when I come through those doors I feel at home.” They ended with the traditional Irish goodbye song, “The Parting Glass,” embracing us on their first North American Tour. A funny, energetic, and joyful celebration!

Review: International Guitar Night

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By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger

Last Friday, International Guitar Night made its only Colorado stop for its 2019 tour at the Lone Tree Arts Center. The sold-out crowd was treated to a guitar extravaganza featuring four accomplished guitarists: Luca Stricagnoli, Antoine Boyer, Samuelito, and Cenk Erdogan.

Stricagnoli runs on stage, picks up a guitar, and starts playing. His music is his introduction. Playing a mix of original songs and covers, he has excellent stage presence. He doesn’t just play a simple acoustic guitar, he also plays a guitar with three fingerboards. Not just a showman, Stricagnoli is also the evenings host.

Antoine Boyer gets his solo moment next. The 22 year old gypsy jazz guitarist from France also begins his set by playing. He explains to the crowd how he likes to play with the harmony of famous songs and then punctuates his explanation with his playing. He dazzles with a cover of The Sound of Silence.

Samuel Rouesnel, stage name Samuelito, is a Flamenco guitarist from France. Both a composer and player, Samuelito began with classical guitar at age seven. He plays several songs by Paco de Lucia, a Flamenco virtuoso and a great inspiration to Samuelito.

From Turkey is Cenk Erdogan and his fretless guitar. He introduces himself with an original composition. He explains the fretless guitar and its range of sounds and tones. Erdogan has played and taught around the world. It shows through his ease with communicating with the audience and improvising as he plays. His music is beautiful and my personal favorite of the evening.

All the performers have the opportunity to showcase their skill and I appreciate that they all talk about themselves and their influences. They are all engaging and humorous storytellers.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best guitarists and  highlighting each individual artist, but they also celebrate their skills through collaboration. After the solos come the duets and final quartet performance. These range from a raucous cover of “Another One Bites the Dust,” to beautiful ballads and fun pop culture references.

International Guitar Night tours annually highlighting new and fabulous talent. Keep your eyes open for their next tour and hopefully their next trip through Colorado. For samples of each musician visit https://internationalguitarnight.com

Preview: International Guitar Night

IGN new headerBy Michelle Marx, guest blogger

International Guitar Night brings to the stage four spectacular acoustic guitarists. Founded by Brian Gore in 1995, International Guitar Night has featured a diverse array of performers from around the world. This year is no exception. Gore has assembled four dynamic and accomplished guitarists.

From Italy, Luca Stricagnoli is a YouTube sensation with over 100 million views. His style is both innovative and unique and some might even call it crazy. He’s an enthusiastic showman and his performances have delighted audiences worldwide.

Cenk Erdogan is a fretless guitarist from Turkey. What is a fretless guitar? It’s a guitar with a fingerboard without frets which creates no interruption in the string and allows a greater range of sounds. Not only has Erdogan toured the world, he is also a leading fretless guitar educator.

Two guitarists hail from France. Swing guitarist Antoine Boyer was named Guitarist of the Year by Guitarist Magazine in 2012. He was the first gypsy jazz artist to win the honor. And the fourth artist for the evening is Flamenco guitarist Samuelito. Both a composer and performer, Samuelito loves to incorporate music of various origins.

International Guitar Night is known for rotating through only the best of the best in acoustic guitar, highlighting each individual artist and celebrating their skills through collaboration.

International Guitar Night is in town for only one night, Friday, February 15 at 8:00 pm at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

Click here for tickets, more information, and videos 

Review: RESPECT – A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra

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By Kristi Andrus, guest blogger

I typically pick the shows I want to see to review. That’s my entire process, nothing complicated, just personal preference.  Occasionally, however, my process is unintentionally complicated, like for instance, when the show I pick is performed by a local legend who is paying tribute to a national treasure. Oh, and did I mention she’s married to Denver’s mayor?

I went to Saturday night’s sold-out show Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra knowing it would be a cool night out, but it was way more mellow and vibey and fun than I even expected.

Was it the red dress? The red shoes? The 13-piece orchestra? The gravelly infectious vocals? The selfie with my brother and the mayor? Or something else?

Let’s dissect the night. Here’s a look at the songs, the lyrics, and the moments that stood out.

