Tag Archives: Beatles

Once upon a concert

“Guess what Lizabeth is doing this evening?” My husband greeted me with the question after I got home from a day spent at the Arizona Humanities Festival in downtown Phoenix. Earlier in the week, our youngest daughter lamented being bored. “She lives in Manhattan,” James mused at the time, “and she can’t find anything to do.”

Of course, there’s always something happening in New York City. The trick is making it in Manhattan on a college student’s budget, and Lizabeth has long been mindful of the fact that money doesn’t grow on trees. She called home while I was out to ask about getting tickets for the nosebleed section of a concert at Carnegie Hall.

Lizabeth called home after the concert too, eager to talk with us about her adventure. This was about 10:30pm our time, one of many clues that Lizabeth is adapting to life in the “city that never sleeps.”

She’d jumped a subway to make the trek from her university near the World Trade Center to the 59th Street/Columbus Street station – putting her near Columbus Circle, where big names in protest music had performed “We Shall Overcome” for “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrators just a day before.

When I mentioned Pete Seeger’s participation in the march to Columbus Circle, Lizabeth noted that she’d seen Seeger-related materials while exploring some exhibits before taking her seat for the show. Seems one of Seeger’s most famous solo concerts took place at Carnegie Hall exactly thirty years to the day before Lizabeth, our youngest, was born.

Her favorite finds at the Rose Museum and Archive included a baton used by conductor Leonard Bernstein, a scarf worn by dancer Isadora Duncan and eyeglasses worn by singer Ella Fitzgerald. Also a signed photo of George Gershwin, a record signed by Judy Garland, a program signed by Luciano Pavarotti and a program signed by all four Beatles. 

Liz was thrilled to meet Audra McDonald in NYC

Lizabeth was at Carnegie Hall that evening to hear Audra McDonald, who’ll perform the role of Bess in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess,” which begins previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Dec. 17. Somehow we’d missed her performance at last year’s “ARTrageous” event at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

I love talking with Lizabeth after she’s experienced a performance. She observes and describes them with what I’ve always considered a writer’s eye, though it’s clearly part of the acting craft as well – something Lizabeth is studying at Pace University. She started by telling me about McDonald’s stunning midnight blue gown, and shared that catching her first glimpse of McDonald on stage brought tears to her eyes.

Lizabeth started voice lessons several years ago, studying first with Toby Yatso – one of her beloved theater teachers at Arizona School for the Arts. He’d encouraged her to listen to McDonald’s recordings, and shared his love along the way for all things Audra. The majesty of her first Carnegie Hall experience left Lizabeth remembering Yatso, one of many teachers who helped her make all those dreams of studying acting in New York a reality.

Lizabeth stayed after the show for an hour or so, waiting by the stage door to tell McDonald how much she enjoyed the performance — eager to tell her about Yatso’s devotion to her work and the way she’d felt moved by that evening’s performance.

But a group of women, “groupies” in a not-so-lovely sense of the word, pushed their way past others waiting patiently in line — only to position themselves directly in front of the stage door, “practically jumping on McDonald” as she exited with her young daughter after the show.

Lizabeth was hoping to chat briefly with McDonald, but decided by the time they met, that keeping it brief would be best. She asked for two autographs — one for Yatso and another for herself — and accepted when McDonald graciously offered to pose with her for a photo. Lizabeth told me she thought it better to let McDonald’s daughter get home to bed than to keep her any longer.

Lizabeth thanked McDonald for making time to meet and greet the folks who’d come to hear her sing that evening, then hopped a subway back to her dorm — where foot blisters from all that NYC walking got bandaged as a proud mama relished telephone time with a daughter making all kinds of strides in the world.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to enjoy a recent NPR interview with Audra McDonald, here to read a review of the concert written by Stephen Holden of The New York Times and here to visit McDonald’s Facebook page. Click here to learn more about this year’s “ARTrageous” event in Scottsdale.

Coming up: Local stage offerings from Shakespeare to Disney

The fine art of bugs?

