Six years ago, I started writing about music, theater and art. I had the sense that a lot was going on in Grand Rapids (I was right about that) and that I could write about it in a compelling way (the jury’s still out). For a while, I hugged the shore, writing mostly about what I knew best, and avoiding deeper waters.
It’s never too late to pick up a new hobby or art form, but it’s still smart to start off with some in-person instruction.
To live in the present you have to imagine a future that is better than the past. And that is a definition of hope.
As a boy, Neil Simon would sometimes cover his ears with a pillow, hoping to drown out the sounds of his parents fighting. When the fights got bad enough, his father would take off; he’d be gone for months at a time—not an easy thing for a family to deal with, especially during the Depression.
It’s extraordinary that live theatre has survived. Because of the pandemic, yes, and also thanks to technological advances that have created seemingly infinite entertainment options at our fingertips at any given moment.
The Pablo Ziegler Jazz Trio won a 2018 Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album for Jazz Tango, making it the first ever nuevo tango release to win a major Grammy—and individually, pianist Pablo Ziegler, bandoneon player Hector Del Curto, and guitarist Claudio Ragazzi, are award-winning musicians and composers in their own right.
Two hundred years after the premiere of Puccini’s La Bohéme, Rent debuted. A loose adaptation of the former, Rent centered its action in the East Village neighborhood of Alphabet City. It’s startling to realize that the musical, with its Doc Marten-clad women and answering machine messages, has itself become a period piece; these days, no one can afford to starve in Manhattan.
For those of us who love music, we often forget what terrific athleticism it takes to create, especially when we’re most often exposed aurally to recorded sound. But to bear witness to live performance is a different experience altogether, one that puts us in the presence of the bodies as they’re creating those sounds that move us.
Evan Hansen might not sound like the traditional lead of a musical, but he's certainly been embraced as one.
In Kinky Boots, on stage at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre through May 22nd, the answer is never really in doubt: this is a comedy, after all. And it’s a bold, brash, celebratory comedy, as sparking as the red boots of its title.