Thursday, 18 July 2024

Arts & Life

On Jan. 24 local performers vied for the opportunity to perform at this year's Music Fest. Courtesy photo.

LAKEPORT – The Soper-Reese Community Theatre was the site of one of the secret ceremonies of the performer's life on Saturday, Jan. 24.

All day long talented and accomplished musicians came out onto the bare stage, looked into the banks of giant colored lights and performed their pieces.

Under the eyes of the judges with their pens and clipboards and their desk lights, guitarists and sax players and singers and jugglers and piano players gave it their all, and that was quite a lot.

With a sparse audience of other performers, mostly, and with backstage workers carrying microphones around, and the empty seats, it is a fairly intimidating experience.

We're talking about the auditions for the Winter Music Fest, put on for the last 17 years by the Lake County Arts Council. They seem to be learning how to do it right, and the professional atmosphere of the Soper-Reese lends gravitas to the event.

This year there were many more applicants than there is time for in an evenings' entertainment. To keep the pace up and end the evening at a decent hour, it was necessary to limit each act to one number, and still many had to be eliminated.

Those who remain, and will participate in the Music Fest, are a varied and skillful lot, but so were the ones excluded. The judges have had sixteen years to learn to be ruthless, and have learned it well enough to put together a good entertainment.

Shows will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 1, at 2 p.m.

The tickets are already for sale at the Main Street Gallery in Lakeport, Catfish Books in Willow Tree Plaza and Wild About Books in Clearlake.

To get reserved tickets, the Soper-Reese Theatre box office will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays or by phone at 263-0577.

There is a certain poignancy to this Music Fest. After Winter Music Fest 17, the Soper-Reese will resume construction work, and will be closed until it is finished. There is still a pretty fair amount of work that needs to be done.

An entire new building will go in the parking lot to hold the dressing rooms and the performers' restrooms. The restrooms for the audience will be completely replaced, enlarged and made wheelchair accessible. A new fire exit will be cut in the south wall, with stairs and ramps to ground level. And the stage will be extended sideways to the walls, with a proscenium and a curtain that will open and close. More lights need to be raised, and the same could be said for the funds still needed to do some of this.

Music Fest 16 was the first event to be held in the theater since construction began, and this coming one will be the last before the second stage of construction starts. It has been a pretty good year for performing arts in Lake County at the Soper-Reese. Between the Winter Music Fest bookends, there have been many productions.

There has been theater, “Solid Gold Cadillac” and “Cinderella,” and broadcast drama with “A Christmas Carol” presented free at the theater and carried live on KPFZ-FM 88.1. There have been concerts of jazz, Scottish, classical and singer-songwriter music. The Mendocino College drama class used the hall for rehearsals, classes and performances.

It has been pretty busy, and everyone is sad to see it close now, but it will not be too long before it is buzzing again. Perhaps the next event will be Winter Music Fest 18.

In the meantime, get ready to see a professionally-produced stage show with the professionally-auditioned performing artists of Lake County, and enjoy the biggest entertainment bargain of the year.


Steve Martin (center) and John Cleese (right) star in MGM Pictures and Columbia Pictures comedy The Pink Panther 2. Courtesy photo.


Granted, “The Pink Panther” films haven’t been the same since the passing of Peter Sellers. All things considered, the franchise was nevertheless sliding precipitously downhill even during the British comedian’s later years.

Now, Steve Martin is putting his own stamp on the bumbling French detective Jacques Clouseau, and “The Pink Panther 2” won’t be confused with any of the earlier Sellers films, if for no other reason that previous sequels were given original titles, for example “Revenge of the Pink Panther.” Following the death of Peter Sellers, one film went so far as to introduce an Italian actor as the son of Inspector Clouseau, which marked the rock bottom of the old era.

There is no point in seeing “The Pink Panther 2” unless you are braced for a rollicking good time of silly slapstick humor, pratfalls and ridiculous embarrassments, mostly at the expense of Steve Martin’s inept, blundering Inspector Clouseau.

Most critics, of this I am quite sure, are likely to dismiss this comedy as inane, uninspired or even lame. As is often the case, these same critics are probably out of touch with the audience that wants to see Steve Martin as the goofy French detective who struggles mightily to pronounce the word “hamburger.” And the audience just won’t be 10-year-old kids. OK, I admit enjoying this film more than reason and good taste would dictate, but what’s wrong with that?

When the story begins, Clouseau is back on parking meter duty, mainly because Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese, new to the role) wants him out of the office and out of his hair. The animosity between the chief and Clouseau might be sparked by the detective’s insistence on ostentatiously wearing his Medal of Honor.

Around the world, a thief known as the Tornado steals valuable artifacts such as the Shroud of Turin and the original Magna Carta. When the Pink Panther diamond is also stolen, Dreyfus is forced to assign Clouseau to an international Dream Team of detectives charged with catching the thief and retrieving the priceless relics.

Naturally, Clouseau is out of his element, but he’s backed up by his wise partner Ponton (Jean Reno) and his loyal associate Nicole (Emily Mortimer), the object of Clouseau’s awkward affections. The Dream Team of crack detectives is rather flummoxed by Clouseau’s involvement. They share with Dreyfus a dismissive contempt for Clouseau’s vaunted abilities.

The team includes the snooty Brit Pepperidge (Alfred Molina); the flashy, slick Italian Vicenzo (Andy Garcia); gorgeous jewel expert Sonia (Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai Bachchan); and Japanese tech whiz Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki). As a group, they are irritated by Clouseau’s bloated ego and ineptitude, but Vicenzo seems more interested in wooing Nicole.

