Friday, May 29, 2009

Cynthia Whitaker & Lauren Ross, Academy of Children's Theater, find the dancers needed to do West Side Story; see it at MLP Fri, May 29, through Sun, June 7

Academy of Children's Theater director Cynthia Whitaker and choreographer Lauren Ross present West Side Story at Marjorie Lyons Playhouse this weekend and next.

Patti Reeves, also a director of top young thespians, says that because of the male dancers needed, West Side Story is usually a non-starter. "I'm delighted to see that Cynthia and Lauren are bringing it to the stage," she adds.

Splendid stage veterans Bridgette Winder and Dez Duron have the lead roles. Also bringing Leonard Bernstein's music to the theater at Centenary College are a stage-wise gang that includes:

Ansley Hughes: Anita.
Zach Judge: Riff.
Daniel Salazar: Bernardo.
Jacob Starks: Chino.
Christian Dantes: Action.
Bryan Wooley: Diesel.
Jim Christie: Lt. Schrank.
Micheal Brown: Arab.
Meagan Tinsley: Anybodys.

The dancers include Meredith Little, Josh Good, Leon Carter, Lauren Vizza, Robin Flenniken, Carmen Ortiz, Taylor Walker, Audrey Lutz, Michelle Allen and Dustin Gaspard.

* Friday, May 29, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
* Saturday, May 30, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
* Sunday, May 31, 2009 @ 2:00 pm
* Friday, June 5, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
* Saturday, June 6, 2009 @ 7:00 pm
* Sunday, June 7, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

Marjorie Lyons Playhouse
Centenary College
Corner of Wilkinson and Woodlawn
Shreveport, LA 71104
318-869-5242 box office
Presented by Academy of Children'sTheatre

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kurosawa, Bergman: one night-only classics at RFC on evenings in June programmed by Chris Jay in homage to Joy's Quail Creek

Chris Jay, Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau
Writes the Robinson Film Center's Chris Jay: I’m just sending out a few e-mails about an upcoming series of films starting June 1, to folks who may be interested – not just because of the films, but because of the idea behind programming them. I’m hosting a series of one night-only screenings in June, June 1 through June 29, featuring some classic films from the Janus Films archives. These are movies like Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (June 1) and Ingmar Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES (June 22).

The series was inspired by nostalgia for the classic art house movies that would screen at Joy’s Quail Creek during the Summer – I remember seeing films like THE RED SHOES there when I was 13 or 14, and it would be impossible to overstate the impact those nights at Joy’s had on me. I programmed this series in hopes that some aimless folks on Summer nights might trip over a great movie or two at the RFC, like I used to at Joy’s.

It’s not much along the lines of a tribute, but I’m going to be putting some free movie passes inside random popcorn bags the nights of these screenings, just like they used to do at Joy’s.

Farmers' Market on Saturdays, 7 am to noon, downtown Shreveport; also, Tuesdays, 3 to 6 pm

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: the pleasures of perusing Lead Belly, A Life in Pictures, by Tiny Robinson and John Reynolds

Today's NY Post reports That "When John Reynolds recently did a book signing in Prague for Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures, the author was asked to sign a copy for playwright and former Czech President Vaclav Havel. "He's a big fan," said a friend of Havel's. "Goodnight, Irene," a Lead Belly classic, is so well known throughout the Czech Republic that children grow up thinking it's a native folk song. Right now, "Black Betty," a Tom Jones/Lead Belly mix produced by Wyclef Jean, is a big club hit there."

Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures is a terrific book for folk music and guitar buffs and Louisiana culture fans. It is an elegantly designed and written hardcover book of some 224 pages. Composed of many essays and vignettes, it is easy to consume Huddie Ledbetter's life by reasonable bits and by fascinating images.

Though the Mooringsport-born songster's story unfolded in the 1930's and 40's, Lead Belly was a media-made figure. The first image was an unfortunate one. U of Texas folklorist John Lomax thought it would be appropriate to present Lead Belly in prisoners' stripes. Huddie hated it. Having spent some 11 years of his life incarcerated in Texas and Louisiana prisons, prison garb was abhorrent.

Lead's preferred style was way uptown. He favored bow ties, pressed shirts, well-shined shoes, a fitted suit.

The image-makers of NYC found Lead Belly a rich subject. Says Wikipedia: "Life magazine ran a three-page article titled, "Lead Belly - Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel," in the April 19, 1937 issue. It included a full-page, color (rare in those days) picture of him sitting on grain sacks playing his guitar and singing. Also included was a striking picture of Martha Promise (identified in the article as his manager); photos showing Lead Belly's hands playing the guitar (with the caption "these hands once killed a man"); Texas Governor Pat M. Neff; and the "ramshackle" Texas State Penitentiary. The article's text ends with "he... may well be on the brink of a new and prosperous period."

