Weekend Best Bets

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2001

From Perseverance Theatre's "STAR" to Juneau Dance Unlimited's Summer Arts Festival, Juneau's arts-oriented summer camps provide great outlets for creativity - and they're fun for families to watch as well. Two to check out this weekend are JDU's Concert in the Park performance and the Alaska Theatre of Youth's production of "Runaway Fable."

The JDU Summer Arts Festival is open to kids, teen-agers and adults, all of whom have spent the last two weeks working with guest instructors from around the world. All three age groups will come together for a performance at 7 p.m. Friday, a precursor to their final shows on June 28 and June 29.

It sounds like a great show all around, but the singing should be particularly impressive. Community members - including Bill Garry, a familiar face to Juneau Lyric Opera aficionados - have been working with Guest Instructor Christian Fletcher, who teaches musical theater in New York City. On Friday, they'll sing Broadway favorites such as "June Is Busting Out All Over," from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Carousel." Also performing are the Daughters of the New Moon belly-dancing troop - a perennial Concert in the Park favorite - and Koinania. Manya Pungowiyi is master of ceremonies.

Fletcher also will teach a master class in association with the Juneau Lyric Opera from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at McPhetres Hall. All the spots for singers have been filled, but interested parties can choose to audit the class for a small fee. If you're interested in singing, musical theater or opera, it might be a worthwhile experience. For more information about the class, call 789-4604.

Another promising youth show is Alaska Theatre of Youth's performance of "Runaway Fable." The story revolves around the misadventures of Aesop's son, Aemon, who runs away from home only to find that he can't escape his father's fables. Seventeen actors ranging in age from 8 to 12 have been working on the show for three weeks. I participated in this camp myself when I was younger. In my experience, ATY's goal is to put on a professional show that's enjoyable for the whole family. It sounds like that's still the case.

The show will be performed three times - 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday - in the Gastineau Elementary School gym. "Fable" aims to be both funny and enlightening, so for young children there are plenty of moral messages to be had.

The Sitka Summer Music Festival wraps up this weekend, and 10 of the artists who performed will come to Juneau on Sunday to put on a concert. I've attended these performances for the last several years, and they're simply amazing. The musicians, all of whom are incredibly gifted, play works both obscure and familiar, and they always manage to seem like they're having fun. The concert is at 7 p.m. at Northern Light United Church. Tickets are available at both Hearthside Books locations, and cost $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.

Time to register for Perseverance Theatre's Cross Training Summer Writing and Performance Project is almost up. The program lasts from June 26 to July 3, and classes offered include acting, design, poetry, fiction, play writing, choreography and solo performance. Perseverance is emphasizing the interdisciplinary aspect of the arts, and this is an opportunity for interested students to see how the different aspects of writing and performance work together.

In speaking to people who attended last year's program, I've heard nothing but positive feedback. Mae Christenson, a local writer who attended a workshop with guest instructor Thalia Fields, said the experience rejuvenated her interest in writing.

"I wrote more in that week-and-a-half and the couple weeks following than I had in the previous two and a half, three years," she said.

Fields, who teaches poetry and short-fiction classes, will return this year. Other teachers include Peter DuBois, artistic director for Perseverance, and Chay Yew, a noted playwright whose works have been produced in New York, London, Dallas and Los Angeles. Call 364-2421 for more information.

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