[REVIEWS] DINER - excerpts from various sources
"Sheryl Crow's score was a strong point, and while I don't remember the names of any songs off the top of my head they were mostly all enjoyable, with some catchy melodys throughout, inluding a great Act 1 opener and a great song to highlight Whitney Bashor's voice.. Crow did a great job of writing for the time period, and overall the score is a strong point."
SOURCE: mfaye9 on BroadwayWorld.com
"Crow has written a delightful assortment of doo-wop, R&B and early rock-n-roll melodies that might have comprised a ’50s hit parade themselves if the songwriter had come along sooner. They are filled with delicious harmonies and enhanced by insightful lyrics that aggressively advance the plot.
All are sung beautifully by the accomplished ensemble. Standouts include “Tear Down This House,” Crow’s anthem for Beth (Erika Henningsen), who is snared in a disappointing marriage to the clueless Shrevie (Josh Griffith). It follows the humorous R&B number, “It’s Good,” the male perspective on marriage. Later, the men admit the obvious in the jaunty “You’ve Got a Lot to Learn,” and wind up affairs with the high-spirited “Gotta Lotta Woman.”
The gals also state their case in act two’s rousing “Every Man Needs a Woman,” then tone it down nicely with “Don’t,” Barbara’s (Whitney Bashor) emotional response to an untimely pregnancy. Another keeper is the emotional “For What It’s Worth,” which also features Henningsen, the ensemble’s strongest female voice."
"The songs were written by Sheryl Crow, both music and lyrics. I fell in love with several, including "Please Be There," "Don't", and especially "Tear Down this House," and "Letting Go. " Wow. I also liked "It's Good." The music really was original and added to the plot line. Brava, Sheryl Crow! This play belongs on Broadway."
"And the score, which deftly evokes the late '50s and hints at the '60s, springs naturally from the situations. That many of the songs, intentionally or not, seem to last about the length of a 45 record, adds to the authentic flavor of the show.
But Crow has not just settled for a nostalgia fest. Her melodic lines and chord progressions have a freshness and sophistication that stands out all the more given the generic stuff found in many a musical nowadays, and her lyrics largely avoid the commonplace."
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun
"Crow's score succeeds in being a wonderful mimicry of the later 1950's teen/young adult tastes. The song titles and lyrics by Crow are worthy of a sly grin, off-center smile and knowing bright eyes. The up-tempo songs bring foot-tapping perkiness to the show. The ballads sell us on the pain of trying to find love. The audience may even think they hear a few bars from a familiar song from the actual period. This is not the case. Crow's nearly 20 song score is all new."
4 out of 5 stars
SOURCE: DC Metro Theater Arts
"Opening up Diner to include the flipside of the fabulous Fifties—which were anything but fab for women—is an inspired move and showcases Crow’s talent for incisive lyrical hooks. It seems like a waste to saddle Crow with a ‘50s music pastiche—the doo-wop choruses, the Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard swoops and whoops, the girl group sob stories—but she breaks through the non-novelty of the nostalgic score with the standout torch songs “Tear Down This House,” “Don’t” and “Every Man Needs a Woman.” In all three songs, Crow powerfully conveys the frustrations the women of this period feel as they are crammed into the constricting roles of housewife, secretary or sexual plaything."
SOURCE: D.C. Theater Scene (http://tinyurl.com/dinerdctheater)
[REVIEW] Levinson, Crow take ‘Diner’ for a test-drive
The world-premiere musical has its official opening at the Signature Theatre in Arlington.
By Peter Marks
The Washington Post
Fear not, “Diner” fans: The world-premiere musical version at Signature Theatre faithfully replicates the outrageous movie-house scene from Barry Levinson’s beloved 1982 film, the one in which slightly creepy ladies’ man Boogie hides a, ahem, special treat for his date in the popcorn box in his lap.
The surprise is that around this memorable moment, composer-lyricist Sheryl Crow and book writer Levinson fashion a splendid up-tempo number, “Don’t Give It All Away.” The female patrons rise from their seats and sing to the screen, cheekily warning the picture’s clueless ingénue that her Lothario is up to no good. As if, in the it’s-a-man’s-world culture of 1959, guys would be up to anything else.
The song is successful because it sets the scene in exuberant relief and wittily comments on one of the musical’s major themes: the narrow corridors women were forced into at the time, as housewives, secretaries or sex objects. It’s also the sort of interlude the new musical needs a lot more of, to eradicate what is otherwise a nagging flatness of execution and the sense that Levinson and Crow are still groping for an optimal structure to unite music, characters and story.
There’s no reason to believe these two consummate pros might not achieve a musicalized “Diner” of real distinction, one that distills in even livelier ways Levinson’s richly detailed film about a group of Baltimore buddies who don’t yet know how to behave like men. The production at Signature — directed and choreographed by Broadway’s Kathleen Marshall and all but sold out through the end of January — is a useful first-draft exercise for them. It’s also worthwhile for anyone who loves the film, Crow’s music or the opportunity to meet on the ground floor a show that aspires to higher levels. It may be ripped from the big screen, as so many musicals are nowadays. But given the seriousness of the effort here, “Diner” the musical is not a rip-off.
