Sally Cookson’s vision of Narnia will restore your faith in theatre
The Sunday Times, December 1 2019, 12:01am
THIS WEEK’S THEATRE
Whizzy adaptations of cherished classics sometimes make me harrumph: the boastful destruction of the old, the dumbing-down, the way directors will jemmy in their political views and warp the original text. Grrr. Although there are a couple of strange moments in Sally Cookson’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was swept away by this colourful, accessible production and dazzled afresh by the great Christian allegory of CS Lewis’s story. The boldness of it all! Just in time for Advent, here is Aslan sacrificing his life to save “the son of Adam”. His dead body lies on the altar of the Stone Table and all seems lost to the wickedness of the icy White Witch. Then that table splits, Aslan is resurrected and we…
Want to read more?
Subscribe now and get unlimited digital access on web and our smartphone and tablet apps, free for your first month.
Following a week that brought Jacob Collier two new Grammy nominations to add to his previous pair of wins, plus three new Coldplay songs to include on his ever-expanding resume of wide-ranging collaborations, the 25-year-old producer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and poly-octave vocalist releases “Time Alone With You,” featuring Daniel Caesar.
The new single is the first preview of Collier’s forthcoming album, Djesse Vol. 3, due in spring 2020.
Since Jacob Collier partnered with Genius to teach YouTube how to play H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part,” he and Caesar have connected as creative partners. Caesar joined Collier onstage in Toronto (during a concert where Collier rhythmized, improvised, and harmonized the sold-out crowd); Collier sang on Caesar’s CASE STUDY 01 cut, “RESTORE THE FEELING”; and now, Caesar repays the favor on one of Collier’s most provocative and unpredictable grooves to date.
Though the two made “Time Alone With You” in Collier’s famous London home studio, the ongoing, four-album series of Djesse has taken Collier around the world. Each edition explores new scopes of sound, defining itself in terms of style and space.
The sweeping symphonies of Vol. 1 and close acoustics of Vol. 2 each earned Collier 2020 Grammy nominations. For his immense, crosscontinental reimagining of “All Night Long,” he’s up for Best Arrangement (Instruments and Vocals), and for the over five thousand vocal takes that make up his rendition of “Moon River,” he’s up for Best Arrangement (Instrumental or A Cappella). Collier previously won both categories in 2016, which gives him a Grammy nomination for every album he’s released in his career.
“Moon River” features contributions from over 140 special guests, including Daniel Caesar, Tori Kelly, Ty Dolla $ign, and Chris Martin, who Collier also sings with for three songs on Coldplay’s brand new album (“Church,” “Cry Cry Cry,” “Everyday Life”).
On the heels of Djesse Vol. 1 and 2, Collier sold out shows across the US, EU, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and South America. Last week, he announced the 35-stop, spring 2020 leg of his DJESSE WORLD TOUR, spanning 29 of his biggest North American performances yet.
Three workmen, wearing protective helmets and colorful vests, pressed on Tuesday morning installing the electronic message boards to the iconic downtown Des Plaines Theater marquee.
Their work marked the noticeable beginning of the marquee’s restoration that in a week or two will gleam with a new, modern facade that closely resembles what had been there since the 1930s.
Ron Onesti, who along with his brother, Rich, said this week that the theater will be ready to host mostly live stage performances for the public by the end of summer 2020.
“My specialty is live music,” Onesti said. “We might show a movie here and there. We may show the movie ‘Animal House’ and when it’s over, Otis Day and the Knights will come onstage to perform the song ‘Shout’.” He was referring to the popular fraternity house comedy film that debuted in the mid-1970s. Among the big names in entertainment that Onesti has booked in his other entertainment venues include Paul Anka, America, Foreigner and Brett Michaels.
“I pride myself in presenting a wide variety of entertainment options that are family friendly,” Onesti explained. He added that musical entertainers from the 1950s to the 1980s are at the top of his list to feature at the theater once it opens along with children’s programming and cultural and ethnic events.
In the meantime, work transforming the somewhat bland interior of the 95-year-old theater building at Miner and Lee streets continues.
About two years ago, the city of Des Plaines purchased the property for about $1.3 million. With the financial help of Rivers Casino, the expensive work of modernizing the structure has led to tripling the size of the lobby area and building a staircase that will lead up to a completely remodeled second floor. There, private parties can be booked. It will have a 1920s style to it resembling a speakeasy — sort of a secret venue popular during the Prohibition years when it was illegal to buy and consume alcohol. Food and beverages, including liquor, will be available on both the first and second floors.
“I already have my bars,” continued Onesti. “We’ll have three. Two will be downstairs (in the lobby) and one upstairs.” He said food will be able to be prepared on both levels as well.
Des Plaines City Manager Mike Bartholomew has said that the unused balcony area of the theater will be outfitted with seating. Once completed, the total price tag to complete the purchase and renovation could total as much as $6 million.
