Category Archives: Misc.

Gone: Chuck Berry

Maybellene, why can’t you be true?
Oh Maybellene , why can’t you be true?
You done started back doin’ the things you used to do

No particular place to go,
So we parked way out on the Kokomo
The night was young and the moon was bold
So we both decided to take a stroll
Can you imagine the way I felt?
I couldn’t unfasten her safety belt!

Ridin’ along in my calaboose
Still tryin’ to get her belt unloose
All the way home I held a grudge,
But the safety belt, it wouldn’t budge

“C’est la vie,” say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

Way back in history three thousand years
In fact every since the world began
There’s been a whole lot of good women sheddin’ tears
For a brown eyed handsome man

Runnin’ to and fro, hard workin’ at the mill
Never failed in the mail, yet come a rotten bill
Too much monkey business, too much monkey business
Too much monkey business for me to be involved in

All the cats wanna dance with sweet little sixteen

Just let me hear some of that
Rock And Roll Music
Any old way you choose it
It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it
Any old time you use it
It’s gotta be Rock And Roll Music
If you want to dance with me
If you want to dance with me

When I was a little bitty boy
my grandmother bought me a cute little toy
Silver bells hangin’ on a string
she told me it was my ding a ling

My ding a ling, my ding a ling
I want to play with my ding a ling
My ding a ling, my ding a ling
I want to play with my ding a ling

Now you can’t catch me
No, baby, you can’t catch me
‘Cause if you get too close, you know I’m gone like a cool breeze

Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you aloneRing ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell
You’re lucky if you can find a seat
You’re fortunate if you have time to eat
Back in the classroom open you books
Gee but the teacher don’t know
How mean she looks

imagesSoon as three o’clock rolls around
You finally lay your burden down
Close up your books, get out of your seat

Down the halls and into the street
Up to the corner and ’round the bend
Right to the juke joint you go in

Drop the coin right into the slot
You gotta hear something that’s really hot

With the one you love you’re makin’ romance
All day long you been
Wantin’ to dance
Feelin’ the music from head to toe
‘Round and ’round and ’round you go

Drop the coin right into the slot
You gotta hear something that’s really hot

Hail, hail rock’n’roll
Deliver me from the days of old
Long live rock’n’roll
The beat of the drum is loud and bold
Rock rock rock’n’roll
The feelin’ is there body and soul

Sometimes I will, then again I think I won’t
Sometimes I will, then again I think I won’t
Sometimes I do, then again I think I don’t

Well, I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Yes. I’m so glad I’m livin’ in the U.S.A.
Anything you want, we got right here in the U.S.A.

Long distance information, give me Memphis, Tennessee
Help me find a party that tried to get in touch with me
She could not leave a number, but I know who placed the call
‘Cause my uncle took a message, and he wrote it on the wall

Help me, information, get in touch with my Marie
She’s the only one who’d call me here from Memphis, Tennessee
Her home is on the south side, high upon a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge

Last time I saw Marie, she was wavin’ me goodbye
With “hurry-home” drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye
But we were pulled apart, because her mom did not agree
And tore apart our happy home in Memphis, Tennessee

Help me, information, more than that I cannot add
Only that I miss her and all the fun we had
Marie is only six years old, information, please
Try to put me through to her in Memphis, Tennessee

Roll Over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news

His mother told him, “Someday you will be a man,
And you will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down.
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying ‘Johnny B. Goode tonight’

On Stage: Shotspeare

“Would you like some vodka poured into your mouth?”

Now, I’ve seen a lot of unusual things in my years of attending the theater. (Like, in England they serve sausages during intermission.) But I’ve never had a cast member offer to pour alcohol down my throat.

But then that’s really what you should expect when you go to see a show called “Shotspeare,” running this weekend at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza.

Starring, directed, and written (with help from William Shakespeare) by Matthew Morgan, “Shotspeare” finally makes The Bard tolerable for those who hate or just don’t understand iambic pentameter. The secret, you see, is alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol.

