Saturday, December 9, 2017

Riding with Howard Kunik, Part 2

The history tour with City Manager Howard Kunik sometimes felt like a cyclists' version of limbo as I wondered, "How slow can I go?" (The answer is about 3.8 mph without putting a foot down for fear of tipping over.) But everyone arrived safely at each stop on the tour, which was the priority.

Detail from "Our First Firehouse" -- and a  reminder
not to let someone photograph you from below. 
Our tour resumes at Punta Gorda Fire Station #1, where the department's history is on display in a two-paneled mural that stretches across the walls of the bay. "Our First Firehouse" memorializes not only the department's first building but each iteration of firefighting gear and technology, from the rudimentary bucket brigade to the fully-protected covering of modern day firefighters. (The full "outfit"--with air packs--weighs in at 70 pounds.)

My favorite thing about the mural is that it's used as a teaching tool for the 600+ school kids who tour the fire house each year. I love that they've put together a search list of items for kids of all ages to find in the mural, from an axe to two ladybugs to a burnt matchstick to artist Skip Dyrda's signature red strings. I also appreciate the two helmets with identification numbers of firefighters who died on 9/11.

PG resident Charles Philip Bailey, 
a Tuskegee airman
From there we were on to The Blanchard House Museum of African-American History and Culture of Charlotte County. (That's a mouthful! Not surprisingly, the museum is known simply as Blanchard House.) Scot Shively was onsite to tell us about Blanchard House and its history.

Blanchard House was founded in 2004 by Bernice Russell. It's a fitting part of Punta Gorda's history, and not only because four African-American landowners were signatories to our town's certificate of incorporation. The home in which the museum is located was moved to its current location from 1482 feet away to revitalize the street. The cost: $26,000. For the numbers people among us, Shively noted the cost translated into $300/minute or $17.88 per foot.

Blanchard House was named for Joseph Blanchard, an African-American born in 1862 in St. Augustine. Although Florida was a slave state, St. Augustine was part of the Union, so Blanchard was born a free man. His first wife was Caucasian, nothing too unusual in the Spanish town. By the time he came to Punta Gorda to make his living as an oyster fisherman, Blanchard was on wife No. 4, a mail order bride named Minnie.

Each year the Blanchard House mounts an exhibit about African-American history. This year the theme is The Great Migration, and I'm really looking forward to taking it in.

Local author Libby Schaeffer
shared the Ice House's history
The last building on the tour was the Ice House, now known as a great place for darts and burgers. But in the day, 15 tons of ice were made there daily. Before the Ice House, local catch was salted and dried and sent to Cuba. Once the fish could be kept cold, it was marketed to northern destinations as well.

Libby Schaeffer was onsite to share some tidbits from the interview she did with Edna Smith Poppell for her book "The Ladies of Punta Gorda." Poppell is the daughter of Sherrod Smith, known as the "Smiling Iceman." Smith delivered ice to local businesses and residents. But don't envision bags of ice like the ones you pick up at the 7-11. Instead, Smith hauled 50 pound cubes of ice on his back from the Ice House to his truck to their final destination. He earned his nickname from his constantly pleasant demeanor.

Our final stop was the future home of the new mural. As Kelly Gaylord, President of the Historic Mural Society said, "It's not quite the shape of wall we're used to working with." The mural will wrap around the recently widened underpass near the Convention Center. But its not the wrap aspect that's challenging, it's the slant. (You really have to see it to understand the challenge.)

Rendering of marine life mural by Skip Dyrda
When Kelly brought mural artist Skip Dyrda to take a look at the site, he stood for a long time gazing at the 76' long wall. Finally, he said, "I see portholes." And so the mural-to-be will feature portholes through which viewers can see local marine life past and present. It's going to be interesting.

First, however, fundraising has to completed for the $35K project. This will give Dyrda plenty of time to finish "The Ladies Remembered" mural he just started on the Bayside Eye Center building at the corner of Olympia and Tamiami Trail. He will be at work on the mural for the next three months or so. Stop by and say hello!

Thanks to Howard and Kelly for organizing a fun morning learning about the history of Punta Gorda. And, as promised, click here to watch Bruce Tompkins' fabulous video of the tour.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Riding with Howard Kunik, Part 1

Mural Society President Kelly Gaylord 
with City Manager Howard Kunik 
Howard Kunik is the man. Where else but in Punta Gorda can you find a City Manager leading a bike ride highlighting a town's history? The ride took place as part of Punta Gorda's Founders' Week. As a bonus, the monies raised go in the kitty for a new mural to be painted along the expanded Harborwalk underpass.