“I’m at the theater every Monday morning,” said Onesti.”The wheel keeps turning. The city is very aggressive in getting this done.”
Once the work is completed in six or seven months, it’ll be time to plug in those digital message boards. The message will be that downtown Des Plaines is ready for prime time.
Enjoy award-winning local news by subscribing to the Journal & Topics in print or online. https://www.journal-topics.com/articles/heres-how-des-plaines-theater-shaping-up/
BUCKHANNON – Longtime Upshur County resident Dave Waggy last week became one of a small group of community members to receive the city’s most coveted award – the Buckhannon Ambassador’s Award.
The Buckhannon Ambassador Award is the city’s highest honor, Buckhannon mayor David McCauley noted, as he read the proclamation tapping Waggy as the most recent recipient.
According to the proclamation declaring Friday, Nov. 22 Dave Waggy Day, Waggy has contributed a total of $2,500 to the city’s ongoing capital campaigns to restore the historic Colonial Theatre on Main Street and construct a new multi-purpose gymnasium/auditorium building that will be connected to the Stockert Youth & Community Center.
“To further memorialize Dave Waggy’s devotion to and affinity for our Buckhannon-Upshur community, I further now hereby bestow upon him, the Buckhannon Ambassador Award, becoming one of the very few recipients and honorees of this most prestigious award,” McCauley said.
In addition, the mayor noted Waggy has regularly attended and supported the annual Battle of the Bands fundraiser held annually in the Colonial Theatre and has recognized the importance of establishing a venue for arts of all genres for youth in the community.
Waggy previously served his country as the company commander of an aircraft maintenance company in Korea and is proud member of both the American Legion Post 7 and VFW 3663, McCauley said. Waggy retired from Corhart Refractories after 32 years in a management role.
Waggy’s name will be added to the Ambassador Bench – which honors those who have selflessly dedicated their lives to the service, promotion and advancement of Buckhannon – in front of SYCC. His name will also be added to the “Tree of Giving” in SYCC’s entrance and in the lobby of the Colonial Theatre.
Waggy had a few words of praise for McCauley, city council members and Create Buckhannon as he accepted his award.
“I’d like to thank you, city council and Create Buckhannon for your leadership and what you’ve done for the city,” he said. “When you drive through the town, you see it’s a beautiful city and you get a warm, welcoming feeling, and when you drive down Main Street, you can see it’s a progressive, vibrant community, and that shows good leadership.”
“That’s very nice of you to say,” McCauley replied. “I’ll be sure to share that with our city employees.”
A STOCKTON artist, whose work is becoming increasingly present across Teesside, has been chosen to create an official piece for a landmark theatre.
Graphic design artist Abby Taylor was recently enlisted to create an illustration of The Globe, the iconic entertainment venue on Stockton High Street which is currently being restored by Stockton Borough Council.
In its heyday, the theatre was the centre of a buzzing nightlife and entertainment and in its time hosted legendary acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees, Morecambe and Wise, T-Rex and The Beatles.
Miss Taylor’s illustration features the venue as it looked when it first opened in 1935 and she has worked closely with The Globe team to make sure the finished piece was as accurate as possible – even receiving a hard hat tour of the building during the ongoing renovation.
As the building has been through many visual changes, she had to piece together a complete image of the original venue by sifting through an archive of old photographs and architectural plans.
A highlight of the illustration is the swanky car parked outside, which would have belonged to the local butcher that set up shop on The Globe premises back in 1935, and was reportedly a big fan of flash cars.
She said: “Illustrating this beautiful Grade II listed building was no small task.
“The Globe is considered to be of national architectural importance, but I was determined to do it justice.
“I was lucky enough to get a hard hat tour of the building during the ongoing renovation, which gave me some insight into what a breathtaking space it was, and will be again, once it reopens in November 2020.”
In recent months, Miss Taylor was also commissioned to restore the mural of Saint George the Dragon Slayer in Stockton’s Green Dragon Yard – a piece that was first created by iconic artist Zac Newton before he passed away.
Miss Taylor’s design for The Globe theatre will represent the restoration of its heritage while proceeds from the sale of the artwork will go to preserving it.
Stockton Borough Council’s Globe project manager said: “Working with Abby was an absolute pleasure. She is a talented professional, listens to the requirements of the client and brings her creativity to the process.
“Abby understands the value of the artwork and demonstrated originality as well as in-depth knowledge of the sector. She worked incredibly hard for us, within a tight timeframe.”
The illustration is available as an A3 art print which will be sold for £8 and an A6 postcard for £1, which can be purchased from Rediscover Stockton and Preston Park Museum.
Postcards can also be picked up at the Hampton by Hilton. All proceeds will go towards supporting The Globe community organisation, which will celebrate the building’s heritage into the future.
Miss Taylor is also set to create a second illustration of the Globe as it looks once the restoration is complete.
More information about Miss Taylor’s illustration work can be found at iamabbytaylor.com