michelle marx

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: Love Letters

_DS83381

Photo by Danny Lam

By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger

The November 9th opening night performance for Love Letters at the Lone Tree Arts Center was a refreshing throwback to good old-fashioned letter writing in an age of emojis and texts.

The telling of the beautiful life-long friendship between Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner begins at age seven with a birthday party invitation. Their heartfelt and occasionally tumultuous relationship spans fifty years from the sweetness of puppy love to uncertainty during college to the tenderness and wisdom gained in later adulthood. Love Letters succeeds in placing the relationship at the center of the story and reminds us that our relationships are central to our lives as well.

Although Andrew and Melissa both come from privileged backgrounds, Melissa is the more tragic of the two coming from an unstable home with divorce and stepfamilies. Their childhoods greatly influence their definition and expectations of love. Candy Brown is captivating as independent and vivacious Melissa. She is a quick wit and flashes a beautiful smile. Although Andrew is less dramatic, Mark Rubald captures Andrew’s vulnerability and conveys warmth and a romantic side in his yearnings for Melissa.

Held in the LTAC’s 150 person theater, the setting complements the production and reflects the intimacy of the storyline. It is the relationships in our lives that make the journey valuable and worthwhile.

Not limited to just formal letters, the story is propelled forward with a variety of correspondence including invitations, RSVPs, Christmas cards, and brief notes. This variety helps the pacing and allows personalities to emerge with teasing and sarcasm.

Both friends endure rough patches in life and correspondence stagnates and it is heartbreaking when there is no response. But soon enough there is the realization that the connection is more important than the fear and shame of sharing one’s failures. Love Letters is a tender reminder that for a friendship to withstand fifty years, both parties need to offer patience and understanding, to reach out and participate, to be vulnerable and respect the vulnerability of others.

Love Letters continues through November 19.

Preview: Love Letters

LT-Love Letters-Approved

By Michelle Marx, Guest Blogger

Premiering in 1988, Love Letters follows the fifty-year relationship between Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner. Beginning in their childhood with postcards from summer camp, their lives are chronicled through their letters. These letters are forthright and vulnerable exposing their hopes and fears, successes and failures.

Written by playwright A.R. Gurney and named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the play centers on the relationship and therefore is performed with only two actors. Love Letters has had some impressive Hollywood star pairings over the years. The high profile pairings include Elizabeth Taylor and James Earl Jones, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, and Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal.

LTAC Love Letters Set. Design by Lisa Orzolek.

Love Letters was adapted by Gurney for the small screen back in 1999. Traditionally held with sparse staging, LTAC’s production will mimic the staging developed by Gurney for the TV movie.

Smart and funny, Love Letters will delight with its simple means of storytelling about the complexities of life and love.

Love Letters, directed by Bruce K. Sevy and starring Candy Brown and Mark Rubald, will play at the Lone Tree Arts Center beginning Thursday, November 9 through Sunday, November 19.

Tickets and more information are available here:  http://www.lonetreeartscenter.org/loveletters