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Places April-May 2012

A preview of Performing Arts at Johnson County Community College www.jccc.edu/TheSeries

An Evening with Groucho Marx Brothers film: Duck Soup Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik

Ricky Nelson Remembered Suzanne Vega

Moscow Festival Ballet The Sleeping Beauty


Marx Brothers classic film kicks off An Evening with Groucho

Frank Ferrante has been described as “the greatest living interpreter of Groucho Marx’s material.” At 8 p.m. Friday, April 13, members of the audience can decide if they agree when Ferrante presents An Evening with Groucho at Johnson County Community College’s Polsky Theatre. At 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, also in Polsky, JCCC will show the film Duck Soup, often considered the Marx Brothers’ greatest and funniest masterpiece. The 1933 film is a short but brilliant satire and lampooning of blundering dictatorial leaders, Fascism and authoritarian government. Ferrante’s show is sold out but tickets are still available for Duck Soup. In An Evening with Groucho, Ferrante will recreate his PBS portrayal of Groucho in a fast-paced 90 minutes of hilarity. The two-act comedy consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs, including Hooray for Captain Spalding and Lydia, the Tattooed Lady. The audience usually becomes part of the show as Ferrante ad-libs his way through his performance just as Groucho did. Accompanied by his onstage pianist, Jim Furmston, Ferrante portrays the young Groucho of stage and film. He also reacquaints everyone with Groucho’s brothers: Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Gummo.

Groucho’s son Arthur Marx discovered Ferrante when Ferrante was a drama student at the University of Southern California. The two collaborated on Groucho: A Life in Revue. Arthur wrote the off-Broadway show about his father’s life and Ferrante portrayed Groucho from age 15 to 85. For the role, Ferrante won the 1987 New York Theatre World Award and was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award. From there, Ferrante’s portrayal of Groucho took off. The New York Times gave him the moniker of the greatest living interpreter of Groucho’s material. Groucho was born Julius Henry Marx on Oct. 2, 1890. He took the stage at 15 and his four brothers eventually joined him. Their act evolved into the popular vaudeville act known as the Marx Brothers. Groucho received a special Academy Award in 1974 for the unequalled achievements of the Marx Brothers. He died on Aug. 19, 1977, at age 86. The Groucho show is sold out. Please join us for the film. Tickets, which are $5, are available through the college box office at 913-469-4445 or at www.jccc.edu/TheSeries.


Singer Suzanne Vega fashions poetic stories into songs she writes Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk music revival in the early 1980s. At first, record companies saw little prospect of commercial success. That changed quickly with the release of her self-titled debut album in 1985. Since then, she has played sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls. Vega, who pairs her acoustic guitar with the songs she writes, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21, in the Carlsen Center’s Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. Joining Vega on stage will be Duncan Sheik, composer of the Tony Award-winning Broadway smash Spring Awakening. Sheik collaborated with Vega on the show Carson McCullers Talks About Love. (McCullers was author of the novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.) In 2011, Sheik released an album titled Covers 80s, a collection of 1980s pop hits, presented in Sheik’s own style. Duncan Sheik on the surface: a one-hit-wonder. Look deeper and you’ll find a spectacular, multi-talented artist who covers a number of platforms in the entertainment world of pop music, producer, writer and composer for motion pictures and Broadway.

100 Greatest Recordings of the 1980s. Vega’s1987 follow-up album, Solitude Standing, elevated her to star status. It hit No. 2 in the UK and No. 11 in the United States, was nominated for three Grammys – including Record of the Year – and went platinum. Luka is a song that has entered the cultural vernacular; certainly the only hit song ever written from the perspective of an abused boy. The poetic stories and exquisite melody in her hit songs, which include Tom’s Diner, opened doors for singers such as Tracy Chapman and Sarah McLachlan. Vega’s latest project has been re-recording her songs by four thematic volumes. She calls the series Close-Up. Sheik will join Vega for parts of her performance and perform his own set of tunes. Tickets: $45, $35 913-469-4445 www.jccc.edu/TheSeries

In an article about Vega last May, The Huffington Post called her “a marvelous singer and songwriter whose body of work looks more impressive with every passing year.” Vega grew up in Spanish Harlem and the Upper West Side of New York City. She picked up a guitar at 11 and began writing songs as a teenager. In 1979, while hanging out at the Greenwich Village Songwriter’s Exchange, she began to find her artistic voice and distinctive vision for contemporary folk. Record executives expected her first album to sell 30,000 copies; the number soared to a million. Marlene on the Wall was a surprise hit in the United Kingdom and Rolling Stone eventually included it in their

Duncan Sheik

Suzanne Vega


Ricky Nelson’s sons carry on family name with tribute to ‘teen idol’ Ricky Nelson’s twin sons say they believe it’s up to them to keep their dad’s songs alive. And they want to play them, they say, because people still ask to hear them.

40 Billboard hits and became massively popular overseas. Recent releases are two catalog albums: Before the Rain and Perfect Storm, and Lightning Strikes Twice.