Morgan is joined onstage by Brandon Breault, Timur Kocak, Heidi Brucker Morgan, Brian David Sloan and some courageous soul pulled out of the audience. Together they perform Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” at breakneck speed — stopping only for a beer or a shot of Shakespeare vodka (Yes, it’s a real thing).

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An actor spins the Wheel of Soliloquy during “Shotspeare,” a drunken comedy playing through Saturday at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza. Photo by Makie Schulz

One-part classical theater and two-parts drinking game, “Shotspeare” has its own unique twists. Whenever an actor is about to deliver one of The Bard’s trademark long speeches, everything stops while the actor spins “The Wheel of Soliloquy.”  The actor then continues with his performance, while being pelted with socks, beaten with foam clubs, or forced to recite his lines while eating crackers — depending on where the wheel stops.

Three audience members are given red cards, which they can use once to stop the progress of the play and force the cast to take a shot.

Who says Shakespeare is only for intellectuals?

“Shotspeare” is silly and clever and funny and ribald and raunchy (Romeo and Juliet’s sex scene is, well, just be glad it takes place behind a curtain). The show is truly an English Lit teacher’s nightmare.

Do you have to be drunk to enjoy “Shotspeare?” No, but it’s probably even better if you are. I was pretty much sober through it all and I had a good time. And no, I didn’t take the man up on his pre show drink offer.

SHOTSPEARE runs through Saturday at the Playhouse @ Westport Plaza. http://www.playhouseatwestport.com/shotspear

On Stage: Cabaret

That classic Broadway musical about decadence, writer’s block and Nazis has returned for a two-week run at the Fox Theatre.

The Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Cabaret” is sinfully delicious, thought-provoking, and as relevant now as it was when it first took the stage in 1966.

Written by Christopher Isherwood with music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the musical is based on a play by John Van Druten which in turn was adapted from the 1939 novel “Goodbye to Berlin” by Isherwood. The show won 8 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, while the 1972 film version won 8 Academy Awards.

 

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Jon Peterson as the Emcee and the 2017 National Touring cast of Roundabout Theatre Company’s CABARET. Photo by Joan Marcus

Set in Berlin just months before Hitler’s rise to power, “Cabaret” is the story of a wannabe novelist from the United States (Clifford Bradshaw, played by Benjamin Eakeley) and his ill-fated love affair with a wannabe entertainer from England (Sally Bowles, played by Leigh Ann Larkin).

Cliff has arrived in Germany to work on his novel, and is quickly befriended by Ernst Ludwig (Patrick Vaill), who finds him a place to stay at a boardinghouse run by Fraulein Schneider (Mary Gordon Murray). A subplot explores the budding romance between Schneider and Jewish shop owner Herr Schultz (Scott Robertson).

The story bounces back and forth between Fraulein Schneider’s boardinghouse and the Kit Kat Club, a decadent den of song and dance overseen by the wild and flamboyant Master of Ceremonies (Jon Peterson). While Sally gets to sing the show’s signature tune, it’s the Emcee whose manic energy and personality make the show come alive. Peterson does a fine job in this demanding role.

If you’ve never seen “Cabaret” well, for one, what have you been doing? And good news, now’s your chance. It’s a powerful, moving and highly entertaining show featuring several of the great songs of musical theater — “Willkommen,” “Mein Herr,” “Money,” “So What,” “If You Could See Her” and the title tune — just to name a half-dozen.

It should be noted the show does deal with serious topics and, to be honest, is going to be a little too salacious for some people.

The action takes place on a bi-level stage, with the main story taking place on the floor while the musicians of the Kit Kat Club perform and cavort above. The Kit Kat Girls and Boys are talented musicians as well as dancers.

“Cabaret” runs through March 19 at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/

Ah, The Arts! Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade

If someone had told me there was going to be an art exhibit about hats and paintings of women wearing hats, I would’ve said, “Now I see why Trump wants to end arts funding.”

