About Christina Riley

Christina Riley is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University

Tenor Madness at Jazz Artists of Charleston event

Tenor Madness

Credit: Tessa Blake

 

Tenor Madness brought jazz mania to Father Figaro Hall as part of  Jazz Artists of Charleston’s 6TH annual jazz series on Tuesday, June 4th.

 

The group, which features Mark Sternbank and Robert Lewis (both on tenor sax), played jazz standards and original compositions throughout the set.  Accompanied by Tommy Gill (piano), Kevin Hamilton (bass), and David Patterson (drums), the group opened with a snappy number and continued with an Austin Powersy piece entitled “Tom Thumb”.

 

From there, Sternbank introduced two of his original compositions, “DaySpring”and “70x7”.  “Dayspring” provided a jazzy take on a waltz—  a careful yet adventurous mid-tempo selection. “70 X 7”, which is a more modern work, highlighted a funky drum intro and a fun, sassy sax duet.

 

The next piece, Coltrane’s  pensive and melancholic “Soul Eyes” was played in memory of the late Ben Tucker, a bass player from Savannah, GA who recently passed.

 

Credit: Tessa Blake

Credit: Tessa Blake

From there, the tempo picked up with an original piece from Robert Lewis. “Clark”, based on a character from Dr. Seuss’ “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” featured a anticipatory beat that progressed to a delightful ditty.

 

Tenor Madness finished off the set with Coltrane’s version of “Summertime”, an homage to

the South Carolinian ties of  the opera Porgy and Bess, and Dizzy Gillespie’s  quick and witty Eternal Triangle. Tenor Madness explored the strength of two tenors saxophones and lived up to its name.

Managing the Bard and Puppets

BehindTheCurtainLogo-2

Stage mangers often go unrecognized, doing behind-the-scenes chores to make sure that the show runs smoothly. Because of stage managers, props are never lost, cues aren’t missed and the curtain rises and falls (generally) on time. Robin Longley, stage manger for Spoleto Festival USA’s production of Shakespeare’s  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” has an added element to watch over, puppets. Check out what he does and what it takes to make the magic happen at each performance with the Bard, puppets, and festival-goers.

“Midsummer” is a well-known work, how would you describe this interpretation of the classic?
Longley: It is a smart, sexy, inventive, rude and slightly crazy version of the Shakespeare classic. And it’s got puppets, lots of puppets, in it.

Some people maybe reluctant to see Shakespeare, in what ways does this production make the work more accessible?
Longley: I think the time spent in rehearsals delving into the meaning of the text is very well rewarded in the performances given and the story is really clear.

What would you say were some of the highlights of the production process?Longley:Unpacking the puppets that Handspring Puppet Company had shipped to Bristol in on my first day on the job in January has to be up there. There’s also nothing like doing the show for the first time in front of an audience – you learn where the laughs and the rounds of applause generally are – we keep tweaking the show too, so there are new funny bits for the Spoleto audience that the people of Bristol never got to see.

What were some of the more challenging moments for the production?
Longley: From a stage management perspective, every day can be a challenge: from the scheduling of rehearsals that may clash with costume fittings, or trying to work out where a noise is coming from in the building during a quiet bit of a performance, to how to do the show with an actor who is throwing up in the toilet.

How does doing a festival production differ from a longer running production for a theatre’s season?
Longley: Normally you set a show up, and come in and do the set up at the same time every day and do the show at the same time every night. At Spoleto, logistically everything is different. There are four different show times; we have to pack the set, costumes, props, puppets and some of the lighting equipment away every few days for the Opera; every day there are chamber concerts on the front of our set which means the local crew have to move some of our floor sections to get a piano or a marimba or a harpsichord in (Spoleto has an excellent crew by the way).

Tell me a bit about your background as a stage manager and working with the festival?
Longley: Back home in the UK I am a freelance stage and company stage manager. I have worked in many of the UK’s best, in my opinion, producing theaters up and down the country since training in stage management and technical theater at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. I became attached to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” after working with Tom Morris on his recent production of Arthur Ransome’s “Swallows and Amazons,” which played in London’s West End and toured the UK from December 2011 through to May 2012. Tom asked me to work on “MSND” while we were still touring with that and I was somehow able to fill the gap with work (and also become a father to my daughter Olive in July).

Have you worked as a stage manager for other Shakespeare productions? If so, how does this production differ from the others you’ve worked on?
Longley: I have worked on “Julius Caesar” for Birmingham Rep; “Richard II” for the Royal Shakespeare Company; “Much Ado About Nothing” for Regent’s Park Open Air Theare, London; two productions of “Antony and Cleopatra” for the Royal Shakespeare Company, with Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter in the title roles, and Chichester Festival Theatre, with Michael Pennington and Kim Cattrall. I have never done one with this few actors or this many puppets.