On the upside, count the integrity of Crow’s score, a diversified and at the same time cohesive exhibition of pastiche, in this case, of the musical sounds of the late ’50s. As played by a six-member band conducted by Lon Hoyt, you hear a variety of beats, the influence of doo-wop and early rock-and-roll, sly tributes to Elvis and Little Richard. It doesn’t indulge in camp, a la “Grease” or “Hairspray”; it’s like an alternative universe of Crow-built chart-toppers. The tone ranges from glee (the rafter-raising “Gotta Love Women”) to outrage (the gripping “Tear Down This House”). And if the songs are not perfectly in sync with Levinson’s wryer urbanity (or do not always represent seamless segues), they’re always infused, like much of Crow’s work, with a satisfying melodic urgency.
The replication of choice small moments from a movie filled with them can also be fun: the diner argument in which Modell (a funny Bryan Fenkart) refuses to acknowledge to Eddie (a well-cast Adam Kantor) his desire for the remains of Eddie’s sandwich; the administering of the football trivia quiz that Elyse (Tess Soltau) has to pass before Eddie will go through with the marriage; the petty fight instigated by Shrevie (Josh Grisetti) after wife Beth (a supple-voiced Erika Henningsen) fails to properly re-file one of his record albums. Under Marshall’s direction, some scenes don’t reveal themselves as charmingly or with the same discomfiting authenticity as on the screen, an indication of the challenge of bottling the film’s singular brand of observational comedy.
That essential fragility leads to other more glaring problems. For instance: the addition as narrator of a character, Older Boogie (John Schiappa), who’s not only a hackneyed device but also bears little resemblance, in temperament or countenance, to young Boogie (Derek Klena). Trouble, too, develops in the form of thematic overkill, a tendency to announce a theme again and again. One of these has to do with 1959 as a preamble year to social change in America, and another with the era’s oppressive attitudes about women.
“The fabulous ’50s might have been fabulous, but not necessarily if you were a female,” Older Boogie tells us. His commentary is superfluous because the idea is embedded in virtually every scene. In the laudable effort to expand the dramatic palette of “Diner,” more attention is paid to the women of the story: Beth, in her stultifying marriage to Shrevie; hapless Elyse, waiting humiliatingly for Eddie’s marital green light; Barbara (Whitney Bashor), the aspiring TV newswoman whose tryst with Billy (Aaron C. Finley) results in a career-threatening pregnancy. One could wish, though, some of the embellishment revealed more about these women than how they feel about the men.
Levinson also has to cram in all the men’s stories, and that means quick cuts to dissolute, self-destructive Fenwick (Matthew James Thomas) and the musical’s apparent touchstone, Boogie, who is on the hook to loan sharks (and on the road, Older Boogie assures us, to maturity and respectability). It’s a lot of character thread to unspool.
The cast is uniformly competent; perhaps because these characters, suggested by the Baltimore world of Levinson’s youth, were molded so inspirationally by the actors in the movie (Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Ellen Barkin, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, et al.) there wasn’t much room for the cast to amplify, much less reinvent, vivid personalities. The design elements, most notably Derek McLane and James Kronzer’s rendering of the diner, with its art deco metalwork and red-and-white vinyl booths, are rewardingly evocative of the period.
It would be a fine thing if “Diner” found its footing, lived longer and prospered. Having achieved so much in their own popular art forms, Crow and Levinson are still learning to maneuver creatively in this one. Building a great show is exhausting. An audience wishes them the energy to persevere and triumph.
book by Barry Levinson, music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow. Directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. Sets, Derek McLane and James Kronzer; music direction, Lon Hoyt; costumes, Paul Tazewell; lighting, Peter Kaczorowski; sound, Lane Elms; orchestrations, Mitchell Froom; wigs, Charles G. LaPointe. With Maria Egler, Aaron C. Finley, Nova Y. Payton, Russell Sunday, John Leslie Wolfe, Colleen Hayes. About 2 hours 40 minutes. Through Jan. 25 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. www.signature-theatre.org or call 703-573-SEAT. The run has only scattered tickets left; the theater advises checking the Web site for availability.
SOURCE: The Washington Post
[VIDEO] Watch Signature Theatre's New Trailer for Sheryl Crow's DINER
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow to Perform at Blackberry Farm for Americana Spring Celebration
The Americana Music Association has announced the lineup for the 5th Annual Americana Spring Celebration to be held April 23-26, 2015, with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, at Blackberry Farm, a world-class luxury resort breathtakingly situated in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.
This year's musical experience will feature nine-time GRAMMY winning recording artist Sheryl Crow, three-time GRAMMY winner Keb' Mo', and critically acclaimed songstress Holly Williams playing before the inspiring backdrop of Blackberry Farm to benefit the not-for-profit artist advocacy group. Reservations are available by calling 1-800-557-8864 or visiting www.blackberryfarm.com.