But first, the facts:

Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee (MLL) of Mary Louise Lee Band (MLLB) has incredible range, perfect pitch, is a blend of liveliness, sultriness, confidence, good energy, and a warm hug. She’s a Denver institution married to a Denver institution. She commands the stage, works the room, and knows when it’s time to take off her shoes, symbolizing to the audience that it’s also time to party.

Now, the rundown: (Try to sing everything in italics if you will).

The band was dressed head to toe in black with red accents, ties for the men, shoes for the women. MLL was wearing a red dress and red shoes and comfortable in the spotlight. She was welcoming and ready, her band equally ready to rock.

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Review: Shaun Boothe’s Unauthorized Biography Series

By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Celebrate Greatness! Shaun Boothe brought The Unauthorized Biography Series to the Lone Tree Arts Center for one night.  Part hip hop performance, part history lesson, and part motivational speech, Boothe presented bios of the world’s greatest heroes and leaders through rap and song.

Shaun Boothe’s message is aimed at children and teenagers; however, it resonates with everyone. By celebrating our heroes, we can awaken the greatness in all of us. We can accomplish change when we see what was accomplished in the past. By using rap and hip hop, Boothe delivered this message using a language that children and teenagers can relate to and cultural icons that they recognize. Standing in the middle of the stage with the house lights up and a giant screen behind him, he engaged the kids by asking if there were any hip hop or Snoop fans out there. He asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.”

Boothe wanted us to see that we all have access to the same courage and power that some of our greatest cultural heroes do.  He showed us how they overcame obstacles, opened their hearts, and became stronger and courageous enough to put others above themselves.

Five leaders were presented, beginning with a short intro followed by Boothe’s hip hop story.  Video clips were shown on the screen behind him.  All of the bios included both widely known and less familiar information about each person.

Muhammed Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the Greatest,” was the perfect starting point.  Boothe emphasized how Ali chose character over fame by refusing to change his beliefs for anything or anyone.  He was first perceived as a villain but became a hero as popular opinion about the Vietnam War changed. Ali’s bio ended with the audience chanting “Ali Bomaye” (“Ali kill him”), the cheer made famous by Ali’s 1972 “Rumble in the Jungle” versus George Foreman.

Emphasizing we have to choose between “working for applause or working for a cause,” Boothe’s next presentation was Martin Luther King Jr, with scenes of the Selma riots of 1965.  MLK passed the baton to President Barack Obama: “Martin walked so Obama could run.” After presenting Obama, Boothe stopped and restated how by rising above the low expectations he faced, he honored his limitless potential. Obama then passed the baton to the next generation.

Speaking again to the young people in the audience, Boothe asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.” Asking why we should celebrate MLK when that was so long ago, he answered that current breaking news is heartbreaking news. By focusing on the greatness we can tune out the negativity.

Sitting on the edge of the stage and speaking directly to the kids in front of him, Boothe asked if anyone could tell him who Malala is. Hands shot up and he passed the mic to a young girl who described her as “a girl who fought for girl’s education in Pakistan and was shot because of it.” Boothe then told the story of Malala’s life, how she wouldn’t stop pushing for female education in the face of great adversity, how she was told over and over to stop, and how she eventually became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

The screen flashed, #Whatsyourlegacy.  Boothe asked, “What is your story? Don’t let anyone write the story of your life.” Again, speaking to the kids in the audience, he stated, “Greatness is really all about committing to something larger than yourself.  Great small moments can make a great difference to one person. Find something great to do in the moment.”

Giving a shout out to any fellow Jamaicans in the audience (Boothe is from Toronto but of Jamaican descent), reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley was the final bio presented. Boothe emphasized Marley’s message of “One Love” and that the choices we make take us one step closer or farther away from our dreams.

That led to Boothe’s final message: dreaming big inspires big action from us. To make that dream happen we have to take the first step and the next step appears. He reminded the kids that our heroes didn’t have a master plan or blueprint. They just took that first step.

The performance ended with Boothe singing his first hit, “One by One” and telling all of us to stay true to our dreams.  He high-fived his way through the audience and ended with a brief Q&A.  By the end of the performance, Shaun Boothe left all of us, especially the youngest members of the audience,  inspired to find the greatness in ourselves.

Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Review: And We Drop The Needle Once Again!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

If we could only step back in time… Well, you can, with the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Classic Album Live series. This spring, two new shows featuring the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd will be performed on the LTAC’s stage. On Saturday, January 19, I attended Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was pleasantly surprised to get caught up in the excitement of listening to the Beatles play once again.

What was really amazing was the faithfulness of the sound to the original album. Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live touts the series as a “note for note, cut for cut” endeavor. The clean, clear voices of the singers, the precision playing of the instruments, and the distorted noises that we all remember from listening to the Beatle’s vinyl versions are all there.

There are a couple of reasons why this unique type of performance works for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band follows some of the conventions of the symphony. The eleven performers on stage are anonymous to the audience—their names are not listed in the theater program nor announced during the show, they all wear black, they play numerous instruments, and no one acted the part of being a Beatle. Whether they were playing the violin, piano, or bass guitar, they were all extraordinary musicians playing a rock masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Within You Without You” were sung by the performers with strong voices, and no fake British accents. Now you might say, the Beatles had strong Liverpool accents, how can the song sound the same? But remarkably, it does. Perhaps, it’s the instrumental accuracy paired with the audiences’ deep love for the album that really breathes life into the music.

The Classic Albums Live band had a great rapport with the audience whether they were tuning an instrument or moving to perform some other function. The full performance of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was completed in about an hour. The second half of the performance focused on many of the Beatles hits, demonstrating that these musicians really prepared for a deep dive into Beatles history.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed to a sold out audience both nights. At the end of the performance, there was nothing more inspiring than to see the response of concert goers singing along with the band and enjoying the beat of the music. The Classic Albums Live band received a standing ovation and as I left the building I heard many people remarking on their wonderful performance.

The Lone Tree Arts Center will be hosting two more events in this series including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, Chronicle Volume 1 on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. featuring the songs “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The series has become so popular with local audiences that a new concert has been recently added on Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. featuring the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

So, it is possible to step back in time and to once again hear the music that is the soundtrack of your life. Tickets for the next two Classic Albums Live concerts are going fast, but still available from $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Sons of the Pioneers

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

“Yipee Tie Yie Yay, get along little doggies!” crooned the Sons of the Pioneers at the Lone Tree Art Center this weekend. This enduring western trio formed by Roy Rogers in 1933 is now ably led by his son and emcee, Dusty Rogers. Original compositions such as “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” have become beloved American classics capturing the mystery and romance of the early cowboy.

It was an icy-cold night with snow packed streets as we made our way to the Arts Center and were surprised to see a sold-out crowd ready to take a deep dive into Roy Roger’s western music. As the music began, I took a trip back to my childhood as the group sang familiar tunes I had grown up with and was surprised to realize I could still remember almost every word! My parents had played quite an eclectic mix of music on our family record player–from Beethoven and Mozart to Burl Ives, Glen Campbell, Sons of the Pioneers and various gospel music artists.

All that was missing was the campfire smoke as the evening progressed with “trail boss” Tommy Nallie playing the guitar and singing a couple solos. Ken Lattimore sang tenor and played several instruments including the mandolin, as well as providing light hearted banter with other members of the group. Dusty Rogers, the lead singer of the group, shared childhood stories about his famous father and stepmother Dale Evans. Baritone John Fullerton played rhythm guitar and yodeled beautifully. Last, but not least, star talent Paul Elliott expertly played the fiddle, keeping the audience spellbound.

The evening ended on a high note with the group singing “Happy Trails.” Truly, as declared by the Smithsonian Institute, the Sons of the Pioneers are one of our cherished national treasures in their timeless documentation of the Great American West.

Preview: Classic Albums Live Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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SIT BACK AND ENJOY THE SHOW WITH SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The Lone Tree Arts Center will revisit the genius of the Beatles and the music that defined an era with Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Saturday, January 19 at 8:00 and Sunday, January 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live, brings a sixteen-piece band of outstanding musicians who will perform one of the most complex and profound masterpieces in rock and roll history. Every note performed as if you were back in the recording studio with the Beatles in 1967. More importantly, this is not a 60s tribute band type of performance with costumes and performers that look like the Beatles, rather it is a group of extraordinary, professional musicians who bring the album to life as it was intended to be heard.

