Caught in the Act

How Cirque du Soleil Evolves and Inspires

By Jared Bowen   |   Friday, July 6, 2012
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In 1984, Cirque du Soleil was simply a group of 20 street performers enlivening neighborhoods in Quebec. Today, it is a global enterprise with 5,000 employees, more than 1,300 artists and 21 shows. 

"Cirque has grown up over the last 5 years," says Company Manager Jeff Lund, noting that the bar for spectacular performance rises as the company evolves. "We do have parameters set for us to keep that high level of expectation. It's not just a free-for-all," he said.

Watch Totem’s Artistic Director Tim Smith and Company Manager Jeff Lund talk with Jared Bowen about the business of Cirque du Soleil.

"Come see Totem and you're going to be inspired in some way, shape or form," said Lund. Totem plays under the Big Top at South Boston’s Marine Industrial Park through August 5.

>>Read Jared's review of Cirque du Soliel's Totem.

Get Close to the Original

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, June 6, 2012
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June 7, 2012

BOSTON — Arts around town this weekend let audiences take a closer look at the personal life of Gershwin, consider the mythology behind the Alien flm series or celebrate the life of one woman who has made it her calling to bring theater to underserved communities.

Gershwin George Gershwin Alone
Presented by ArtsEmerson
At the Paramount Center
Through June 10

Steinway concert artist, composer and actor Hershey Felder spent five years researching the life of George Gershwin. Based upon Gershwin’s personal correspondences, manuscripts and personal belongings, Felder presents a one-man show that brings Gershwin to life. Drawing on old radio archives to recreate Gershwin’s voice and using songs, letters and conversations, Felder re-creates the life and times of the great American composer.

Prometheus Prometheus
Opens in movie theaters Friday

Ridley Scott is the director who brought you Alien and Blade Runner, and now he returns to the film genre he helped define. Prometheus establishes a mythology in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race. Sci-fi geeks will certainly be pleased to find that all the anticipated ties to Scott's Alien series are there.

Susan Kosoff Wheelock Family Theatre Honors Susan Kosoff

On June 11th, the Wheelock presents a benefit: A Salute to the Wonderful Wizard of Wheelock Family Theatre, honoring founder and producer Susan Kosoff on her retirement after 32 years. Kosoff envisioned theatre as a way to eliminate the barriers of race, age, class and gender that tend to separate and isolate people from one another. WFT was one of the first theaters in the country to audio-describe productions for patrons who are blind and the first to open-caption all performances for patrons who are hard of hearing.  WFT was instrumental in introducing these services and new technologies to other professional theatres in Boston.  

Proceeds from the evening will help to establish the Susan Kosoff Legacy Fund to subsidize tickets, Education Program scholarships and more inclusion of inner-city children and families.

Lockhart Delivers Again With This Year's Pops

By Jared Bowen   |   Tuesday, May 22, 2012
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May 17, 2012

Conductor Keith Lockhart talks about the season with Jared Bowen, and renowned photographer Joseph Sohm discusses Visions of America — a project that sets his photographs of Americana to music on the Pops stage.

