is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lexington Theatre Was Happening in 2015!

Last year at this time, we were still stinging over the loss of Actors Guild of Lexington ... and Balagula was not telling anyone that its artistic leader and wonder-guy had left the building. 

However, in the Spring, Balagula presented HAROLD & MAUDE at Farish Theatre, starring Missy Johnston and Alex Maddox, who performed to the perfection expected from those two fantastic actors."
WonderGuy Ryan and I


Just prior to that show, I was treated to a spiritual and musical delight, SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, which was presented by the Off Main Actors Group, led by the wonderful Waltermire clan, mom Beth, dad Greg, and daughters Caitlyn, Courtney, Kelsey and Kaylee at Heritage Baptist Church. This year also saw the marriage of Caitlyn to Caleb Leonard, who was part of that grand production as well. 


Allie Darden & Fred Z - were terrific together!

Then my buddy Ryan Case and I went to see VANYA SONIA MASHA & SPIKE at Studio Players, wherein my pal Allie Darden played an unusual role for her and KILLED it, as did the rest of the cast and crew.  Fred Zegelian was fabulous as Vanya and Jenny Christian, as always, did a splendid job directing! 


STUDIO PLAYERS & SUMMERFEST
Bob Singleton considers 2015 a year that saw a lot of great in theatre. "Studio Players is chugging along; the 2014-2015 season finished strong, and 2015-2016 is off to a good start. It’s worth noting that our final show of last season and first show of this season were both directed by Jenny Christian (and my lovely and talented wife, Allie Darden, was one of the titular characters in the former)."

 
"This past Summer was an exciting one, and a bit of a change of pace for all of us at the Carriage House. The 2nd running of the 10 Minute Play Festival was extended for 2 weeks, and was again well-received. We also had a Bluegrass Playwrights Showcase (brainchild of Ross Carter), featuring staged readings of full-length scripts by local authors. We got a great response to that as well, with a number of people seeing all 3 of the offerings (which were spread out over 2 weeks). Singleton notes there are a number of opportunities for staged readings of local authors in the area, which is a nice thing to see."  "
 

Bob Singleton looks ahead...
Regarding his involvement in SummerFest, he advises "FYI, the Summer Musical will be back in 2016: CLUE: The Musical! Directed by Tonda-Leah Fields, Musical Direction by Jessica Greene, and Choreography by Diana Pulliam." 



This past Summerfest, Bob directed COMEDY OF ERRORS which, he says, "was just an all-around great experience. First shot at directing Shakespeare and first shot at directing for Summerfest. I got to work with a lot of great people; some for the very first time, some for the first time in a different capacity -- a number of old friends/comrades as well. It was kinda daunting at first, for a number of reasons; but it ended up being one of my favorite projects as a director. Early on I felt like there might be a good angle to take. As we worked on it more, it really became one of those shows that took on some momentum of its own. It ended up being one of the productions (others include CLOUD 9, WIT, and THE GRADUATE) where I feel like I was able to really work some of the areas that I feel are my strengths, and maybe put my own stamp on the show. Of course, a whole lot of people were involved in that, including a great cast. Lindsay Warnick, Jenny Christian, and Jack McIntyre also deserve special shout outs for what they brought as Stage Manager, Assistant Director, and Fight Choreographer/all-around Badass (respectively)."
 

Indeed, SummerFest delighted crowds with their COMEDY OF ERRORS and SPAMALOT productions, held at the new location in Beaumont Centre at Moondance!  Wes Nelson and Bob Singleton did their darnedest to direct the cast in a fashion that kept the crowds talking way into the Breeders' Cup, where I was told several times about how much fun the family had going to see SummerFest.  The back-to-back-to-back productions of the two popular shows was successful in part due to the ingenuity of Natalie Cummins who was the production manager for SummerFest this year.  She and her crew managed a tech-friendly mechanical way to swap out the sets with little effort so there were two versus three productions to stage.  Natalie even stepped in as a character for one performance when an actor could not make it!  Natalie gets Most Valuable Player award, for sure!
 
