review

Review: RESPECT – A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra

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By Kristi Andrus, guest blogger

I typically pick the shows I want to see to review. That’s my entire process, nothing complicated, just personal preference.  Occasionally, however, my process is unintentionally complicated, like for instance, when the show I pick is performed by a local legend who is paying tribute to a national treasure. Oh, and did I mention she’s married to Denver’s mayor?

I went to Saturday night’s sold-out show Respect: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin with the Mary Louise Lee Orchestra knowing it would be a cool night out, but it was way more mellow and vibey and fun than I even expected.

Was it the red dress? The red shoes? The 13-piece orchestra? The gravelly infectious vocals? The selfie with my brother and the mayor? Or something else?

Let’s dissect the night. Here’s a look at the songs, the lyrics, and the moments that stood out.

But first, the facts:

Denver First Lady Mary Louise Lee (MLL) of Mary Louise Lee Band (MLLB) has incredible range, perfect pitch, is a blend of liveliness, sultriness, confidence, good energy, and a warm hug. She’s a Denver institution married to a Denver institution. She commands the stage, works the room, and knows when it’s time to take off her shoes, symbolizing to the audience that it’s also time to party.

Now, the rundown: (Try to sing everything in italics if you will).

The band was dressed head to toe in black with red accents, ties for the men, shoes for the women. MLL was wearing a red dress and red shoes and comfortable in the spotlight. She was welcoming and ready, her band equally ready to rock.

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Review: Shaun Boothe’s Unauthorized Biography Series

By Cassie Schauer, guest blogger

Celebrate Greatness! Shaun Boothe brought The Unauthorized Biography Series to the Lone Tree Arts Center for one night.  Part hip hop performance, part history lesson, and part motivational speech, Boothe presented bios of the world’s greatest heroes and leaders through rap and song.

Shaun Boothe’s message is aimed at children and teenagers; however, it resonates with everyone. By celebrating our heroes, we can awaken the greatness in all of us. We can accomplish change when we see what was accomplished in the past. By using rap and hip hop, Boothe delivered this message using a language that children and teenagers can relate to and cultural icons that they recognize. Standing in the middle of the stage with the house lights up and a giant screen behind him, he engaged the kids by asking if there were any hip hop or Snoop fans out there. He asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.”

Boothe wanted us to see that we all have access to the same courage and power that some of our greatest cultural heroes do.  He showed us how they overcame obstacles, opened their hearts, and became stronger and courageous enough to put others above themselves.

Five leaders were presented, beginning with a short intro followed by Boothe’s hip hop story.  Video clips were shown on the screen behind him.  All of the bios included both widely known and less familiar information about each person.

Muhammed Ali, who famously proclaimed, “I am the Greatest,” was the perfect starting point.  Boothe emphasized how Ali chose character over fame by refusing to change his beliefs for anything or anyone.  He was first perceived as a villain but became a hero as popular opinion about the Vietnam War changed. Ali’s bio ended with the audience chanting “Ali Bomaye” (“Ali kill him”), the cheer made famous by Ali’s 1972 “Rumble in the Jungle” versus George Foreman.

Emphasizing we have to choose between “working for applause or working for a cause,” Boothe’s next presentation was Martin Luther King Jr, with scenes of the Selma riots of 1965.  MLK passed the baton to President Barack Obama: “Martin walked so Obama could run.” After presenting Obama, Boothe stopped and restated how by rising above the low expectations he faced, he honored his limitless potential. Obama then passed the baton to the next generation.

Speaking again to the young people in the audience, Boothe asked, “How do you view yourself? Look inward, not outward. Honor your greatness.” Asking why we should celebrate MLK when that was so long ago, he answered that current breaking news is heartbreaking news. By focusing on the greatness we can tune out the negativity.

Sitting on the edge of the stage and speaking directly to the kids in front of him, Boothe asked if anyone could tell him who Malala is. Hands shot up and he passed the mic to a young girl who described her as “a girl who fought for girl’s education in Pakistan and was shot because of it.” Boothe then told the story of Malala’s life, how she wouldn’t stop pushing for female education in the face of great adversity, how she was told over and over to stop, and how she eventually became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

The screen flashed, #Whatsyourlegacy.  Boothe asked, “What is your story? Don’t let anyone write the story of your life.” Again, speaking to the kids in the audience, he stated, “Greatness is really all about committing to something larger than yourself.  Great small moments can make a great difference to one person. Find something great to do in the moment.”

Giving a shout out to any fellow Jamaicans in the audience (Boothe is from Toronto but of Jamaican descent), reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley was the final bio presented. Boothe emphasized Marley’s message of “One Love” and that the choices we make take us one step closer or farther away from our dreams.

That led to Boothe’s final message: dreaming big inspires big action from us. To make that dream happen we have to take the first step and the next step appears. He reminded the kids that our heroes didn’t have a master plan or blueprint. They just took that first step.

The performance ended with Boothe singing his first hit, “One by One” and telling all of us to stay true to our dreams.  He high-fived his way through the audience and ended with a brief Q&A.  By the end of the performance, Shaun Boothe left all of us, especially the youngest members of the audience,  inspired to find the greatness in ourselves.

Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Review: And We Drop The Needle Once Again!

By Theresa Allen, guest blogger

If we could only step back in time… Well, you can, with the Lone Tree Arts Center’s Classic Album Live series. This spring, two new shows featuring the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Pink Floyd will be performed on the LTAC’s stage. On Saturday, January 19, I attended Classic Albums Live: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and was pleasantly surprised to get caught up in the excitement of listening to the Beatles play once again.

What was really amazing was the faithfulness of the sound to the original album. Craig Martin, founder of Classic Albums Live touts the series as a “note for note, cut for cut” endeavor. The clean, clear voices of the singers, the precision playing of the instruments, and the distorted noises that we all remember from listening to the Beatle’s vinyl versions are all there.

There are a couple of reasons why this unique type of performance works for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band follows some of the conventions of the symphony. The eleven performers on stage are anonymous to the audience—their names are not listed in the theater program nor announced during the show, they all wear black, they play numerous instruments, and no one acted the part of being a Beatle. Whether they were playing the violin, piano, or bass guitar, they were all extraordinary musicians playing a rock masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Songs like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Lovely Rita,” and “Within You Without You” were sung by the performers with strong voices, and no fake British accents. Now you might say, the Beatles had strong Liverpool accents, how can the song sound the same? But remarkably, it does. Perhaps, it’s the instrumental accuracy paired with the audiences’ deep love for the album that really breathes life into the music.

The Classic Albums Live band had a great rapport with the audience whether they were tuning an instrument or moving to perform some other function. The full performance of the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was completed in about an hour. The second half of the performance focused on many of the Beatles hits, demonstrating that these musicians really prepared for a deep dive into Beatles history.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed to a sold out audience both nights. At the end of the performance, there was nothing more inspiring than to see the response of concert goers singing along with the band and enjoying the beat of the music. The Classic Albums Live band received a standing ovation and as I left the building I heard many people remarking on their wonderful performance.

The Lone Tree Arts Center will be hosting two more events in this series including Creedence Clearwater Revival’s, Chronicle Volume 1 on Saturday, May 11 at 8 p.m. featuring the songs “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” The series has become so popular with local audiences that a new concert has been recently added on Saturday, June 8, at 8 p.m. featuring the music of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

So, it is possible to step back in time and to once again hear the music that is the soundtrack of your life. Tickets for the next two Classic Albums Live concerts are going fast, but still available from $32 to $45 and can be purchased online at www.lonetreeartscenter.org. The Lone Tree Arts Center is located at 10075 Commons Street in Lone Tree. Free on-site parking is available.

Review: Sons of the Pioneers

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By Janice Hubbell, guest blogger

“Yipee Tie Yie Yay, get along little doggies!” crooned the Sons of the Pioneers at the Lone Tree Art Center this weekend. This enduring western trio formed by Roy Rogers in 1933 is now ably led by his son and emcee, Dusty Rogers. Original compositions such as “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” “Cool Water” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” have become beloved American classics capturing the mystery and romance of the early cowboy.

It was an icy-cold night with snow packed streets as we made our way to the Arts Center and were surprised to see a sold-out crowd ready to take a deep dive into Roy Roger’s western music. As the music began, I took a trip back to my childhood as the group sang familiar tunes I had grown up with and was surprised to realize I could still remember almost every word! My parents had played quite an eclectic mix of music on our family record player–from Beethoven and Mozart to Burl Ives, Glen Campbell, Sons of the Pioneers and various gospel music artists.

All that was missing was the campfire smoke as the evening progressed with “trail boss” Tommy Nallie playing the guitar and singing a couple solos. Ken Lattimore sang tenor and played several instruments including the mandolin, as well as providing light hearted banter with other members of the group. Dusty Rogers, the lead singer of the group, shared childhood stories about his famous father and stepmother Dale Evans. Baritone John Fullerton played rhythm guitar and yodeled beautifully. Last, but not least, star talent Paul Elliott expertly played the fiddle, keeping the audience spellbound.

The evening ended on a high note with the group singing “Happy Trails.” Truly, as declared by the Smithsonian Institute, the Sons of the Pioneers are one of our cherished national treasures in their timeless documentation of the Great American West.

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.

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.

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

Theater Review: Low Down Dirty Blues

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By Beki Pineda, GetBoulder.com

LOW DOWN DIRTY BLUES – Written by Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman; Directed by Randal Myler. Produced by Lone Tree Arts Center (10075 Commons Street, Lone Tree) through October 27. Tickets available at 720-509-1000 or lonetreeartscenter.org.

If you have been going to theatre in the Denver area very long, you will have heard the name Randal Myler. Randy was a long time director and casting agent for the Denver Center many years before he started writing musicals based on the works of deceased icons (Hank Williams, Janis Joplin, John Denver, Nat King Cole, and others). Many Tony nominations and Broadway runs ago, he started putting together the same sort of a musical homage to a genre instead of a person. He has achieved success with musicals such as IT AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT THE BLUES, FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (the folk music of the Appalachian coal mining era), and  MUSCLE SHOALS; I’LL TAKE YOU THERE (celebrating the famous music studio from that area). Now he brings the sultry side of the blues to the forefront by getting low down and dirty.