But it sounded good to The Wife, and so it was that Saturday morning the Family RRoy made our way to Forest Park to catch the opening weekend of “Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Mother Nature, cruel mistress that she is, decided it wasn’t enough punishment that I had to go to the art museum, she also turned Saturday into a beautiful Spring day…in February. And you know what that means — every stinking idiot in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area is going to converge on Forest Park for the day. It didn’t matter that we weren’t going to the zoo. No, all that mattered was there wasn’t going to be any parking anywhere and driving it in would be a nightmare.

So, I let The Wife drive. She was the one wanting to go after all.

Traffic wasn’t too bad until we got to Art Hill. We foolishly pulled into the nearest free lot thinking maybe there would be one spot open. Of course we got trapped as people waited for other people to leave and blocked the way around. Eventually we escaped and said, “screw it,” and went to the art museum’s parking lot. It’s only $5 for members, and $5 for parking beats the 5 years it takes off my life every time I have to sit in traffic in Forest Park.

Our usual strategy for art exhibitions is Laurie goes in first and Andrew and I bum around until she’s finished (roughly 1 hour, depending on the size of the exhibit) and then I go in while she waits with Andrew (roughly 15 minutes, depending on how crowded it is and how quickly I can get around people). We arrived at 12:20 and there was a French class Laurie wanted to attend at 1 p.m. I doubted her ability to get through the exhibit in 40 minutes, but she seemed to think she could, so she went to the exhibit hall and Andrew and I walked in circles around the outdoor statue garden for a half-hour. It was a nice day for it.

We got back to the exhibit hall close to 1 and L was just leaving the exhibit. “Did you see all you wanted to see?” I asked incredulously. “Yes,” she replied. “Did you enjoy it?” I queried. “Yes,” she replied.

Laurie went to the French class and Andrew and I had a leisurely visit in the restroom. Andrew likes to take his time in the restroom. I usually rush him out when we’re in public but since we had nowhere else to go I indulged him. Fifteen minutes later we went and found some big, comfy chairs and waited for French class to be over.

A half-hour later Laurie emerged from class. She suggested I go through the art show while she and Andrew went to the garage and got our picnic lunch and set it up out on the lawn. That seemed about right. In the time it would take them to do that I should easily walk through the Hats and Paintings of People Wearing Hats exhibit.

degas

“D, I & the PMT” features 60 paintings and a number of elaborate hats dating back to the Impressionist era of artist Edgar Degas. Apparently Degas was fascinated by high-fashion hats and the women who made them — my guess is he was more interested in the women who made them, but I could be wrong. I don’t know anything about Degas.

There were some pretty funky-looking hats, I will say. Hats with birds on them, hats with giant flowers and etc. The paintings were predominantly portraits of women in hats by Degas and other masters of the era like Manet, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. There was also a small section of men’s hats — basic black bowlers and top hats — and some paintings of men in hats.

I have to say this was not one of my favorite art shows. Nothing really stood out to me. But it was OK and I made it through in record time and got to the picnic spot before they had eaten all the food.
“Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade” runs through May 7 at the Saint Louis Art Museum. http://www.slam.org/

On Stage: Something Rotten!

Whether you love or hate William Shakespeare (there’s one of each in my family) and whether you love or hate musical theater, you’ll find something to applaud in “Something Rotten!” The Renaissance-era comedy is playing through Feb. 19 at the Fox Theatre.

Written by John O’Farrel and Karey Kirkpatrick  with music and lyrics by Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick,  “Something Rotten” opened on Broadway in 2015. This high-energy spoof of musicals and The Bard is the funniest show I’ve seen in a long time.

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Adam Pascal and the cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. Photo © Jeremy Daniel

The story takes place in 1595 London with the opening number “Welcome to the Renaissance” setting the stage. Everything’s new and exciting at this time in world history and at the center of attention is famed playwright William Shakespeare (Adam Pascal). The Bard is pretty much the Elvis of the era.

