The Union Recorder

June 26, 2012

Check out some music and a Friday

Tom Toney
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — “Jeanie’s packing up! Jeanie’s moving out! Pack all her clothes! Tonight away she goes!”

Jean is packing up and so are the auditions for the upcoming production from the Milledgeville Players, “Brigadoon.” Thanks to all who came and tried out. It’s going to be a great play with an incredible cast.

Now, I always feel I need to get the basics in just in case some of you had allowed your Union-Recorder subscriptions to lapse over recent months. So here goes.

The next play from the Milledgeville Players, YOUR community theater group, will be the classic story of “Brigadoon.” Performance dates are Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 16-19. Yes, that’s a bit in the future, but it still pays to make those plans now.

The show will be in beautiful downtown Russell Auditorium. The curtain will rise (hopefully with a cast behind it!) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sunday will find folks looking for parking during the early afternoon since the raising of the curtain takes place at 2 p.m.

OK, it’s Russell. We can’t actually “raise” the curtain. It just sounds so much better than “we hope it opens this time around.”

“Brigadoon” is a musical play with book and lyrics by Alan Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe. Lerner and Loewe represent one of the most successful teams ever to write for the Broadway stage.

They had each worked individually on various musical endeavors through the late 1930s and early 1940s. They happened to meet each other at a club in New York City in 1942 and decided to collaborate together. Their first few plays were not exactly box office smashes.

But in 1947, they hit their stride with “Brigadoon.” The New York Drama Critics Circle voted it the best musical of the year, and it ran for more than 500 performances. The play was actually based on an obscure German tale about a village that only appears to the outside world for only one day each century.

After “Brigadoon,” the next play produced by the team was “Paint Your Wagon.” Though not a slouch in terms of Broadway success, most critics felt it was a comedown musically from “Brigadoon.”

Maybe in a later column, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of movie versions of Lerner and Lowe plays —such as one starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse (“Brigadoon”) vs. a cinematic outing starring those all time great stars of musical comedy, Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin (“Paint your Wagon”).

The team more than redeemed itself for the slight wagon painting hitch, however, as they subsequently wrote the music and lyrics for “My Fair Lady,” the movie version of “Gigi” and their last Broadway production, “Camelot,” which opened in late 1960 and became forever associated with the presidency of John F. Kennedy.

“Camelot” would represent the final original play for this incredible team. Though both lived into the 1980s, Fritz Loewe had suffered a heart attack in 1958 and decided to retire after “Camelot,” though he briefly re-united with his friend Alan Lerner on two occasions — once to add some songs to the later stage version of “Gigi” and also to write the score for the film “The Little Prince.”

I hope you all were taking notes. There will be a pop quiz on Lerner and Lowe history at a later date.

So even though I will give regular updates regarding “Brigadoon” over the next couple of months, I also want to let folks know about other things happening here in Old Capital City Land.

For example, on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, musician Elton Parks can usually be found downtown at Velvet Elvis on Hancock Street playing some mighty fine music. And since this upcoming Wednesday, June 27, would represent the fourth such mid-week occurrence in the month of June, I figure it’s timely to mention it in this week’s notorious notes.

Elton plays guitar and sings and is often joined by other area professional musicians such as Warren Jackson (bass) and Mike Jarrard (drums). I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing such wonderfully warbling songbirds as charming Chassity Nobles and amazing Amanda Mercer singing during some of the Velvet Elvis sessions.

But if you can toot a horn, pluck a string or tune a fish, you are welcome to “come on down” and sit in on a song or two during these evenings of musical magic. You DO need to have a little basic musical knowledge — in other words, if you’re not sure which end of the trumpet you need to blow into, you might want to just do a local karaoke night. I really can’t tell if those things care if you know whether you sing or play in the key of C, F#, or Kb.

So check out Elton and friends this Wednesday starting around 6 p.m. for some jazz, R&B and rock songs to sing along with, dance to or enjoy some onion rings with.

Also, though I have no idea what will happen this time around, I have come to love First Friday in Milledgeville. The next one coming up (for those who are calendar impaired) is July 6. I’m sure there will be a lot of music and fun going on downtown. And since last month there was some kind of a faux beach setup with lots of trucked-in sand, maybe this time we’ll see some 2,000 foot mountains going up in the post office parking lot.

Back to our opening lyric: Jean is getting married, which is why a bunch of girls are packing up her clothes. But it takes quite awhile because they find that Jean has “Hankies for her nose! Ribbons for her bows! Cotton for her hose! Slippers for her toes! Pack all her clothes — tonight away she goes!”

Catch you on the flip side.

Tom Toney can be reached at