Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Women

Life in 1936 oftentimes causes people to think of a country recuperating from the Great Depression.   For a select minority, life was luxurious and fairly easy.  These were the women of the ultra-rich in New York City.  Their lives revolved around their social status and gossip.
In “The Women”, Mary, who is portrayed by Kate Simmons discovers that her husband is having an affair with a sales clerk.   Naturally, the affair is noticed first by her social friends who then inform and advise Mary.   Are these social friends real friends or just gossips who enjoy dramas?
The play was originally written by Claire Booth Luce after overhearing conversations during a visit to a nightclub and was in the powder room.   Naturally, someone’s husband was having an affair. Luce wrote this play revealing each character who has real problems in life, despite their wealth.  Dealing with the timeless difficulties of everyday life, such as infidelity, friendship and gossip, impact everyone’s relationships at some time.  Intermixing humor with the tragedy of adultery is a tricky balancing trick.
In addition to Kate Simmons, others in this intimate social group are Robyn Helwig, Elizabeth Planck, Geana Krajicek, Alisha Delsignore, and Claire Mahoney.   Alternately, humorous and tragic, D. Laureen Pickle as Countess de Lage brought a little different temperament to the play.  As the daughter, Halle Dart, portrayed a confused girl who had to suffer and adjust to decisions made by her parents.   She showed that just because the choices were made, she did not have to completely agree with it.  As Mary’s mother, Denise Putman became a caring parent who also had input into the marriage.  Crystal, the other woman, was wonderfully portrayed by Mary Trecek.  Also, one of my favorites in the play was Stephanie Kidd as many humorous characters.
“The Women” is directed by Brenda Smrdel with Amanda Charles completing her job as stage manager.  Many others contributed both on stage and off to successfully create this unusual play of only women in “The Women.”
“The Women” continues through this weekend, November 16th-18th, at 7:30 on Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.   Tickets cost $20 for adults, $16 for seniors over the age of sixty and $10 for students.   Tickets can be purchased by contacting the box office at 712-323-9955, e-mail the theater box office at chanticleertheater@gmail.com, or at the theater’s box office thirty minutes before the curtain opens.   The location of the theater is 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs.
The show is adult oriented and lasts about two and a half hours with a fifteen minute intermission.
This weekend would be the perfect time for this timeless story with a lesson about the effects of malicious gossip on every person, whether the speaker, listened, and even those who overhear those words.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Momentum with Rhapsody in Blue - American Midwest Ballet

When you think of ballet, you think of grace, elegance, authentic beauty in motion perfectly describes this area’s American Midwest Ballet Company.  Their final performance enraptured the audience this past Sunday at The Iowa Western’s Arts Center with a compilation of dances telling stories through movement.
Beginning each selection, a short video clip explained the choreographer’s motivation while also interacting with the featured performers in a rehearsal.
Connemara (Rock Pool) choreographed by Erika Overturff is inspired by a painting at Joslyn Art Museum by artist May Stevens.   The ballet featured dancers demonstrating the movements of flowing water in their costumes, movements, and scenery to create a gorgeous, relaxing feeling of flowing and constantly changing in unison and an ever  transitional sweeping of air barely touching the fluidity of the dancers.
French Songs, choreographed by Matthew Lovegood featuring the music from Joseph Canteloube’s selections of “Chants d’Auvergne” featured dancers Amaris Sharratt and Ryan Christopher guides the audience through this unique area demonstrating the uniqueness of the people through the countryside while a budding attraction between two individuals is beautifully exemplified.
“At Last’ with Etta James magnificent voice was choreographed by Frank Chavez featuring Katherine Eppink and Cameron Miller.  This selection was truly artistic in expressing the song and attracting another’s love.   One complaint about this selection was that it didn’t last longer.   This exemplify love, lust, creativity, artistry and the incompleteness of never having enough.
Death and the Maiden is Franz Schubert’s composition for string quartet with costumes from the Joffrey Ballet and guest choreographer Mariana Oliveira with featured dancers Alexandra Hoffman, Anders Southerland and Brian Bennett along with the company dancers.   Wow!   This selection was the epitome of darkness with veiled dancers and the encroachment of death.  The beauty and brutality truly made this selection an odd combination that was exquisitely meshed together.
Group Therapy created by Harrison McEldowney as the choreographer featured four troubled couples expressing their problems through the medium of dance.  From uncontrollable passion, to a smoking addiction, through being exhausted and yes, even being too clingy to wanting no affection.  How can these four overcome their problems?   Could a group therapy with no spoken words by the answer?
“Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin was beautifully choreographed by Erika Overturff expressed her vision of Gershwin’s hypnotic music.  With numerous combinations of blues the beauty and artistry of the company dancers perfectly exhibited the momentous creativity of the selection.
These are words from the American Midwest Ballet, “Our work is beyond words.  Our art form embodies the joy and struggle of the human experience.  Through dance, we make you think, we uplift you, and we inspire you!”
A great performance makes time stand still leaving an audience wanting more. These words perfectly exemplify these two glorious hours of music in dance.  You don’t want to ever miss any performance of American Midwest Ballet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bye Bye Birdie

