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NEWS - Spring 2007

FMI re: the movie: movingmidway.com
A screening of the film will take place on Friday, June 8th at 7:30 PM in the Knight Gallery of the Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film, Charlotte, NC. FMI call 704-333-9755.

Speaking of Cheshires, here are two views of Sprague (Godfrey's younger brother). Both were taken on the island of Iona, a small island, in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

Iona has an important place in the history of Christianity in Scotland and is popular for its tranquility and natural beauty.

The photograph on the left, taken in the late 1970's, is the portrait of Sprague as a sanyasin, or as he himself describes it, "with one foot in the etheric!"

The photo on the right was taken about 25 years later. Our hero, now a true householder, has done a bit of buffing up!

We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder

Old friend Jacob Freeze has a interesting new website of his recent paintings and photographs. He categorizes some of them as "Imperfect Music," (I can't help thinking he had me in mind for that one!) "Americana," "Early Memories," "High Grain," "Maps," and "Arena". "D" from "High Grain" appears on the left.

Jacob, who passed "a happy babyhood and boyhood" in Zebulon, NC, now lives in California. He and I were friends back in the 'good old days' of Chapel Hill in the late 1970's and early '80's.

All works are copywritten. For more information: jacobfreeze.com

Cool Cover of Hawaiian Song from RADIO GALS

This has just come to my attention via a MySpace friend. There is a video of three performers doing "That Wicky Wacky Hula Hula Honka Wonka Honolulu Hawaiian Honey of Mine" from RADIO GALS circulating on YouTube. I just heard it and it's pretty cool. The most interesting thing is that it's performed by three up and coming young Broadway actors: Sutton Foster (Drowsy Chaperone, Little Women, Thoroughly Modern Millie), Christian Borle (Legally Blonde, Spamalot), and Megan McGinnis (Little Women, Beauty and the Beast). It was taped at Sutton Foster's "June in January" concert last winter at Joe's Pub in NYC. Here's the link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=_xybXlUVSYk.

"Smoke Homecoming" at the Cincinnati Playhouse

I've just returned from six weeks in Cincinnati, music directing a production of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING at the Cincinnati Playhouse. It was a great time for me, as my best friend from high school, Chris Baker, lives there now and I got to visit with him and his wife Janice a bunch. Chris is a very talented artist and graphic designer (he did most of the RCR album covers) and he has a very talented son Alex, who plays the guitar and sings and writes his own music. Also I got to spend time with Katie Laur (photo left). Katie has a bluegrass music show "Music from the Hills of Home" on WNKU. Katie had a band back in the 70's and 80's and the Ramblers would run into her a lot on the road. I got to be good friends with her mandolin player, Jeff Terflinger. Jeff lives in San Francisco now, but he was back in Cincy while I was there, so we had a great time getting back together. Jeff's pals had a music party for him at the home of Scott Knox, a prominent Cincy lawyer. Scott has a beautiful home up on the heights near the U of Cinn, and the view from his deck is spectacular. We looked out at the evening lights of the glittering city of seven hills with the Ohio River and Central Avenue winding around. Jeff and I even got to play some Cole Porter duets on the piano and fiddle. Seems we've both been memorizing the same Ella Fitzgerald records for the last twenty years!

Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming is going well. Opening night was May 10th. Ila C. Knight once again graced the occasion by making a surprise appearance, flying in from the Blue Ridge. Ila is a renowned gospel songwriter (and former truck driver!) who contributed two songs to the Smoke Homecoming. Alan Bailey conceived and directed the production, and Connie Ray, who wrote the book, was there for tech week and opening. It was great to see Connie again. She is one wonderful writer -- makes 'em laugh and makes 'em cry, and who could ask for more? Swell article about Connie Ray in the Cincy Enquirer. We have a really top notch cast at the Playhouse. Old pal David Caldwell is Rev. Mervyn Oglethorpe, Connnie Barron (Mrs. John Miller) is Vera Sanders, Scott Wakefield ("Older Than Dirt") is Burl Sanders, Tommy Hancock (preeminent Elvis Imitator) is Stanley Sanders, Angela Mack ("Miss Cincinnati Conservatory of Music") is Denise Culpepper, Giorgio Litt ("Theophilus North") is Dennis Sanders, and Tess Hartman (Tess is just Tess but she steals the show) is June Oglethorpe. (David and Tess are pictured above right - photo by Michael Keating of the Enquirer)

Memorial Website for Micheal O'Domhnaill

Triona and her pals have put up a website for brother Micheal O'Domhnaill. Here is the link: michealodomhnaill.com. There is also going to be a concert in honor and memory of Micheal in Dublin on May 24th. I don't have any details at this time, but I trust the new website will have updates soon. click on thumbnail for classic pic of Micheal, Triona, Kevin and the Bothy Band

He Took His Electric Guitar to Iraq

This past March I was working in Fayetteville, NC, at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, directing the music for SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING. Fort Bragg is not far away so there are two Army soldiers in our cast. One is an Lieutenant Colonel and the other is a Sergeant. Both of these guys are upbeat, confident, and motivated individuals. They are also both dedicated musicians and performers too. You'd never notice anything different about them except that every now and then they have to come to rehearsals straight from work and they show up in their "ACUs" or "army combat uniforms": natty looking camouflage suits, jack boots, & red berets.

