The summer production of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin is a delight for all ages. Elementary-school students enjoyed the entire Father’s Day Sunday matinee performance with complete attention from start to finish. A large orchestra, a cast that sings, dances, and acts at the highest level, and a fully theatrical production presented to the audience in an intimate theater with excellent acoustics are a credit to all who have had a hand in bringing this wonder of live theater to Austin. So stellar is the cast that it’s not possible to single out any particular singers, old favorites or new ones, but the combination of earnest sincerity and comic exaggeration cannot be surpassed, bringing the clever lyrics and spritely music to brilliant life. As the audience headed home, hearts were light and smiles were omnipresent. Remaining performances at the Brentwood Christian School are: Friday (today), June 24, 7:30pm; Saturday (tomorrow), June 25, 2 pm, and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, June 26, 2 pm, Everyone sings with the utmost clarity; all performances are supertitled so that not one nuance fails to be appreciated. This show is guaranteed enjoyment. Don’t fail to treat yourself and your friends and family to a very special event.
Happy music makes for happy people and happy feet. The Austin conjunto festival marked its 25th anniversary on Sunday, May 3, established by Johnny Degollado all those years ago, when people first gathered in July in the heat, but in the shade of Parque Zaragoza, to hear and dance to the many rhythms of the accordion, bajo sexto, and other customary members of a traditional conjunto, so complex yet simple enough to set up in about five minutes.
The festival and dance contest were a happy component of the tenth Fiestas Patrias of Austin celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The weather was more than cooperative under the shade of the trees and the pavilion at Fiesta Gardens, with a beautiful breeze playing as children scampered and people of all ages danced and danced. Seven conjuntos were on the bill; we could be present for the first two only: Conjunto Aztlan and Santiago Jimenez, Jr.
This is Austin as we know and love it. Some contingent (Wheatsville Co-op?) was offering kazoos to the onlookers during Sunday’s free parade to the park. They were put into immediate use.
View still images and unedited videos to see an acquaintance or to realize what you missed, if you did miss it. And if you did, resolve to listen for it next year and let your ears lead you to some of the best fun Austin offers.
This production of H.M.S. Pinafore captivates. The orchestra’s bigger and brighter than ever (19 members counted), and so’s the chorus (28 members counted). Both the men and the women of the chorus excel, and for once the men get to dance more than the women. The orchestra is bold and bright, a true pleasure to hear.
Austin favorites Holton Johnson, Russell Gregory, Janette Jones, and David Fontenot reprised starring roles to great applause; Gil Zilkha as the captain and Carol Brown as Josephine, his daughter, shone. We attended the Sunday matinee that was preceded by a one-hour program for young people. H.M.S. Pinafore held the attention of children for the entire performance. There was no difficulty at all in understanding the snappy lyrics, so clearly sung, but there are supertitles above the stage for anyone who may find them to be a helpful supplement to the performance.
This show is crammed with songs that are not to be forgotten. Most are jaunty and funny; some are a bit more serious and are treated so (for example, “Refrain, audacious tar”). Pinafore will make happy people happier and will brighten the darkest day.
Remaining performances are: Thursday, June 19, 7:30 pm; Friday, June 20, 7:30 pm; Saturday, June 21, 2 pm and 7:30 pm; and Sunday, June 22, 2 pm. All seats are reserved; tickets may be purchased on line for pick-up at the theater (Brentwood Chistian School, 11908 North Lamar).
Thank you, Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin!
Here for our enjoyment is a lush sonic treat in every respect, and a visual feast as well, with a fine orchestra, a lively chorus, and a uniformly excellent cast of singers in the leading roles, plus a production that fills the stage: Austin Lyric Opera has outdone itself with the current production of Verdi’s Don Carlo.
Don Carlo was staged as one of the musical events inaugurating the Performing Arts Center on the UT campus, but has not been performed here since.
At the Long Center on Friday, the temperature became chillier as the evening went on, so it’s best to dress for all conditions. Another reason to dress for comfort is that the performance lasts for three and one-half hours.
Tickets are still available for the two remaining performances (Thursday, November 21, at 7:30 pm; and Sunday, November 24, at 3 pm).
Anyone not able to attend in person may hear a live broadcast via KMFA 89.5-fm radio, beginning at 2:50 pm on Sunday, November 24.
This ambitious undertaking is also a strongly successful one and should not be missed! Anyone who loves music and theater is in for a great treat.
