Month: October 2018

Theater Review: Low Down Dirty Blues

_DS81531

By Beki Pineda, GetBoulder.com

LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES – Written by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman; Directed by Randal Myler. Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center (10075 Commons Street, Lone Tree) through October 27. Tickets available at 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org.

If you have been going to theatre in the Denver area very long, you will have heard the name Randal Myler. Randy was a long time director and casting agent for the Denver Center many years before he started writing musicals based on the works of deceased icons (Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, John Denver, Nat King Cole, and others). Many Tony nominations and Broadway runs ago, he started putting together the same sort of a musical homage to a genre instead of a person. He has achieved success with musicals such as IT AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT THE BLUES, FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (the folk music of the Appalachian coal mining era), and  MUSCLE SHOALS; I’LL TAKE YOU THERE (celebrating the famous music studio from that area). Now he brings the sultry side of the blues to the forefront by getting low down and dirty.

Five musicians have hung around after the crowd left in a Chicago blues bar to reminisce and sing their songs – rather than what the tourists call the blues. They revel in the suggestive lyrics and raunchy rhythms of songs like “Rough and Ready Man,” “My Stove’s in Good Condition,” and “Don’t Jump My Pony” if you don’t know how to ride!! Felicia P. Fields, the Big Mama after whom the bar is named, makes the smallest move of her voluptuous body and you suddenly understand what sexy is. In “If I Can’t Sell It” she tells the story about a man wanting to buy a chair in a furniture store. But she makes herself very clear when she declares, “If I can’t sell it, I’m gonna sit down on it.  I ain’t gonna give it away.”

Chic Street Man sings about a “Crawlin’ King Snake” and invites you to “Come On In My Kitchen” and the women in the audience start leaning in toward the stage. His easy physical style and matter of fact delivery shows that he knows what he’s doing, on stage and off. They are joined in the vocal fun by Shake Anderson whose big voice rocks out on “I Got My Mojo Workin’” and breaks your heart when he sings of a lost love in “Death Letter.” Both men praise the beauty of a “Big Leg Woman” whose booty is so big, her jeans have to have four pockets across the back. They are accompanied and joined on stage by musicians Calvin Jones on bass and Jameal Williams on keyboard.

The first half of the program explores the flirtatious side of the blues full of double entendre and innuendo. Big Mama even went off the stage and got some of the men in the audience to help her get her mojo working. The second half continues but also gets into the more serious sad side with a heartfelt rendition of Billy Holliday’s “Good Morning Heartache” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” The ever present gospel quality of the music came to the front with Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come” and Inez Andrews’ “Lord I Tried.”

The bar setting designed by Christopher Waller is so authentic, you can’t help but think you’ve been to that basement bar. Complete with beer signs and the ever present Christmas lights, it’s a place you would be comfortable stopping by for a drink and a listen to the music.

If you have the blues, if you like the blues, if you want to learn about the blues . . . . this is the show for you.

A WOW factor of 8!

 

From GetBoulder.com

It’s Getting Hot in the Lone Tree Arts Center with Big Mama!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

Low Down Dirty Blues offers audiences at the Lone Tree Center Arts Center a rollicking good time through October 27, 2018. The musical revue is set in the late evening in Big Mama’s Bar in the Southside of Chicago. Big Mama, Shake, Jelly, Calvin and Jameal are telling stories and jammin’ straight through the morning and you are privy to their performance.

Felicia Fields, Shake Anderson, and Chic Street Man belt out blues standards that filled the auditorium and brought the audience to its feet in appreciation. Even if you’ve never experienced the blues before, these singers work through a repertoire of songs that encapsulates a short history from the Delta blues sung by slaves in the fields to New Orleans blues sung in gin joints during prohibition to the present day Southside of Chicago blues.

As Big Mama, Felicia Fields’ throaty voice resonated in “They Call Me Big Mama,” “I Got My Mojo Working,” and the truly spectacular “Good Morning Heartache.” Fields is a strong personality who worked the audience with her humorous and playful charm, coming down from the stage and joking with audience members as she sang.

Shake Anderson gave an outstanding performance with his rich, deep voice on “Shake Your Money Maker,” but he brought the experience of the blues to a new level with his heartbreaking rendition of “Death Letter.” The repartee filled with sexual innuendo between Shake, Big Mama and Jelly provided for quite a bit of fun throughout the show.