His story in the major media had begun with the NY Herald Tribune article of Jan 3, 1935. It was subtitled "Sweet singer from the swamplands here to do a few tunes between homicides."

Then there was Ledbetter and film. His original recordings and several filmed performances are on Try his performance of "Take this hammer."

And if you get serious about his story, which is partly the story of Shreveport and Mooringsport, add one more book to your list. It's the excellent biography by Wolfe and Lornell called The Life and Legend of Leadbelly. Few photos but rich of detail.

Candace Taylor concert Sat, May 30, 7 pm, Hurley

Louisiana dance Theater @ Strand on Sat, May 30

Barnwell, Shreveport, on Sat, June 20

Barnwell, Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau

Friday, May 22, 2009

Many reasons to take a tour of Caddo Lake, says article in New York Times

Caddo Lake Steamboat
Originally uploaded by dzesch
"EVERY visitor to Caddo Lake on the Texas-Louisiana border," writes Jim Atkinson in the NY Times, "seems to come away with a profoundly personal impression. Anglers prize Caddo, the only naturally formed lake in Texas, for its trophy bass; canoeists rate its twisting, interlocking bayous among the most challenging to navigate.

Environmentalists cherish its 26,000 acres as a rare, if not singular, wetlands environment. Caddo is more of a large bayou, composed of many smaller waterways. It is home to over 200 species of birds; hundreds of kinds of mammals, reptiles and fish; and countless plants, most prominently the towering baldcypress — some as old as 400 years — that erupt from its surface like limbs of drowned giants.

But what struck me about Caddo Lake the first time I saw it was the powerful suggestion of the supernatural that it evoked. Honestly, it’s kind of a creepy place."

Read the entire Atkinson article here.

the cafe@artspace specials, 710 Texas

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Is Graham Mears the most stimulating painter in Shreveport? Exhibit of his mixed media work continues at Artspace, 710 Texas

Huge, crusty canvasses with ginormous animals and hunky humans leering at you, pretty much ready to chat - or spar - with you. That’s what I see in the mixed media work by Graham Mears on display upstairs at Artspace Shreveport. I think it’s the best show around and that Mears is the most stimulating painter in Shreveport.

Some 15 years ago I saw some of his paintings at his house - Mears seems a totally low-key artist, not a promoter of his work - and they were large, politically-charged, collaged paintings that had a graffiti vibe.

Last year he showed a confrontational, amused red rhesus in part of a group of animals at an exhibit at Turner Gallery, Centenary College (he teaches art at Centenary). It was apparent that the intervening years - he and his wife and children lived in England, his home - had been good ones.

The current show at Artspace bleeds buckets of color. The canvasses measure about 5 feet by 6 feet.

Artist Tama Nathan points out, “Graham’s work is fun to look at. He has a wry sense of humor and a great sense of art history. When you combine the two, you have a wonderful piece of art.”

Mears’ impasto paintings somehow remind me of modern Pompeiian murals. They evoke Peter Bruegel’s version of peasant life. There’s the riotous texture of Jackson Pollock, the surrealism of Max Ernst.

Steve Ross, of Los Angeles and Shreveport, says, “I love the color and scale and the collage quality of his pieces. When you spend time revisiting them, they reveal so many different layers. They have meant something different to each person I’ve talked to. It’s really dynamic work.”

Fun erupts from Mears’ beasts: a rhino, a luxuriously extinct dodo bird, a heffalump, a camel-like figure. In fact, the beasts outdo the humans.

Nathan adds, “He has a good sense of anatomy and you know that he has control of the figures and shapes that he’s working with. It’s almost a narrative; you can do your own story on Graham’s art.”

Eyeballing the canvas gives the viewer another landscape. Much of the structure is provided by magazine clippings. Paint flows over and under the pasted elements. There are places where the paint build-up is volcanic.

His exhibit is called Adam and Eve in the Garden of Earthly Sunny D’s. Of the exhibit he wrote, “Adam and Eve in their grounds with birds and animals. The two carefree characters are images taken from sixties sun and health magazines mixed with art historical references and a few quick still lives. Awkward marriages of humans in nature, figure around relationships that are alone, silent and content. Sun and health, sin and shame.”

Mears was born in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1965. He has an MFA from the University of Alabama. Tuscaloosa, and a BFA from West Surrey College of Art and Design, England.

He is represented by Little Shanty Gallery, Shreveport.

The Artspace show has been given an extension. Megan Clark says she expects the show to remain at Artspace until the end of May.