"We are honored that artists of this caliber will be participating in our Americana Spring Celebration. This event has become an important fundraiser complementing the wide array of events we produce throughout the year," said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, adding, "and it just keeps getting better and better."
SOURCE: The Daily Country
[INTERVIEW] Kennett Crossroads: a conversation with Sheryl Crow
By Meg Benson
The Daily Dunklin Democrat
Photo: Bill Greenblatt
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a four-part series of interviews with each of the artists in the upcoming Kennett Crossroads concert, Sheryl Crow, Trent Tomlinson, Noll Billings and David Nail.
While Sheryl Crow is thrilled about the upcoming Kennett Crossroads concert, there is something she has recently had to take care of first. "I've been spending almost all my time I Washington, D.C., for weeks and weeks now, and it's something I'm very excited to talk about," said Crow.
On Saturday, she joined famed film director and screenwriter Barry Levinson, at the capitol city's Signature Theatre, for the debut of the new musical, "Diner," the pair's collaboration based on Levinson's iconic 1982 film of the same name. (LevinSON has also directed other hit films, such as "Rain Man, Tin Men, The Natural" and "Good Morning, Vietnam.") Written as a love letter to his youth, spent growing up in Baltimore, Md., and set during the last five days of 1959, the story follows the highs and lows of the friendships among six young men who liked to hang out on the right-hand side of their favorite diner. The movie proved a break-out success for an entire roster of young stars, including Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Ellen Barkin and Timothy Daly.
"Levinson approached me three years ago, out of the blue...really, like a cold call," explained Crow. "He said he had been listening to a lot of my music lately. I couldn't believe how well he knew my catalog. He was citing some of the more obscure songs. He felt I was a good, descriptive writer. I guess my songs drew a picture for him, and he thought I was the songwriter most equipped to give voices to his characters."
While the film launched several movie careers, the musical's cast is new. "They're all kids from New York...some with Tony nominations...but not names you'd recognize," said Crow. And there's a cherry atop this musical sundae. Following these past three years of production preparation, Crow and Levinson hope to take the show to Broadway, once the D.C. run ends on Christmas Day. "It's been going great. We've been in weeks of previews recently, where you basically take a show out of town, fine-tune and hone it, tweak it, until it's the best it can be. In fact, the Signature Theatre is known for nurturing these new shows, as they get ready for their official debuts, and then get ready for Broadway," Crow explained.
While Crow's musical biography is long and distinguished, she said "Diner" is her very first run at this type of stage work. "Never! Never since my high school musicals have I ever done anything like this. Well, except for the fact that I grew up in the Crow family," she smiled. "There was Wednesday Music Club, and we all grew up watching song and dance shows on TV. In fact, I've always been a huge fan of musicals."
That brings us back to the type of stage the nine-time Grammy winner is much more familiar with, and in a place she knows like the back of her hand. Crow will help headline the Kennett Crossroads concert on two consecutive nights next month, Jan. 18, at the Kennett Opera House, and Jan. 19, at the Kennett High School Auditorium. The two-night event, hosted by the Kennett Educational Foundation No. 39 (KEF), will benefit the KHS Performing Arts and Athletic Departments. The concert will also feature Kennett's three other musical powerhouses, country music stars David Nail and Trent Tomlinson, and Noll Billings, of the Nashville duo, "Blackjack Billy."
When originally reached this fall to talk about the event, Crow said, "I am thrilled to be a part of the Kennett Crossroads concert. I am so proud to be from Kennett and am always bragging about the talent that has spawned from our little town. I am really looking forward to sharing the stage with David and Trent and Noll, and his band. I hope people will come out and support this great cause."
While Kennett School Board President Matt Shetley and Kennett Public School District Superintendent Chris Wilson got the wheels into permanent motion on what has been a dream of many in Kennett for years, all roads also lead to a third person, in making the thing happen...long-time KHS choir director and musical mentor, Viretta Sexton.
"Mom told me some people in town were wanting to properly celebrate Viretta's long-time dedication to the arts in Kennett," Crow said. "We began e-mailing back and forth and, eventually, a committee picked it up and ran with it. I think that was in the early fall or, perhaps, even earlier. I was on the road at the time, and I told them the January timing would be perfect. That is a good time for almost all touring artists...a great time to catch them, when they're not on the road.
Sexton, a past vocal instructor of all of the performers, whether at church or at school, remains shy about taking up much of the spotlight. "This concert is certainly something I have always dreamed of, but I don't know that I can take that credit," Sexton said. They (Shetley and Wilson) had the vision to push for it." And, in fact, Sexton explained, it was both men who really got the i's dotted and t's crossed, going behind the scenes to negotiate final show dates and contract details with all the artists.
Tickets to the Sunday night acoustic performance at the Opera House are sold out. However, Monday night tickets remain available in both the KHS Auditorium main floor and balcony seating areas, at price levels of $100, $125, $150, $175 and $200.
