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Review: Bettman and Halpin – Christmas is a Funny Thing

headerBy Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin have a well-earned reputation for delivering a quality show.  During the Bettman and Halpin Christmas is a Funny Thing holiday concert, the duo kept the audience riveted with songs, storytelling and fantastic fiddle playing.  The duo appeared to be having a great time performing and this enthusiasm affected the audience.   They both have an easy, mellow way about them.  They created a relaxed, homey feeling in the audience.

Christmas is a Funny Thing was a combination of well known, traditional Christmas tunes performed by Bettman and Halpin and original music written by Bettman and Halpin.  Some of the traditional songs performed included Drummer Boy,” “Blue Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”  Some of the original songs written by Bettman and Halpin included “Fruitcake for All Seasons” and “We’ll Miss You Mama.”  Ms. Bettman told the story of how she was inspired for each song she wrote.

The duo also performed some songs from their soon to be released CD.  Ms. Bettman wrote and sang a song titled “White Rose.”  The inspiration of this song is based on the Cherokee Nation’s Trail of Tears.  I believe most of the audience felt the sorrow in this song.  As I said before, Ms. Bettman tells great stories through her songs.  I can’t wait for the CD to come out!

Stephanie Bettman is an all-around entertainer.  Not only can she sing with a clear, smooth voice but she writes her own songs and plays the fiddle like no one I have ever heard.  She comes across as a regular person with the keen ability of telling stories through songs.

Luke Halpin is the jokester of the group.  He wore reindeer antlers when the show opened then changed into a “naughty” Santa hat later.  He made funny faces, comments, and gestures.  He is a gifted mandolin player.  During this performance he played several different instruments, including the mandolin, and played each instrument expertly.  The audience kept their eyes on this funny man, not knowing what was coming next.

The stage was decorated in festive Christmas decorations.  The atmosphere was relaxed, fun and a great way to prepare for the holiday season.   Bettman and Halpin included the audience in many of their Christmas songs.  These sing a-longs created a warmer holiday feeling in the audience.

The rest of the quartet for this program were local performers.  Bettman and Halpin, the bass player, and drummer only met for the first time the day before the program.  No one would have known this group had not been playing together for years.

The bass player Alex Goldberg is a graduate from University of Colorado Denver with a B.S. in Bass Performance.  He has several years of experience performing in many different venues.  He is currently performing with the local band Chris Daniels and the Kings.

Ryan Elwood is also a local performer.  He has performed with several different bands, including Adrienne O and the Austin Young Band.  He has played at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Gothic Theater.  He also teaches private lessons.

Bettman and Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing was a very entertaining show.  I recommend that you try to see this group the next time they come to town.  At the very least pick up their CD.  You won’t be disappointed.

Preview: Bettman & Halpin: Christmas is a Funny Thing

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin are singers, song writers and all around entertainers. They are known for their original Folk/Americana performances. Their concerts consist of high- energy, up beat bluegrass/roots songs and beautiful ballads most of which they have written themselves. They have become known for their story telling through music and playful banter. They describe their music as “rootsy” springing from the traditions of American blues, jazz and folk music. Bettman and Halpin started touring in 2008 and incorporated a trio and quartet in 2013.

Stephanie Bettman is an accomplished song writer, singer and also an outstanding fiddle player. She has been compared to Joan Baez and Emmylou Harris. Her fiddle playing has been inspired by Stephane Grappelli, Byron Berline and Johnny Gimble. Ms. Bettman is a former actress and trapeze artist. She is classically trained in opera, violin, and voice. She studied at the Oberlin Conservatory.

Luke Halpin is a multi-talented performer with the ability to play several instruments. These instruments include guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and almost any other instrument he decides to play. He is also a vocalist and is able to blend perfect harmonies with Ms. Bettman. Luke has a long history is show business. He once shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Lone Star, and The Steve Miller Band. His quirky sense of humor rounds out his talents as an entertainer. Halpin grew up in South Pasadena, and is self-taught.

Bettman and Halpin have earned several awards and competitions including: Grand Prize Winners in the So Cal Live Acoustic Music Competition and the winners in Southern California’s Topanga Banjo/Fiddle Contest. They have twice been a featured act at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS along with Byron Berline, Michael Martin Murphy, Pat Flynn, and Tommy Emmanuel.

Phil Norman is another member of the group. Phil is cello player described as “playing the cello with a modern flare” (Marquee Magazine, January 2013). He is classically trained with a degree from the University of Colorado. He has created his own sound with alternative styles of playing the cello. Phil has been playing with Bettman and Halpin since 2013. He has performed concerts in the United States, Italy, and Australia, and has appeared on stage with composer and pianist Carter Pann, guitarist Grant Gordy, and Bonnie Carol, and was a featured artist for TEDxBoulder.

Carl Sorensen is one of Denver’s own. He joined Bettman and Halpin in 2013. He has played all over the country including Red Rocks Amphitheater. He has been compared to Ringo Starr and Levon Helm. Carl has played in more than 65 bands at the same time! He is very energetic and will bring this energy to the show.

Bettman & Halpin will perform a holiday show for the entire family titled “Christmas is a Funny Thing.” The duo will sing traditional holiday classics, several of their own originals, and share stories and songs about the ups and downs and sideways events of this holiday season.

Save the date: December 9, 2018 at the Lone Tree Arts Center at 7:00 pm

Tickets Available Here

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: Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Night

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By Monica Jarrell, guest blogger

Viva Las Vegas is a wildly-entertaining movie featuring some amazing high-energy song and dance numbers performed by Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret. The story line is cute and corny at the same time. It is a story of a boy falling in love with a girl in the coolest city in the world.

The movie is about a romantic triangle involving Lucky Jackson (Elvis Presley), Rusty Martin (Ann-Margaret) and Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Danova). Lucky must compete with the suave and debonair Count Mancini in winning the race and winning the heart of Rusty Martin.

Lucky Jackson arrives in Las Vegas to race in the Grand Prix. First Lucky needs to buy a new engine for his race car before the big race. While in the garage at the race track Lucky and Count Mancini are under the count’s car looking at mechanical things when in walks Rusty Martin in short white shorts. Both men are smitten with her. Rusty leaves before they can find out her name. The two men spend the night trying to track her down.

The two men find Rusty at the swimming pool where she works as a swimming instructor. Lucky and Rusty perform in a cat and mouse singing duo at the swimming pool. At the end of the song Rusty pushes Lucky into the pool. The money that Lucky made to purchase his new engine falls out of his pocket when he lands in the water.

Now Lucky must find another way to earn the cash he needs for his new engine. He finds a job as a waiter at the same hotel where Rusty is employed. Lucky spends a great deal of time trying to win Rusty’s heart and very little time working as a waiter.

The couple share several fun outings during their budding relationship. They dance and sing on the stage and gymnasium at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They go water skiing, fly over Hoover Dam in a helicopter, they go Skeet Shooting at the Sahara Hotel, and go on a motorcycle ride performing various stunts.

The film ends with Lucky winning the race and the girl. Their wedding takes place at the Little Church of the West, which is a famous wedding chapel in Las Vegas listed on the U.S. National Registry of Historical Places as the oldest existing structure on the Las Vegas Strip.

It is said that Elvis and Ann-Margaret had a wild love affair while making the movie. The chemistry is evident between the two of them. This attraction to each other is what makes the movie so enjoyable.

The movie is fun, light and breezy. Good clean fun. It is a must see movie for Elvis fans or anyone just wanting to be thoroughly entertained.

After enjoying the movie, the Lone Tree Arts Center provided refreshments of peanut butter and bacon sandwiches. This was one of Elvis Presley’s favorite snacks. Meatballs, mini burgers, and a variety of desserts were also available.

Other activities included Elvis impersonators, an Elvis look-alike contest with Elvis himself acting as the judge. There was a photo booth with wild and crazy costumes and props. Every guest was provided with $500 dollars of play money to gamble with. There were several casino games available for those who felt lucky. The night ended with Elvis singing old Elvis songs. It was a great way to spend the evening.

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: 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.