Best Bets: Classic play to clowns, Marcia Ball to 'Amahl'

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2002

Gallery Walk offers the opportunity to take in a wealth of artwork this weekend. There's also some fine dynamic live entertainment to complement the fine art.

After hitting the galleries Friday night, head to Centennial Hall for some dancing and great upbeat music with Marcia Ball and her band.

Ball is a rockin' singer and pianist from Texas-Louisiana border country. Juneau Jazz and Classics has been trying to get her to Juneau for years. She blends rock and roll, blues and Cajun music into a danceable Southern boogie. Linda Windeborn of Juneau saw her perform a few years ago at the New Orleans Jazzfest and has been recommending the Juneau concert to all her friends.

"That girlfriend can rock," she said. "She can get a crowd up on their feet. Nobody was sitting still."

Jazz and Classics is setting up Centennial Hall to accommodate dancers and folks who want to sit and listen. The show is all-ages and parents are welcome to bring kids. Marcia Ball's "New Orleans Dance Party" starts at 8 p.m.

This is the final weekend for "The Glass Menagerie" at Perseverance Theatre. If you haven't caught the show, see it before it's gone.

I remember this play as a voyeuristic peek through the apartment window into the claustrophobic home of a frustrated family. Perseverance opens the show up in a big way, emphasizing the staging and performances, and the result is a moving and entertaining production.

It's still an emotional story, but it's not off-putting or oppressive. Director Peter DuBois and the cast and crew draw out the language and theatrical qualities to make it an imaginative theater piece. The larger-than-life set pieces, the surreal aspects, the occasionally exaggerated gestures and cinematic touches draw attention to the fact we're watching a play, not a depressing documentary about a domineering mother.

The set is great and the actors use it well. For example, the menagerie is a symbol for Laura's fantasy world, so why not make it a real place she escapes to - a weird, dreamy area that spirals out from reality. It beats having her play with tiny figurines in some private corner.

Check out the way Jake Waid and Annie Stokes subtly choreograph their movement and delivery to match the music. There are a lot of small touches throughout the play that add up to a top-notch show.

The play runs tonight, Friday and Saturday nights, and the final show is 2 p.m. Sunday.

"In Cahoots," the clown show for grown-ups at Perseverance Theatre, is heartily amusing. It's a fast-paced hour of silliness and revelry, featuring Roblin Davis, John Leo and Emily Windover. Windover has revisited Murphy, her character from "HelloHiThanks," the clown show she produced last year. Just watching Windover's expressive face work is worth the admission. Murphy is complemented by Davis' portly clown character and Leo's silent, hyper clown. The show is high-energy and fun. Catch it at 11 p.m. Friday or Saturday.

Davis will be running from McPhetres Hall to Perseverance this weekend. He's singing and acting in Juneau Lyric Opera's new Christmas-themed production "Amahl and the Night Visitors," as well as clowning in his own show. The lyric opera will present six performances of the opera during the coming two weeks. The 50-minute musical production opens Friday, Dec. 6, at McPhetres Hall.

Cast member Lena Simmons said the Christmas show is a good opportunity to introduce children to opera. "Amahl" is the story of the three wise men and an adventure they have when they stay with Amahl the shepherd and his mother one night on their way to Bethlehem.

Simmons said the characters and plot are straightforward and the length is kid-friendly. The lead character is a kid, and the kings have great costumes. The show is sung in English.

"It's heartwarming and delightful and fun to be in," Simmons said. "It's fun to sing. The kings have incredible music and their entrance is just gorgeous."

"Italian For Beginners" shows seven times this weekend at the Gold Town Nickelodeon. This Danish film with English subtitles is part of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council's winter film series.

This film has gotten good reviews as a romantic comedy that takes the time to develop characters. It's light but not insubstantial. Set in a small town in Denmark, the film tells of several lonely hearts who take a beginning Italian class as a way to meet people and, they hope, start a romance.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.



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