One Night Featured Attractions

Review: The Doo Wop Project Christmas

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

If you did not attend The Doo Wop Project Christmas at the Lone Tree Arts Center, you missed an outstanding performance by a very talented group. The Doo Wop Project Christmas consists of five Broadway Stars that love Doo Wop and want to share the sounds of yesterday with the new sounds of today. They reimagined traditional Christmas songs with the sounds of Doo Wop as well as performing “oldies but goodies” that we all recognize still today.

The show opened with some of the members of The Doo Wop Project coming out from the back of the audience to approach the stage. Other members of the group came from behind the stage and the side doors. The group appeared in classy red satin jackets. The audience, young and old, instantly responded to the group. These five talented stars connected with the audience from their first musical notes and kept the audience engaged until the final curtain.

The opening number was a lively, fast, paced Christmas song with Dominic Scaglione taking the lead. Dominic is well known for his role as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Several “older” women in the audience were whistling and hollering like school girls at a concert when he sang. They obviously loved what they were hearing.

The show also included Doo Wop-inspired songs such as Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Many traditional Christmas songs were included. Songs like “White Christmas,” “This Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and even “Dominic the Donkey.” The group performed a very special song called “Doo Wop Christmas” which was originally performed by Kenny Vance and the Planotones.

The Doo Wop Project is supported by a very talented five-piece band. Each band member performed a solo which included a sax player, drums, bass and lead guitars and the piano. This group may be in the background but they made the whole experience very special.

The Doo Wop Project members have some deep roots in Doo Wop. During the program each member was introduced to the audience and they told their stories on how they got to be The Doo Wop Project. Many members of the group have relatives that were involved in the early stages of Doo Wop. The Doo Wop Project brings these experiences and talents as well as knowledge from experiences from their childhood to the stage today to perform Doo Wop inspired songs for audiences everywhere.

The music supervisor is Sonny Paladino (piano player). He has an impressive portfolio of credits. Sonny was the music supervisor for the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and he is the music director for the upcoming Broadway show Smokey Joe’s Café. During the show, he interacted with The Doo Wop Project group and everyone could tell he was enjoying what he does.

Dwayne Cooper is said to be the modern day Sammy Davis Jr. His voice is a very unique deep bass which the audience just loved. He brings dancing, singing and pure entertainment to the stage. He is very funny and full of energy. He went out into the crowd and had every one on their feet singing and dancing.

Charl Brown whose credits include portraying Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical, captivated the audience with his rich voice and natural charisma. Charl brought us back in time when he sang. He has several credits to his name including a Tony Award for the Best Featured Actor in a Musical on Broadway.

Dominic Nolfi, is also a member of the original cast of Motown: The Musical. Dominic is handsome, charming and has a very rich smooth voice. Dominic is one of the founding members of The Doo Wop Project.

Russell Fischer has a wide range singing voice. He is able to sing from tenor to falsetto. He is best known for his part in Jersey Boys as Joe Pesci. He has been the understudy for the role of Frankie Valli for over 6 years. He is very fun to watch and listen to. Frankie Valli seems to be on stage when Russell is singing.

The Doo Wop Project attempts to bridge the generation gap. Most of us grew up dancing to the radio with our parents and grandparents to Doo Wop. The sounds of Doo Wop will really never grow old. Together these talented people have what it takes to entertain young and old alike. If you get the chance to see and hear The Doo Wop Project, I recommend it. You will be glad you did.

Preview: Doo Wop Project Christmas

By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

What a great way to bring in the holidays.  The sounds of the 50s and 60s mingled in with the sounds of today.  The Doo Wop Project Christmas is sure to get everyone in the holiday spirit.  Be sure to check out the Lone Tree Arts Center on December 2, 2018 at 7:00 pm for a show you will not want to miss this season.

