A series of bright, clear photographs of what the author saw when he pulled aside the curtain in a Wisconsin Oz.

MUCH ADO

A SUMMER WITH A REPERTORY THEATER COMPANY

A veteran former editor and current freelance journalist delivers a swift story about being imbedded with a summer outdoor theater company mounting a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Former Chicago Reader chief editorial executive Lenehan generally copes well with a dilemma facing a writer of such a text: how much should I assume readers already know about the Bard? The text? Producing a play? He seems to have decided that his readers already know a bit, so he offers a list of characters, keeps reminding of us of the plot of Shakespeare’s dark early comedy, and quotes passages and lines (sometimes more than once). He spent the summer of 2014 with the American Players Theatre in tiny Spring Green, Wisconsin, about 35 miles west of Madison. APT is a repertory company, so other productions were going on—Lenehan alludes to them periodically—but Much Ado is the cynosure. The author introduces us to the players, the director, and the technical personnel, sometimes giving us fairly detailed back stories, and he shows us with rare clarity how a professional company prepares a production. He chronicles his interviews with people responsible for costumes, wigs, lighting, sets, and so on, and he records the evolution of the show and marvels at the attention the director pays to the text—how he shapes the show to make sure all of its components contribute to the audience’s understanding and pleasure. Occasionally, Lenehan alludes to the films of the play by Kenneth Branagh (1993) and Joss Whedon (2012) and to some filmed stage productions, but for the most part, it’s the APT that commands his interest and, eventually, ours. Tension mounts as opening night advances—and as the rain clouds swoop in, drenching all, delaying the start. But not for long.

A series of bright, clear photographs of what the author saw when he pulled aside the curtain in a Wisconsin Oz.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-57284-205-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Agate Midway

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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