Crow is excited about her latest opportunity to perform for hometown crowds. "I'm really looking forward to both shows. At the Opera House acoustic performance, it'll be exciting because, when you see artists strip down like that, you really get a sense of their talent and who they are. Then, the next night, when the bands plug in and truly give it their all, it's quite something to see," she said.
This will be Crow's fourth headliner in Kennett. In July of 1996, she performed in a KEF benefit concert at the KHS Metz Cherry Football Stadium. In September of 1999, as the Southeast Missouri State University-Kennett campus was getting up and running, she performed at the American Legion Building, to help raise money for area scholarships. And, in November of 2010, she played the Opera House, in another benefit for KEF.
Those performances have brought along a variety of bands. "I started my solo career 23 years ago. My first band, I put together with all St. Louis players," Crow remembered. "The next band, we played together for 13 years. They came from all over...two from the U.K., two from Atlanta, one from Oakland. Then, I released '100 Miles from Memphis,' which was rhythm and blues, so the band changed completely. It was very large. Now, they're all from Nashville. They're fabulous, and that's the band that will be with me in Kennett," she said
While the Kennett Crossroads concert will benefit a pair of KHS programs, Crow's dedication to her hometown has never stopped at the schoolyard curbside. The Sheryl Crow Aquatic Center was built in 2005, after the old city pool in Jones Park was condemned. Crow has also been a huge supporter of the Delta Children's Home, in Kennett. "I have an incredibly generous fan base, which holds a birthday drive for the Home every year, "Crow said. She also helped to build the new KHS tennis courts. "Well, you know, Dad always played tennis. So did I. I grew up, playing on those courts. Tennis is a great sport, something we can do and enjoy all our lives. The courts were dilapidated, so we redid them."
Crow reached out to tennis legend, Billie Jean King, for help. "I met her years ago. I had done a couple of fundraisers for the Women's Tennis Association. They had an auction one year, and I bought a couple of chances to play against her, on Center Court, at the U.S. Open," Crow recalled "It was my dad's 75th birthday, so we all flew to New York, and that was his present. It was such a great outing for the family, and my nephews, Bradley and Chase, even got to serve as ball boys for Billie Jean King."
Kennett has always enjoyed the richest depths of musical talent. As the local saying goes, "There must be something in the water." But, when it comes to that talent, the Crow household must have had an extra water spigot over the years. "Both my parents have always been, and still are, avid music fans. They exposed us to all different kinds of music. My mother (Bernice) has always had one of the finest voices in town. And, as most of Kennett knows, Dad plays in a rock band," Crow chuckled. In addition to her stunning vocals, Bernice is a long-time piano instructor, and husband, Wendell, plays in the local band, 'The Usual Suspects.' He has even occasionally appeared on the road with his daughter. "As rock and roll goes, I definitely didn't have a tortured childhood," laughed Crow. "I grew up with very loving, very giving parents."
The family talent doesn't stop there. Sisters Kathy and Karen are also gifted singers and pianists, and Kathy is a talented songwriter, as well. Crow's brother, Steve, a successful construction contractor, also mixes into the family's musical brew. "He went a different direction, but he, too, is very musical. He's got a great ear and can, dead-on, sing any guitar solo or whistle string lines. He's a big music lover, and he also plays a bit of piano."
The Crow family has also been involved in another music genre, locally: jazz. Both Bernice and Wendell played in a local, swing band years ago, "The Kicks Band," which featured a group of talented jazz musicians who regularly performed at a variety of community events. Bernice sang vocals, while Wendell played trumpet. "One of my most cherished memories is hearing my parents come home, late at night, playing their records on our old Magnavox. My sisters and I would sit at the top of the stairs, and even fall asleep there, wondering what was going on, on the other side of that wall. It was magical. I have great memories of it," Crow recalled.
These days, Crow has little ones of her own to tuck into bed at night, in Nashville...a pair of young sons, Wyatt and Levi. Since their earliest days, both boys have routinely gone out on the road with their mom. Crow added, "It's a bit trickier, now that Wyatt's in school. But, yes, I still take them out with me, whenever I can. I also do a lot of red-eye's. I try to, at least, put them in bed or wake up with them in the morning. Our rule is to never be more than two nights away from each other."
The rest of Crow's family is also a frequent visitor on the road. "Steve and his family come out as much as they can. And, in fact, my parents and Kathy recently joined me for an eight-day tour of Scotland, Ireland and England. I also played London's Royal Albert Hall on that trip, a huge, old Shakespearean theater, which is my absolute favorite place to play in the world," said Crow.
Once the holidays are over, and the "Diner" preview run closes, Crow will return to Washington, D.C., to perform in a concert tribute to singer and songwriter, Emmylou Harris. Shortly afterward, she'll return to Kennett, for the Crossroads concert. "Everyone who knows me knows that Kennett is my beloved community, my first home, and I continue to get home quite often. Having come from such a supportive community, I'm glad to be a part of the Crossroads concert line-up," Crow said.
