Saturday, July 30, 2011
Editor’s note: This story, was was to be posted Friday, was delayed by technical difficulties. It has been posted since Friday on www.palmbeachartspaper.com.
Theater: OK, you’ve procrastinated long enough. This is the final weekend for the world premiere production of Stuff at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre. This cautionary tale of two eccentrically wasted lives, wealthy Harlem hermits Homer and Langley Collyer, is not only Davie playwright Michael McKeever’s best script in quite a while, but he gives a remarkably accomplished performance as figuratively and literally blind brother Homer. Despite the story’s tragic underpinnings, McKeever is able to mine it for darkly comic potential. Also worth the ticket price is the wily performance of Angie Radosh as the Collyer matriarch, wielding a genteel, but iron fist in raising her boys. Through Sunday. Call: (561) 241-7432 or (877) 245-7432 for tickets.
Film: We know how romantic comedies go these days. They are painfully predictable and fueled by bodily fluid jokes. So when a movie like Crazy, Stupid Love comes along with some genuine plot surprises and an adult outlook on the world, it feel like a summer oasis. Steve Carell, Hollywood’s current schlemiel of choice, plays a long-married suburban dad whose wife dumps him and, out of sheer pity, ladies’ man Ryan Gosling coaches him in how to pick up women in bars and start his life over. Yes, emotional mayhem ensues, but Dan Fogelman’s screenplay takes that theme to unexpected places. And the captivating Emma Stone (Easy A, next month’s The Help) again shows why she is an emerging star to be reckoned with.
Music: Somewhere in the middle of World War I, Igor Stravinsky discovered jazz, and America’s hot new music left its mark on Stravinsky’s style, giving him the impetus to leave the Rimsky-Korsakov tradition behind for good. Tonight and through Sunday, the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival closes its 20th anniversary season with a reprise of L’Histoire du Soldat, 14 seasons after it performed it the first time. The same cast is on hand – actors Barbara Bradshaw, Joe Gillie and Randolph Dellago – all performing Stravinsky and C.F. Ramuz’s story of a soldier who encounters the Devil while on two weeks’ leave. Also on the program is the big E-flat Piano Quintet (Op. 44) of Robert Schumann, featuring Lynn University-based pianist Yang Shen. Tickets for the concert are $25. Call 800-330-6874 or visit www.pbcmf.org.
The Vans Warped Tour, now in its 16th year, rolls into the Cruzan Amphitheatre this weekend with a host of hot bands including Paramore and Florida favorites Less Than Jake. What began as a way to sell more skateboards and the extreme sporting life has turned into a major venue for folks who like their rock with a hard, aggressive edge, and some of the newer bands on view this time are sure to make a wider mark in years to come. Tickets are $43 through Ticketmaster; doors open at 11:30 a.m.
On Tuesday, the Cruzan plays host to Lil Wayne, the New Orleans rapper (Lollipop, I Am Not a Human Being) whose next, and possibly last, album, The Carter IV, is due out next month. Wayne will be joined by Rick Ross, Keri Hilson, Far East Movement, and Lloyd in this stop on a tour that’s been one of the biggest of the summer, and may continue for additional dates. Tickets are $29.75 and available through Ticketmaster.
Dance: Touring dance master Christopher Fleming created a baseball-based ballet in 1999 featuring various diamond moves set to familiar classical selections, and tomorrow night and Sunday, the Boca Ballet Theatre offers Fleming’s tribute to the 1940s boys of summer. Play Ball is the chief work on the Boca Ballet’s All-American Summer program, set for 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at FAU’s University Theatre. Checking it out might be a good way to avoid the heat and celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Tickets are $35. Call 995-0709 or visit www.bocaballet.org.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
By Hap Erstein
You’ve heard of the three Bs -- Bach, Brahms and Beethoven? Well, the Kravis Center has announced that next season it will present the three Ls -- Larry the Cable Guy, Larry King and a tribute show called Elvis Lives. Uh, didn’t the Kravis used to be a center for the performing arts?
The West Palm Beach complex will be celebrating its 20th anniversary season beginning this fall with its usual eclectic array of acts from highbrow to low, though perhaps tilting more to the low than in the past. In case you were wondering what King would do after his CNN interview show, you can see him on the Kravis stage in what the season announcement calls “a brand-new, hilarious stage show that gives his fans a humorous and insightful look at his life.” (Jan. 24)
What, too weighty for you? Then how about the pairing of daytime TV’s Regis Philbin with Emmy-winning soap star Susan Lucci (Dec. 30)? What exactly they will do that evening is a stumper, but the Kravis offers a hint by describing Philbin as a “crooner supreme.” Larry the Cable Guy is a veteran of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, so his fans know what to expect on Nov. 19, and the Kravis further justifies the booking by noting that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Larry’s career.
Those convinced that Elvis Presley died 34 years ago may have their confidence all shook up by Elvis Lives (Jan. 23), billed as “the ultimate Elvis tribute artist event,” featuring finalists from -- get this -- the worldwide Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. Also in the faux-concert tribute vein will be The Official Blues Brothers Revue (Feb. 9), licensed at least by Dan Aykroyd and the John Belushi estate, and the return of The Pink Floyd Experience (March 4), in a set that will include the former rock band’s entire 1975 Wish You Were Here album performed live.
