Extreme Week

I AM FEELING A LITTLE BORED AND NEEDING SOMETHING TO RATTLE MY CAGE  SO THIS IS WHAT I PICKED TO DO THIS WEEK:

 XTREME FEST, A CELEBRATION OF THE AREA’S ADVENTURE SPORTING OPPORTUNITIES HAPPENING IN WAYNESBORO ON SATURDAY OFFERING A TASTE OF WHAT THERE IS TO DO IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA’S GREAT OUTDOORS. THIS KID FRIENDLY EVENT FEATURES A CLIMBING WALL, KAYAKING, AIR BUNGEE TRAMPOLINE AND A HIGH FLYING BMX STUNT BIKE SHOW.

IF YOU ARE A MADMEN FAN, OR YOU ARE JUST LOOKING FOR SOMETHING EXTREME AND INDOORS I SUGGEST THE TOM WESSELMAN SHOW: POP ART AND BEYOND AT THE VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF FINE ART IN RICHMOND.  WESSLEMAN, THE DON DRAPER OF THE POP ART SCENE, IS OBSESSED WITH SEX, SMOKING AND ADVERTISING AND IT SHOWS IN THIS EXHIBITION, HIS FIRST CAREER RETROSPECTIVE.  ROCKY HORROR FANS WILL APPRECIATE THE RED LIPS PAINTINGS IN PARTICULAR.

ON THURSDAY NIGHT, ASH LAWN OPERA IS HOSTING BRAVO BOHEME AT LIVE ARTS IN CHARLOTTESVILLE.  THIS EVENT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS WHO WOULD LIKE TO CULTIVATE A TASTE FOR OPERA.  MAY NOT SOUND SO EXTREME BUT IF YOU ARE SINGLE, CULTURED AND LOOKING THIS  EVENT COULD BE A CONTACT SPORT.

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Anticipating the new Canyon Ranch Spa at the Homestead

I have openly griped about The Homestead’s Spa for years finding it inferior to its hype and longing for something better at this gorgeous, gracious Virginia resort.  At last, what may prove to be the upgrade I have dreamed about is to happen.  Canyon Ranch has taken over the spa’s operation.  The new improved spa is expected to open mid-June and to add to the good news, several spa packages have been put together to entice spa junkees and normal people alike.

Read this sent from Laura Lopez this morning:

Anticipation is growing as Canyon Ranch SpaClub®at The Homestead prepares to open this June in Hot Springs, Virginia. Part of a $25 million resort renovation, the state-of-the-art facility will allow guests to experience a touch of Canyon Ranch at its first location in the mid-Atlantic region and the first SpaClub location to offer treatments and activities for children and teens. Now, a quartet of packages is available for guests to unwind at the historic resort in the Allegheny Mountains.

Four new packages offer guests a chance to escape, relax and unwind:

The SpaClub Spa Sampler includes two nights’ accommodations, a $200 Spa credit, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental and Spa Garden. Rates from $1,268.

Spend three nights with the SpaClub Relax and Unwind package including a $400 Spa credit, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $2,130.

The All About You package includes five nights’ accommodations, a $600 Spa credit, 50-minute consultation with a nutritionist, meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $3,625.

Truly indulge and pamper with seven nights’ accommodations with the Healthy Indulgence package. This package includes a $800 Spa credit, 50-minute consultation with each nutritionist and exercise physiologist, unlimited activities (including golf, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more), meals daily, and access each day to Aquavana®, fitness classes, Mountain Bike Rental, Cascades Gorge Hike and Spa Garden. Rates from $7,005.

Three day-packages including spa treatments, spa retail credit and complimentary lunch are also available. Minerals do Miracles, Head to Toe and Forever Young start at $300 per person.

The signature feature at the SpaClub is Aquavana®, an exclusive European-inspired thermal oasis. The Aquavana experience aligns harmoniously with The Homestead’s historic healing tradition of “taking the waters” which has drawn travelers since the mid 1700’s, including Thomas Jefferson. An adults-only spa garden is open year-round offering historic hot springs, therapeutic geothermal mineral bath, naturally-pressurized deluge shower, river reflexology walk, co-ed Finnish sauna, spring-fed whirlpool, and private poolside cabanas.

