Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Zoppe Italian Family Circus





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.

Honk!Tx parade 2013: a thrill for the third year

Thank you, Honk!TX for parading again this year. Portable music that lifts the spirits and does not require protection for the ears is in scant supply and for that reason very, very welcome.

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.

We were so busy listening, marching, and watching that we took few pictures with the toy camera and not many unedited videos, either, but they are souvenirs of a wonderful day.

Texas Independence Day on the Avenue

Spirits were high, ‘though the day was chilly. Celebrate Texas organized a fine parade. There were veterans’ contingents, a Shiner Beer van distributing Shiner lapel buttons, Lone Star flags for the little children, two contingents of lions and dragons, and much, much more, including two wonderful bands from Austin high schools: the Eastside Memorial Panthers and the Bowie High School marching band.

James and Annetta White of the Broken Spoke were the parade honorees. Spirits were lifted by the singing of an a capella choir, from the Cowboy Church. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas passed by on horseback. The Texas Cowboys startled a dog or two.

The Plungettes, with their plumbing gear, and the Beachers, with their lawn chairs, turned out as they do for almost every parade.

The Eastside Panthers marched with pride in t-shirts and shorts, despite the chill. The Bowie band turned out in full uniform, complete with plumes; the band seemed to be 150 strong. We loved them both.

Congress Avenue was intended as to be a processional way. See some unedited videos and recall the fun or see and hear some of what you missed. We love a parade!

Chuy’s parade 2012: for a good cause

Chuy’s Children Giving to Children parade is one of the best shows in town every year, and the price of admission is low: a toy or other contribution to Blue Santa.

If you missed the parade, you missed large balloons, costumed greyhounds, jugglers, unicyclists, Star Wars characters, Police Chief Acevedo, Fred Cantu, the Travis High School rebel band, the 36th Infantry Division band from Camp Mabry, Los Texas Wranglers, the Summitt Lion and Dragon dance team, the Biscuit Brothers, and many, many more dancing, marching, playing, and singing groups. Watch for toy-camera images from the parade.

It’s not too late to give to Blue Santa and brighten the holiday season.

Pagliacci

Pagliacci has come and gone now, but all lovers of music should mark their calendars for the next two Austin Lyric Opera productions: The Marriage of Figaro (January 31; February 2, 3, 2013) and Gounod’s Faust (April 25, 27, 28, 2013). These promise to be the giant crowd-pleasers that Pagliacci was. The orchestra just gets better and better and all was most pleasing about this production. We saw the Friday performance, and then confirmed our appreciation by listening to the Sunday live performance on KMFA 89.5-fm. The audience loved the surprise encore concert after the performance, when, accompanied by the orchestra, leading singers were joined by the chorus (also excellent) in song.

Veterans’ Day: patriotic concert

The jazz band performed first, and then the 36th Infantry Division concert band, which appeared to be the jazz band plus many additional musicians. Another configuration of the band marched in the Congress Avenue parade earlier in the day. These are musicians of the highest ability. There can be no finer setting for music than the outdoor terrace at the Long Center for the performing arts, with its spectacular view of the downtown Austin skyline. The capacity audience was delighted from start to finish by the spirited and stirring music. Also heard was a traditional recitation piece called “A Toast to the Flag.” The jazz program included the best performance of “In the Mood” that I’ve ever heard. We were treated to a Filmore march (“Americans We”) and two Sousa gems, complete with piccolo embellishments (“Washington Post” and “Stars and Stripes Forever”). Musician and vocalist SPC Bonnie Wellington sang a moving “America the Beautiful.” Austin is indeed the live music capital of the world. The toy-camera images and unedited videos do not come close to doing justice to this occasion.

Veterans’ Day: parade with flying colors

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was a glorious day for a parade to observe Veterans’ Day. As always the valiant Cardinal band from Del Valle marched and played, and all welcomed the returned 36th Infantry Division Band. The image here shows the flag flying from a crane near the start of the parade, which began on the bridge and proceeded up Congress to the Capitol. Other diversion was provided by a picturesque person on a bicycle who did a good bit of shouting and told a police officer (at a rather high volume and close to the officer’s face), “It’s not against the law to yell.” Pictures of the parade taken by a toy camera and unedited videos convey only a bit of this spirited event.

Welcome home!

Congress Avenue was made for parades; the Welcome Home, Iraq Veterans parade was made for Congress Avenue. On July 7, we marched up Congress Avenue to the Capitol grounds and then we returned on foot all the way back to the downtown side of the bridge. Many of us followed the wonderful band of the 36th Infantry Division of Camp Mabry, which sounds better than ever. It’s been a long time since we were privileged to hear this outfit. What spirit the band brought to the occasion! Five brass Sousaphones! Trombones out front! Mere pictures and videos cannot capture the event, but they’re souvenirs to remind us of the day and all the volunteers who created the tribute. Thank you!

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience = happiness

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.

Bernie: locally filmed movie a local attraction

Violet Crown CinemaThe movie Bernie is must-see entertainment.

It’s now playing in town at the Violet Crown Cinema and at the Arbor. On-line advance purchase appears to be requisite to see it at the Violet Crown; an attempt to purchase tickets at the door there was met with information that the next two shows were already sold out. So it was on to the Arbor, where the much larger house was nearly sold out.

This movie is laugh-out-loud fun. The audience even applauded spontaneously a few times. Look for familiar scenes from San Marcos, Bastrop, Smithville, Austin, and more. Quita Culpepper and Dale Dudley are on-screen presences.

Everyone loves different aspects of this movie. Here are some of my favorites: Jack Black’s singing, the singing and especially the choreography of the stage scene of “Seventy-Six Trombones” from The Music Man, the dialogue, the costumes, the humor generally, and the performances of everyone, in particular that of Richard Robichaux and, yes, those of Shirley MacLaine and, especially, Matthew McConaughey.

This would be a movie to see even if it weren’t set in Texas and weren’t filmed in part nearby. You won’t have a favorite scene to compare with the favorite scenes of others if you don’t go see it while it’s here.

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