The ride began at the recently renovated Gilchrist Park. Renovated, that is, but for the new restrooms. As soon as Howard was introduced, someone from the crowd cried out, "Where's the toilet?" "We will be getting the restrooms," Howard assured the 100 strong group. "We are working on ideas until the permanent ones are in place." The question detracted a bit from the beauty of the new park with its double wide sidewalks that allow bikers and walkers to comfortably share the path. But members of Punta Gorda's famous Guitar Army, which meets in the Park every Thursday night, have a legitimate concern.

PG Fire Department personnel and volunteers
with one of the Department's early trucks
Howard's rides typically focus on ongoing projects in town. But we have to wait for his Pedal and Play ride on March 9th for that info. Instead, in keeping with the Founders' Week theme, each stop highlighted a bit of Punta Gorda's history.

As we prepared to head out, Howard noted the ride would not be an aerobic event. The focus instead was on safely getting the group from point A to point B, with police personnel on bikes and a motorcycle leading the way. (It was kind of cool to see a back up on 41 as cyclists crossed the four lane road.)

Our first stop was, quite aptly, the History Park. Margaret Bogardus, President of the Punta Gorda Historical Society, met us there to share some tidbits about the buildings in the park. I'd heard most of the stories before, but the haunted house tale was a new one.

Punta Gorda's own haunted house
Each year, the Historical Society decorates the homes in the park for the holidays. Three years ago, the Price House was chock-full of glass Santa Clauses. Each morning when Gussie Baker entered the house to turn on the lights, she noticed a Santa or two had been moved. It was a mystery, not to mention a nuisance to have to reorganize every day. One morning, an aggravated Gussie cried out, "Whoever this is, stop it!" The empty house echoed. When Gussie returned the next day, all of the Santas had been broken. This year's decorations for the house are made of wood.

From there we were off to the Punta Gorda Train Depot. The depot, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1928. Its primary use was the transportation of freight (mostly fish) to points north, but there was some passenger trade as well. Given the era, the station included separate waiting rooms and bathrooms for whites and "colored." Needless to say, the "white" area was a bit more comfortable. When the depot was restored, Bernice Russell was a member of the committee spearheading the project. (For those who don't know the name, Ms. Russell was a long-time African-American resident of Punta Gorda.) She made sure the segregated facilities were retained in the restoration as a reminder of the past.

Fiestaware at All Aboard
The Last Place Marketplace
Today the Depot is home to All Aboard The Last Stop Marketplace. For lack of a better description, I'll call it an antiques market. If you haven't been there since new management took over in September, check it out. The vendors have really interesting items, and the building has a totally different vibe after a good cleaning.

Howard arranged so many interesting stops on our ride that you'll have to wait for my next installment to read about the Fire House, Blanchard House, the Ice House and the new mural. And here's the real teaser -- I'll include my friend Bruce Tompkins' video of the ride which, as always, is terrific.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Visiting Ringling College of Art + Design

In my next life, I want to be an artist. And I want to spend my formative years at Ringling College of Art + Design. (I know -- you're still back on the afterlife/Nanette as an artist idea. But let's suspend disbelief for the moment.)

A visit to Ringling College capped off my "Art Talks" class at Ringling's Lifelong Learning Academy. Tim Jaegar was our guide for the day. Jaeger is Ringling's Campus and Community Engagement Manager and a Ringling alum. His passion for the school came through loud and clear.

Portion of Kanapaux' "Momentum"
We started our tour in the jaw-droppingly beautiful Alfred R. Goldstein Library. The Library opened just last January and is "a state-of-the-art building that seeks to transform the way that users engage with library collections and services." Its open environment is intended to foster interaction among students and collaborative learning.  I suspect a lot of that interaction happens on the terraces.

The core wall on each of the three floors is wrapped by "Momentum" by Julie Miller Kanapaux. Kanapaux's digital design was chosen from more than 200 entries in a mural contest. The image was printed on vinyl and then affixed to the wall. Jaeger likened it to a "giant vinyl wrap." To get a sense of what the Library looks like, click here. Better yet, check it out in person. The Library is open to the public from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Tim Jaeger
From there we headed over to the Willis Smith Gallery to take in the Collaboratory Commitment exhibit. As we walked, Jaeger told us more about Ringling. The College has grown to 1500 students, more than 20% of whom are from outside the U.S. Fourteen different majors are offered, not all of which relate to the visual arts. Acting and Creative Writing are on the list, and the newest major is in Virtual Reality Development.

