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First, I want to say that the performance of La Cage aux Folles, which I attended on Friday, April 21, was perhaps the most incredible performance staged by the Duluth Playhouse in the two decades I have lived in this community. After chatting with several friends in the cast, I happily went home and immediately bought tickets for the performance on Friday, May 5, once I am back in town from a journey to the west coast and back. Shad Olson was absolutely in top form, or better, with his gestures, his accent, his phrasing; Todd Peterson, as ZaZa was beyond incredible. All evening the dancing, the singing, the acting was several notches above Duluth, but it was in fact, Duluth. I look forward to my next visit, and I’ll probably comment again next week.
Meanwhile, I have been spending a week in either Marin or Sonoma Counties, CA, depending on the day of the week. I have spent days at two different AirBnb residences, and ended up catching art shows, a parade, an antique fair, a choral concert, totally by coincidence. I certainly enjoy trips like this. Local art in upstate California is in great shape, for sure. Street buskers are active (as always in this climate), and every restaurant is an art gallery and a performance venue, night after night.
I got away from Duluth just before the ice and sleet began to fall, and in Sonoma County, CA, there is no winter. The flowers and trees are in bloom twelve months of the year, with nectarines in the spring, apples in the fall, and limes/lemons year round. Back in the year 1900, Petaluma was declared the Egg and Chicken capital of the world. At that time, more than 600,000 chickens were delivering eggs, and the eggs by the millions were being delivered all over the western part of the USA. I began my journey up in the Windsor/Healdsburg communities, primarily sipping wine and eating Mexican and New Zealand delicacies for two days in a row.
Then I shifted my residence into the Petaluma community, staying with a couple who have some very close ties to some special musical friends in Duluth. That led to the 35th annual Butter & Egg Days Festival and Parade in downtown Petaluma. I couldn’t believe my eyes. More than 60 small children were dressed like chickens and photographed in order to find the best dressed chicken.
Then the parade of about 130 entries went up Kentucky Street and back down Petaluma Blvd, while we watched bands, dancers, educators, bicyclists, horsemen, and public service folks wave and share the excitement of a very special local day in Petaluma. If that wasn’t enough, on Sunday afternoon, the California Redwood Chorale came up to the Jacuzzi Winery, north of Sonoma, and offered a rich concert while we all sipped some of the best of the Jacuzzi wines. Director Robert Hazelrigg had chosen a program of smooth, luscious American compositions written within the past thirty years. This 50 voice choir was singing in an old stone chapel on the winery grounds, and the sound was beautiful.
The two best pieces of the afternoon were Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre, and I Carry Your Heart With Me, by David Dickau. The layered richness of the chorale filled the old chapel with sound, with the lingering taste of white wine at the back of my mouth. Sometimes life is a challenge! There might be some new snow in Duluth, and I’ll return mid-week to take my chances for May. Meanwhile, I support local arts, I encourage you to do the same, wherever you travel, and get geared up for the DSSO concert on Saturday, May 6, with a guest pianist and a rich local program of our own. Getting away makes it very special to turn around and come back. I’ll see you at the Playhouse or the DSSO.