Tag Archives: Culture

092013_its_showtime_baltimroe_lg

It’s Showtime In Baltimore

Is it our imagination or is Charm City’s arts scene super Jewish this fall? Whether it is theater, film, dance, music or visual arts, Jewish themes, venues and performers are stealing the spotlight. The following is a guide to some of the hottest picks of this eclectic and artful season.

 

Virtuous Virtuoso

Piano prodigy to open Gordon Center’s 19th Season

Ethan Bortnick has traveled the world. He will be at the Gordon Center next month.

Ethan Bortnick has traveled the world. He will be at the Gordon Center next month.

Ethan Bortnick has traveled the world. He will be at the Gordon Center next month.

Ethan Bortnick is short in stature, but tall on talent. The 12-year-old musician will wow audiences at the Gordon Center For Performing Arts, when he opens the venue’s fall 2013 season — its 19th — on Oct. 12. Although his father and manager, Gene Bortnick, said the family doesn’t think of Ethan as a prodigy, he
admits that he and his wife, Hannah Bortnick, both Ukrainian immigrants, are “beyond overwhelmed” by what their son can do. MORE>>

 

CrackerJack Theater

Fall theater season offers something for everyone

Bruce Randolph Nelson will star in two Jewish-themed plays this fall. Shown here, he takes the stage  as Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s  revival of “Animal Crackers.” (Photos by Richard Anderson)

Bruce Randolph Nelson will star in two Jewish-themed plays this fall. Shown here, he takes the stage as Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s revival of “Animal Crackers.” (Photos by Richard Anderson)

It will be a busy and intensely Jewish fall for veteran actor Bruce Randolph Nelson. The City Paper’s choice for best actor of 2012, Nelson is playing Jewish comedian Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s revival of “Animal Crackers” and Jewish artist Mark Rothko in Everyman Theatre’s production of “Red,” all within a three-month period. In fact, said Nelson, the last week of “Animal Crackers,” which is a wacky musical comedy, will be the first week of rehearsals for “Red,” which is a serious drama.

But Nelson, 47, a longtime member of Everyman’s resident company, isn’t complaining about the demands of his schedule or the remarkably dissimilar roles he will play in such short order. In fact, he couldn’t be happier. MORE>>

 

2.MOZART---QUEEN-OF-THE-NIGHTLooking Forward

New exhibitions offer visual intrigue, big ideas

American Visionary Art Museum founder and director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger calls the museums’ new exhibition, “Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity,” opening on Oct. 5, one of the most important and most prescient ones AVAM has ever developed.

Although the multiple issues raised by technology’s ever-growing impact on our society are the subjects of many creative projects, Hoffberger pointed out that recent events — such as the gathering of journalists’ phone records, secret drone strikes and the recent chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government against its own citizens — have only made the exhibition more timely and the questions it raises more critical. MORE>>

 

Lights On At Eutaw Place

Toby Lightman shines

Toby Lightman

Toby Lightman

Even if you haven’t heard Toby Lightman’s name, you’ve probably heard her music. Since her first album, “Little Things,” debuted in 2004, the 35-year-old singer-songwriter’s music has been virtually everywhere. Lightman will be in Baltimore on Nov. 2, when she performs at Eutaw Place, a venue that has featured up-and-coming singer-songwriters since spring 2012.

Although Lightman, who grew up in a Jewish family in Cherry Hill, N.J., performs live regularly and has made four albums since “Little Things,” her music is heard most widely on television shows including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Eli Stone,” “Bones” and “The Vampire Diaries” and in movies such as “P.S. I Love You,” “17 Again” and “Mean Girls 2.”MORE>>

Lights On At Eutaw Place

Toby Lightman

Toby Lightman

Even if you haven’t heard Toby Lightman’s name, you’ve probably heard her music. Since her first album, “Little Things,” debuted in 2004, the 35-year-old singer-songwriter’s music has been virtually everywhere. Lightman will be in Baltimore on Nov. 2, when she performs at Eutaw Place, a venue that has featured up-and-coming singer-songwriters since spring 2012.

Although Lightman, who grew up in a Jewish family in Cherry Hill, N.J., performs live regularly and has made four albums since “Little Things,” her music is heard most widely on television shows including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Eli Stone,” “Bones” and “The Vampire Diaries” and in movies such as “P.S. I Love You,” “17 Again” and “Mean Girls 2.”

“[TV and movie] placement is really the best and most realistic way to get your music exposed to new listeners,” she said. “I still get emails from people who see “P.S. I Love You” and say they love my song. They [the filmmakers] used the song so well, and it made the scene so good.”