Not everyone loves Shakespeare – particularly struggling playwright Nick Bottom (Rob McClure). Nick had kicked Will out of his acting troupe years ago and advised him to take up writing. Now, the excitable Nick and his timid brother/writing partner Nigel (Josh Grisetti) aren’t having any luck coming up with a successful show. In fact, their patron has given them one day to come up with a winning idea or they’re going to be booted from the theater.

In desperation, Nick goes looking for a soothsayer. He finds Thomas Nostradamus (Blake Hammond), nephew of the famous seer. Nick pays for one good idea and Thomas has a doozy: musical comedy.

At first Nick scoffs at the idea that audiences would watch a show in which people spontaneously burst into song and dance in the course of telling a story. But Thomas and the chorus win him over in the show-stopping number “A Musical.”

Nick takes this idea to Nigel and their theater troupe. They decide to make a go of it but there’s another problem — what is this musical going to be about?  Eventually Nick returns to Thomas for help, asking him to look into the future and find Shakespeare’s greatest work so that he can steal it. Thomas’ vision gets scrambled in translation and Nick eventually ends up with egg on his face.

There’s a lot more going on, including an obligatory love story (the weakest link in the show), but the rest it’s best you discover on your own. “Something Rotten” features a number of hilarious, often exhilarating, musical numbers, such as “God, I Hate Shakespeare,” “Will Power,” “Bottom’s Gonna Be On Top,” and “Hard to Be the Bard.” There’s even a lovely inspiration number, “To Thine Own Self.”

“Something Rotten” references dozens of musicals and Shakespeare plays in wicked, rapid-fire succession — good luck trying to catch them all.

The cast is terrific, especially McClure as the manic Nick Bottom, Hammond as the not-so-all-seeing Nostradamus and Pascal as the charming, conceited Bard. The show also boasts colorful costumes and a fine set design.

But what makes “Something Rotten!” something deliciously entertaining are its smart songs, clever story and talented cast.

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The cast of the Something Rotten! National Tour. Photo © Jeremy Daniel

“Something Rotten!” runs through Feb. 19 at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/

Gone: Maggie Roche

Money is not the problem
you have enough of that
now you must close your office
put on your coat and hat
put on your coat and hat

Now is the hour of quitting
twilight paints the town
Old industrial skyline
how does the sun go down?
how does the sun go down

You can go south in winter
be what you are a goose
you can live near the ocean
your clothes can fit you loose

Even as you are leaning
into that glass of wine
you and beloved business
have come to the end of a line
come to the end of a line

All of the gates are open
all of the charges dropped
talks are terminated
payments have been stopped
payments have been stopped

You can move north in summer
you can be in the breeze
you don’t need to notify
any secretaries

Old industrial skyline
drawing away from you
you are the one that’s moving
you are the fool that flew
you are the fool that flew

You can go south in winter
be what you are a goose
honk all the moon out the ocean
your clothes can fit you loose

Do I wanna be a dog?mi0003516016
any diddlin’ male would do
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn’t be fussy for you

Do I wanna be a housebroken dog
eat better than an Indian
I don’t wanna be a damned old dog
I just wanna lick your chin again

I thought that I could convince you
I thought that I could get through
chew out a hole in the fence you
barked up between me and you

Limpin’ around in the moonlight
coverin’ up what I did
words decompose all around me
nuisances I committed

Do I wanna be a dog
cut the heat out of me
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn’t have to goddamn human be

She came on the stage
in a dress like the sky
she had painted a sunset
around her eyes
and all of the people
were charmed and surprised
at how pretty and high and shy she was
pretty and high and shy

She at the window
and the prince upon the bed
they were for an hour
before he said
if she had no place else
she was welcome to stay
but she’d better get back
and she thanked him the same
leavin’ him pretty and high and dry
pretty and high and dry

