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PLAYING AROUND

In a parallel tale of obsession and dying, 33 Variations’ plot focuses on one woman's journey to understand the motivation behind one of Beethoven’s last works.

The central character, Katherine Brandt (played by Sinda Nichols), is a musicologist who has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. She’s consumed with trying to make sense of Beethoven’s strange compulsion to put aside other pieces during his latter years, with failing health and the steady loss of his hearing, to write 33 separate variations of a waltz by a composer he originally felt was beneath him.

The 5 & Dime Theatre Company and director Lee Hamby produce 33 Variations, which was written by Moisés Kaufman (author of The Laramie Project) and received five Tony nominations after its 2009 Broadway debut. The play is staged July 18-20 and 25-27 at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.   More

PLAYING AROUND

Sarah Emerson will install a mural based on her own imaginary interpretation of Aokigahara, Japan’s forest, from March 11-22 at the Haskell Atrium Gallery in the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville. 

MOCA Curator Ben Thompson is encouraging visitors to come to the museum and interact with Emerson while she is painting. 

After 14 days of work, the three-wall mural will be complete to close the second season of Project Atrium. Emerson will give a presentation of her work at 2 p.m. March 22. The exhibit opens March 23 and continues through July 7.

Emerson’s mural “Underland” is a continuation of a series of paintings she has created based on the dark reality of Aokigahara, a forest in Japan that is a popular place for suicide. The rock is magnetized, sometimes compasses won’t work, and people get lost and can’t find their way out, Emerson said.

“I was really fascinated by this gray area, this natural place exists that can swallow people and embody this kind of journey that you might not get out of,” Emerson said. “It’s a nice parallel for the way I kind of view life, which is a very beautiful thing and then also very dark and scary at the same time.”

“Underland” has become a real narrative in my work with a sense of innocence and paradise lost, Emerson said. The mural will embody a gaping forest scene filled with trees, black holes, animals and imagery throughout.

“If anything I kind of want the viewer to feel a little innocence and corrupted at the same time,” Emerson said.

It’s a very dark subject that is rendered superficially, but it’s rendered in a very pleasant and colorful manner, Thompson said.

“I’m really excited to work with her because she is still relatively unknown,” Thompson said. “She has a following, but some of the artists we have presented are probably a little bit further along in …   More

Playing Around

Mother Superior is the newest addition to local label Infintesmal Records, known for putting out Duval’s best post-punk, indie and garage rock music. The band is a perfect fit for the label, with a super-scratchy, distortion-heavy sound and lots of feedback. Unique to the band, though, are the singer’s use of almost-whiny pop-punk vocals and a snarky sense of humor. It’s a bit sloppy, but a lot of fun, with lyrics like “I’m going to kill you, baby, ooh lalala. I’m going to suck your blood like Dracula.” Austin’s post-punks Vetter Kids (pictured) headline. They’re so good they got a shout out from music elitist blog Brooklyn Vegan. Bravo, guys.   More

Playing Around

St. Augustine artist Martha Rose Cardot-Greiner is participating in the group exhibit “The Power of Perception” at Raw Art Space next month in New York. The exhibit is on display from March 1-15 with a reception 6-9 p.m. March 7.

Cardot-Greiner captures moments in everyday life that are often overlooked by applying meticulous detail through various mediums.

She grew up on a farm in a small town in Pennsylvania and learned to appreciate the simplicity and beauty in the natural world. Cardot-Greiner aims to educate her viewers while also providing an enriching aesthetic experience.

A local artist based in St. Augustine with her own studio and boutique, Cardot-Greiner specializes in colored-pencil, graphite and lead drawings, oil paintings and handmade jewelry. She incorporates real gems from all over the world into her artwork paired with other components to make each piece unique. Cardot-Greiner’s art takes stagnant objects and suggests movement. She also applies India Inks to her art for vibrant colors to make the subject stand out.   More

Playing Around

The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville selected dance instructor Claudia Kuendig-Williams and sculptor David Engdahl as winners of the 37th annual Arts & Culture Awards with a celebration to be held 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Main Library Downtown.

Kuendig-Williams, an instructor at Brentwood Elementary School for the Arts, Riverside Presbyterian Day School and the Cathedral Arts Project, will be honored with the Arts Educator Award, according to a statement from the Cultural Council.

Engdahl, retired chief architect for the Haskell Company, will be honored with the Innovator Award for his work with the Museum of Science & History, the CoRK Arts District and the Northeast Florida Sculptors.

The Jacksonville Chapter of the American Institute of Architects will receive the Business Arts Award for its volunteer work on MOSH’s “Jacksonville by Design” exhibit as well as work with City Beautiful Jax, the University of North Florida and Florida A&M University.

Each award winner will receive a custom piece from Ponte Vedra sculptor Lucy Clark. The event will feature work by local artist Jeff Whipple.

Tickets to the event are $75. For more information, go to culturalcouncil.org.   More

PLAYING AROUND

It's every theater major’s dream to be cast in a nationally touring production straight out of college, and for Chelsea Turbin, a recent graduate from The Boston Conservatory, that dream came true. 

Turbin landed a spot in the ensemble cast of Green Day’s “American Idiot” her senior year. “American Idiot” is a musical adapted from the Green Day album. The play centers around three discontented young men and their desire to break free of suburbia.

The show began its tour in the United Kingdom, and, by its completion, it will have visited six different countries. The production is set to come to Jacksonville, an hour away from Turbin’s hometown of Ormond Beach.