Sexton is more than happy to welcome her. "I truly believe that Sheryl's success has inspired our students, after her, to believe that it is possible to follow your dream and succeed. I am sure her success had a very positive influence on Trent, David and Noll and, hopefully, many students yet to come. Our community is truly blessed with talent," Sexton said.
For more details about Kennett Crossroads, or to purchase tickets, visit www.KEFconcert.com.
SOURCE: The Daily Dunklin Democrat
[VIDEO] Merry Christmas From Sheryl Crow
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow is a Ruth Bader Ginsburg fangirl
By Emily Heil
The Washington Post
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to be a trending topic — just ask her superstar fan club.
During a special Sunday night performance of the new musical “Diner” at Signature Theater, musician Sheryl Crow revealed herself to be an admirer of the jurist better known lately as “The Notorious RBG.” Crow, we’re told, spotted Ginsburg entering the theater and asked a theater staffer for an introduction.
The singer/songwriter’s OMG moment led to a backstage confab during intermission, where Ginsburg met Crow, who wrote the music and lyrics to “Diner,” Barry Levinson, who wrote its book (and directed the original 1982 film on which the musical is based), and several cast members. Crow was “definitely starstruck,” reports a backstage witness.
SOURCE: The Washington Post
[NEWS] Birthday Drive 2015 - Grand Prize first photos
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
... MORE INFO COMING SOON!
[VIDEO] Special opening night of Diner at the Signature Theatre
[PHOTO] Official opening backstage photo - 21 December
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
With Barry Levinson, Josh Grisetti, Erika Henningsen.
Signature Theater, Arlingon, VA - 21 Dec.
Photo: Josh Grisetti
[RADIO] Sheryl Crow Talks About Writing Music for the Stage Production of 'Diner'
97.1 WASH FM Radio Interview
[NEWS] Darius Rucker Was Inspired By ‘Elf’ to Record Sheryl Crow Christmas Duet
By Christina Vinson
Will Ferrell‘s hit Christmas movie ‘Elf’ is a must-see during the holidays. Not only is it funny, full of Christmas cheer and highly entertaining — it also propelled Darius Rucker to record a duet with Sheryl Crow on his ‘Home for the Holidays’ album.
Fans of the movie may remember the shower scene with Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel (no, it’s not that kind of shower scene): Ferrell, who plays Buddy the Elf, overhears Deschanel singing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ while showering in the mall’s locker room, and he innocently decides to sing a duet with the actress, prompting a hilarious reaction from her — and him.
Rucker loved that scene so much, he wanted in on it.
“I decided to do ['Baby It's Cold Outside'] for one reason … for that movie and how great they did it when she’s taking a shower in the bathroom, and he comes and sits on the counter, and he’s singing along with her,” he says.
Rucker tapped Crow to record the duet with him, but that’s where the ‘Elf’ inspiration ended; no showers were included in the recording. The two country singers were, however, in the same room together while cutting the song, making memories along the way — a rather uncommon way of recording in today’s industry, where most duet parts are recorded independently of one another.
“When we got Sheryl to come and do it … sitting there with her in the studio, right next to each other, singing it over and over and laughing and having a great time, I knew it was a great choice,” Rucker confirms.
The South Carolina native’s holiday album is available now, and he calls it a dream come true. ‘Home for the Holidays’ boasts 12 tracks compiled into Rucker’s first collection of holiday hits.
The ‘Homegrown Honey’ singer has been as busy as Santa Claus this season, most recently performing for the ‘Christmas in Washington’ TV special, which premieres on TNT on Dec. 19 at 8 PM ET.
[PIX] With Dean Alexander
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
Nashville singer-songwriter Dean Alexander has revealed on Twitter that Sheryl recorded background vocals on a new unspecified song:
Photos: Dean Alexander
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow and David Nail to meet at Kennett Crossroads
By Tammy Hilderbrand
KENNETT, Mo. – Exactly what is in the water in Kennett, MO?
I’m not sure, but I’ll bet there are some music industry people who would love to be able to bottle it.
For such a tiny town, it has had some huge names emerge from it. Sheryl Crow. David Nail. And then add emerging artists like Blackjack Billy, Nall Billings, and Trent Tomlinson. The evidence is pretty amazing.
All of those artists are coming home for a concert to benefit their high school, Kennett High School, and the Kennett #39 Educational Foundation, which is working to elevate Kennett Public Schools through grants for innovative teachers, scholarships for students, and plans to help out the school’s Performing Arts and Athletic Departments.
The concert is being called “Kennett Crossroads,” and is scheduled for Monday, January 19 at the Kennett High School Gym. Only about 1500 tickets are available for this rare opportunity to get up close to the stars. Tickets range in price from $50 to $200 each. They are currently on sale at www.kefconcert.com.
Sponsorships are also available for the concert. A sponsorship is $2,500, but includes four VIP tickets, a meet and greet with the stars, and other opportunities.