Actual headliners slated to appear at the Kravis next season include singers k.d. lang (Oct. 8), Linda Eder and Steve Tyrell (Jan. 3), Patti LaBelle (Feb. 4), Bernadette Peters (Feb. 10), Johnny Mathis (March 2), Neil Sedaka (March 30) and Patti LuPone (April 4). Among the celebrated musicians in the season will be Pinchas Zukerman (Jan. 4-5), Joshua Bell (Jan. 31), Michael Feinstein (Feb. 3), Diana Krall (Feb. 11), Chris Botti (March 3), Itzhak Perlman (March 6) and, yes, Yanni (April 17-18).
Vying against Larry the Cable Guy for the season’s comedy honors will be Wanda Sykes (Dec. 11), Second City Improv All-Stars (Dec. 30-Jan. 1), Dennis Miller (Jan. 5), Jackie Mason (Jan. 31) and Martin Short (March 28). And, OK, classical music has hardly been shortchanged, since the Kravis has also booked the Munich Symphony (Nov. 15-16), Emerson String Quartet (Dec. 6), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (Jan. 4-5), Tchaikovsky St. Petersburg State Orchestra (Jan. 24), Cleveland Orchestra (Jan. 25), Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra (Feb. 8-9) and the Minnesota Orchestra (March 11).
For the previously announced Kravis on Broadway series, the center confirms that Palm Beach favorite son George Hamilton will headline the production of La Cage aux Folles (Feb. 14-19). Leading off the series will be The Addams Family (Nov. 8-13), whose plot happens to be identical to La Cage’s, followed by the popular revival of Hair (Jan. 10-15), the Twyla Tharp-meets-Frank-Sinatra dance concert Come Fly Away (March 13-18) and the re-conceived 25th anniversary production of Les Miserables (May 16-26).
For the complete Kravis Center schedule, go to its website at www.kravis.org. Tickets to the season’s events go on sale to the public Sept. 24.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
By Greg Stepanich
A sweetly radiant reading of the Mozart Clarinet Quintet added a poignant touch to the closing half of the third concert in the Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival’s current summer season.
The quintet (in A, K. 581) was dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Perry Fuller, father of festival co-founder Karen Dixon. Fuller died earlier this month of liver cancer, and Dixon has bowed out of the series this summer to tend to family matters. Dedicating the quintet to him was a gracious gesture, and it was matched by a graceful performance.
On Sunday afternoon at Delray Beach’s Crest Theatre, clarinetist Michael Forte was joined by violinists Dina Kostic and Mei-Mei Luo, violist Rene Reder and cellist Susan Bergeron. There were some warm-up difficulties at first, with Forte sounding a little thin and Kostic under pitch, but those blemishes evaporated a couple minutes into the first movement, which was played overall with a gentle kind of serenity.
The beautiful second movement fit this mood excellently, and Forte’s lovely tone and long-breathed lines were matched by playing of maximum tenderness from the string quartet. And the quartet’s sense of unity and quiet purpose were much in evidence in the first trio of the third movement, which is for the strings alone.
The finale, a remarkable set of variations, was capably and professionally played, but it could have used more color and contrast. The main theme would have benefited from some crisper rhythmic snap, and the moody minor-key variation from more mystery. The last movement has a wide variety of moods, and here the musicians didn’t take enough advantage of all those differences.
The Mozart closed the concert Sunday, and it was preceded by music of the Czech Bohuslav Martinu, a frequently programmed composer for this series over the years. Kostic, Luo and Reder joined for the Serenata No. 2, a three-movement piece from 1932.
While this piece has the harmonic and rhythmic Martinu fingerprint, it differs from much of his other work in its pronounced lyricism. The second movement, marked Poco andante, is a straightforwardly pretty piece, and the three women played it winningly.
The outer movements have that full-sun quality common to many of Martinu’s speedy movements, and in both instances the three played with vigor, but it was a vigor with a light touch, and the final impression of this brief work was of warmth and geniality more than athleticism.
Dixon had been scheduled to play Eric Ewazen’s Mosaics on the program, but in her absence it has been rescheduled for next summer. Replacing it was a most unusual choice, the Duo Concertante for bassoon and marimba of Leon Stein (1910-2002), who taught for almost 50 years at DePaul University in his native Chicago.
Marimbist Michael Launius and bassoonist Michael Ellert teamed for this three-movement work, which is written in a jazz-inflected tonal style. What’s perhaps most interesting about it is that the material is worked out in a serious, thorough manner, when what you might expect in this instrumental combination is brevity and a comic lightness.
But the final movement of this duo is a fugue, and the piece opens with a jazzy chordal motif in the marimba whose rhythm can be heard running throughout the movement. Both soloists have a lot of work to do, and the effect is of two strong-minded voices having a reasonable conversation; rarely is the texture reduced to one accompanying the other.
Launius and Ellert demonstrated thorough commands of their instruments, and gave Stein everything he wanted, especially in the fugue, which has a bustling theme that had a nice way of hooking the ear into following where it was going. This was a fine performance of a worthy piece, a challenging work that offered listeners a fresh instrumental combination and a sober contemporary flavor, and one that was in keeping with the best traditions of this durable festival.
The Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival wraps its 20th anniversary season beginning at 8 p.m. Friday at Persson Hall on the campus of Palm Beach Atlantic University with a performance of the Piano Quintet (in E-flat, Op. 44) of Robert Schumann, and Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, featuring actors Barbara Bradshaw, Joe Gillie and Randolph Dellago. The program is repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Crest Theatre in Delray Beach. Tickets are $25. Call 330-6874, visit www.pbcmf.org, or buy them at the door.