Chic Street Man’s performance as Jelly, a blues guitarist from the Mississippi Delta, was outstanding and the rich depth of feeling in his version of “Change is Gonna Come” is still with me. The group would not be complete without the Calvin Jones’ remarkable performance on the bass and Jameal Williams noteworthy performance on the piano.

The set design, under the direction of Christopher Waller, and lighting design by Jen Kiser, captures the wonderful atmosphere of a shabby, downstairs dive bar with its brick walls, posters of Muddy Waters, electric Budweiser signs, jukebox, and wooden stage. The first act opens with the stage in a wash of blue hue but as the cast heats up with their songs, the stage takes on vivid reds and golds evoking the hot conversation on the stage coupled with the feeling of heartbreak and despair in the music.

At the end of the show, Fields asked, “Did you have fun? Then go home and tell all your friends! Tell them to come down to Big Mama’s!” And she’s right, don’t miss the show of the season!

Tickets for Low Down Dirty Blues are on sale now from $36 to $60 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org. Both matinee and evening performances are available. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Low Down Dirty Blues

By Michelle Marx, guest blogger

The October 18 opening night performance for Low Down Dirty Blues at the Lone Tree Arts Center was a spirited evening full of blues music both joyful and heartbreaking.

The stage is Big Mama’s club. The show is over and the musicians are hanging out afterwards. Three musicians are playing a piano, a bass, and a guitar and then Big Mama makes her grand entrance. Big Mama, performed by Tony-Award nominee Felicia Fields, is captivating and immediately engages the crowd. She wants to know if you’re ready to have a good time, and you should be.

The show is essentially an impromptu blues jam session including tunes from Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Pearl Bailey.  While the show is predominately music, the song choices tell a story. There are brief narratives, short comments really, that tell the history of and the story of the people playing the blues. It’s the subtle reference to the Delta blues as opposed to the Chicago blues or the comment about scrubbing floors during the day to play at night or the humorous banter between musicians to make a point.  The combination of song lyrics and remarks create a snapshot of the lives at the center of the blues, touching upon heartache and difficulty, discrimination and social injustice, and obstacles faced trying to get their music heard.

With just five people on stage and only three of them singing and sharing stories, Fields, Chic Street Man, and Shake Anderson have to carry the show. And they do so flawlessly. All are talented singers and musicians who have performed the show together before. Despite the sadness in some of the songs, one is quite gut-wrenching, the musicians are having a good time. And so will you. It’s hard not to have fun when the performers are having fun. The singers do a fabulous job engaging with the audience. You can’t get out of there without clapping along and possibly even singing along, too.

Director Randal Myler (Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There and Tony Award-nominated Best Musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues) and musical director Dan Wheetman make a successful return to the LTAC with Low Down Dirty Blues. The show continues through Sunday, October 27 with evening and matinee performances.

Tickets and more information are available at:  www.lonetreeartscenter.org/lowdowndirtyblues

Preview: Low Down Dirty Blues

email ad with picBy Michelle Marx, guest blogger

Have you ever wanted to hang out with the band after a concert? Here’s your chance! Beginning this Thursday on the Main Stage, the musical revue Low Down Dirty Blues will transport you to Big Mama’s club.

It’s Saturday night and it’s after the crowd leaves when the actual show begins. The musicians are hanging out, sharing stories, and having an impromptu jam session playing their favorite blues tunes including Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Pearl Bailey. The blues inhabit a space encompassing heartbreak, joy, and humor. They reflect the difficulties of life but passionately celebrate it as well.

The talented cast includes Felicia Fields as Big Mama, and Chic Street Man and Shake Anderson playing the musicians. All are highly talented musicians and performers. They’ve each done the show before and all three worked together on a production earlier this year coming to LTAC with a proven rapport.

Director Randal Myler (Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There and Tony Award-nominated Best Musical It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues) and musical director Dan Wheetman are both making a  return to the LTAC. With Low Down Dirty Blues, Myler didn’t want to just celebrate the music, but also touch upon the history of the blues. In a statement, Myler and Wheetman say: “The Blues has always had an ‘earthy’ quality. It has been the voice of a people caught in economic and social situations that have kept one entire social sector of the country under the thumb of another sector…Out of this environment, their voices found expression in the celebration of life in all its facets.”

Low Down Dirty Blues, plays at the Lone Tree Arts Center beginning Thursday, October 18 through Saturday, October 27. Evening and matinee performances are available.

