Saturday, July 29, 2006

Review

For those of you who are interested, here is John Garcia's review of Kiss Me, Kate as it appeared in The Column (07/25/06):

From the canon of past musical theater, KISS ME KATE (KMK) was created
from the mind of that witty composer, Cole Porter. But compared to
today's audiences and tastes, the musical is certainly beginning to
show its age. You are aware of it being antediluvian by the trans-
parent, out of date book, ande watered down jokes.

In 1948 at the Schubert Theater in New York, KMK (based on Shakes-
peare's TAMING OF THE SHREW) first made its debut. Its first revival
came in 1952 at the Broadway Theater. Then in November 1999 another
revival appeared at the Martin Beck.

I saw the '99 revival on Broadway starring Brian Stokes Mitchell,
Marin Mazzie, Michael Berresse, and Amy Spanger. A year later in
Dallas I observed the national tour starring Rex Smith and Rachel
York in the leading roles. Both snazzy productions were peppy,
hilarious, brimming of zest and originality. Both book and score were
dusted off into shiny baubles that glowed with new life, energy, and
interpretation to both the cobwebbed book and robust score.

Now Garland Summer Musicals has mounted as its second summer offering
this Porter penned musical of romance and backstage antics.

Julie Simmons lighting is fine and appropriate, while Michael
Robinson's costumes are saturated in color with fantastic fabrics.
They are also quite period in its detail. But the sets designed by
Kelly Cox have a drab, lackluster, look to them. There is no depth,
nor is there any embellishments, etchings, or true detailed design on
any of them. All the sets are swashed in lifeless color. I'm not a
historian, but I'm pretty sure that back in Shakespeare's time they
did not have steel metal door handles.

Porter's score comes to puissant life thanks to Musical Director Larry
Miller & his terrific orchestra. The pit is full of talented musicians
that attack the score with such skill & professionalism; you'd almost
think it's the actual Broadway orchestra down there.

Choreographer Paula Morelan has revised and re-staged this production
with the original choreography by Kathleen Marshall, who did the '99
revival as well as the national tour. Morelan's work is absolutely
marvelous to watch unfold by the first rate dance ensemble. She has a
splendid troupe of dancers under her to work with, and it shows in
ample amounts.

Easily the best production number of the night is "Too Darn Hot". It
is rare to see local productions attempt the majority of the dance
music composed for musicals. Remember that a lot of the dance music
that was originally written for Broadway was for highly trained,
caliber dancers. These individuals could dance for 10 pages or more of
just instrumental music.

Today some companies wish not to bother with it or don't have the
talent to really pull it off, there by cutting and dissecting the
dance score. Not here. Combining Morelan's talents, the work of Ms.
Marshall, and this superb ensemble of dancers and singers, they go
all out with sweating energy and gusto. It's an extraordinary number
that you wish you had a rewind button to watch it all over again.

Other big production numbers that earn their accolades in loud
applause include, "Tom, Dick, or Harry" and "Cantiamo D'Amore".

This is a large cast, so it is difficult and impossible to mention
everyone, but there were performances that glowed with stage presence,
talent, and pure enjoyment.

Leading the company is Blake Davidson as "Fred Graham/Petruchio".
Audiences may remember his excellent work as "Juan Peron" in Lyric's
EVITA a few months ago. As the egotistical, manic, & imposing leading
man of his theater company, Mr. Davidson is in a word: magnificent.

This highly talented actor has a large, booming, baritone voice that
is muscular, bold, powerful, and rich. His vibrato is completely in
control and assists him in carrying the high notes with ease, gliding
them as though they were sliding on a lake of ice. Clean, soft, no
nics or pops. This extremely talented man also has great volume that
requires not a hint of body mike. When he went for the long,
sustaining notes I'm sure you could here him beyond the GSM parking
lot. It's that good! Several times throughout the evening his solos
were met with thunderous response from the audience. The best solo
work that evening came from Mr. Anderson, examples include "Were Thine
That Special Face", "Where Is The Life That Late I Led?" and "So in
Love".

Davidson also brings to the table comedic chops that were layered and
colorful as his costumes. His comedic attacks on the hidden meanings
in several Porter lyrics were delicious bon-bons handed to the
audience. His facial expressions and comedic delivery wonderfully
assisted him in giving the outstanding performance that stole the
show.

Jacquelyn Lengfelder portrays the role of "Kate/Lilli Vanessi". Ms.
Lengfelder in a couple of scenes had a hard time keeping up with
Davidson in the comedy patter and flow. She does get her comedic
footing set & grounded after a couple scenes, thus providing
a pleasurable & entertaining performance. Vocally she has a
winning soprano voice that sails with charm and ease in such songs
as " So In Love", and "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple".

Lengfelder and Davidson do exquisite work with the classic Porter
duet, "Wunderbar". Both voices melt like butter onto the pages of the
score, creating tasty musical moments for the audience to savor.

C. Nicholas Morris is splendid as the gambling addicted lothario
"Bill Calhoun/Lucentio". A smashing dancer who does exuberant work
in several numbers, especially in "Bianca". Nicholas also has some
enchanting singing duets with Christine Cunningham like "Why Can't You
Behave?" and "Always True To You (In My Fashion)".

Some of the supporting and featured performers also shimmer brightly
within the company.

James Williams steals several scenes with his homage to General
MacArthur as "Harrison Howell", right down to the pipe. His dark,
mellifluous baritone voice makes his only number "From This Moment On"
another major highlight of the evening.

Maurice Johnson as "Paul" and Marilyn Twyman as "Hattie" also deliver
immensely enjoyable performances. Johnson leads the company with "Too
Darn Hot" while Twyman leads the cast in the opener "Another Op'nin'
Another Show."

Kudos also go to Mikey Abrams and Scott Taylor who add zany fun to
the roles of the suitors. With Cunningham and Morris these four make
"Tom, Dick, or Harry" another crowd pleasing number.

Also look for some very sexy, sensual, and solid dance work provided
by Joi Jackson. She is the lead female dancer in the company number
"Cantiamo D'Amore". Let's just say that Ms. Jackson is much hotter
than Beyonce in that number!

Finally a round of applause to the work done by the super duper
ensemble of dancers and singers. They sing with strong, clean voices
& dance up a storm that give the show its enthusiasm and merriment.

KMK does show its age, but the score has held up quite well over the
years. There are some really terrific numbers within that score that
will have your toes tapping to the music. Even after all these years
Porter should be very tickled that his score lives on.

GRADE: B+

There are two more shows for those of you who are interested in seeing it: tonight at 8 p.m. & tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Granville Arts Center in Garland.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Thanks

To my theatre friends (you know who you are), this one's for you:

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.
– Sacha Guitry, playwright

Looking forward to some more good laughs this weekend!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Today's Quote

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
– Voltaire, author

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wait & See

Had the Lyric Stage audition yesterday. Went well, I guess. Sang for Steve again. Got to see my good friend Gary Okeson, who has to be one of the best accompanists in Dallas. Only had to sing one piece. Then again, they've heard me sing before. Know I don't have a shot at a lead since they're planning to stay true to the original production (which means I'm the wrong color). But maybe chorus will work out. Won't know for a few weeks.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Done

Just finished our final performance of the weekend. No flubs, but that one ha-ha scene was still funny despite everything going right. We're off until Thursday. Yeah! I'm ready to catch up on some rest. Way too many late nights with the friends! Should be a quiet week all in all.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Opening Night

After a rather disasterous dress rehearsal (albeit hillariously funny), opening night went off without any major hitches. The house was full, the crowd was participatory, the singers were on. If we can make it through tonite without another ha-ha at the end of Act I, we'll be flying high.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We Have a Show

Tonight was first full dress rehearsal where we ran the show straight through. Just the thought of only having two full run-throughs is terrifying, however, I am pleasantly surprised that it went as well as it did. Granted, there are still things to improve upon, but there always are even up to the last performance--no matter how many full runs you've had previously. The fact that we can actually get through the whole thing without having to stop is progress. All in all, I think it's going to be a great show.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Spring Chicken

So how do you know you're not as young as you once were? You stay up late & then pay the price...for days on end. And you know it's really bad when someone says, "you look tired." Great, is it really that obvious??? I remember when I used to pull BODs in college without blinking an eye then went to class all day the next day. I wonder now how I ever managed it & still made straight As.

Lots of late nights at the theatre these days, which means even later nights once I'm home trying to unwind. I don't know what it is about singing that winds me up tighter than a ten-day clock. But it takes at least an hour for me to even think about going to bed once I get home. And when you don't get enough gab time with your theatre friends at rehearsal, that means some extra time at home on myspace. Suddenly, you look up & it's way later than you thought. Still, I wouldn't trade that time.

So I've been on the fence the last few days about whether I might audition for Lyric's next show. I finally got off the fence & scheduled a time. I don't know much about the show they're doing. I just know that, if I make it, I'll be singing three shows back-to-back with no rest in between. At some point, I need to make enough money to quit my dayjob! But alas, that will be a while. Plus, I'm not vested. (Sigh.) I'll keep you posted on the audition.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sudoku...I'm Addicted

I've always loved a good puzzle. I guess that's why I did so well on those IQ tests as a child--they were all about puzzles. These days, puzzles help pass a slow day. I'm always on the hunt for new puzzles b/c I get bored pretty easily. I have the attention span of a gnat, you know. While I love the old standbys--solitaire, free cell, spider, crosswords, logic problems--my absolute favorite is sudoku. It combines two of my favorite things--puzzles & numbers. I can literally waste an entire day playing this game! It's helped pass many an idle day, rehearsal, performance, bus trip...well, you get the idea. Haven't tried it? Well, you're in luck. It's online!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Kate Ensemble

One of my fellow cast members pointed out to me that I had said the guys in the ensemble are weak singers. So I'm going to give a little update on the singing since I haven't really commented on that since first rehearsal week. I did say the guys were weak, but let's face it, the guys are always weak in the beginning. I have to say that I've been very impressed with how quickly this group of guys has stepped up. They've picked up quicker than any group I've sung with previously. So kudos to you! The girls have been great from the beginning, but girls tend to be better readers so that was to be expected. We've really improved as well. Overall, the singing in this show is fabulous--from the bottom up. We open in a week, so come see us!!!

Moonrise

In my opinion, a moonrise beats a sunrise any day of the week. Tonight would be a perfect example. On my way home from rehearsal, the moon was just coming up over the horizon. And it was particularly stunning--half full, huge, and orange. I tried to take a photo when I got home, but the moon was hidden behind the rooftops. By the time it's high enough for a photo, I doubt it will be as pretty. Anyway, it was all I could do to stay on the road on the way home. Brings back lots of memories--sitting by the lake with boyfriends or bestfriends...having those long, deep conversations....(sigh). Memories.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Gearing Up

Rehearsals for Kate are really gearing up. I'm a little nervous actually. The times I've sung in operas, we were much further along in staging at this point than we seem to be with Kate. Maybe it just feels like we're really far behind b/c the staging rehearsals have been so disjointed and my opera rehearsals always seemed to be in sequence. At any rate, tonight is the last night we should be covering a new scene. I still have lots of music to learn & staging to go over & over in my head. But I think I'm getting it pretty well. I'm just thankful I haven't had to do any dancing!!!

Derek's gone to Vegas for his company's nat'l sales meeting, so I'm footloose and fancy free the rest of this week & part of the weekend. I'm off Thursday & Friday, and I plan to have lots of girly me time. It's nice to have that. Tomorrow is vet day. All four kiddos need to go for one reason or another. Friday I'm getting my hair done & picking up a pair of dance shoes I ordered. Other than that, I plan to catch up on some scrapbooking & enjoy watching what I want to watch on tv.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Mouse??


