BACK IN THE SADDLE

Marilyn
Marilyn

I have been away from the blogging scene since January.  The part of me that likes to hound myself for not continuing the regime, would say I haven’t been blogging because I am lazy and have wasted my days with friends, sippin’ a lovely red, and going to movies. Those of you who know me well will know that I Twitter and Facebook alot.  When I see something that I really like and want to share, I post it in 140 characters to Twitter.  It’s not being anti social but on the contrary, it has been a rough and tough year, maneuvering the CBT ‘Air Force One Plane”   through the financial skies.

The economic downturn is hitting home for the region’s arts and cultural nonprofits. Groups across the spectrum have been cutting back, laying off or, in a few cases, closing up shop. Of course Charleston is not alone in this trend, reflecting the nationwide effects of the collapsing financial industry. The upside, if one could call it that, is more interest in shared services, new marketing techniques and a tighter focus on core mission. The three largest arts organizations have been working in tandem getting some bang from collaborative thought processing as well as hand holding and support.

 The down side is, well, everything else. However its Spoleto time!  I am happy to see we are here… Alive and Kicking!   I return to blogging this month because the hits can be BIG  in May and June due to the upcoming Spoleto and Piccolo Festival.   

So yes I am back in the saddle again!

Charleston Ballet Theatre is getting ready for its annual participation in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival USA, May 22-June 7. The city influenced tandem festival that presents arts all over the city works in conjunction with an internationally known Spoleto Festival USA.

This 2008-2009 season, Charleston Ballet Theatre produced ten ballet and dance programs; Our Main stage Series consisted of six productions at both our King Street Black Box Theatre and the Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston; our new Children’s Series l produced three family friendly programs at our Black Box Theatre and CBT produced on Special Event Performance during the 2007-2008 as an addition to our regular series. 

Out of the glut of work, CBT will offer a variety of programs at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

Brown Bag and Ballet

SCHEDULE

5/23 12PM – 1PM, 5/24 1:30PM – 2:30PM, 5/28 12PM – 1PM,

6/5 12PM – 1PM, 6/6 12PM – 1PM 

Lindsey Koob of the Charleston City Paper talks of the world premiere of Afternoon with A Faun

The enchanting realization of Claude Debussy’s beloved Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. But here, we had an “Afternoon WITH the Faun,” who turned out to be the dance incarnation of Marilyn Monroe! We bore fortunate witness to the work’s world premiere performance.

The classic opening scene is forever seared into my memory bank … there she was, as the curtain rose: all pouty and simpering and blindingly blonde, at the top of a staircase – trying (not very hard) to resist the blast of air from below that blew her flimsy skirt around.

From there, things unfolded as if in a dream: Marilyn – achingly realized by Jessica Roan – dripped raw sex appeal as she drifted down the stairs to dance in turn with three of her legendary lovers. Alexander Collen nailed Joe DiMaggio’s athletic swagger, with only slightly less stylized machismo (but more menace) from Stephen Gabriel, as Howard Hughes. Jonathan Tabbert radiated a more subtle, but equally potent brand of power and authority in his portrayal of JFK. If this had been a movie, their utterly mesmerizing, erotically-charged dancing would’ve earned them an “R” rating (and maybe even an Academy Award)! Bahr told me afterward that she had a BALL putting this one together.

The Lullaby of Broadway

Broadway is the street in New York that has come to symbolize live theater entertainment throughout the world. And because of the magnificent illumination of the Avenue, Broadway had been christened “The Great White Way”. CBT revisits the Golden Age of the Broadway musical with a collection of show stopping numbers from some of the most cherished musicals of all time including 42nd Street, Cabaret, South Pacific, The King and I and many more. A non-stop heart-pounding extravaganza comes to life! 

SCHEDULE

5/29 7PM – 8PM

6/6 7PM – 8PM 

 

Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that The Beatles’ legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerized world we live in.  It was time for Charleston Ballet Theatre to take its own take on The Beatles.  I created Magical Mystery Tour. “The thing about Beatles music is that everybody knows it. If you play Beatles music, the audience is already there, and they’re waiting to be entertained by you. All of a sudden, they’re transformed to another place.

SCHEDULE

5/23 7PM – 8PM 5/24 7PM – 8PM 5/25 12PM – 1PM 5/28 7PM – 8PM

5/29 12PM – 1PM 5/29 9PM – 10PM 5/30 7PM – 8PM5/31 7PM – 8PM

6/4 12PM – 1PM 6/5 9PM – 10PM 6/6 9PM – 10PM 

The Fab Four got the royal treatment in the world premiere of CBT Resident Choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr’s latest masterful creation The Magical Mystery Tour opens Jan. 23rd at the Black Box Theatre. Inspired by the Masterworks of The Beatles, this innovative interpretation of the lyrics and settings of the legendary band’s catalogue features a celebration in dance of rock n’ roll classics from the tribal energy of “Lady Madonna” to the haunting beauty of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, the simplicity of “Penny Lane” and the dreamy escape of “Yellow Submarine”. 

As Jason Zwicker from Charleston City Paper reported on Magical Mystery Tour in Jan. 2008:

After so much time has passed and the world has changed so much, how do you paint the picture of those early days, now almost the stuff of legend, when America first met The Beatles?  The first few years of the 1960s were a simmering mix of hope and anxiety: international confrontations threatening to turn a Cold War hot, charismatic leaders rising to inspire us only to die by the hands of cowards, and a growing discontent with stifling social status. 

