The Front Row

The Front Row, Thursday, 12/10/2009

We welcome actor-singer Matthew Brownlie to the program today as he shares a couple of songs from Life is Happy and Sad, a new musical by Catastrophic Theatre Artistic Director, Jason Nodler, based on the words and lyrics of cult-outsider-singer-songwriter, Daniel Johnston. We also hear from cast members of the Stages Repertory Theatre original production of Panto Sleeping Beauty…

Robert Simpson is the founder and Artistic Director of the Houston Chamber Choir. His ensemble welcomes guest artists, Marc Garvin, classical guitar … and the Treble Choir of Houston … for its Christmas at the Villa holiday concerts. There are three performances: this Saturday and Sunday evening at 7:30PM ….and Sunday afternoon at 3:30PM in the Chapel of the Villa de Matel on Lawndale Avenue in Southeast Houston. KUHF’s St. John Flynn chats wth Simpson and Garvin about the concert. Listen Download

In 2006, Catastrophic Theatre‘s Artistic Director, Jason Nodler, created Speeding Motorcycle, a hit rock-opera, based on cult phenomenon Daniel Johnston‘s words and music, which received praise from The New York Times and American Theatre magazine. It premiered at Houston’s now-defunct Infernal Bridegroom Productions and had a second staging in Austin.  The life of Texas-based, bi-polar, outsider-artist, musician and singer-songwriter, Daniel Johnston, is the stuff of legend and has inspired a new work from Mr. Nodler … what he calls a “docu-dream play.”  Life is Happy and Sad chronicles Daniel Johnston’s early years in Austin, told through some of his writings and songs.  Director Jason Nodler and actor-singer Matthew Brownlie, who plays the young Daniel in the show, got together in KUHF’s Geary Performance Studio to talk about the World Première of Life is Happy and Sad with Houston Public Radio’s KUHF’s Chris Johnson. Listen Download  Extended Interview 

*Matt Brownlie sings I’m a Loner  by Daniel Johnston*

The Pantomime — or “Panto” — is a uniquely British holiday tradition with its roots in the Italian Commedia dell’Arte and the English Music Hall. These musical-theater productions, which achieved their pinnacle of popularity during the Victorian Era … generally are re-tellings of familiar fairy tales, but performed by adults and filled with outrageous, exaggerated characters … equally outrageous puns and parody … pratfalls … gender-bending role-playing … hilarious, anything-goes humor … lots of songs, both silly and serious … and some risqué elements to spice things up even further. Stages Repertory Theatre‘s Producing Artistic Director, Kenn McGlaughlin, was introduced to and immediately charmed by the whole idea of the Panto a couple of years ago, and immediately acquired the rights to perform an authentic English Pantomime — Cinderella — as Stages’ 2008 holiday offering. This year,  McGlaughlin decided to immerse himself in the genre completely and try his hand at creating his own original Panto as Stages’ 2009 holiday attaction. The result of his first-ever attempt at play-writing is Panto Sleeping Beauty … on view at Stages through the first of the year. Kenn McGlaughlin … six members of his Sleeping Beauty cast … and Musical Director Steven Jones, got together in KUHF’s Geary Performance Studio with our producer, Bob Stevenson, to offer us a glimpse of their rather skewed take on Sleeping Beauty. Listen Download