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Peanuts and Popcorn

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2015 Tony Award Nominees Announced

posted by jtotey
Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming will host the 2015 Tony Awards on June 7 on CBS. (Photos: Tony Awards, en.wikipedia and Zimbio

Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming will host the 2015 Tony Awards on June 7 on CBS. (Photos: Tony Awards, en.wikipedia and Zimbio

The Broadway musical, Something Rotten!, could be stinking up place at this year’s Tony Awards as the show has been nominated for 10 awards, however it could over out-shined by Fun Home which has the most nominations of 12, but that almost doesn’t count since three actresses are nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical” and only one can win.

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Each year, there is usually one show title that is so long that hearing its name announced over and over again becomes annoying. This year it will probably be a tie between The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (six nominations) and Wolf Hall Parts One & Two (eight nominations). Why they can’t just shorten it to Wolf Hall is beyond me.

The 2015 Tony Awards will be presented live on June 7 at 8:00 p. m. on CBS. This year’s hosts will be Kristen Chenoweth (who herself is nominated for On the Twentieth Century) and Alan Cumming. Presenters and musical performances of the awards show have not been decided at this time. In addition to the usual hoopla, a special lifetime achievement award will be given this year to Tommy Tune.

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And the Nominees are:

Best Play:
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Simon Stephens), Disgraced (Ayad Akhtar), Hand to God (Robert Askins), Wolf Hall Parts One and Two (Hillary Mantel and Mike Poulton)

Best Musical:
An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The Visit

Best Revival of a Play:
The Elephant Man, Skylight, This is Our Youth and You Can’t Take it With You

Best Revival of a Musical:
The King and I, On the Town and On the Twentieth Century

Best Book of a Musical:
An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The Visit

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Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre:
Fun Home, The Last Ship, Something Rotten! and The Visit

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play:
Steven Boyer (Hand to God), Bradley Cooper (The Elephant Man), Ben Miles (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two), Bill Nighy (Skylight) and Alex Sharp (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play:
Geneva Carr (Hand to God), Helen Mirren (The Audience), Elisabeth Moss (The Heidi Chronicles), Carey Mulligan (Skylight) and Ruth Wilson (Constellations)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Michael Cerveris (Fun Home), Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris), Brian d’Arcy James (Something Rotten!), Ken Watanbe (The King and I) and Tony Yazbeck (On the Town)

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Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical:
Kristin Chenoweth (On the Twentieth Century), Leanne Cope (An American in Paris), Beth Malone (Fun Home), Kelli O’Hara (The King and I) and Chita Rivera (The Visit)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play:
Matthew Beard (Skylight), K. Todd Freeman (Airline Highway), Richrd McCabe (The Audience), Alessandro Nivola (The Elephant Man), Nathaniel Parker (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two) and Micah Stock (It’s Only a Play)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play:
Annaleigh Ashford (You Can’t Take It with You), Patricia Clarkson (The Elephant Man), Lydia Leonard (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two), Sarah Stiles (Hand to God) and Julie White (Airline Highway)

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Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Christian Borle (Something Rotten!), Andy Karl (On the Twentieth Century), Brad Oscar (Something Rotten!), Brandon Uranowitz (An American in Paris) and Max von Essen (An American in Paris)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical:
Victoria Clark (Gigi), Judy Kun (Fun Home), Sydney Lucas (Fun Home), Ruthie Ann Miles (The King and I) and Emily Skeggs (Fun Home)

Best Direction of a Play:
Stephen Daldry (Skylight), Marianne Elliott, (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Scott Ellis (You Can’t Take It with You), Jeremy Herrin (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two), and Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Hand to God)

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Best Direction of a Musical:
Sam Gold (Fun Home), Casey Nicholaw (Something Rotten!), John Rando (On the Town), Bartlett Sher (The King and I) and Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris)

Best Choreography:
Joshua Bergasse (On the Town), Christopher Cattelli (The King and I), Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Casey Nicholaw (Something Rotten!) and Christopher Wheeldon (An American in Paris)

Best Orchestrations:
Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky and Bill Elliott (An American in Paris), John Clancy (Fun Home), Larry Hochman (Something Rotten!) and Rob Mathes (The Last Ship)

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Best Scenic Design of a Play:
Bunny Christie and Finn Ross (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Bob Crowley (Skylight), Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two) and David Rockwell (You Can’t Take It with You)

Best Scenic Design of a Musical:
Bob Crowley and 59 Productions (An American in Paris), David Rockwell (On the Twentieth Century), Michael Yeargan (The King and I) and David Zinn (Fun Home)

Best Costume Design of a Play:
Bob Crowley (The Audience), Jane Greenwood (You Can’t Take It with You), Christopher Oram (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two) and David Zinn (Airline Highway)

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Best Costume Design of a Musical:
Gregg Barnes (Something Rotten!), Bob Crowley (An American in Paris), William Ivey Long (On the Twentieth Century) and Catherine Zuber (The King and I)

Best Lighting Design of a Play:
Paule Constable (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Paul Constable and David Plater (Wolf Hall Parts One & Two), Natasha Katz (Skylight) and Japhy Weideman (Airline Highway)

Best Lighting Design of a Musical:
Donald Holder (The King and I), Natasha Katz (An American in Paris), Ben Stanton (Fun Home) and Japhy Weideman (The Visit)

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
Tommy Tune

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Boy Choir, Libera, Presents New CD and DVD

posted by jtotey
Libera (Warner Classics)

Libera (Warner Classics)

In January of this year, the boy choir, Libera, recorded a live concert at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. for the upcoming PBS special, Angels Sing: Libera in America. The soundtrack of the special is now available on DVD as well as CD.

