Theatre and music are life on A Good Reed Review
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West Valley Light Opera (affectionately known as WVLO) is working hard to open its next production, Once Upon a Mattress, with music by Mary Rodgers (yes, the daughter of that Rodgers), lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Deal Fuller, and Marshall Barer. This little theatre staple has been around since 1959. The show, running 7 March – 4 April 2020 in Saratoga, brings Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of “The Princess and the Pea” to the stage with a lively score, vivid staging, and lots of wit and humor. The story follows a hapless prince and an unconventional princess (originally played by Carol Burnett) trying to overcome an evil queen’s cunning and hilarious attempts to keep them apart. There’s a second love story in the mix as that couple deals with an urgent (and emergent) situation. Through it all, audiences will enjoy the many colorful characters in the kingdom. This is a happy, fairy-tale show guaranteed to have audiences smiling and fighting the urge to hum along with the many familiar songs such as In a Little While, Happily Ever After, Sensitivity, and Normandy. [Continue reading]
This piece of the journey picks up where part 1 left off, the summer before my freshman year of high school. Leaving junior high behind, there was a lot ahead, and that summer was an eventful one. Normally, the incoming freshman class didn’t start band rehearsals until school commenced in the fall, but this particular summer was different. The band had been invited to participate in a massive summer parade as part of the Lions Club International conference in San Francisco, so there was no time to lose. The high school’s band was an award winning organization known throughout the western region as a top notch marching band. Their strength wasn’t in the drum corps style of marching or field shows. They thrived on military-style street marching competitions where everything, including standing inspections of the uniforms, hair length, musical interpretation, and marching precision was scored. My class, as incoming freshman, had a lot to learn in short order. [Continue reading]
The year is rapidly racing to a close, and while Christmas is behind us, the music is still something to savor. I described, with anticipation, San Jose Saxophone Christmas (SJ SaxMas or just SaxMas for short) in a recent article intended to inspire local saxophonists to join in, and urging everyone else to come see and hear this unique event. As mentioned in the article, this has been an annual holiday tradition for over a quarter of a century down in San Jose California, always taking place on the third Saturday of December. This year that was 21 December, and while that day has come and gone, 228 saxophone players delighted their audiences as they brought their instruments together for two rousing, free concerts. In case you missed it (or if you just want to relive it a little), read on.
The holiday season is upon us, and there are myriad music and theatrical events to celebrate the season. It is also the heart of the football season where a different kind of theater plays out all over the country. For some, the drama is in the game itself. … there is another kind of spectacle playing out in stadiums across the country, but this one engages fans from all walks of life. … Finally, there are the extreme fans. These are the ones who take fandom and raise it to a performance art form bringing a type of theater to light … My friend Mark is one such fan. … Today, many 49er aficionados know him as 49erMark. [Continue reading]
With SJ SaxMas just around the corner, this time of year I often fondly remember our old saxophone quartet, Peninsula Saxophonica. The group disbanded a little over a decade ago, but for a time the four of us got together a few times a month to share our love of saxophone music. … the music we created together lives on. [Continue reading]
Alex and Rowan Jeffries shared much in life. Being fraternal twins, that sharing started with their birthday. They didn’t share a room growing up, as their parents didn’t think that it proper for a girl and a boy to do so long term. From the time they were out of their cribs, they enjoyed their own bedrooms, independent sanctuaries to pursue their private thoughts wherever those took them. Even though they didn’t share a room growing up, they were very close. Now in their late 40s and well-established in their careers in academia with full professorships in their respective fields at the same university, Alex in biochemistry and Rowan in music, they shared a house…Beyond their academic fields, there was one other area of life that they didn’t share – their personal philosophies. Rowan had a strong faith and belief in God. Alex was his opposite number and was just as sure that there was no God. This particular divide sparked almost daily debates between the twins. [Continue reading]
Sometimes a show touches you in ways that you don’t really expect going in. My recent run of The Will Rogers Follies was such a show. I wrote a previous commentary/promotional article chronicling the journey to opening from the pit’s perspective, and the music was both challenging and very rewarding to play, but the show became so much more than any one piece of the production. The run finished several weeks ago. Still, the story continues to linger in my mind as I contemplate how things could be if more people held attitudes like Will Rogers. The show is a musical with book by Peter Stone, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and opened on Broadway in May 1991. The story, told by the title character, takes a biographical look at the life and times of Will Rogers via musical acts, conversations, and monologues that contain many quotes from Rogers’ actual speeches and writings. Rogers was known as an entertainer and humorist, but more than that, he was a keen observer of people. He had an almost unheard of talent for poking fun, even at controversial subjects, without offending anyone. He’s also very well-known for stating that he never met a man he didn’t like. [Continue reading]
TCK Publishing brings a lot of new authors to light, and one of their latest is Jenna Ryan. Her debut novel, The Channeler: A Future Forewarned (Continuum Series Book 1), was published in January 2019. Classified as a young adult fantasy romance novel, Ryan covers a lot of ground in the book’s 241 pages. The story, told in first person by protagonist Caleb Michael Swift, nicely captures the college experience while mixing in copious amounts of supernaturally inspired angst. Caleb seeks a normal life as he navigates his junior year in college. He has lived with his “aunt” Nikki from a very young age. Readers eventually find out that Nikki isn’t really his aunt. She was his mother’s dearest friend, and she took him in after his mother’s untimely death. Caleb never knew his father, and as the story unfolds, he learns some very surprising things about him. [Continue reading]
In December 2012, I wrote an article about the role of the pit musician in musical theatre. That article was written from a musician’s point of view and focused on the physical environment; equipment; training; mindset of performers who worked in the shadows; versatility that was required of pit musicians; and only mentioned compensation as a cursory aside. This article takes a closer look at the differences between pit musicians who live to play as opposed to those who play to live and discusses the challenges community theaters face with respect to pit musicians. [Continue reading]
In REMEMBERING MOM AND DAD, I make the jump from analyzing the stories to telling them. The book is a collection of nonfiction essays and short stories written over time remembering Bayla and Jerry Jacobson. The stories include personal recollections from my experience along with the retelling of numerous events related to me in conversations over the years. Some of the stories included are: “Music in the House”, “The Parenthood Plunge”, “The Jacobson Pet Parade”, “Disney Days of Summer”, and many more. Interested?
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