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Who's coming to town? Where will they be? How much are the tickets?

>> Greg Stanford's historical play "Miss Moses" reading @ Marquette U --

Gregory Stanford, former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board member crafts the engaging historical play of 1800s guerilla leader of escaped Southern captives viathe dangerous Underground Railroad.

It has wit and some light moments even as the tense undertakings are very much in the forefront. Stanford wisely uses Tubman as a fulcrum around which the various characters revolve: a band of escapees who are risking all on the chance of freedom; their pursuers; Abolitionist;, and (former?) masters and mistresses.

Bear in mind this was only a reading, with no costumes, props or lights. Still, the audience were into the play-readimg. Such is the power of words even in this electronic age/ More to come. – the netitor

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                 CHRIS TUCKER COMEDY CONCERT FRI., MARCH 8

>> Superstar comedian Chris Tucker brings his triumphant return to standup to The Riverside!

   From his beginnings as a classic Def Jam comic to the insane blockbuster success of the ‘Rush Hour’ films, Chris Tucker is one of the funniest people on the planet.

Pre-sale starts Wed. 1/30 @ noon! Use code: rush

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Jayme Dawicki Concert News & Updates
 

“Hello my love-lovelies on this beautiful August day!  I realize that it has been awhile since I sent out a newsletter…it’s been a wonderful summer for me and hopefully for you too.  :)  My June shows were fantastic (minus our drive to St. Louis which involved a wrench in my tire, literally) and I’ve got a few updates for you on upcoming gigs.  Enjoy!
1. Notes @ The Blue – Thursday, August 23rd
2. Shepherd Express Voting
3. House concerts – interested?
4. Mark your calendars: 10/19
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1. Notes @ The Blue – Thursday, August 23rd
Tomorrow I will be performing outdoors (with Jeff and Eric too) for the concert series: Notes @ The Blue!  If you work downtown or happen to be in the area, please stop by for this free and fun event!  There are food vendors outside plus the Grand Avenue mall food court is right there so grab a bite and come listen to us play from 11:30am-1:15pm.  The address is 310 West Wisconsin Avenue or just look for the bright blue building.  For those of you who don’t know, this also happens to be the building that I have the pleasure to perform piano in every Wednesday over the lunch hour!
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2. Shepherd Express Voting
If you have a minute or two, please consider voting for me in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee poll:  http://survey-expressmilwaukee.wehaaserver.com/survey-8-2012_best_of_milwaukee_readers_choice.html
There are 3 categories under Music I could be considered for: Acoustic Musician, Rock Band, and Female Vocalist.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to go vote!!
______________________________________
3. House concerts – interested?
Two weeks ago I had an amazing time performing in Minnesota at my best friend’s house – she invited a number of guests (truly a group of super cool people!!), we all gathered in a room, there were discussions, laughter, and of course music!  This is a House Concert!  This is becoming one of my favorite ways to perform: it’s intimate, a special and unique experience, and an opportunity to get to know people and for them to be able to hear me perform my music.  If you think this sounds interesting and you would like to learn more about how I could perform in your home, please let me know!  I can come to wherever you are – just send me a note and we’ll get the ball rolling.  :)
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4. Mark your calendars: 10/19
Right now, I don’t have much on the calendar for shows.  Why you ask?!  Well, one of the main reasons is that I’m taking some time to work on writing new material.  I’ve also got a few other things up my sleeve, as I always do (ha ha), but of course, I will keep you posted on whenever I’m performing.  So…one of my fave venues in town is the InterContinental Hotel and I will be there on Friday, October 19th from 8:30-10:00pm.  Another FREE event – yeah!  And maybe, just maybe, I will even play a few NEW JD tunes at that gig… :)  I’ll send out more info once it gets closer but for now, put it in your planner or blackberry or whatever folks are using these days!
______________________________________
That’s all for today my fine friends!  Enjoy the rest of the summer while you can and hope to see you out and about soon!
Love Love, Jayme
UPCOMING SHOWS
8/23 Notes @ The Blue, Milwaukee, WI  11:30am-1:15pm
10/6 Oconto Bistro (Private Event)
10/19 InterContinental Hotel, Milwaukee, WI  8:30-10:00pm
11/17 Trees of Hope, Radisson, Milwaukee, WI
 

Stage Views by Critic Kevin J. Walker

"Dreamgirls" The Original Stage Play is Fondly Remembered 25 Years Later

Kevin J. Walker, Netitor, THE WORD NetPaper Online News Service Milwaukee, WI USA

walkernet@gmail dotcom or at
walkerworld_2000@ yahoo dot com

"Dreamgirls" The Movie is finally on its way out, after a long tortuous road almost a quarter century when the hit play first astounded audiences and made stars of people like the original Deena Jones and Effie White.