Like Charlotte Church and The American Boychoir (who have sung with Michael W. Smith), Libera is, as the press release describes, a “celestial-sounding, chart-topping boy choir.” However, despite their polished performances and their angelic voices, they look more like Dennis the Menace in a choir robe. The cover of the both the DVD and CD feature the boys being boys with messy hair and dirty shoes. The DVD features both the television special as well as a “behind the scenes” short, which was a disappointment as it missed the opportunity to really show who these boys are when they are not performing. Instead, we just get a glimpse.

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As for the performance itself, the guys are a bit stiff. Of course, this has a lot to do with reverence of the material of what they are singing and where they are singing it. However, in-between numbers, a few of the boys introduce themselves and share a little bit about the songs they sing. The delivery is so scripted and the mild jokes so forced that it doesn’t sound genuine. Fortunately, it doesn’t take anything away from their performance.

The DVD and CD both feature the same song line up, so there really isn’t any reason to purchase the DVD over the CD if you are just interested in the music itself. Not every song is religious in nature either. In addition to hymns, the boys pay tribute to the USA with “America the Beautiful,” sing the Louis Armstrong classic, “What a Wonderful World” and even Cat Stevens, “Morning has Broken.”

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LiberaCDThe full list of song selections include:

  • Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
  • How Can I Keep from Singing
  • Morning has Broken
  • America the Beautiful
  • Wayfaring Stranger
  • Amazing Grace
  • What a Wonderful World
  • The Prayer
  • Be Still My Soul
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Rest in Peace
  • Sanctus
  • Song of Life
  • Ave Maria
  • Voca Me
  • How Shall I Sing that Majesty

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Amy Grant’s Latest will Appeal to Country Fans

posted by jtotey
Universal Music Group

(Universal Music Group)

After years of being relatively quiet, Christian music star, Amy Grant, has made up for it. In 2013, she released “How Mercy Looks from Here” that featured special duos with Vince Gill, James Taylor, Sheryl Crow and others. Last year came “Amy Grant in Motion: The Remixes,” which featured new dance music spins on some of her more popular music including “Baby, Baby” and “Every Heartbeat.” This month comes “Be Still and Know…Hymns & Faith.”

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“Hymns & Faith” features many tracks from previous albums including “Legacy…Hymns & Faith,” “Rock of Ages…Hymns & Faith” and “How Mercy Looks from Here.” Grant is not usually considered a country singer, but when you put all of these tracks together, including two new ones produced by her husband, Vince Gill, this is definitely a country album. However, with that said, Grant does some nice contemporary touches including a slightly faster tempo to the music making the “old” hymns sound new. The best example of this is “This is My Father’s World.”

“Power in the Blood” and “Be Still and Know” are the two new tracks. “Power” will no doubt be favorite as it is fast-paced and has a bluegrass sound to it. Just about impossible not to slap your knee while listening to it. “Be Still” is a peaceful reminder that sometimes it is best to just sit, be quiet and let God do his thing.

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The best song on the album by far is “Deep as it is Wide” which features Sheryl Crow and Eric Paslay. The three voices harmonize beautifully. The album also features the Grant standard, “El Shaddai.”

While most Amy Grant fans will be able to appreciate this album, it is a safe bet that only those truly fond of hymns and country music will enjoy it the most.

This collection features these 15 songs:
1. Power In The Blood
2. Be Still And Know
3. Jesus Take All of Me (Just As I Am)
4. Rock Of Ages
5. Carry You
6. This Is My Father’s World
7. El Shaddai
8. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
9. It Is Well With My Soul/The River’s Gonna Keep On Rolling
10. My Jesus, I Love Thee
11. Deep As It Is Wide
12. What A Friend We Have In Jesus/Old Rugged Cross/How Great Thou Art
13. ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
14. Softly And Tenderly
15. Holy, Holy, Holy

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‘Book of Yeezus’ is a Mockery Gone Too Far

posted by jtotey
(Etsy.com)

(Etsy.com)

In what seems like a late April Fool’s Day joke, a new “version” of the Bible is making headlines: “The Book of Yeezus.” That’s right, Kanye West has his own Bible that you can own for just $20.

The only good news about this story is that West had nothing to do with the novelty item. It was created by “three entrepreneurial brothers with a special interest in mass-society and its effects on our worldview and imagination” and offered through Etsy.com. Why Etsy, known for selling artsy and crafty items, would like to be associated with the book is mystery.

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What if the Bible, the most singularly significant publication in the ancient canon of Western tradition, were updated to reflect our modern society?,” says the website. “What would it look like? What we came up with was an interventionist art, coffee-table novelty, that will appeal to both Kanye fans everywhere and those made curious by this enormous cultural phenomenon.” The website continues to explain what the book is all about: “At it’s simplest, it is the book of Genesis, modified to feature “Kanye” or “Yeezus” in the place of God or Y—A. ‘In the beginning Kanye created the heaven and the earth… And Kanye said, Let there be light: and there was light.’”

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West may be disappointed that he didn’t think up the idea of himself since he sings “I Am a God” on his current “Yeezus” album. Here is a clip from an interview where he explains to the interviewer what he means:YouTube Preview Image

Though obviously a joke, for Christians believing that the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is an offensive one. Not only that, but spiritually, it seems a little dangerous to try to make money by mocking God. Not that people don’t do it every day, but this is pretty bold. But the books are popular and the makers even branched out with their own website to sell their wares. Apparently, the handmade books are in demand. “We’ve gotten a helluva lotta orders. Actually, we sold more books than we have sitting in the kitchen,” says the brothers on Etsy. “Please understand that from your time of purchase, there will be an extra delay in delivery time as we wait for more books. Moses walked through the desert for 40 years. A few extra days ain’t much. Thanks.”

Perhaps the saddest thing about this story is the others will be sure to get on the band wagon and create their own bible “translations” as humor.

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