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, accompanied by the Stone Canyon Band, will present Ricky Nelson Remembered at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 22, in the Carlsen Center’s Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. They will roll out Hello Mary Lou and Traveling Man and Garden Party and be feeling good about it.

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are the grandchildren of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, who starred in the long-running television sitcom The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Earlier, the couple had enjoyed big band success and had scored a No. 1 hit in 1934.

“Not only is it a true pleasure to play these great songs that people love, but it makes us feel profoundly closer to our best friend – our pop,” the two state on their show’s website. The production will include never-before-seen big screen video footage of the Nelson family with interviews from celebrities influenced by Ricky Nelson. They include Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, Sam Phillips and others. Ricky Nelson died on Dec. 31, 1985, when the small plane in which he was riding crashed near DeKalb, Texas, while en route to a New Year’s Eve show in Dallas. The twins were 18 at the time. In the early 1990s, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson put out After the Rain, their debut multi-platinum album by their band called Nelson. They zoomed to No. 1 with (Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection. Following that success, they had three Top 10 singles, four No. 1 MTV videos and five Top

Ricky Nelson emerged from the series’ popularity to establish himself as a teen idol and then as one of the most important rock artists of the 1950s and 1960s. His record sales exceeded 100 million and he had three No. 1 hits of his own. With Matthew and Gunnar’s (Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection, the Nelsons landed in the Guinness Book for World Records as the only family to reach No. 1 record status in three consecutive generations. With all the songs that the Nelson brothers have to pick from, their shows attract audiences of all ages. “We have the broadest age demographic on the planet – 8 to 80,” Matthew Nelson said. “And we love them all.” Tickets: $80, $40, $30 913-469-4445 www.jccc.edu/TheSeries


Spinning turns, soaring leaps mark Petipa’s classic ballet

The Moscow Festival Ballet will present The Sleeping Beauty at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in the Carlsen Center’s Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. The three-act ballet, a crowning jewel of choreographer Marius Petipa’s career, transports audiences to a fairytale kingdom with a sleeping princess who can be awakened only by a kiss from a prince. Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet based on stories by Charles Perrault. The Moscow Festival Ballet was founded in 1989 by Sergei Radchenko, who is its artistic director. Radchenko formed the company to bring together the highest classical elements of the Bolshoi Ballet and the Kirov Ballet. Radchenko had been with the Bolshoi Ballet for 25 years.

The Sleeping Beauty premiered in 1890 at the Mariinski Theatre in St. Petersburg. The production tells the story of a baby princess at her christening who is condemned by an evil fairy to prick her finger and die on her 16th birthday. The princess is saved from that fate by a gift from

a good fairy who declares the princess will sleep only until the kiss. The ballet, with its lavish stage treatment, demonstrates the challenges of Petipa’s style – steel pointe work, sharply accented spinning turns, soaring leaps, high extensions and daring lifts. The themes of a young girl’s coming of age and the triumph of good over evil are developed dramatically and musically during the course of the show. In addition to commissioning new works, the Moscow Festival Ballet specializes in 20th century full-length ballets that include Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Legend of Love, Stone Flower and The Golden Age. The company has toured extensively in Europe and the United States and has performed in Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Tickets $42, $32 913-469-4445 www.jccc.edu/TheSeries


Theatre students build reputation in regional competition

Staging plays is great, but the biggest delight to Beate Pettigrew, professor, theatre, is the making of “solid human beings.” The students who take theatre at JCCC learn valuable skills, both individually and as a team, Pettigrew said, and those skills have led to impressive results on and off the stage. “Businesses are attracted to our students because theatre teaches collaboration,” Pettigrew said. “It also teaches how to be a good communicator, which is so important in any field.” The theatre department at JCCC is run by two full-time faculty members and a handful of adjunct instructors and staff members. A core group of 20 students have earned performance scholarships, but an even larger group has joined for no other reason than the love of the stage. That affection has propelled them to successes such as the Region 5 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. JCCC has been invited to perform in three of the last five years – a feat all the more amazing when one considers the judging process. Pettigrew said the festival judges select shows based on performance video and reports from scouts who attend the shows. Neither the videos nor the reports contain the name of the school. “There’s no selection based on the fact that we’re a community college,” Pettigrew said. “Someone could say, ‘Oh, you got in because they wanted to choose a community college for balance.’ But they don’t know who they’re watching, and they’re only after the best,” she said. When Pettigrew selects a play to be produced, she seeks input from other department members, she said. She tries to find a balance in the types of show offered year to year, be it musical, children’s theatre, classical or experimental.