The prince was confused
so he asked the magician
the magician arrived
at the answer profound
if she takes off her dress
the sky will fall down
cause she’s pretty and high and a lie
pretty and high and a lie

I work at the circus
and I sleep with the clown
when I took off my dress
the sky fell down
if the sky falls down
then we play on the ground
cause I’m pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie

One in Louisiana
one who travels around
one of ’em mainly stays in heart-throb town

I am not their main concern
they are lonely too
I am just an arrow passing through

When they look into my eyes
I know what to do
I make sure the words I say are true

When they send me off at dawn
pay the driver my fare
they know I am goin’ down somewhere

O the married men
the married men
never would have had a good time again
if it wasn’t for the married men

One says he’ll come after me
another one’ll drop me a line
one says all o’ my agony is in my mind

They know what is wrong with me
none of ’em wants my hand
soloin’ in my traveling wedding band

O the married men
the married men
makes me feel like a girl again
to run with the married men

One of ’ems got a little boy
other one he’s got two
one of ’ems wife is one week overdue

I know these girls they don’t like me
but I am just like them
pickin’ a crazy apple off a stem

Givin’ it to the married men
the married men
all o’ that time in hell to spend
for kissin’ the married men

If you go down to Hammond
you’ll never come back
In my opinion you’re
on the wrong track
We’ll always love you but
that’s not the point

If you go with that fella
forget about us
As far as I’m concerned
that would be just
throwing yourself away
not even trying
Come on you’re lying to me

Well I went down to Hammond
I did as I pleased
I ain’t the only one
who’s got this disease

Why don’t you face the fact
you old upstart
We fall apart

You’d be okay if you’d
just stay in school
Don’t be a fool

Do your eyes have an answer
to this song of mine
They say we meet again
on down the line
Where is on down the line
how far away?
Tell me I’m okay

If you go down to Hammond
you’ll never come back

On Stage: An American In Paris

That was fabulous! That was the best show we’ll see all year! The music! the dancing! It was all so wonderful! 

Sorry. That was me channeling my wife there for a minute.

And while I may not share her unbridled enthusiasm, and while I think it’s too early to declare the best show of the year (there’s still that “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel coming out), I can say that “An American in Paris” — now playing at the Fox Theatre — is an impressive spectacle of musical theater.

It’s subtitled “A New Musical” despite the music being classic tunes written by George and Ira Gershwin and the story lifted from the 1951 film starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. Sixty-five years later the show was retooled for the stage with music by the Gershwins and book by Craig Lucas.

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Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

The Second World War has just ended and American soldier and artist Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) misses the boat back to the states so he can spend some time in France with his paints. He’s befriended by a composer — fellow former American soldier Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson) — who offers him a place to stay. Adam is working with Henri Baurel (Nick Spangler), the son of wealthy French industrialist who secretly wants to be a song-and-dance man. The three men quickly become friends.

In the course of the story all three men fall in love with the same woman — ballerina Lise Dassin (Sara Esty). She was taken in by Henri’s family during the war and he plans to marry her. Adam has been hired to write a ballet for her. Jerry had a chance encounter with her on the street and won’t leave her alone. None of the men are aware that they’re pursing the same woman — until near the end, of course.

“An American in Paris” is about as perfect as musical theater gets. It boasts a number of classic songs you’ll be tempted to sing along to (but please don’t, it’s rude), including “I Got Rhythm,” “S’Wonderful” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” It features graceful, thrilling dance numbers with unforgettable music like the title number. It stars a cast of gifted singers and dancers. The costumes are lovely.

That should be enough to sell it, but I was exceptionally impressed by the show’s set design. The production uses animation, video and traditional moving sets to provide an amazing sweep of scene changes. It’s not often that I mention that a musical won a Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, but this show really deserves it.

So yeah, “An American in Paris” is pretty fabulous. Check it out. It may be the best show you see this year.

“An American in Paris” runs through January 29 at the Fox Theatre. http://www.fabulousfox.com/