What's Happenin': Thursday, January 23, through Wednesday, February 5 Print
Lifestyle - Noteworthy Events
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 21 January 2014 06:00

Katja Loher: Videoplanet – OrchestraExhibit

Katja Loher: Videoplanet – Orchestra

Figge Art Museum

Saturday, January 25, through Sunday, May 4


The newest exhibition at the Figge Art Museum is titled Katja Loher: Videoplanet – Orchestra, and according to the exhibit’s description at the venue’s Web site, one of its more fascinating elements allows museum visitors the chance to see “androgynous, costumed dancers form letters that compose words and sentences to pose simple, thought-provoking questions.” In honor of Loher’s artistic endeavor, I considered employing exactly the same style for this What’s Happenin’ article, but my bosses were convinced that I’d never find the thousands of androgynous, costumed dancers necessary to pull it off. I told them they obviously didn’t know my friends, but whatever ... .

On display from January 25 through May 4, this site-specific installation is the creation of Swiss video artist Loher, whose work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions in China, Italy, Brazil, Israel, Ireland, France, and numerous other sites worldwide. And a worldwide viewpoint is what Figge guests will be treated to with Videoplanet – Orchestra, an exhibition that explores the balance between humans, nature, and technology through Loher’s “inter-planetary” achievement.

Through videos projected onto the surfaces of shiny orbs hanging in the gallery space, and from within glass bubbles mounted on the walls, museum patrons will witness the exhibit’s (previously filmed) performance artists taking the shape of not only letters, but also floral arrangements and even, in the video segment Why Did the Bees Leave?, honeybees.

A singular blend of music, dance, video, and visual art, the dreamlike experience of Videoplanet – Orchestra reflects the human condition in a globalized world, and promises to make for an unforgettable dive into the world of immersive art. And a terrifically enjoyable one, too. How many chances, after all, do you get to see androgynous, costumed dancers forming letters, flowers, and bees? Outside of an evening with my friends, that is ... ?

For more information on Katja Loher: Videoplanet – Orchestra and the Davenport museum’s other exhibits, call (563)326-7804 or visit FiggeArt.org.



Next FallTheatre

Next Fall

Village Theatre

Friday, January 24, through Sunday, February 3


Running January 24 through February 3 at Davenport’s Village Theatre, the dramatic comedy Next Fall is an exploration of modern romance, religion, and personal morality, and the New York Times’ Ben Brantley called author Geoffrey Naufft’s work “an intellectual stealth bomb.” Which is just how my own work is frequently referenced ... although I can’t remember even hearing the word “stealth” attached ... .

Nominated for 2010 Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director, this thoughtful and funny offering concerns the emotional and spiritual complexities within a five-year relationship between a committed gay couple: Luke, a Christian fundamentalist, and Adam, an atheist. Alternating between scenes that dramatize the men’s early courtship, their life of alternately loving and contentious cohabitation, and Luke’s hospitalized fight for survival after being hit by a taxi, Next Fall asks profound questions about the meaning of existence while keeping its focus very specific. And, to hear Brantley tell it, Naufft’s achievement is just as entertaining as it is astute, considering that he wrote, “Much of this artful, thoughtful, and very moving story ... proceeds with the stinging breeziness of a cosmopolitan comedy ... a sort of Will & Grace with an ontological conscience.”

Directed by Christina Myatt, last seen on-stage in New Ground’s October production of Other Desert Cities, the theatre company’s latest features Creighton Olsen and David Turley as Luke and Adam, with Greg Bouljon, Max Moline, Susan Perrin-Sallak, and Kaitlyn Ross portraying the friends and family members who orbit around the leading pair. So reserve tickets now if you’re up for a show that you’ll likely enjoy both watching and talking over later. Or, you know, reserve tickets if you just want to tell people that, for a couple of hours, you actually experienced Fall in the middle of winter. Hey, a Midwesterner can dream, can’t he ... ?

Next Fall will be performed Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., and more information and tickets are available by calling (563)326-7529 or visiting NewGroundTheatre.org.



The Ben Miller BandMusic

The Ben Miller Band

The Redstone Room

Thursday, January 30, 8 p.m.


A trio of popular bluegrass and Delta-blues musicians based in Joplin, Missouri, the Ben Miller Band will perform at Davenport’s Redstone Room on January 30, and while you might be familiar with their chosen musical genres, you may not have ever seen several of the group’s instruments in practice before. Instruments such as the washtub bass with the Weedeater string. Or the electrified washboard. Or the electrified spoons, which I hear produce an incredible sound but are absolute hell on ice cream.

Composed of bass player Scott Leeper, percussionist Doug Dicharry, and the singer/songwriter of the group’s moniker, the Ben Miller Band formed in 2004, and currently plays more than 200 gigs annually, headlining bluegrass and soul-music festivals and opening for the intimidating likes of ZZ Top. And while the aforementioned instruments are certainly three of the ensemble’s more unusual ones, they’re hardly the only ones, as the Ben Miller Band’s blend of Delta blues and Appalachian mountain music also finds its talents performing on acoustic slide guitar, mandolin, trumpet, trombone, and harmonica.

