Easton Towne Center
* * * *
by RIck Brown
seem to be changing right and left at "the Box", delving
successfully into serious theater (Cabaret), their Celebrity
Series (next up is Judy Tenuta June 20th) and tinkering with the
themes of their shows. They even dropped the "cabaret"
from their name...although it took most of us so called "critics"
a year and a half to notice. (Must be like our significant other's
new hairdos! And not to worry. We're not going to just "Naked"
any time soon!) And change is good. This year's spring show is dubbed
"Spring Fever"...ironically the title of Rick Derringer's
1975 release of the same name. (he appeared May 2nd. See review
below) The familiar rock and roll/sketch comedy format is still
here though. And it still serves Shadowbox well.
Beginning things is "Pee Wee Poetry", while comely grammar
school teacher Miss Hossenfeffer (Katy Psencka) tries in vain to
ward off her obvious lust for constant intruder Mr. Vuchinich (Jimmy
Mak), her students take turns at the front of the class reciting
original poems. And like many children's first foray into the arts,
most of their creations are far from poetry. The people at Shadowbox
have a real knack for making kids even funnier than kids really
are. The skit closes with Denise (Julie Klein) speaking earnestly
about her late puppy dog and his demise. The story of course is
entirely out of context...just like Mr. Vuchinich's inappropriate
advances on their teacher on front of her class.
Trailer park trash favorites Cindy and Lavern drag their kids along
to the beach so they can enjoy spring break in "Cindy and Lavern
at the Beach". While this sketch can be at times a little predictable,
it's easy to see why it always gets a good response. The characters...portrayed
by Mary Randle and Julie Klein respectively, are outrageous for
sure. Yet at the same time...when one of them kicks her knee out
and yells "Hey! RuPaul McCartney! Stay away form that jellyfish!!"
that mother is at once concerned and dismissing. These two hill-jacks
are both endearing and nurturing in their self absorbed, beer drinking
slob-ness. And let's face it...who doesn't feel the need to yell
at their kids once in a while?
Pre-teen romp "Spazoids All Wet" again showcases this
troupe's talents portraying children. This time a trip to the pool
brings out pre-adolescent hormonal stirrings. A celebration of misunderstood
feelings towards the opposite sex, the sketch pits the tension between
three girls (Christina Connor, Lydia Tew and Amy Lay) just a bit
too young to be "hot" against the faux denial of 3 geeky
boys' (Jimmy Mak, Steve Guyer and David Whitehouse) aversion to
girls and loyalty to each other's gender. The complication of two
characters being brother and sister reminds us all of our own squirmy
awkwardness at that age, all the while tickling our funny bone.
While there are a few slow spots in Act One those sketches are shorter
and decent enough segues. Yet there are a couple skits in Act Two
so good that it more than makes up for it. Brian Hurst's campy performance
in "Keith Richard's Rock 'n' Roll Resort" is fall down
funny. Mr. Hurst keeps his parody from too much exaggeration...a
common flaw in most Keith Richards imitations. His dialog is slurred
but articulate...his body language is dead on but economic enough
to score some real comedic eruptions in this well written, smoothly
Finishing the sketches is "American Top 40 - Spring Fever".
This alone is worth the price of admission. Jimmy Mak's Casey Kasem
is priceless. And this time he is reluctantly co-hosting with American
Idol's Ryan Seacrest, skillfully and off handedly portrayed by David
Whitehouse. This litany of celebrities worthy of scorn is all too
familiar: Whitney Houston (Noelle Grandison), Brittney Spears (Amy
Lay), Cher (Christina Connor) and Kevin Federline (Jamie Borrow).
But the sarcastic humor is great and certainly quantifies the crimes
of these insufferable "stars". Seeing Ms. Lay as Brittney
accidentally drop her baby only to again "accidentally"
kick it off stage is physical humor in it's most joyously lowbrow
liberation. Same with Ms. Grandison's self righteous Whitney Houston
belting out an ode to her ex-partner in crime Bobby Brown "I
Will always Blame You". But it's Jimmy Mak's superb
Kasem that ALWAYS makes this piece memorable. And in this version
he so skillfully plays off Mr. Whitehouse's Seacrest that it is
his character alone that brings down the house.
What really makes Spring Fever special is the music. There
is not a less than superlative song in the entire set list. Storm
Woods opens the show with a torrid version of Stevie Wonder's "I
Wish". Jennifer Hahn's heavy metal handling of the Scorpions’
"Rock You Like a Hurricane" had me banging my head. Julie
Klein's take on "School's Out" is so good Alice Cooper's
python might think about changing owners if he/she heard it. Stephanie
Shull's smoky vocals fit the Muse version of "Feelin' Good"
perfectly. As good as the dancing of Katy Psenicka and Amy Lay is
to accompany...it really is not necessary given Ms. Shull's ability
to make a song...and the stage...her own.
