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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:15 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 14, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Members' Show opening reception at The Light Factory
Photo by Michael O'Neill
  • Photo by Michael O'Neill

Vir Das at The Comedy Zone

The Fox on the Fairway at Davidson College's Duke Family Performance Hall

Alive After Five w/ Hot Sauce at Rooftop 210

Bastille Day Wine Pairing Dinner at Foxcroft Wine Co.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Today's Top 5: Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 13, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

At the Fork at Studio Movie Grill

Patabamba at Snug Harbor

Trivia at Angry Ale's

• Party in the Park w/ Band of Oz at Romare Bearden Park

Cocktails & Gardens at The Duke Mansion

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Today's Top 5: Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 1:07 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 12, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

BYO Wine Dinner at Corkbuzz

Fight Night Comedy Competition at The Comedy Zone

• LaserSpectacular presents the Music of Pink Floyd at Neighborhood Theatre

Trivia at Big Ben British Pub & Restaurant

• Black Fleet w/ Caged In, Space Wizard at Snug Harbor

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Today's Top 5: Saturday

Posted By on Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 9, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

All For One Brass Band at Snug Harbor

• Bash at the Bot: One Year Anniversary at Wooden Robot Brewery

• Chuck Johnson & Charlyhorse at Double Door Inn

• Hollywood Shoots Itself Film Series, screening Sunset Boulevard at ImaginOn

The Sammies at Visulite Theatre

Friday, July 8, 2016

Theater review: The Wizard of Oz

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 3:34 PM

So the tandem of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber is on the prowl again. Back in 2011, they decided that the classic 1939 screen musical, The Wizard of Oz, could be freshened up, expanded, and made suitable for the London stage. Or by the looks of Robert Jones’s scenic and costume designs, maybe they thought they could repackage the old L. Frank Baum gem and transform it into a Wicked sequel. The show played the Palladium for just over a year-and-a-half, opened and closed with an all-Canadian cast in Toronto in 2013, and began a nine-month North American tour shortly afterwards.

Now it’s nearing the end of another tour that began in Cleveland back in December. While the production and the whole idea of Webber and Rice mingling with Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg struck me as wild and daring, it’s obvious second thoughts about omissions from the original screenplay and score – not to mention the new songs – have long ago been struck from Lord Webber’s to-do list. And indeed, the current edition at Belk Theater this week is as polished as an emerald.

Yet the Arlen-Harburg “If I Were King of the Forest” is still missing. So it’s pure stubbornness or boneheadedness that accounts for the new creative team clinging – for five years! – to the notion that this wonderfully comical counterbalance to the wishful “Over the Rainbow” isn’t exponentially better than any of the songs they’ve replaced it with. Dear Andrew, if no one else has told you so, let me be the first.

The best of the new songs, “Bring Me the Broomstick,” gives Act 1 a thunderous ending. And the title character should get a song, don’t you think? Trouble is, the Wizard’s directive, sending Dorothy and friends off on their second quest after reaching Emerald City, occurs comparatively late in the movie, after all of its songs have been sung. There’s no remaining original material for Webber and Rice to use in weaving Act 2.

Of course, they write new songs, one of them for the Wicked Witch. The Green One’s “Red Shoes Blues” arguably contains Rice’s wittiest new lyrics, cementing my notion that we’re looking at the Witch through post-Wicked glasses. Similarly, a strain of bimbo conceit will be noticed in Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, replacing the saccharine fairy godmother hatched by MGM.

The new stage script by Webber and Jeremy Sams contrives reprises of “Over the Rainbow” and “If I Only Had a Brain,” with Rice repurposing the latter as “If We Only Had a Plan” when Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow must fend for themselves. Once the Wicked Witch [spoiler alert] is melted, Webber resurrects a song that had been on the cutting room floor for over 70 years as the Witch’s liberated Winkies sing “Hail-Hail! The Witch Is Dead” – a bizarre but delightful production number with nightsticks – reusing the melody from the joyous “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead.”