“Experimental works well for our theatrical home,” Pettigrew said, since the Bodker Black Box Theatre – the working theatre for academic shows on campus – lends itself to intimate, edgy works of experimental theatre. The Bodker Black Box Theatre may be home, but the department has made use of most of the facilities in the Carlsen Center, including the 1,300-seat Yardley Hall. Students and staff staged their recent production of Anatomy of Gray there to prepare for the Kennedy Center festival in January. Anatomy of Gray was first staged in the 410-seat Polsky Theatre, but Yardley Hall gave students an idea of the festival’s 2012 venue: C.Y. Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. (Stephens Auditorium seats 2,747 patrons, still twice as big as Yardley Hall.) “We have wonderful facilities here – unbelievable facilities,” Pettigrew said. When students search for a transfer school, Pettigrew said, many are disappointed with the theatre facilities. “It’s difficult to find a four-year school that exceeds what we have here.” Few of the students who participate in theatre at JCCC will become professionals in the craft, though a few have managed careers in New York or Los Angeles, she said. “Only 2 percent of all theatre graduates work in professional theatre,” Pettigrew said. “We don’t expect our students to make theatre their profession.” Yet they could if they wanted to, Pettigrew explains, because they receive the instruction needed to compete anywhere. “We don’t mollycoddle our students,” she said. “They get excellent training here at JCCC.”


Performing Arts Events J o h n s o n

C o u n t y

C o m m u n i t y

C o l l e g e

April 2012 Sunday 1

Monday

Tuesday

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Ricky Nelson Remembered 7 p.m., Yardley Hall $80, $40, $30

Saturday 7

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Film: Marx Brothers Duck Soup 7 p.m., Polsky Theatre $5

13 An Evening with Groucho 8 p.m., Polsky Theatre**

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16 Ruel Joyce Jazz Series Lee Harrelson, euphonium noon, Recital Hall*

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Heart of America Barbershop Chorus 2 and 7:30 p.m., Yardley Hall $25, $20

Suzanne Vega and Duncan Sheik 8 p.m., Yardley Hall

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$45, $35

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27 Academic Theatre The Spitfire Grill 7:30 p.m., Polsky Theatre*

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JCCC Jazz Series Chris Hazelton Trio noon, Recital Hall*

Ruel Joyce Jazz Series Maria Ioudenitch Tatiana Ioudenitch violin and piano noon, Recital Hall*

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Thursday

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Ruel Joyce Jazz Series Alex Shum, violin Kairy Koshoeva, piano noon, Recital Hall *

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Wednesday

Nelson brothers

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Moscow Festival Ballet 8 p.m. Yardley Hall $42, $32

Academic Theatre The Spitfire Grill 2 and 7:30 p.m. Polsky Theatre*

29 30 Academic Theatre The Spitfire Grill 2 p.m., Polsky Theatre*

For best seats, order early. Call 913-469-4445 or buy tickets online at www.jccc.edu/TheSeries. Service fee applicable.

Purchase live online

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4 Academic Theatre The Spitfire Grill 7:30 p.m., Polsky Theatre*

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6 Academic Theatre,

5 Academic Theatre The Spitfire Grill 2 and 7:30 p.m. Polsky Theatre*

The Spitfire Grill 2 p.m., Polsky Theatre*

Box Office: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday • Call 913-469-4445. Tickets are required for most events in Polsky Theatre and Yardley Hall. Programs, dates and times are subject to change. Discounts are available for students. PAS Administrative Office: Open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday • Call 913-469-4450. A request for interpretative services must be made 72 hours before a performance. Call the box office at 913-469-4445 or TDD/TTY 913-469-4485. Persons with disabilities who desire additional support services may contact services for patrons with disabilities, 913-469-8500, ext. 3521, or TDD/TTY 913-469-3885.

*Free

**Sold out

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JOHNSON COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE 12345 COLLEGE BLVD OVERLAND PARK KS 66210-1299

NONPROFIT ORG U.S. POSTAGE PAID Johnson County Community College

www.jccc.edu/TheSeries

Kansas alliance takes the lead in promoting the value of arts education Supporters of arts education from across Kansas have united to strengthen the role of the arts in Kansas schools. The Kansas Alliance for Arts Education met for the first time as an official organization in December at Johnson County Community College. The group’s mission is to ensure that the arts are an integral part of a quality pre K-12 education to promote every student’s personal development and academic performance. Angel Mercier

“Arts supporters knew there was a need to strengthen arts education in Kansas as a whole,” said Angel Mercier, the director of the Performing Arts Series Art Education program at JCCC. “We were all working separately and what we needed was a strong coalition working toward a common goal.” About two years ago, Mercier sought and received permission from JCCC President Terry Calaway to attempt to revitalize the Kansas Alliance for Arts Education. The group had not been active for more than 10 years so reorganizing it essentially amounted to starting anew.

Now the alliance has a solid board of directors with 20 members from throughout the state. They include teachers, artists, administrators and community members with ties to school districts, universities, professional groups and state and national organizations, including the Kansas Board of Education. The group’s goals include advocating for policy that ensures support for prekindergarten through 12th grade arts education. The goals include: offering more professional development opportunities, working with district curriculum coordinators to develop integration strategies for effective teacher training, broadening support for the alliance, and recognizing and celebrating achievement in the arts. “The old model of how we use arts needs to be updated so it is more relevant,” Mercier said. “Changes needed include better integration with other subjects and increased opportunities for teachers in using the arts as a learning tool.” The alliance will take the lead to collaborate with other groups in the state to create a powerful arts education network.


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