Monday, December 30, 2013

“Good Bye Baby” at The Edge In Bigfork

That’s not this classic movie’s title, but it sure could be. The line is from “Double Indemnity” which is the standard-setting film noir of 1944, and is the Classic Movie shown in January in Bigfork. When a lonely housewife wants her husband dead and lots of money to boot, what better partner can she have than an insurance salesman? But things don’t work out as they both planned.  Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Edward G. Robinson, the movie earned seven Academy Award nominations and was added to the U.S. Library of Congress’ list of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant motion pictures.”  In 1992, it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry, and is on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 best.  Showing January 9. Time 6:30PM. Cost Free.

Walter Neff may be a successful insurance salesman, but he’s an easy fall guy.  He suspects Phyllis Dietrichson is thinking about murdering her husband, but Walter falls for her anyway.  Played by Fred MacMurray, this insurance agent should have locked his door when she came calling.

Frederick Martin "Fred" MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) appeared in more than 100 films, recorded a song, and had the role of his career in TV’s “My Three Sons.”  He was Hollywood’s highest paid actor in 1943 and was most often cast as a lighthearted good guy.  But when cast as a dark bad guy, he excelled and really showed his versatility.

Phyllis Dietrichson was as bad as they get.  Choosing murder and money as a way out of a marriage is bad enough, but to bring nice guy Walter down with her is dark.  One could say he went in with his eyes wide open, but Phyllis was a difficult dish not to try.

Played by Barbara Stanwyck, Phyllis makes a very evil plan sound very convincing, once she has Walter just where she wants him. Barbara Stanwyck (born Ruby Catherine Stevens; July 16, 1907 – January 20, 1990) had a 60-year career and was known for her very professional portrayals on stage, in movies, and on TV.   In 38 years of Hollywood work, she was in 85 films, won three of her four Oscar nominations, three Emmy awards, and a Golden Globe.  The American Film Institute ranks Barbara as the 11th greatest female star of all time.

Barton Keyes is an insurance investigator you certainly don’t want on your trail. He is played by Edward Goldenberg Robinson (December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973), who is best known for his gangster roles as a tough guy who did not show much mercy.

Forever remembered as Rico in his breakout film, “Little Caesar,” he was posthumously awarded an Honorary Academy Award for his work in the film industry shortly after his death.  Even though he will always be the bad tough guy in most viewer’s minds, his last role as Sol Roth in “Soylent Green” was outstanding and one of this writer’s favorites.

The film “Double Indemnity,” directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler (above), and produced by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Sistrom, has certainly passed the test of time. The movie’s screenplay is based on a novella by James M. Cain also titled “Double Indemnity.” The story appeared as an eight-part serial in Liberty Magazine in 1936.  The movie’s dark dialog inspired two radio plays and a film remake.

Come and see all the drama at The Edge Center’s Classic Movie Series shown by Jack and Lynn Nachbar on Thursday January 9th. Time 6:30PM. Jack Nachbar’s presentation will make you knowledgeable about this movie so you can enjoy it more.   You also get to see the cartoon from the same period and enjoy snacks.  All this is free of charge.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Some Broadway in You? Auditions at The Edge

Here is a chance to get on stage and sing, dance, or play an instrument for an audience that will love it. The songs need to be from Broadway musicals, and you will have ample time and opportunity to rehearse with a capable and talented musical director. Auditions for this show will be Tuesday and Thursday January 7 and 9 between 4PM and 6PM. The place is The Edge Center in Bigfork. This second Broadway Show from The Edge will be April 4, 5, and 6. Voicing and ability will be the key to those chosen for the show. This promises to be a fun event for those on stage and in the audience. The person to contact is the Musical Director, Cris Brown, for more information at or 218-245-3240.

Above Broadway 1946 Original Cast Album 


These Edge shows are a celebration of the American musical as seen on Broadway.  They are done for the pure enjoyment of performers and audience and can be a great learning experience. The actual show will be a concert dress event, black or white tops with black pants, skirts, dresses.  You can audition, though, in anything you wish. The music should stand on its own, telling the story without costuming being necessary. Simple props for enhancements are fine but the music should tell the story without a lot of fanfare.

The content will depend on the auditions and who shows up. We have a great deal of music to choose from and the resources for finding more. Much of the show will be accompanied by piano, but a pre-recorded CD, if it is available, is fine as long as it is instrumental with no vocal tracks on it.

For the auditions, you can bring in the music either with accompaniment or with CD. If you don’t have any, we will provide the accompaniment of something familiar to work with. We will be asking for each auditionee to fill out an questionnaire about their favorite Broadway piece, or one they would like to perform, and if they want to do a solo, duet, or an ensemble piece.

Above original Broadway window card 


Past experience is NOT required. Please come regardless of your level. If the Music Director feels you have potential, and you are willing to work hard, she is more than happy to work, coach, and teach to get you ready to perform. The Music Director, Cris Brown, says, “I would like to add that it would be fun to have all ages. There are a lot of great Broadway songs out there for children, young adults, middle agers, and older performers.  So for me, age is really not a limiting factor either.”

Above original Broadway cast recording


And who is Cris Brown, the Music Director?  Cris Brown is a local piano and voice teacher and accompanist who has studied piano, voice, and flute at Bemidji State University. She started accompanying at 15, is a member of the Itasca Music Club, the National & Minnesota Federation of Music Clubs, and is in the Itasca Community Chorus. In New Mexico, she worked in the Aztec District Music Department with youth choirs, soloists, and ensemble groups.

