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Jan Biles

Stories by Jan

Show puts spotlight on Lawrence's talent

When art collectors Lee and Darcy Gerhard moved to Lawrence a few years ago, they brought with them an idea that would take root in their new hometown.

Conductor eager to direct Mozart, Copland works

Timothy Hankewich signed on to conduct the season opener for the Lawrence Chamber Orchestra because of two compositions on the program: Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Jupiter" symphony.

Cutting-edge art

Gallery courts contemporary creations

A trio of young artists see a gap in the visual arts scene in Lawrence and they're taking steps to change that landscape. Paragraph, a gallery dedicated to showing contemporary art by emerging or established artists, opened earlier this month at 701 Mass.

Lawrence actress takes on Patsy Cline role

Annette Cook has been grooming herself for the lead role of "Always Patsy Cline" for decades. In the 1980s while living in New York City as a struggling actress, she and her friends put together a country-western band called Rock Therapy and played the nightclub circuit.

Carrying on a dancer's legacy

Stackhouse teaches Simon work to KU students

For the past week, choreographer Sarah Stackhouse has been setting excerpts of Jose Limon's "A Choreographic Offering" with Kansas University dance students. Stackhouse danced with the Jose Limon Company from 1958 to 1969 as a principal dancer and partner to its founder.

'Shoulder' offers peek at White House life

Imagine being the chief butler at the White House for 21 years. Imagine the notes on the presidents and their goings-on that you could jot down in a little spiral notebook while no one was looking.

Indian Arts Show judges give this year's entries a thumbs-up

Nelda Schrupp reached deep inside a large clay pot sitting on a table among other artworks entered in the 14th Annual Indian Arts Show at Kansas University's Museum of Anthropology.

Musician draws from 9-11 emotions in latest CD

Music may not be able to make sense of the senseless, but it can help heal the pain. Jazz sax player and composer Bobby Watson was reminded of that truism a year ago after airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Fiddle dee dee

Canadian musician pumps life into Celtic tunes

Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster was in Toronto on Aug. 8 but only for a few hours. After a brief stopover, she and her musical entourage were heading back to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the Grammy Award-nominee lives.

'Rocky Horror' regains its edge

Lawrence actors flesh out cast for KC musical

By Jan Biles When Christopher King signed on to direct Minds Eye Theatre's production of "The Rocky Horror Show," he wanted to update the feel of the rock 'n' roll musical.

A love for the written word

Lawrence native's play gets the nod from publisher

By Jan Biles Lawrence High School alumnus John Ott's words are making a difference. His 10-minute play, "Waiting," is being published by Brooklyn Publishers in Odessa, Tex., a company that specializes in plays for high school students.

Starclocks and visions

Artist's found-object works are 'metaphors for life'

By Jan Biles Imagine this: A room with a Mylar ceiling, space-age reflective insulation covering its walls and artwork using computer motherboards, clock wheels, gears and other discarded items mounted on chicken-wire columns or frames throughout the room.

Rekindling history

Historians, re-enactors commemorate city's ties to Civil War

By Jan Biles Lawrence High School history and political science teacher Paul Stuewe said Civil War on the Western Frontier is not a celebration of Lawrence's ties to the war between the North and the South.

KU theater professor ready to research Roosevelt

By Jan Biles A Kansas University theater professor will be going to Washington, D.C., this fall to research the life of President Theodore Roosevelt for a one-man show he hopes to write and perform.

'Lullaby' provides jazzy entertainment

By Jan Biles "Lullaby of Broadway" is a knockout of a show. The Broadway revue swept the audience off its feet Sunday night at the Lied Center with gorgeous harmonies and strong solos and jazzy and percussive dance numbers. The cast's accomplishment was tremendous in light of the fact that the show had been performed only once before in front of an audience.

Composer hopes 'Seven' is his lucky number

By Jan Biles For the past two years, pianist Seth Osburn has been working on his first solo CD. It ended up being as much an intellectual journey as an artistic one. The original compositions on "Seven" reflect Osburn's fascination with alchemy.

Musicians to help promote breast cancer awareness

By Jan Biles A young woman visiting Lawrence for the summer is organizing a concert to help women with breast cancer. Breastfest will begin at 3 p.m. July 21 at Abe and Jake's Landing, Sixth and New Hampshire streets.

Haskell University lands contract for summer theater program

By Jan Biles Seven university students are helping usher in a new era in American Indian theater this month at Haskell Indian Nations University. The students are the inaugural class of a three-year Project HOOP workshop, a grant-funded initiative to establish American Indian theater as an integrated subject of study at tribal colleges, American Indian communities and K-12 schools.

