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The season's final performance of What Makes It Great? with Rob Kapilow will take place this Friday evening, June 2 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. Tenor Michael Winther and soprano Terri Klausner along with host Rob Kapilow will explore The Songs of Stephen Sondheim.
Tenor Michael Winther has appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia, 1776, Artist Descending a Staircase, and Damn Yankees. He has also appeared with New York Theatre Workshop, Lincoln Center Theatre, Goodspeed Musicals, Yale Rep and currently, a collaboration with jazz pianist Fred Hersch.
Soprano Terri Klausner has been seen by audiences across America in productions of A Chorus Line, Sophisticated Ladies, and Evita. She was chosen to play Eva Peron in Evita and did so in the musical’s premiere performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles. She continued in that role in all the matinees for the Broadway Company. She has sung at the White House, Carnegie Hall and as a headliner in New York’s top nightclubs.
You can find Michael and Terri's complete bios here.
In what we are pretty sure is a first, an employee of the Celebrity Series will appear onstage at a Celebrity Series performance (in the capacity of a performer that is, we're not talking encore flower delivery here). Joining Michael Winther and Terri Klausner for one number will be the Celebrity Series' own Carrie Cheron. A singer/songwriter in a folk vein who performs frequently in New England and around the country, Carrie also studied singing at Indiana Univeristy and New England Conservatory. Lots of people in Boston's folk music community already know about Carrie's vocal chops, now Celebrity Series audiences can to find out, too.
The Royal Ballet is in the midst of its 75th anniversary season and tributes, parties and special performances (including for The Queen on June 8) abound. Author Zoe Anderson has written the literary companion piece to all this quite understandable hoopla. The Royal Ballet: 75 Years, released by Faber and Faber on April 20, has thus far been reviewed by Clement Crisp for The Financial Times of London and by John Percival for Danceviewtimes.com.
Anderson herself tells us about the research and the people she encountered in writing the book in a first person narrative for The Independent on April 14. Here's a snip:
"'I remember having a V2 rocket go off in the third act, during the Black Swan pas de deux,' says the ballerina Beryl Grey. 'At the beginning, you do posé turns and then' - she gestures to suggest the steps - 'you go backwards, whomp. As I went backwards, whomp, the whole theatre shook with this V2 bomb exploding. But nobody moved in the audience - you know, people were wonderful.' It doesn't seem to occur to her that, as she went on dancing in a shaking theatre, she was wonderful, too."
Katherine Dunham, an early pioneer of modern dance, groundbreaking choreographer, anthropologist, and activist, passed away on May 21 at the age of 96. Ms. Dunham, along with Pearl Primus, was among the first performers to bring Caribbean, African, and African-American dance to American audiences. In doing so she inspired the likes of Donald McKayle and particularly Alvin Ailey. Dunham was hired by George Balanchine for the musical "Cabin in the Sky" in 1940.
A native of Joliet, Illinois, Ms. Dunham earned a doctorate in anthropology from The University of Chicago, and she did her field work in the Caribbean, later moving to Haiti and becoming active in Haitian political causes and eventually taking up the Vaudun religion.
Katherine Dunham performed in Boston at least once, when she was presented by the Aaron Richmond Celebrity Series (that was our original name) in 1944.
Here are a few selections from among her many tributes:
Audra McDonald's performance at Sanders Theatre was reviewed by a number of local critics (some of those reviews are or will be linked to on this blog), but Richard Dyer's review was different. After more than 30 years covering the classical music that the Celebrity Series has presented in Boston (with occasional diversions into the other genres we present), this is Richard Dyer's last review of a Celebrity Series performance (not that we want to make this about us). I'm not going to even attempt to do justice, especially in this format, to the significance of this momentous change, but I thought you might want to know (gentle reader) that this particular ride is almost over. Read him while you can. Read this in a new light, scan the pages of the Globe for his remaining bylines or revisit some of his recent pieces via boston.com. Any of those options are worth your time...
