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

Review: Home for the Holidays

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By Kristi Andrus, Guest Blogger

For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home.”

Ok, if you read my preview, you know I’m a confessed Christmas-a-holic and was really looking forward to Home for the Holidays at Lone Tree Arts Center. You also know that the theme this year is holidays through the ages and the show is appropriate for audiences of all ages, so I attended with my five-year-old daughter and she can be a tough critic. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to report that it lived up to the hype for both of us.

The show opened with a soloist and shadow dancers that spelled out holiday words with their bodies behind the screen, which was an entertaining effect that immediately grabbed the audience. (There was a great band on stage throughout the show too, and other than a guitar solo during the Christmas-fied “Yuletide Bohemian Rhapsody,” the saxophone clearly was the star.)

Emcee (Rob Costigan) provided a funny break between sets and Santa (Colin Alexander) and Mrs. Claus (Margie Lamb) co-hosted, bantered, and regularly burst into song. They both have beautiful voices as they recalled moments from each decade, and my daughter waved and clapped every time they returned to stage. She wasn’t the only child to do that.

Starting with the 50s, the cast danced, sang, drummed, and played their way through the decades. The songs were infectious with surprises and funny moments that kept everyone on their toes. “Blue Christmas” seemed to be a crowd favorite.

The sets were bright and retro, as were the costumes – the black and white mini dresses of the 60s were my favorite. Fair warning…there were a lot of food references: “he puts the chocolate chip in your cookies” for example, so don’t come hungry. At one point, they even called out to the audience to acknowledge their calorific recipes.

After intermission, there was another sax solo as we entered the 80s, and the drummers impressed with buckets and pans, and then beatboxing! Another clever Christmas-fied song was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” performed by Elves (on Shelves).

Deep bass and hip hop breakdancers reminded me why I loved college. Then, when a young boy (Jonathan Jaramillo) found a Zoltar fortune teller and wished to become a great performer, it was a believable transformation. He had the charisma, voice, and moves of a young star. And special guest Sheryl McCallum from Broadway’s The Lion King nailed “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

The children’s choir spoofed “12 Days of Christmas” by pretending to be adults lamenting the responsibilities of the season: 5 months of bills, fat pants, and no batteries included received many knowing smiles and groans from the audience. The “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” rap felt relevant, not campy, even though (or maybe because?) the stage was filled with dancers in glitter jackets, violinists, drummers with glowing drums, and a Sia-inspired young girl.

The show ended with a dance party and my daughter jumped out of her seat to participate. It was after all, a Christmas version of Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” She literally couldn’t stop. How would any five-year-old resist the biggest Trolls song of the year?

All in all, the show was fun and sweet, nostalgic and current, so truly, there was something for everyone. We loved it and you will too.

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

Preview: Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays 2017_headerBy Kristi Andrus, Guest Blogger

I fully admit that I’m a Christmas girl. That’s why I’m looking forward to Home for the Holidays. It’s a hometown favorite filled with holiday comforts – the songs and characters that we anticipate each year, and because it’s a variety show, you can also expect something for everyone – singing, dancing, drumming, Santa, his wife, local musicians, special guest performers, and so much energy.

The theme this year is holidays through the ages and the show is appropriate for audiences of all ages. I’m going on a date with my daughter, who just turned five. We can’t wait to get dressed up and have a mommy/daughter night, just the two of us. We’ll undoubtedly over-accessorize. Brother and Sister will have to wait for their big nights out at another performance.

Santa is played by local actor Colin Alexander, last seen in LTAC’s The Explorers Club. Mrs. Claus (Maggie Lamb) will co-host with Santa, and Rob Costigan, last seen in LTAC’s EVITA, will emcee. I already love it – there’s an emcee! Trent Hines, most recently seen in the Denver Center’s The Wild Party is the musical director. And, Piper Lindsay Arpan, co-host of LTAC’s Reunion ’85, is not only assistant directing, she’s also assistant choreographer, dance captain, and dancing in the show. Doesn’t all that multi-tasking make you want to ask her about her holiday traditions? She’s obviously enormously talented and a scheduling pro, so she’s probably already decorated her home from top to bottom, wrapped stacks of presents with homemade touches, and sent out the most gorgeous holiday card ever.

The show runs from Thursday, December 7 – Sunday, December 17. That’s only ten days folks, and we are in the thick of Christmas chaos, so buy your tickets today. We’ll be going opening night, so look for my review, with perspective provided by my daughter, shortly thereafter.

And don’t forget the advantage of taking in a show at Lone Tree Arts Center, a beautiful state-of-the-art facility without the hassle, parking, and competitiveness of seeing a show downtown. I mean it’s worth it of course, but it’s also a lot on top of a lot at this time of year. LTAC is the opposite of that. It’s almost as convenient as having the performance in your home, without all the furniture rearranging to accommodate and none of the cleanup. Enjoy!

For tickets and more information go to: http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/homefortheholidays.