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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Young Frankenstein is a don't miss

I loved Young Frankenstein The Musical

I don’t know how many times I can say adorable, hilarious, fantastic, cute and oh so much fun without sounding insincere, but quite sincerely director Jerry Davis’ version of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein the Musical is all of the above and then some at the Woodlands Auditorium in Hot Springs Village. The show runs through a matinee on Sunday and if you want to be good to yourself and escape the rainy weather get over to the theater and treat yourself to a heck of a good theater experience.

First off, it was wonderful to have a live orchestra at a Woodlands’ musical after several years absence. I know it is more affordable to use canned music but there is nothing like a live orchestra to get you going. The orchestra is far more responsive than canned music can ever be and music director Sarah Stankiewicz Dailey had the difficult task of parring down the musical numbers to entertain the Woodlands’ audience without losing one member of the audience to leg cramps, overactive bladder or boredom. Thank you orchestra members for doing such a fine job, Norm Morton, Lee Beach, Jacob Dowdy, Matthew Mentgen, Sotonya Gordey, Rafael Powell, Dale Grimm, Alan Burns, Chris Hold and Kathy Ogilvie. Welcome home. But, most of all thank you to producer Melissa Sonnen for finding the money to bring the live music back.

Without exception the entire cast of Young Frankenstein is superb but as good as the men were, and they were very good, the women stole the show. I am still laughing at Ruthe` Korelitz’ Elizabeth singing Don’t Touch Me. Holly DeSambourg brings the lusty Inga to life in Roll in the Hay and Cathy Kraus is hysterical as Frau Blucher singing He Was My Boyfriend. It has been said that Young Frankenstein does not have a particular tune that you leave the theater humming after a performance but I disagree. These were but a few of the songs that are still with me a day later. I suspect they will be with me for some time to come. All of the ladies have superb singing voices that made the songs more memorable.

The men were excellent at bringing their characters to life, Anthony Nicolosi as the ever expressive Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, that’s Fraaankensteen; Herm Dobscha as the bipolar Monster and the adorable Jack Iafrate as the Marty Feldmanesque Igor. They were magnificent at bringing the familiar characters from Brooks’ original movie to the stage. I appreciated Ken Silver’s perfect diction as Inspector Hans Kemp, he kept the narrative moving and I could understand every word. Bill Lamoureux was terrific as the lonely Hermit.

The entire cast was very good including the minor characters and the very talented chorus used in a number of roles. Cathy Cady’s classic choreography was much appreciated. I loved the tap number with the Chorus Line finish. The unsung heroes rounding out the cast included Norm Martin, Bill Jervis, Matthew Pulscher, Karen Feckler, Cheryl Robertson, Rylynn Wheeler, Melissa Romero, Chloe Bayer, Marlene Davis, JoAnn Dobscha, D.K. Edwards, Debbie Holiday, Liz Miller, Mary Lou Neiswander and Lynn Petti. They were all adorable and although not the main characters they performed with heart and happily shared their talents.

Young Frankenstein required a large support staff to make this show run smoothly and make even the set changes entertaining. Everyone gave their all and the audience was like putty in your hands. Again, it was a great theater experience and one I highly recommend.

In a stroke of genius, there were unexpected cameo appearances by several community leaders. Look for Michael Dollar, David Twiggs, John Weidert, Stephanie Heffer and the very dear Donna Aylward. They were an added hoot and who knew Donna Aylward could act and sing?

There are still a few seats available. For tickets to the Saturday night or Sunday afternoon show call 922-4231 or go to or stop by the box office a half hour before the curtain and throw yourself on the mercy of the harried volunteer. Tickets are just $15 each. Whatever you do, don’t miss this show.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ricky Skaggs a world class performer

The audience was revved up last night for Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder at the Woodlands Auditorium in Hot Springs Village.

It was the biggest Tuesday night audience I've seen in years. Some of the crowd was so excited they couldn't help but yell out partial conversation with Skaggs, "we love you, Rickey, way to go, Ricky."

They were enthralled from the moment Skaggs took the stage till the last encore. Be prepared, there is no intermission. It's straight through bluegrass with a little gospel thrown in.

You know Ricky Skaggs was fabulous, his reputation is well-earned and he is a folksy entertainer audiences lap up like a kitty's bowl of cream.

So, let's take some time to talk Kentucky Thunder, six good looking men that are incredible musicians. Skaggs gave them warm praise and an opportunity to feature their mad skills.

As they took the stage last night, Andy Leftwich was to the left. He is the ultimate musician, but then again, they all are. He plays two different fiddles, one with a really warm tone, and shows off his mandolin skills in at least one number. I never grew tired of watching him coax his fiddles.

Cody Kilby was up next with his guitar. There is a reason why he is a national flatpicking champion. He was breathtaking when featured on solo playing. I can't believe how fast his finger slide back and forth on one hand while the other is frantically picking away.

Scott Mulvahill and his upright bass was hidden a little behind Leftwich and Kilby. Hidden, but never forgotten because he is the percussion leader for the group, laying down the beat. His singing was featured on one song and he has a great voice, mellow and warm. You'll enjoy watching him play, he is obviously enjoying himself.

Skaggs is front and center providing a running patter, keeping the show going during tuning lulls. The audience was awed by his skills with the mandolin and guitar, his sweet tenor and his accessibility.

To the right of Skaggs was Eddie Faris. His smiles are few and far between but when he is really pleased with his guitar skills, his face light up. Another masterful musician with a steady strum and dexterous fingers. He lends harmony to Skaggs lead.

Paul Brewster has been with Skaggs the longest. He sings the high harmonies with Skaggs. He is another extraordinary guitarist. His vocal talents are featured in one solo but his voice is heard all night long, one with bluegrass in his blood.

Last but not least is banjo player Russ Carson. He has been with Kentucky Thunder for a little over a year and has been playing the banjo for many years belying his baby face. Again another vastly talented musician demonstrating his manual dexterity.

I knew I like bluegrass from long exposure but last night I fell in love. Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be in the Village for three more nights through Friday, October 23.

There are three concerts left in the Hot Springs Village Concerts Association 2015-16 schedule. The Hit Men, November 4-7, Phil Dirt Presents Surf's Up! February 16-19 and Live From Nashville, March 15-18. Go to for more information.