Lightman’s style has been compared to legendary singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell and to contemporary artists such as Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill. Her songs combine elements of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz and hip-hop with thoughtful, evocative lyrics.

Earlier this year, Lightman released her newest extended-play album, “Holding a Heart.” Five songs from the EP were featured on an episode of ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” She will release a full-length album of original music — her first since 2008 — in early 2014.

Lightman’s love of music first revealed itself when she was 6, and she was inspired to study violin after watching a PBS program about Itzhak Perlman. In high school, Lightman’s interest shifted to voice, and she began taking vocal lessons and singing in choral groups.

At the University of Wisconsin, Lightman taught herself to play guitar and began writing music and performing with local bands. After college, she moved to New York City and a year later landed a record deal with Lava Records. Once Lava released “Little Things,” Lightman’s career soared. She appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Good Morning America” and “The Early Show.” Her appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was seen by Prince, who asked her to be the opening act for one of his concerts.

When it comes to songwriting, Lightman said she is a “melody person 90 percent of the time. First I hear a melody, then I pick out the chords and then I write the lyrics. I still have no idea how it happens.”
But happen it does. And Lightman feels fortunate that she has been able to thrive in the uber-challenging music industry for more than a decade. She attributes her success to the honesty of her songs and the fact that she enjoys performing.

 

Also On Tap

Toby Lightman is one of several singer-songwriters performing this fall at Eutaw Place. On Oct. 5, it’s Aoife O’Donovan with The Sweater Set, and on Dec.14, Liz Longley performs with Bob Sima.

To purchase tickets to Toby Lightman’s concert on Nov. 2, visit eutawplace.org. Lightman will be joined
by Doug Wamble. To learn more about Lightman and her music, visit tobylightman.com.

Lights On At Eutaw Place

Toby Lightman

Toby Lightman

Even if you haven’t heard Toby Lightman’s name, you’ve probably heard her music. Since her first album, “Little Things,” debuted in 2004, the 35-year-old singer-songwriter’s music has been virtually everywhere. Lightman will be in Baltimore on Nov. 2, when she performs at Eutaw Place, a venue that has featured up-and-coming singer-songwriters since spring 2012.

Although Lightman, who grew up in a Jewish family in Cherry Hill, N.J., performs live regularly and has made four albums since “Little Things,” her music is heard most widely on television shows including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Eli Stone,” “Bones” and “The Vampire Diaries” and in movies such as “P.S. I Love You,” “17 Again” and “Mean Girls 2.”

“[TV and movie] placement is really the best and most realistic way to get your music exposed to new listeners,” she said. “I still get emails from people who see “P.S. I Love You” and say they love my song. They [the filmmakers] used the song so well, and it made the scene so good.”

Lightman’s style has been compared to legendary singer-songwriters Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell and to contemporary artists such as Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill. Her songs combine elements of rock, rhythm and blues, jazz and hip-hop with thoughtful, evocative lyrics.

Earlier this year, Lightman released her newest extended-play album, “Holding a Heart.” Five songs from the EP were featured on an episode of ABC Family’s “The Fosters.” She will release a full-length album of original music — her first since 2008 — in early 2014.

Lightman’s love of music first revealed itself when she was 6, and she was inspired to study violin after watching a PBS program about Itzhak Perlman. In high school, Lightman’s interest shifted to voice, and she began taking vocal lessons and singing in choral groups.

At the University of Wisconsin, Lightman taught herself to play guitar and began writing music and performing with local bands. After college, she moved to New York City and a year later landed a record deal with Lava Records. Once Lava released “Little Things,” Lightman’s career soared. She appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Good Morning America” and “The Early Show.” Her appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was seen by Prince, who asked her to be the opening act for one of his concerts.

When it comes to songwriting, Lightman said she is a “melody person 90 percent of the time. First I hear a melody, then I pick out the chords and then I write the lyrics. I still have no idea how it happens.”
But happen it does. And Lightman feels fortunate that she has been able to thrive in the uber-challenging music industry for more than a decade. She attributes her success to the honesty of her songs and the fact that she enjoys performing.

 

Also On Tap

Toby Lightman is one of several singer-songwriters performing this fall at Eutaw Place. On Oct. 5, it’s Aoife O’Donovan with The Sweater Set, and on Dec.14, Liz Longley performs with Bob Sima.

To purchase tickets to Toby Lightman’s concert on Nov. 2, visit eutawplace.org. Lightman will be joined
by Doug Wamble. To learn more about Lightman and her music, visit tobylightman.com.

