Becoming Traviata ~ Art Cinema

Documentary
French, Italian / 112 MINS. / NR
 

The reinvention of Verdi’s masterpiece, La Traviata, as sung by world-famous French coloratura soprano Natalie Dessay, is the subject of Philippe Béziat’s thrilling new movie.  A modern, minimalist, post-punk approach strips away the opulence and grandiosity associated with operatic productions. Concentrating on director Jean-François Sivadier’s working relationship with Dessay, the film reveals how two great creative minds build the story of a doomed love affair. Over two months, in rehearsal rooms and behind the scenes of the Thea! de I’Archeveche, filmmaker Philippe Beziat follows the production’s development, from concept to glorious realization.  The stars rehearse in what look like yoga outfits, on a bare stage, with minimal props. The final production, set against a backdrop of sky and clouds, punctuated by a single chandelier, features Violetta and Alfredo (a darkly gorgeous Charles Castronovo) as the very essence of hipster-chic. Their passion, however, is for the ages. With music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Louis Langrée.  
 
“Outstanding, subtle and inventive. Illuminates beautifully the famous opera and its main character Violetta.”– Le Monde

“Electrifying! A perfect marriage of theater and music.” – Variety
 

The Big Lebowski

Comedy
English/117 min./R
 

The Big Lebowski is one of the best cult films of our times! In the usual unconventional style of Coen Brothers directing, a case of mistaken identity becomes an odd and complex kidnapping plot in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is an easy-going nobody who happens to share the same name with a millionaire. When malicious plots do not go as planned, Lebowski unintentionally ends up in the middle of the Los Angeles mayhem. Accompanying Jeff Bridges is an all-star cast, including Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Goodman, and Julianne Moore. The Big Lebowski is a thoroughly entertaining, strange and fascinating world ruled by Joel and Ethan Coen. Rated R

Grayson Hugh

Grayson Hugh first burst on the scene in 1988 with his RCA album “Blind To Reason”.  The album spawned several international hits as well as popular music videos and eventually went Gold in both the U.S. and overseas. Hugh’s unique blending of classic soul styles, poetic lyrics along with his high energy piano playing, charmed radio and concert audiences around the world. 

His second record “Road To Freedom”, was also acclaimed, making many top ten lists (including Billboard Magazine) and garnering feature articles by music critics. Pulitzer Prize-winning Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote: “Have I heard any newcomer in the last decade that excites me as much as this guy? No.” (Miami Herald, October 19, 1992). “Road To Freedom” caught the attention of Hollywood as well. Director Ridley Scott requested the use of two of Hugh’s songs for the film “Thelma and Louise”. Jon Avnet asked Hugh to record a version of Bob Dylan’s song “I’ll Remember You”. for the film “Fried Green Tomatoes”. The resulting arrangement and performance by Hugh closes the film with “a gospel assault that could raise the dead” (Peanuts, The Cleveland Sun, December 3, 1992).

The 2010 release of “An American Record” heralded the return to the public eye and ear of Grayson Hugh. After many turbulent years that included disastrous dealings with a mercenary music industry, a stint as professor of songwriting at Berklee College Of Music in Boston and a near fatal relapse with alcohol in 2000, Hugh has emerged sober, stronger and more prolific than ever. In the words of one writer: “With An American Record, the payoff is just beginning. Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story – our story – has to be heard.” (Robert Doerschuk, CMA World.com (May 10, 2010).

•     •     •     •
Hugh first met singer Polly Messer in 1980, when she was singing with the swing band Eight To The Bar. Grayson’s good friend Ron Scalise had produced both of their first records (“Grayson Hugh” and “This Joint Is Jumpin”). Ron would rave about this girl Polly and her voice, so Grayson had to hear her live. Impressed with what he called “that Polly-tone”,  Hugh asked Polly to sing backup vocals in his band The Wild Tones in 1982. The two became friendly during their subsequent many rehearsals and did performances in New York (the legendary Gerde’s Folk City) and live television (CPTV’s “In Performance” concerts series). Polly and Ron ended up getting married in 1988, just as Hugh’s recording career was taking off. Though they all remained friends, Polly and Grayson led their seperate lives. Polly and Ron had a child in 1991 but were divorced in 1994. As a single mother, Polly returned to college and received a degree in Art (with a triple major) from Western Connecticut State University in her home town of Danbury. She showed her work at several galleries and sang briefly with a New York-based rockabilly band Eugene Chrylser. But longed to sing with Grayson again. 

The opportunity came when, in 2006, she happened to hear that Grayson was recording a new album. She contacted him and the two reignited their friendship. When she asked to sing on the album, Hugh told her there was no money for a harmony singer. Polly offered to sing for free. At the first vocal session in January 2007, the chemistry began to grow beyond the musical and they were married in August 2008. Co-producing “An American Record”, the two began a musical collaboration that has taken them to concert stages around the world.
 