How would you describe “Midsummer” to someone who is unfamiliar with the play?
Longley: It is a love story with an hilarious subplot involving ‘rude mechanicals’ (to quote Puck) that culminates in a performance within the play of Pyramus and Thisbe with some of the finest stage clowning I have ever had the pleasure of stage managing.

Brazilian Jazz in the Lowcountry

Photo Courtesy of Tessa Blake

Photo Courtesy of Tessa Blake

Leah Suárez & Duda Lucena graced the night with Brazilian jazz during the Jazz Artists of Charleston 6th Annual Jazz series. The duo treated the Lowcountry to several bossa novas, sambas, and other jazz standards with a Brazilian twist.

Soft and mellow vocals filled the intimate venue at Father Figaro Hall and gentle plucks of the guitar strings by Lucena and bass by Ben Wells set the tone of the night for the May 26th performance (view video of performance here).

For more info about the series: www.jazzartistsofcharleston.org

 

 

Behind “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” is a classic, jazz standard in the annals of American music history. The song is penned by Fats Waller and Harry Brooks and lyrics written by Andy Razaf in 1929. It’s been performed for nearly a 100 years by some of the greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum and Ray Charles. The song even received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1984.

In the same year, the song became the title of a musical. 

Fats Waller
Photo: Last.fm

The musical is a tribute to artists from the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920’s and ’30s, when jazz was a popular form of music. Historic music venues like the Cotton Club and Savoy Ballroom, which serve as the setting for the musical, gave many jazz greats their first gigs.

Fats Waller, born Thomas Wright Waller (1904-1943), was a pianist, singer, composer, comedian and organist. He was a talented stride pianist and played Dixieland, swing and ragtime jazz. He gained international success and spent time in Europe touring and performing. He wrote many jazz songs like “All God’s Chillun Got Wings” and “After You’ve Gone,” but is most noted for the cherished classic, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

The song is a mid-tempo jazz ballad that features New Orleans style stride piano and brass interludes.The fluidity of the song enables musicians to interpret the classic as their own and mixed within other genres. Here are some classic, fun, and creative interpretations of “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”

1. Fats Waller and band 

2. Louie Armstrong and his orchestra
3. Billie Holiday

4. The Muppets

5. Hank Williams, Jr.
6. This u
kulele Solo
7. Barbershop Quartet
8. Swedish Boys Choir

9. Mandola and Fiddle Duo

10. 10-year old guitar player and vocalist

If you go: Produced by Art Forms & Theatre Concepts. May 24-25 at 5pm; May 31 at 8pm; June 1 at 2pm. Tickets: $26 Adults; $21 Seniors; $16 Students. Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St.

Getting to Know a Couple of “Reformed Whores”

 “Reformed Whores” will be running at Theatre 99 in Charleston as part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival from May 24-28. The musical comedy duo, Katy Frame and Marie Cecile Anderson, perform songs about love and life in what they describe as a “raunchy country-western hoedown.”

Listen to an audio clip of the two “Reformed Whores” talking and singing about their show. (Audio by Christina Riley)

Who are the “Reformed Whores”?
Frame: We are a musical comedy duo, singing in a country western style. We have an hour long show we do. It’s full of raunchy fun, which incorporates music into a raunchy hoedown.

How did the duo come to be? 

The two ladies of "Reformed Whores"

The two ladies of “Reformed Whores.”
Photo: Christina Riley


Frame: Marie Anderson and I met at a mutual friend’s birthday party about three years ago. We started talking about music, and she found out I play the accordion and she plays the ukulele. And we thought we should start a band and it really started organically from there.

Are there any other “Reformed Whores” in your band?
Frame: No, it’s just us. We play the accordion and the ukulele. But on our CD, we do have a full band.

Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Frame: Definitely from real life experiences—break ups, relationships, things that have been bugging us that we think should be talked about more… things that I think are relatable to both men and women, but we are girls so it’s things that are from a female perspective.

How would you describe the genre of music you play?
Frame: I would say country-western comedy.

How would you describe your performance?
Frame: It’s kind of a concert but it’s also very theatrical depending on the performance.

How did the name “Reformed Whores” come about?
Frame: Actually, my roommate had a playlist on her computer and it was titled Reformed Whores and I loved it. I loved the concept. I brought it into Marie when we were looking for names and it just really made a lot of sense for what we were talking about.

Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery

A team of reporters and photographers attended the festivals’ opening ceremony, and we took some time to get to know some of the other attendees and ask what they were looking forward to most at this year’s festivals.

Click here to check out our photo gallery!

For more information, read The Post and Courier’s full story about the opening ceremony.

Slideshow photos by: Christina Riley and Eesha Patkar