Tickets and more information are available here:  http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/lowdowndirtyblues

Preview: Low Down Dirty Blues

email ad with pic

*Photo: Tim Fuller

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The heartbreaking stories of lost loves, hard-times, failed jobs, and all that is both painful and joyful in life comes to the Lone Tree Arts Center with Low Down Dirty Blues beginning Thursday, October 18 to Saturday, October 27, 2019. Through song, music and stories, Low Down Dirty Blues promises to take the audience from the midnight blues straight into the joy of a Sunday morning gospel redemption.

The musical revue features Felicia P. Fields as Big Mama, a Chicago bar owner, who gathers with several blues musicians for a bawdy and humorous conversation and an after-hours jam session that features the songs of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Ma Rainey, Pearl Bailey, and Mae West. Fields is a Chicago native and veteran stage actress known for her Tony-nominated Broadway performance as Sophia in The Color Purple as well television and in stage performances in the Chicago theater scene.

Joining Felicia are Shake Anderson, who’s worked with some of the most recognizable musicians in the business, including Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder; and Chic Street Man, who has an impressive stage resume and has performed at many prestigious venues, including the Montreux and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland and the General Assembly of the United Nations. All three were previously in the production earlier this year in Arizona. In Low Down Dirty Blues, Fields, Anderson, and Street Man, along with additional musicians, will perform blues standards such as “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “Good Morning Heartache,” “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and “I Got My Mojo Working.”

Low Down Dirty Blues is brought to the Lone Tree Arts Center under the creative direction of Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman, the creators of Muscle Shoals: I’ll Take You There and It Ain’t Nothin’ but the Blues. The musical offers the extraordinary opportunity to hear a truly American art form with its roots in African-American work songs and spirituals learned at the knee of sharecroppers on their porches, in the fields, and in the church pews.

Tickets for Low Down Dirty Blues are on sale now from $10 to $60 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/lowdowndirtyblues. Both matinee and evening performances are available in this beautiful venue that doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Grease Sing-A-Long Movie Night

By K. Fleming, guest blogger

Despite its age, Grease, one of the most popular movie-musicals of all time, is still beloved by adults and children alike with its timeless charm. On Saturday night, Lone Tree Arts Center paid homage to the 40th anniversary with a sing-a-long version of the hit movie accompanied by a sock hop after the showing.

The auditorium was packed with children, parents, and grandparents in various forms of 50s attire. The audience became T-Birds and Pink Ladies for the night and were inducted into the halls of Rydell High by the MC after a little comedy, singing, and trivia started off the show.

The lights dimmed, the auditorium imitated a regular movie theater setting, and the film rolled. But immediately, lyrics popped up on the screen in colorful bursts, sometimes being a focus in the frame, others with comedic animations, and on the more popular songs, they demurely sat along the bottom of the screen to illicit the most amount of attention to the songs.

The 1950s setting of this movie and the 1978 release date aside, classics like “Greased Lightning” needed some creative adjustments to the lyrics because of language or suggestive themes, often causing the audience to laugh. During Rizzo’s (Stockard Channing) “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” the adjustments told a story alongside her confessions on sexuality and teen pregnancy.

Other than the adjustments, the movie played out as it always did. Bad boy turned smitten teen Danny (John Travolta) and his T-Birds engaged in goofball and questionable behavior while wholesome and hopelessly devoted Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) navigated the established Pink Ladies and a new high school.

After the audience sang their last song with Rydell High, the party was just getting started at Lone Tree Arts Center. Red and white checkered tables lined the halls while hot dogs, hamburgers with all the fixin’s, and fries were available for guests in the lobby.

An event hall beckoned people with the sound of music and a disco ball twinkling in the distance. High top tables, streamers and balloons transformed the event hall into its own version of a Rydell High School gym.

The photo booth was filled with props and prompts to get the most authentic pictures. For a sugar rush, cotton candy and root beer floats lined the back of the hall. On your way for sweetness, carnival games like ring toss and skeeball tested skill while the dance floor, equipped with dance instructors, tested dexterity of the costumed audience members as they learned and competed in dance competitions like hand jive and the twist.

Whereas the Grease sing-a-long was billed as the main attraction, the sock hop continued to engage people of all ages, bringing the older generation back to their high school days and allowing kids (and probably their parents) to get a glimpse of grandma and grandpa in their heyday.