Monday, May 2, 2011

February Mix

Mid-Winter Singing Festival 
February always begins with the amazing community event, The Mid-Winter Singing Festival.  The brainchild of musician, organizer, teacher Sally Potter who envisioned a place and time where locals could meet to interact with music on its basic in which you participate.  The Festival, in its 10th year, is a testament to "folk music'. Sally and her team map out a 2-day event (Feb 4-5 this year) with nightly sing alongs at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing, Michigan.  The Saturday afternoon is dedicated to a variety of workshops...instrument playing, how to write a song, the music of... It is unique in Michigan and we are lucky to have it in our area.  The nightly sing alongs are "led" by professionals who have done a consistently excellent job of engaging the audience, making sure everyone is welcome to participate.  Add to this a "festival choir"...a pick-up group of people who spend 2 hours on the Saturday afternoon rehearsing music they've never seen before and performing it that night under the skillful direction of Rachel Alexander...director of Sistrum and quite a musician in her own right.

Magdalen and Miko Fossum (courtesy of MWSF)
This year Nicky and I attended Saturday night and were led by a cross-section of Michigan folk scene leaders, Joel Mabus, Frank Youngman, Claudia Schmidt, Rachael Davis, Seth Bernard & May Erlewine.  I have to say, I have been to 9 of the 10 festivals and this group of leaders was the best. Youngman was funny and poignant with a story from his high school band class. Claudia Schmidt is a powerhouse on many levels.  We are in very good hands with Rachel Davis, May Erlewine and Seth Davis as they carry on the folk tradition and expand it with their own style.  These are impressive people! Many of you know how I feel about Joel Mabus, he is quite the entertainer and has taken on the mantle of folk historian so we always get a little background on the tunes he brings to play. And his playing is excellent.  If you get an opportunity to see any of these performers in your town, they all come highly recommended.


Next we were treated to:

The Acting Company/The Guthrie Theater: The Comedy of Errors

February 11, 2011 | Pasant Theatre
Nicky and I tried something new for this evening, we attended a Wharton Center "Preview Dinner" held before the performance in the Christman Lounge at the WC. The buffet dinner was enjoyed by about 50 of us who were then treated to a talk by John Neville-Andrews, Professor of Theatre, University of Michigan. Neville-Andrews is an apparent expert on Shakespeare and he was somewhat amusing in describing what we were about to see...a play of twins separated and birth who grow up and meet later...complete with mayhem, murder and mistaken identity.  What was notable about the evening was the Acting Company's performance...accentuated by excellent characters in the twins especially.  We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and thought the Acting Company were top notch.

Not at all sure our next venture was going to be much fun.  I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised. The Wahrton Center brought, "Shrek The Musical" for its Broadway series and we took the tickets as they were part of the package. I'll say this, the singing was very good, all night and Shrek and his bride-to-be were wonderful.  Much was written in advance about the role of the Prince (partly because of the gimmick enlisted by his playing the character on his knees the entire time) and certainly he was very good, but as sometimes happens in theater...he knew he was very good and made sure we knew it. It was an enjoyable night at the theater...but NOT, as one commenter said on the Wharton Center website, better than Wicked.
February 18th saw a low-key Coffeehouse at All Saints...and the introduction of an email service I'm using to put a little "order" to its marketing.  The first posting looked like this:
More to come in March...see you then

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