We went to school, went to work, lived, and loved like good little boys and girls, but deep inside, we were ready to scream. Then, all at once, four lads from Liverpool were right in front of us, guitars ringing out, telling us to let it out, twist and shout.

Years of pent up tension burst free all at once, and nothing was the same again. No wonder it was called a musical revolution. That’s the mood Charleston Ballet resident choreographer Jill Eathorne Bahr hopes to evoke with The Magical Mystery Tour, an interpretation of not only the vast catalog of rock ‘n’ roll classics that the Beatles produced, but also the unparalleled social phenomenon of Beatle mania itself.

“This is not a chronological story. It’s a visualization of the lyrics,” says Bahr, a self-described Beatles fanatic. “Listening to the lyrics of these songs can take you in so many different directions, and that’s what I wanted to create for the audience: the feeling of being on a journey.” Everything from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to “Yellow Submarine” is fair game, according to Bahr, who promises surprises aplenty during the show. “It isn’t just the Beatles themselves, but also songs they inspired,” she says. “There’s this bluesy version of ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’ by a Memphis band called The Glass Onions that I put in there. I’ve also woven in documentaries. It’s going to be all over the board.”

 The Great Gatsby

The East Hamptons set the scene for this sweeping jazz age balletic interpretation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic novel. This true dance drama features colorful acting and narration set to the music of George Gershwin and a memorable trip back to a timeless era. 

SCHEDULE

6/4 7PM – 8:30PM, 6/5 7PM – 8:30PM 

As Dottie Ashley for the Charleston Post and Courier quotes:

“The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s portrait of the Jazz Age with all its idealism, excesses and decadence, will be transformed into an elaborate evening of dance by the Charleston Ballet Theatre on Saturday at the Gaillard Auditorium.

The famous novel was made into a film in 1974, and now Jill Eathorne Bahr, resident choreographer with the CBT, has set it to music. Bahr feels the story of the rise and fall of self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and his love for beautiful socialite Daisy Buchanan touched a nerve in the American psyche.

“While ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a highly specific portrait of American society during the Roaring ’20s, its basic story has been told hundreds of times,” says Bahr. “It tells of a man who claws his way from rags to riches, only to learn that his wealth cannot afford him the privileges enjoyed by those born into the upper class. Gatsby becomes primarily known for the lavish parties he throws at his ostentatious Gothic mansion.”

Another character is the honest, mild-mannered Nick Carraway, who has moved from Chicago to Long Island to learn the bond trade and has a bungalow in West Egg, the nouveau riche area where the wealthy, mysterious, party-loving Gatsby lives. Carraway happens to be a cousin of Daisy’s and is drawn into Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship. Daisy’s husband, Tom, who has a married girlfriend on the side, causes two deaths in this high-rolling scenario, where the rich feel absolutely no guilt at destroying the lives of ordinary people.

“The lavish scenes of Gatsby’s parties contrast with the intricate web of the entangled relationships of the main characters,” says Bahr. “Their reckless actions turn an American dream into something akin to a Greek tragedy. The story has a number of plot lines and characters, and I felt it was important to engage a narration so that the work would almost have a movie like feeling. “Fitzgerald wrote the novel in dreamy scene overlaps and flashbacks. I wanted the audience to experience some of his words, and so I have the character of Nick narrate on stage.”CBT co-artistic director Patricia Cantwell adds, “The narration is taken directly from the book in most cases, and I think it helps the audience keep up with the drama of the story.”

Using the big band music of the ’20s, Bahr also has manipulated clips of the music of Billie Holiday, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jimmy Johnson, and Irving Aaronson and his Commanders.

Dancing the role of Gatsby will be Stephen Gabriel, who says, “Even when his wealth and stature are at their greatest, Gatsby will never be content unless he has Daisy. Although Gatsby seems very kind, he is not afraid to be unscrupulous to get what he wants. His drive is what makes him who he is, good and bad. It’s this drive that ends up ruining his life.”Taking the role of Carraway will be Jonathan Tabbert. “Nick is the hardest character to understand because he is the narrator and will, therefore, only gives us an impression of himself that he would like to reveal. Nick comes from a well-to-do Minnesota family, and though he is honest, responsible and fair-minded, he, nevertheless, frequently neglects to take the emotions of others into account. But of all the novel’s characters, he is the only one to truly recognize Gatsby’s ‘greatness,’ thereby revealing himself as a young man of unusual sensitivity.”

Jessica Roan says of her role as Daisy: “She’s trapped in an unhappy marriage and is at the mercy of her husband. She was born into money and early in life had an endless assortment of men who, she imagined, would continue to spoil her.”

So NOW… you decide your dance card for Spoleto— is it the jazzy variations on the foxtrot, the jitterbug and the Charleston from the dance adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” or is it is a breathtaking, fun-loving  and euphoiric risk-taking production Beatles extravaganza Magical Mystery Tour ,  the familiar strains of South Pacific, King and I and Cabaret of the Lullaby of Broadway or  an Afternoon With A Faun.  During Brown Bag and Ballet at noon.

 

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