Looking Forward

2.MOZART---QUEEN-OF-THE-NIGHTAmerican Visionary Art Museum founder and director Rebecca Alban Hoffberger calls the museums’ new exhibition, “Human, Soul & Machine: The Coming Singularity,” opening on Oct. 5, one of the most important and most prescient ones AVAM has ever developed.

Although the multiple issues raised by technology’s ever-growing impact on our society are the subjects of many creative projects, Hoffberger pointed out that recent events — such as the gathering of journalists’ phone records, secret drone strikes and the recent chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government against its own citizens — have only made the exhibition more timely and the questions it raises more critical.

“We didn’t want to make the exhibit fearsome,” said Hoffberger, who curated “Human, Soul & Machine.” “In fact, we bent over backwards to show the positive effects of technology. But as with all of our exhibitions, the themes we explore are not good or bad, just powerful.”

In addition to the issues of privacy, surveillance and chemical warfare, the exhibition also examines technology’s impact on employment and manufacturing, longevity and health, farming and food, creative invention and entertainment through the work of more than 40 visionary artists, futurists and inventors, including artist, composer and cyborg activist Neil Harbisson.

Born with achromatopsia, a condition that does not allow him to see colors, Harbisson, since 2003, has been able to “hear colors” and to “perceive colors outside the ability of human vision” with the assistance of the “eyeborg,” a cybernetic eye he helped to develop, which is permanently attached to his head. Since the attachment of his eyeborg, Harbisson, 31, has created “sonochromatic” art-work that explores the relationship between color and sound and the relationship between bodies and cybernetics. In 2010, he co-founded the Cyborg Foundation for research, creation and promotion of products related to extending and creating new senses and perceptions by applying technology to the human body.

The exhibition also includes, among other works, Kenny Irwin Jr.’s “Robotmas” installation, a selection of Alex Grey’s Sacred Mirrors, O.L. Samuels’ 7-foot-tall “Godzilla,” Adam Kurtzman’s full-sized “Bride of Frankenstein,” Rigo 23’s drone-protesting drawings, Allen Christian’s life-sized “Piano Family” and Fred Carter’s wood carvings.

“I want people to be literate and informed about how much information is out there,” said Hoffberger. “When people think, how can the government possibly be listening to every phone call they make, [they should know that] we now have technology to store so much more data than ever before. People worry about this, but we are in a time where anything that can be encrypted can be decrypted. If the government is doing things wrong, it will be harder for them to get away with it.”

The hope, she said, is that we can harness all of this technology and intellectual capacity to create a better world.

 

More At Museums

While the AVAM zeros in on what’s new in the world, the Maryland Science Center travels back in time with “Mummies of the World: The Exhibition,” which opens on Sept. 28. The exhibition features the largest collection of real mummies ever assembled from Europe, Asia, Oceania and Ancient Egypt, some as old as 6,500 years. The exhibition was developed by American Exhibitions Inc. The corporation’s president is Jewish Baltimore native Marc Corwin. For more information, visit mdsci.org or mummiesoftheworld.com.

Opening on Sept. 8, the Baltimore Museum of Art presents “Morris Louis Unveiled,” featuring the work of the late Morris Louis (born Morris Louis Epstein), a founder of the Washington Color School (a visual-art movement of the late 1950s through the mid-1960s). Louis was born, raised and educated in Baltimore. The exhibition includes more than 25 works, including several large-scale paintings, a number of rarely seen drawings and related works by Klee, Miro, Matisse, Picasso and Pollack, all artists who influenced
Louis’ work. For more information, visit artbma.org.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland opens its fall exhibition, “Passages Through Fire: Jews in the Civil War,” on Oct. 13. The exhibition, originated by the American Jewish Historical Society and the Yeshiva University Museum, explores how the Civil War impacted American Jewish life, incorporating rarely seen objects, photographs and letters and three original short films. “Passages Through Fire” also provides informal education opportunities for youngsters with four hands-on activity stations. For more information, visit jewishmuseummd.org.

CrackerJack Theater

Bruce Randolph Nelson will star in two Jewish-themed plays this fall. Shown here, he takes the stage  as Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s  revival of “Animal Crackers.” (Photos by Richard Anderson)

Bruce Randolph Nelson will star in two Jewish-themed plays this fall. Shown here, he takes the stage
as Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s revival of “Animal Crackers.” (Photos by Richard Anderson)

It will be a busy and intensely Jewish fall for veteran actor Bruce Randolph Nelson. The City Paper’s choice for best actor of 2012, Nelson is playing Jewish comedian Groucho Marx in Centerstage’s revival of “Animal Crackers” and Jewish artist Mark Rothko in Everyman Theatre’s production of “Red,” all within a three-month period. In fact, said Nelson, the last week of “Animal Crackers,” which is a wacky musical comedy, will be the first week of rehearsals for “Red,” which is a serious drama.