The mere thought of VR makes my head spin (not to mention making me feel very old). My only VR experience was at the Dali Museum, where I donned a headset and entered the "Dreams of Dali." It was amazingly cool. (Click here for info about that ongoing exhibit.) Jaeger pointed out that while there are many artistic applications, there are also opportunities for VR to be used in nearly every field. Imagine, for instance, a doctor in the US assisting in a surgery in a third world country via a headset.

Add caption
The Collaboratory Commitment exhibit was quite exciting in a low key way. The Ringling has a collaboratory department that matches up students with clients in need of designers. The Sarasota Police Department recently worked with Ringling students on its rebranding initiative. In another project, students designed labels for a winery.

The students participating in this program work in an "office" with cubicles and computers intended to simulate a real world work environment. And they get paid for their work, whether they're creating designs for an external client or marketing materials for the College. Pretty cool stuff.

Book of prints made by inmates
at San Quentin
From there we were off to the Richard and Barbara Basch Gallery for a peek at the Freedom of the Presses exhibit. The exhibit had a distinctly political bent that Jaeger acknowledged might rub some people the wrong way. He encouraged us to consider both why we are attracted to particular works of art and why we don't like others. It's a much more disciplined approach than my typical knee-jerk reaction.  I particularly liked the book of woodblock prints made by inmates at San Quentin included in the exhibit. And my thoughts keep returning to a poster by Interference Archive that read "We Are Who We Archive."

Warren Reinecker drawings
Our last stop was the Lois and David Stulberg Gallery to see an exhibit of work by Warren Reinecker, a General Motors Automotive Designer. On my own, this is an exhibit I would have walked in and out of in about two seconds flat. Why? Because I'm not a car person. (Yep, a knee-jerk reaction if I ever heard of one.) But there's much to appreciate in Reinecker's innovative designs, not to mention his drawing skills.

Throughout our time together, Jaeger repeatedly made the point that design is everywhere. The challenge is to take the time to notice and appreciate it.














Friday, November 24, 2017

Dressing Evita

Dress for Casa Rosada Balcony Scene
Almost 40 years after "Evita" opened on Broadway, the mere mention of the show prompts people to start singing "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." And is there a more iconic theater image than Eva Peron standing on a balcony with upraised arms exhorting her people to love her? 

And so I was excited when I learned Asolo Repertory Theatre was kicking off its 2017-2018 season with the blockbuster musical. It should come as no surprise that I was front and center for the Costume Designer Brunch at which rapt theatergoers got a sneak peek at some of Evita's wardrobe for the show.

Brian Hemesath returned to Asolo Rep to create the costumes for "Evita" after designing the costumes for last season's production of "Guys and Dolls." He joined us via Skype as he was dressing Chance the Rapper later that day for "Sesame Street." (Hemesath has won two Emmys for his work as head of the "human" department of the show.) Also on hand were David Covach and Laine Marr from the costume shop. Hemesworth heaped substantial praise on them for making his sometimes outrageous ideas work.

Add caption
Before putting pencil to paper, Hemesath talked with director (and choreographer) Josh Rhodes about his vision for the show. The approach would not be that of a documentary, but the story of an ambitious woman searching for fame.

"The costumes have to do a lot of work," Hemesath said. They do, after all, have to reflect Eva's journey from a girl of 15 to one of the most famous people in the world.

A lot of work translated into a lot of costume changes in the show. The most amount of time actress Ana Isabelle has to get out of one outfit and into the next is two minutes. Some of the changes happen onstage, in full view of the audience. Some serious rigging was required.

Perhaps the craziest transformation takes place during Evita's "Rainbow Tour" of Spain, Italy and France. During this one number, she wears three different outfits. The concept seems nearly impossible to execute. This is where Laine Marr came in. She laughed as she said it took about six weeks to figure out the logistics for the design. With all the rigging, the outfit weighs in at approximately 10 pounds at the outset of the number.