BOSTON — Time flies, and as we enter the 127th season of the Boston Pops, we realize it has been 18 years since conductor Keith Lockhart took over. There are no signs of wariness though. This Pops season kicked off with a rousing start.
A petit performer with monumental talent and appeal, Bernadette Peters opened the Boston Pops season, dishing out compliments in rehearsals, saying “such a spectacular orchestra. Really, really one of the best.”
Peters, who returns to perform with the Pops this July at Tanglewood, told reporters her ties to the orchestra are long and poignant.
“I remember watching them on television when Arthur Fiedler was the conductor. And when I came to sing for the first time was actually the first engagement I did after my mother passed away,” Peters said.
Its Pops tradition to populate its season with the best of the belters from Broadway and beyond, an irresistible invitation Peters says.
“You’re part of the orchestra when they’re on stage. You’re in the orchestra. You hear, it’s like lying under a piano and listening and really getting the whole feeling of the piano. But you’re in the orchestra,” Peters exclaimed.
“The challenge of what we do at the Pops is always versatility,” said Pops conductor Keith Lockhart. “It’s turning on a dime and becoming different things and working with wildly different collaborators.”
In a rather robust season, Lockhart has convened a host of headliners: John Williams returns for his annual movie nights, Patti Austin performs, comedian/banjo aficionado Steve Martin makes his Pops debut, as do the Dropkick Murphys in a salute to Fenway Park.
“It will be a lot of fun and will certainly add a manic energy that isn’t always there at Symphony Hall,” Lockhart said. “I think it will be one of the most memorable moments, I hope in a good way.”
The thread for the season, though, harkens to the Pops’ roots in Americana. Nearly all of this season’s concerts will feature music accompanying the photography of Joseph Sohm in a multimedia project entitled “Visions of America.”
“These wonderful pictures, literally tens of thousands of pictures he took over a 30-year span of time that really go as far as any catalog of work can to defining what this country is, how wildly diverse it is and its inhabitants are. We never need an excuse to play the great American music, but in this case, it’s given us something for us to hang our hat on,” said Lockhart.

Lincoln the Man

By Jared Bowen   |   Wednesday, November 21, 2012
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Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln (DreamWorks)
In the arts right now, this is very much a Lincoln moment. Wrestled free of his many marble monuments, the 16th President is portrayed as humanistic, relative to his pursuit of equality.  Local author William Martin’s novel, The Lincoln Letter, finds modern day treasure hunters on a race to find a reported Lincoln diary detailing his most intimate thoughts about ending slavery.  And Steven Spielberg’s majestic new film Lincoln focuses on the president in the final months leading up to the passage of the amendment abolishing slavery.
Less myth and monument, the Lincoln portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis is a tall, sensitive figure with a high-pitched voice.  He’s not above churning the politically charged waters of Washington for ideological gain, all the while contending with his complicated family. 
This Lincoln is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book Team of Rivals—which also brought the Lincoln administration’s machinations and maneuvers to a palpable level.  They are works that exalt Lincoln, but from the flesh and not carefully sculpted stone. 

Mario Testino: In Your Face

By Jared Bowen   |   Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Carmen Kass (Mario Testino)

BOSTON — Famed Vogue editor Anna Wintour doesn’t attend just any party. When the Museum of Fine Arts recently opened a new show featuring the work of photographer Mario Testino, she was there.  Just as Wintour has been pushing the boudaries of fashion for decades, Testino has been doing the same for photography
Life for photographer Mario Testino is a whirlwind of diving into the glitz—shooting ad campaigns for high end fashion houses, shooting stars for splashy magazine spreads and documenting the super-select soirees.
His new show at the MFA is best described as shock and awe, with explosions of grandeur, waves of sex, and a shimmering poolof celebrity. 

Read More

Film Review: Skyfall and Lincoln

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall (MGM)

BOSTON — Hear Jared's review on Morning Edition about what's happening in Boston that you shouldn't miss this weekend.

madamaMadama Butterfly
At the Shubert Theatre through November 11th

Director Lillian Groag chose one of Puccini’s most compelling works to open the 2012/13 Season. The performance is full of passion and takes a brand new look at one of the most devastating love stories ever told on the stage. The geisha's tragic story is beautifully sung and the staging features some new design elements that punctuate the production in new and poignant way.

In theaters Friday

Daniel Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in Skyfall, the 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise of all time. This is the best Bond film in years, absolutely excellent from beginning to end. Craig has finally settled comfortably into the role, fitting as well as he does in his Tom Ford suits, and Javier Bardem as the film's villian is just phenomenal.

Opens in theaters on Friday

To some degree, Steven Spielberg's “Lincoln", starring Daniel Day-Lewis, gets a start by plodding along—it is very methodical and deliberate. But as Day-Lewis becomes the man facing a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, the film grows to be more and more engaging, with a perfectly stunning end.

About the Author
Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 


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