Friday, 27 May 2022

Arts & Life

LAKEPORT – The Lake County Repertory Theater and Lakeport Community Players will present their production of “Fiddler on the Roof” beginning Friday, Oct. 5, and running for eight shows.

Based on the Sholom Aleichem stories by Joseph Stein, with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, “Fiddler on the Roof” tells the story of Tevye the milkman and his five daughters, living in 1905 Russia.

Tevye is caught between the pull of tradition and his strong-willed daughters. At the same time, he and his Jewish neighbors in the village of Anatevka face being forced out of their homes by the Russians.

Performances will take place at the Little Theater at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 401 Martin St. Lakeport.

Shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 5; Saturday, Oct. 6; Friday, Oct. 12; and Saturday, Oct. 13. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Matinee performances at 2 p.m. will take place Saturday, Oct. 6; Sunday, Oct. 6; Saturday, Oct. 13; and Sunday, Oct. 14. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $12 for Lake County Repertory Theater and Lakeport Community Players members, seniors and students.

Tickets are available at Catfish Books, 1013 11th St., Lakeport, 263-4454 (reserved tickets); Wild About Books, 14290 Olympic Drive, Clearlake (general admission); Shannon Ridge Winery, 15698 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, 998-9656 (general admission); and the Lake County Arts Council, 325 N. Main St., Lakeport, 263-6658 (general admission).


The band Adobe Creek performs. Courtesy photo.



LOWER LAKE – The second annual Bluegrass Festival at Anderson Marsh State Historic Park suffered in attendance because of the cold and rainy weather on Saturday, Sept. 22, but the event was enjoyed by those who were there.



Some of the best Bluegrass music in Northern California was performed, with all acts being presented. The weather was bad, but didn't prevent the festival from happening.

About 800 people braved the drizzle to enjoy great music, beautiful crafts, and delicious food provided by the event. The gospel music Sunday was very successful with the sun breaking through the clouds quite often.



Organizers, members of the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA) plan to continue with presenting the Bluegrass Festival which is becoming a signature event for the south county.

Local service clubs, community groups, and the Konocti Unified School District all joined with AMIA to put on this fun music festival.




A member of the Elem Indian Colony Native American Dance Group, which performed at the Bluegrass Festival. Courtesy photo.




The rain couldn't keep music lovers away. Courtesy photo.

LOWER LAKE – Robert Stark rocked the Tuscan Village concert venue Sept. 21 venue with a voice that was somewhere between Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan.

Those of you old enough to remember the Bay Area coffee houses of the 1960s can imagine Bob Stark playing at many of them as he did 40 years ago. Now residing on Cobb Mountain, Bob returned to his musical roots recently by playing at a local Cobb coffee house's open mike and then at the Tuscan Village. Since he lives in District Five, Bob has decided to get involved in politics as well and is running for Lake County supervisor.

Stark started the show with a song made famous by the Kingston Trio, "Green Back Dollar" and then went into a Tom Paxton tune, "The Last Thing On My Mind," followed by more 1960s folk hits.

It was a great trip back to the good old days for the capacity crowd who were enjoying the music, the food from the 2 Goombas Deli and the wine from Terrill Cellars in the lovely vineyard location.

Bob accompanied himself with a 12-string guitar which added to the mellow sound. Some patrons could be found in the Terrill Cellars tasting room, where the music could still be heard, checking out the great 2002 wines, including the excellent Cab.

Visitors could also admire the work of local artists in the courtyard, such as the handmade earrings and decorated gourds that were on display Friday, while still listening to Bob's soulful refrains.

If you missed this show, head up to Cobb on the first Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. to hear him play again at the Mountain High Coffee Shop in the Meadows shopping plaza. He may also make an appearance at Café Victoria's First Saturday open mike from 4 to 6 p.m. in Lakeport.

For more information on the next concert call 2 Goombas, 994-DELI.



A provocative, gripping action thriller, “The Kingdom” is a smart film that knows how to draw intrigue from the international political backdrop without dwelling so heavily on the politics as to polarize an audience into conflicting views. However, Saudi Arabians may have some objections, but that’s another matter.

First and foremost, we should easily agree that “The Kingdom” is a pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fueled adventure intent on delivering thrills to keep action junkies on the edge of their seats. That this film succeeds on this score is a testimonial to director Peter Berg’s knack for working with some challenging material.