 

Sounds delicious, yes?  You will certainly find me zoning out in the spa in the next month or so.

 

Shakespeare Outdoors

There is something magical about seeing plays in the great outdoors in the summer time.  The charm of crickets chirping, the pungent odor of bug spray wafting through the air and the cooling of a hot sticky day into a slightly chilly night whilst actors, challenged by these and other elements both natural and otherwise, bravely press on with lines and blocking.  I adore it!

That is why it is with great enthusiasm that I share the Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall shows for this summer.  Agecroft is a gorgeous Tudor Mansion shipped from England as a pile of bricks and rebuilt on a stunning plot of land that slopes down to the muddy James River. Plays are performed in the courtyard just as they might have been during Shakespeare’s time.  One can picnic on the lawn before the show.  It is quite fun.

I am especially excited about the selection of The Comedy of Errors as I played one of the main characters in high school.

 The Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall

The Comedy of Errors

Directed by Steve Perigard

June 13 – July 7, 2013

Opening Night – Saturday, June 15 at 8pm

Othello

Directed by Jan Powell

July 11 – August 4, 2013

Opening Night – Saturday, July 13 at 8pm

Performances for both shows – Thursday through Sundays at 8pm

The Comedy of Errors

“I to the world am like a drop of water

That in the ocean seeks another drop.”

Antipholus of Syracuse

In this hysterical tale of unwitting identity theft, two sets of identical twins separated in infancy suddenly find themselves in the same town. Residents and visitors alike are plunged into confusion, and a nutty pandemonium ensues. Shakespeare’s shortest and silliest comedy, A Comedy of Errors is a delightfully goofy mash up of close calls, blunders, bafflement and discombobulation—with absolutely hilarious results!

Othello

“The show is wall-to-wall joy!” The Daily Mail

“There’s magic in the web of it.”

Othello

A stunningly beautiful, heartbreaking depiction of overpowering love and devastating jealousy, Othello pits a confident, natural-born leader of men against his friend—a stunningly sociopathic villain bent on his destruction. Esteemed general Othello has eloped in the middle of the night with his beloved Desdemona, the daughter of a powerful senator. His right hand man, Iago, envious over having been denied promotion, sees his

chance to bring down the great man, and will stop at nothing until he does.

“Some of the greatest poetry Shakespeare ever wrote.” The Telegraph

The Comedy of Errors

Cast (in alphabetic order)

Beau Bryan
Jonathan Conyers Thomas Cunningham Adrian Grantz
Molly Hood
David Janoski
Irene Kuykendall Matt Lipscomb
John Mincks
James Murphy
Katie Robey
Connor Scully
Jody Strickler
Alex Wiles

Othello

Cast (in alphabetical order)

Ryan Bechard
Matt Bloch
Adrian Grantz
Kevin Grantz
James Henry
Dean Knight
Rebecca Anne Muhleman Laura Maughan

Jailer/Balthazar/Ensemble Antipholus of Syracuse Duke/Luce
Merchant

Adriana
Angelo/Dr. Pinch Courtesan/Ensemble Antipholus of Ephesus Dromio of Ephesus Dromio of Syracuse Servant/Ensemble Officer/Ensemble Abbess/Ensemble Luciana

Iago
Cassio
Solider
Duke Senator/Ensemble Roderigo

Emilia Desdemona Bianca Brabantio Othello Ensemble Ensemble

Production Team

Steve Perigard Melissa Rayford Cheryl Fare
Liz Hopper

BJ Wilkinson Michael Knowles Twyla Kitts
Jan Powell

James Murphy Paige Skidmore Kathryn Cohen

Production Team

Jan Powell Cheryl Fare Margarette Joyner BJ Wilkinson James Murphy Paige Skidmore Matt Treacy Alecia Schulz

Director
Assistant Director Producer
Costumer
Lighting Design Composer Dramaturg
Text Coach Properties Design Properties Manager Stage Manager

Director
Producer
Costume Design Lighting Design Properties Design Properties Manager Composer

Stage Manager

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Jess Rawls Stephen Ryan Stephen Seals James Tormey Xander Wong

 

YOU CAN SAMBA, SALSA AND CHA CHA THE NIGHT AWAY AT FRIDAY’S AFTER FIVE AT THE INTELLO’S WIRELESS PAVILION WITH BELEZA CHARLOTTESVILLE’S  OWN FUNKALICIOUS SAMBA SOUL GROUP. BERTO AND MADELINE SALES MIX BRAZILIAN RHTHMS WITH FLAMINCO, JAZZ AND BLUES TO CREATE A SULTRY LATIN SOUND THAT DOUBLE DOG DARES YOU TO GET UP AND DANCE. MORRO AZUL SAMBA SCHOOL WILL OPEN THE SHOW.