Ken Griggs is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U. S. Army. A West Point graduate, Ken is also an Army Radiologist. He was deployed in Bosnia in the 1990s. He is married and has three young children and he and his whole family are involved in the theatre. Ken has been over a dozen CFRT productions. His favorite roles have been Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, and the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz

Tim Kranz grew up in Santa Rosa, California, which is about 50 miles north of San Francisco. Tim went to a special arts high school and took part in an Artsquest program there, singing in choirs (chamber, concert, mens chorus, etc., where he was lead tenor) and acting in school dramatics. He was especially inspired by his high school drama teacher, John Craven. Tim was Claudio in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING and he also had a part in the SEAGULL by Anton Chekhov. One of his best friends in Artquest got a scholarship to study music at Julliard and this in part inspired Tim to apply to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC. He passed his auditions and was accepted.

But it was a rough time for Tim and his family. His dad left his mom and at the very same time she was evicted, so Tim and his brother and sisters had to go live in a Catholic Charities Homeless Shelter. Finally, out of desperation, his mom Hope put the kids and everything they owned in an old VW Cabriolet and drove to her grandparents in Spokane, after Tim finished up his senior year. He got up every morning and exercised and practices scales and vocal exercises and monologues, in preparation for AMDA.

But a combination of family troubles, and a lack of funds left Tim increasingly uneasy about leaving home and and trying to make a life and a new new start at AMDA.

"So then I got online to find free posters for my brother Max since I was going to be moving to New York and he was going to have my room. One of the ones I signed up for linked me to the Army recruiters. They came in offered me money for 3 years. AMDA said go for it you can come to school in 3 years. I joined, I'm in. Now I jump out of freaking planes and work for the Special Forces."

In fact Tim is a Supply Sergeant for the Special Forces. He has been deployed in Afghanistan (Kandahar) for six months and then deployed to Iraq (Bagdad) for four months. He was stationed by the Bagdad International Airport. He returned from Iraq last December. After one week of rest he was back at his job, retraining and resupplying for the next deployments. In the meantime he was cast in CFRT's production of SMOKE HOMECOMING.

Tim says he looks forward to being in plays, and he has dreams of pursuing more of this kind of work when his Army career ends in one year. Tim has a good ear, plays strings and keyboards, and has a remarkable tenor voice. In SMOKE he sings "Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho". He sounds as good as Tennessee Ernie -- if not better! Tim played in a local band for awhile, now he does solo stints. He took his electric guitar and amp to Iraq with him and even entertained some of the locals in the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. He must inherit some of his musical flair from his mom. Hope Kranz is a big Bon Jovi fan. "They write the soundtrack of my life," she says. Tim also credits his wife Clara for the all the support she has given him. In his spare time he helps take care of his two nephews and four nieces.

Tim has one more deployment to Iraq, which begins this coming July. When his Army days are over he wants to visit his friends in New York and learn more about the business and maybe try his hand at auditioning, etc. Tim has done four shows so far at Cape Fear Regional Theatre: SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, RAGTIME, CHILDREN OF EDEN, KISS ME KATE, BIG RIVER, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (at the Gilbert Theater) PAYING THE PRICE and now SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING. His favorite roles have been 'Mother's Younger Brother' in RAGTIME and Maurice in PAYING THE PRICE.

Tim has a site on MySpace and promises to keep in touch, via blogs and messages, when he goes back overseas. I will post updates from him on this site. I know we all wish him the best, Godspeed and a safe return.

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As I've already mentioned in these pages, this past summer I arranged the music for a new show called SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING. It's the second sequel (the first is called A SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS) to SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, the l990 Off-Broadway hit musical about the Sanders Family, a gospel group from Siler City, NC. The SMOKE shows, which follow the Sanders Family from 1939 through the post WWII era, are conceived by Alan Bailey and written by Connie Ray. The world premiere of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING took place this past fall at Piedmont Players, in Salisbury, NC, which is just across the river from me. I was musical director for the Salisbury production.

Cincinnati Playhouse is producing the show, directed by Alan Bailey, and featuring David Caldwell, Scott Wakefield, Connie Barron, Tommy Hancock, Tess Hartman, Giorgio Litt, and Angela Mack. I am the music director. At least two more productions of SMOKE ON THE MOUNTAIN HOMECOMING will occur in 2007, one at Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville, Tennessee in February, one at the Theatre in the Square in Marietta, Georgia in April, and productions at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre and the Flat Rock Playhouse in May.

The Cape Fear Regional Theatre production is being directed by Bo Thorpe and features Mike Rice, Libby Seymour, Tim Krans, Ken Griggs, Kaitlin Casanova, Rebekah Wilson, and Michael Hicks. Stage Manager Elizabeth Bonti. I am the music director. (And you are the walrus). Performances begin May 11th.

Yesterday's Papers:
Winter 2006/07
Fall 2006
Summer 2006
Spring 2006
Fall Winter 2005
Spring Summer 2005
Fall/Winter 2004/05
Summer 2004
Winter/Spring 2004