Sunday, June 17, 2007

Millie is a Dilly at the Quad-City Music Guild

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" is an average old fashioned musical with high energy production numbers and tunes that are humable but unfortunately not really rememberable. It needs a full fledged star performance to keep it on track. That was provided by Julie Andrews in the first Broadway run and in last night's Quad City Music Guild production it was the turn of the vivacious and multi-talented Melissa Anderson-Clark. She has a smile that can capture your heart all the way to the back row, a fully controlled belting musical theatre voice, and the acting ability to attack the sentiment and the broad physical comedy with equal facility. She is definitely up to the challenge.

I must admit to a bit of predjudice here. Anderson-Clark is a former student of mine and a Monmouth College (Illinois) graduate. I remember Melissa most fondly as the good queen Hermione in my production of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale", but also, some years after graduation, as Nellie Forbush in the Guild production of "South Pacific."

She has matured into a major musical theatre talent and the entire Guild production glows with solid depth and consistancy throughout. The villains (especially Mary Bouljon as Mrs. Meers and Chris Thomas as Ching Ho) garnered plenty of laughs and Erika Brown-Thomas had a glorious soprano voice. The chorus churned out the Charleston flavored dances with gusto and the 1920's costumes literally exploded with flashy colors and swirling fringe.

Attempting traditional musicals in a space without mechanization and a true fly system challenges the best of designers and it is clear that more of the show's budget went into the costumes than scenery. Neither the fluidity or the glossy execution of Broadway was apparent in the settings, but the scenery did function well and was moved on and off efficiently by a well managed crew. On the auditory side of things I am not always a fan of today's over-miked musicals, but the Guild's sound system delivered all the voices crisply and kept the orchestral balance intact. Another nice directorial/technical touch was the computer generated graphics that accompanied the Chinese interchanges.

Overall it was an enjoyable summer evening fueled by several good performances and one truly outstanding one. It left me wanting to return to see the Guild's next production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" which runs weekends from July 6th through the 16th.

Friday, June 15, 2007

OFTA Hosts Amateur Art Competition Winners

Above the various winners were asked to talk briefly about their entries.

Host Jim De Young fields questions from the audience for the panel.

On Wednesday, June 13th OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) hosted the winners of the Buchanan Center for the Arts 4th annual Amateur Artist Competition. Almost fifty people attended and were treated to comments by several of the category winners and a short talk by Cherry Simmons, West Central High School Art teacher, who was the judge for the show.

Best of show ribbon and $100 cash prize went to Karen Buenneke of Peoria. Mary Schweitzer of Oquawka took home the best of category in Mixed Media. Rene Burton of Cameron won the Photography Division, Betty Gaskill of Monmouth took the honors in the Painting Division, and top prize in the Three Dimensional category went to Lyle Welch of Monmouth. There were several other honorable mentions given in the various categories to Brian Kjellenberg of Yates City, Marilyn Kloeppel of Monmouth, Pat Rea of Dallas City, Lorraine Heady of Monmouth, Jim Miller of Oquawka, and Leonard Schultz of Monmouth.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Amateur Artists Featured at June 13th OFTA

The 4th annual Amateur Artist Competition is sponsored by the Midwest Bank of Western Illinois. Terri Ryner and Cynthia Gillen, employees of the bank, look over some of the entries.

Judge Cherry Simmons talked to the guests at the opening reception for the exhibit.

Two of the category winners, Lyle Welch in Three Dimensional, and Rene Burton in Photography, pose in front of their works.

Midwest Bank President, Chris Gavin, enjoys refreshments at the opening with Lila Blum and Terri Ryner, both of whom are members of the Buchanan Center Board of Directors.

For the past three years OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) has supported the Amateur Artist competition by inviting entrants to appear at their June meeting and talk about the ideas in their work and how they got interested in art.

This year's OFTA program will be at 10:00 AM on Wednesday,June 13th at the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth, IL. Two of the main prize winners, Rene Burton and Lyle Welch (pictured above) have already committed to appear and this year's judge, Cherry Simmons (pictured above), will also be on hand.

The fourth annual Amateur Artist Exhibition can be seen through June 23rd at the Buchanan Center for the Arts during their normal opening hours of 9-5 Mon-Fri and 10-2 on Saturdays. There is no admission charge but donations are accepted.

OFTA (Old Friends Talk Arts) programs art related presentations on the second Wednesday of each month. There is no admission charge and complimentary refreshments are offered. OFTA is partially supported by grants from the Buchanan Center for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.