Folio Weekly spoke to Chelsea Turbin by phone about her experience on tour with “American Idiot.”

Folio Weekly: Did you always know that performing is what you wanted to do? 

Chelsea Turbin: As a kid I was always singing. I would be running around making my parents watch the “Chelsea Show” or singing on little cardboard box stages that I made. Around first grade my mom put me in Children’s Musical Theater in Ormond Beach, and I ended up staying there for eight years. It was kind of where I lived; it’s where I made most of my friends.

F.W.: Tell us about getting the part in “American Idiot.”

C.T.: It was unreal. I had auditioned for this show once before. I had just turned 18, and I was going to a casting call for “Bye Bye Birdy.” So, I did the audition and Jim Carnahan, from Carnahan Casting tells me “You’re not quite right for the part, but I’m also doing a casting for this Green Day show, so we’ll call you.” At that point I’m like "Yeah, OK, sure you’ll call me," but they did! So I went, but I ended up being way too young and inexperienced. I get there and there are just these amazing women, and guys with guitars. … but some …   More

PLAYING AROUND

It is as grungy as a musical can get. “American Idiot” satisfies both musical theater afficionados and hardcore Green Day fans. 

The show opens with the entire cast performing the anthemic, energetic “American Idiot” number. The carefully crafted staging achieves the raw angst and haphazard look appropriate for the punk rock spirit. The actors give passionate performances and stay true to the Green Day sound. 

Adapted from the Green Day album, “American Idiot” follows the lives of three friends, Johnny (Alex Nee), Tunny (Thomas Hettrick) and Will (Casey O’Farrell). The young men desperately try to throw off the suffocating blanket of suburbia only to realize that life outside of their comfort zone is even less forgiving. 

The somewhat scattered storyline parallels the life of Johnny. However, the plot is held together by the letters he sends home, which we hear through Johnny’s soliloquies.

Early in the story, Will, Tunny, and Johnny pack their bags and set off to leave their hometown. However, Will learns his girlfriend, Heather (Kennedy Caughell), is pregnant and is forced to stay behind. Farrell's electric performance connects with the audience during “Jesus of Suburbia.” 

The friends' paths continue to diverge when Tunny joins the Army and Johnny is seduced by drugs, developing a hardcore addiction personified as St. Jimmy. 

St. Jimmy (Trent Saunders) is introduced in a larger-than-life musical number, where nearly 30 TV screens display the live performance from different stage angles. This was one of many memorable numbers throughout the 95-minute play along with “Are We the Waiting” and “Letterbomb.” 

Preceded by a letter written from Johnny to his mother on Sept. 10, “Wake Me Up When September Ends” was an especially moving number. Through choreography, the ensemble …   More

When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. Or sometimes you just enjoy a really fabulous Game of Thrones-inspired cocktail. Superfans celebrate their obsession this weekend with a GOT-themed party, complete with fire-dancers, GOT-inspired burlesque shows and a costume contest. The best represented house will claim the Iron Throne and the glory that goes with it, and all can take pictures seated on the massive replica, created just for the event. Oh, and, uh, brace yourselves. Winter, and lots of geeky-fun cosplay, is coming.   More

PLAYING AROUND

The decline of printed publications is old news; the age of computers has been upon us for quite some time. As magazine sales and subscriptions drop, elements and techniques used in print have evolved to accommodate the shift into a digital world — but not all of them. Print cartoonists are among those now asking themselves a question: How can a craft evolve in the digital world without sacrificing tradition and technique?

"Very Semi-Serious," directed and co-produced by Jacksonville native Leah Wolchok, takes a quirky look at the humor, art and genius of the single panel cartoon. The documentary homes in on the 88-year-old New Yorker magazine and the artists who have helped make it what it is today.

There is a unique likeness between documentaries and cartoons: Both seek to uncover truths about society in an engaging, witty and sometimes confrontational way. Drawn to filmmaking in college, Wolchok said, "it was the beauty of the reality of documentary form that captured my attention."

Diving into this project and interviewing dozens of artists has revealed a lot of hard truths about the nature of the cartoon business, she said.

"Cartoonists face extreme rejection. One out of 15 pieces will be sold, maybe — if they're lucky. It's not uncommon for artists to go weeks at a time without any sold."

The fierce competitiveness of the industry reflects the importance of cartoons; they are no laughing matter.

"Over the last 90 years, the cartoons have represented a chronicle of the world's political issues," Wolchok said. "New Yorker cartoons have provided snapshots of social movements, cultural events and historical controversies for decades."

They are not always laugh-out-loud funny, nor do they always make readers comfortable. Cartoons — specifically those published in the New Yorker — can be subtle, edgy, political statements that shape and express the opinions of generations. 

"People feel a really personal connection to the cartoons …   More

Playing Around

Elvis tribute performer Alex Swindle of Birmingham, Ala., won the eighth annual Ted McMullen I’ll Remember You Elvis tribute competition Jan. 25-26 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak.

Swindle had the hip gyrations and look necessary to advance to compete at the Images of the King Championship on Aug. 11-16 at the New Daisy Theater in Memphis.

Jeff Barnes of Evans, Ga., finished second, followed by Atlanta’s Matthew Spalding, Cote Deonath (of Dunnellon), Austin Irby (of Greenville, S.C.) and Tampa’s Jeff LaJess. Chad Hannum, 12, of Palm Coast, won the youth division. Deonath was the audience vote winner. Eighteen Elvis tribute artists competed.

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