AFTERCULTURE THEATRE

Courtney in
AfterCulture Theatre's No Exit
The next beautiful piece of theatre brought onstage (and seen by me)  was Jean-Paul Sartre's NO EXIT.  It was staged at the popular and well-located Shakespeare & Co (Short & Broadway) by another boutique troupe, AfterCulture Theatre and starring, among others, Courtney Waltermire, Lexington's version of Audrey Hepburn.

Courtney can play a comical character as easily as she plays the dramatic damsel stuck in limbo in Sartre's classic work.  I saw this work in an upstairs room at Shakespeare & Company, and enjoyed every second of the play's ability to make me uneasy.  The hosts of the play were accommodating, the valet was perfectly played and encouraged us to explore the stage, upon which we sat. 


 Yes, I do make an effort to go see the plays that involve my favorite actors.  They, after all, breathe life into the works and bring the words from page to stage.  I made the effort to see plays to which I felt welcome and invited, despite their subject matter. 

Smoke On The Mountain, Courtney's "character signs, not sings."  // DIRECTOR JENNY CHRISTIAN
 
 
FANTASTICAL THEATRICALS celebrated its TENTH anniversary as part of the Lexington theatre scene this year, with drama mama Kathy Hobbs leading the way.  Hobbs does it all -- she sings and acts as well as writes and produces!  Hobbs serves as a mentor to many of our best actors who otherwise may not be given the opportunities to perform as often. 
 
Hobbs has coached many of Central Kentucky's best to take risks to find their way out of the audition box, and should be commended for her generosity. 
 
Caitlyn and Courtney
Hobbs and her Fantastical Theatricals are looking forward to 2016, "and the continuation of our tenth year with several new comic mystery plays to entertain and confound our loyal audiences again and again.  We're particularly looking forward to February's show, DARLING YOU SLAY ME! A play-within-a-play format that's set in the roaring 20's!  We'll continue to perform at The Chop House and we are currently looking at options for performing shows in downtown Lexington.  Fantastical Theatricals is looking forward to 'putting the laughter in manslaughter' in 2016!"





Visit FANTASTICAL THEATRICALS on the web for the latest news about Central Kentucky's longest extant interactive theatre!

BLACKBIRD
Jenny Fitzpatrick, Lexington's choreographer extraordinaire, is dedicated to bringing dancers together to perform and capable of directing productions that include dozens of young actors-dancers-singers!  Her Blackbird dance studio performed CATS with young performers in June, then her adult cast staged ROMEO & JULIET. 


Fitzpatrick tells me, "My Junior Company performed their annual winter concert in early December 7.  It was our original production of UGLY.  We restart regular scheduled classes at the first of January."
 
Jenny Fitzpatrick
"In 2016, our Senior Company (adult dancers) will perform TITUS ANDRONICUS at the Downtown Arts Center the first weekend in March. Titus will feature 14 dancers, some local actors Dara Jade Tiller as Titus Andronicus, Jenny Fitzpatrick as Tamora Queen of the Goths, Daniel Ellis as Saturninus, and Wesley Nelson as Marcus Andronicus."


Blackbird's Junior Company will ALSO perform a spring adaptation of METAMORPHOSES in early May and THE WIZ in June!




ATHENSWEST
Bo List from AthensWest is proud of his company's maiden voyage.  "AthensWest had a marvelous inaugural year with its debut production - DOUBT - and the kickoff to its first ever season, opening with Harper Lee's classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Both productions were well-received both critically and by audiences, and give us great optimism as we approach 2016 -
Scout Emily Reed
with two more exciting events coming up."





Bo List
"First, the haunting drama 33 VARIATIONS, which follows ailing musicologist Katherine Brandt, who has to solve one last musical mystery before it's too late - and Beethoven, two centuries before, struggling to compose the music that so bewitches Katherine. 33 VARIATIONS features a score rich with Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, played live by renowned pianist Tedrin Blair Lindsay...runs February 12-21," List adds.