While traveling through Canada many years ago, I explored the Montreal Insectarium — where I learned that bugs can be beautiful. Big, but beautiful. Plus useful to people and the planet in all sorts of ways.

If bugs have a bad rap in your house, it might be time to get to know them better — starting with events, lectures and classes being offered by the Desert Botanical Garden as part of the “David Rogers’ Big Bugs” exhibit.

The exhibit features eleven giant bugs Rogers created from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other naturla materials. The sculptures weigh from 300-1,20o pounds and range from seven to 25 feet long.

Recently I toured the garden with my son Christopher, a college student who never lost his little boy fascination with bugs. You can enjoy the exhibit with your family through Jan 1, 2012.

Several garden features seem to mirror the materials used for Big Bugs…

This praying mantis greets visitors right after they enter the garden…

This laby beetle in one of several Big Bugs along the garden’s main trail…

Every piece of sculpture is accompanied by a sign with details about the work…

The daddy-longlegs looks like a friendy storybook character…

Compare the grasshopper’s legs to cactus and you’ll see something in common…

We were both most impressed by the spider and web hanging below…

The “Spider-Man” musical on Broadway has nothing on this giant arachnid…

Catch a glimpse of this damselfly both from the path and from the bridge…

Challenge your kids to find differences with the dragonfly below..

The giant assassin bug is hidden away along the wildflower trail…

Thanks to the fine folks at Chase and PetSmart for sponsoring Big Bugs…

We hit the gift shop to look at bug books, calendars, puppets and more…

If you’re both bug and film buff, check out the garden’s “Big Bug Movie Nights” — which start Sat, Oct 1 with “Antz.” Other featured films include “Charlotte’s Web,” “A Bug’s Life,” “The Fly” (1958 version), “Beetlejuice,” and “Arachnophobia.”

The garden clearly has bugs on the brain. Their “Music in the Garden Fall Concert Series” includes a Nov 4 “Get Back: A Tribute to the Beatles!” concert. They’re presenting a “Bug Brunch” Nov 5 & 6. Also classes and lectures to up your B.Q.

Those of you wishing to “be the bug” can don your bug mask or butterfly wings for the garden’s Sept 30 gala fundraiser titled “Moonlight Masquerade.” It’s an adults only evening, so leave the kiddos at home with a sitter who’s not afraid to crack open a bevy of bug books.

Think Eric Carle’s “The Grouchy Ladybug,” “The Very Busy Spider” or “The Very Quiet Cricket.” Throw in some colorful tissue paper, pom poms and pipe cleaners and they can get crafty while you’re tripping the light fanstastic.

“The Big Bug Circus” is also coming to town. The marionette show from the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix heads to Gilbert for two performances on Sat, Oct 8 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts.

Clearly bugs have gone big time.

– Lynn

Note: Visit the Desert Botanical Garden online at www.dbg.org and David Rogers at www.big-bugs.com. Find Eric Carle at www.eric-carle.com, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater at www.azpuppets.org and Higley Center for the Performing Arts at www.higleycenter.com.

Coming up: For the love of Lilly!, Festivals with multicultural flair, VYT debuts “Dora the Explorer”

Art meets Arizona Town Hall

Some pretty cool things happened during 1962 in the arts world…

Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev first danced together — during a performance of “Giselle” with the Royal Ballet in London. Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans” exhibit opened in L.A.

The Beatles released their first EMI single — “Love Me Do.” The play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” opened on Broadway. And songwriter/rocker Jon Bon Jovi was born in New Jersey.

In Arizona, something called “Arizona Town Hall” was born. It’s an “independent, nonprofit membership organization that identifies critical issues facing Arizona, creates the forum for education and exploration of the topic and fosters leadership development.”

They’ve held nearly 100 “Arizona Town Hall” events since 1962, but this year’s event is their first to focus on Arizona arts and culture. You’d have a hard time convincing me that 97 other issues have been more important to our state through the years. Still, I’m thrilled that arts and culture finally made it to the top of their list.

