Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kevin Locke combines traditional and modern for dance event

The Kevin Locke Native Dance Ensemble is coming to Sangamon Auditorium Tuesday, November 10, at 7:30 p.m., and the performance will be more than a presentation of Native American dance forms.

The evening features two programs. Drum is the Thunder, Flute is the Wind is a beautiful Native American ballet, choreographed by award-winning performer Thirza Defoe, that uses dance to tell the story of a young woman walking between two worlds of contemporary American Indian life and her grandfather’s traditional world. The elemental forces of thunder, wind, lightning and rain become the key to harmonizing the two divergent life paths, revitalizing the spirit of the young girl and restoring balance and peace.

The second half has Kevin Locke’s The Hoop of Life program, culminating in Kevin’s world-renowned Hoop Dance. The dance is an expression of Kevin's belief in the oneness of humankind, a major tenet of his Baha’i Faith. “All people have the same impulses, spirits and goals,” reflects Locke. “Through my music and dance, I want to create a positive awareness of the oneness of humanity.” The program closes with an opportunity for members of the audience to interact with Kevin and Ensemble dancers in the Hoop Dance and traditional Round Dance.

‘Dogs’ modernizes art of tap dancing

"Nathan Sheens is one old (Tap) Dog.

"Not that he’s old in terms of his chronological age. But Sheens, 35, was one of the original cast members for “Tap Dogs,” the Australian tap dance show that debuted in 1995. He left the show in the late 1990s, but has returned and is one of two original members.

"And even though he has significant experience with “Tap Dogs,” Sheens says the show is “always fresh; it’s always new.

story by Dru Willis
State Journal Register
Read the article

101 Years of Broadway - A Night to Remember!

After an exciting performance in October 2008, Neil Berg and his talented team of singers and instrumentalists once again put on a terrific show on Saturday, October 24 at Sangamon Auditorium. For the finale of the show, our local Singing with the Broadway Stars winners joined the cast on stage for a rousing rendition of “Seasons of Love” from RENT, fronted by locally-elected “favorites,” Mark McCue and Natalie Randall. Here are some photos we captured of the winners with the Broadway singers in the lobby after the show.

Mark McCue and Natalie Randall

Additionally, the Friends of Sangamon Auditorium in cooperation with the Alumni Association SAGE Society, held a pre-event dinner in the PAC Restaurant with a New York City/Broadway theme.

Attendees at the pre-show dinner

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kevin Locke receives $100,000 Bush Foundation award

Kevin Locke was recently announced as one of three recipients of the 2009 Enduring Vision Award.

The $100,000 award is designed by the Bush Foundation to “propel the artistic investigations of mature artists and to encourage their continued influence on present and future generations of artists, audiences and the artists’ field of work.”

The Enduring Vision Award is the only award of its size and intent in the country. The grant is awarded annually to up to three artists with at least 25 years experience in their craft. The Bush Foundation distributes the award over a three to five-year period wherein Kevin and the other two awardees, Michael Sommers and Mary Louise Defender Wilson, are given the opportunity to experiment and expound on their current works.

The selection process for the award included panel judging at a regional and national level by specially chosen artists and cultural leaders. Artists who receive the grant demonstrate a series of qualities: breadth and depth in their past creative accomplishments, the promise of continued future artistic excellence, a commitment to the work, strength and energy in their vision, and an intent to continue to enrich their particular fields of work.

Kevin Locke Wins 2009 Nammy for Record of the Year

On Saturday, October 3, Kevin Locke won Record of the Year for Earth Gift in the 11th Annual Native American Music Awards (NAMA), held in Niagara Falls, New York. Kevin previously won a Nammy in 2000 for Best Traditional Recording for his album The First Flute.

Earth Gift was produced by three-time Grammy-winner Tom Wasinger, who explains part of the album’s unique genre-mixing attributes. “If we made it strictly traditional,” says Wasinger, “we’d have a small palette of sounds to work with. I sought out instruments that, although they are not traditional to this music, complement the essential sound, and in some ways are more related than one might think. For example, I built one instrument out of resonating stone cut from this continent. Even though Native Americans didn't build resonating stone instruments, I feel I can use them because the sound won't draw you to another part of the world,” the way a synthesizer or piano might.

Various tracks feature instruments that are firmly rooted in America’s past. The nail violin (a bowed set of tuned nails popular in the 18th century), the pianolin (a combination of piano and violin), and other once-commonplace variations on the zither (a category of instruments that have strings which stretch over a resonating chamber but do not extend beyond it) are from the same era, the late 1800s, as many of Kevin’s Lakota teachers and their songs.

Kevin says Earth Gift has “sounds that don’t tie things to a specific culture, tribe, or ethnicity. It really takes people into an area that transcends cultural specificity; place of universal appeal.” With the album, Kevin also endeavors to “invoke the reality that all of life can come to people through the act of singing.” Kevin sings on many of the tracks, but also incorporates Lakota vocalists Douglas Good Feather and Gracie RedShirt Tyon.

