IMG_0246

Preview: Spring Awakening at Risley Theatre

When I first heard about Spring Awakening, I thought of benign, sunny meadows full of blossoming flowers with some schoolchildren skipping through. Little did I know that the play is about schoolchildren’s sexual blossoming rather than their cavorting in a blooming field of flowers. I might have been far off, but the surprise made seeing the Risley Theatre production of Spring Awakening even more enjoyable. The rock musical is based on a book by Steven Sater, who also wrote the lyrics to accompany the play’s music. Set in Germany in 1891, Spring Awakening’s story is that of a group of teenagers in the midst of puberty.

Lily Waldron as Hannah Jarvis and William Champion as Bernard Nightingale.

Beautiful Knowledge: Arcadia at Ithaca College

Arts & Entertainment writers Emily Kling and Jesse Weissman discuss Ithaca College Theatre Arts’ production of Tom Stoppard’s 1993 play Arcadia. Arcadia played at Ithaca College’s Hoerner Theatre from April 26 to May 1 and was directed by Ithaca College professor Greg Bostwick. Jesse Weissman: Before we start discussing the play itself, I want to note just how nice the Main Stage Theatre at Ithaca College is! It is a pretty impressive venue and feels like a real Broadway theatre. Emily Kling: Agreed!

Melodramatics Theater Company’s West Side Story at Schwartz

This past weekend, a few hundred lucky people had the privilege of seeing something truly special at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. I, like most people, had heard of West Side Story but had never seen it. I had hopes of being treated to an entertaining production, something a little more fun and high energy than the highbrow, somewhat pretentious theater you would usually encounter at the Schwartz. (Full disclosure: I adore that type of theatre.) But I knew that this was not an official Cornell-sponsored production, but rather a largely student run and conceived show, with students from both Cornell and Ithaca College coming together as part of Melodramatics Theatre Company to present their vision. Add in the fact that these students had but a short two months to bring this classic production from conception to the stage and, needless to say, I was not expecting anything too grandiose.

high school musical

A Conversation With High School Musical Composer, David Lawrence

David Lawrence is a film and television composer, songwriter and producer whose score and song credits include the American Pie films, the High School Musical series, and the forthcoming HBO documentary, Becoming Mike Nichols. The Sun spoke with Lawrence in anticipation of his visit this Friday about movie music, the process of scoring and Frank Sinatra. The Sun: There are so many people who write music to be a pop hit or for the radio.  Was it your goal to write television theme music or soundtrack music? David Lawrence: I went to conservatory in New York.

Ithaca Ballet Presents The Firebird

On Saturday, April 23 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Ithaca Ballet presented the spring installment of their 2015-2016 performance series at The State Theatre. The show began with The Firebird and after intermission were two shorter pieces titled “Boyceball” and “Bolero.” The combination of a longer, story ballet and contemporary choreography made for a versatile production with something for everyone. The Firebird is a ballet remarkable for its music, composed by the legendary Igor Stravinsky. The score is mystical, dramatic at the right times, and often erratic — fitting, as the ballet is about a magical bird. The plot of the ballet is tweaked depending on which company is performing it, but Ithaca Ballet’s version stays true to original versions, for the most part.

Paula Vogel at Second Stage Theatre in 2012.

A Concert Reading of Paula Vogel’s Indecent

At five o’clock sharp on the evening of April 13, the doors to the Klarman Auditorium opened, and the crowd that had amassed just outside funneled into the dimly lit seats. The first few rows filled in seconds. The stage was warmly lit, bare except for a piano and eight chairs. The crowd buzzed with hushed, excited conversation, eagerly awaiting the concert reading of the most recent play from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Cornell alum Paula Vogel, directed by Meghan Brodie, Ph.D. ’10. Vogel first came to Cornell as a graduate student in 1974; throughout her years at Cornell, she wrote plays and taught classes in drama and playwriting, earning her Master of Arts in 1976 and working toward a doctorate degree.

IMG_4553

Billy Blythe: Opera Comes to Ithaca

Composer Bonnie Montgomery is adorable as she quietly jokes with a noticeable southern twang, “It’s nice to perform without a bunch of beer bottles clanking.” It is clear why the company had her introduce the show with a few songs of her own, I wouldn’t want anyone else to guide me through life in small town Arkansas. She does so admirably in the world premiere of this self described folk opera, albeit through an unnecessary lens. The marketing posters boasted an iconic and gray Clinton epically gazing against an American flag backdrop. With Hillary campaigning a few hours away in NYC at the time of the performance, I was prematurely concerned the show would try to be a bit too ambitious for itself. But it turned out to be quite the opposite.

MURAL

Public Art Murals Arrive at the Johnson from Roosevelt Island

One step into the exhibition, and immediately the visitor is surrounded by a feeling of peace in the air. The grey walls display the large murals, but somehow the images can be both distinct in certain moments and fade into the background in others. It is grounding to see these works of art from the Federal Art Project, the Great Depression program that employed artists of all styles. The display cases in the exhibition give a good background on the history of each mural and their individual journeys from the day rooms in the Goldwater Hospital on Roosevelt Island to the exhibit at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. The real reasoning behind the creation of each painting was to calm the patients as they waited in the day room.

1776-musical

DOOLITTLE | Sit Down, 1776

“Does anybody care?” John Adams inquires of an empty congress chamber at the climax of 1776, but he may as well ask the same of a modern, post-Hamilton audience settling for the second best founding fathers musical to grace the Broadway stage. It’s impossible to talk about 1776 today without drawing immediate comparison to the groundbreaking hip-hop musical that I have tried so hard to avoid talking about in a column but oh well, there it is. It was a comparison that City Center Encores! attempted to lean into with their latest revival of the classic 1969 musical, setting it in a modern context and boasting a “multi-racial” cast. But is that a comparison anyone should wish to invite?

COURTESY OF THE JOHNSON MUSEUM

Creative Chaos: Cornell Art Faculty Show 2016

Art is ambiguous, much like the standards that define it. It can require great effort, but is often accused of being superfluous. It can push boundaries and the limits of the imagination, but is often accused of being derivative or irrelevant. In our world, virtually no art is being produced which is not self-reflexive or at the very least self-conscious, and this is reflected at every turn in the Johnson Museum’s Cornell Art Faculty Show 2016. The varied collection deals heavily with the problems and difficulties which representation faces in the 21st century, and you will be hard pressed to find anything that truly challenges the norms and beliefs of modern art culture.