The Sales of Beleza

The Sales of Beleza

ASC on TV tonight

Just got this notice from the PR office at the American Shakespeare Center.  I am very excited that they are getting some television coverage.

Dear Culture Maven,

Tune in to WVPT tonight at 8:00pm
when PBS brings your favorite theatre company into your living room.

Shakespeare’s American Home
a new half-hour documentary
about the American Shakespeare Center
premieres right here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Featuring interviews with ASC Co-Founders Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen and Jim Warren;
ASC Actors Benjamin Curns, Sarah Fallon, Allison Glenzer, John Harrell, and René Thornton, Jr.;
and footage from the 2013 Spring Season production of Love’s Labour’s Lost and rehearsals
for the 2013 Summer Season production of Romeo and Juliet.


Photo Credit: Patrick Midgley as Navarre in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Photo by Lauren D. Rogers. 

wnrn culture connection for May 24,25,26, 2013

Here are my  3 picks for where to go and what to do in the WNRN listening area for this week

It’s prom season in Richmond this weekend but not the way you think.  Gallery 5 and the Richmond Burlesque Revue invite you to spike your hair and don your combat boots for the Punk Rock Prom, a night of bands, burlesque and a lot of balloons. Hosted by Crumpy, three punk bands play for your mosh pit enjoyment between some hot performances by Deepa de Jour, Fannie Leibovitz, Scarlet Starlet and Puppy Buffe. Punk inspired formal wear is highly encouraged.

Craving a different way to experience dysfunction?  Make your way to the Weston family reunion as Live Arts, Charlottesville’s cutting edge nonprofit theatre, presents Amy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play, August: Osage County.  This hard hitting play spiked with a shot of ironic humor, boasts most every type of issue a family could have allowing most of us to identify with at least one character and cringe  at the resulting mayhem from a poor life choice.

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If you are taking your culture a tad lighter this weekend I suggest getting your Art On at Art in the Park at Gypsy Hill hosted by the Staunton Augusta Art Center, a nonprofit set up to generate diverse experiences in the creation and appreciation of the visual arts. In its forty-seventh year, this two day event features juried work form over 50 artists and craftsman and an eclectic array of music ranging from Gospel to Bagpipes to Brazilian Choro. Gourmet Food and a kids tent add to the fun.

This is Mary Burruss, urging you to make a culture connection at wnrn.org

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Monticello HS reaches for The Heights

I caught the back end of Monticello High School’s much talked about production of In the Heights last night and I must say it was quite impressive.  There is apparently a ton talent in that community (plus two Tandem Friends School students, Tiffany Ames and Basil Ward) that was allowed to explode on the stage in a hot salsa of singing, dancing and rapping.  Since I snuck in just in time to catch the final number before intermission, I didn’t get a program so sadly I cannot credit the amazing performers.  But I will say this:  This show is worth making the effort to see.  Many of these kids could easily have professional careers right now. The set was fabulous. The orchestra was so tight that when the woman sitting next to me told me her son was in the orchestra, I was surprised to learn it was live rather than pre-recorded. But the best part is the energy these kids are   sending out – it is contagious.  Rarely, is there this high a level of obvious commitment and community in a high school musical.

And we all know how I hate musicals,  the plot of this one is just as lame and slow moving as any other, but the musical numbers are worth suffering through the storyline.

Only two more performances- tonight and tomorrow.

Click here to buy tickets.

 

 

Monticelllo High School doe In The Heights

I had a chat with Tiffany Ames a couple of weeks ago.  A senior at Tandem Friends School and last years winner of the National Shakespeare recitation contest, Tiffany, mentioned she needed to prepare for the evening’s rehearsal.  “For what show?”, I asked, knowing that there was no more plays for the year at Tandem.  “In The Heights at Monticello,” she responded. Monticello recruited Ames to be in the show.  “It is great!” she said. “The energy is amazing!  There are all these ethnic kids in it that never would have even thought to try out for a regular musical.”  She went on to explain that African-American and Latino/Hispanic – American kids rarely identify with traditional musicals like Annie Get Your Gun or Anything Goes.  I was intrigued and decided I should make the effort to see it.