Grayson is currently writing songs for his next record which will be released sometime in 2014.
 

The Big Lebowski

Comedy
English/117 min./R
 

The Big Lebowski is one of the best cult films of our times! In the usual unconventional style of Coen Brothers directing, a case of mistaken identity becomes an odd and complex kidnapping plot in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. Jeff Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is an easy-going nobody who happens to share the same name with a millionaire. When malicious plots do not go as planned, Lebowski unintentionally ends up in the middle of the Los Angeles mayhem. Accompanying Jeff Bridges is an all-star cast, including Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, John Goodman, and Julianne Moore. The Big Lebowski is a thoroughly entertaining, strange and fascinating world ruled by Joel and Ethan Coen. Rated R

Nestor Torres

He’s back! Nestor Torres, contemporary flute virtuoso and beloved Lyric regular, returns to the stage this October for another night of Latin-fused fun. The Puerto-Rican native has been making waves in the music industry since the 1980s, stunning audiences with his revolutionary blend of jazz, classical, and Latin genres all channeled through his famous flute. Nestor Torres’ fan club grows bigger each year, as he impresses listeners, young and old, with his unique style of music, featuring powerful dance beats and lyrical improvisation.
 
Born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Nestor Torres was introduced to the flute at the age of 12 and he never looked back. Nestor eventually moved to New York City as a teenager and quickly proved himself a highly talented musician, attending the renowned Mannes School of Music and, eventually, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. When he finally moved to Miami in 1981, Nestor saw the opportunity to incorporate his classical teaching with the fresh and vibrant flair of the South Florida music scene, as he began to learn how to improvise using a Cuban dance style called “Charanga”. Nestor’s hard work paid off and the aspiring flautist began playing with local Cuban and Latin dance bands which included the likes of Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, and Celia Cruz. 
 
Nowadays, Nestor Torres tours all around the world, performing with a wide variety of artists, including Ricky Martin, Tito Puente Jr., and Gloria Estefan. When he’s not on tour, Nestor is in the recording studio, producing original songs or bringing a fresh spin to the classics. Nestor has recorded a total of 13 albums, including Treasure of My Heart and My Latin Soul, which were both nominated for a Latin Grammy. His album, This Side of Paradise, won the Latin Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental on September 11th, 2001. Nestor credits this award with inspiring him to continue to create music as a means of enlightening the human spirit and sponsoring peace around the world. His latest album, Nouveau Latino, is a refreshing return to the musician’s roots, featuring lots of new improvisational approaches to Latin classics by artists such as Celia Cruz and Ruben Blades.
 
Aside from his enormous success in the music industry, Nestor has been widely celebrated for his dedicated involvement in programs promoting peace and education not only locally, but worldwide. Nestor has received two honorary degrees from Barry University and Carlos Albizu University for his commitment to youth education and cultural exchanges in the Miami area and for his role as an Ambassador of Peace and Culture. Recently, Nestor had the honor of representing the International Committee of Artists for Peace, performing at the opening ceremony of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Oslo, Norway, a summit attended by over 500 participants from more than 70 countries. Locally, Nestor has personally developed the Nestor Torres Foundation, an organization designed to inspire social change through music, discussion, and education in the South Florida community. In 2012, Nestor Torres worked with the Education Foundation of Martin County, conducting Master Classes for the most talented high school musicians in the area and culminating in a Lyric Theater concert featuring Torres himself and his class pupils.

Grayson Hugh

Grayson Hugh first burst on the scene in 1988 with his RCA album “Blind To Reason”.  The album spawned several international hits as well as popular music videos and eventually went Gold in both the U.S. and overseas. Hugh’s unique blending of classic soul styles, poetic lyrics along with his high energy piano playing, charmed radio and concert audiences around the world. 

His second record “Road To Freedom”, was also acclaimed, making many top ten lists (including Billboard Magazine) and garnering feature articles by music critics. Pulitzer Prize-winning Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote: “Have I heard any newcomer in the last decade that excites me as much as this guy? No.” (Miami Herald, October 19, 1992). “Road To Freedom” caught the attention of Hollywood as well. Director Ridley Scott requested the use of two of Hugh’s songs for the film “Thelma and Louise”. Jon Avnet asked Hugh to record a version of Bob Dylan’s song “I’ll Remember You”. for the film “Fried Green Tomatoes”. The resulting arrangement and performance by Hugh closes the film with “a gospel assault that could raise the dead” (Peanuts, The Cleveland Sun, December 3, 1992).