David Covach and Laine Marr
At the beginning of the song, Evita wears a dress with a black top and a cream-colored skirt with diagonal pleats cinched at the waist. The dress was inspired by the work of Christian Dior, the fashion-forward designer with whom Peron had become associated. A fabulous black hat seems to defy gravity as it perches at a precarious angle on her head.

As Evita "travels" from Spain to Italy, the skirt comes off with a quick spin and her outfit becomes a long black dress--and veil--appropriate for a meeting with the Pope.

Drawings for Rainbow Tour costumes
In the final portion of her journey, Eva arrives in France. With another spin, the black skirt comes off to reveal a simple cream-colored skit. A jacket is donned, along with a wide-brimmed hat. Magnets in her wig and the hats help with these quick changes, which had to be "actor-proof." After all, the people responsible for making these changes happen aren't professional dressers but actors whose job is to sing and dance.

And what would a chat about Evita's costumes be without a discussion of the Casa Rosada balcony scene dress (shown above)? Hemesath's original idea was for Evita's skirt to be six feet in diameter. When the team saw the narrow 20 step staircase that Isabelle has to negotiate, they realized that idea wouldn't work. The dress' impact instead is made by what Hemesworth called its disco ball quality. (We were cautioned not to get too near or we would find glitter on our persons for days. There's a reason it's been nicknamed the "Big Bad Silver Dress.")

Covach shared a surprising bit of history about the Casa Rosada outfit with the audience. When it was announced Asolo Rep would begin its season with "Evita," Covach got an excited call from Jerry Wolf, head of the wardrobe department at the Sarasota Ballet. It turns out Wolf worked on the original Broadway production of "Evita" as the dresser for Patti Lupone's understudy. When the show closed, Wolf was concerned that the jewelry worn in the Casa Rosada scene would get lost. He considerately took it home for safekeeping.

The upshot is that the jewelry is again gracing the stage in Asolo Rep's production. "I think I can still smell Patti Lupone's sweat on it," Covach said with a laugh.

With this background, I was looking forward to seeing the show more than ever. But I still wasn't expecting it to be so fabulous. From Evita's spectacular entrance to the stunning sets to the use of video to the dancers (who almost stole the show), it was theatrical perfection. And I haven't even mentioned the music, the actors and, of course, the costumes. I want to see it again.

For more about Asolo Rep's production of the show, click here.  The fulsome program includes great interviews with Hemesath and director/choreographer Josh Rhodes and lots of background about Evita and Peronism. There's even audio of the Behind the Scenes session at which dramaturg Paul Adolphsen chatted with Rhodes and music director Sinai Tabak.

"Evita" runs through December 30. If you're anywhere near Sarasota, this is one show you don't want to miss.

Friday, November 17, 2017

2017 Chalk Festival -- Evanescence, Part 2

Detail of painting by Alexia Sinclair
It's a bit hard for me to wrap my head around, but the Chalk Festival is a type of performance art. Like going to the theater or a concert, you watch art being created. Perhaps more importantly, the experience is fleeting (dare I say evanescent?) But while we are used to the transient nature of a play or a musical performance, we are accustomed to seeing paintings on a wall where they can be revisited and exhibited in different venues. It feels almost sacriligious that the continued existence of these spectacular pavement paintings is subject to the whims of the weather gods.

Interestingly, the temporality of the medium seems to create a special bond among these artists. More than one participant told Constance and me about the friendships they've developed within the chalk art community. They see each other at festivals and keep up with one another on Facebook. One artist noted that the non-competitive nature of the medium enables those relationships to flourish.

Terralynn Lake's recreation of Michael Lang painting
A bonus of the performance art aspect of the Festival is the opportunity to chat with the artists. Michigan-based pavement artist Terralyn Lake was onsite recreating this striking image by Michael Lang. (In case you're wondering, she received his permission to do so.) Lake's rectangular painting spread across a double-sized space. This, of course, meant double the amount of chalking to be done in the allotted three days. Her husband was helping out, chalking in the shapes Lake had drawn like a paint-by-number. I kept circling back to the couple, both because I loved this work and because they were as exuberant as its colors.

Mucha's "Summer" by Holland King
Holland King's homage to Alphonse Mucha had Constance and me smiling with our memories of the Art Deco/Art Nouveau Fine Arts Festival at the Visual Arts Center. (King was impressed we knew the difference between the two movements.)