The 98th “Arizona Town Hall” convenes this week (May 1-4) in Tucson, with approximately 150 Arizona citizens taking part. I recognized plenty of names when I checked out the list at www.www.aztownhall.org. Steve Martin of Childsplay. Dan Schay of Phoenix Theatre. Bill DeWalt of the Musical Instrument Museum.

You can hit the “Arizona Town Hall” website for a full list of folks taking part. The Arizona Commission on the Arts promises daily coverage of the event for those of us not fortunate enough to be there. And a final report will be issued with the groups’s findings, which will be available to the public online.

You can read this Arizona Town Hall Background Report online

I’m not keen on waiting for the final report, so I’ve been reading the “Arizona Town Hall” background report – put together in large measure by Arizona State University, with Betsy Fahlman serving as editor.

The curated report “combines the work of nearly 30 Arizona author-contributors, and 10 artists and poets.”

Its 236 pages include a comprehensive history of Arizona arts and culture that should be required reading for anyone who works or plays with the arts.

Specific chapters of the report address areas such as arts education, tourism and cultural heritage, historic preservation, public libraries, museums, parks and the performing arts. Also economic issues, urban revitalization, public art and more.

There’s even fun show and tell type stuff. Figures on the “creative industries in Arizona.” Tables on arts-related employment, state art budgets, federal arts funding and the ever-sexy “per capita spending on states arts agencies.” Graphs showing “availability of arts education” and “per-pupil arts spending.”

But what exactly will “Arizona Town Hall” participants be talking about in Tucson? I browsed a few of their discussion outlines, and found topics like these: What’s unique about Arizona arts and culture? How does the Arizona arts spectrum represent diverse populations?

They’ll also discuss the impact of Arizona arts and culture on our economy, education and quality of life. Plus the roles of private enterprise, private philanthropy, governments and other types of support for arts and culture.

When all is said and done, and their final report is issued, I’m guessing the impact — assuming we all own up to our own responsibilities for enhancing Arizona arts and culture — will make 2011 a year to rival 1962. Except, of course, for that whole Bon Jovi thing.

– Lynn

Coming up: Dance meets fashion, Celebrating “Book Week,” Put on your party clothes!

Update: Final recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall are now available. Click here to see them. The 5/12/11 episode of “Horizon” on Eight, Arizona PBS focused on findings and recommendations from the 98th Arizona Town Hall. Click here to learn more about “Horizon” and the “Arizona ArtBeat” program.

Broadway tales

After years of seeing touring Broadway shows at ASU Gammage in Tempe, Lizabeth will soon be enjoying shows on Broadway (Photo: James Trimble)

While Lizabeth and James were back East a while back for college theater program auditions (hers, not his), they faced plenty of tough choices. Which pizza joints to frequent. Which tourist attractions to explore. Which Broadway musicals to take in.

They ended up seeing a straight play off Broadway one night. Their other two choices, dictated in part by what they could snag last minute tickets to, were “Jersey Boys” and “American Idiot.”

It never occured to us that “Green Day’s American Idiot” might be making its way to Arizona, but we learned just recently that the rock musical is part of the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” series at ASU Gammage in Tempe.

Lizabeth saw American Idiot on Broadway -- but I'll be enjoying it during April 2012 at ASU Gammage in Tempe (Photo credit: James Trimble)

“We always like to have something new,” explains Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President of Cultural Affairs at ASU.

Other “new” offerings in the 2011-2012 “Broadway in Arizona” season at ASU Gammage include the “Blue Man Group.”

You might say Gammage is poised to “rock our world” this season.

But there’s also more sentimental fare — including “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” “West Side Story,” and “Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.”

Lizabeth will be thrilled that one the shows she missed on Broadway, “Million Dollar Quartet,” is also coming to town. “La Cage Aux Folles” should prove equally fabulous and fun.

Thanks to three 2011-2012 special engagements (shows that aren’t part of the season ticket package), your gift-giving decisions just got a whole lot easier.

