Utah Shakespeare

The summer season of the wonderful Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City is well underway, but there is plenty of time to add it to your vacation itinerary. This year’s selection includes Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all perennial favorites. You may also enjoy Shakespeare in Love, an adaptation of the movie and a regional premier. Other regional premiers are Treasure Island and William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (Abridged).

On the musical side of the house is the great Guys and Dolls, subtitled A Musical Fable of Broadway. Finally, there are two world premieres, The Tavern, a comedy by George M. Cohan adapted and directed by Joseph Hanreddy, and How to Fight Loneliness by Neil LaBute, characterized as “for mature audiences”. Two of our favorites return as directors, Brian Vaughn with Shakespeare in Love and David Ivers with How to Fight Loneliness.

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The Utah festival produces consistently excellent theater. You cannot go wrong in this beautiful mountain setting, about a 50 minute drive from St. George or three and half hours from Salt Lake City. The summer season goes through September 9th, with a shorter fall season running from September 13th through October 21st.

For schedule details and to reserve tickets, go to:

https://www.bard.org/

 

Also an enticing peek at next year:

2018 will see performances of The Merry Wives of Windsor and Othello, as well as Big River, a musical adaptation of Huckleberry Finn with music by Roger Miller, bound to be a delight.

 

Best Wishes.

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The Society

 

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A number of years ago my wife and I had the good fortune to meet Kirby Heyborne and arrange for him to perform in the Auburn Fine Arts Center in Auburn, Washington. At a memorable moment mid-way through the performance he paused on stage to call home and say goodnight to his children. The audience loved it.

At the time Kirby was making a name for himself as a singer and comedian; he was already well known for his work in several successful movies, The Best Two Years, The RM, The Three Stooges, and others.

He more recently has been busy with his Los Angeles based improv group, The Society. Kirby’s pleasant demeanor, clean humor, and positive spirit contribute to consistently good entertainment. Others who work with him in The Society include his long-time friend Lincoln Hoppe, Corbin Allred, Kelly Lohman, and several more–all talented performers.

Corbin performed with Kirby in one of the concerts we produced in Auburn. We became friends and have stayed in touch as he has progressed through life (he has many, balanced interests). Also a singer and actor, he has appeared in various T.V. shows and movies, including Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Saints and Soldiers, and The Saratov Approach.

We hope to arrange for The Society to come to the Northwest in the near future. In the meantime, take a look at some of their work at the following links. It will be worth your time. Be sure to take a look at Kerblink, a joint effort with Lincoln Hoppe which is downright hilarious.

http://www.kirbyheyborne.com/kirby_heyborne_improv.php

http://kerblink.com/

http://www.jointhesociety.com/

http://kirbyheyborne.blogspot.com/

http://www.lincolnhoppe.com/

Russian Grand Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty

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When the words Russian and ballet are used in the same sentence, we expect something grand; the Russian Grand Ballet company’s recent performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty did not disappoint. Sets were beautiful, costumes stunning, and the dancing uniformly excellent. The Lilac Fairy, performed by Yulia Zakharenko, was especially exquisite. Very tall, taller than the princes, with elegant long arms and legs, she clearly was a prima ballerina and we thought we had seen the star. Only later when Olga Kifyak appeared as Princess Aurora, flawlessly performing the wonderful Rose Adagio, did we realize this company has at least two prima ballerinas, not to mention several others nearly as outstanding.

Most male dancers are there to accent the ballerinas, turn them gracefully, and most especially make sure they are not hurt (“Don’t drop the girl”!), but when Yevgeniy Svetlitsa came flying on stage as Prince Desire, it was clear he is a master of his art and a joy to behold. Now, to have one great male dancer is wonderful, but we were delighted again in a later pas de deux to see Constantine Mayorov performing similar excellent leaps and turns with precision and power.

Great ballet is a display of skill, strength, grace, and artistic sense that requires years of training and on-going practice. To see this familiar tale portrayed in dance to such wonderful music was a delight; all in all, an excellent night out. Our only complaint, our good old Pantages Theater in Tacoma, a classic building filled with faded elegance, needs new chairs. A short performance is fine, but full length performances are physically taxing; perhaps there is a rich patron in the audience somewhere who could do something about it.

If you wish to see beautiful dance at the highest level, consider The Russian Grand Ballet next time they come to America. Alas, you have missed them for this year. They are headed home after a tour that lasted from Sept 20th through Oct 29th–36 performances all over the country, with only 4 days off, a grueling schedule. But then again, they are dancers. I have had the pleasure of associating at least somewhat with dancers and musicians, artists and actors, my entire adult life. Dancers in particular often display an interesting pattern–they may practice all day and perform all evening, then for relaxation have a nice meal and do what? Go dancing!

Art Garfunkel, Bridging the Waters

Some very dear friends kindly took us to Art Garfunkel’s recent concert at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma, WA. It was a delightful, very rewarding evening. His was the clear tenor voice that made possible the wonderful Simon and Garfunkel music that those of us of a certain age associate with our high school and college years. But this was not simply a series of old songs re-sung; this performance included newer songs with old favorites, interwoven with the artist’s delightful commentary on life, often in poetic form. (He protested applying that high-sounding term, poetry, to his writings, but since the English Department includes free verse under its definition of poetry, we will too.)

There is a spirit of mature melancholy in Garfunkel’s music and musings. Not the adolescent angst we knew so long ago, but the reflective thoughts and feelings of one who has experienced life, known great success and great loss and success returned again. “Artie” lost his voice in 2009 and labored diligently to regain it. He succeeded well. The result is not only a beautiful voice, but the sense of a great artist who is also humble, a rare and wonderful thing in our age of self-promoting demagoguery.

The greater losses, though, were of loved ones lost in death’s dateless night. Here Garfunkel revealed his love of family and friends: his beloved wife and children, also his intermittent relationship with childhood friend and youthful collaborator, Paul Simon. He also revealed his faith in God and devotion to the more important things of life. As a boy he served as a cantor, and included in the concert a too-brief excerpt of Hebrew a cappella. Even without the touch of echo added by the sound engineer, it was heavenly, an angel’s song.

Garfunkel’s concluding number was a rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Waters which he characterized as a “rehearsal” of a work-in-progress. There was no piano; all his accompaniment was by a very fine guitarist. Nevertheless, this adaptation of an old favorite was simply outstanding, very fine. Standing ovations generally are over-done, but in this case, I was happy to join the crowd in standing for a great artist in the humane tradition. Long may he perform.

Here is a link to his website where you may be able to find a performance near you:

http://www.artgarfunkel.com/

 

Best Wishes.