Five musicians have hung around after the crowd left in a Chicago blues bar to reminisce and sing their songs – rather than what the tourists call the blues. They revel in the suggestive lyrics and raunchy rhythms of songs like “Rough and Ready Man,” “My Stove’s in Good Condition,” and “Don’t Jump My Pony” if you don’t know how to ride!! Felicia P. Fields, the Big Mama after whom the bar is named, makes the smallest move of her voluptuous body and you suddenly understand what sexy is. In “If I Can’t Sell It” she tells the story about a man wanting to buy a chair in a furniture store. But she makes herself very clear when she declares, “If I can’t sell it, I’m gonna sit down on it.  I ain’t gonna give it away.”

Chic Street Man sings about a “Crawlin’ King Snake” and invites you to “Come On In My Kitchen” and the women in the audience start leaning in toward the stage. His easy physical style and matter of fact delivery shows that he knows what he’s doing, on stage and off. They are joined in the vocal fun by Shake Anderson whose big voice rocks out on “I Got My Mojo Workin’” and breaks your heart when he sings of a lost love in “Death Letter.” Both men praise the beauty of a “Big Leg Woman” whose booty is so big, her jeans have to have four pockets across the back. They are accompanied and joined on stage by musicians Calvin Jones on bass and Jameal Williams on keyboard.

The first half of the program explores the flirtatious side of the blues full of double entendre and innuendo. Big Mama even went off the stage and got some of the men in the audience to help her get her mojo working. The second half continues but also gets into the more serious sad side with a heartfelt rendition of Billy Holliday’s “Good Morning Heartache” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” The ever present gospel quality of the music came to the front with Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come” and Inez Andrews’ “Lord I Tried.”

The bar setting designed by Christopher Waller is so authentic, you can’t help but think you’ve been to that basement bar. Complete with beer signs and the ever present Christmas lights, it’s a place you would be comfortable stopping by for a drink and a listen to the music.

If you have the blues, if you like the blues, if you want to learn about the blues . . . . this is the show for you.

A WOW factor of 8!

 

From GetBoulder.com

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.

Review: August Wilson’s Fences

By Michelle Wilson, Guest Blogger

Fences is a story of a black, working class family that opens in the back yard of a blue-collar, urban setting in the late 1950’s. Troy Maxson is the father of two children, both from different mothers. He has one son that is still living at home, along with his wife Rose.

The relationship between Troy and Rose is much the typical one of that era, where the husband works and mother stays home to raise the children. It is apparent that Troy’s attitude toward his son Cory, aptly played by Jay Reeves, is uptight as he was brought up in a time period that believed he was born with two strikes against him before he came to the plate. That thought process has followed him throughout his life and is finally coming to a head. His outdated opinion of what is important proves difficult change is a sign of the times.

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Esau Pritchett as Troy Maxson. Photo by Danny Lam

Esau Pritchett’s delivery of Maxson is soulful, sincere, and strong. He’s an attention grabber with apparent emotion. He truly evolves into the part of an uneasy man striving to maneuver through family life overtaken with promiscuity and drinking. He is expected to stay the path of what is required of him at home but is called to a sincere struggle when things start to get out of hand in his life. Pritchett puts his heart into the character and absorbs the audience with his precise timing. Troy becomes an unruly, broken man in an implied fight between God and himself.

Julanne Chidi Hill begins her portrayal of a pleasing Rose, a woman who knows her place but carries a hint of position, regardless. Hill’s motherly tenure is evident in this representation of a protector, with a son who is merely striving to be a regular kid. She holds court and gathers dismay as the audience becomes emotionally engaged with a crucial delivery in the second act.

A gratifying supporting cast provides a stellar job as a whole. The show’s shining moment occurs when Gabriel, played by Darryl Alan Reed, delivers a spot-on performance of a mentally disabled man trying to make his way through life in his happy-go-lucky way. His attentive portrayal is weighty and spot-on without feeling overdone.

After being left on the edge of my seat, scene changes felt a bit long and I found myself listening to the words of the period music and becoming a bit restless. With a quick recovery, the show has a nice pace, regardless.

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Esau Pritchett and Bradford Barnes. Photo by Danny Lam.

Set design is one of the production’s strongest assets. Simplistic yet detailed. The intrinsic nature of weeds making their way through the cracks of the concrete and a random antenna on top of an apartment building, are what make this set realistic and charming. Kudos to designer Edward E. Haynes, Jr.

At this particular performance, two cell phones rang in the audience during scenes. We, as an audience, have a responsibility to minimize distractions as a courtesy, not only to the actors on stage, but also to fellow audience members. I found this to be inappropriate and disappointing, although we had been asked to silence our phones prior to curtain.

This is a timely show for today’s war against racism and the associated societal struggles. It was a pleasure to see a mixed cultural group of audience members coming together to encounter the way things used to be as we venture forward into America’s next phase.


August Wilson’s Fences runs at the Lone Tree Arts Center until April 21st. Tickets are available online here, over the phone at 720-509-1000, and in-person at the Box Office.