Author: lonetreeartscenter

Review: Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Night

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Viva Las Vegas is a wildly-entertaining movie featuring some amazing high-energy song and dance numbers performed by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret. The story line is cute and corny at the same time. It is a story of a boy falling in love with a girl in the coolest city in the world.

The movie is about a romantic triangle involving Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley), Rusty Martin (Ann-Margaret) and Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Danova). Lucky must compete with the suave and debonair Count Mancini in winning the race and winning the heart of Rusty Martin.

Lucky Jackson arrives in Las Vegas to race in the Grand Prix. First Lucky needs to buy a new engine for his race car before the big race. While in the garage at the race track Lucky and Count Mancini are under the count’s car looking at mechanical things when in walks Rusty Martin in short white shorts. Both men are smitten with her. Rusty leaves before they can find out her name. The two men spend the night trying to track her down.

The two men find Rusty at the swimming pool where she works as a swimming instructor. Lucky and Rusty perform in a cat and mouse singing duo at the swimming pool. At the end of the song Rusty pushes Lucky into the pool. The money that Lucky made to purchase his new engine falls out of his pocket when he lands in the water.

Now Lucky must find another way to earn the cash he needs for his new engine. He finds a job as a waiter at the same hotel where Rusty is employed. Lucky spends a great deal of time trying to win Rusty’s heart and very little time working as a waiter.

The couple share several fun outings during their budding relationship. They dance and sing on the stage and gymnasium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They go water skiing, fly over Hoover Dam in a helicopter, they go Skeet Shooting at the Sahara Hotel, and go on a motorcycle ride performing various stunts.

The film ends with Lucky winning the race and the girl. Their wedding takes place at the Little Church of the West, which is a famous wedding chapel in Las Vegas listed on the U.S. National Registry of Historical Places as the oldest existing structure on the Las Vegas Strip.

It is said that Elvis and Ann-Margaret had a wild love affair while making the movie. The chemistry is evident between the two of them. This attraction to each other is what makes the movie so enjoyable.

The movie is fun, light and breezy. Good clean fun. It is a must see movie for Elvis fans or anyone just wanting to be thoroughly entertained.

After enjoying the movie, the Lone Tree Arts Center provided refreshments of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. This was one of Elvis Presley’s favorite snacks. Meatballs, mini burgers, and a variety of desserts were also available.

Other activities included Elvis impersonators, an Elvis look-alike contest with Elvis himself acting as the judge. There was a photo booth with wild and crazy costumes and props. Every guest was provided with $500 dollars of play money to gamble with. There were several casino games available for those who felt lucky. The night ended with Elvis singing old Elvis songs. It was a great way to spend the evening.

Review: Michael Martin Murphey “A Cowboy Christmas”

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By Janet Warner, Guest Blogger

I was pleased to be able to attend A Cowboy Christmas with Michael Martin Murphy at Lone Tree Arts Center on December 22nd, 2017.  My husband is not a fan of country music in any form (his loss, perhaps?), but the dear friend I took with me was looking forward to this show as much as I was. I must be honest, however, and admit that we were forced to leave the show at intermission due to illness, so I can only write about what I saw and heard during the first hour of a nearly two hour performance.

As we drove into the rear of the Arts Center parking lot, we passed the big tour bus that Murphey arrived in.  It looked pretty fancy to my eyes, and if one is going to take an extended road trip, I would think this would be the way to go.  After looking at Murphey’s tour schedule from November through July 2018, he’s going to get a lot of use out that bus.

Shortly before the performance, I was curious to know whether the show was sold out.  It was close, with only three single seats still available on the online seating chart; the next night’s performance looked the very much the same.  Either people had heard about or seen Michael Martin Murphey before, or the marketing department had done its job selling the show.  I suspect the former was true, because from my vantage point near the back of the theatre, it appeared that the majority of the audience knew the artist and were already fans.  I say this because it looked to me like many of those attending were prepared to see his country show and dressed accordingly; I saw a plethora of cowboy hats, boots, western shirts and leather.  In fact, a few of the women were dressed in full western regalia and would have been entirely comfortable in any 1800s Wild West saloon!  And, no surprise, the bulk of the audience were baby boomers like me.