While the opening credits roll, there’s an outline of Saudi Arabia’s history over the past 70 years for its geopolitical significance as the world’s leading oil producer. And this historical thumbnail sketch touches on the Middle Eastern kingdom’s tenuous relationship with the United States. The story is geared to the uneasy feeling that is spawned by the fact that Saudi Arabia is the country of origin for most of the 9/11 hijackers. You can well imagine the prickly political situation when Americans are killed on Saudi soil.

The film opens with a leisurely afternoon of picnics and softball on the grounds of a Riyadh housing compound for American oil company employees and their families. What is supposed to be a heavily-guarded safe haven is turned into a horrific shooting gallery when suicide bombers disguised as policemen slaughter the innocents with machine gun fire and a massive bomb explosion. More than one hundred people are slaughtered, including two FBI agents with close friends back at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Bureaucrats quibble over international protocols and diplomatic overtures, and it is entertaining to see tough FBI director James Grace (Richard Jenkins) butting heads with the weak-kneed, condescending Attorney General (Danny Huston) who seems more concerned about placating State Department than helping his agents.

Given the green light from his boss, Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) assembles his crack FBI team anxious to get its feet on the ground in the Saudi kingdom. Fleury exerts some pressure on the Saudi ambassador, and soon enough a secret five-day trip into Saudi Arabia is negotiated and arranged. Eager to locate the madmen behind the attacks, the FBI team includes explosives expert Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), forensics examiner Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner) and intelligence analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman).

The clash of cultures is evident immediately upon arrival in the desert kingdom, when Fleury and his crew discover Saudi authorities suspicious and unwelcoming of American interlopers into what is considered a local matter. Hamstrung by protocol, and confined at first to the compound’s gymnasium, the FBI agents find their expertise worthless without the trust of their Saudi counterparts, who would prefer to find the terrorists on their own terms, even though they seem rather incompetent in handling the crime scene to locate important clues. To make matters even more complicated, they find smarmy State Department official Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven) anxious to see them back on a plane to the States.

With the clocking ticking on the FBI’s allotted days on foreign soil, Fleury finds a like-minded partner in his team’s handler, Saudi police colonel Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), who is assigned to protect the visiting Americans, but soon helps the FBI crew to navigate royal politics.

Since Fleury is less than concerned about ruffling diplomatic feathers, he presses a Saudi prince for better access to the crime scene and to get more cooperation for his investigation. Then comes the big payoff, as the action ratchets up to a full-blown showdown with an extremist cell that is actively working to detonate another explosion and takes a hostage for what is almost certain a replay of the Danny Pearl abduction and beheading.

“The Kingdom” achieves its explosive adrenaline rush with stunning car chases and gunfire that are the result of impressive stunt work brilliantly captured on the film reels. The assault on a terrorist safe house in a hostile neighborhood is flat-out furious action that makes even a “Rambo” movie seem tame in comparison. What “The Kingdom” does so well is to keep tension heightened at all times, even when it’s during the talkative phases of bureaucratic or diplomatic wrangling.

Tim Riley writes television and film reviews for Lake County News.


LUCERNE – Multitalented Bay Area performance artist Katie Ketchum will perform in her original, one-woman musical comedy “Magdalene: The Mary Magdalene Story,” as a fundraiser for Lucerne Alpine Senior Center at the corner of 10th and Country Club Drive in Lucerne.

Magdalene plays for a limited engagement: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6.

Magdalene is a musical comedy modern translation of the Gospel of Mary Magdala as seen through the eyes of 50's rockabilly singer Marlene. Magdalene: The Mary Magdalene Story, hailed as “thoroughly enchanting” by Upbeat Times, features a bevy of traditional biblical characters, and some not-so-traditional characters, including the Jewish follower, an Egyptian Goddess initiate, a prostitute, and present-day female rapper, all passionately, and hilariously played by the multitalented Ketchum.

The San Francisco press writes, “Mary Magdalene Story is intense in both its onstage activity and its intellectual content. And it's thoroughly enjoyable on a visceral level.”

Albert Goodwyn of the San Francisco Bay Times writes of Ketchum, “her keyboard artistry is exuberant and flashy. Her first song 'Party' is reminiscent of the piano pyrotechnics of Jerry Lee Lewis.”

Ketchum's 'singing and effortless piano playing remained strong throughout,” said Erin Podlipnik of WCities, San Francisco. “All of these heavy hitting issues are turned upside down in this fantastical, always outrageous, minimalist production.”