She was accompanist for the Greenway High School Choirs and for solos and ensemble groups for years.  She has also taught music and choir at the Cloverdale Christian School. She has worked with the Grand Rapids Players as a rehearsal pianist, is the music director at her church, and gives private piano lessons in the Lawrence Lake area and at The Edge Center in conjunction with the Bigfork School.

Cris says, “ I come with years of experience directing music, spent too many hours to count accompanying vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as coaching, teaching, and preparing them for performances, contests, and judging. This is something that I absolutely love. It gives me great pleasure to be able to work with the wonderful talented people that we have in our communities. I am looking forward to this great Broadway Musical production.”

Above poster from the Broadway revival


For those who audition and live in the Grand Rapids/Greenway areas, we will make arrangements for rehearsals there, saving the drive time to Bigfork. Dress rehearsals, lighting and sound checks, etc. will need to be at the Edge a few days before the performances. For those in the Bigfork area, rehearsals will be arranged individually with each performer or group.

Above original cast recording


The music in the concert will depend on what the performer likes and what they can do. You might want to consider songs from one of these or other Broadway musicals to audition with: Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Annie, Lion King, Mamma Mia, Wicked, Chicago, Rent, Fiddler on the Roof, Finian's Rainbow, Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, Guys and Dolls, Into the Woods, Annie Get Your Gun, The Sound of Music, or Chicago. Cris adds, “This is meant to be an exciting experience, so we will keep it that way and make sure the music you perform is appropriately fun, touching or heart warming for the performers and the audience.  Please come and try out.”

Above poster from the Broadway production

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Spirit with GRAMC Music in Bigfork with a Surprise Guest

Music makes the holidays cheerful, and hearing it live is a wonderful way to get into the spirit of the season. The Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus (GRAMC) have been making audiences happy and cheerful for 57 years.  For five of those years they have come to Bigfork at The Edge Center to present their music to anyone willing to attend.  This year the concert is on Sunday December 15th and admission is free as a thank you to all of the Center’s supporters.  The concert of religious, traditional, and popular songs promises to warm you up regardless of the weather outside. Come and find out why the GRAMC has been around for so long and made so many audiences enjoy this time of year a little more. Sunday December 15, time 2PM, admission no charge. Free refreshments will be served, and you’ll have a chance to visit with the Board of Directors for The Edge Center as your hosts.

There will be a "spotlight" appearance of a young piano musician at the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus (GRAMC) this Sunday at The Edge Center in Bigfork during a mid-concert break. He is a sixth grade student at the school and has been playing piano for one and one half years plus the violin for four years.

The GRAMC describes their organization as “The Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus, formerly the Blandin Chorus, has been an integral part of our area’s cultural community since 1956. We are a non-audition chorus with every level of singer. The chorus has 3 scheduled events every year: a Christmas concert, our spring concert at the Reif, and the Big Sing in April. We are also a service organization and do concerts for retirement homes, fundraisers, and benefits. We rehearse from September through April on Monday nights from 7:00-9:00 in the Grand Rapids High School Choir Room. In 1994, The Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus was honored to be inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.”

They practice weekly under the leadership of Eileen Grosland (above) and are accompanied by Bonnie Kangas.  The chorus now has 42 singers and is the largest to date, up from the original group of only 13. Their first director was Betty Kauppi, and were unofficially knows as Betty’s Boys. In 1956, officers were elected and named the Grand Rapids Male Chorus. By 1957, there were 30 members. The chorus has had several names over the years. In additional to the original, it was named the Arion Male Chorus, then Blandin Male Chorus, and currently the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus to reflect its membership being beyond the city of Grand Rapids. In 1959, the group joined the Associated Male Choruses of America (AMCA).

Here is the program they will sing in Bigfork:

O Come Let Us Sing, by Cindy Berry
Come and See the King, by Ken Berg
The Little Drummer Boy, arrangement by Harry Simeone
Rejoice and Sing Noel! by Allan Petker
The Straw Carol, arrangement by Dick Bolks, Solo- Harry Smith
Jesus, What A Wonderful Child, arrangement by Rollo Dilworth

Landlord Fill the Flowing Bowl, arrangement by Walter Ehret
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, arrangement by Stuart Churchill
Silver Bells, arrangement by Charles Naylor
Sleigh Ride, arrangement by Hawley Ades
Winter Wonderland, arrangement by George Trinkaus
Mele Kalikimaka, arrangement by Jay Althouse, Solo - John Persons, Jake Grandia I’ll Be Home For Christmas, arrangement by Mark Hayes

The mission from their website is: “Music really is the international language! We have seen how true this is in our different groups again and again. Our music entertains our guests and is fun for us to make. We practice hard and gather new experiences from numerous performances. That's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun. And since playing also make you thirsty, some even wind up after our practices with a drink or two together. We are happy to have new additions to our family. Just drop by. You're bound to like it!”

Make this concert part of your holiday celebration.  Come and hear the good cheer in an acoustically designed theatre made for this kind of music. And while at the concert, a tour through the gallery gift sale of handmade items might provide a special gift for a special person.  Come and hear why the Grand Rapids Area Male Chorus has been around for so long, and why they are very welcome for their fifth visit to The Edge’s stage.  Sunday December 15, 2PM, admission no charge. Free refreshments will be served.