"Then, the rollicking Bluegrass musical GOLDEN BOY OF THE BLUE RIDGE - an off-Broadway hit, featuring Winchester native Mark Mozingo, who will reprise his role as Clayton in our production. Set in Appalachia, the story follows a handsome drifter and the trouble he causes when he breezes into a sleepy mountain town. Running April 22 - May 1. All productions take place at the Downtown Arts Center."





WOODFORD THEATRE
Trish Clark and daughter Ellie at the Arboretum
Meanwhile in Versailles, Trish Clark has been staging some highly acclaimed shows.  Clark states, "We are having a great time at Woodford Theatre this year. Celebrating community is our focus and it feels good. Mounting a 'celebration' of A KENTUCKY CHRISTMAS, which is a weaved performance of songs, poems, and stories from Kentucky Poet Laureate, Goerge Ella Lyon's edited publication of the original title, is a highlight of our season! We are so grateful to have met and worked with talented writers from our home state, and having the opportunity to study and watch the development of the adaptation and creation of Dr. James Rodgers and his devoted, expert designers, Russ Jones and Clifton Grimm along with musical team Donna Bonner, Elizabeth Yanarella and Tracey Bonner has been an honor for all involved."




Trish is quick to point out that she is thankful for all the blessings of the past year. "So, yes, the word of the season for me is 'gratefulness.' -- Grateful for an amazing staff of five dynamo women who run Woodford Theatre -- Grateful for such talented directors, actors, and musicians in this region! -- Grateful for our donors who have already stepped forward in this fundraising year to show their love and pride in this community arts organization, and -- Grateful for our patrons who treat this theatre as their second home. I'm grateful to be having so much fun!"

Caitlyn Leonard


"On a personal note, we did have our Education Director, Ellie Clark leave this year to pursue her MFA at Ohio University. I miss my daughter, but again, I am most grateful that our Board of Directors trusted the hire and I got the chance to work with her for two years. Vanessa Becker Weig stepped into the full time position with a smooth transition and has not missed a step including some that have gone up in the build of this most important area of our business! And it has been a long time since I have heard Ellie sound so happy as when she talks about her experiences at Ohio University. My other daughter, Emily and I miss Ellie a lot, but we fill the gaps with lots of playtime with my grandson, Kohen. Everyday Kohen reminds us about Ellie when he asks, "Ellie, school?" He misses her, too!"  However, in the end, Trish is "most grateful that all is well in the Clark women's world! Here's to the same in 2016!"
A Fantastical Theatrical Production!



"2016 brings exciting shows to Woodford Theatre. We have Joe Ferrell directing a fabulous cast for OF MICE AND MEN, opening January 22 and running through February 7. CALENDAR GIRLS, directed by Patti Heying, is next, March 4-20. We have WOW (Women of Woodford) Calendars for sale as I write this!


The WOW Calendar exhibits 12 women from Versailles and Midway Merchants Association who are not only entrepreneurs, but who are as courageous and fun loving as the original CALENDAR GIRLS, and who have posed in similar fashion to the originals! The theatre hopes to raise enough money with these calendar sales to purchase new curtains for the stage! Call 859-873-0648 to inquire about these calendars for your new year!



She adds, "As a our finale, HAIRSPRAY, directed by Vanessa Becker Weig, is the one on our boards.  Already cast and ready to rock n roll with some of the hottest musical theatre young artists around! We can't wait! Better call for tickets now! The same number as above. Yes, indeed, here's to a great 2016, too! Woodford Theatre is ready to celebrate!"

*****************************
 
Of course, this is only a sampling of the year's treats.  In 2016, I hope you make the effort to go see the various companies' productions.  I will try to keep you informed but there are many plays and shows that I miss simply because they are so numerous!  lol   See you at the show(s)!  peace, y'all, Kimmy


[Note: The Waltermire girls have given me permission to refer to them as my perpendicular daughters from a parallel universe. I got a Mother's Day card from them, and they are more darling than anyone can imagine.  Smart, home-schooled, faithful, family-loving, religious, and they're not obnoxious or stuck up even though they're all incredibly gorgeous. It restores my soul to know them.] 

No comments: