You-review-it Monday

May 31, 2009
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So what did you do on the A&E front this weekend? 

Did you catch "Up" at a theater near you? Venture to Buck Creek Players to see the U.S. community theater premiere of "Grey Gardens"? Or jam with Dan Zanes at the Hilbert Circle Theatre?

Me, I'm still in New Jersey, recovering from a few days in NYC that included four Broadway and off-Broadway shows, a TV show taping (as audience member), a phenomenally fun evening of cabaret (more on that in print or here soon), and three days of Book Expo, the publishing industry trade show in which I signed my latest books and had the chance to see a wide range of authors from Richard Russo to Bruce Lansky, from Joyce Carol Oates to Joe Scarborough, and from Emeril Lagasse to R.L. Stein. 

So what did I miss in Indy this weekend?
  • I watched the most exciting Roller Derby bout I have ever seen! Naptown vs. Fort Wayne! It was a nail-biter from start to finish. Naptown's Sirens came away victorious 78-70... but not after numerous lead changes!

    Oh wait, maybe this should have gone in the sports section.
  • Saturday capped a week of work in Seattle: clams and regional wines al fresco, then a memorable concert by the Seattle Symphony. Benaroya Hall (which opened in 1998) is a jewel with an arching, windowed lobby and an auditorium that does wonders with wood and light. Joshua Roman, formerly the orchestra’s principal cellist, played the world premiere of a concerto by David Stock.

    The work isn’t for everyone’s taste, being a 21st-century piece with harmonies that may unsettle more traditional ears. It is lush and resonant, though, with much to offer in the hands of artists like young Roman, conductor James DePreist and the able orchestra. It’s in three movements, played without pause. I listened mostly with eyes closed while savoring the rich textures and tangy angularity, then delighted in Roman’s encore of the prelude from Bach’s first suite for unaccompanied cello.

    The Seattle Symphony played well, but I’d give Indy the edge in warmth and precision of strings. Great wind section, though, and DePreist led the program masterfully. The concerto was preceded by Smetana’s Bartered Bride overture and followed by Rachmaninoff’s last work: Symphonic Dances, with signature Rach moments but also hints of jazz (alto sax, for example—how French!).

    My evening was a total sensory experience, from the balmy, outdoor dining to the sumptuous design of the ten-year-old Benaroya hall. The music took center stage, though, thanks to deft collaboration by artists who obviously enjoyed the whole enterprise. Mr. Stock was on hand to hear the delayed premiere of his concerto, which was written in 2001 but which, after the original soloist took ill, languished until Joshua Roman made it his own.

    Here’s to being sent out of town on business . . .
  • I made it down to Buck Creek for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this community theatre in the middle of nowhere. Grey Gardens is a very well done production from the set and lighting to the outstanding ensemble cast. No weak links here, and every character has a chance to shine. The musical itself is interesting, but could use a little trimming and has only a few standout numbers. But worth the trip and you can't beat the value for the price and hospitality shown by the Buck Creek volunteers.
  • I took a painting over to The Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute (it was accepted into the Wabash Valley Regional Art Competition).

    We traveled back from the Haute via 40 and partook in one of the many yardsales scattered up and down that scenic east west corridor.

    We also got carried away with a viewing of Up! It was a thoroughly captivating tale, geared toward an adult audience though the kids in the theater did seem to keep up and enjoy it as well. We were invested in the characters. We even commented how much more invested we were in their outcome than that of those in Terminator which we saw last week.

    Put together a new BBQ grill and enjoyed some of the beautiful weather on Sunday afternoon. A lovely Indiana weekend.
  • Took the family to see Night at the Museum 2 at the Tibbs Drive-In Theatre. The movie was so-so, but it provided a wonderful evening for the kids. A cool, clear starlit night; no humidity, no bugs, no crowds. A great 1st time experience for them.
  • We went to Locals Only to see a local garage band called We're Not Mexican. The bass player, Lindsay Manfredi, is a friend of ours. Locals Only, 56th & Keystone behind the Mousetrap, showcases local bands (gee, I wonder if that's how they got their name?) 6 nights a week.

    We're Not Mexican plays a combination of garage band punk, grunge and rockabilly. 3 musicians putting out a lot of music. Oh, and in today's world where neighbors hassle you over the least amount of noise, maybe they should be called a basement band. Check out their Myspace page and listen to Red:

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