Normally, I pick the shows that we see. So when my wife points to an ad for some shows and says “Get tickets for this”, I do it with nary an additional question. Recently, this happened with an ad for Muse/ique (FB), a counter-cultural orchestra event. She was reading the LA Times when she saw an ad for a concert event with Savion Glover (with a half-off discount code). She brought it to me and asked me to get tickets. I did, and Sunday evening saw us on the lawn at Beckman Mall at CalTech for a concert titled “Earth/quaked: Dance Changes the World“. I’m very pleased that I went. I do, however, need to apologize in advance for two things: First, I apologize for for the delay in this writeup — I’ve been busy with MoTAS business the last two nights. Secondly, I apologize for the briefness of the summary of the show and lack of complete credits — the closest thing to a program that was provided was a fan with some information, and I’m going from memory for the rest.
Let me start with some observations about the setup, which was remarkably civilized. One hears “concert on the lawn”, and one things this means bringing blankets and folding chairs. Not for Muse/ique (FB). There were tables set up on the lawn in distinct seating areas: upfront for the special patrons, in the middle for the premium assigned seats, and even tables of 6 for the festival seating (where we were) in the back. You could buy food at the catering tent in the back, or you could bring your own food in. Unlike the Hollywood Bowl or other such venues, there was no bag check — no limitations on bottles or what you could bring in. Further (and this really surprised me), no one ever asked to see my ticket! Each of our festival seating tables had a small bag of hard candy and a few fans that served as the concert program. Very, very, civilized.
The show itself had a wide variety of music, presented by the Muse/ique Counter-Conventional Orchestra. I’m going from memory, but the compositions (in order were): A medley by Lennon/McCartney, A medley from “West Side Story” (Bernstein), a clip of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson dancing with Shirley Temple, a recording of Mr. Bojangles sung by Sammy Davis Jr., a composition or two by Alan Steinberger, a longer medley of music by Duke Ellington (one of his suites), concluding with a long medley of Vivaldi. Starting with Mr. Bojangles, Savion Glover joined the orchestra. Glover, if you recall, was the man behind “Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk“, and his dancing during this show exemplified his philosophy of tap: that tap dancing is a form of music and that one can create music with the feet. Bojangles was straightforward emotional tap, but by the later numbers (especially in the Vivaldi piece), Glover’s feet were a part of the orchestra. Of course, being the back we could only see the dancing through the few big screen monitors that had been set up; but with Glover, this is dancing meant to be heard. I’ll also note that there was one segment that featured a display of artwork by davidkremers, a visitor in Aerospace at Caltech…. which was accompanied only by the sounds of Glover’s feet dancing.
The orchestra at Muse/ique was under the direction of Rachael Worby (FB), the artistic director of Muse/ique. It was a very large orchestra featuring the following artists: VIOLIN I / Roger Wilkie, Agnes Gottschewski, Grace Oh, Mei Chung, Shelly Shi, Hana Kim / VIOLIN II / Tammy Hatwan, Neel Hammond, Alwyn Wright, Simeon Simeonov / VIOLA / Shawn Mann, Rodney Wirtz, Brett Banducci / CELLO / Kim Scholes, Joo Lee, Ginger Murphy / BASS / Mike Valerio, Geoff Osika / FLUTE / Sara Weisz, Sal Lozano / OBOE / Jennifer Johnson / CLARINET / Amanda McIntosh, Damon Zick / BASSOON / Anthony Parnther, Samantha Duckworth / HORN / Kristy Morrell, Amy Sanchez / TRUMPET / Marissa Benedict, TJ Tesh / TROMBONE / Mike Hoffman / TUBA / Blake Cooper / TIMPANI / Theresa Dimond / KEYBOARD / Alan Steinberger / PERCUSSION / Jason Goodman / DRUM / Jamie Tate / ELECTRIC BASS / Mike Valerio… and of course, as Worby noted, / FEET / Savion Glover :-).
There were no technical credits, which is too bad because the sound designer ensured that the sound was clear throughout the mall, and the lighting designer used LED lighting very effectively to convey mood.
This was the end of the Muse/ique performances for the summer, but they do plan on activities over the year. Next summer’s program will focus on Leonard Bernstein, and we plan to be back. For future reference, they do appear to list tickets on Goldstar.
[Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.]
Upcoming Theatre and Concerts: This coming weekend bring “Moon Over Buffalo” (Goldstar) at the GTC in Burbank. The remainder of September brings “Bat Boy: The Musical” at CSUN for the Friday night before Slichot (9/19), “What I Learned in Paris” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sat 9/27, and “The Great Gatsby” at Repertory East (FB) on Sun 9/29. October currently has two shows (three if you count Yom Kippur on 10/4): “Don’t Hug Me, We’re Married” at the Group Rep (FB) on Sat 10/18 (when Karen is at PIQF), and “Pippin” at the Pantages (FB) on 10/25. November is back to busy, with “Big Fish” at Musical Theatre West (FB) on Sat 11/1, “Handle with Care” at The Colony Theatre (FB) on Sun 11/9 (shifting to avoid ACSAC and opening night), a trip out to Orange Empire Railway Museum to see my buddy Thomas on 11/11, “Sherlock Holmes and the Suicide Club” at REP East (FB) on Sat 11/15, the Nottingham Festival on Sun 11/16, and “Kinky Boots” at the Pantages (FB) on Sat 11/29. I may also see some theatre when I visit my daughter Erin in Berkeley between 11/20 and 11/26. I’d love to get down to San Diego to see either (or both) of “Bright Star“, the new Steve Martin/Edie Brikell musical, at The Old Globe Theatre (FB) (September 13-November 2), or “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (based on the Disney film) at The La Jolla Playhouse (FB) (October 25-December 2), but I’m not sure either would work in the schedule. As for December, right now I’m just holding one date: “She Loves Me” at Chance Theatre (FB) in Anaheim on 12/20. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.