The 2010 release of “An American Record” heralded the return to the public eye and ear of Grayson Hugh. After many turbulent years that included disastrous dealings with a mercenary music industry, a stint as professor of songwriting at Berklee College Of Music in Boston and a near fatal relapse with alcohol in 2000, Hugh has emerged sober, stronger and more prolific than ever. In the words of one writer: “With An American Record, the payoff is just beginning. Grayson Hugh has been there and is back again. His story – our story – has to be heard.” (Robert Doerschuk, CMA World.com (May 10, 2010).

•     •     •     •
Hugh first met singer Polly Messer in 1980, when she was singing with the swing band Eight To The Bar. Grayson’s good friend Ron Scalise had produced both of their first records (“Grayson Hugh” and “This Joint Is Jumpin”). Ron would rave about this girl Polly and her voice, so Grayson had to hear her live. Impressed with what he called “that Polly-tone”,  Hugh asked Polly to sing backup vocals in his band The Wild Tones in 1982. The two became friendly during their subsequent many rehearsals and did performances in New York (the legendary Gerde’s Folk City) and live television (CPTV’s “In Performance” concerts series). Polly and Ron ended up getting married in 1988, just as Hugh’s recording career was taking off. Though they all remained friends, Polly and Grayson led their seperate lives. Polly and Ron had a child in 1991 but were divorced in 1994. As a single mother, Polly returned to college and received a degree in Art (with a triple major) from Western Connecticut State University in her home town of Danbury. She showed her work at several galleries and sang briefly with a New York-based rockabilly band Eugene Chrylser. But longed to sing with Grayson again. 

The opportunity came when, in 2006, she happened to hear that Grayson was recording a new album. She contacted him and the two reignited their friendship. When she asked to sing on the album, Hugh told her there was no money for a harmony singer. Polly offered to sing for free. At the first vocal session in January 2007, the chemistry began to grow beyond the musical and they were married in August 2008. Co-producing “An American Record”, the two began a musical collaboration that has taken them to concert stages around the world.
 

Grayson is currently writing songs for his next record which will be released sometime in 2014.
 

​The Company You Keep ~ Art Cinema

Drama/Thriller
English/ 121 min./ R
 

A wanted man and former member of the revolutionary militant group the Weather Underground goes on the run after a journalist (Shia LaBeouf) outs him in this political thriller based on Neil Gordon’s novel. Robert Redford stars and directs the all-star cast, including Julie Christie, Shia LaBeouf, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon.
 
“This film, with its prickly characters and complicated plot, rips along with continuous tension and power.” – David Denby, New Yorker

“The disparate elements in The Company You Keep are robustly collated by the keen, well-crafted direction of a master filmmaker at the top of his form. It’s only April, but this is one of the best films of 2013.” – Rex Reed, New York Observer

Kris Kristofferson

You’d be hard-pressed to find a piece of the music industry that legendary singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson hasn’t influenced. From his hit, “Me & Bobby McGee”, to the foundation of the famous supergroup The Highwaymen, Kris Kristofferson has defined  and redefined country music, enhancing the genre with his signature style of honest songwriting and heartbreaking vocals. An acclaimed actor as well as a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, Kristofferson is more than a simple country musician, bringing his heart and soul into every song and every performance. 
 
Born in Texas in 1936, Kris Kristofferson excelled at nearly everything he attempted. A star college football player and Rhodes Scholar, the aspiring artist put his creative interests on hold when he joined the military, following in his father’s footsteps. Kristofferson proved to be a highly respectable soldier, serving honorably in the U.S. Army as a captain and helicopter pilot. Thankfully for his future fans, Kris just couldn’t ignore his passion for music and in 1965, he left the army to pursue songwriting. It didn’t take long for others to recognize Kris’s innate talent and by 1967 Kris Kristofferson was already signed to a record label. From there, the country star’s fame skyrocketed following the success of major hits such as “For the Good Times”, “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”, and “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, which earned him a Grammy for country song of the year. In 1985, Kris teamed up with country legends Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Johnny Cash to produce two wildly successful albums, including the number one hit, “Highwayman”. Over the years, Kris Kristofferson has extended his fame beyond the music industry, appearing in a number of blockbuster films, including the Blade series, Planet of the Apes, and A Star is Born, for which he received a Golden Globe.
 
28 albums later, Kris Kristofferson is still writing and producing genre-defining music at the age of 76. With his latest album, Feeling Mortal, Kris completes the last album of a twilight-years trilogy that reflects on the artist’s extensive career. Featuring instrumental work from guitarist Mark Goldenberg, guitarist Greg Leisz, keyboardist Matt Rollins, violinst and vocalist Sara Watkins, bassist Sean Hurley, and drummer Aaron Sterling, Feeling Mortal boasts “some of the singer-songwriter’s most raw and poignant material yet”, according to Dan Hyman of Rolling Stone magazine. This fall, country music and entertainment legend Kris Kristofferson comes to The Lyric for a show showcasing one of the most influential figures in songwriting history.