Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Amabile Bach Ensemble

Season III of Chamber Music at The Playhouse began on Thursday, October 9 with The Amabile Bach Ensemble playing some selections by J.S. Bach.
Catherine Sherwin began the evening with the flute solo Partita in a minor. We were enchanted by the lovely sound of her flute.
Then, to give Cathy a brief rest, the ensemble (Michael J. McGillivray and Joseph Deller on violins, Colette Mataj on viola, Susan Clark Joul on cello, Dale Anderson on bass and Robert Conway on harpsichord) played the hauntingly beautiful Air, from the Suite No. 3 in D Major.
Cathy rejoined the ensemble to play the Ouverture from Suite No. 2 in b minor. We could see in our minds the dancers prancing and whirling around The Founders Room.
After a brief intermission, during which we enjoyed the traditional sweets and coffee, we were treated to the marvelous Brandendburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major.
The audience responded with a standing ovation.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Motor City Horns and The Brothers Groove

The Chamber Music at The Playhouse series concluded its regular season with a rousing concert by these two exciting groups. They took the term "Chamber Music" to uncharted heights.

The Brothers Groove, formed in 1999, has been regarded as one of Detroit's best live bands, having collected 22 Detroit Music Awards including (in 2008) Outstanding Modern Jazz Group and Outstanding Jazz Instrumentalist. And now we saw (and heard) why. Their sound is a mixture of Jazz, Funk, Blues and Soul which is instantly familiar yet distinctly original.

The Motor City Horns, having collaborated with The Brothers Groove since 2000, added a fullness of sound to each musical selection. And each individual's virtuosity came through loud and clear during their frequent improvisations.

Led by Chris Codish on keyboard and vocals, the combined group included Skeeto Valdez on drums (and vocals), special guest Pat Prouty on bass, John Rutherford on trombone, Mark Byerly on trumpet, Bob Jensen on trumpet and Keith Kaminski on saxophone.

We were also treated to a special guest appearance by Johnnie Bassett, well-known around Detroit with his vocals and guitar.

Bob Jensen coordinated a dazzling array of equipment that generated a powerful, clear sound.

Their musical selections included Cadillac Blues by Bob Codish, Caravan by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol, Coming Back, Mo' Room and Casual Observer by Chris Codish, Tune 88 by Jeff Lorber, Waltz for Hornz by Michael Nelson, and It's About the Dollar Bill and Superman Lover by Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

The group played on the Main Stage of The Players Playhouse, and filled the entire building (maybe even the entire E. Jefferson neighborhood) with fabulous sounds. We will remember this evening for a long time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Detroit Reed Collective

Thursday, March 13 was another fun evening of Chamber Music at The Playhouse. Mark Berger, Mark Kieme, Paul Onachuk and Pete Kahn, through their musical program The American Saxophone, gave us a delightful history of the saxophone in this country from the turn-of-the-century (with pieces by Klickmann, Henlere and Grieg) to the present (highlighted by a composition by Mark Kieme that was described by Pete Kahn as making him think of three mosquitoes and a rhinoceros). The harmonies created by the four saxophones in the various musical pieces were marvelous.
As we have come to expect, the fun that the musicians had playing carried over to the audience, with everyone enjoying the evening immensely.
Thanks again to The Detroit Reed Collective.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Joan Belgrave and Friends

Jazz, blues, neo soul and gospel singer Joan Belgrave will be gracing the Players stage on Thursday, June 19 with some of her best friends.
This will be an unforgetable evening, so make plans to attend with some of your own best friends.
For details, check out

or visit Joan's own web site at

And The Winner Is...

Mitch Albom's play 'And The Winner Is...' entertained Fine Arts members and guests on May 30 and 31 at The Players Playhouse. This was only the third time this play by the local celebrity author was ever produced.
As the title suggests, it is awards season in Hollywood when movie star Tyler Johnes (Rick Mason) wakes up in a strange bar where time has no meaning and nothing is as it seems.

All Johnes wants is to get to the Oscars so he can accept the Best Supporting Actor award he thinks he so richly deserves, but the odd bartender named Seamus (Marty Bufalini) keeps throwing a wrench in the works.

Unexpected appearances by his old acting partner Teddy (Randy Skotarczyk),

his agent Kyle (Charly Davis),
his well-endowed escort Serenity (Laura Ver Beek)

and his soon-to-be ex-wife Sheri (Kim Czanojc) further complicate Johnes’ attempts to keep his date with destiny.

Flavored with Albom’s signature introspection, And The Winner Is... has all the charm of It’s A Wonderful Life for life in the fast lane.