The harmonies of five talented Broadway stars make up the Doo Wop Christmas Project.  Jack Everly, the conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, discovered the Doo Wop Project while they were performing in a supper club in New York City.  He knows talent when he sees it.  He asked the group to perform at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the SuperPops lineup.  The group has been performing across the US ever since.

The Doo Wop Project connects the dots from ordinary guys singing on the street corner to the top hit radio sounds of today.  The group came out of Broadway where they have blended their love of Doo Wop and Motown.  Their music is influenced by sounds of Smokey Robinson, The Temptations and The Four Seasons and modern musicians such as Michael Jackson, Maroon 5 and Amy Winehouse.

Group members of the Doo Wop Project include Dominic Scaglione Jr. who was most recently seen in the role of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.  He performed on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was personally asked by Frankie Valli to sing at his New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Early in his career Dominic toured with Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé, Robin Thick and Boyz 2 Men.  He is one of the original creators of the Doo Wop Project.

Charl Brown was in the role of Smokey Robinson in Motown: The Musical where he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical on Broadway.  Charl played the role of Adam/Noah in Children of Eden at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  Other credits include Jersey Boys on Broadway and Las Vegas, Sister Act on Broadway, Hair in Europe, Ever After, Johnny Baseball, Dream Girls, Six Degrees of Separation, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Chorus Line, and Stars Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and several television appearances.

Talented Dominic Nolfi has been on Broadway in Chazz Palminten’s A Bronx Tale-The Musical.  He was an original cast member of A Bronx Tale, Motown: The Musical and Jersey Boys and he can be heard on all three cast recordings.  Dominic performed in the World Premiere of A Bronx Tale and Jersey Boys at the Paper Mill Playhouse and the La Jolla Playhouse.

Russel Fischer is known for his tenor voice and falsetto range.  Fischer played the role of Joe Pesci in Jersey Boys.  He has been the understudy for Frankie Valli as well.  He has starred as Billy Kopecki in Big: The Musical.  His credits include Jimmy Smith in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Tommy Djilas in The Music Man at Chautauqua Opera, the American premiere of Children of Eden at Paper Mill Playhouse and several he has appeared television including TV Land’s 60 Second Sitcoms.

Dwayne Cooper began his career signing with Christian a cappella group called “The Cunningham Singers.”  He has appeared on Broadway in Motown: The Musical, Hairspray, Smokey Joe’s Café and Showboat.  His talents include song writing and he has charted on Billboard’s Top Ten Dance chart.   He has appeared on Law and Order, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Difficult People and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Another all-around multi-talented group member is Sonny Paladino.  Sonny has been the Music Supervisor for the Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, and the Music Director for the Smokey Joe’s Café.  He was also the Associate Conductor for The Last Ship.  Other Broadway credits include Jesus Christ Superstar, Billy Elliot, Grease, Priscilla- Queen of the Desert, Guys and Dolls, Mamma Mia and several other productions.  Sonny’s work has been featured on The X-Factor Australia and The Next Big Thing.

Doo Wop Project Christmas is sure to touch every member of the audience with sound from yesteryear to contemporary music of today.  Gather your friends and relatives and come to Lone Tree Arts Center on December 2, 2018 at 7:00pm to start the season with music that is sure to get you into the Holiday spirit.

Single seats remaining: http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/doowopprojectchristmas

Review: Classic Albums Live: Hotel California

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

As the Toronto-based Classic Albums Live band came on stage and the lights dimmed, I closed my eyes and was immediately transported back in time to 1976 while listening to the Eagles Hotel California vinyl record on my turntable. Beginning with the title track, every note and rhythm of each song was replicated perfectly. The lead vocals, haunting melodies and beautiful harmonies were eerily accurate. The band did not wear cheesy costumes or speak as the music faded away into the next song. The audience, during the album’s genuine and authentic performance, was quiet and appreciative, no doubt on the same nostalgic journey I was.