If you prefer a truly intimate experience, you may want to attend the acoustic “Songwriter’s Night,” held the previous evening – Sunday, January 18. The acoustic set will be held at the Kennett Opera House at 8 p.m. Tickets for that event are $300, and are still on sale.
Both Sheryl Crow and David Nail have made no secret of the fact that their hometown helped make them who they are, as people and as artists.
Crow’s latest album, “Feels Like Home,” is considered one of her most personal works. Recorded under the Warner Nashville label, it takes a country turn. She wanted to write about what she really knows…and that is home – Kennett.
The album incorporates the feel of Kennett, a community made up of small town values, farmland, churches, and schools.
“Back when I was growing up, the outside world wasn’t much of our experience,” Crow said. “I grew up with two radio stations that played country.”
Since his debut in 2009, David Nail has also been making a career singing songs that grew through his Kennett roots.
Kristin McPherson, who has been helping to organize this concert, said it has been a long time coming about.
“It’s not easy to coordinate schedules for something like this,” she admitted.
McPherson is originally from Memphis, and moved to Kennett 23 years ago.
“I think what I’ve loved most about Kennett is that it is such a close community. And I’ve found Sheryl, and David, and this whole group of artists, are just very down-to-earth people, and they truly love their hometown,” said McPherson.
She says Crow’s family has been fun to get to know.
“I remember when Sheryl first moved to LA. I remember her dad was very concerned about her, and then soon as that first single was out, she became known everywhere,” said McPherson. “And Sheryl has been extremely giving to Kennett. She helped fund the city pool, helped build tennis courts for the high school tennis team, and has done several concerts here in Kennett.”
The other artists involved with this Crossroads concert are also Kennett boosters.
“All of these performers come from families who are very involved with the Kennett school system. It’s nice that none of them have forgotten their roots,” concluded McPherson.
[NEWS] "Diner" review: Excerpts from the Baltimore Sun
Levinson's decision to provide more of a female perspective dovetailed neatly with his choice for songwriter.
"Sheryl had a really good understanding of 'Diner' and the guys, but also what I was hoping for in terms of the female characters," Levinson says. "She was able to find the essence of that."
Crow, who has not attempted to write a musical before ("When Barry asked me to do this I was flattered and taken aback"), found particular inspiration in the character of Barbara, casual girlfriend to a "Diner" guy attending grad school.
"She has found out she's pregnant, but she wants to keep her job," Crow says. "She isn't prepared to give all that up. She is the representative of a modern, changing woman in the story. So I made the style of her song different from the others. It's got an almost Burt Bacharach, '60s feel."
That song's expressive heat and strong hook could be easily appreciated during rehearsal, even with just a piano accompaniment.
Getting to the point where she felt comfortable with matching song, character and plot took Crow a while.
"Music was such a huge part of the movie, a dramatic character in and of itself," she says. "The first couple months, I was completely hung up."
But as she delved into the musical history of 1959, Crow found a good deal of inspiration.
"When you look at the 100 hits of that year, there was a whole gamut of styles, some waning, some [pointing to] the '60s," she says. "I knew exactly what I wanted to pull from that world. And I knew what songs I would write for inner monologues and what songs would be part of the action of the play. I'm proud of the music. But I'm hoping people will listen to it and not hear Sheryl Crow."
There are no other plans "on the horizon" for "Diner" beyond its Signature run, Schaeffer says. Whether it will eventually make it to Broadway remains an open question.
"That would be wonderful," Levinson says. "But for now, let's see just if we can put together a good show — that, to me, is the challenge — and see if we get an audience interested in a two-hour journey."
Given the caliber of the creative team, that interest is practically guaranteed. It doesn't hurt that the "Diner" title is such a strong brand in itself.
[2015 TOUR] Mom’s Weekend 2015 at Washington State University
Saturday, April 11
($55.50 for WSU staff, faculty, and students)
On sale Friday, January 16, at 10:00 a.m. at the Beasley Coliseum box office or TicketsWest outlets.
[NEWS] Sheryl Crow expands her range, writing the songs for stage’s ‘Diner’
Sheryl Crow photographed in her recording studio and barn in Nashville,Tennessee. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
By Peter Marks in Nashville
The Washington Post
When Gene Kelly gazed into the camera, 9-year-old Sheryl Crow of Kennett, Mo., imagined he was getting ready to sing just for her. “I loved him so much that I wrote him: ‘Gene Kelly, care of Warner Brothers,’” she recalls, laughing. The swoon hadn’t worn off by the time a signed autograph finally arrived nearly a year later. “I thought, ‘Just wait, please wait, for me to grow up.’ ”
It was the dreamy Gene Kelly in “Brigadoon,” the movie version of the Lerner and Loewe musical, that Crow saw on TV and fell hard for. The production unfolding around him enthralled her, too. “It was everything: the story, the romance, the fantasy of it,” she recalls. “But also I think the music. There’s something about melodies that can really change the molecules, change the emotions. Songs like ‘Somewhere’ or ‘Who Will Buy?’ — Ohhh! — that you just go around singing.”