For winter holidays, give tickets to “Stomp” (Dec 28-31, 2011). For Valentine’s Day, think “Wicked” (Feb 15-March 11, 2012). Trust me — a change in theme from pink to green will be ever so appreciated. And for Mother’s Day or year-end teacher gifts, there’s “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

Especially during tough economic times, reflects Jennings-Roggensack, people appreciate the familiar. She sees the season as a perfect blend of the new and exciting with the familiar and comforting.

Lizabeth was thrilled when she learned of the 2011-2012 ASU Gammage line-up, because we’re longtime season ticket holders who rarely miss a show. At some point, however, the bad news struck her. She’ll likely be in New York — either studying or auditioning — when these shows hit Arizona.

But we’ll have a great time swapping “Broadway in Arizona” and Broadway in New York stories…

– Lynn

Note: ASU Gammage offers “Camp Broadway” June 6-10, 2011 for youth ages 10-17.

Coming: More new season announcements

The fine art of vinyl

I was listening the other day to a Bruce Spingsteen concert recorded in Paris on May 26, 1979 — the year I turned 19.

Springsteen was sharing with the audience a bit about his upbringing, reflecting on the relative dearth of arts and culture in his young life.

But he recalled coming downstairs on school days dressed in the green Catholic school uniform he describes as “oppressive” to hear the sound of rock ‘n’ roll.

Seems his mother was fond of spinning the vinyl. Springsteen says the records disparaged by others were his only source of arts and culture — his lone introduction to life outside his small New Jersey neighborhood.

The records opened his eyes to other people and places, inspiring Springsteen to consider for the first time the vast expanse of possibilites for his own life. From vinyl, it seems, his dreams were born.

As I listened to Springsteen’s narrative, I was reminded of one of my favorite haunts in Tempe — an “indie” store called “Hoodlums Music & Movies.” Their love and respect for vinyl is really quite something.

There's still time to submit artwork for an album art show in Tempe

Hoodlums periodically exhibits artwork from Spraygraphic — which is currently calling for vinyl art submissions as they ready for their next Hoodlums gig — titled the “Fill in the Groove Art Show.”

I lingered over the last exhibit with my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer, and recall that my favorite piece (by a Tempe artist whose name I didn’t hang on to) featured small tiles that looked like irridescent red glass.

Knowing their gifts for poetry and other types of toying with words and images, I hope my daughters will consider submitting at least one entry this year — assuming the vinyl “canvas” doesn’t come from my own cherished collection.

My son Christopher, now 21, thinks it’s cool that he sees album covers on his iPod screen as he’s scrolling through song selections. I remind him that most of the original covers line the shelves in our living room, but somehow that seems less impressive in the 21st century.

A vinyl record, whether pristine or painted, is a thing of beauty. Check out the Spraygraphic art exhibit when it hits Hoodlums on Feb 26.

Take along some children or teens. Sometimes kids who disparage art develop a hidden passion or talent once exposed to art that feels relevant and accessible.

Catch this film at "Community Movie Night" in February

Remember too that the crews at Hoodlums and the neighboring “Local First Arizona” bookstore called Changing Hands come together each month to present a free movie with post-film discussion.

Next month’s “Community Movie Night,” scheduled for 6pm on Fri, Feb 25, features a Don Argott documentary titled “The Art of the Steal” with guest speaker Timothy Rodgers, director of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The Art of the Steal” examines the art collection of a Philadelphia doctor and medical researcher whose founding of a pharmaceutical firm made him a millionaire.

Albert C. Barnes’ art collection — featuring original paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne and others — was scattered, against his will, after his death. The film explores how and why it happened.

I think I’m especially drawn to Springsteen’s vinyl memories because they remind me of all those bloggers working their craft out there in the world of more traditional journalism.

Words and music matter. But there are a million ways to explore and enjoy them. Who’s to say that any one is truly better than another?