It is not surprising this album was chosen for recreation; it is one of the bestselling albums of all times and is considered to be a rock masterpiece. Drummer and co-lead vocalist Don Henley reminisced in an interview with Rolling Stone that the word “’California,’ carries with it all kinds of connotations, powerful imagery, mystique, etc., that fires the imaginations of people in all corners of the globe. There’s a built-in mythology that comes with that word, an American cultural mythology that has been created by both the film and the music industry.”

The band and audience came alive in the second half as they performed other Eagles greatest hits such as “Take It To The Limit,” “One of These Nights,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Witchy Woman.” One enthusiastic listener shouted “Turn it up!” and the sound engineer complied, which brought the audience out of their seats. Towards the end of the show, the band slowed it down for my favorite, “Desperado,” with simple keyboard chords and vocal backup harmony. Don’t hesitate to catch the next Classic Albums Live performance at the Arts Center–just grab your ticket and GO!

Upcoming Classic Albums Live performances

Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Saturday, January 19 at 8pm, Tickets Here

Classic Albums Live: Chronicle, Vol. 1
Saturday, May 11 at 8pm, Tickets Here

Preview: Classic Albums Live

headerBy Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

Based out of Toronto, Classic Albums Live is performing the Eagles’ Hotel California album in its entirety this Saturday evening at the Lone Tree Art Center! The intent of the artists of this legendary and bestselling concept album was to make a bicentennial statement in 1976 discussing themes of “loss of innocence, cost of naivete, perils of fame & excess, exploration of the dark underbelly of the American dream, illusion versus reality and corruption in politics,” which still speak to us today.

I bought this record in 1976, the year I graduated from high school, and wish I had kept it in my collection. I can still sing every word of the title hit when it plays on the radio! I love its haunting melodies, superb vocal harmonies and especially the epic guitar interlude featuring dueling guitars. Fingers crossed that the band’s 2nd set will include Desperado, my next Eagles fave.

A limited number of tickets are available here. Classic Albums Live: Hotel California at the Lone Tree Arts Center on Saturday, November 10 at 8pm.

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.

Review: Bob Kendrick

1521560770_h_negro_baseball_league_show headerBy Keilani Fleming, Guest Blogger

It was a blustery evening as Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located in Kansas City, Missouri, made his way up to the podium to speak on his passion; the true history of baseball in the context of the Negro Leagues.

BobK1(Mug)1Kendrick visited Lone Tree Arts Center, in part, as a complement to the current running theater production, August Wilson’s Fences. Several of the baseball players about which Kendrick speaks are referenced in the play, set in the 1950s, by the main character, Troy Maxson, played to perfection by Esau Pritchett.

I had a moment of panic when Kendrick, early in his multimedia presentation, listed off baseball stats for some of the great known names in the game like Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron. Whereas I’ve only watched baseball since I witnessed the ballerina-like grace of Troy Tulowitzki during his rookie year with the Colorado Rockies, my 14 year old daughter accompanied me for the evening and was indifferent, at best, to baseball. In that moment, I thought of my father-in-law, probably sitting at home watching the Rockies game, and how he would have been a more enthusiastic choice.

I chose my daughter because she loves historical content and a good story. As it worked out, I wasn’t wrong in my choice of guest.

Initially, I started taking notes on the various players on the Negro Leagues, names I’ve never heard of before with my limited baseball knowledge. Eventually, I put down my pen and just listened to the engaging speaker in front of me with his wealth of anecdotal knowledge of the likes of “Rube” Foster, “Satchel” Paige, Josh Gibson, “Cool Papa” Bell, Martin Dihigo, and “Buck” O’Neil.

Previously, when I thought of athletes of the past, I didn’t believe they would be able to cut it in the modern day. Athletes are faster, stronger, hits are further, pitches are faster, and training has become an exact science so athletes have precision honed skills. But story after story from Kendrick showed me just how wrong I was. “Cool Papa” Bell running all the bases in 12 seconds. Gibson clearing the bleachers at Yankee Stadium with a homerun. Satchel’s 105 mph pitches.