Here is a bit of that "final" review:
"McDonald's lustrous voice is operatically trained and she's a theater singer, so each song is delivered by a character telling a story or sharing a feeling. McDonald herself is merely the gorgeous, amusing, self-deprecating creature who introduces the songs."
It is just what it looks like, a chair fashioned from used wine corks. Useless information, you say? Quite. But it is considered art by someone and Gabriel Wiese, the artist who created the cork chair, found a home for it at the Gallery of Functional Art.
John Amodeo was among the throng that thrilled to Audra McDonald on Saturday evening. Here's a bit of John's EDGEBoston.com review:
"...And then there is that voice, that Juilliard-trained soprano, with warm low notes, and bright high notes, with a full-bodied range of color between them. But you won’t get showy coloratura from McDonald. Instead, she uses her beautiful instrument to tell stories in song, and that she did magnificently." Full text.
Audra McDonald (L) whispers instructions to Brookline High School student Maeve
Duggan during a master class presented by the Bank of America Celebrity Series
Our education department uncorked another inspiring event on Friday. They corraled the always agreeable Ms. McDonald into giving a master class for a small
group of lucky aspiring singers at Boston Arts Academy (BAA) on Friday (May 19). One student each from BAA, Brookline High School, and Walnut Hill School in Natick, MA got the chance to sing for, and be critiqued by none other than Audra McDonald herself. BAA’s Jamie Maletz of Charlestown and Shania Mason of Dorchester,
Brookline High School’s Nik Walker (son of CBS4 anchor Liz Walker) and
Walnut Hill’s Carolyn Sproule received coaching
from Audra while a classroom full of student singers looked on.
Audra McDonald had 'em in the palm of her hand once again at Sanders Theatre on Saturday evening (May 20). Here is the list of songs performed, in order:
1. When Lola Sings (written for Audra McDonald by Michael John La Chiusa) 2. Medley: It Might as Well Be Spring/Hurry It's Lovely 3. Stars and Moon (from Jason Robert Brown's "Songs for a New World") 4. Bill (from Jerome Kern's "Showboat") 5. Beat My Dog (Jay Leonhardt) 6. I Double Dare You (Jimmy Eaton) 7. Will He Like Me? (from "She Loves Me" by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick) 8. Can't Stop Talking About Him (Frank Loesser's "Let's Dance") 9. My Stupid Mouth (John Mayer cover) 10. Glamorous Life (from the movie version of Stephen Sondheim's "A Little Night Music") 11. I Wanna Get Married (Nellie McKay) 12. Hosing the Furniture (written by Jonathan Larson for the unproduced musical "Sitting on the Edge of Tomorrow") 13. Cradle & All (Ricky Ian Gordon) 14. I Won't Mind (from "The Other Franklin," music by Jeff Blumenkrantz) 15. The Christian Thing To Do (written for Audra McDonald by Michael John La Chiusa) 16. My Book (written for Audra McDonald by Jeff Blumenkrantz) 17. Tom Cat Goodbye (Laura Nyro cover) 18. The Man That Got Away (Harold Arlen) 19. When Did I Fall In Love? (from Jerry Bock's "Fiorello")
Encores: Ain't It De Truth (Harold Arlen) I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Curtis Stigers/Randy Newman)
Today is the birthday of Dame Margot Fonteyn, born Margaret Hookham in Reigate, Surrey in 1919 (she died in Panama City, Panama in 1991). Star of the Royal Ballet (Sadler's Wells when she began), Fonteyn was an inspiration to Sir Frederick Ashton and also worked with Roland Petit and Martha Graham and danced with Rudolph Nureyev.
But others have chronicled her life better than I can:
In her article for the Celebrity Series, dance writer Christine Temin wrote of Fonteyn:
"In her Autobiography Margot Fonteyn tells of the food shortages that made it difficult for the dancers to keep performing six nights and three matinees a week – a crushing schedule even if there’s plenty to eat. Ballet fans would sacrifice their own rations, presenting them to the dancers at the stage door. There was such demand for ballet that there were three performances on Saturdays. They had to run virtually non-stop, Fonteyn writes, 'in order to finish early enough for the public to reach home before the bombs fell.'" Read the complete article.