A subtler leaning toward Wicked may be discerned in Sarah Lasko’s portrayal of Dorothy Gale, more of an adolescent malcontent and less of a pre-pubescent castaway. There’s more wanderlust mixed into the yearning of “Over the Rainbow,” more defiance and less pouting in her confrontations with Lion, Wizard, and the Wicked Witch. The hambone element is dialed down a notch or two in Mark A. Harmon’s portraits of Professor Marvel and The Wizard, both of whom get new songs, yet he’s vivid enough for us to instantly realize that he’s also the officious Gatekeeper when we first arrive in Oz.

I liked Webber’s impulses in gently enhancing the comedy from Scarecrow and Tin Man. Not only are crows unafraid of Adam Vanek as the Man of Straw, they form a puppet trio singing backup in his “If I Only Had a Brain.” Always the most pallid of Dorothy’s friends in the movie, Jay McGill gets to spout flame from Tin Man’s funnel hat and make a variety of rusty and tinny sounds as he moves.
Robbed of his signature song, Aaron Fried must content himself to be the least important musically of Dorothy’s friends as the Cowardly Lion, but he emerges nevertheless as the most potent comedy force. With less innocence and naïveté in the New Millennium Dorothy to hate, Shani Hadjian can’t be nearly as wicked as the Wicked Witch was in the film, but she sells her song, and she’s pretty damn nasty as the implacable Miss Gulch. It’s harder for Rachel Womble to layer on comical notes as Glinda, particularly since designer Jones dresses the Good Witch in glittery midnight blue. You’re asking for trouble when you tamper with Tinkerbell or the Good Witch.

Technically, this Wizard is as advanced as any touring shows we’ve seen. Wonders of the scenery include scrim-filling projections taking us inside the Kansas tornado, a plastic Munchkinland with more color than a bag of Skittles, a swiveling Yellow Brick Road, and an illuminated clock outside the Witch’s Castle that suddenly conveys the pleadings of Uncle Henry and Auntie Em – in quaint black and white – dissolving into the Witch’s diabolical mockery.

Maybe just a notch below what you might expect on Broadway. The stage extravaganza adds about 16 minutes of running time to the movie version, and despite some extra shenanigans from the Lion, I found myself surprisingly moved when Dorothy had to say goodbye to her pals. Webber makes it clearer, when Dorothy wakes up in Kansas, that she really didn’t say goodbye to those cherished friends – a consolation for 2016 audiences that wasn’t necessary in 1939. That’s a shame.

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Today's Top 5: Friday

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 8, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Emily King at Visulite Theatre
Emily King (Photo by Shervin Lainez)
  • Emily King (Photo by Shervin Lainez)

Off the Wall at Petra's

Morgan Myles at Tin Roof

Unknown Luau at Unknown Brewing Co.

Well Red Comedy Tour at Warehouse PAC

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:39 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 7, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

Blackfoot Gypsies at The Evening Muse

QC TNT at Not Just Coffee

Alive After Five w/ Breakfast Club at Rooftop 210

• Charlotte Knights vs. Gwinnett Braves at BB&T Ballpark

Shiprocked at Snug Harbor

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Today's Top 5: Wednesday

Posted By on Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 5:01 PM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 6, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

• Dixie’s Never Wear a Tube Top While Riding a Mechanical Bull at Booth Playhouse
Photo by Bradford Rogne.
  • Photo by Bradford Rogne.

• Patabamba at Snug Harbor

• Charlotte Knights vs. Pawtuckett Red Sox at BB&T Ballpark

Trivia and Karaoke at Tin Roof

Party in the Park w/ Flashback at Romare Bearden Park

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Today's Top 5: Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 10:39 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, July 5, 2016 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

The Wizard of Oz at Belk Theater

Beer Ed at Growlers Pourhouse

Vans Warped Tour at PNC Music Pavilion

Cocktails and Gardens at The Duke Mansion

Sublime at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheater

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Theater review: [They Fight]

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Scrappy company that they are, Shakespeare Carolina didn’t simply throw in the towel when rights to stage Albert Camus’s Caligula were yanked away. No, as you can see at Duke Energy Theater, they decided to put up a fight – actually, eight of them from a cross-section of the Shakespeare’s work, plays that we’ve seen often in Charlotte as well as a couple we haven’t. [They Fight] is thus a pupu power platter of fight scenes from Hamlet, King Lear, As You Like It, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, plus a double serving of Romeo and Juliet.