The song "One Night Only" is a rousing production piece that is in the film, after the "Dreamgirls" success starts to take hold. It’s a toe-tapper and the editing of the scenes draws you in in a way that plays cannot their being in the present with an immediacy that cannot be matched by the detachment of film or video.

The troubles early Black audio entrepreneurs had in marketing their music outside of their traditional audience; getting played and paid; managing personal and interpersonal lives; touring; and having the right look such as Dark versus Light-Skinnedness are just a few more of the subjects covered in the play "Dreamgirls" some of which are sure to surface in the film version if it is to have any relevancy as well as entertaining.

Effie White, whose signature song with its mixture of rejection and stubborn/determined profound self-deception that brought normally reserved theatre audiences to their feet in a helpless outburst of joyful noise.

There are reports that in preview screenings the same thing is happening when the song is performed in the movie version which co-stars Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie Murphy.

I can still feel the electricity that went through the crowd as people were shushed by seatmates in the know when the rotund backup singer asks "Where's my dress? What happened to my locker?" and nobody will look her in the eyes…

And I am telling you, I am going to the movie when it comes out next week. How can I not, since I was one of the few, the so very very few who actually saw the original touring play back in its heyday?

I well remember the time I saw the touring stage show of "Dreamgirls" when it came to Chicago. Buses were full as we trekked down the 150 kilometres to the Windy City as part of the late Minnie Townsend's Travel Agency lunch/shopping/dinner theatre packages. My girlfriend Laura and I went on one of her trips.

We walked the streets of America's Second City we shopped – more like window peeked– along the Magnificent Mile, and dined at Shauer's restaurant, a Black-owned establishment with impeccable service that was formed from a building that once housed an old auto repair business. It was a testament to what was to later become the revitalization and recycling boom now taking place there and other rising Downtowns of Rustbelt cities that are being condo-ed from the docks to where the Black and Brown used to live.

This was all a buildup to the main show of course, the "Dreamgirls" stage play musical. It covered such topics as ambitious backstabbing friends and the cutthroat business of show business; the practice of palatable White acts "covering" Black tunes as they rode them onto commercial success, and more. Laura was impressed, as was I.

When the DVDs come out I can envision a "Ray", "What's Love Got To Do With It?," and "Deamgirls" triple bill for those home Movie Nights with the widescreen TVs. They cover similar territory and some of the time periods. I just hope the Process doesn't come back! Its bad enough seeing the Rev. Al Sharpton still running around with his antiquated 'Do, which is as bad as some of his political positions. But I digress.

The play by its nature had to compress time and hint at things, and it will be interesting to see how a movie with its different abilities and lesser limitations can expand and extend the original concept. One particularly striking special effect in the play was to illustrate Effie's commercial success.

She sings a song alone in a joint, dressed plainly. There is a small spotlight on her face, the rest of the stage is dark. When it widens she is now dressed in a spectacularly expensive sequined dress –courtesy of the quick black-garbed stagehands– and we infer Effie's now in a large venue such as the one we were in, back in the game, large and in charge. The audience responded as expected, and in so doing completed the effect for Effie.

It was a splendid use of theatre and psychology, for who among us doesn't root for the underdog, and those who succeed despite overwhelming odds, especially if they've been laid low by the machinations of others they once called friends?

Plays because of their immediacy have these limits on physical acts, but movies don't. Flashbacks, simultaneous acts and quick editing can greatly enhance a film version of a work, which is why so many films first started life as books. Lots more people have read the "Harry Potter" books, and sometimes creative juices flow the other way, with plays being made from movies and cartoons. This cross fertilization is all good.

"Dreamgirls" the Play tore up New York, shredded audiences and staid critics, and helped the idea that there were Black historical themes that didn't have to be watered down to reach a wide audience, i.e., ticket paying White Folks. Book authors, playwrights, and even talk show stars would eventually all benefit from the breakthrough.

The play was packed with music from start to finish, made easy because they were performers and recording people. This gets around that strange reaction from some of actors "breaking into song." As opposed to say, shooting energy beams out of their hands and eyeballs, or flying around busting concrete buildings in half or something?