Photo By Kim ThompsonThe stage itself was sparsely set up, with five microphones on stands and a blank video screen behind them.  A young man walked out to introduce Murphey, and it turned out to be his youngest son, Brennan.  He said a few words about his dad, the band, the “Murphandise” for sale, and the show itself, and injected the introduction with enough humor so that I didn’t much mind the sales pitch.  Michael Martin Murphey appeared soon after, along with his band of four.  Two, in addition to Murphey, played guitar, one played electric violin, and Brennan played some sort of string instrument that I didn’t recognize, but it added a nice layer of interest to the music. Murphey, dressed in a long, fringed, soft leather jacket, neckerchief and jeans, looked the quintessential cowboy, but then again, they all did!

My impressions of the show were many.  Truthfullly, I was not very familiar with Murphey’s music, other than the songs that made it on the radio years ago (such as “Wildfire” and “Carolina in the Pines”).  I didn’t recognize most of the songs he did, but it didn’t really matter, because the music was really good.  It was interesting too, because I could understand every word of the lyrics so I was drawn in by the stories he told.  Murphey may be in the latter part of his career (due to getting older, and not because he’s lost any of his talent), but he can still keep an audience engaged .  The show was a mixture of storytelling, poetry and music.  Murphey said he’s been doing this show in one form or another for twenty-four years, and it’s obvious he still enjoys performing it.  One of the things I most enjoyed was the harmonizing.  Though there was only one woman in the band, her voice was strong and full of character, and the combination of voices behind Murphey was first rate.  I’m sure the whole point of having a band behind you is to enhance the main performer, and that was definitely true here, all of them fine musicians in their own right.

The video screen behind Murphey and the band was used to show still pictures and video, its purpose to enhance the poem or story he was telling.   Some of the pictures and video showed repeatedly, and that would be my only minor complaint with the stage and setup.  I think more could have been done to improve the quality of the whole experience by having something interesting to look at onstage besides microphone stands and a video screen.  But, perhaps that was the whole point; the focus was solely on the music and not on bells and whistles.  And after such a long and successful career in music, perhaps Michael Martin Murphey knows what he’s doing a little better than I do!  Well done – I think everyone had a great time.

Review: Cherish The Ladies

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By Janice Hubbell, Guest Blogger


My daughter and I celebrated our Celtic roots in another stirring, sold-out Christmas performance by the all-girl music ensemble Cherish The Ladies. I fondly recalled my Irish grandfather playing the fiddle while Lindsey was transported back to her study abroad summer in Ireland where she experienced first-hand the lilting voices and warmth of the Irish!

This ladies’ group is composed of Irish Americans, native Irishwomen, and performers from Scotland and Canada. The performers expertly combined Christmas music, jokes, stories, and dance with traditional Irish folk songs. Within the intimate venue of the Lone Tree Art Center, the music carried the audience on gentle waves of haunting ballads through energetic currents of foot-stomping, toe-tapping rollicking jigs!

Band leader Joanie Madden, humorist and warm-hearted flautist, revealed her artistic, sensitive spirit in the penny whistle composition “American Wake,” which delicately depicts her emigrant mother’s pathos as she says goodbye to her family in preparation for her journey to the United States—not knowing if she’ll see her loved ones again.

A founding member of the group, acoustic guitarist, Mary Coogan, expertly accompanied the music and singing. Mirella Murray, also an original “lady,” played the accordion with ease and dexterity, blending seamlessly with other instruments and voices. The young and talented Kathleen Boyle played piano in a traditional folk style. Nollaig Casey’s star shone brightly as she shared her distinctive talent in playing the fiddle, especially notable in historic ballad solos written more than 300 years ago and singing in the Gaelic with a pure alto voice.

An important element of the show was the athletic male Irish step dancers Jason Oremus and Garett Coleman who periodically left us breathless with hearts pounding until they took their final bow! They were joined by the lovely, accomplished fiddle player and dancer, Julie Fitzgerald, who played and danced with joy and abandonment.

An evening highlight was guest singer, Don Stiffe, from Galway, Ireland. Don sang with a clear, rich tenor voice, reminiscent of Burl Ives. He ended the evening with a poignant, memorable Christmas version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as his voice soared majestically on the last chorus. We left the performance feeling refreshed and ready for the holidays!