It is 1958 in America.  Congress does not have enough volunteers to fight in the Korean War so they need to draft men to fight.   One of those chosen, was the legendary Elvis Presley.   Much to the dismay of numerous teenaged girls, the heartthrob became part of the U. S. Army.
A bright playwright thought this idea would could become a musical.  Hmmm.......
To protect copyright laws, Elvis became Conrad Birdie, fictional heartthrob to only this musical in the image of the cultural icon.
For preshow entertainment, you want to get your seats early due to special music provided by the Thomas Jefferson Vocal Music Department on opening night and the Omaha Jitterbugs for the dancing.    Personally, I would enjoy more of this entertainment from the local high schools.  Thank you, Travis Walker.
Leading the show of Bye Bye Birdie as Rosie is Julia Vanderpoole and in the role of Albert if Adam Fulbright.   Julia has a beautiful voice which improved throughout the show with her confidence.  Adam Fulbright is one teen who you want to now see and hear.   Wow!  This is one person who could become a professional actor/musician in the future.  He truly commanded the stage with his talents.
As Conrad, Erich Swartz was fun to watch imitating Elvis’ moves and the voice.  As the teenager Kim, Krysin. Holmes was delightful.
The show includes numerous familiar tunes, including “Put on a Happy Face.”  The costumes are great reflecting the 1950s along with the sets and props.    Denise Putman is the director while Jerry Gray is in charge of the music along with the choreography by Jason DeLong.
What impressed me the most were the wonderful blended harmonies in many of the songs.  The alto section was exceptionally good adding a true professional quality to the show.
For those visiting the theater who are not middle-aged or older, you need a little background about the draft process and icehouses.
Warning:   Many members of the ensemble are female and teenagers.   Remember how teens reacted to Elvis or the Beatles.  Yes, there will be the teenaged girl scream.
With this Young Performers’ Edition of Bye Bye Birdie, all the performers on stage are eighteen or younger.  Those older are the support crew for those on stage.  All are wonderful, both on stage and off, of Bye Bye Birdie.
This show is for all ages.   The show lasts about 75 minutes with no intermission.  These Young Performers Editions shorten the show without leaving out relevant events or songs.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on this Friday and Saturday, September 20th and 21st, as well as at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 22nd.  (Shows the second week tend to be much better than the first since nerves are usually settled by the second week.).   Even if you saw the show last weekend, if it even more fun enjoying it again.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at 712-323-9955 or at www.chanticleertheater.com.   For adults, tickets are $20, for seniors sixty and over, $16; and $10 for students.
The Chanticleer Theater is located 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs.
What a great way to celebrate September with Conrad going off to the Army and you are attending the Chanticleer Theater.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish
Liv Constantine
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN:: 978-0062667588
July 2018
$ 16.99
400 pages