As Kendrick “(took) control of the pen of history and (told) the story as it should have been told,” I was proud my daughter’s now expanded knowledge of baseball had a foundation in these stories; the stories of the Negro Leagues as they made their way in a segregated sport to produce some of the best athletes known to date.

Most surprising to me were Kendrick’s assertions about the man who broke through the color barrier of baseball in 1947: Jackie Robinson. Kendrick and others believe Robinson’s ability to not only be an exceptional athlete but also his ability to not get ruffled by the backlash of discrimination he experienced, helped spur a bigger conversation about civil rights. Kendrick described Robinson as “not the best man, but the right man” for the job.

When the question and answer portion of the event commenced, my eyes traveled across the room and I noticed something rather remarkable. The audience spanned from kids to seniors, across races and genders. I had spent an hour listening to Kendrick tell the story of how the Negro Leagues were born out of segregation to bring integration and I was witnessing its true mass appeal, over 70 years after Robinson joined Major League Baseball, at Lone Tree Arts Center.

For more information on the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum located in the historic district of 18th and Vine in Kansas City, Missouri, please visit http://www.nlbm.com.

For tickets to Lone Tree Arts Center production of August Wilson’s Fence showing until April 21, 2018, please visit http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/fences.

Preview: SFJAZZ Collective and the Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions

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By Theresa Allen, Guest Blogger

Looking to spend an evening listening to world-class jazz music in the Greater Denver area? The SFAZZ Collective will be performing “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” on Wednesday, April 25 at 7:30 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star ensemble that performs new and fresh arrangements of work by a modern jazz master. The SFJAZZ Collective, a nonprofit launched in 2004 in San Francisco, is a collaboration of many diverse and dedicated jazz musicians who wish to inspire audiences with high quality concerts and a children and teens’ music education outreach program aimed at encouraging the next generation of jazz performers.

The SFJAZZ Collective will perform a tribute to legendary jazz composer and musician, Miles Davis, who was one of the most innovative and influential jazz performers of the 20th Century. “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” will be performed by eight SFJAZZ Collective musicians, all at the top of their fields, including:

David Sánchez, a Grammy Award winning jazz tenor saxophonist, from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. Sanchez performed in Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra and Dizzy’s Trio until Dizzy’s death in 1993, toured with the Phillip Morris Superband and with many other jazz greats. He will be performing with Sean Jones, an American trumpeter and composer who was featured on Nancy Wilson’s Grammy Award winning album Turned to Blue in 2007. On vibraphone, Warren Wolf , a musician trained in many genres from classical to jazz and who is a percussion instructor at the Berklee College of Music. Wolf performs regularly with the Rachael Price Group (of Lake Street Dive fame) and the Donel Fox Group.

Miguel Zenón will be performing on the alto saxophone. He is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective as well as a composer, bandleader, teacher, and a four-time Grammy Award nominee. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Genius Grant. On trombone will be Robin Eubanks, a jazz and fusion musician who has performed with Slide Hampton, Sun Ra, and Stevie Wonder. Eubanks has appeared on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live.

Edward Simon will accompany the group on piano. Simon is a Venezuelan jazz musician who has performed on several Grammy-nominated albums and who teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.  The jazz bassist is Matt Penman, one of the most in-demand musicians in the United States. Penman recently joined the faculty of the Roots, Jazz and American Music program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. And last, but not least, Obed Calvaire will perform on drums. Calvaire has performed along with Wynton Marsalis, Seal, Lizz Wright, and Sean Jones among many others.

An evening with the SFJAZZ Collective offers us the extraordinary opportunity to hear selections of Mile’s Davis’ works interpreted by the foremost musicians in the field of jazz today. Tickets for the SFJAZZ Collective’s “The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions” are on sale now from $33 to $55 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org/sfjazz. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Mandy Gonzalez: Fearless

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By Cassie Schauer, Guest Blogger

Who needs to fight for Hamilton tickets when Mandy Gonzalez is in town?  Currently starring as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton on Broadway, singer Mandy Gonzalez chose Lone Tree for the closing night of her week-long tour to promote her debut CD, Fearless. In her words, this CD and tour are a “dream come true.”