Please see more photos of his work at Shreveport Faces.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Review: Pruitt Taylor Vince and Kalah Roberts are Blackbird at the LSUS Black Box Theater this weekend

Hollywood veteran Pruitt Taylor Vince offered the audience his abject contrition, pride, wrath, bewilderment and lust on Thursday night in the LSUS Black Box Theater. Vince played a man who has tasted the forbidden fruit; he has wallowed in the love offered by a busty 12 year-old.

The play being performed in the intimate space in Bronson Hall is the award-winning drama Blackbird. The character played by Vince has paid for his transgression with some 4 years in prison.

Across the table from Vince was actress Kalah Roberts. She played the young woman whose life has been helter-skelter since the dalliance.

Years after the incident, after his prison term, she has located her man. She confronts him in his office. Beneath her ambiguous, beguiling smile and relentless focus is a desperately labyrinthine mind.

Roberts' voice was cool, clear and had rhythmic strength equal to her fencing partner, Vince, on Thursday night.

This is not a shrill confrontation. The struggle here is portrayed by the saliva of desperation, the grip of torturous connection and a series of blinking, head-shaking reverses.

Blackbird represents another success for the creative team of Vince and Robert Alford, co-director of the production, This also marks the introduction of another capable player in the Black Box ensemble, Centenary graduate Kalah Roberts.

She joins a group of recent college grads who are hot for the stage. Jennifer Lynn Warren, James Palmer, Jamie Norwood, Kelly Mills, Nicki Daniels, Angela Harris and Nikai Clark are among the twenty-something players who have thrown themselves into a series of mostly edgy productions at LSUS.

Be aware that Blackbird, about 100 minutes with no intermission, is sexually graphic.

May 14-16 at 8 pm; Sun, May 17 at 3 pm.
$18 at the door.
$15 (318) 797-5386 or
$10 students, educators, senior citizens, military personnel and groups of five or more.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jayne Marie on Cross Lake, Shreveport, has not shut down; main dining room closed, bar will serve menu classics and present live music, says Jayne Lanza

Jayne Marie Restaurant is back after a brief absence. "In the coming weeks we will be reorganizing," writes Jayne Lanza in an update to her recent note in which she confirmed the closing of Jayne Marie on Cross Lake. "The main dining room will be closed for a few weeks but the bar will be open and serving our Jayne Marie favorites (fried catfish, steak, trout, crawfish, burgers and appetizers). On weekends, we will be having live entertainment in the form of a duo or solo. Good bar music for those who want to just come out and have great food at great prices. Or, those who want to enjoy the beatuiful Cross Lake can come out and dock their boat."

Later in the summer, she believes, "Our concept will change from "fine dining" to a Live Entertainment serving Cajun and Creole cuisine. Much more casual and a more affordable price point."

Friday night, May 15, the Jayne Marie bar will feature Bruce Flett and Jerry Beach, 7 to 10:30 pm.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Imagine an artist's community in the mostly empty historic downtown Ledbetter Heights district, says musician and visionary Ron Tarumbae Hardy

"The Ledbetter Heights Historic Entertainment District is an answer to Shreveport's need for a grass roots Arts District where creative energies can flourish in a non-conventional manner, thus creating a subculture which will be tomorrow's popular culture," says musician and activist Ron Hardy.

In a recent KTBS interview Hardy discussed his successes and his dreams. He has been effective with the neighborhood arts & education center that he created called Playaz & Playettes, Inc.

Specifically, he asked concerned citizens to light an Arts District fire under Mayor Glover by calling his office at 673-5050. That's also a number which will reach city councilmen, said Hardy.

He reminded listeners that "Shreveport is a pop culture/arts and craft town and it is smothering its true identity. That's because there is no place to express its own roots culture."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Folk Brothers, Masssingill & Hardy, sing in Shreveport at Fairfield Studios at 7 pm on Sun, May 17

The Folk Brothers
Originally uploaded by joespake
At the annual Folk Alliance held in Memphis this year, singer/songwriters from across America paid homage to these two guys— Jack Hardy and David Massengill, writes Jim Huckabay of Fairfield Studios House Concerts.

The Folk Brothers will perform at Fairfield Studios Sun, May 17, 7 pm.
Making social commentary through music, Huckabay continues, these guys have individually created sizable bodies of important work. Jack has 15 albums and 9 plays to his credit, while David adds six albums, nine bootlegs and nine books to the mix.

Their first album as a duo, Partners in Crime, was released in July, with transcendent harmonies and a great mix of history, tradition, politics and irreverence.

Fairfield Studios has caught 'em on their journey to the Kerrville Folk Festival in late May.