At some time in your past, you probably have looked at a celebrity and imagined yourself as that celebrity.  After awhile, most of us realize that no matter how hard we try, we just cannot become that person. Even with a makeover and dieting, it just will not work. You won’t become that person.
Amber Pattinson obsesses over Daphne Parrish.   She sees Daphne as perfect.  To Amber, Daphne is who she wants to become.    The beautiful, blond socialite and philanthropist exists with designer clothes including jewelry, travels extensively in their private jet and has a nanny For her two supposedly perfect daughters.   She even has a charismatically handsome husband who happens to own his real-estate company.  Of course, the family lives in their elegant homes, complete with servants and everything a woman could buy or desire.
Amber can only find one imperfection in Daphne.  Daphne’s sister passed away twenty-years ago from cystic fibrosis.   In her honor, she created a charity for those suffering from the disease.  However, she still misses her sister.
Amber has dreams.   She is is ambitious but looks plain and dowdy.   She did not come from a background of wealth.  How can she possibly enter the world of Daphne Parrish?   Could Amber ever become like Daphne.
The Last Mrs. Parrish is a novel of envy, jealousy and even revenge.   The characters are expertly developed into authentic people with flaws revealed as the story unfolds.
One of the strengths of The Last Mrs. Parrish is the daughters, Bella and Tallulah.   From afar, the daughters seem perfect, but are revealing each to become an individual with their own challenges and realizations.
As the story progresses, you find yourself categorizing the characters into good vs. bad.   Each character seems to evolve to someone you would not recognize by the end.  This slow unveiling is what makes this book so unique.
This thrilling novel alternates perspectives from Amber in the first half of the book to Daphne in the second half of the book.  The story continues to develop as a page turner with twists up to the last page.    To state that this is a fast-read is an understatement.   You don’t want to put the book down.
The author, Liv Constantine is two sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine who collaborate to become Liv.
The Last Mrs. Parrish is a thrilling, fast-paced page turner.  I look forward to the next book by the duo of Liv Constantine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Heir of Ra

Heir of Ra
M. Sasinowski
Kingsmill Press
ISBN 978-1-7324467-1-7
ISBN 978-1-734467-0-0
$ 5.99

At the Giza Plateau during the year of 1913 in Egypt, Lord George Renley explored under The Great Sphinx enters a dark chamber with an unusual carving on a door. The legendary Hall of Records is believed to be located at this location. Is it legend or fact? Soon after, Hazim, his Arab guide, started bleeding from his nose. Lord Renley became dizzy and collapsed. The only reminder of the event was a notebook that a young Arab boy stole from the dying hands of Hazim.
Alyssa is not your typical 17-year-old girl. She spends her time working with her father, Kade, who is an archaeologist. Her education is working as one of his assistants. Currently, she is left in charge of a dig in Peru while her father is on a dream assignment in Egypt, exploring a room under The Great Sphinx and is only allowed this privilege for 24-hours. Leaving Alyssa in charge in Peru, is a great responsibility for someone so young. She feels honored, but also deprived. Why can’t she be on this once-in-a lifetime dig with her father?
Her father, Kade follows the steps of Lord George Renley in searching for The Hall of Records. Just like his predecessor, he also became ill. Nothing seems to help him, every day leads him one step closer to death. No one seems to be able to medically help him. Will he die? 
Alyssa decides to immediately travel to Egypt to be with her father. Unfortunately, that is not easy for a seventeen-year-old. Will she ever see her father alive?
Heir of Ra is fast paced adventure of life with Alyssa. She does not have the safest career choice. Since her mother died a few years ago, her attachment to her father is precious, even though she calls him by his first name, Kade.
The intended audience is young adults, especially girls; and anyone who enjoys a fast-paced story which winds up all the multiple strands of the story at the end. Heir of Ra is the first book in the Blood of Ra series featuring Alyssa.
The author, M. Sasinowski is a Polish-born American who fashioned the main character, Alyssa after his own 15-year-old daughter. According to his daughter, he also possesses a PhD in physics as well as an MD. For fun, he enjoys building computer, music jam-sessions, science debates, martial arts, Star Wars and Star Trek as well as archaeology.
Heir of Ra is a thrilling adventure for explorers of all ages.