Carmel's October Fest
The second Carmel Performing Arts Festival is leaner, more accessible.
Thursday, July 23, 1998
This year''s second annual Carmel Performing Arts Festival, set for Oct. 2-18, is a leaner, more carefully pruned version of last year''s first-time endeavor.
First of all, there are fewer shows. Festival producer Robin McKee and her board have pared down the offerings from last year''s 51 separate groups and individuals who performed 150 music, theater, dance and spoken word shows over a three-week period, to 30 performers and groups who will put on 72 shows over two weeks.
"We''ve pared it down to make it more navigable," McKee explains. "If someone likes bluegrass, we offer one show instead of 12. It''ll be easier to pick and choose."
Festival board chairman Bob Walker is more blunt in his assessment, noting that last year, many performances were held at the same time, frustrating attendees and performers alike. "We found ourselves competing for the same audience," he admits. "There were more shows than people watching them."
These are the typical problems plaguing any first-year festival--too much enthusiasm, too many shows, not enough ticketholders. To Carmel Performing Arts Festival''s credit, they took this lesson to heart and altered their format accordingly.
The ratio between local and national performers remains the same (2/3 local, 1/3 national), but McKee says this year, all local performers went through a selection process. Last year, she says, they took any local who wanted to perform.
While reducing the number of shows, the festival has expanded the scope of its offerings, particularly in music. Last year, McKee says, they offered primarily jazz and classical music. This year, they''ve added bluegrass and New Age.
Festival highlights this year from outside the area include The Lynching of William Brown, the story of a notorious 1920s lynching outside an Omaha courthouse (the play premiered in that same courthouse last year); The McLain Brothers Band, playing Tennessee bluegrass; Bach Festival regular soloist David Gordon (billed here as a "troubador"); The Gift of Hope, a play about breast cancer from the Organic Touchstone Co. in Chicago; and Songs My Grandmother Taught Me, a one-woman show from Boulder, Colo. Local highlights include Carmel Valley gospel artist Bard Sherman; Duende! Flamenco dancers and musicians from Salinas; and La Rondalla Alisal, a group of Salinas Valley farmworkers'' children singing in Spanish and English.
The Festival is a nonprofit organization, but it ran into some flak from Carmel locals last year who feared it would "turn commercial" and leave their streets littered with debris. This year, says Carmel City Administrator Jere Kersnar, he "hasn''t heard any concerns expressed" from Carmel residents.
Festival organizers hope, in fact, to build the annual event into as big a cultural draw as Ashland Oregon''s Shakespeare Festival. Big dreams, but in Carmel, they say, dreams can come true.
Full Festival Passes ($120 for 24 shows) and Five-Show Passes ($50) for the Carmel Performing Arts Festival are on sale now. Single tickets, from $12-18, go on sale Sept.1. For tickets and schedule, call 624-7675.
Westward Whoa! Friday and Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2:30 pm. Children. Dance Kids Performing Arts Academy presents this Western-themed family musical, written by Gloria Elber and Reed Scott, that features a wagon train heading west and all the people they meet along the way. Local musicians and 42 children studying at the academy make up the cast. Carmel Ballet Academy auditorum, Mission Street and 8th Avenue, Carmel. 624-3729. $10/general; $5/children; $5/seniors. Through: 7/26.
Gypsy Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Musical Comedy. "Everything''s Coming Up Roses" in this season''s first production of Gypsy, based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the New York stripper whose story/legend began in the waning days of vaudeville and continued through two world wars. This musical version of Gypsy''s young years is as much about Gypsy''s mother as it is about her, and the most memorable role of any production is always that of Mama Rose (here played by Western Stage stalwart Donna Federico). Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics to hits such as "If Momma Got Married" and "Let Me Entertain You." The Western Stage at Hartnell College, Main Theater. 755-6816/375-2111. $20/general; $18/seniors, students; $12/Hartnell students; $10/children. Through: 7/26.
Sylvia Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7:30pm. Comedy. Playwright AR Gurney offers up this hilarious, yet wise look at marriage through the eyes of Sylvia, a stray dog brought home by a disgruntled husband, who soon sinks his hopes and dreams into the loveable pooch. All four performances are stellar: LA actress April Burton is marvelously engaging as the streetwise pup, Barbara Anderson and Todd Lueders go right for the heart as a longtime couple facing mid-life crisis and John Farmenesh will have you in stitches in three gender-crossing cameo roles. When you find yourself sobbing along with the dog as she waits by her window for her owner''s return, you''ll know they''ve sucked you in. This show is a real treat. Pacific Repertory Theater, at the Circle Theater in the Golden Bough, Casanova Street between 8th and 9th avenues, Carmel. 622-0100. $15/general; $8/children; $8/seniors. Through: 7/25.
Always...Patsy Cline Friday & Saturday, 8pm. Musical Revue. The Western Stage Cabaret turns into the Grand Ole Opry for a musical tribute to country singer Patsy Cline, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1963. Told through the eyes of her longtime pen-pal Louise Seger, this show features a live band and more than 20 of Cline''s greatest hits, including "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy." It''s billed as an "intimate and uplifting look at the life of country music''s most beloved singer." If you''re a Patsy fan, this should be a pleasing, tune-filled evening. Ticket office opens two hours before performance. Western Stage Cabaret Theater, in the Salinas Women''s Club, 215 Lincoln Ave., Salinas. 755-6816/375-2111. $18/general; $12/Hartnell students; $10/children; $16/seniors. Through: 8/2.
Guy Things Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm. Comedy. Penned by local playwright Rob Foster, this adult comedy features the adventures of three bachelors, losers all, as they navigate their way through dating in the ''90s. Guy Things made its successful debut last fall, and is now directed in a somewhat revised version by Cynthia Womack. As a work in process, the play shows promise: There are very entertaining moments buried in the play''s nearly three-hour length. Not recommended for children due to language and adult situations (and length). Unicorn Theater, Hoffman Street at Lighthouse Avenue, Monterey. 649-0259. $15/general; $12/seniors. Through: 8/9.
Peter Pan Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 8:30pm; Sunday, 8pm. Musical. Gina Welch-Hagen directs the Broadway musical version of James Barrie''s children''s classic about three Victorian children''s midnight flight to Never-Never-Land, a place where kids don''t have to grow up. The Bruce Ariss Wharf Theater, Old Fisherman''s Wharf, Monterey. 649-2332/372-1373. $15/general; $8/children. Through: 8/23.
Rough Crossing Friday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. Comedy. A no-holds-barred Tom Stoppard comedy that follows two playwrights as they sail to New York to deliver their "next big play." The only problem is, they haven''t written it yet.. Western Stage, Studio Theater, 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. 755-6816/375-2111. $15/general; $13/students and seniors; $12/Hartnell students. Through: 8/29.
The Drunkard Friday & Saturday, 8pm. Melodrama. Classic melodrama about the evils of drink. California''s First Theater, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. 375-4916. Through: 7/30.
The Fantastiks Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8pm. Musical. There has to be some reason this was the longest running show in the history of American Broadway theater. Maybe it''s the simplicity of the Romeo-and-Juliet-style love story, maybe the sentimental, hum-along tunes ("Try to Remember," "Soon It''s Gonna Rain"), maybe the timelessness of the characters. It''s a classic which, when performed well, tugs at the heartstrings of young and old. The Forest Theater, Mountain View Avenue and Santa Rita Street, Carmel. 626-1681. $15/adults; $10/students, seniors; children under 6, free. Through: 8/2.