After studying piano and composition at the Royal Conservatory of Music, where Ketchum won several competitions sponsored by Her Majesty The Queen, she moved with her family to Lake County in the late 70s where she performed at Konocti Harbor Inn six evenings a week for over a year and starred as Maria in the Yuba College Lower Lake production of The Sound of Music.

A National Endowment for the Arts recipient, Ketchum has performed her music and theatrical presentations across the United States and Canada. “Magdalene” have been included in the Sacramento Theatre Company’s 2008 season where Ketchum will be performing this show in April and May

Tickets are $12 for seniors and $15 for the general public. For information and tickets please call 707-274-8779 or 707-274-5689.



Canadian film director David Cronenberg has a long, interesting history of grappling with psychological themes in horror and science fiction work. Recently, he’s become the master of the crime thriller, a reputation earned by A History of Violence and now enhanced with Eastern Promises, a breathtaking story of the disturbing world of Russian mobsters in contemporary London.

In typical Cronenberg fashion, the brutal underworld is revealed by layers of subtlety, deception and intrigue. Yet, there’s more to it than just mind games, as scenes of bloody violence telegraph the central conceit. After all, with the star presence of Viggo Mortensen, a history of violence is almost certain to reoccur in this milieu of the Russian mob.

The story of Eastern Promises takes place around Christmas and New Year’s, but holiday cheer is noticeably lacking, and even the London weather is dreary and gloomy to boot.

The action starts with a mob hit in a barbershop where the victim has his throat slashed by a razor. Soon after that, a pregnant Russian teen collapses in a pharmacy and is rushed to a hospital, where midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) saves the baby as the mother dies in childbirth.

Anna retrieves a diary from the dead girl’s belongings, and takes it home for research, hoping to locate the girl’s family. She’s the daughter of a Russian father and British mother (Sinead Cusack). Her irascible Russian uncle Stepan (Jerzy Skolimowski) finds disturbing revelations in the diary, namely that the Russian girl was forced into a prostitution ring and that names of mobsters are revealed.

Though Uncle Stepan, who claims to have worked for the KGB, warns Anna to steer clear of the Russian underworld, she can’t resist following up on the business card of an old-fashioned Russian restaurant that was found tucked into the diary. The restaurant’s owner is Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), courtly and well-mannered, and he shows great interest in the diary, but for reasons entirely unrelated to solving the girl’s sad fate.

Unknowingly, Anna has breached the inner sanctum of the local Russian mob, and Semyon is capable of extreme measures to cover up the dirty secrets contained in the diary.

A key player in the mob scene is Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), the chauffeur for Semyon and the mob boss’s psychotic son Kirill (Vincent Cassel). It becomes apparent that Semyon’s gang was involved in the barbershop murder. Given to excessive drinking, Kirill is a volatile character who may lack the restraint and discretion to properly carry out Semyon’s dirty work.

Nikolai is obviously much more than just a driver, and his tightly-controlled demeanor makes him appealing to Anna as an unlikely confidante. Driven by ambition, Nikolai seems to play all sides of the street, and yet he aspires to a higher job in the organization, one that might be fitting to the number of tattoos he acquired in Russia for his criminal career. There’s always a nice bit of tension between cool-headed Nikolai and the impulsive Kirill.

The twists and turns that run through the plot are rife with unpredictable results. Nikolai takes a keen interest in Anna, and it’s not just for her connection to the dead girl’s diary. Then Semyon asks Nikolai to get rid of Anna’s Uncle Stepan, who becomes a target for having read the diary.

There is probably no more jarring turn of events than the London bathhouse scene where a naked Nikolai has a deadly fight with two knife-wielding assassins. The brutality of this particular showdown, where Nikolai is most vulnerable, is likely to be the most memorable and talked-about moment of violence in the entire film.

A brutal efficiency is at work in Eastern Promises to make this film a lean, effective crime thriller with enough twists and surprises to prove truly mesmerizing. Following up on his success in A History of Violence, director Cronenberg proves that he knows how to triumph in this crime genre. And yet, the achievement of this film belongs as much to the terrific actors, where not one of the key players delivers anything less than a stellar performance.

Tim Riley writes television and movie reviews for Lake County News.


Upcoming Calendar

05.27.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale
05.28.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
12 Tribe yard sale and fundraiser
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Steele
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Rodman Preserve public hours
05.28.2022 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Morning cemetery tour
05.28.2022 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
Weekly writing workshop
05.29.2022 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Cobb Estate Sale

Mini Calendar



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