Tag Archives: Artis-Naples

42nd Street in Naples, Florida: ALL GOOD PARTS

220px-42ndStreetLPHave you ever heard someone describe reading a book by skipping through it for “the good parts,” or watching a movie by using the fast forward to see just “the good parts?” 42nd Street is ALL good parts; the greatest Broadway songs, the most amazing dancing. The dialogue lasts only long enough to set up a reason for the next dance. There are a couple of plots which are resolved in the songs and dances. This is a great show. Its run at Artis-Naples included six shows; two days had matinees and evening shows. How did the dancers do it? The high energy and extraordinary talent never flagged. Their performances in Naples opened their sixteen week, fifty city tour. Give yourself a gift; see it.


42nd Street was originally a novel by Bradford Ropes. In 1933, it became a successful, Busby Berkeley movie. Its original production as a Broadway musical was in 1980, produced by David Merrick, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion who won Drama Desk and Tony awards for the choreography. Gower Champion, tall, handsome ballroom dancer with his wife/partner Marge, became an multi-award winning Broadway choreographer and director. Life is more dramatic than theater would dare to be: Champion died the afternoon of 42nd Street‘s premiere. Merrick made the announcement at the closing curtain. Not even the ingenue dancer lead, Champion’s real life girl friend, knew it had happened.


The Broadway show was revived in 2001, ran for 1,524 performances, and won Tony awards including Best Revival of a Musical. The story: Peggy Sawyer, a young dancer-singer from Allentown, PA, arrives late to audition for the ensemble of the new show, Pretty Lady. She physically bumps into the producer, shows her dancing, and is taken into the ensemble. The leading lady, Dorothy Brock, a well known singer, suddenly cannot do her part, the other dancers suggest that Peggy is the perfect replacement, and she is. The producer, Julian Marsh, falls for Peggy. In this company, Peggy is played by Clara Cox, Dorothy by Kara Gibson Slocum, and Julian by Matthew J Taylor. They were sensational. The other actor-dancer-singers were also sensational, “triple threat” stars. The original music is by Harry Warren; lyrics by Al Dubin. 42nd Street the movie with Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell had the songs: 42nd Street, You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me, Young and Healthy, and Shuffle Off to Buffalo. The Broadway show includes more Warren and Dubin songs: Lullaby of Broadway, from the movie Gold Diggers of 1935 won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, 1936; We’re in  the Money was in Gold Diggers of 1933; I Only Have Eyes for You, was in the 1934 movie Dames. There are even more great songs, all by Warren and Dubin. When Matthew J Taylor sings Lullaby of Broadway, you will feel the audience catch its breath. It is a very great moment. The tour covers the country; for example, Wilkes Barre, PA; Buffalo, NY; Davenport, IA; Rockford, IL. Every cast member  deserved an ovation. As Julian Marsh says, “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star.” Don’t miss it. Artis Naples offers an outstanding Broadway series including Something Rotten! and Beautiful. See artisnaples.org for more information.

American Impressionism at Baker Museum, Naples, Florida

The Baker Museum, part of Artis – Naples, Southwest Florida’s premier center of visual and performing arts, is showing the exhibition, In a New Light: American Impressionism, 1870-1940, until March 12, 2017.  It is a vast and varied collection of more than 100 American paintings and drawings from the Bank of America collection. It is well worth a visit or visits in order to take it all in. There are works by well known artists, and one of the great assets of the exhibition is exceptionally fine work by artists who are not now well known at all. The evolution of painterly techniques demonstrates the American artists’ interest in art in France: concern with light; looser, lighter brush strokes; work done outside, in plein air. What’s in the pictures, however, is assuredly American. The new light is not only the attention to light and the way it changes our perceptions but also the new perspective from America as it looked at its own world.

TrinityChTrinity Church, c. 1930, detail, Oil on Canvas painting by Guy Carleton Wiggins(1883-1962)

The exhibition is organized chronologically, reflecting the growth of artistic schools through nearly a century. The Hudson River School took notice of the great beauty of the American landscape, especially in upstate New York. For some painters, the astonishing sight of Niagara Falls was quintessentially American in its huge size and grandeur. If Americans could not take pride in the antiquity of their relatively new country, they had no need to worry. Their landscapes were more majestic and entirely different than the often painted beauties of Europe.

PartHassamOld House, East Hampton, 1917, detail, Oil on Canvas, painting by Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

There are fine examples of works by William Morris Hunt and George Innes. Hunt was instrumental in bringing the French Barbizon school to the US; Innes was greatly influenced by it. The Barbizon focus on the beauty of nature influenced the Impressionists. Among  American Impressionists included in the exhibition are Childe Hassam and Lilla Cabot Perry. Early 20th century artists such as John Sloan and George Wesley Bellows, and painters of the American Southwest including E. Martin Hennings, Joseph Henry Sharp and Oscar E. Berninghaus show the variety of people, experiences, and natural settings that make the US.