As always there was much meeting and greeting. Congressman Lloyd Doggett took the stage and spoke briefly to great applause. Big news is that, in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Ramon Ayala y sus Bravos del Norte will give a free concert in the south grounds of the Capitol, from 6 to 9 pm on May 15. Here are the FAQs for the event.
Henry Zimmerle and his conjunto have played many times at this event and are always a treat to hear. Our great favorites are Los Dos Gilbertos, and they never disappoint.
When we left, between 6 and 7 pm, people were beginning to pour in and there was already a crowd. Toy-camera photos and unedited videos can never come close to capturing the delight of this festival. How wonderful it is for Austin to enjoy this wonderful annual event, made for all ages!
In one ring was an entire entertainment, as close as could be. The tent seating five hundred, in folding chairs and on bleachers, was set up on the grass just west of the Long Performing Arts Center, with handsome views in all directions, including downtown.
A little pre-show entertainment offered a foretaste of the delights awaiting. To the accompaniment of an accordion and a guitar and incorporating audience participation, we were especially entertained by the very youngest member of the family and the circus, performing with his father and others.
Once inside, in the aroma of sawdust, there were high wires, springboards, caparisoned horses, a unicycle, a continuing clown narrative, further appearances by the tiny and charming little boy working with his father, and a commedia dell’arte figure armed with a straight pin, who also seems to be the ringmaster, rigging supervisor, and all-round straight man.
Not to be forgotten are the aerial ballet on a rope high above the tanbark or the delightful performing dogs, who took a brief rest while two chickens did a trick.
There was an opportunity to pose with the pony for souvenir photographs. Those pulled from the audience to participate in the ring were all good sports, and one young boy who came into the ring definitely displayed the talent of a future performer himself.
The most popular souvenirs were toy conga-type drums, embellished twirling batons, and juggling pins (or clubs) and flat rings.
We did not see one bored or sulky child in the audience, which was rapt from start to finish, all ages enchanted by the performances.
Let us hope that the Zoppe Family Circus returns to Austin.
Even the many dogs along the parade route looked happy. Children appeared to be happier still.
Every group in the parade was a delight, and there was some wonderful musicianship. Among the extensive list of those in the parade, there’s no way to pick favorites, really, but we truly did love the Biohazard Brass Band, a super-sharp military aggregation, here all the way from Fort Sam in San Antonio.
Patience played to a full house, including all the children who arrived early for a special program and remained for the entire matinee performance yesterday, just as entranced as the rest of us.
H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, and The Mikado seem to be the most frequently performed masterpieces, but, thanks to our very own Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin, we are privileged to enjoy every gem and delight in the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory.
Sparkling in the intimate new performance setting of the arts center of Brentwood Christian School (map), which seats 400 and boasts an orchestra pit that conceals the professional-quality 15-piece orchestra, Patience is a complete theatrical experience. The 22-voice chorus (11 men, 11 women) sang with a snappy vigor and the clarity that made the supertitles showcasing the lyrics really unnecessary.
Every principal singer shone, and the audience welcomed the return of comic and musical stalwarts Arthur Di Bianca, Holton Johnson, Jeanette Jones, and Russell Gregory. Meredith Ruduski, as Patience the dairy maid herself, was a fine lyric and comic presence.
Everyone associated with this production should be very proud. A lot of the stage business and choreography was quite demanding. The audience laughed everywhere it was supposed to and nowhere it was not.
Just five performances remain: Thursday, 14 June, at 8 pm; Friday, 15 June, at 8 pm; Saturday, 16 June, at 3 pm and at 8 pm; and Sunday, 17 June, at 3 pm. For ticket information, call 474-5664; advance prices are $20 for adults ($25 at the door), $15 for students over 18 with identification ($20 at the door), and $7 for those 18 and under ($10 at the door).
Do not deprive yourself. If you love music or theater or both, treat yourself to Patience.
Today’s the very last day for a wonderful traveling exhibition at the Blanton Museum. There’s still time to get there before it closes at five.
It’s called “American Scenery: Different Views in Hudson River School Painting.” Views of the Susquehanna, Hudson, Saco, and other rivers and panoramas of Niagara, Lake George, Saranac astonish in their beauty. The 119 works of art are for the most part quite small, and the frames are as interesting as the art displayed within them. There’s always instructional material in addition to the labels mounted on the walls; look in the slots in the middle of the banks of benches in the exhibition halls.
The Blanton cafe and gift shop are worth visits for their own sake. There’s a gift in every price range for every age: books, toys, stationery, tabletop items, and much, much more.