July 07, 1994|
Barbershoppers' Performance Glitters at Indiana
By now I'm sure most people understand that the point of this column is to extol
the virtues of live musical performances. These virtues, however, are not
limited to just the bar bands I usually cover.
Quality live music in this area takes many shapes and forms, from the Terre
Haute Symphony to musical theater, to the many fine vocal ensembles on the
scene. I caught one such performance recently and am looking forward to at least
two more this weekend.
l The Banks of the Wabash Chorus brought its barbershop style music to the
wonderfully restored Indiana Theater with its June 18 production of ``The Golden
Days of Radio.''
This live portrayal of a radio program featured a mystery show, complete with a
comical sound-effects man as well as musical commercial jingles and several
numbers by the 80-plus member chorus and three of its top quartets.
Four Hire, which is Andrew Kirkman, Pat Killeen, Vince Winans and Bob
Montgomery, led the way among the Valley quartets, including the Highland
Express (Gregg Durr, Bob Kihlken, Art Palfrey and Keith Kent) and Lost and Found
(Dick Hughes, Jack Newman, Harry Shetter and Jeff Bounsall). Adding a little
variety to the otherwise all-male show was the female barbershop quartet
Allspice (Phyllis Hughes, Kathy Hill, Dorothy Goodwin and Jeanine Whitehead).
Capping the evening was a high spirited set by the St. Louis based foursome The
Gas House Gang, the reigning international champion barbershop quartet. The Gas
House Gang formed in 1987 and took its name from the nickname of the fiery,
fun-loving St. Louis Cardinals baseball teams of the 1930s. After winning the
1988 Central States District Competition, the Gang began a steady climb up the
international competition ladder, which culminated in the 1993 championship at
Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Terre Haute show was the group's last public
performance before a new champion quartet is named for 1994. These guys were
funny, very professional and, man, they could sing! They performed numbers from
their two albums including ``Sixteen Tons,'' ``K.P.,'' and ``My Old Man'' and
showed the same crisp pizzazz that made the group a hit in Carnegie Hall.
Our Indiana Theater and our strong BOW chorus provided a solid backdrop for this
rare treat. Even for those that may not share my fondness for barbershop music,
to see the world's best at anything is almost always worth it. It sure was that
l Not all of the area's good actors and musicians are found among the adult
ranks of Community Theatre. Middle school and high school students make up the
cast for the performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's classic musical
``Oklahoma!'' at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Deming Park's Larrison Pavilion.
The free shows come at the conclusion of the third annual Vigo County School
Corp.'s Performing Arts Workshop. The musicals ``The Sound of Music'' and ``The
King and I'' were presented the first two years.
These students, who earn a high school credit while learning their craft and
honing their talents, have been reporting to the workshop at 8 a.m. almost all
summer. If they can perform this show outside in the heat, surely a lot of us
can sit in the shade and watch them.
As a special treat, the country theme of the musical will allow us to watch them
perform some high-stepping country line dance numbers in their post show.
l Once again it is time for the annual gala performance to benefit the Indiana
Historical Society. This year's show, ``The Romance of the River - Life Along
the Wabash,'' will be presented Saturday in Indiana Theater beginning with the
pre-show at 7:30 p.m. and the main event at 8:30 p.m.
Director Bunny Nash and writer Greg Stump, who teamed on last year's ``Fads and
Fins - The Fabulous Fifties,'' are at it again this time around as well. This
year's period piece spans the time from the 1880s to the 1930s
and features such songs as ``Down By the Riverside,'' ``Ain't We Got Fun,''
``Here Comes the Showboat'' and ``Wabash Blues.''
Music director Doug Brooks will be behind the keyboards and Community Theatre of
Terre Haute veteran Jim Walker will narrate the affair that will incorporate
slide presentations, vignettes, and, of course, lots of musical numbers. The
Banks of the Wabash Chorus will be there, as well as the Sycamore Strummers to
go along with soloists, small singing and dancing groups and the full chorus.
It should be great fun. And, who knows? You might even learn something
interesting about our history.