This is exactly the look & response my cats would give me...unless it involved an interesting insect or a mouse stuffed with catnip!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Officially on the Web

Since we've all become so internet-dependent, even in professions such as singing, I decided to build a professional website. Keep in mind, I'm not a programmer or web designer, so I used a template provided by my service provider. It's not exactly what I would have chosen had I gotten to build from the ground up, but at the moment, I think it will do. Please take a minute to stop on by & let me know what you think. Please post your comments here in the blog.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vacation Catch-Up

Because I have a long weekend, I'm able to spend a lot more time catching up on things that I've neglected while being entrenched in music. So hang on for a long ride while I give you the Reader's Digest version of what's been going on in our family:

  • My brother is doing well at the DPS academy. In fact, he's number 10 out of 110 cadets. Go, David!
  • My brother and his girlfriend of 4 yrs are getting married in September, just one week after he graduates from the academy. Needless to say, September will be a busy month for my family.
  • My cousin Landon recently got married. We all really like Summer & hope that she learns how to fit into our crazy bunch.
  • Derek has had another record month with Stryker. He blew his March sales number out of the water. Year-to-date, he's about where he should be to make quota. Go, Derek!
  • Of all my girlhood friends, I'm officially the last hold-out for kids. Congrats to Jen & Chrissy who are each expecting in late November/early December and to my cousin-in-law Emmy who is expecting in late September. And congrats to all the others who've beat me to the punch in the last few years.
  • My dad officially re-entered the work force. After retiring from the State, he spent a few years catching up on his honey-do list. Now, he's working at the airport in Sulphur Springs. I'm not exactly sure what he's doing. I just know he's his boss's go-to guy. Now there's a surprise!
  • June has been a busy month for birthdays--Derek turned 30+ & David turned 24 & our friend Ben celebrated 30+. In the midst of all my singing, I managed to pull off a big party for Derek's birthday. We had about 30 people over for a fish fry. A great time was had by all.
  • One of my judges gave me tickets to see Le Mis at Dallas Summer Musicals. I took my college roommate, her mom, and my mom. We had a terrific time & it was so great to catch up.
  • My grandparents are doing pretty well. My grandfather is still in the nursing in home in SS. Parkinson's is really progressing, but he still knows everyone. So at least his memory remains. He's had a few rough falls over the last six months, but he's not broken anything for which we are very thankful. My grandmother is staying busy with volunteer work, which she is enjoying very much.
  • My cousin made a safe return from Iraq. Thank you to everyone who prayed for him & sent him words of encouragement. However, Derek's cousin shipped out and is currently running patrols thru the hot zones. So please add Isaac to your prayer list.
  • My uncle Gregg was recently diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer. With his first round of experimental drugs, the doctors have been able to shrink the tumor. So they are very hopeful they will be able to shrink it enough to do surgery followed by chemo and/or radiation. Do keep the Hammargren family in your prayers.
  • Derek & I will be celebrating our fifth anniversary at our church this August. We're so thankful to have such a loving church family & a place of worship to call home.
As you can see, I've really neglected a lot of family news, and I'm sure there's even more that I've forgotten. But this will get you mostly up-to-date.

I'm very much enjoying the long 4th of July weekend. I was scheduled to be in the theatre all weekend, but thankfully the singers got a reprieve. Thus, I will be off for the entire holiday. I spent yesterday catching up on my house cleaning. The house was really neglected during the opera so it took quite a while to get it back in some semblance of order. My sweet husband did his best to keep things clean. But everything really needed a good once-over. With that out of the way, I can enjoy the remainder of the holiday catching up on rest & running around. In fact, tomorrow I'm going dress shopping with mom. So it will be a whole day of girl stuff. I think we're cooking out with the neighbors tomorrow & maybe enjoy some of the area fireworks shows. I hope to go to the library for a new book to read in which case I plan to spend Tuesday reading in my favorite chair.

I hope you all enjoy the holiday, as well. A little reflection upon how richly we are blessed is certainly in order. Can you imagine living in oppression as so many still do? It's really unfathomable. Thanks be to God for our freedom!