Then I came across this today: http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/MHS-Musical-Brings-Together-Diverse-Cast-Some-Never-Before-Performers–207285081.html#.UZI9c0EjcNI.twitter

A cool story about the utter joy these kids are having working together on this show and how diversity is making it a strongly profound experience.

To get tickets for the show which plays this weekend only go to: https://tix7.seatyourself.biz/webstore/webstore.html?domain=monticellodrama&event=.

See you at the theatre!

The Culture Maven

A Weekend of Shakespeare

 

OliviaStockings

This past weekend was in a word, surprising.

I attended productions of two Shakespeare plays at completely different venues on either side of Charlottesville and found myself flummoxed by the quality of the shows vs my expectations.  Friday night prompted a foray to Barbouresville to Four County Players to see Taming of the Shrew, a  personal favorite of the Bard’s theatricals as I once played Katarinah in three scenes from the play as part of a seventh grade English class project. (I can still recall gleefully stomping on the cap and swishing about in an elegant Elizabethan costume.)

I admit, I had less than high hopes for the production as Four County is a dyed in the wool community theater which means it is a hit or miss proposition. However, the set, designed by Lauren Chilton, a recent UVA grad, hinted that I may be in for a better time than I thought. Indeed the simple set of a downstage center arched doorway flanked by varying levels and sizes of platforms and painted like stones worked quite well for Director, Kristen Franklin Heiderstadt’s blocking to keep the action moving and the actors on their toes. Once the play started, I was quite engaged.

Production elements were what one might expect from an established community theatre, neither fabulous nor a disaster. The costumes were simple yet effective though obviously culled from costume shops all over town. The lighting adequate.  The talent level of the cast was uneven and since the players perform out of love for the art, I shall refrain from calling them on the carpet for their faults and instead pat them all  on their proverbial backs for  putting in a valiant effort. It was obvious which actor’s were versed in the language and which were not.  One actor was so bad at interpreting the text that he may as well have been speaking Chinese for all I could understand.

Standout performances were the leads, Mendy St. Ours as Katarinah (Kate) and Martyn Kyle as Patruchio, along with Eamon Hyland as Tranio and John Cobb as a guitar wielding Hortensio.  For the most part Heiderstadt’s guidance served the play well but occaisionally she caved into the temptation to over block causing actors to move about the stage for no reason other than to move. But St. Ours and Kyle ((NAME)) were so thick with chemistry and practiced in their timing that they kept the audience laughing and focused to the fullest. The audience audibly “Awwwed” when the Kate and Patruchio shared a sumptuous kiss at the end.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening. I was happily surprised by the level of entertainment.

Sunday’s mini-road trip to the American Shakespeare Center to see it’s latest production of Twelfth Night was a surprise of a different kind. ASC’s productions are usually exceptional to the point that I have said many times they are one of the best Shakespeare Companies in the world.  But this version of Twelfth Night was as flat as a soda left out in the open overnight.  Rick Blunt, usually so engaging and funny, seemed to phone this one in, failing to distinguish his Sir Toby from any number of other comedic characters he has played on the Blackfriars’ stage. Most of the cast lacked energy which led me to believe there had been a wild party somewhere in Staunton the night before. Exceptions were Stephanie Holliday Earl, who made a regal Countess Olivia, Patrick Earl, the suffering love-sick Orsino, Patrick Midgley as Valentine/Antonio and Seth McNeill as a very silly and effective Sir Andrew Aguecheek.  Please understand that all the actors were professional  – just a bunch of them seemed like they were somewhere else other than on the stage.