- donation, $15
- 220-0400

Monday, May 04, 2009

Mahogany Ensemble Theater: The Bluest Eye on May 14, 15, 16, 7:30 pm; May 16, 4 pm; La State Exhibit Museum

Mahogany Ensemble presents the North Louisiana premiere of 'The Bluest Eye,' adapted for the stage by Lydia R. Diamond, says Angelique Feaster. This adaptation of Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's story tells of a black girl's coming of age in the 1940s.

Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be beautiful, so that people will love her, so that her world will be different. This play explores mature themes not suitable for ages 8 and under.

May 14, 15, 16, 2009
7:30 pm
May 16, 2009
4:00 pm
LA State Exhibit Museum
3015 Greenwood Road

Tickets Prices:
$15 Adult,
$10 Seniors, Ages 55+ & Students Ages 13+ (w/ID)
$5 Children Ages 9-12

Growing art across the parish: Greenwood Arts Forum on Wed, May 6, 10 am

Halima Duncan, Shreveport
Originally uploaded by trudeau
The Caddo Parish Community Arts Forum
Appreciating the Uniqueness of Artistic and Cultural Needs in Caddo Parish Communities

This event is free and open to the general public. Please pass the word onto others in your community.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Hosted by Mayor Hanson (Greenwood)
Pioneer Building, William Peters Town Park
6978 Howell Street, Greenwood

Come join in the conversation!
What is the heart of arts and culture in your community? What programs are successful? What would you like to see in the future?
Join us for cookies and coffee and the chance to share your ideas for the future of arts and cultural programs in Caddo Parish communities.

For more information, please contact:
Halima Duncan
Seastone Advisors
North Louisiana Project Director
(888) 646-9502. Visit us at

Vickie Marshall
Shreveport Regional Arts Council
Community Development Director
(318) 673-6500

LPB's Louisiana The State We're In produces extensive story on the 25th annual ArtBreak

LPB wrote of the April 24 edition of La: The State We're in, "Charlie Whinham returned from Shreveport to witness the largest student art festival in the South. ArtBreak began twenty-five years ago and showcases the visual, literary and performing arts of over 100 north Louisiana schools."

Find the story in the LPB archives by beginning here.

Indie filmmaker Jeffrey Goodman mobilizes widespread support for The Last Lullaby; run is extended at Regal Cinema La Boardwalk

Says Jeffrey Goodman, who financed and shot the film noir movie The Last Lullaby in the Shreveport-Bossier area, wrote of his opening weekend,"fourteen of the fifteen screenings sold out, and the 2 pm screening on Friday was almost sold out.
For those of you who didn't get to see the film, it is being held over through Thursday. There are five screenings per day: 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. To see the film you can buy tickets online at or at the Regal Cinemas Louisiana Boardwalk.
Again, thank you so very much for your amazing interest and support. With your help, the film has a really good chance of national interest and distribution."

Saturday, May 02, 2009

John Goddard and the Gilbert & Sullivan Society present orchestra and choirs performing the Mozart Requiem at St John Berchmans, Shreveport, on Sun, May 3, at 3 pm

The Gilbert & Sullivan Society has expanded the repertoire that it presents to the public via the leadership of the affable and thoughtful John Goddard.

On Sun, May 3, Goddard has assembled orchestra, choirs and soloists for a performance of Mozart's Requiem. The performance (no charge, 3 pm) will fill the pleasant stone cathedral of St John Berchamans on Jordan St.

In a recent interview on his leadership in the G & S Society, Goddard said, "Last year, we teamed up with the Shreveport Chorale and The Texarkana Regional Chorale to put on the concert of Felix Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah in Bossier at St. Jude. Mendelssohn was Arthur Sullivan's greatest musical influence at least early in his career & Sullivan's career catapulted after his "thesis" composition "Incidental music for The Tempest" written during his last year at the Leipzig Conservatory (which Mendelssohn founded) was repeated at Crystal Palace in the summer of 1862."

"This year, G&S expands its collaboration with partner organizations by adding the Texarkana College Choir to the Shreveport Chorale & The Texarkana Regional Chorale. We will have a performance in Texarkana on May 2, 2009 and the performance in Shreveport at St. John Berchmans Cathedral on May 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm. The orchestra of professional musicians and chorus will be conducted by Marc-Andre Bougie."

The concert features soloists Candace Taylor (soprano), Erin Roth (mezzo soprano), Ryan McDonald (tenor) & Steven McDonald (baritone).

Goddard is not a producer who wants limelight. He is an MD and occasional actor, a quiet but consistent supporter of drama and fine arts entertainment.

He has an interest expanding local arts production, too. Last summer he presented a young cast of actors and dancers at MLP in a hip-hop Shakespeare show called Big Willie Style. Though written and performed by a regional group, it was edgy and electric.

If you like the direction being taken by Goddard and the G & S, by all means give them your support by attendance and via monetary contributions. He is