I have never heard her sing live, so I was immediately blown away with the power of her jazzy voice. She opened with the classic “On a Clear Day” sung with a sultry Latin beat. Her voice is huge — I imagine it could be heard from the parking lot.  Mandy created an intimate connection with the sold-out audience throughout the performance, waving to the people in the balcony and sharing her connection to each of the songs she chose to perform for us. By the end of the evening, I felt I had been listening to someone whose career I had been following for years.  She was so excited and genuine and having so much fun.

She added a personal twist to each song she performed and referred to several as being “from her first album.”  Her rendition of “I Only Have Eyes For You…and you…and you…and you…” was performed with a playful Latin beat.

As an original cast member of  Lin-Manual Miranda’s In the Heights, “Breathe” is arguably the first song that Mandy is known for.  She told us how returning to the Richard Rodgers Theater for Hamilton brought back such good memories, as if she’d never said goodbye to the theater.  “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard paid tribute to that time in her life.

Mandy sang “Get Ready Cuz Here I Come” in honor of her father’s singing career. It was the first song she remembers hearing him sing. She followed with “Born to Run,” an ode to her husband’s New Jersey roots.  Next was “Life is Sweet,” which she performed on her CD with original Hamilton cast member and her In the Heights co-star, Christopher Jackson.

She then told us the tale of “the Green Girl,” Elphaba from Wicked: the 20 pound dress, the raked stage. Would she ever do it again? No, she said, the green doesn’t come off!  She followed with a tongue-in-cheek rendition of  “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” before singing the powerful “Defying Gravity” from Wicked.

The Fearless CD tour began in Florida. Performing so soon after the shooting in Parkland, Mandy decided that she wanted to honor and celebrate every city she performed in by inviting a community choir to sing with her. For tonight’s show, Mandy was joined by a group from Denver’s award-winning Phamaly Theater Company, comprised of performers with diverse disabilities of every nature. “Starts Right Now” is a powerful ballad about the ups and downs in life, about being fearless, and about having the courage to let go.  The result was strong and positive, the performers clearly enjoying their time to perform together.

Finally, Mandy performed the title song from Fearless, written for her by Lin-Manuel Miranda. It was inspired by the story of how her mother and father overcame huge personal obstacles and found the courage to stand up for forbidden love. She ended the performance with a very passionate rendition of “Que Sera Sera,” her grandmother’s favorite and her best advice.

Mandy was backed by a talented group of musicians. Seeming like old friends who had been playing together for years, they provided a rich and energetic compliment to her voice.  Lead by pianist and musical director, John Deley, the band included Richard Hammond on bass, Abe Fogel on drums, and Oscar Rodriguez on guitar.

There is something different about a Broadway singer performing on her own. A different vibe. Different connection with the audience. Mandy seemed somewhat in awe of her position now as a solo artist. She was having a blast and so were we.

Review: Moscow Festival Ballet: Cinderella

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By Ashton Temby, guest blogger

Cinderella transformed out of her drab, pauper clothing into a beautifully garbed princess, with the help of her fairy Godmother, of course, at the Lone Tree Arts Center on Thursday night thanks to The Moscow Festival Ballet.

Though throughout the performance the dancers and technical specialists seemed to have had their glass slippers on the wrong feet at times, causing out of sync movements and abrupt endings to the pre-recorded music, the prince came to a masterful rescue in a true classic fairy tale manner.

Alexander Daev danced Prince Charming exquisitely with supreme confidence, grace, and unparalleled strength. He enchanted Cinderella and the audience alike with his precision, speed, and incredibly high leaps. “Oohs and ahhs” could be heard from the audience as he displayed perfect pirouettes and clean transitions while mastering the stage. The skills obtained from his time at Voronej Ballet School did not go unnoticed. It’s no wonder Cinderella fell into his arms and was swept away.

