Ridiculous Theatre Company's Everett Quinton comes to Austin to do a "twisted" version of Oliver! for Zach, Ballet Austin gets in touch with New York, and honors for painter Michael Ray Charles and Austin Babtist Women.
Twist-ed Re: 'Placement'When scheduling conflicts led Jaston Williams, the noted actor from the Tuna trilogy, The Laramie Project, and Tru, to postpone The Chinese Art of Placement, a one-man comedy he was to perform at the Zachary Scott Theatre Center in January, Zach Artistic Director Dave Steakley had to find not just a replacement for Placement but a project that would fill the sizable void left by a star of Williams' magnitude. It wasn't easy, but days before Christmas, Steakley secured what feels like a very good fit. It's a solo show and a comedy, and the star is, like Williams, a comic master with international renown. The show is a new one-man play based on Oliver Twist (!), created and performed by Everett Quinton, the acclaimed alum of the Ridiculous Theatre Company and colleague of Charles Ludlam. Fellow Ridiculous Company member Eureka will direct and collaborate on the piece. The production is quite a coup for Zach, and the key to it is actor Gerard Lebeda (Little Shop of Horrors, Hair), who has been friends with Quinton since they shared a dressing room while doing A Christmas Carol at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton and who called Quinton to see what he was doing. Quinton had finished a national tour of Cinderella with Eartha Kitt -- he played the evil stepmother -- and was available, so here he comes. Zach is tentatively slating a first preview of the Oliver Twist project for Jan. 30. For more info, call 476-0594.
A New York New YearLast year, it was the nation's capital; this year it's the Big Apple. Looks like Ballet Austin has launched a new tradition of spending the first weekend of the new year performing in a high-profile locale. In 2002, the company played Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Now, the ballet is in New York at the behest of the prestigious Joyce Theatre, where it will present a movement from Touch, an original dance choreographed by BA Artistic Director Stephen Mills, as part of a Vocalscapes performance by Philip Hamilton, a jazz composer/vocalist who has collaborated with several dance companies. The event is part of the Joyce's "Altogether Different" series running Jan. 3-29. Ballet Austin dancers Eric Midgley and Gina Patterson will do the honors performing the work Saturday, Jan. 4, 8pm, and Sunday, Jan. 5, 2pm and 7:30pm.
Speaking of the ballet, it recently earned some national attention from an unlikely corner: People magazine. The grocery checkout standby decided that a retired White House staffer appearing in The Nutcracker was worth a photo, so there was Karen Hughes, all gussied up as BA's Mother Ginger, nestled snugly between news of the Osbornes and J.Lo and Ben.
Honor RollCongratulations to:
UT-Austin art professor and world-class painter Michael Ray Charles on being chosen one of 10 academic "rising stars" by Black Issues in Higher Education. The honorees are all doing innovative research in their fields and outreach to young scholars with an express commitment to students of color; and
Austin Babtist Women, the all-male comedy troupe, on passing a remarkable milestone in philanthropy. As of Dec. 15, when ABW held its16th Annual Holiday Spectacular fundraiser, the group has helped collect $5 million for AIDS, HIV, and breast cancer charities since 1986. The Babtists will be honored as the city of Austin 2002 "Philanthropic Organization of the Year" by the Association of Fundraising Professionals at a luncheon on Jan. 9. For more, visit www.babtistwomen.com.