Fifty-two years after its release, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band still resonates as one of the most popular and influential albums of all time with hits like:  “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “A Day in the Life” as well as George Harrison’s experimental “Within You and Without You” and the title cut “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  The Classic Albums Live musicians replicate the singing, the brass, the guitars, the sitars, and the drums with utter fidelity to the original experience.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band sealed the Beatles’ legacy in music history for decades to come. Join the Lone Tree Art Center as it celebrates the Beatles and the timelessness of this brilliant album in concert. Seats are going fast. Tickets are $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Bettman and Halpin – Christmas is a Funny Thing

headerBy Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin have a well-earned reputation for delivering a quality show.  During the Bettman and Halpin Christmas is a Funny Thing holiday concert, the duo kept the audience riveted with songs, storytelling and fantastic fiddle playing.  The duo appeared to be having a great time performing and this enthusiasm affected the audience.   They both have an easy, mellow way about them.  They created a relaxed, homey feeling in the audience.

Christmas is a Funny Thing was a combination of well known, traditional Christmas tunes performed by Bettman and Halpin and original music written by Bettman and Halpin.  Some of the traditional songs performed included Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  Some of the original songs written by Bettman and Halpin included “Fruitcake for All Seasons” and “We’ll Miss You Mama.”  Ms. Bettman told the story of how she was inspired for each song she wrote.

The duo also performed some songs from their soon to be released CD.  Ms. Bettman wrote and sang a song titled “White Rose.”  The inspiration of this song is based on the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears.  I believe most of the audience felt the sorrow in this song.  As I said before, Ms. Bettman tells great stories through her songs.  I can’t wait for the CD to come out!

Stephanie Bettman is an all-around entertainer.  Not only can she sing with a clear, smooth voice but she writes her own songs and plays the fiddle like no one I have ever heard.  She comes across as a regular person with the keen ability of telling stories through songs.

Luke Halpin is the jokester of the group.  He wore reindeer antlers when the show opened then changed into a “naughty” Santa hat later.  He made funny faces, comments, and gestures.  He is a gifted mandolin player.  During this performance he played several different instruments, including the mandolin, and played each instrument expertly.  The audience kept their eyes on this funny man, not knowing what was coming next.

The stage was decorated in festive Christmas decorations.  The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and a great way to prepare for the holiday season.   Bettman and Halpin included the audience in many of their Christmas songs.  These sing a-longs created a warmer holiday feeling in the audience.

The rest of the quartet for this program were local performers.  Bettman and Halpin, the bass player, and drummer only met for the first time the day before the program.  No one would have known this group had not been playing together for years.

The bass player Alex Goldberg is a graduate from University of Colorado Denver with a B.S. in Bass Performance.  He has several years of experience performing in many different venues.  He is currently performing with the local band Chris Daniels and the Kings.

Ryan Elwood is also a local performer.  He has performed with several different bands, including Adrienne O and the Austin Young Band.  He has played at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Gothic Theater.  He also teaches private lessons.

Bettman and Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing was a very entertaining show.  I recommend that you try to see this group the next time they come to town.  At the very least pick up their CD.  You won’t be disappointed.

Preview: Home for the Holidays

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

For many people in the Greater Denver area, the Christmas season doesn’t begin until the Lone Tree Art’s Center’s annual Home for the Holidays, with performances beginning Wednesday, December 19 and continuing until Sunday, December 23, 2018. Tickets are on sale now for both matinee and evening performances.

Home for the Holidays is an original production in collaboration with Chris Starkey of Imprint Group that brings together local performers for a spectacular show featuring traditional and modern holiday songs, stunning dance numbers, comedy skits, and good old-fashioned, family-friendly fun. Nearly 50 beautifully costumed performers will create a visually impressive extravaganza of holiday cheer for audiences of all ages.

Whether you are a long-time attendee or creating a new tradition with your family, Home for the Holidays is sure to delight and surprise you with a fresh new show this year. You may even catch a glimpse of the jolly old man himself! It’s the perfect time to remind yourself that there truly is no place like home.

Tickets for Home for the Holidays are on sale now from $36 to $63 and can be purchased online, in person, or over the phone at 720-509-1000. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

 

Click here to watch a preview video of the show!