King explained he typically paints horror scenes, but that he felt he had to up his game in light of all the international artists participating in the Festival. King had studied Mucha in school and was happy to share some info about the artist with us. I wasn't aware of Sarah Bernhardt's role in launching Mucha's career. The story goes that Bernhardt was so pleased with the poster he created for her "Gismonda" show--after she had rejected the work of the original artist hired for the job--that she contracted with Mucha to produce stage and costume designs and posters for her shows. This work exposed Mucha to a whole new audience, and the rest is history. (For more about their relationship, click here.)

It's worth noting that King didn't wholly forsake his affinity for horror with his Mucha recreation. The bottom left corner of the painting included his signature skull, which took the place of a rock in Mucha's original. (I have to admit to preferring the original.)

"Lost Polar Ice" by Holland King
I could go on and on, but I'll leave you with one last story. Ron Hawkins is an artist who supports his habit--and his family--by working for a utility company in Atlanta. When a chalk festival came to town, his employer sponsored his participation. Hawkins now uses some of his vacation days to create paintings in chalk festivals around the United States.

His "Lost Polar Ice" is part of his animal selfie series. (He only shared the title when I asked how it fit with the evanescent theme.) I loved the humor in his work. His next subject is going to be sloths, which I really wish I could see.

Kudos to Denise Kowal and her team for once again creating a wonderful Festival. Mark your calendars for November 9-12, 2018 when artists from around the world will create pavement art around the theme "Museum of Motion."  I can't wait.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Chalk Festival -- Evanescence, Part 1

With Constance
As anyone who knows me knows, the Chalk Festival is pretty much at the top of my list of must-see art events. After all, where else can you find both fun and beautiful paintings, talk with artists about their work and--here's the kicker--interact with the art?  (I'm always a sucker for these photo opps.)

This year's theme of "evanescence"--or soon passing out of sight or memory--could not be more appropriate. With the next hard rain, these artists' hard work will be gone. Festival organizer Denise Kowal told me some of the artists struggled a bit with the open-ended theme. It was more difficult to conceptualize than past motifs like Extinct and Endangered Species or Love and Peace. But they rose to the challenge.

As always, one of the most fun things about the Festival was experiencing the 3D paintings, like this hourglass. (Apologies to the artist, whose name I neglected to note in my excitement.) This type of art exists thanks to Kurt Wenner, the creator of what he calls "interactive 3D pavement art illusions." Interestingly, before he became a chalk artist, Wenner put his training at the Rhode Island School of Design to use at NASA as an advanced scientific space illustrator.

In previous years, Wenner has designed large-scale 3D artwork for the Festival. His 22,000+ square foot megaladon shark, painted with house paint rather than chalk, won a Guinness Book of Records title as the world's largest anamorphic pavement painting. Although it's been around for a couple of years now, visitors continue to put life and limb at risk by stepping into the shark's mouth.

Instead of a large 3D painting, Festival organizers tried something new this year -- a curated section of pavement art featuring high profile chalk artists from around the world. (Somewhat amazingly, the Festival secures visas for international artists and covers airfare and accommodations for all invited artists.) Not one to be left out of the fun, Wenner got back to his roots as he joined these other artists and painted a 12 x 12 square of pavement.

Constance and I had a chance to chat briefly with Wenner as he finished up his work. He shared that his image was a recreation of the very first street painting he did when he joined the ranks of the "madonnari" in Rome in the 1980s. As the name implies, many Italian pavement artists painted pictures of the Madonna. But other religious icons were represented as well, like Wenner's Moses thrusting the ten commandments at us. It would be interesting to compare Wenner's 2D and 3D versions.

Wenner told us his street paintings in Rome were often larger than the space allocated for the Festival. His work was well-received, and he often made $200/week in tips from appreciative passersby. When asked whether they got permits before putting chalk to pavement, he looked at me as if I were crazy. (Once a lawyer....) For a great Q&A with Wenner about working as a chalk artist, click here. His entire website is worth exploring.

Another featured artist whose work I particularly liked was Jennifer Chaparro. Her Renaissance woman was just gorgeous. Like Wenner's Moses, the woman's hand stretched outside of the pavement to welcome viewers in. Because the work was neither finished nor in the designated 3D area, I didn't have the nerve to jump in and sit in the palm of her hand. But I was sorely tempted.

With so many great paintings on display, I can't resist writing a second post about the Festival. Stay tuned for the next installment.