Crow is sitting in the handsome main house on her rambling property of hills and stables south of downtown Nashville, humming bits of those songs, from “West Side Story” and “Oliver!”, and tracing the long trail that has led her to compose the musical version of the cult movie “Diner.” Crow was approached by Barry Levinson, director of the 1982 film, to write the songs for the show — the coming-of-age story of a group of buddies in the Baltimore of 1959 — which began preview performances at Signature Theatre on Dec. 9. With Levinson writing the book and Kathleen Marshall staging it, the hope is that this new “Diner” — focusing not only on the young men but also, freshly, the women of the story — will find a home on Broadway.
First, though, musical-theater novices Crow and Levinson have to gauge what they’ve got during the world-premiere seven-week run in the 275-seat theater in Shirlington, their first opportunity to do so in three and a half years of endeavoring to make Levinson’s beloved characters sing. Tickets are now selling briskly, but there have been some “stumbling blocks” along the way, as Crow defines them: most harmfully, the scrubbing of a Broadway run, announced by the show’s original producer, that was to have begun in April 2013.
That proved to be wildly, presumptuously optimistic — the piece was simply in no shape to be staged back then — and a setback psychologically. Crow says she felt she was being placed on a pedestal early on, kept away from industry people who might have offered both her and Levinson sounder advice. But a new trajectory for the musical was established under a new producer, Scott Landis, who steered a tryout run to the Tony-recognized Northern Virginia company and Crow and Levinson to a lower-pressure start-up. “Ultimately, it’s made us sort of the underdog,” Crow says. “So I think both of us are now, more than being nervous about it, we’re much more anxious about getting it up on its feet. So we can really see what we have.”
If it’s a coup for Signature to be able to roll out a show with such famous names attached, it’s a hugely meaningful moment for Crow, who joins Cyndi Lauper (“Kinky Boots”), Elton John (“The Lion King” and “Aida”), Paul Simon (“The Capeman”) and Sting (“The Last Ship”) in the growing ranks of recording stars who have taken up side pursuits as musical-theater composers.
“I just never thought that it was an option,” the Grammy-winning Crow, 52, says when asked about a Broadway segue. “There were people who wrote musicals, and then there were people that were in the pop or rock world.” Her faith in crossovers was bolstered by the Broadway success of her own hero and early champion, Elton John, to whom she owes a lot. “He talked about me in Rolling Stone and on NPR, about this girl who made this record,” she says, “and it changed the scope of my career.”
“Diner” has allowed Crow to explore her musicality through characters in a way she has never gotten to in a stadium or concert hall, and so the process for her has been especially stimulating. “It’s been a great exercise,” she says. “I call it an exercise because it’s not like anything I’ve ever done.” Of course, potential hazards exist, of a variety that some of her pop and rock cohorts have run into: The talent that has earned them a following in their own field isn’t easily applied to the matrix of story, dialogue, music, movement and design that is the modern musical.
“It’s not like the movies, where you can rely on the camera to capture facial expressions,” she explains. “It’s a whole different thing, and Barry and I have learned a lot. There’s no slow moment of looking into somebody’s eyes and knowing their emotion. It is more like: Lay that story out.”
Crow composed the songs for “Diner” on piano and guitar at home in Nashville, where she is raising, on her own, her two boys, Wyatt, 7 and Levi, 4. Her spread is a place out of a child’s, not to mention a country singer’s, dreams: One counts 10 horses residing in her stables, near which Crow has built her own recording studio, a rustic sanctuary on whose walls hang her collection of guitars. (She erected a small chapel a few steps away; at the moment, a young man is sprawled on the floor of it, sorting the pieces of the boys’ more than 100 Lego sets.)
She settled in Nashville several years ago, looking for a community of musicians and a refuge. After a “very public” breakup with Lance Armstrong and a breast cancer diagnosis, Los Angeles became an unlivable fishbowl: “Suddenly I was like Kim Kardashian,” she says. Now she finds she’s permitted to kick off her boots and be Sheryl: “That tradition still exists here, and it doesn’t exist anywhere else I’ve ever found, where you go to a dinner party and you eat, and the next thing you know, it’s 2:30 in the morning and you’ve all been sitting around playing guitars.”
Crow has stepped back, too, from the political activism she’s been known for, a devotion on display most visibly through her performance at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. “There came a point where I felt like the energy I was putting into it was just becoming part of the noise out there,” she says, adding that she has paid a price for broadcasting her ideals. “There were a lot of radio stations that wouldn’t play me because of who I was perceived to be.”
So now, Crow sticks closer to home where causes are concerned, working, for example, on a project to attract corporate support to public school classrooms. “My sister is a teacher, and my other sister was a teacher as well. We know what it’s like to try and live on $30,000 a year.”