Where the choreography works perfectly is Ms. Psenicka's adaptation
of Janet Jackson’s "Velvet Rope Tour" on said artist's
"Rhythm Nation". With Noelle Grandison's strong vocals
and command of the stage this is a super ending to an evening of
wonderful entertainment. The staging is a wonderful culmination
of Spring Fever. The unexpected standout however is the
B-52's "Roam" which opens Act Two. The playful swagger
of Amy Lay on lead vocals backed by Ms. Grandison and Jennifer Hahn
conjures up the spirit of the B-52's so accurately I'm sure it would
put a big smile on the faces of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson. The
choreography of diversity...dancers representing the Caribbean,
Russia, Africa, Scandinavia, Spain...this is a stroke of genius
that brings a smorgasbord of joy to an already delightful number.
Probably the most challenging of musical numbers in Spring Fever
is Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run". House band BillWho?
is an amazing outfit. And the addition of Lynsey Strouse on saxophone
makes their lineup even more potent and versatile (Think Rolling
Stones, Morphine, Traffic or Junior Walker to name a few.). Steve
Guyer handles vocals admirably on this classic rock anthem...and
the band rocks out. Ms. Strouse's saxophone solo hits home as well.
The rendition is excellent and stirring. And if the sound was mixed
"hotter" across the sound board...especially bringing
Ms. Strouse's sax more up front during the entire number (a la Phil
Spector’s wall of sound emulated by Bruce)...with a touch
more reckless abandon on her part...I think the audience's
hair would be standing on end. AND the crowd might very
well be screaming, "BRUCE!...uh...I mean...STEVE!! STEVE!!!
and/or STROUSE!! STROUSE!!! STROUSE!!!!"
Spring Fever is full of great rock and roll. Great parody
of rock and roll as well. It is an evening of feverish fun. Check
Spring Fever will run until Saturday, June 9th at the Easton Towne
Center. For more information go to www.shadowboxcabaret.com.
C. Mehrl Bennett,
The Baron and
Jukka Pekka Kervinen
Cold joints up here - 30
- tickle in my throte
I think I wrote.
It's not the first time
I've thot of slippers to
make it feel like home.
A soft glow. puppies.
Levi huge pit bull dog.
We both laugh and
wrestle each other to the
Noelle and I skid out on
heath hill road, back
I write to my parents. I
think hard about it. I go
through a foto album. I
rekindle my passion.
Squirts over glance,
over-lording the streets I
walk down, cool and
Jessy Kendall 2/5/07
by Patrick O'Malley
Free Paris Hilton. That’s all I’m saying. Fucking
Free Paris Hilton man. Don’t Support Our Troops, don’t
Pray For Our Troops, don’t God Bless America, don’t
Find A Cure, don’t Support the Local Pipefitters 109, no,
that’s all bullshit. Free Paris Hilton! She’s not
actually IN jail, but fucking Free Paris Hilton!!! Where’s
my fucking fuzzy pink, white, and diamond studded goddamn car
magnet-ribbon? Let’s get on that shit China! What’s
the problem here? Re-fit the molds, re-use the Find A Cure magnet
pink dye and let’s start pumping them out fast, I don’t
care how sweaty your shop is. We’ve got to hurry before
she actually gets put in jail so we can be primed and ready to
free her, should the unthinkable happen. As we know, she doesn’t
deserve to spend a day in jail; I can’t believe how much
time she’s already had to spend in court! Can you imagine
the humiliation of it? If, for several whole uninterrupted hours,
she was treated like a regular citizen? One shudders at the thought.
The petition says it all, with facts to back it up.
racing is a niche activity in America for most of the year. There
are those of us who invest a great deal of their time...as well
as a share of their hard-earned money...studying and watching
the races, but for everybody else the races exist on the last
page of the sports section. That all changes, of course, on the
first Saturday in May when the Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill
Downs in Louisville and the sport of kings takes center stage
nationwide. I've watched the Kentucky Derby on TV as far back
as I can remember, either at home or at my local track (first
Beulah, now Hollywood Park) with some live races thrown in. This
year, though, Christy and I finally got to see the race (as well
as its sister event the Kentucky Oaks) in person.
Derringer at the ‘Box
Shadowbox Easton Town Center
May 2, 2007
* * 1/2
by Rick Brown
Having scraped my money together at the age of 13 to purchase
the Bang Records 45 rpm single “Hang on Sloopy” and
again at 21 purchasing the album “All American Boy”,
I was intrigued by Shadowbox’s Celebrity Series doing a
show featuring guitarist Rick Derringer. I had especially enjoyed
the rousing version of “Sloopy” covered by his first
band, The McCoys ... at least until the Ohio State University
Marching Band laid claim to it. I figured Mr. Derringer’s
solid reputation as musician, sideman, session guitarist and producer
teamed with the talents of Shadowbox’s actors and musicians
should make for an entertaining show.
tone of anything: a piano, the voice or face of someone you
let go from your life, or especially of a seemingly abandoned
town you step into off a Greyhound bus, will set the stage for
the entire experience. Tone is the opening and lasting remark
in a town, just as it is in your mind as you slowly exit the
vehicle that brought you here today.