Review: A Kantorei Christmas

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By Theresa Allen, Guest Blogger

Performing the last of their three sold-out performances of the holiday season, Kantorei brought the audience to its feet at the Lone Tree Arts Center on December 19. A Kantorei Christmas featured a stellar performance by the 50-singer chorus coupled with instrumentals on harp, percussion, string bass, and piano.

Kantorei, an a capella group of international renown, opened its first set with “Come Let Us Adore Him” a traditional carol performed with a medieval drumbeat that reminded the audience of ancient times and the birth of Christ. The chorus transitioned into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and “Still, Still Night” as well as a few other Christmas carols produced with a musical twist by composer Jackson Berkey, one of the founders of Manheim Steamroller.

The evening featured several elegant harp solos and accompaniment with the chorus by Janet Kay Harriman, who performs with Opera Colorado and the Central City Opera Festival. The full-bodied warmth of Harriman’s performance of “Asleep in My Arms” evoked the austere beauty of the Christmas season. “Long Expected Jesus” opened with the delicate tones of the harp, the rise of the voices of the sopranos and altos, and became interwoven with the tenor and basses to produce a swell of sound that was ethereal in nature.

The audience was treated to My Perfect Stranger, a composition by Bob Chilcott, which was originally performed by the BBC Singers in 2016, and presented only two other times in the United States. My Perfect Stranger is a poetic retelling of the nativity story that raises the question of what is our role in the Christ story and what part do we play in welcoming others into our lives. Christianna Sullins performed a magnificent solo as Mary and the piece featured dazzling solos by other Kantorei members as the Innkeeper, the angels, the wise men, and even Herod.

The peacefulness of the nativity story was followed by rousing renditions of “Carol of the Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” and “Sing We Now of Christmas.” However, it was Kantorei’s “Silent Night” sung with the members of the audience that reminded us that Christmas is a season of community, of reaching out to others and celebrating all that is good in this world.

Kantorei, led by artistic director Joel Rinsema, includes more than 50 volunteers, who sing in the chorus as well as serve as teachers, musicians, and conductors in their communities. In 2018, Naxos Records will produce Kantorei’s work with Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen. For more information about Kantorei, visit their website at www.kantorei.com.

The Lone Tree Arts Center hosts professional theatrical and musical performances all year long. In 2018, Ben Vereen, PostSecret, and the Moscow Festival Ballet as well as many other entertainers will bring performances to the Denver area. For more information, visit their website at www.LoneTreeArtsCenter.org.

Preview: The Good Humor Men

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By Tracy Hauff, Guest Blogger

I think we can all agree that 2017 has been a rough year. Politics, tragedies, and natural disasters have taken a toll, so what could be a better way to unwind from 2017 and usher in 2018 than a night of good clean fun? Well, sit back, relax, and laugh because we got it covered. Three of the funniest men in the stand-up comedy arena—Pat McGann, Pete Lee, and Pat Hazell—are banding together as The Good Humor Men to bring us a well-deserved night of jocularity. I don’t know how Lone Tree Arts Center finagled this sought-after trio of talent, but I’m sure glad they did!

The Good Humor Men are known for hilarious clean humor. No cussing is necessary to get a guffaw. About the dirtiest joke you may hear is from Pat McGann who is a father to three youngsters: “I got kids at home. We got three under four. Know what that’s like? Here’s a fast fact, 75% of the asses I wipe aren’t mine.”

Then there’s Pete Lee, the youngest of the jokesters. He knew he was doing something right when following his performance, Robert DeNiro called him over to his table to tell him what a terrific set he had.

Last, but not least, Pat Hazell, a well-seasoned comedian with appearances on ABC, CBS, Showtime, MTV, Comedy Central, PBS, Fox, and CNN, and celebrated for his baby boomer child-of-the-sixties live theatrical tour, The Wonder Bread Years. He is also the brains behind the original production of The Good Humor Men. Thank you for that, Pat.

One night only, Friday, December 29, 2017. Don’t delay. Get your tickets today and join us for an evening of laughter.