I chatted with several people during intermission and post-show who felt the same way:  It was a good production but somehow missed the mark yet everyone failed at pin-pointing the problem.  The Costumes, designed by Erin M. West, were visually stunning and beautifully executed but like the rest of the production just somehow didn’t gel. There was audience interaction but it seemed plugged -in rather than part of the flow of the piece. John Basil’s direction, which according to the director’s notes in the program, is centered on the Madness  of love and the Elizabethan Tomfoolery indicative of the feast of Epiphany (the twelfth night of Christmas) where anything can happen. This concept of madness apparently seeped into his direction.  The result: too much business and not enough heart  like an over spiced dish which renders a muddle of flavors rather than a tasteful treat. Particularly annoying was the scene in which Malvolio (David Millstone) is supposed to be imprisoned in a dungeon and Feste (Andrew Goldwasser) is speaking with him through a an open hatch supposedly in the dungeon’s ceiling.  Basil staged it with Feste center stage speaking into a cube set on the floor with a hinged door on top.  Malvolio, who is supposed to be below, is posted in an alcove space behind a curtain back center stage – essentially behind Feste.  Each time the lid of the box was lifted the curtains were drawn to reveal a manacled Malvolio who spoke to the ceiling.  Towards the end, Feste plays with opening and closing the box lid as the curtains are closed and opened in tandem.  It was a mess made particularly confusing by the access to a trap door that lay directly underneath the box which was used to pleasing effect in the last production ASC did of the show.

I must add that  it was my first time seeing Andrew Goldwasser  at ASC and I enjoyed his performance.  He is a good find.  His voice is strong and sure.  His singing well- schooled and his acting chops honed. It will be interesting to see how his talents are utilized in the other two plays of the season.

On a side note: every theatre company has a less than stellar show every now and then so, dear readers, keep going to the Blackfriars and I promise you will be better pleased than I was with this production of Twelfth Night.

Overall bookending my weekend with the Bard was great and I highly recommend it.

Culturenuts catches Air Waves

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What do Lebanese food, a small rodent with a nasty attitude and the first berries of the season have in common? They are featured in the new “Culture Connections” segment broadcast on Central Virginia’s Best Independent Music Station, WNRN, curated and hosted by yours truly, The Culture Maven.  I am absolutely ecstatic about this partnership as it is my mission to help promote Arts and Culture in Central Virginia and a life-long dream to be a broadcast journalist.  Once a week I will be sharing my picks for artsy or culturally oriented things to do in the WNRN listening area (which includes, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, Lovingston, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Lexington and Richmond).  Narrowing all the fun and interesting things to do in Central Virginia down to two or three items will be tough but hopefully, you will enjoy my insight and enthusiasm and at the very least be inspired to get out there and make a cultural connection.

Having said that, here are the culturenuts for the coming weekend:

My mouth is already watering over the delicacies that will be dished up at the 29th Annual Lebanese Food Festival in Richmond this weekend (May 17, 18 & 19). Hosted by Saint Anthony Maronite Church this is a three day feast of bubbaghanooge, falafel, kabobs, tabouli and baklava also features Lebanese music and dancing.  If you don’t like crowds you can head over there on Friday for lunch or  you can pre-order  your yummies online and get your order to go. Hours are 10am to 10pm on Friday and Saturday, 10am to 8pm on Sunday. Proceeds go to benefit various programs sponsored by the church.

For a different kind of food experience, head up to New Market for  the First Fruits Festival  at Our Community Farm on Saturday May 18 from 2 to 7, where you can pick and taste the first farm fresh strawberries of the season. While you are there you can take a farm tour, play games, milk a goat, test your skills on the “day on the farm” obstacle course, or just chill with some good food and live  music. This kid friendly event is free with donations accepted.

Once your taste buds are tickled and you’ve finished milking goats, you can let loose some laughs in Barbouresville  at the final performances of Four County Player’s (celebrating 40 years as a nonprofit community theatre) production of TAMING OF THE SHREW.  Leading actors, Mendy St. Ours and Martyn Kyle, brilliantly portray hellcat Kate and her masterful suitor Patruchio to hilarious effect taming even unlikely theatre goers into giggles and guffaws.  Show runs Friday & Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:30pm. Ticket prices are as follows: Adults/$16; Seniors & Students/$14; Children 12 & under/$12. All Fridays Half-Price (Half off a regular adult-price ticket)For tickets or more information, call 540-832-5355.

Thanks to Benson, Tad, Maynard and Ian at WNRN for supporting this project and helping me learn the ropes.

Mozel Tov!

The Culture Maven

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