Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kooza from Cirque du Soleil - The Best Road Show Yet

The acrobats (below) reach new heights (above) using stilts
The opening act of Kooza is spectacularly choreographed.

Kooza is worth a trip, and the expense for good seats. It is the ultimate spectacle, with both roll-in-the-aisles-laughter from the clowns, and heart-stopping, breath-taking acrobatic acts. Cirque du Soleil is often imitated, but all those second rate companies simply pale in comparison to the real thing, as this traveling edition of Kooza now playing in Boston proves. That includes the the horrible arena shows that Cirque inexplicably sends around the country with Clear Channel Entertainment. If you like beer signs and scoreboards to clutter up your view of the stage, and have very good eyesight, I suppose these horrid arena productions are ok, but my advice is to avoid them like the plague. Most seats are too far away from the stage to see much, and if I wanted to watch them perform on a flat two-dimensional screen, I would rent the DVD.
David Shiner wrote and directed Kooza

Kooza was written and directed by the immensely talented David Shiner, and he has done a magnificent job. You can read my full review at Berkshire Fine Arts, the online magazine
"Cirque du Soleil delivers an unforgettable evening of outrageous clowning, astounding acrobats and colorful spectacle that is best described as "Theatrobatics!" Best of all, Kooza is the newest and funniest of their touring shows and even given the pricey tickets, worth every penny."

Kooza is Clowns, Acrobats and Spectacle

Kooza's run in Boston has just been extended until October 12, and I would not be surprised if there was one more week's extension, since they do not have to be in D.C. until late in the month. Here is the schedule:

Boston, MA
Sept. 5 to Oct. 12

Washington, DC
Oct. 30 to Nov. 30

Atlanta, GA
Jan. 2 to Jan. 25 2009

Baltimore, MD
Spring 2009

New York, NY
Spring 2009

Tickets and information: The Cirque du Soleil Kooza site

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The North Adams Battle of the Benches

Mayor John Barrett has been battling the placement of benches in downtown North Adams for years and years. He is sure they are a nuisance, and would have the unfortunate effect of attracting people to the downtown. The "wrong" kind of people to him, you know, kids, families, citizens, shoppers. Private citizens have paid for and placed some benches there over the years, but he has yards and yards of red tape to wrap around such efforts.

So what does this have to do with the Arts in America? Only this:
The James Michael Curley Park with bench

James Michael Curley was Mayor of Boston for decades and decades, and a book was written about his life, "The Last Hurrah". I was pals with that Mayors son, Francis Xavior Curley, a Jesuit priest until his passing a decade or so ago. He never got to write the book about his father he always said he had "up here", in his head. Father Frank made a wicked good martini.

Well the Curley family is all gone now, but the City of Boston remembered him fondly, with some bronze statues, and a couple of benches right outside Ciry Hall. Tourists stop by the bench and sit next to the now silent mayor and have their picture taken. It lifts their spirits and provides a wonderful memento of their visit to Boston.

Mayor John Barrett of North Adams (Giuliano photo) Behind the Mayor are paintings by Adams artist Henry Klein.

If only Mayor Barrett could see the wisdom behind a bench. Or two. Or more.

The sculptor of the Curley works is Lloyd Lillie who is currently Professor Emeritus at Boston University, where he began teaching in 1961. His commissions of local celebrities such as Arnold "Red" Auerbach and Mayor James Michael Curley are among the most popular public sculptures in Boston. Lloyd Lillie's Website

I believe he is still accepting commissions, and perhaps a similar bench work, that of a typical mill worker and honoring the city's industrial past would be appropriate.