18-19 season

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

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.