Earth Gift has also received favorable press reviews. Native People’s magazine calls Earth Gift “An album of rare beauty, with traditional Lakota thunder, eagle vision and animal songs.” Midwest Record magazine says, “Locke opens the ears to a dandy world beat within our borders excursion that expands the mind and cleanses the palette.“ Accent Magazine says, “Earth Gift spark[s] a new way of hearing Native American music.” Knoxville News-Sentinel says of Earth Gift, “The sound is surreal and mostly acoustic, driven by Locke's flute, native drums and guest vocals by Doug Good Feather and Gracie RedShirt Tyon. Locke achieves evocative tones without the assistance of synthesizers."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beach Boy Brian Wilson Delivers at Sangamon Auditorium

"As this newspaper’s main music reviewer during most of the 1990s, an annual chore involved reviewing the Beach Boys at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand.

"At some point during that period, especially after original Beach Boy Carl Wilson died in 1998, it dawned on me that a young, energetic tribute band would put on a much more enjoyable show than the cheerleaders-and-beer-fests that latter-day Beach Boys concerts had become.

"I got what I wanted Thursday -

Review by Matt Dietrich
State Journal-Register

Friday, October 23, 2009

Singing with the Broadway Stars - Central Illinois Favorites Selected

Thanks to all of you who submitted video auditions and/or voted for the local favorites in the “Singing with the Broadway Stars” contest. We are pleased to announce that Mark McCue and Natalie Randall has been selected as the local favorites and will sing solos in the finale of tomorrow evening’s Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway. Tickets are available at the Ticket Office 217.206.6160. Ask for the “Friends and Family” discount to receive 15% off the price of your tickets.

Below is biographic information on our ten local singers who will participate in the performance. For more information about the Broadway Stars they will be joining with, click here.

For more information, visit our website.

Kristy Crouse is 24 years old and has been singing her entire life from solos, choirs, to karaoke. She graduated with a B.A. in Human Service from Millikin University. She currently work at Bard Optical but counseling and singing are her passions. She has been in plenty of performances in High School, College and in her spare time. In high school, she performed as the Nightingale in Once Upon a Mattress. Recently, she performed in the choir for Guys and Dolls at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in 2009.

Jacob Deters is a 19-year-old, Lincoln Land Community College freshman where he is currently studying music. He is a recent graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin, where he was in many school productions. Some of his favorite roles include, Fyedka in Fiddler on the Roof at the Muni, Judea in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Springfield Theatre Centre, Ugly in Honk, and Michael in SH-G's Back to the 80s. Jacob would like to thank his parents, Ron and Sherri, his brother Chad, and all his friends for all their love and support.

Clayton Joyner is a 2008 graduate of Sacred Heart-Griffin and currently a sophomore theater major at Illinois State University. She played Kim in Miss Saigon at the Muni and many other roles dating back to her early childhood. At the age of 12, she appeared in New York City at the Apollo Theater.

Madison Kauffman is a senior at Springfield High School, and she hopes to major in Musical Theater Performance and minor in Theater Wig and Make-Up Design. She has performed in over a dozen shows at the Springfield Theatre Centre and other venues earning several notable awards for performance. She most recently appeared as Belle in Beauty and the Beast for the Springfield Theatre Centre. She would like to thank her mom and sisters, Leigh Ann and Ed Smith and Judy McEvoy.

Mark McCue currently sells medical and laboratory supplies for McKesson Medical-Surgical. Most recently the community may have seen him in the concert production of Kismet, in the Roxy Group productions of Halloween Dreams and Christmas Wishes and as Chris in Miss Saigon at the Muni. He would like to send his love out to his wife Allison, his children Molly (8), Cooper (5), and Tate (1), and to his parents Mac and Flo McCue in Riverton.

Hailey McNamara is a sophomore at Williamsville High School. She has performed at Muni, Springfield Theatre Centre, and Lincoln Community Theatre. She played Mary Lenox in Muni's The Secret Garden, Sphrintze in Muni's Fiddler on the Roof, and the witch in Springfield Theatre Centre's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Her parents are Mike and Barbara McNamara, and my brother is Jake.

Natalie Randall recently graduated from LLCC with an Associate in Fine Arts. She currently teaches music and drama at Washington Middle School at an after school program. She has been in numerous productions around town and some regional theatres: Effie White in Dreamgirls (Springfield Theatre Centre), a Dynamite Girl in Hairspray (Little Theatre On The Square), Dorcas/Gemina/Auntie Chole in Dessa Rose (Springfield Theatre Centre) and Taylor McKessie in High School Musical (Muni and Jacksonville Theatre Guild) and High School Musical 2 (Sangamon Auditorium). Her family includes her parents Nathaniel and Tinnie, her sisters Lillian and Rachel, and her grandmother Leona Cole.

