Windover may change your mind about clowns

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001

Clowns are just downright creepy to some people. Long before Stephen King created the ultimate scary clown for his horror novel "It," kids and adults alike have been edging away from the costumed comedians with their greasepaint faces and big shoes. My niece was terrified of the clown at her fourth birthday party, and it was her own dad.

Maybe it was the low-budget circus clowns or seeing rodeo clowns almost gored to death at the Pendleton Roundup, but clowns have never been funny to me. Christian clowns with their well-meaning evangelical agendas and those black velvet paintings of the clown with the big tear didn't help.

My viewpoint was shifted last week thanks to Emily Windover. "HelloHiThanks," Windover's original one-woman clown show, is hysterical. Like her character's overstuffed red suitcase, it's brimming with imagination, silliness, talent and charm. It's easy to like. Within minutes Saturday afternoon she had adults giggling and kids blurting out advice. By the middle I was wiping my eyes.

Windover spares us the greasepaint and fright wig, opting for a simple red nose, quick wits and a well-written script. Windover plays Murphy, an earnest soul trying to put on a show that is repeatedly fraught with minor setbacks.

When I was little, my cousins and the neighbor kids would put on little shows in our bedrooms, singing goofy songs and making our stuffed animals dance around. Sometimes our parents indulged us as an audience, but instead of applause, we usually got scolded for the scenes that had us jumping on our beds. Windover's show is reminiscent of that ebullient childlike spirit - except she really is talented.

The audience Saturday spanned a 60-year age range and the material was not above or below anyone. It's pure entertainment, and don't let your clown prejudice keep you away.

"HelloHiThanks" shows at 7 p.m. Friday and 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Goldtown Nickelodeon Theater. Tickets are at the door on a sliding scale of $5 to $15.

Another event that invokes the playful spirit of creation is "Found and Assembled in Alaska," the art exhibit opening Friday at the Alaska State Museum. Some of Alaska's best-known painters, sculptors and artists have turned their talents to assemblage and built artwork based on found objects.

It's an inspiring assortment. Some are Rube Goldberg contraptions, some are visual jokes and most are clearly an investment of time and considerable skill. An opening reception with some of the artists and the curators will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the museum. Exhibit co-curator Julie Decker of Anchorage will talk about the project at 7 p.m. at the museum.

Another exhibit opens Friday with a concurrent reception just a 10-minute walk from the state museum at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery. "Double Vision: Two Photographic Perspectives," features photographs by Shar Fox and Katja Geldhof. The reception offers a chance to meet the artists and talk with them about their work.

If you're looking for holiday spirit, there are two good opportunities this weekend. Perseverance Theatre, the Juneau Symphony, The Alaska Youth choir and a large community chorus have teamed up for "King Island Christmas."

"King Island," based on a children's book by locals Jean Rogers and Rie Munoz, will run six times this week only. It opens at 7:30 tonight and shows at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday in the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. Tickets are $18 to $22 Friday and Saturday nights, depending on age. The shows tonight and Sunday and the matinees are $13 to $17.

Juneau musician J. Althea has rallied local young theatrical talent for the past five years, producing a variety of one-act plays. This weekend director Althea, 14 middle-school-age actors and a few adults bring the "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to the stage.

Like "King Island," "Christmas Pageant" is also based on a children's book. It tells the story of what happens when the Herdman kids, known as a small town's meanest family, join the community's annual Christmas pageant. The one-hour play runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Northern Light United Church. Admission is free but donations will be accepted.

A musical celebration of the life of bassist Tim Wood will be held Sunday night at the Alaskan Hotel Bar, beginning at 7 p.m. Wood, who died last month after a long battle with cancer, played in a number of Juneau bands over the past 20 years. Rockfish, CNotes, BNatural Boys, Salsa Borealis and the Dock Tones will take turns on stage and donations at the door will benefit Hospice and Home Care of Juneau.

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