The Prince’s new found love was danced by Maria Sokolnikova in a smooth and innocent style expected in the role of Cinderella. Her persona accurately portrayed the humble and hardworking nature of the exploited sister, while also depicting the turmoil and sadness in the character’s life. Sokolnikova was perfectly in character throughout the life of the performance and reminded the audience that a true princess is beautiful on the inside first.

Sokolnikova is a gold medal winner in the competition of The Soul of Dance, among other impressive accomplishments. Her experience in ballet was apparent, but left one begging for more intricate movements. The choreography for Cinderella’s role was repetitive and appeared far less complex compared to the movements of her counterpart, Prince Charming, though her potential was obvious. More complicated dance from the main role would have brought further life and drama to this production.  It is hopeful she will be rewarded with roles in the future that push her outside her boundaries.

The classic folk tale, Cinderella, was created for the stage by Sergei Radchenko, and his wife, Elena Radchnko. Sergei Radchenko founded the Moscow Festival Ballet in 1989 after graduating from the Moscow School of Dance, and dancing for the Bolshoi Ballet for 25 years. His company has become world renowned as they continue to add to their breadth of work.

While this performance of Cinderella may not have been a pristine example of what audiences have come to expect from The Moscow Festival Ballet, it appeared accessible for audiences of all ages. The interpretation of the story was easily followed and provided a good platform for new and seasoned balletomanes.

Cinderella was a one time show at the Lone Tree Arts Center, but it is hopeful that the company returns with impeccably executed productions in the future.

Review: Matt Dusk

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

On a snowy and brutally cold Saturday evening, my hubby and I arrived at the Lone Tree Art Center (thankfully only a couple blocks away) to see Toronto jazz crooner, Matt Dusk, perform. We expected to see unclaimed seats in the sold-out show but were pleasantly surprised to see an audience full of brave music lovers! Matt’s appearance and voice were as dreamy as one might expect at a pop concert, although much more enjoyable! We enjoyed each rendition of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook as Matt warmed up the audience and proceeded to charm us out of our seats! (Naturally, since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, the songs were romantically inclined such as “My Funny Valentine.” I noticed couples in the audience holding hands and gazing in each other’s eyes…) We also enjoyed the glass of champagne and cookies during intermission—what a lovely surprise!

More than just a professional performer, Matt’s stage presence was warm and genuinely friendly as he invited the audience into his life, sharing bits and pieces of his personal career and family. I especially enjoyed his stories before several of his songs—who doesn’t enjoy a good story?! For instance, I had no idea Johnny Mercer wrote “One For My Baby (And One For The Road)” on a napkin in a bar, in the middle of nowhere, on a road trip to propose to Judy Garland…and he literally was singin’ the blues after discovering she had just married! As much as I like a good cover, I love original music even more so, and Matt performed one of his signature heartbreak stories beautifully. The best song of the night, hands down, however was “Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Bad,” written for Frank Sinatra by U2 stars, Bono and The Edge. Sadly, Frank died before performing, and Bono allowed Matt Dusk to debut this song depicting real life. Matt really captured our hearts in his sensitive portrayal as no one moved or made a sound. The concert ended with his moving tribute to Frankie—“I Did It My Way!”

Matt Dusk’s trio of musicians were on the same level as his vocal performance—just a piano, acoustic bass, and saxophone player. Their accompaniment showcased his voice perfectly but he also allowed them to shine individually. As we were leaving, we encountered Matt in the hallway and he stopped to shake hands and chat. We complimented his performance and mentioned the musicality of his band, especially since there was no drummer. As a musician, I know how difficult that is—musicians lean on the drummer to carry the song and must be twice as good to carry the music without percussion. Matt mentioned they were all from Denver and that he would pass on the compliment!