Best Bets: Autumn concert and two classic dramas

Posted: Thursday, October 24, 2002

Strong-willed women and bullheaded men are featured in two plays opening this weekend in Juneau. A concert and an Israeli film are also in the offing.

Riley Woodford is the Empire's Arts & Entertainment editor. He can be reached at

The Juneau Symphony launches the fall season Saturday night, Oct. 26, with a concert at Centennial Hall. The symphony's principal flutist Sally Schlichting will be featured in Reinecke's Flute Concerto. The concert will also include Mozart's "Don Giovanni" Overture and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade."

Maestro Kyle Wiley Pickett will give an informal preconcert talk at 7 p.m. This is not a lecture, but a casual presentation about the music. Pickett offers interesting details and stories that really compliment the music.

The symphony has made a number of small modifications to the staging at Centennial Hall. The quality of the sound in the hall varies, depending on where you sit, and the symphony's changes are intended to even that out. I know some folks are worried about the venue but I have heard some excellent concerts in the hall. The symphony is also using live video and will set up a screen and project the performance as it plays. There will also be subtle sound reinforcement. There are some weird dead spots and if you find yourself sitting in one, move to another seat at the intermission.

The classic Greek play "Antigone" will be staged four times this weekend only. The relatively short (about a half-hour) production is the latest offering by Perseverance Theatre's Young Shakespeare Training Company.

I haven't seen this show yet, but I was thoroughly entertained by "The Merchant of Venice" and "Julius Caesar," the last two shows that involved many of the same young actors. The players are 11 to 15 years old, but all have training and stage experience under their belts.

"Antigone" will be performed in an unusual venue, the Marie Drake Planetarium, and the audience will surround the performers on all sides. Admission is free but seating is limited and folks should call 364-2421, ext. 26, to reserve seats.

Theatre in the Rough brings Shakespeare's "King Lear" to the stage Saturday night for a four-week run in Juneau. Like "Antigone," the story looks at a king who makes a (bad) decision and then refuses to back down, with disastrous consequences.

I read "Lear" in high school and loved it, but I had a literature teacher holding my hand and leading me through it. It is a great story, but not a simple one. The cast and crew of Theatre in the Rough are well-qualified to bring it to life. I watched a rehearsal this week and was reminded again of the talents of all the people involved. Producers Katie Jensen and Aaron Elmore have tremendous theatrical sensibilities and bring out the best in the people they work with.

All performances are at 7:30 p.m. in McPhetres Hall. There will be a dress rehearsal performance Thursday, Oct. 24, and the show opens Saturday, Oct. 26. Because there is no Friday show, there will be a show Sunday, Oct. 27, the only Sunday show of the run. All other performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, through Nov. 16.

The staging is simple, but the costumes are outstanding. An arsenal of medieval weaponry adorns the cast and swords are drawn. I have nothing against the bombast of Hollywood movies, with tanker trucks exploding into oil refineries and space ships blowing up, but Elmore and Jensen manage to get more drama and impact out of a good script and pieces of silk and metal.

If you're forced to choose this weekend between the symphony or "King Lear," go to the concert. Lear will be performed 14 times over the next month and this concert is a one-time opportunity. The symphony performs just four times a year.

This weekend the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater is presenting "Time of Favor," an Israeli film set in the hills of the West Bank. It's a contemporary drama, a political thriller and love story set amid the current social and political climate of Israel and offering insight into contemporary Israeli society.

"Time of Favor" tells the story of Menachem, a deeply religious young man and a superb soldier. Thanks in part to the influence of Rabbi Meltzer, Menachem gets the chance to create his own elite Orthodox unit for the Israeli army. Menachem also has a quiet crush on the rabbi's daughter Michal. He and Michal are both distraught when the rabbi tries to arrange Michal's marriage to a Yeshiva student who is also Menachem's friend.

Michal is a fiercely independent young woman and resents her father's devotion to Israel at the expense of his family. The situation gets far more complicated when Menachem is implicated in a fanatical plot to blow up the Dome of the Rock, the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Riley Woodford will be out of town for the next two weeks. He can be reached at the Empire at

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