If I was being dramatic, I’d say I haven’t had the will to blog since it was announced that Taylor Swift would be Eponine in the screen version of “Les Miz.” It is kind of a recurring punch to the stomach every time I am reminded of this. Don’t get me wrong: Ms. Swift has a fine track record of writing and performing catchy little ditties for the radio. But Eponine…Really? I had such high hopes for the movie but it’s hard to keep the faith in the face of that kind of casting.
There is much more cheerful news closer to home. The T-D rolled out some unusually comprehensive coverage of the Acts of Faith festival yesterday, including not just a feature story and a schedule, but a nice joint editorial from Mr. Crosby and Mr. Ricks. The festival kicks off with a preview tonight at the November Theater. These preview things are usually pretty cool, like a selection of really tasty appetizers, instead of a potentially overfilling meal.
And yes, I said the November Theatre because I guess officially after last night that is what the Empire has become. I happened to be hanging around for the rededication – wing man and entourage for my more-in-demand son – and was exceptionally glad to have witnessed the event. Sure, the drinks and snacks were swell and it’s always kinda cool to rub elbows with happy theater lovers like former Gov. Baliles and Susan Greenbaum (have you heard her new album? Very nice!).
But the real fun was in the performances. Just about everyone who took the stage has had, could have, or should have their own concert performance someday. Dazzling women with big voices dominated the slate – Kathy Halenda, Robyn O’Neill, Debra Wagoner, Stacey Cabaj and the exceptional Kara Harmon. I kept imaging sound guy extraordinaire Derek Dumais having to lower the volume levels with these high-powered folks in the spotlight. They had some awe-inspiring performances and one exceptionally sweet one – Debra’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
It wasn’t just girls though, with Jason Marks giving a stirring reprisal of “Sit Down, You’re Rockin the Boat” and Russell Rowland joining Robyn on “The Girl That I Marry.” Matt Shofner joined Debra and Aly Wepplo on “The I Love You Song” and their pitch-perfect, emotional rendition had me tearing up even totally removed from the context of the show. What can I say, I’m a sucker for that stuff.
Along the way, Bruce Miller remarked that Neil November had a particular affection for Ali Thibodeau and all I can say is that, besides being a successful businessman and an extremely generous philanthropist, the guy has good taste in performers because Ali and Jody Ashworth delivered my favorite song of the night, a sweet, clear and soaring “I’ll Know” from Guys and Dolls.
Paul Deiss provided impeccable accompaniment for the whole event, something he apparently stepped in at the last minute to do, a testament to his talent as well as his generosity. I ended up getting home much later than I should have for a school night, but it was a great time that was well worth it.
I saw Mr. Crosby from RTP for a brief moment at the gathering but I know he had to bolt before the night really got grooving for the opening of “Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night,” the first pro show of the New Year. Going first in anything can be nerve-wracking but I expect great things from this show. Though it’s blatant sexual nature complete with nudity and profanity may shock and dismay RTP’s fans, it should warm things up nicely around here.