Long live vinyl, and the hoodlums who spin them.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to explore other “Local First Arizona” organizations and here to learn about the “Fill in the Groove Album Art Show.” And thanks to my hubby James for sharing this link to an article about the impact of a 1964 album on the life of one little girl with her own rock ‘n’ roll heroes.

Coming up: Spam meets musical theater?, Art tackles name calling, Children’s theater from jungle to farm, Lynn’s library: Latest finds, Equity 101 for beginners, The fine art of civil discourse

A trio of tributes

Musical tributes are all the rage on the contemporary stage.

Think “Jersey Boys” on Broadway or “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles,” which opens an 11-week run at the Neil Simon Theatre in NYC on Oct 11.

PVCC presents "A Musical Tribute to The Who" this month

I was more into dolls and trolls than rock and roll when English rock band The Who was formed during 1964, and only a wee bit more hip when The Who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during 1990.

Considering that Rolling Stone Magazine has dubbed The Who, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones the “holy trinity of British rock and roll, I suppose I should take a break from spinning Springsteen to enjoy an upcoming tribute to The Who.

Paradise Valley Community College presents “A Musical Tribute to The Who” for one performance only — at 7:30 pm on Sat, Oct 16.  Tickets are just $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students (with ID) and $8 for children — so you can afford to up your whole family’s cool factor.

The PVCC tribute will be performed by the “Crossing 32nd Street” music ensemble with featured soloists Mike G. Murphy and Dominic Salemo. “Crossing 32nd Street” is a professional contemporary music ensemble-in-residence directed by Dr. Christopher Scinto and Dr. Brett Reed.

The small ensemble is “dedicated to the performance of representative chamber music from the 20th and 21st centuries” and features a repetoire that includes music by John Cage, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, Lou Harrington, Charles Ives and others.

An "ABBA" tribute comes to Chandler in November

Their core instruments include flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion — and they regularly perform not only at PVCC, but also at Glendale Community College and “alternative spaces” in downtown Phoenix.

Come November, you can make the jump from British rock to Swedish pop as “ABBA Mania” strikes Chandler Center for the Arts on Nov 13 with hits such as “Mamma Mia” and “Super Trouper.”

My personal favorite is “Dancing Queen” because I can still visualize Jennifer dancing to this song during a Dance Theater West recital held many years ago at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The memory shares space in my mental files with her performance as a “Bon Bon” in “The Nutcracker” with Ballet Arizona and her performance of “It’s A Hard Knock Life” (from “Annie”) with the Phoenix Girls Chorus.

A salute to "The Eagles" comes to Chandler in April, 2011

Finally, today’s trio of tributes includes an homage to a band whose music I often enjoy listening to with my son Christopher. Hunting for my antiquated “Eagles” CDs in his room is almost as much fun as trying to tell the dirty socks from the clean ones come laundry time.

“Hotel California: A Musical Tribute to The Eagles” comes to Chandler Center for the Arts on April 16, 2011 to perform both hits by The Eagles and songs of soloists such as Don Henley, Glen Fry and Joe Walsh.

What I’d most like to hear, of course, is the true and complete back story for “Hotel California,” but I don’t expect that to be in the mix.

I’ll be content with timeless tunes and memories of my own rock and roll rebellions, which are — for the most part — behind me.

–Lynn

Note: The Pink Floyd Experience” comes to the Comerica Theatre (formerly Dodge Theatre) in Phoenix on March 26, 2011. Read about the MIM’s tribute to John Lennon in an earlier post (“Looking back on Lennon”) and a later post (“Cupcakes for peace?”).

Coming up: Film offerings from the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Profile of a proud “stage mom” and advocate for children’s rights, An emperor with a thing for fashion and frivolity

Don’t push my buttons!

Pushing buttons…

It’s a common occurrence when the “teen taxi” is in service.

Sometimes it’s the emotional kind, but usually it’s just the radio that’s in play. I push the ‘70s button, Christopher pushes the ‘80s button, Jennifer pushes the country/western button and Lizabeth pushes the Broadway button.