Nature illustrators to gather in Lawrence next month

By Jan Biles About 150 natural science illustrators are coming to Lawrence in August for their annual conference, and several special events are being planned to make their stay more educational and enjoyable.

Play melds past, future of state's pioneering spirit

By Jan Biles The premise of John Gronbeck-Tedesco's "Prairie Fire: Parts 1 and 2" seems pinched: An astronaut returns to Earth to confront his Irish ancestors who are settling in the Kansas Territory.

Whad'ya know?

Radio host Michael Feldman bones up on Lawrence

By Jan Biles Ask radio quizmaster Michael Feldman "Whad'ya know about Lawrence?" and his responses reveal the answer: very little. "You have an electric chair there," he says. Uh, no.

Tales from the prairie

Stories of settlers drive KU professor's plays

By Jan Biles Marianne Kubik didn't know much about the prairie before signing on to direct and choreograph "Prairie Fire," a pair of new plays for Kansas Summer Theatre. The plays, written by KU theater professor John Gronbeck-Tedesco, are based on reminiscences and oral histories about early Kansas history.

Broadway's best

Youthful cast brings renewed energy to songs, dances

By Jan Biles "Lullaby of Broadway," a song and dance extravaganza being staged July 14 at the Lied Center, has the feel of a "Little Rascals" episode: A bunch of friends and colleagues get together and decide to put on a show.

Cultural exchange

Upward Bound academy teaches classroom, cultural skills

By Jan Biles Sixteen-year-old Chris Knoxsah carefully listened as cedar flute instructor Janalea Hoffman played a sequence of notes. He placed his fingers flat over the holes in the flute's body and blew into its mouth, echoing the teacher's song.

Sept. 11 attacks fuel artist's abstract paintings

By Jan Biles Topeka artist Edward Navone doesn't use his paint and canvasses to tell stories. That's just not his style. Instead, the longtime Washburn University art professor uses his drawings and paintings as metaphors for what's happening in the world.

'Reunion' offers varied picture of post-Civil War life

By Jan Biles Lawrence Community Theatre is closing out its season with a production that is different from its usual fare of Broadway musicals, dramas and farces. "Reunion" is a 2 1/2-hour multimedia musical revue that uses period songs and costumes, storytelling and projections of historic photos to tell the epic saga of the Civil War.

'Reunion' revives Civil War stories

By Jan Biles Lawrence Community Theatre is making history by presenting a new Civil War-inspired play. LCT is the first nonprofit theater to stage "Reunion: A Musical Epic in Miniature." The new musical opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in New Haven, Conn., and then played Off-Broadway at the Amas Theatre in New York City and the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C.

'Oleanna' challenges audience's thinking

By Jan Biles Playwright David Mamet has a way of making an audience squirm.

LCT season mixes old favorites with new scripts

By Jan Biles Lawrence Community Theatre's 2002-2003 season is book-ended by a couple of crowd pleasers. The season opens with "Always Patsy Cline," a biographical revue featuring the singer's hits, and "Kiss Me Kate," a show of Cole Porter music.

Mamet's play delves into the conflicts of college relationships

By Jan Biles On its surface, David Mamet's "Oleanna" is a two-act play about the relationship between a college professor and a female student. But Andy Stowers and Lauren Stanford, who play the professor and student in E.M.U. Theatre's upcoming production of the play, believe there is more to Mamet's script.

Filmmaker documents 'Prairie'

By Jan Biles Lawrence filmmaker Ollie Hall doesn't want to make a Hollywood movie. Violence, car chases, cursing and explosions don't do much for his moviemaking muse. Instead, Hall wants to make educational films that have a shelf-life.

Area actors find national stage

Elrod appearing on small, big screen

By Jan Biles If you think you've been seeing a familiar face on television and the movie screen, you're right. Carson Elrod, who graduated with honors from Kansas University in 1997 with a degree in U.S. history, has appeared in the movie "Kissing Jessica Stein," in commercials for Wendy's and IBM and on the TNN television show "Lifegame."

Art on the town

Sculptures starting to crop up in downtown area

By Jan Biles The artist who created the giant outdoor sculpture sitting in front of the new Lawrence Arts Center says he is more intrigued by what it takes to create his art than he is in standing back and admiring it once it's finished.

Mentally ill often have trouble expressing themselves

By Jan Biles People diagnosed with panic disorders, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress syndrome or obsessive-compulsive disorders often have a difficult time finding the right words to describe what they are thinking and feeling.

