I’ve been blessed with a group of friends with special talents on a variety of stages. Their gifts have been on my mind after a series of terrific shows I’ve seen in the past month, all events I would have enjoyed even without the extra smug benefit of Knowing a Performer. (Though, n. b., no-one has yet offered me an official All-Access Backstage Pass.)
At the end of September, I was lucky enough to be home in Urbana for a tiny but perfect window of time to catch the Rantoul Theatre Group’s thrilling production of Dracula. My sometimes-twin Karen Hughes was a sensation as the alternately ridiculous and terrifying Lucy. Here’s a brief YouTube clip from the play.
Catch upcoming shows at RTG in December (A Christmas Story), March (The Miracle Worker), and May (A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
After a week back in Minneapolis, I geared up for the opening concert of VocalEssence’s 2010-2011 season. I knew the music and spectacle of a staged operetta (John Philip Sousa’s El Capitan) would be fantastic, but I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the performance fully without feeling a little sadness that I wasn’t on stage with this phenomenal group. (After singing with the chorus for the past two years, I reluctantly had to give it up this year because of too much research travel.) But really, the performance was so charming and hilarious (especially from the hardworking chorus and the swoonable Bradley Greenwald) that I forgot about regrets and simply enjoyed myself. Hint: get your tickets now for the Garrison Keillor Thanksgiving concert, because I’m sure it will sell out soon. Two clips for your listening pleasure below, a rehearsal video of El Capitan and last season’s WITNESS concert with Sweet Honey in the Rock:
And just this past weekend, I trekked out to Madison, WI to catch a tantalizing smorgasbord performance of the University of Wisconsin’s many choirs. My dear friend Sarah Riskind (follow that link for her professional website as a performer, conductor, AND composer) is a choral conducting graduate student there and directed several of the performances. The range in the choral program blew me away, as well as how polished and compelling the performances were this early in the semester.
In the immediate future, I’ll be benefiting from my friends’ talents in the form of a University of Minnesota studio recital presentation of “Sondheim at 80!,” (including the marvelous Jean Anderson) and, I hope, Uni friend Chris Otto’s Jack Quartet November concert at Madison. Not to mention upcoming shows I’ll be very sorry to miss: the Williams College Elizabethans’ fall concert (early this year, November 20); Brad Wells’s remarkable ensemble shown below, Roomful of Teeth (though, secret: I’m holding out hope that I might be able to make it for the first time this year); and Karen’s part in Parkland Theatre’s Weekend of One Act Plays.
So now, you ones of readers out there, let me know in the comments of any performances coming up that I shouldn’t miss!