What results, according to critics nationwide, is a foot-stomping, soul-shaking great time for music fans of many stripes. SoundPress.net raved about the group’s “spirited and unique creations” and Miller’s “wicked slide.” HardRockHaven.net wrote that the musicians “emphasize loyalty to their heritage, but at the same time don’t exploit or trivialize it,” and noted that they delivered “a completely authentic vision of the American roots culture while giving it a modern twist.”

And WeeklySurge.com simply said, “If these guys don’t make you dance by the end of the night, you’re probably missing a pulse.” That, and “Miller also pens great songs about everything from Amsterdam prostitutes getting off work to Jägerbombs.” I once got off work to Jägerbomb, too, but I didn’t know there was a market for songs about it ... .

The Ben Miller Band performs at the Redstone Room with an opening set by the EverGreen Grass Band, and for more information and tickets, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.



Our Town's Shelley WalljasperTheatre

Our Town

District Theatre

Friday, January 24, through Sunday, February 9


“This play is called Our Town. It was written by Thortnon Wilder and is being produced at the District Theatre. In it you will see Mr. Chris Causer, Mr. Jerry Wolking, Mr. Christopher Tracy, Miss Kelly Lohrenz, Miss Jacqueline Madunic, Miss Angela Elliott, and many others too numerous to mention. The name of our town is Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, just over the line from Massachusetts; latitude 42 degrees, 40 minutes, longitude ... .”

Sorry. That’s the Stage Manager’s opening monologue from Our Town, updated with names from the show’s upcoming District Theatre presentation. I played the role in high school and college, and could easily continue with the monologue, but as you’re being deprived of my flawless New Hampshire accent, what’s the point? (That sound you hear is my high-school and college directors laughing their asses off.)

I have to admit I’m psyched for this new production of Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic about life, love, and death in a sleepy New England town, partly because I’m madly in love with the play, and partly because director Bryan Tank’s cast is, all things considered, kind of ridiculous. In a great way, I mean, as the familiar area talents also include Heidi Pedersen, Mark Ruebling, Andy Curtiss, Krianna Walljasper, Doug Kutzli, Linda Ruebling, Molly McLaughlin, and, indeed, others too numerous to mention.

And I’m really psyched to see the always-wonderful Shelley Walljasper’s take on the Stage Manager, a role that has definitely attracted some top-tier talent over the years. In honor of Our Town’s narrator, and the District’s first show of its 2014 season, try your hand at this puzzler: Which of the following actors never – or hasn’t yet – played the Stage Manager on stage or television?


A) Spalding Gray

B) Hal Holbrook

C) Helen Hunt

D) Boris Karloff

E) Michael McKean

F) Paul Newman

G) Michael Shannon

H) Frank Sinatra


Our Town will be performed Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)235-1654 or visiting DistrictTheatre.com.



Answer: D. Man, that would’ve been scary. Not as scary as Michael Shannon, I’m sure, but scary nonetheless.



What Else Is Happenin’ ...?



Thursday, January 23 – Daytrotter Presents: Communion. Concert featuring indie musicians the Weeks, the Dough Rollers, Bedroom Shrine, and Centaur Noir, with a Ragged Records DJ set. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 7 p.m. $11 advance tickets, $15 at the door. For information, call (309)793-4060 or visit RIBCO.com. For interviews with the Weeks and the Dough Rollers, visit RCReader.com/y/communion.

Friday, January 24, and Friday, January 31 – Battle of the Bands: Rounds One & Two. Competition nights featuring 45-minute sets of original music, with performances by Battle Red, Escape Your Prism, and the Archimedes Death Ray on January 24, and 9th Street Memory, Sept of Memnon, and Heavyweight on January 31. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 9 p.m. $3. For information, call (309)793-4060 or visit RIBCO.com.

Saturday, January 25 – Tesla. Concert with the multi-platinum-selling rock band from northern California. Riverside Casino Event Center (3184 Highway 22, Riverside, Iowa). 8 p.m. $35-55. For tickets and information, call (877)677-3456 or visit RiversideCasinoAndResort.com.

Sunday, January 26 – Mozart Woodwind Concert. Event in the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s Signature Series, featuring Christine Bellomy on clarinet, Benjamin Coelho on bass, Mary Neil on piano, Andrew Parker on oboe, and Marc Zyla on horn. Augustana College’s Wallenberg Hall (3520 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island). 3 p.m. $13.50-29.50. For tickets and information, call (563)322-7276 or visit QCSymphony.com.

Tuesday, January 28 – Patty Griffin. Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter in concert. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $15-20. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Friday, January 31 – John Primer. Concert with the Chicago-blues singer/guitarist. The Muddy Waters (1708 State Street, Bettendorf). 9 p.m. $5-10. For information, call (563)344-2516 or visit TheMuddyWaters.com. For a 2013 interview with Primer, visit RCReader.com/y/primer.