Directed by Susan Davis (with assistance by Marianne Shrader) and co-produced by Norma Eschenburg andf Shirl Williams, the play delighted all who attended.

Even the back-stage crew (Sally Van Deventer, Jonathan Davis, Jesse Villegas, Bob Lee, Laurie Striebel and Gina Telford) had fun.

The Art of the Horn Section

Come see and hear The Motor City Horns and The Brothers Groove on Thursday, May 15.

John Rutherford, Mark Byerly, Keith Kaminski, Chris Codish and Skeeto Valdez promise an entertaining evening of Blues and funk. They will play some jazz standards and some original music.

45 Seconds From Broadway

Fine Arts audiences were treated to another wonderful weekend with their production of Neil Simon's 45 Seconds From Broadway.
A cafe in midtown-Manhattan's tourist-class Edison Hotel, a long-time watering hole for struggling actors, aspiring writers, standup comics, and suburban matinee ladies, was the backdrop for this hilarious Neil Simon comedy. Holding center stage was Bill McCarthy, playing the Jackie Mason-like comedian Mickey Fox.
He was surrounded by an eclectic cast of characters including the dining spot's lovable proprietor Bernie (Geno Pirrami) and his doting wife Zelda (Karen Quarnstrom),

the upscale society dame Rayleen (DJ Haska), in search of an intricately double-brewed cup of tea served in fine china on white linen, and her nearly nute husband Charles (Steve Shrader),

the British impressario Andrew Duncan (Tom Casey),
a hopeful Broadway ingenue Megan Woods (Myra Lamphier) following in her mother's footsteps,
and a South African playwright Solomon Mantutu (James Abud),

Mickey's brother Harry (John Diebel), operator of a Philadelphia bookstore, and a past-her-prime Broadway actress Bessie (Deldon Treece),

and two know-it-all suburban ladies Arlene (Bernadette Platt) and Cindy (Laurie Striebel).

Simon's typical one-liners flew fast and furiously throughout comic the first act; then the play took a more serious turn worthy of an Arthur Miller drama in Act II when Mickey's older brother pleads with him to help hid son become the comedian he desperately wants to be. Charles finally vents his frustrations.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Heart Strings

The Adventure Club Cello Quartet (Naomi Levine, Irina Tikhonova, David Levine and Deborah Shuster) again provided us with a wonderful evening of music as part of the Chamber Music at The Playhouse series. The program Heart Strings, conceived and organized by Naomi Levine, had a general theme of love and romance through the ages.
We loved it all!
The first half the the program started with the overture to Mozart's The Impressario, then went on with Massenet'e Meditation from Thais, and included songs by Sullivan, Cole Porter, Lennon & McCartney, their version of Dueling Cellos, Pavan: The Earl of Salisbury by Byrd, and finally the Pizzicato Polka by Strauss.
Then, after some yummies provided by the ladies of The Theatre Arts Club of Detroit, they continued with the allegretto from Haydn's String Quartet Op. 76, #5, songs by Gade, Bach, Holland/Dozier/Holland, Puccini's Musetta's Waltz from La Boheme, the Creole Love Call by Ellington, Jenkins' Palladio. They finished with their arrangement of Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever, which brought the audience to its collective feet.
This concert was a rousing success as Theatre Arts' fundraiser for the Eva Woodbridge Victor scholarship, with the current scholarship recipient (Cory Johnson), in attendance with her portfolio of accomplishments in Wayne State University theater.
Thank you to The Adventure Club Cello Quartet!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Amabile Tango Trio

Tom Warren (guitar), Cathy Sherwin(flute), and Michael McGillivray (violin and viola) are congradulated and thanked for bringing their wonderful musical talents to The Playhouse and for giving us a delightful taste of South American music by Astor Piazzolla mixed with other interesting pieces for guitar, flute and violin.
The second season of Chamber Music at The Playhouse continues to provide us with seldom-heard, but fascinating music.
A diverse audience that nearly filled The Founders Room heard Cathy play Syrinx by Claude Debussy, Cathy and Mike with Jean Baptiste Loeillet de Gant's Sonata in G Major, Mike and Tom playing Paganini's Cantabile for Violin and Guitar and four of Piazzolla's tangos.
We were then treated to Joseph Kreutzer's Trio for Flute, Viola and Guitar.
After a brief intermission with coffee and cookies provided by Sally VanDeventer and Joann Castle, we heard Cathy and Tom's version of Histoire du Tango and Martin Taylor's Musette for a Magpie.
What a fabulous way to spend a winter evening!