Before you can start humming the iconic Henry Mancini theme music, the Dream Team sets off on a globetrotting adventure in search of the master thief. Naturally, this leads to many awkward moments when Clouseau bumbles his way into mischief. A fire that destroys a restaurant in Rome is just one mishap caused by the French detective’s clumsiness.

An investigation into the Tornado’s theft of the Pope’s ring from inside the Vatican leads to some real silliness when Clouseau dresses like the Holy Father and stuns a crowd of visitors with a major pratfall. When the team questions a slick suspect (Jeremy Irons) at his Italian villa, Clouseau is hilariously caught on the surveillance cameras while he causes inadvertent mayhem during his snooping.

Steve Martin does for Jacques Clouseau what Daniel Craig has managed adeptly to do for James Bond. This is not to say that Martin supplants Peter Sellers any more than Craig makes everyone forget Sean Connery. But in their unique ways, both actors bring new life to venerable franchises.

“The Pink Panther 2,” which sustains laughs and has some good dialogue mixed in with all the slapstick routines, is plenty of fun, as long as you understand that the whole premise is deliberately silly nonsense.


Bernie Mac, a comic legend, made his last feature film appearance in “Soul Men,” now available on DVD. Bernie and Samuel L. Jackson starred as two long-lost soul legends who are brought together again after a long estrangement.

Twenty years have passed before they agree to one last performance to honor their former band leader. The cross-country road trip to the Apollo Theater in Harlem proves to be a test of the willingness of two volatile characters to patch up their differences.

Of course, with “Soul Men” being a comedy, the journey across America turns out to be the road trip from hell. Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson are very adept at bickering and hurling invective, all the while getting into serious jams, including even a brief stint in jail.

The “Soul Men” DVD includes tributes to Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

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



(l to r) Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, Yuki Matsuzaki and Steve Martin star in MGM Pictures and Columbia Pictures comedy The Pink Panther 2. Courtesy photo.



CLEARLAKE – If you love reading and want to join a book club, here's your chance.

Wild About Books will host a book club gathering at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11.

Stop in for wine and book talk, get the 2009 book titles and receive free advance reading copies.

Wild About Books is located at 14290 Olympic Drive, Clearlake.

For more information, call the store, 994-9453.



Artist Gail Salituri. Courtesy photo.


LAKEPORT – Artist Gail Salituri will be the juror for the next themed art show, “Floral Still Life,” at the Lake County Arts Council's Main Street Gallery.

Richard Seisser, chairman of the Main Street Gallery Committee, said they were privileged and grateful to have Salituri as the juror for the show. “ To those whose work is juried into the show, you should feel complimented that your work has been selected to hang by one of California's accomplished artists and sought-after fine art jurors.”


Salituri, who paints exclusively in oil, has established herself with her eye for both the obvious and the hidden beauty of her chosen subject, including California Missions, courtyards and gardens, vineyards and wineries, and lush florals.

Her enchanting scenes are vibrant with color, yet serene in their peacefulness and presentation, a combination that has won her increasing acclaim and recognition.

As an accredited fine arts judge, Salituri served the State of California Fair System, from 1980 to 1993, judging fine art, photography, crafts, woodworking, ceramics and pottery.

She is a member of the Oil Painters of America and works with many and varied arts organizations, including the American Art Venue of Napa, as well as local arts and charitable groups in Lake County.


Her work has been published in Art of the West Magazine, Southwest Art Magazine, Stepping Out Magazine and the Lake County Visitor Center Magazine. You can see a great sampling of her work in her Inspirations Gallery on Main Street in Lakeport.


Lake County art lovers and artists submitting their work for jury will have an opportunity to meet and visit with Salituri at the First Friday Fling on March 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the gallery.

Other delights of the evening will be keyboard music by Mel Taylor and the usual wine and munchies.


LOWER LAKE – The romantic comedy “Gramercy Ghost” is scheduled to open Feb. 13 at the Lower Lake Schoolhouse Museum in Lower Lake – just in time for Valentine's Day weekend. Perfect! What better way to celebrate a romantic holiday than taking in a romantic play!

Set in the 1950s, our heroine becomes torn between a boyfriend she already has and a couple of others that would like to have the job. One of the would-be suiters just happens to be a ghost, never mind that he is good looking and ready to spend eternity with her.

Now, we understand that this problem may not be one that most of you have experienced, but aren't you curious as to how it all works out? And couldn't you use a good laugh?

Directed by Alice Stone (who just recently brought you the holiday comedy hit, “Christmas Belles”), "Gramercy Ghost” promises another evening of fun, this time sweetened up just in time for Valentine celebrations. You can't say the Lake County Theater Co. (LCTC) doesn't offer timely productions!

Tickets are currently on sale at Catfish Books in Lakeport (263-4454), Clearlake Chamber of Commerce in Clearlake (994-3600) and Shannon Ridge Tasting Room in Clearlake Oaks (998-9656).

Tickets cost $14 for reserved and $12 for general, $2 less in both categories for seniors, students and LCTC members. Join us for the fun!

For more information call 279-2595.



KELSEYVILLE – Clear Lake Performing Arts and the Sons of Norway's Viking of Lake Lodge will host Norwegian concert pianist Knut Erik Jensen this coming weekend.

The concert will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, at Galilee Lutheran Church, 8860 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville.

Jensen, who comes from Trondheim, Norway, will give a performance titled “Nordic Elegance,” featuring music of Norway's great composers.

The cost for tickets for CLPA and lodge members is $15 per person, and $20 for non-members.

A reception in the Galilee Community Center will follow the concert.

For information contact Hope Brewer, 279-0877, or Mary Beth Ingvoldstad, 987-2404.


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