Friday, January 31, and Saturday, February 1 – Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra: No Place to Go. Concert presented through Hancher Auditorium’s Visiting Artists series. The Mill (120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City). 7:30 p.m. $10-20. For tickets and information, call (319)335-1160 or visit http://www.Hancher.UIowa.edu.

Saturday, February 1 – Jim the Mule Farewell Show. Retrospective performance by the local alt-country musicians, with opening sets by the Multiple Cat and Them Som’Bitches. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 8 p.m. $8-10. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.com.

Saturday, February 1 – Side-by-Side Concert. Event featuring all four Quad City Symphony youth orchestras and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, sponsored by UnityPoint Health-Trinity. Adler Theatre (136 East Third Street, Davenport). 4 p.m. $5-25. For tickets and information, call (563)322-7276 or visit QCSymphony.com.

Tuesday, February 4 – Josh Ritter. Singer/songwriter in concert, with an opening set by Gregory Alan Isakov. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $25-28. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Wednesday, February 5 – Robert Ellis. R&B, bossa nova, fusion, and free jazz with the singer/songwriter, in a co-presentation with the Englert Theatre. The Mill (120 East Burlington Street, Iowa City). 7:30 p.m. $10-20. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.



Friday, January 24, through Sunday, February 16 – Good People. David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony Award-winning working-class comedy/drama, directed by Ron Clark. Riverside Theatre (213 North Gilbert Street, Iowa City). Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. $15-30. For tickets and information, call (319)338-7672 or visit RiversideTheatre.org.

Friday, January 24, through Sunday, February 2 – Of Mice & Men. Stage adaptation of John Steinbeck’s literary classic. Iowa City Community Theatre (4265 Oak Crest Hill Road, Iowa City). Fridays and Saturdays 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. $8-16. For tickets and information, call (319)338-0443 or visit IowaCityCommunityTheatre.com.

Friday, January 24, through Sunday, January 26 – Alice in Wonderland Jr. Adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic presented by Nolte Academy. Coralville Center for the Performing Arts (1301 Fifth Street, Coralville). Friday and Saturday 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m. For tickets and information, call (319)248-9370 or visit CoralvilleArts.org.

Friday, January 24 – National Theatre Live: Hamlet. Screening of the live stage presentation starring Rory Kinnear. Englert Theatre (221 East Washington Street, Iowa City). 7 p.m. $15-18. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.

Friday, January 31 – Seussical the Musical. Tony-nominated storybook musical presented by YES (Youth Entertainment Series). Orpheum Theatre (57 South Kellogg Street, Galesburg). 7 p.m. $15. For tickets and information, call (309)342-2299 or visit TheOrpheum.org.



Saturday, January 25 – Galumpha. Acrobatics, choreography, visual effects, and physical comedy with the Quad City Arts Visiting Artists. St. Ambrose University’s Galvin Fine Arts Center (2101 Gaines Street, Davenport). 7:30 p.m. $7-11. For information and tickets, call (563)333-6251 or visit QuadCityArts.com or SAU.edu/galvin.

Saturday, January 25 – The Ugly Duckling & Other Dances. The fairytale classic and additional pieces performed by the dancers of Ballet Quad Cities. Bettendorf High School (3333 18th Street, Bettendorf). 1:30 p.m. $12-22. For tickets and information, call (563)332-4516 or visit BalletQuadCities.com.



Friday, January 24, through Sunday, January 26 – Eagles & Ivories Ragtime Weekend. Twentieth-annual celebration featuring concerts, silent movies, eagle-watching, the Syncopation and Soup suppers, and more held throughout Muscatine. $40 three-day package; $15 nightly concerts, with ages 16 and under free. For information, call (563)263-8895 or visit MuscatineArtsCouncil.org.

Friday, January 24, and Saturday, January 25 – World’s Toughest Rodeo. Touring event featuring bucking horses, bulls, and cowboys with nerves of steel. i wireless Center (1201 River Drive, Moline). 7:30 p.m. $20-55. For tickets, call (800)745-3000 or visit iwirelessCenter.com.

Saturday, January 25 – Jim Wand. Evening with the professional entertainer and hypnotist. Ohnward Fine Arts Center (1215 East Platt Street, Maquoketa). 7 p.m. $22-25. For tickets and information, call (563)652-9815 or visit OhnwardFineArtsCenter.com.

Friday, January 31 – Champagne on the Rocks. Thirteenth-annual winter fundraiser for WQPT-TV, featuring dinner, live and silent auctions, live entertainment, and more. Hotel Blackhawk (200 East Third Street, Davenport). 6 p.m. cocktail reception and silent auction, 7 p.m. dinner, entertainment, and live auction. $100. For tickets, call (309)764-2400 or visit WQPT.org/champagne.

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