For the past year, University of Kentucky Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey has said that “when the world opens up, it won’t be a slow ramp up. It’s gonna just be a blow up and it’ll just happen.
“And that’s exactly what’s happened.”
McCorvey is referring to the number of projects he is currently working on around the country, but his next big Lexington show is also evolving quickly with the steady stream of restrictions being lifted according to CDC guidance.
UK Opera Theatre was expecting to bring back the popular “It’s A Grand Night for Singing,” it’s annual town-and-gown showtune revue, like many other UK performances this year, with a limited live audience and masks onstage and off. While that would have given it a bit of a pandemic pall, at least a nearly three-decade old crowd-pleaser would be back on stage.
But as tickets go on sale May 28 for the June 17 to 20 show, all 866 seats in the Lexington Opera House will be up for grabs, and masks will be optional.
At this point, “Grand Night” regulars may be thinking, “Opera House?”
All 28 previous editions of “Grand Night” have been in UK’s Singletary Center for the Arts, and that was the initial plan. But in the mercurial live performance moment we are in, McCorvey had an idea while recording a virtual UK Opera event at the Opera House.
“It gave me the idea, well what happens if instead of presenting at UK for this year, we present ‘Grand Night’ at the Opera House as a way of sort of jump-starting the return to performances in the city,” McCorvey said. “This has always been a town-and-gown collaboration. And I thought it might be fun to do it in the middle of downtown.”
That’s one of several changes due to the pandemic that will be in evidence this year.
Both the cast and orchestra will be a little more than half the size of a normal “Grand Night” performance. And the show itself will be shorter at 90 minutes with no intermission. That way there will be no worries about the health hazards of a crowded lobby during the break.
But there are also pluses from the pandemic, like guest choreographer Patrick Garr, who is in the touring cast of “Hamilton,” which is not on the road now due to the pandemic. And there will be some other familiar faces who are usually working elsewhere such as Reilly Richardson, a Lexington-born-and-raised professional actor who had a number of star turns in “Grand Night.”
As far as content, while nodding to the struggles of the past 15 months, McCorvey says they are planning a show to reflect the joy of returning to live performances.
He says, “I can’t wait to walk on stage and say, ‘We’re back!’”
It’s A Grand Night for Singing
What: UK Opera Theatre showtune concert featuring student and community performers
When: 7:30 p.m. June 17, 18, 2 and 7:30 p.m. June 19 and 20
Downtown Lexington mural shines light on recovery
A new mural, “A New Day Dawning,” created by Kentucky artist Casey McKinney was recently painted on New Vista’s 201 Mechanic Street location in downtown Lexington.
McKinney created the mural to echo the spirit of New Vista’s belief that everyone is capable of recovery.
“We are excited to share this new mural with the downtown Lexington community,” said Dee Werline, New Vista President & CEO, who in partnership with LexArts, dedicated the mural May 18. “Our mission is to help clients from every walk of life achieve recovery and see the good ahead in their lives. We hope this mural will be a focal point for recovery and bring awareness to mental health or substance use services happening every day in our downtown Lexington location.”
New Lexington Art League show at the Loudon House
You can also get out to see some art, at the Lexington Art League’s Loudon House Gallery, 209 Castlewood Dr. “Infiniteness & Insignificance” is a solo show by Louisville artist Shawn Marshall, which will run through June 11. Marshall did her undergraduate work in architecture and fine art at UK, and her work is held in several major collections in the United States and Europe. This show will feature images of the natural world expressing growth and regeneration. In addition to Marshall, the Art League has several other exhibits up. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and admission is free. Visit lexingtonartleague.org or call 859-254-7024.
Studio Players new virtual play
Even as live performances return, some things are still virtual, including the latest production from Studio Players. “Bad Auditions … On Camera” by Ian McWethy and Carrie McWethy (McRossen) will be presented at 8 p.m. June 3 to 5. The plot is a casting director needs to find an actor to play a lawyer in a police procedural, and some of the options are comically not great. The audience gets to vote on the winner at the end. Tickets are $5 to $10. Go to studioplayers.org for tickets and more information.
Lexington poet wins award
Congratulations to Lexington poet Danni Quintos, who won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, an award given to a poet for their first book by BOA Editions, Ltd. Quintos will receive $1,000 and her debut poetry collection, “Two Brown Dots,” will be published by BOA, a not-for-profit poetry publishing house, next year. Quintos is part of the Affrilachian Poets, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and is also known for her knitting.