But Nelson, 47, a longtime member of Everyman’s resident company, isn’t complaining about the demands of his schedule or the remarkably dissimilar roles he will play in such short order. In fact, he couldn’t be happier.

“My career has always been about big right-hand turns in character,” he said. “And one of the advantages of being part of a company like Everyman is that they’re always stretching and challenging you. They are willing to take chances [with casting] since they know you intimately and know what you can do.”

Although Nelson feels fortunate that he has been able to perform both comedic and dramatic roles, he admits that comedy is harder.

“Comedy is so exacting, and comedic rhythms are so specific,” he said. “When you’re laying down a punch line you have to lay it down clearly, and you have to hope that the comedy is received by the audience. If not, you’ve got a dull show. In drama, you’re less worried about how the emotions are received by the audience.”

The comedy in “Animal Crackers,” as anyone who’s seen a Marx Brothers movie knows, is highly physical.

“There’s a lot of racing around and anarchy on stage — anything that would upset the applecart,” said Nelson. “The Marx Brothers’ style grew out of vaudeville. It’s very presentational and at the footlights.”

To prepare for the role of Groucho Marx, Nelson researched all the brothers, trained with a vocal coach and “made a meal” of the movie version of “Animal Crackers” and other Marx Brothers films. Nelson said his ultimate favorite is “Monkey Business.”

Where Groucho is concerned, Nelson is especially impressed with his work on the TV program “You Bet Your Life,” which aired on radio and television from the late 1940s to the early 1960s.

“The way Groucho ad libs and holds court … I’ve become a huge fan,” said Nelson.

Donald Hicken, who will direct Nelson in “Red,” is a huge fan and said he is thrilled to be working with him again. Hicken, one of Baltimore’s most prolific directors, is also theater department head at the Baltimore School for the Arts. He noted that the play’s theme — the process of creating art — is one with which he naturally identifies.

“As an arts educator, it’s easy for me to connect to this piece about a young artist so passionate about art. I see this every day,” said Hicken. As a matter of fact, the role of Rothko’s youthful assistant, Ken, will be played by one of Hicken’s former students at the BSA, Eric Berryman.

Hicken speculates that “Red,” a Tony Award-winning play written by John Logan and first produced in 2009, got its title from a discussion that takes place in the play about the impact of color on human emotion.

092013_CrackerJack3“Rothko had a fascination with myth, death, passion and what color evokes in people,” he said. “He was also tormented by the way people engage with a work of art and frustrated with people who choose art because it will fit well over the sofa or match with the furniture. He wanted them to have a more profound experience, where the painting was the dominant event. He was concerned with how art was observed. He wanted it to be seen in an environment where light and auditory phenomena were controlled.”

Those concerns are at the forefront of “Red’s” storyline. Ken accuses Rothko of “selling out” when the older artist agrees to sell his work to a Four Seasons Hotel. When Rothko visits the hotel and imagines his paintings hung on the walls there, he backs out of the deal.

Although art and its creation takes center stage in “Red,” Hicken stressed that the play’s human dimension is also paramount to the play’s appeal. “It’s the story of an encounter between two men — a young man and an older man — who share a passion. It’s a human story.”

“Animal Crackers” runs through Oct. 13. For tickets, visit centerstage.org.

“Red” opens Nov. 6 and runs through Dec. 1. For tickets, visit everymantheatre.org.

 

Theater Galore

There’s still time to catch Everyman’s new production of “The Glass Menagerie,” Tennessee William’s classic drama, directed by the company’s founding artistic director, Vincent M. Lancisi. Runs through Oct. 6. For tickets, visit everymantheatre.org.

Theatre Project hosts the Charm City Fringe Festival Nov. 6-10. The festival features four different companies and a dozen performances over five days. For information and tickets, visit theatreproject.org.

Fells Point Corner Theatre opens its fall season with “Durang Durang,” a selection of short plays by Tony Award-winning absurdist playwright Christopher Durang, directed by Andrew Porter. The show runs through Oct. 13. For tickets, visit fptc.org.

Queen fans will be in for a royal treat when “We Will Rock You, The Musical” comes to the Hippodrome Theatre Oct. 15-20. For tickets, visit broadwayacrossamerica.com.

America’s oldest, continuous little theater, Vagabond Players, Inc., opens its 98th season with Moliere’s classic comedy “The Misanthrope,” which runs through Sept. 29, followed by the 1970 Tony Award-winning musical “Company,” which runs from Oct. 18 to Nov.17. For tickets, visit vagabondplayers.org.

Get tickets for “Animal Crackers”>>