To set the tone of this small chapter in your life, I would
like to say something about something we may all know of and
for what Richard Hugo, the now dead poet, refers to as “The
Triggering Town.” Such a town is a town that compels you
to think about your life, your father’s life, your mother’s
life, why you might run into your ex-wife, your plans to educate
your son, whatever you think about when you are deep in thought
so much so that you realize the essential, universal scope of
your thinking while you are thinking.
Non – Fiction Theater
of the Truly Mundane
by Rick Brown and Kristina Samuels
a dimly lit stage blanketed in soft blue light. Onstage
are three large amplifiers with tiny red lights indicating
they are turned on “standby”. Beside two amps
is an electric guitar, each upright in a stage stand.
Next to the final amp is a bass guitar also in a stand.
Behind the equipment, on a low riser is a drum kit with
the word “Jet” on the bass drum. Above the
band setup is a giant iMac screen displaying Apple email.
The Ohio State University Libraries
Read Aloud Program
Jayne Sachs Band
May 12, 2007
* * * *
was a glorious spring afternoon when my wife Yvonne and I climbed
into our topless Miata to attend something called Mamapalooza.
I had never heard of such a thing. But it is an organization…a
movement if you will…celebrating mothers involved in the
arts, music, et al. (www.mamapalooza.com).
Yet what excited the two of us most was the chance to see our
old band mate Janie Sachs from long ago. Now Jayne, she played
guitar and sang in our early 80’s outfit Small Shoes. Jayne
is a mother herself and has fronted this band for 11 years. That’s
amazing in itself. And while we had reestablished contact about
a year ago we hadn’t seen each other for almost 3 decades.
was held on a private farm just south of Delaware. And the drive
up Olentangy River Road was delicious, curvy fun. Once there I
realized the event was setup like most small outdoor festivals…except
more primitive in the sense that there were outhouses and the
band played facing the crowd from inside the barn. Once we finished
greeting and hugging each other, Jayne shared some mild trepidation
with me concerning the barn setup. And while it was strange, I
sensed she and her band would handle the situation with aplomb.
After all, Yvonne and I had traveled the Columbus-Cleveland “Ground
Round” circuit with Jayne where we slept on the floor, played
two…sometimes three nights in a weekend…and ate cheese
sandwiches in the van while flying up and down Interstate 71.
Great…great fun. I wouldn’t trade those memories for
anything. I also wouldn’t do it NOW either.
Steve Van Etten (guitar), Scott Shiverdecker (bass), Kelly Morelock
(drums)…along with Jayne (acoustic guitar) morphed from
road crew to rock band a little past 5 pm. And while Jayne had
been introduced as “The Queen of Indie Pop”…or
some such label…the first thing I noticed was this. These
guys can rock. I know from their CDs that Jayne writes what might
be considered tunes in the popular genre, many with upbeat rhythms
and infectious hooks. But lyrically Ms. Sachs is at once edgy
yet approachable…seemingly dangerous without losing warmth.
Beginning with the soaring “40 Days”, Jayne and her
rock ‘n’ roll friends romped through maybe 12 original
numbers. It was obvious this band has played together 11 years…a
genuine miracle in the music world…hell…any
world. The synergy of their interpersonal relationships resonated
throughout their performance. People who like each other, having
fun playing original music. How refreshing.
“Run, Run Lidia Run”, “Occupy Your Mind”,
“Rain”…these are all gems. But it was “Down
the Stairs” that grabbed me this afternoon. Ms. Sachs’
metaphorical tune about a child purposely being cheated out of
her/his childhood is one of the most moving pop songs I have ever
heard. Quite an appropriate allegory for this Mamapalooza audience.
But Jayne’s polished stage patter kept things from ever
getting too heavy handed. While wearing her distrust of authority
on her sleeve, she chatted about getting pulled over by a cop,
their conflict, and then with a wry smile assured the children
the police are our friends. It was a poignant, motherly nurturing
moment really….a wonderful double entendre for Mamapalooza.
At one point…just for some reckless abandon thrown in for
the hell of it I suppose…the Jayne Sachs Band tore into
Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. In a delightfully
frenzied, footloose version of this heavy metal hymn, Ms. Sachs
proved how strong her vocal prowess…and swagger…can
be when she lets it rip. Of course the musical mooring of her
skilled band mates allows her to fly pretty high. And closing
their part of Mamapalooza off with the charmingly ornery “Cigar
Song” (“I’m coughin’…and scratchin’…and
feelin’ like…a…boy”) was just icing on
It was wonderful meeting the guys in Jayne’s band afterwards.
And I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that Jayne has
developed her talents…and continues to grow as a musician
and songwriter….fronting a great band. But mostly I’m
grateful we are all back in each other’s lives.
For more information about The Jayne Sachs Band go to www.jaynesachs.com