DJ Shultz works at Western Oaks Church as Director of Music and Worship. He appeared as the title role in Joseph and Amazing Color Dreamcoat at the Muni, in Pirates of Penzance at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, and was Music Director of Muni's All Shook Up. He is married to Karen Shultz and has a daughter named Kinsley Shultz and a soon-to-be-born son named Kreyton Shultz.

Holly Thompson is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Currently in her 5th year teaching in the Department of Human Development Counseling, she coordinates the community counseling specialization. In her youth, Holly was very active in the Peoria area community theater scene. She participated in productions such as Big River, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Eastlight Community Theater, The King and I at Cornstock Theater, and The Sound of Music at Peoria Players.

Emily Wheeler is a freshman at Glenwood High School, where she performs in the Show Choir, GTU (vocal Jazz) and the Marching Band. She has been singing her whole life, but was most recently featured in Bye Bye Birdie as Alice at Glenwood Middle School. You may have seen her as Mrs. Bucket in Springfield Theatre Centre's Willy Wonka, Jr. She would like to thank her choral director, Jeff Gemar, and her Parents Tammy and Brad Wheeler for their help, time and support throughout this whole process.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Neil Berg's Broadway Stars

Five Broadway stars will be coming to Sangamon Auditorium this weekend (Sat, Oct 24, 8 pm) to perform in Neil Berg's 101 Years of Broadway. Now you can get to know them before the concert.

Carter Calvert

Carter Calvert is best known for originating her role in the Tony nominated, "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues" on Broadway. Previously Ms. Calvert appeared in the World Premiere of "Forbidden Vegas" in a role she originated. New York credits include the Broadway, Original Cast Album and touring productions of "It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues". Off-Broadway she appeared in "Forbidden Broadway" and "The Thing About Men" at the Promenade Theatre. Ms. Calvert toured Europe in "Smokey Joe's Cafe," played Grizabella in the national tour of "Cats," and appeared as the title role in "Always, Patsy Cline". She has appeared in numerous roles in regional theaters around the country.

Robert DuSold

Robert DuSold recently played Harry Bright in the Las Vegas production of “Mamma Mia!”. New York credits in the last year include “Mimi le Duck” opposite Eartha Kitt. Off Broadway, the title role in “Don Imbroglio” at the New York Music Theater Festival as well as Ned in the Drama Desk nominated “The Audience”. Broadway and National Tour credits include Jason Green in “The Producers,” Javert and Valjean in "Les Miserables," Monsieur Andre in "Phantom of the Opera," Old Deuteronomy in "Cats," Pete in Hal Prince's "Showboat," assorted roles in "Jekyll and Hyde," "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and "Chicago". Recordings include "A Gala for Harold Prince," "Sondheim: An Evening in Celebration at Carnegie Hall," the "Anastasia" soundtrack and others.

Rita Harvey

Rita Harvey made her Broadway debut performing the lead role of Christine Daee in The Phantom of the Opera, after two years performing the role with the second national tour. She has spent the last two years (minus a maternity leave!) performing on Broadway in the original cast of the gorgeous new revival of Fiddler on the Roof. In this beautiful new production, directed by David Leveaux, Rita played the role of Fredel and covered the two older daughters, Tzeitel and Hodel. Rita created the role of Lady Edith in the off- Broadway hit musical The Prince and the Pauper. Rita also created the role of Elizabeth in the highly acclaimed concept CD/DVD of Frankenstein the Musical.

Jeremy Kushnier

Originally from Canada, Jeremy originated the role of Ren in "Footloose" on Broadway. Most recently, he stared as Tommy Devito in the Toronto production of "Jersey Boys". National tours include "Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida" (Radames), "Rent" (Roger). Regional: Signature Theatre’s "Rhythm Club". Original Canadian companies of "The Who’s Tommy" and "Rent". Film: "The Adulterer". Television: "Late Night with David Letterman," "FX," and John Woo’s "Once a Thief". Jeremy has two independent CDs, "In Time" and his self-titled EP, "Jeremy Kushnier".

Raymond McLeod

Raymond Jaramillo McLeod, Broadway veteran, appears courtesy of DRM Studios where, in addition to his performing schedule, he teaches with his wife Deborah Kym-McLeod to a wide variety of musical, TV and film students. Most recently Mr. McLeod appeared as ‘Wreck' in the Tony Award winning production of "Wonderful Town". He has also worked in shows with such stars as Michael Crawford (Dance of the Vampires), Placido Domingo (Metropolitan and Los Angeles Operas), Taye Diggs (The Wild Party) and Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). However, his daughters only know him from his work with Disney on the soundtracks Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Pocahontas.