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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

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.

DEATH AIN’T NOTHING BUT A FASTBALL ON THE OUTSIDE CORNER: Review of August Wilson’s “Fences”

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

The warm golden glow of a summer’s evening juxtaposed against the dark shadows of a dilapidated brick city home provides a luminous backdrop to the riveting and heartbreaking performance of August Wilson’s Fences at the Lone Tree Arts Center. There is still time to pick up tickets to see this extraordinary performance before the play closes on Saturday, April 21st.

Fences opens with Troy Maxson, a garbage man, holding court in his backyard with his captive audience, his wife Rose and best friend Bono. In the opening scene, Troy is a mesmerizing storyteller who humorously recounts a fantastical tale, in the African-American oral tradition, of how he wrestled and escaped from death. This allegorical telling is the thread that holds all the complicated aspects of Troy’s personality together in a deeply disappointing world.

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Esau Pritchett as Troy Maxson. Photo by Danny Lam.

The part of Troy is portrayed by Esau Pritchett, who brings to life a good, but deeply flawed man whose personal frustrations have resulted in building walls between himself and those who love him. Pritchett’s strong voice, charismatic nature, and powerful stage presence provides the audience the sense that they are watching the tragic fall of a working class hero.

In his youth, Troy has the opportunity to play for the Negro Baseball League, at a time before the racial barriers were broken by Jackie Robinson. However, he is involved in a robbery that results in the loss of his baseball future, and he ends up with penitentiary time. He is not home to raise his oldest son, Lyons, played by Bradford Barnes. In his limited understanding of the world, Troy cannot comprehend Lyons’ calling to become a jazz musician and is annoyed by his inability to provide for his wife and his weekly requests for money.

Troy’s second son, Cory, played by Jay Reeves, is a young man with the opportunity to receive an athletic scholarship. Reeves gives a outstanding performance as a young man full of hope and optimism that is dashed when his father will not sign the papers allowing him to play college football. Troy projects his own failure in athletics on to Cory. This is Troy’s way of protecting Cory from the harshness of the world. However, it’s Troy’s sense of duty towards his family coupled with his own inability to be a perfect father and husband that is the tension that holds this play together.

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Esau Pritchett and Julanne Chidi Hill. Photo by Danny Lam.

Without giving away the plot, the pivotal crisis that occurs between Troy and Rose illuminates the complexity of their 18-year marriage. Rose, who in Act I seems marginalized in the lives of Troy, Lyons and Cory steps into the spotlight as a strong and resilient character in her own right in Act II. Julanne Chidi Hill, the actress who portrays Rose, gives a spellbinding performance when she challenges Troy’s view of the world by pointing out her own disappointment in his behavior and her own life. Yet she rises above the situation. There is a great acting chemistry between Hill and Pritchett, which makes Troy’s betrayal profoundly devastating to the audience.

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(L-R)Bradford Barnes, Julanne Chidi Hill, Darryl Alan Reed, and Jay Reeves. Photo by Danny Lam.

The one character that ties all of the family together is Darryl Alan Reed’s memorable performance as Gabe, Troy’s mentally ill brother. It’s no coincidence that Gabe, who carries a trumpet and who is constantly talking to St. Peter will be the vehicle for Troy’s redemption. In fact, I was surprised and delighted by the “deux ex machina” ending reminiscent of the chariot scene in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This interesting ending reminds the audience that no one escapes death and what that means for those who love you. While Troy may have been a free man in 1950s Pittsburgh, he was still enslaved in a culture by racism, poverty, responsibility, and powerlessness in a world that seemed to be constantly conspiring against him. Closure only comes to Troy’s wife and children, and to the audience, through forgiveness and understanding.

Fences is the sixth in a series of ten plays Wilson called the “Pittsburgh Cycles.” Written in 1985, Fences was the winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. In the capable and deft hands of director Wren T. Brown and this fine cast, this smart, funny, captivating, and heart-rending performance of Fences engages the audience with a satisfying story about the human condition.

Tickets for August Wilson’s Fences are sale now from $35 to $60 and can be purchased at www.lonetreeartscenter.org/fences. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

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!

 

 

 

Review: PostSecret: The Show

by Kristi Andrus, guest blogger

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All of the stories featured in PostSecret: The Show were true. I didn’t expect that. I guess I understood the concept, but still thought the production would have embellished or taken creative license or something. Huh, I guess that truth is stranger than fiction.

Some of the secrets and stories were funny, some were poignant, some were disgusting, some were heartbreaking, some were ironic, and some were heartwarming. The ones that moved me were people so touched by other people’s secrets that they responded to offer camaraderie, support, even money. The stories of people saving voicemails of their loved ones to listen to after they died were relatable and hard to hear. The postcard I’m not sure I’ll ever forget said: “Everyone who knew me before 9/11 believes I’m dead.”

Why?! Why would he/she do that to people that love them? To people that know them and cared about them and now mourn them? Was it so bad? Is he/she escaping something? It’s got to be made into a book, right? Someone please take that secret and run with it. Write the book, option the rights to a movie, who knows where it could go?

The best parts:

The actors – There were only three, Maria Glanz, TJ Dawe, and Kerry Ipema. They were fantastic and believable. It was so much fun to see them embody the different people from the postcards.

The start – “Listen. Don’t Judge. Use a voice of compassion. Build rapport.” Relevant and riveting from the get-go. It could have been a mantra.

The stats – I pee in the shower is the most common secret mailed in. Tell me who feels the need to confess that? I wish I had someone to share my secrets with is the second most common secret. That’s sad. Vulnerability is powerful y’all. Share with a friend and watch your relationship evolve. You don’t have to share your biggest, worst, darkest secret, maybe start small and see how it goes.

The timing – “In 2004, nothing went viral.” Timing, ladies and gentleman, is everything, and ideas, businesses, and relationships are made and broken on that alone. This concept probably wouldn’t work in today’s world, but it worked when it launched and it’s still going strong. Check out the blog to see how it’s expanded.

The instructions – Take a postcard, or two. Tell your secret anonymously. Stamp and mail the postcard. Your secret can be a regret, fear, betrayal, desire, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before. Simple and powerful.

If you missed the show, I’m sorry, it was a great night out. To the fellow audience members with really great laughs, thank you for being a delightful soundtrack to the show.

See you at Lone Tree Arts Center for the next one!