Friday, November 10, 2017

"White Fang" at freeFall Theatre

My family's not exactly the outdoorsy type. In fact, I can count on a single hand the number of family outings that involved the great outdoors. And so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Jack London's books were never on my radar screen. Yet I was eager to see freeFall Theatre's production of "White Fang" by Jethro Compton, a play inspired by London's book of the same name.

"White Fang" kicked off a season freeFall is calling "On 2nd Glance." Each show will take a fresh look at a classic. And while this concept is intriguing, what captured my attention about "White Fang" was the fact the production was a world premiere and would be heading from St. Pete to London. True, it's not going to be on the West End, but that's still not the typical order of events.

I happened upon a performance at which a pre-show talk was given by dramaturg Timothy Saunders. The talk alone was worth the price of admission.

Cover of first edition
Saunders started by giving some context for the show. London's "White Fang" was published in 1906. Melodramas were the theatrical form of the time, and Compton adopted this form for his work. The word "melodrama" calls to mind heightened--perhaps exaggerated--emotions. And while this generalization is accurate, there's more to the genre. Saunders explained that the "melo" in melodrama is short for "melody" and that music was often a component of this type of play. Each character typically had his or her signature music, a device that helped audiences connect with them. In keeping with this idea, Compton's work includes original music, with a theme for each character.

Animal melodramas were a subset of this theatrical form, with equestrian melodramas serving as the precursor to westerns. (In the 1900s, actors would ride a horse on a treadmill on the stage. How crazy is that?)  London's "White Fang" fits squarely in this tradition.

When Compton and freeFall began their work on the show, Compton didn't have a clear vision as to how White Fang the wolf would come to life on the stage. Video had been contemplated as one option. But Eric Davis, freeFall Theatre's Artistic Director, had another idea. How about a puppet? And so White Fang became embodied through a life-sized puppet worked by two actors. It was brilliant.

The opening scene featured a campfire around which some of the characters sat. Imagine my surprise and delight when the "fire" morphed into "Wee Fang." As Saunders had predicted, a collective gasp of pleasure resounded from the audience at the adorable baby wolf.

Curly (Hannah Benitez) and Henry Griffith (Robert Johnston)
with White Fang (photo credit to Allison Lynn Photography)
The mature White Fang was gorgeous, with actor Robert Johnston taking the lead in working the puppet. (He also played Henry Griffith.) Johnston was superb as his facial expressions and movements dovetailed with those of White Fang. To get a sense of how the puppet was manipulated, click here to see a short trailer for the show.

I also enjoyed the use of native language in the play. Periodically, Lyzbet would speak in Algonquian, a language of the Frist Nation Cree tribe. The words were a haunting reminder of the fact she's caught between two worlds. Saunders noted Lyzbet more likely would have been from the Gwich'in Tribe and spoken Athabaskan. It was too difficult, however, to find the required translations from Compton's text in Athabaskan.

Playwright Jethro Compton
If the picture of Curly above had you scanning your memory of the book for this character, don't worry that you don't recall her. Compton added her to the story to layer on a caring friendship missing from London's original. In the play notes, Compton said..."when it comes to staging a novel, there is a significant difference between a 'version,' an 'adaptation,' and an 'interpretation.' Tonight's play is surely the last of these three. The play is inspired by the themes and ideas within Jack London's novel, but finds those themes within an entirely new and original narrative. The lasting impression of London's novel was, for me, a struggle for identity. In the novel, this struggle exists within a wolf, torn between two lives and living in a world occupied by examples of the best and worst of humanity. Tonight's's play sees that struggle take shape within a human character, a character whose story is as real as the wolf's and whose story is one that I believe we should be telling and, in turn, listening to." 

While "White Fang" didn't make it to my greatest hits list, there was much to commend about the production. I loved the originality of the staging, and the music and puppetry were both terrific. The costumes were great as well. (In fact, the costumes and puppets have now made their way across the pond for the London production.) 

I'm looking forward to sharing in freeFall Theatre's "second glance" at more works over the course of the season, with "The Musical of Musicals -- The Musical!" being a must-see. The show will take the classic American plot of "I can't pay the rent! You must pay the rent" I'll pay the rent!" and create five interpretations in the styles of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander & Ebb. It's going to be great fun.

For more about freeFall Theatre, click here.










Riding with Howard Kunik, Part 2

The history tour with City Manager Howard Kunik sometimes felt like a cyclists' version of limbo as I wondered, "How slow can I go?...