holiday

Review: Michael Martin Murphey “A Cowboy Christmas”

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By Janet Warner, Guest Blogger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Cherish The Ladies

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By Janice Hubbell, Guest Blogger


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

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

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

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

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

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

Preview: Michael Martin Murphey

Michael Martin Murphey Promo Photo 1

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

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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.

Preview: Home for the Holidays

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By Monica Jarrell, Guest Blogger

Come celebrate the wonder, warmth and magic of the season.  Home for the Holidays is an unforgettable experience that is bound to leave you and your family in the Christmas spirit.

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Home for the Holidays 2014

Home for the Holidays has become a tradition at the Lone Tree Arts Center.  It is a celebration of holiday songs, music, dancing, and tons of energy that will thrill the whole family! Mrs. Claus and Santa are the hosts of the show.  Santa will be played by local actor Colin Alexander, who was last seen in LTAC’s The Explorers Club.  Mrs. Claus will be played by Margie Lamb (Town Hall Arts Center, Next to Normal).  The emcee of the show is Rob Costigan, who was last seen at LTAC in EVITA. Trent Hines, recently seen in DCPA’s The Wild Party is the music director and Piper Lindsay Arpan (LTAC, Reunion ’85) is pulling triple duty as assistant director, dance captain, and assistant choreographer.

This year the show is completely new with singers, dancers, and musicians both local and from out of town – and maybe even a few surprise guests! This year’s performances also includes a kids choir. So, invite all your friends and family to come join in the celebration. It is sure to get you in the holiday spirit!

Lone Tree Arts Center

10075 Commons St, Lone Tree, CO 80124

The show is starting Thursday, December 7 running through Sunday December 16.  Get your tickets here for this popular event.