DMHFLooksProfFormer Docent at Baker Museum, studies painting in In a New Light: American Impressionism, 1870-1940

Felicie Waldo Howell’s (1897-1968) coastal landscapes and Frank Nudersher’s (1880-1959) paintings of New York and St. Louis allow American locales to project their personality as though a city sat for its portrait. There is energy in Guy Carleton Wiggins’ Wall Street, the flags above it and even the snow falling on it. The painting acknowledges it’s not the Champs Elysee while it uses techniques learned in part from the French. No, the work says, “It’s not the Champs Elysee, and hooray!”  For more information see artisnaples.org

Miami City Ballet’s Giselle: Love Wins

Miami City Ballet’s Giselle won the hearts of the audience, Nov. 1, at Hayes Hall, at Artis-Naples, Naples, Florida’s outstanding venue for performing arts. This presentation of the Nineteenth Century Romantic ballet could satisfy any ballet lover and made misty eyed even those who had seen Giselle and knew how it would end. MCB made the touching aspects of the story move the emotions even as their splendid technical skills drew gasps.

The leads were stellar: Tricia Albertson as Giselle; Renato Penteado as Albrecht; Didier Bramaz as Hilarion; Lauren Fadeley in her role debut as Myrtha, Queen of the Willis. Are there dance lovers who would dismiss Giselle as an old chestnut? Anyone thinking that should see these wonderful young stars. The original choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot uses a particular vocabulary of classical ballet including turns in attitude–turning on the ball of one foot with the other leg lifted back and bent at the knee; tours en l’air–jumping up with legs together, spinning in the air multiple times, landing on one knee. MCB mastered the choreography so well that it seemed the natural means of communication for the dancing characters.

Hilarion is a game keeper who loves Giselle, a peasant girl who lives with her mother, Berthe. Giselle is not interested in Hilarion. Albrecht is a nobleman who comes to the village dressed in peasant clothes. He is captivated by Giselle and swears he will love her forever. Naturally, they express their mutual admiration by dancing. Hilarion sees them together; Giselle rejects him; Hilarion tries to fight with Albrecht. When Albrecht reaches for his sword, HIlarion realizes that his rival is a noble. The villagers dance more.    _GRS6297There is a wonderful Peasant Pas de Deux danced in Naples by a glowing pair of dancers, Damian Zamorano and Samantha Hope Galler.  Berthe reminds Giselle that she has a weak heart and must not overexert herself lest she become a Willi, a spirit of a betrayed maiden who died before her wedding day. A noble hunting party arrives. Hilarion reveals Albrecht’s true identity. The Duke’s daughter is revealed to be betrothed to Albrecht. Giselle goes mad with despair. This is ballet’s great mad scene. Ms Albertson was danced brilliantly in sadness the steps she had previously danced in joy. The dancing and despair kill her as her mother had feared.

madGiselleAlbrecht flees. Ms Albertson’s interpretation shows Giselle’s naive sincerity and then her horror at her fate. It was a moment that united dance and story in complete, heartbreaking theater. Don’t miss Ms Albertson and Mr Penteado in these roles.

Act II is in a forest on the banks of a lake. Giselle’s grave is there. Hilarion brings flowers. Hunters warn him of the Willis who get their revenge by forcing men to dance to their deaths. Announced by lightning, Myrtha, Queen of the Willis appears. Ms Fadeley dances with appropriate power and assurance.

MyrthaHer arabesques with majestic arm gestures embodied her royal status as the veiled Willis appear at her command. Giselle rises from her grave, Myrtha’s new subject. The Willis entrap Hilarion, surround him, and dance him to his death just as the ghostly legend promised. Mr. Bramaz is especially effective in this dramatic scene. Albrecht has also come to Giselle’s grave.   _GRS7585Giselle dares to protect him although Myrtha demands that she dance. She dances and keeps Albrecht dancing until the chimes ring in the dawn when the Willis must disappear. Mr. Penteado made a grand Albrecht with his pure lines and clean, sharp movement. He excelled as the ardent, though not truthful, lover. Albrecht tries to restrain Giselle, but the grave draws her back. Albrecht is alone, saved by the love of the girl he had misled. Love overcame lies, vengeful spirits, and betrayal. Three cheers for the power of the Romantic ballet as performed with feeling and expressive, classical technique. The ballet was partnered well by the Naples Philharmonic conducted by Gary Sheldon with sensitivity to the dance as well as the score by Adolphe Adam.

Miami City Ballet’s performance of Giselle in Naples, the night after Halloween and before All Souls’ Day was a good fit with respect for spirits we cannot define. It also demonstrated, on the night of World Series Game 6, the value of a very deep bench. The refinement, exuberance, and stage presence of the whole company made possible this success. Miami City Ballet performs Giselle at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Nov. 11-13. MCB returns to Naples on Feb. 28 and April 4 with mixed programs including works by Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins, Christopher Wheeldon. Contact artisnaples.org

Pictures are from MCB’s opening performances, in Miami, with a different cast. All photos ©Gene Schiavone, courtesy of Miami City Ballet. From top: Kleber Rebello, Dancers of Miami City Ballet, Simone Messmer (Giselle) & Rainer Krenstetter (Albrecht), Jordan-Elizabeth Long, Simone Messmer & Rainer Krenstetter.