Tickets: www.lonetreeartscenter.org/goodhumormen

Preview: Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Night

 

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By Monica Jarrell, Guest Blogger

Join us at the Lone Tree Arts Center for a screening of Viva Las Vegas on December 28th at 7:00pm.  Get your tickets early as this show will sell out quickly.  Stick around after the show for a Las Vegas cocktail night in the lobby, complete with appetizers, casino games, karaoke, and an Elvis costume contest judged by the man himself.

Viva Las Vegas, starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret, hit the movie scene in 1964.  It was instantly a big hit.  The movie was rated #14 in gross movie sales that year. The movie is full of songs and dancing, including “Viva Las Vegas” which remains a classic to this day.

Many critics suggest that Viva Las Vegas was one of Elvis’s best movies.  All agree that the chemistry between Ann-Margret and Elvis was very apparent and made the movie a success.  It is the only movie that Elvis starred in where the co-star matches and at times surpasses his on-screen presence.

The story is about Lucky Jackson who arrives in Las Vegas to participate in the City’s Grand Prix Race.  He needs a new engine in his race car, so he works as a waiter at a hotel to earn the money for his car. Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret) is the hotel’s swimming instructor.  Lucky attempts to win the affection of Rusty but faces competition in love and in the race.  Count Elmo Mancini (Ceasre Danova) arrives and attempts to win the girl and the race.

The chemistry between the two stars was genuine during filming.  Presley and Ann-Margret began an affair while filming Viva Las Vegas.  This affair brought a spark to the movie screen and rumors were abundant concerning the future between Ann-Margret and Elvis.

The Swedish born singer/actress Ann-Margret was raised in Illinois and was discovered by George Burns.  She is best known for her roles in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), Viva Las Vegas (1964), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), Carnal Knowledge (1971), Tommy (1975), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Grumpier Old Men (1995). She has won five Golden Globe Awards and has been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards.

For his role in Viva Las Vegas, Elvis Presley received a third-place prize in the 1965 Laurel Awards for best male performance in a musical film. Viva Las Vegas also received the 1965 Laurel Award for runner-up in the category of the best musical of 1964.  Ann-Margret was praised for her on screen chemistry with Elvis, as she nearly stole the film from him.

The movie was written by Sally Benson, directed by George Sidney, who also directed Bye Bye Birdie – a film that also starred Ann-Margret.  The song “Viva Las Vegas” was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman.

Remember, what happens at Lone Tree Arts Center, stays at Lone Tree Arts Center.

Preview: Michael Martin Murphey

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By Janet Warner, Guest Blogger

The Lone Tree Arts Center is excited to welcome back Michael Martin Murphey, performing December 22nd and December 23rd, 2017.  He previously appeared with the Lone Tree Symphony in 2013, but A Cowboy Christmas will be a show with his own Rio Grande Band.  As a testament to his talent and popularity, Murphey was originally scheduled for just one appearance, but ticket sales were so brisk that a second date was added. While you may not be so familiar with his name, you have probably heard his music on the radio over the years, with classic hits like “Wildfire,” “What’s Forever For,” and “Carolina in the Pines.”

Murphey’s holiday show celebrates what he calls the cowboy culture – a life based on faith, family, hard work, and his passion for conservation and the environment.

Photo By Kim ThompsonMichael Martin Murphey is drawn to all things having to do with the American West.  He is a student of its history, culture, landscape, and the characters who shaped and built it.  Murphey’s music reflects these interests and passions, and with more than 35 albums produced over a long career, his life experiences documenting the cowboy culture are what drive his music.  It goes without saying that he is also a gifted songwriter, his songs having been recorded by artists such as Kenny Rogers and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In addition, he’s had multiple gold records and been nominated for several Grammy awards.

He continues a busy tour schedule of his Cowboy Christmas show through the end of the year in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado.  You are in for a real treat if you’re lucky enough to get tickets to see Michael Martin Murphy this Christmas season – it will be impossible not to tap your feet, clap your hands, and enjoy yourself!

