Tonight Alison and I saw Garrison Keillor present his public radio variety show live (though not broadcast) at Town Hall. The show had all the energy of the radio broadcast but with stronger degree of intimacy and some local Brooklyn flavor. In addition to the usual suspects on the show Keillor brought three Brooklynites including Raul Melo, a tenor covering the role of Rodolfo in the Met’s production of La Boheme. He also had Chris Thile, formerly of Nickel Creek and now of Punch Brothers, sitting in with the “house” band on a fierce and crisp mandolin. He also had Nelly McKay who had several numbers go over very well with the audience, especially her first “Vote for Mr. Rhythm” and her last “Do the Zombie” though perhaps she was featured a little too heavily. Guy Noir’s story was about him spending a few weeks in New York as a “surrogate,” standing in line for very busy New Yorkers, and almost getting cast as Emily Dickinson in a Broadway musical “Stop for Death” which his competition for the role said they “fleshed out” and turned into four acts.
Tales from Lake Wobegon covered what repressed Lutherans do when they get snowed in (stock up on carbs and fats, go to school in 8 feet of snow, keep old toothless women named Cooter in their houses, and relay their true feelings and opinions on the craigslist-esque zipzone.com). All in all a wonderful 2 and a half hours. Live broadcast from Town Hall tomorrow though I believe it’s sold out. Another Friday/Saturday run next week with Robin Williams.
[Update: I was pleased to see that Richard Dworsky was the leader of The Guy’s All Star Shoe Band (Keillor’s regular band. I was first introduced to Dworsky when reading the liner notes to the album by his sister, Sally Dworsky on which he played the piano accompaniment. I had first heard her perform “Red, Red, Robin” on PHC a year or two ago. Her presence there is now explained.]
[Update 2: The show was linked together with the theme of love. Raul Melo stole the show with his arias from La Boheme and especially Romeo and Juliet. Garrison Keillor sang a number of love song duets with “sonnets” (Alison pointed out that they were definitely more than the appropriate 14 lines) interspersed through out them. That alternation he does between stories and song (or in this case poems and song) was, as always, incredibly effective. It was a nice melding of the theme of love in springtime and national poetry month.]