Even in "Chicago" which broke the curse against modern musicals they had to have Roxie the Mankiller have her daydreams while in the women's lockup to excuse the musical numbers. "Idlewild" the rousing rappish period film about a Southern speakeasy starring Paula Patton from "Déjà Vu" and the Outkast duo used the dream or imaginary sequences when outside of the club. These are movies, people; the suspension of belief is central to the creative arts. Get over it, and just let them sing for the Goddesses' sakes.

The movie "Dreamgirls" might not have as much music because it goes necessarily in other directions, and they need to because of the many people who know of the original. Even in play form when the audience is in the hundreds of thousands even for a successful touring play.

From the clips the movie "Dreamgirls" covers more ground between the eager Diva/Starlet in training but reluctant to hurt her onetime singing pals; and the Dreamgirls' ambitious and duplicitous manager played by Eddie Murphy, who is being spoken of for an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a few months.

I wrote back when he did the cop drama "Metro" that Murphy showed his dramatic strengths when he played an alcoholic cop opposite the always good Michael Rappaport ("True Romance", "Higher Learning") as the straight-laced by the book Rookie paired with Murphy's hostage negotiator in the San Francisco PD.

But Hollywood as did the general movie going public seemed to prefer Murphy better in familiar comedic roles, so back he went to the "Nutty Professor", "Daddy Day Care" and "Haunted Mansion" movies that put buttes in the seats and bring home the bucks for the studios. Maybe its time for another "Another 48 Hours." Or "Beverly Hills Cop," or a combination of the two. I mean, now that there is a "Rocky 6" anything can happen, especially for a sequel preferring public.

Ross lived her life as a dream girl to be sure, and like Deena in the film rode into superstardom and went on to solo success and a star in films. Some roles were well received such as her first as the tragic Billy Holiday in "Lady Sings The Blues," with an equally acclaimed Richard Pryor in his first role. Both racked up later lesser roles in forgettable movies. But for Ross one was particularly ill-advised as the protagonist, and she had Pryor again as a co-star.

In a monumental miscasting Ross played a regrettable role as a grown school-marmish Harlem-dwelling Dorothy in the travesty of the movie made from "The Wiz" stage musical. It was instead notable for its other supporting characters such as Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow; Nipsey Russell as the Tin Man; and chock full of stars such as Pryor as the Wizard; and Quincy Jones as the player of a 100 foot long super-grand piano (with a transformed and then still fairly new World Trade Center with a inspiring semicircular multi storey bridge joining the two towers!).

But the true Golden Rule is Those Who Have The Gold Make The Rules. Berry Gordy the producer of The Wiz wanted his honey to be the lead, and that was that. But what else would we think of someone who would make sure his name would be listed first in film titles as in "Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon?"

It was crafted from the tale of the rise – and some would say fall – of the Supremes, one of the original Girl Groups who arose from the projects of Detroit and became part of the powerhouse that would become Berry Gordy's Motown records. Although the producers laughably made noises that it wasn't, everyone knew it was largely the story of what would become Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the ouster of Florence Ballard from the group, to be replaced by Cindy Birdsong.

I had the thinnest of connections to the Supremes/Dreamgirls story: In college my sister Cheryl Anita Walker of Oakland went out with Cindy Birdsong's brother when the two attended Howard University.

This is about as thin a connection as me being apparently the only one in Milwaukee who never saw Halle Berry when she came here with ex-husband the singer Eric Benet. If I shopped in the area malls more I probably would have seen Halle at least once, since reports are she was an enthusiastic high-end shopper. As for her philandering husband there's a picture of Eric Benet in dictionaries as the definition of "Stupid," and for "Guys Who Messed Up, Big Time." But I digress.

Sadly, Flo's personal story didn't reflect Effie's triumphant arc. She died as a single mother on welfare in the same Detroit projects the girls once escaped, traveling and giving concerts in Paris, London, and Rome. Diana Ross after much criticism paid for a college fund for Ballard's children. The nagging question is why didn't she throw a bone or two to her old chum while she was traipsing around European castles and jet-setting with her beaus? A few concert dates from a couple of phone calls would have meant the world to Ballard. This is why for many Ross is an ace villainess and without redemption, with a hot furnace waiting for her all her own.

Just in time to capitalize on "Dreamgirls" here comes Ross ready to drop another album, I mean CD, her first in years. Of course her daughter Traci Ellis Ross of TVs "Girlfriends" has gone onto her own success on the show by producer Kelsey Grammer's ("Frasier" ).