 

Preview: Cherish The Ladies

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By Janice Hubbell, Guest Blogger

Celtic music evokes memories of my Irish granddad playing the “fiddle”—not to be confused with the violin! I have not yet visited Ireland, Scotland or Wales, but my daughter spent a summer as an undergrad at The Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare, Ireland, and I loved her photographs of haunted castles, crystal chandeliers, rugged coastlines, trees hundreds of years old and little bog houses decaying back into the soil. These images felt familiar… like I had been there before. Maybe Ireland is imprinted in my DNA!

Traditional Irish music style encompasses a wide range—from haunting to boisterous, depending on the tempo, instrument, and the song’s intended emotion and message. My daughter and I are looking forward to celebrating our Celtic heritage on December 20 with Cherish The Ladies who have been authentically representing Irish music and step dancing for over 30 years. This Grammy-nominated Irish-American group broke into the male-dominated Irish music scene in New York City in 1985 and they are coming to perform for us at the Lone Tree Art Center!

It’s Ladies Night…See you there!

 

Preview: A Kantorei Christmas

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By Theresa Allen, Guest Blogger

In the deep still of a winter’s night, there is nothing more beautiful, more transcendent, than the lift of human voices in song.  Begin a new holiday tradition with your loved ones at A Kantorei Christmas on December 19, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

Denver-based Kantorei, is a world-class a cappella choir, led by artistic director Joel Rinsema. A Kantorei Christmas features the soaring voices of more than 50 singers who will be performing My Perfect Stranger, a beautiful retelling of the Christmas story, premiered by the BBC Singers in 2016 and written by former King’s Singer Bob Chilcott. Janet Kay Harriman, the principal harpist with the Central City Opera Festival and a frequent performer with Opera Colorado, will accompany the choir. The evening will also feature the choir’s performance of an arrangement of traditional carols by Jackson Berkey of Mannheim Steamroller and the audience will be invited to join in the festivities.

A Kantorei Christmas promises to be a truly special evening of newly composed music and classic carols that will fill your heart with the Christmas spirit. Tickets for A Kantorei Christmas are on sale now from $33 to $40 and can be purchased at http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/kantoreichristmas. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Home for the Holidays 2017

By Monica Jarrell, Guest Blogger

   Home for the Holidays is a 90-minute musical concert starring Santa played by Colin Alexander and Mrs. Claus played by Margie Lamb. The show is hosted by Rob Costigan.  Behind the scenes Santa and Mrs. Clause have an ongoing conflict.  Mrs. Cla_DS78528us is upset that Santa must work throughout the holidays.  She would like him to be home this year.

This holiday offering is headlined by a quartet of talented female vocalists as well as Greg Jacyszyn and Sage Starkey.  It is an opportunity to hear these extremely talented singers, each with a different performance style, backed by a snazzy onstage band and joined by several talented entertainers.

The opening number included great choreography with special effects and lighting.  The dancers pose in clever positions to spell out holiday greetings.  This opening act got the audience sitting on the edge of their chairs, anticipating more to come.

This Christmas program is a mix of traditional and more contemporary numbers, that took us through the decades of music.  The song list ranges from holiday staples like “Jingle Bells,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (with a twist), “Blue Christmas,” and more. The contemporary hits like Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Carol of the Bells” was performed by a trio of violinists and Sage Starkey, rapping out a special Christmas message.

_DS84939     The 1950s brought Doo-Wop; the 60’s were done in the style of pop-rock with a little psychedelic rock added in.  Of course, the 70’s songs were performed in rock star fashion which included guitar solos.  The lyrics were changed and special effects from each generation were added to the songs.

Drum solos performed on pots, pans, and buckets; beat box and tap dancers showed us the 80’s.

Denver native Sheryl McCallum brought us into the 90’s with the blues and Hip Hop.  The Elf on the Shelf even made an appearance.  Jonathan Jaramillo, Colorado’s hip hop champion, showed us some of his moves.  The evening was rounded out by a special salute to our military.

The music is festive and is sure to get you in the holiday spirit.  This show includes amazing dancers, singers, drama, and comedy, something for everyone.   The first night audience gave the performers an enthusiastic applause. The production evidently touched many as a feel-good beginning to the Holiday Season.

Playing now through Sunday, December 17 at Lone Tree Arts Center. For tickets and more information go to: http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/homefortheholidays