Posts Tagged ‘austin’

Pesky pirates, pusillanimous police, pretty poppets!

Pirates of PenzanceThe Pirates of Penzance brings you all these, and more, thanks to the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Austin.

Look forward to an accomplished chorus, an expert 19-piece orchestra, and vocal music of distinguished quality from each of the lead and featured singers. Every comedic bit is carried out so well that it elicits outright laughter from the entranced audience.

If you don’t know the story, it won’t be spoiled for you here. Just remember, though, that “pilot” and “pirate” can sound very much alike. Thanks to the wonderful acoustics of the venue and also to the assistance of the supertitles above the stage (to aid in understanding when the tempo is breakneck), there’s not the least difficulty in hearing all and following every little twist and turn of the plot (there is one and it’s complicated).

The Father’s Day Sunday performance was attended by many, many children, who sat rapt and thoroughly engaged. Not one family departed during the intermission; all remained for the entire performance, which is quite a testimonial to the delight afforded to all ages.

In the Worley Barton Theater every seat is a good seat; there are no bad ones. Every seat enjoys an excellent view. Every member of the audience hears every note well, enjoying to the fullest not only the clever comic songs, but the rousing pieces and the sweetly sentimental numbers as well. This production is theater at its finest and music so wonderful that a person listening only and not seeing a bit of the spectacle would nonetheless be privileged beyond compare.

There’s a lively printed program. The cast bios are most entertaining, and so are the candid images of cast rehearsals.

The house was full. All advance tickets appeared to have been sold, and additional seats were brought in for those who arrived planning to buy tickets at the door.

Five performances remain. You owe it to yourself to attend at least one. You will smile, you will laugh, you will be thoroughly happy during the show, and for many, many days afterward.

Joyous Juneteenth

Austin All Star Band

Austin’s Juneteenth Emancipation Day Parade brought joy to the participants and joy to the spectators.

A highlight of the parade was Austin’s own Austin All Star Band.

See a sample of unedited still images and a little unedited video. If you were there, relive the event; if you weren’t on the scene, make plans now to be there next year, for a uniquely Austin occasion.

The Gondoliers: not to be missed

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.

Juneteenth parade 2015: a beautiful day!

Juneteenth 2015This was Year 150 for Juneteenth, and Austin turned out in great numbers to observe the occasion.

The Austin All Star Band is larger and sharper than ever. The Spirit of the Drum and Murchison Middle School were among the aggregations that provided music for the day. It was good to see children riding in the Wells Fargo stagecoach; some years it runs the course empty.

Politicos turned out in force, and volunteers were encouraging registration to vote. The weather, although threatening, cooperated; the downpour did not arrive until there’d been time to picnic.

See pictures and unedited videos for a hint of Juneteenth in Austin.

Austin conjunto festival: 25 years of bringing happiness

conjunto t-shirtsHappy 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 event is always perfect for music-lovers of all ages. See still images and unedited videos from this year’s festival and resolve to attend next year.

The circus is in town!

Circo Hermanos Vazquez 2015Circo Hermanos Vazquez+ is smartly paced and choreographed and very beautiful as a spectacle. The costumes are not extravagant, but they are fresh and very becoming to the artists, who are of the first class. The band is live. The clowns are laugh-out-loud funny.

Circo Hermanos Vazquez is set up at Highland Mall through this coming Sunday, April 12, when there will be shows at 2, 5, and 8 pm. Monday through Thursday weekday shows are at 7:30 pm. On Friday and Saturday, the shows begin at 6 and at 9 pm. Tickets may be purchased on line; the box office is open every day beginning at 10 am. Discount coupons admitting a child under 10 accompanied by an adult with a paid-for ticket are to be found around town; there was a plentiful supply at Chango’s on the Drag. Doors open a half hour before the spectacle begins.

The popcorn (palomitas) was fresh; the beverage was Coca-Cola. Opportunities for souvenir photographs with the members of the circus are numerous.

Photographs and unedited videos give only the merest notion of what a very fine show this is, definitely a treat for all ages.

Honk!Tx 2015: joyous sights and sounds

dancing in the streets

dancing in the streets

HONK!TX festival of community street bands brings life to the streets of Austin. For the fifth year, music and dance were to be found all over town, all free to those enjoying the event.

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.

Texas Independence Day parade

Texas Independence Day 2015Today’s parade was brief but spirited. There was precipitation and there was wind; temperatures were barely above freezing. There was a loud salute. The Del Valle color guard and cadets, so often a sharp presence at Austin parades, stepped out smartly. Krispy Kreme, assorted pirates, and legacy Texians passed by, looking chilly but jolly. The Texas Cowboys were visible on a trailer somewhere on the bridge but were not seen along the parade route on the Avenue. Construction workers paused. Some members of the police security staff were dancing to keep warm. Small in numbers as the marchers were, they certainly seemed to outnumber the spectators. See a couple of unedited videos and a few photographs.

Juneteenth parade

Saturday’s parade in observance of Emancipation Day brought out the politicians, including Chris Riley, Sheryl Cole, Mike Martinez, Steve Adler, Kirk Watson, and more; Riley cruised by on a bicycle and Martinez walked the route in flip-flops. Police chief Acevedo traveled the route on foot as well.

The mood was festive, as always. Apart from the Wells Fargo team of four drawing a stagecoach, horses were few this year. Church groups, City departments, corporate sponsors including H-E-B, and small businesses were there. The most appreciated were the providers of music, including Spirit of the Drum, the Austin All Star Band, WAMM, and bands all the way from Hearne and Houston.

We usually watch from a spot across the street from the Fresh Up Club. This year we returned to the Gonzalo Garza Independence School, where we admired the butterfly garden.

There’s no way to capture the spirit, really, but these unedited videos and pix made the attempt.

H.M.S. Pinafore: this saucy ship’s a beauty

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!

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