Mary Wells is still around, and she has her own story to tell of the Supremes era, but she has tried to cast her ownself in the public eye as the Effie character. This is so since unlike Flo Ballard, Wells actually had a longtime solo singing career along with the dozens of others riding the Nostalgia music wave of the 1960s and '70s, as aging baby boomers and Buppies relive the music of their teenage years.

Of course there were plans launched immediately during its theatrical run to make a Dreamgirls movie, and the failure should be an abject lesson in the perils of hubris and greed. None of the principals could agree and so nothing was done, and the years turned into decades. Creative teams dissolved, stars aged, musical tastes changed as even the venerable Movie Musical genre went into a generational hiatus.

Now they finally made a "Dreamgirls" film, with lovely songstress Beyoncé as the named star. Her historical connection to the Supremes/Dreamgirls story as being the powerhouse behind Destiny's Child before she herself jettisoned them for a more lucrative solo career springs immediately to mind.

Although Knowles is supposedly the star of the movie, as with the Doc Holliday character in the various incarnations of the Wyatt Earp movies, everybody knows that the second banana is the real star of those shows. Effie White and how she deals with the backstabbing of her show business compadres is what people remember even to this day. Beyoncé demonstrating a wisdom beyond her years knows this and has wisely and graciously gone with the flow.

"People would always ask me 'who is playing Effie, who's going to sing her song?'" and praising Hudson's performance.

When the Golden Globe nominations were announced ousted American Idol star Jennifer Hudson was one of the lucky ones; the movie received 5 in all.

The ever smiling, pleasant Chicago Homegirl and her positive family life is a welcome relief indeed from the 'Hood Rat attitude of actual Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. The semi-literate, dark-skinned proud Babymomma has now gone Blonde – as so many other Black female stars who go off the track in a discouraging display of racial self hatred.

There is of course a forum on the subject of fake Black blonde women such as Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige and even Lauryn Hill, who some once thought as someone somehow Deep and Intellectual; to demonstrate that the one time private school Buppie Preppie's miseducation of herself and others is ongoing. But I digress.

Sheryl Lee Ralph was the original Deena Jones, and she has gone on to appear in feature films and a couple of television shows. She was the estranged wife of island lawman Denzel Washington in "The Mighty Quinn," and in the film "To Sleep With Anger." On TV Ralph was on a New Age "Charlie's Angels"-ish techno spy operative action adventure show on NBC in the 1980s, scuba diving and blowing up things. Now she's on one of the innumerable crime investigative shows on network TV.

Jennifer Holliday was the original Effie, and was launched into a recording contract, but although she has become legendary as a singing diva from her performances did not parlay her fame into success as much as her compadres of the play. She has become largely forgotten to the point she doesn't even have a bit role or a cameo in the film, as by contrast Loretta Divine.

Divine was the third Dreamgirl who has had the most wide ranging success, especially her role in movies. Divine's size – not apparent in the original play as the posters can attest – has since become one of her several strengths, and the "Waiting to Exhale" star has gone on to make over a dozen films with a few playing sassy cops as in "Crash;" and from action dramas such as her Pig Feet Mary in Laurence Fishburne's "Hoodlum," to horror Teen Slasher films.

One reason there was early on an interest in making a film from the play is it had a positive theme, unlike "The Five Heartbeats" which hurt it.

"Why would I want to go see a movie about some Brothers makin' it then failing?" asked a Brotha about why despite his age group and interests he avoided the most excellent period film modeled after The Dells and directed by Robert Townsend ("Meteor Man").

He has a point. Why spend $8.00 and up per movie ticket, not counting concessions, parking and babysitting fees, to leave the house and voluntarily pay to see something over two hours that will bring you down? Some of us only have to stick our heads out of the window and look down the block to see negative stories.

Or as one youth succinctly said about a well-meaning Ghetto Film in the 1980s, "who wants to go to the movies and see Black people bein' Poor?"

Plays survive even today hundreds of thousands of years later because there is still nothing like a live production even in an era of multimedia; streaming foreign concerts over the global mind that is the evolving Internet, even into cellular phones and Hand-Helds. Plays can't be TiVo'd or rewound, there are no Do-Overs. And of course, what you see is what you get!

But plays harken back to our primeval and communitarian impulses, and is related to the reason why we still go and pay good money to sit outside in the cold or with sometimes boorish strangers to watch athletic games or movies when we could do so comfortably at home on large screen TVs.

Kevin J. Walker, Netitor, THE WORD NetPaper
Online News Service -- Milwaukee, WI USA
walkernet@gmail.com

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