'50s crooner Eddie Fisher

We get a ‘50s station thanks to Sirius XM, but it’s never had its own button. James and I are at the back of the “Boomers,” born in the ‘60s after the heyday of soda jerks and juke boxes.

So it surprised me when I actually got chills listening to the cast of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s The Sound of Plaid” perform the show’s final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”

The show—an Arizona premiere of “The Sound of Plaid: The New Glee Club Version of Forever Plaid”—features mostly music popularized in the ‘50s. Think “Lady of Spain” and “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

I attended the Saturday matinee at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale, which was also enjoyed by youth from a variety of non-profit organizations—including Free Arts of Arizona, Chrysalis and Girl Scouts.

Collaboration is a many splendored thing, and Phoenix Theatre does it so well.

I never met a mic I didn't like

I’m also rather partial to their take on all things plaid. If ever there was a show with the potential to be a monotonous “one note”—this has to be it. I’m more of a spandex and disco ball kind of a gal, so I really didn’t expect to find this show all that enchanting.

Contemporary crooner Michael Buble

But they had me with the very first notes out of the tuxedo-clad quartet that opened the show (all looking a bit like Michael Buble brandishing braces)—which follows the performance of a high school glee club who’ve come back to earth after perishing in a 1964 crash with another school bus.

Students on the other fictional bus, en route to watch the Beatles’ debut on the Ed Sullivan show, survived—but that’s the last we hear of them. They haven’t got the power of the plaid.

I loved the show’s many references to all things nostalgic. The club sang a round rather than a rap. They pined over LPs instead of iPods. They used words more common many decades ago—uranium, Korea, harmonic convergence—even “Holy cannoli!”

Ed Sullivan & the "Fab Four"

The show featured especially strong vocals, with plenty of stunning solos and heartfelt harmonies. I’d have to give the best overall performance award to Ryan Kitkowski, an Arcadia High School sophomore who plays Jinx with true comedic flair.

I was also impressed by the balance of various creative elements—the live music (piano, bass and drums), the simple but sophisticated scenic design, the polished costumes and the playful props.

The youngest trio of cast members—including 2nd grader Alex Kirby (Gladys), 3rd grader Sam Primack (Lionel) and 4th grader Madeline Bates (Irene)–were both capable and cute. Madeline is the youngest of three Bates siblings in the show, and the cast member I’d pick for “most likely to make it big as a dancer” one day.

The Andrew Sisters

As always, the Greasepaint Theatre lobby was transformed into a world reflecting the cultural context of the show. Patrons enjoyed clips of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters on a tiny black and white television. And yup, they even managed to dig up an old record player.

Exhibits featured photos and descriptions of cultural icons like American Bandstand—and true American idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Big Mama Thornton and Bing Crosby. A mock recording studio with stand-up mic and “On the Air” sign made a great setting for snapping souvenir photos.

“The Sound of Plaid” makes for a refreshing afternoon or evening of theater for all ages (recommended for 5 & up). If you want to treat the grandparents in your life to some quality time with the grandkids, get them tickets to see this show.

Dick Clark

Or if you want your child to see the polished, but not plastic, performance of a real live “glee club”—this is the show for you. Long before 3-D televisions invade our family rooms and kitchens, we’ll have plenty of live performance art to transport young imaginations to new dimensions.

But don’t get me started. The tragedy of television time taking over theater time is one of my hot buttons…

–Lynn

Patsy Cline

Note: If, like my daughter Jennifer, the radio button you’re most fond of pushing is for country/western tunes, don’t miss the presentation of “Always…Patsy Cline” coming to Phoenix Theatre on May 19. It’s a touching glimpse into the world of singer Patsy Cline, whose life was cut tragically short by a plane crash in 1963 when she was just 30 years old.

Coming up: Spotlight on summer theater camps, including those offered by Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay, Valley Youth Theatre and more. If your child has had a positive experience with a Valley theater camp (or you’ve seen another youth theater production you’d like to recommend), feel free to comment below to let our readers know.