University Dance season finale not to be missed

By Jan Biles The University Dance Company, Kansas University Symphony Orchestra and the KU choirs combined Saturday night at the Lied Center to deliver a fitting finale to KU's music and dance performance season and to bid a final farewell to retiring KU symphony conductor Brian Priestman.

Actresses shine in misfired KU play

By Jan Biles The final production in Kansas University's William Inge Memorial Theatre Series attempts to explore the power that myths and passed-down stories have over the patriarchal power structure of a family.

Russia spices Lied lineup

Center announces acts for '02-'03 series

By Jan Biles The Lied Center is bringing a bit of Russia to its stage next season. The lineup includes performances by the Moscow Boys Choir, St. Petersburg String Quartet, Russian State Opera and pianist Olga Kern. In addition, cellist David Finckel and pianist Wu Han will present a concert of works by Russian composers.

Lyon Opera Ballet explores new realms

By Jan Biles The Lyon Opera Ballet made a return trip Tuesday night to the Lied Center. It marked the second visit in two years, but the two performances differed considerably, demonstrating the artistic range of the dance company.

Performance evokes exhibit's symbolism

By Jan Biles When six Canadian artists withdrew from the "Common Ground" exhibition, Lawrence artist Diana Dunkley "felt like a bride left at the altar." "I liked all of them, and so it was an emotional experience," she said. Dunkley began thinking about ways to unify the artists remaining in the show.

Common ground

Lawrence artists collaborate with Canadian counterparts

By Jan Biles Ten Lawrence artists are making history in Canada. They are collaborating with a group of Canadian artists to create "Common Ground," the first collaborative international art exhibition ever shown in that nation's capital.

An artful auction

Handmade rocking chair heads the sale's list

By Jan Biles On the narrative for a handcrafted rocking chair in the Lawrence Art Auction, artist Will Orvedal says the piece was inspired by the rocking of his boat while he fished in the Wakarusa River.

Teen-age artists see mural as a way to give back to the community

By Jan Biles Several Lawrence teen-agers are using their artistic abilities to give back to the community. Seventeen apprentice-artists in the Van Go JAMS program are painting a large mural on the hallway leading to the child and family services wing at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, 200 Maine.

Playwright's 'Curse' carries a timeless societal message

By Jan Biles Playwright Sam Shepard likes to write about dysfunctional families from the Midwest. In the case of "Curse of the Starving Class," the family is headed by an alcoholic father. The mother is having an affair; the preteen daughter is angry and precocious; and the teen-age son wants something better for himself but doesn't know how to get it.

Holly production shows music lives on

By Jan Biles The cast of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" has made a liar out of singer-songwriter Don McLean. Contrary to McLean's 1970s' hit "American Pie," the music didn't die Feb. 2, 1959, when the chart-topping Holly perished in a fiery plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

'South Pacific' boasts talented cast

By Jan Biles There are several reasons to get your tickets for University Theatre's production of "South Pacific." But at the top of the list is the fabulous singing. The praise one could heap on baritone Justin Petersen, who plays Emile De Becque, could fill the space allotted for this review.

Haskell's 'Romeo and Juliet' carries message against violence

By Jan Biles Most everyone knows the story of Romeo and Juliet, the star-crossed lovers who end up killing themselves rather than facing the world without each other. But there's another part of William Shakespeare's play that Thunderbird Theatre will be emphasizing in its upcoming production of the classic at Haskell Indian Nations University: violence and its aftermath.

'Arsenic and Old Lace' delivers timeless humor

By Jan Biles Lawrence Community Theatre's production of the classic "Arsenic and Old Lace" is well, a comedy to die for. An old faithful in theater circles, the wacky murder story was written in 1941 by Joseph Kesselring, and has been staged in high schools, community theaters and professional venues ever since.

Virtual reality tour offers new look at city's past

By Jan Biles A new exhibit at Watkins Community Museum of History mixes history and modern-day technology to give visitors a feel for what Lawrence was like at the time of Quantrill's Raid.

'South Pacific' themes still timely

By Jan Biles The Pulitzer Prize-winning musical "South Pacific" stands as upright today as when it walked onto a Broadway stage a half-century ago, according to Kansas University theater professor John Staniunas.

Longtime KU band director to step off the field, will remain teaching

By Jan Biles Robert Foster may be stepping down as director of bands at Kansas University, but he is not putting his baton to rest. He will continue to conduct and teach.