A little jazz, and some thoughts on getting involved in community theatre

 

Lexus Jazz Fest

The mellow sounds of jazz will be floating in the air at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground Saturday as the African American Forum brings its summer jazz festival back to Lexington for the fourteenth time.  

This year’s Summer Breeze Saturday All-Star Jazz Showcase features saxophonist Jackiem Joyner, guitarist Tim Bowman and Special Guest singer Lyndsey Webster. 

According to the AAF website gates open at 5:00. “Dinner, food & beverages will be served shortly thereafter and the concert will begin at 7:30 PM.” 

The evening of jazz and cuisine under the stars helps assure a great time in safe surroundings during the current surge in Corona virus cases. John Cole, head of the AAF, mentioned that ticket sales are restricted this year to assure that masked and social distancing protocols are more easily maintained for the safety of all and better enjoyment of the event.

Tickets are $21 for general admission, $80 for VIP seating. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (859) 255-2653.  

Principal sponsors of this year’s event are Lexus of Lexington, LexArts, AARP, Community Ventures, LG&E and KU, with many additional corporate sponsors.

Reflections

With my recent marriage to Jeanine Grant Lister, two weeks ago this coming Sunday, I have come to realize how much the very process of planning and executing a wedding is like producing a theatrical event. It is no slam of either weddings or theatre to make such a comparison. Instead it is a recognition of similarities, in hopes that perhaps many who have feared getting involved in their local community theatre will be inclined to helping out.

Live theatre is like an iceberg—what you see is only a small part of the whole experience. For every person on stage, many are backstage, moving props and set pieces during performances, helping construct and paint sets, constructing costumes, designing and running lights and sound, writing and sending out media packets. Literally any community theatre production requires hundreds of volunteer hours before the stage curtains open.

All of which takes me back to our wedding preparations. In hiring an officiant—a minister in our case—bridesmaids and groomsmen, caterers (one for the rehearsal dinner, one for the wedding itself), finding venues for the wedding and the rehearsal dinner, deciding on menus, sending out invitations, planning seating arrangements and charts (or in our case, deciding against them), buying soft drinks, wine, and beer and so forth and so on, Jeanine and I were doing what producers of Broadway musicals to non-theatre to church chancel plays do: casting actors, hiring directors, designers, and specialists (from fight coordinators to house managers, ushers, and back stage crew members), putting up posters and putting people in seats for the big event.

Another example of “theatre” in our community are local religious services. Without exception the traditions of churches and synagogues, mosques and meeting houses are something akin to weekly plays put on for the benefit of those attending services or events. There is music, often special lighting and guest speakers, most certainly readings of scripture, a homily and more. 

And all of these theatre events are for the purpose of telling a story or convincing listeners to take action or to simply “believe.” 

None of which is a slam against weddings or other religious activities or beliefs. 

Indeed, I am making these comparisons to say that those who claim they cannot get involved in painting sets or designing posters or programs  or other activities at their child’s school or a local theatre because “I don’t know anything about theatre,” really can.  

All of which is a reminder that locally the Leeds needs help putting on its shows. So do those of the Winchester Players, the Winchester Christian Ballet, and directors of local school productions. Please step up and help out local school or community productions, however you can, wherever you live. 

Bill McCann is a playwright and the author of the Arts Filled Life, a blog that can be found at www.whmccann.com, where you may also find some of his other writings and previous arts columns.