Conceiving, adapting, and fight choreographing the show, Charles Holmes has a good grasp of the guilty pleasure aspect of what ShakesCar is presenting. We get very little in Holmes’s set-up about what made Coriolanus ripe for his tragic fall and even less about his toxic mom, Volumnia. Nah, we’re going to “skip all that and go to the last three pages.” So Coriolanus fights Aufidius – not exactly as it happens in the text – but we’re spared the details of why they’re fighting. We do get the idea that Aufidius regards our hero as a traitor, and the outcome of his hubris is the same.

Other irreverent quips are sprinkled among the concise introductions. Once the characters strut onto the stage, Holmes’ alterations of the script only became annoying in a more familiar scene, where Edmund’s belated penitence in Lear after he is mortally wounded no longer occurs. Amid the hurly-burly of that brotherly brawl between Edmund and Edgar, which of the women is Goneril and which is Regan only gets clarified when one poisons the other – if you’re already familiar with the script.

But with less than two weeks to hone this fight anthology into performance trim, the cast does well, auguring well for ShakesCar’s upcoming productions of The Taming of the Shrew and August Strindberg’s Miss Julie later this summer. From a fighting standpoint, another fight choreographer or two would help to prevent us from thinking we’re seeing the same thrusts, slashes, and parries over and over. But Holmes and stage director Chris O‘Neill are cagey enough to insert fights, one in each half of the show, that leap outside the swashbuckling envelope.

The first of these is the bout between Orlando and Charles the Wrestler from the opening act of As You Like It, with the imposing David Hayes portraying Charles with full WWWF-style villainy, strutting invincibly and baiting the crowd as he seemingly destroys the hapless Zade Patterson as our hero – to the horror of Amy Hilliard as Rosalind and Mandy Kendall as Celia. Patterson returned in a far more comical turn after intermission as Cloten, the spoiled son of the evil conniving queen in Cymbeline – with as much aptitude for mortal combat as Tim Conway.

David Hensley as Guiderius butchers this arrogant pipsqueak, with Kevin Sario as Guiderius’ brother and Manu Barbe as their “father”/kidnapper looking on. Before tasting Guiderius’ sword, Cloten is also on the receiving end of some badinage about his clothing, so Kendall, doubling as costumer, rightfully drapes Hensley in a dopey, gleaming outfit that underscores Cloten’s foppery. Looks good on Hensley, though, after he emerges victorious.

Sad to say, Kendall and O’Neill had just been asleep at the wheel in the Lear showdown, where that bastard Edmund is not supposed to recognize his legitimate brother Edgar until after he is defeated. Yeah, that Lear scene could stand some rethinking.

With the second half of [They Fight] rounded out by the classic fencing bout from Hamlet and the famed “Lay on, Macduff!” clash from Macbeth, the show attains heights that the early action can’t match. Pitted against Hamlet as Laertes, Ted Patterson does get his chance to make his confession on the brink of death, while Kevin Aoussou adds the most satisfying portion to the carnage as the justly traduced King Claudius. Holmes makes his most impressive combat appearance as the deluded Macbeth, while the strapping Hayes is more of a Galahad than an underdog as the implacable Macduff.

Now the fights from Romeo and Juliet, both presented before intermission, are lively enough – and the second one, Tybalt versus Mercutio, is certainly climactic. But Romeo certainly earns Mercutio’s “both your houses” imprecation with his unfortunate intervention, not a flattering farewell to this great Shakespearean hero. So Holmes and O’Neill have judged rightly in placing these populous scuffles before the break, with Katie Bearden as Tybalt, Robert Brafford as Mercutio, and Andrew White as the peace-loving Romeo.

But why have an intermission at all when your running time totals less than 70 minutes? Three more fights, one less intermission, and two more weeks of rehearsal to sharpen the tech and the combat would make [They Fight] very worthy of a second round. It would be fun – more fun – to see what this show would look like if it were brought back in less haste. While Holmes’ choreography ably simulates the fight scenes of Hollywood action flicks, it would add a little if Holmes and his combatants owned up to the fakery and absurdity of it all. Just once in a while.

Oh yeah, and it would also be nice to see Caligula at the Duke someday. That is, if the sonuvabitch holding onto the rights so tightly would let the show go on.

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