She has a hard time letting ideological incivility pass, even now. While touring in the South last summer with Rascal Flatts, one of the band members jokingly announced that President Obama was in the house, “and the audience booed. And you know, that’s difficult for me. I just walked up to the mike and said: ‘Oh no, no, no, no, you need to pray for the president. I don’t care what side of the aisle you stand on, you need to pray for the man who is leading all of us at this moment.’ ”
Crow herself started out as a music teacher in the St. Louis suburbs, and in a way, her involvement in this period-specific musical is a summoning of her own past — at least the early part of it that was consumed with the study of music theory and composition, tools she never expected again to rely on so heavily. A phone call one day from Levinson set her on this new path. He’d been listening, he told her, to “Leaving Las Vegas,” a song on her 1993 first album, “Tuesday Night Music Club.”
“You get a sense when you listen to her songs that they are great stories,” says Levinson, who set up a meeting with her in New York to discuss a collaboration. “And just to redo ‘Diner’ wasn’t that interesting to me. I wanted to see how much we could open it up, and now, we could open the door to the female point of view.”
The idea had enormous appeal to Crow, who admired the movie, a character-driven mosaic of post-adolescence forged from Levinson’s own memories that established him as one of the sharpest cinematic voices of the ’80s. She went back and watched it again and this time, had concerns.
“I think the second conversation was when I said: ‘Barry, I love the movie. Nothing happens in the movie. It’s just people talking. So how’s this going to work?’ ”
Finding a through line for the stage proved unnerving early on. Levinson, an intuitive director who for the movie version often resorted to improvisation, was no more schooled in the rigors of this process than she was: “Barry said, ‘Yeah, look at the movie script and write five or six songs where you think they might fit, and then let’s get together.’
“So I spent about six months with this script, walking around like an amateur actor with a script in my back pocket just going: ‘What the hell? What am I doing?’ ”
The breakthrough for Crow occurred after she begged for and received an outline of the show. She stayed up all that night composing. The next morning, she called Levinson and said, “I’ve written five songs.”
One of them was a song for Beth, a number that validated for Levinson his instincts about broadening the perspective of “Diner” to account for the aspirations and frustrations of young women in the late 1950s. In the movie, Ellen Barkin — an acquaintance of Crow’s — played Beth, who is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage to Daniel Stern’s immature Shrevie, and it was with Barkin in her head that Crow wrote “Tear Down This House.” The song has become an anthem of sorts, she says: “All of the women in the production appear, representing all the housewives in the world, asking the question: ‘Am I a person now, or am I just a figure of this person’s existence?’ ”
Levinson became a sounding board she trusted utterly. She sent him snippets of herself playing songs into her iPhone, and “he would do a little just like chiropractic adjustment and I’d be on my way.”
Locating, too, a musicological outline in the styles of the period — doo-wop, early rock-and-roll, the sounds of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Avalon — Crow discovered a teacher’s pleasure in both the research and, later, in giving homework to the actors. She asked each of them to listen to great singers — Sinatra and Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick — whose voices were in Crow’s head, too.
Now, she waits for an indication of how memorably the new music of “Diner” fills the heads of people she doesn’t know. Ideally, she says, they will be thinking of Beth and Shrevie and Fenwick and Eddie and Barbara, and not, specifically, of Sheryl.
“If they leave with songs that stick with them,” she says, “I’ll feel vindicated.”
SOURCE: The Washington Post
[NEWS] At Post POV, Sheryl Crow and Barry Levinson take a seat in Signature Theatre’s ‘Diner’
Arman Azad, YJDP Student Correspondent
Nine-time Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow and Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson sat down on Monday night with Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks for an intimate discussion of “Diner,” an upcoming musical set to debut today at Arlington’s Signature Theatre.
The production, which features music from Crow, was a three-and-a-half year project seeking to adapt the 1982 film of the same name to the stage in a first-ever experience for the songwriter.
The task of creating a theater production was uncharted territory, explained Crow and Levinson, but the artists were eager to attempt to bring the comedy, set in 1959, to the D.C. area.
“There is something about a learning experience that I think is really exciting,” Crow said at the forum. “You’re suddenly stepping into somewhere you haven’t been, and you go, alright, lets see.”
For Crow, a singer whose work has dominated the charts since her first album in 1993, working on a stage production was refreshing “because when you’ve been doing what you know best for 25 years, it’s great to do something you’re not really exactly sure how to do.”
In response to a question from Marks regarding the difficulties of navigating the theater landscape, Levinson replied, “All I know is that we put something together, something that was very different from the way I work…it’s all very new, and that in itself is worthwhile.”
Marks, often provoking laughs in the crowd of the sold-out event, elicited the personal aspects of Crow and Levinson’s experience working on the show. At one point, Crow described late-night conversations between her and Levinson to fine-tune pieces. Her intermittent bursts of song, which offered the audience a window into the show, were met with fervent applause from the crowd.
Following the event, Crow said in an interview, “I love the people and these characters, and I’m excited about the possibility that the music that I’ve written will move people and leave them humming a song as they leave the theater.”
Marks, who moderated the event, noted the show’s contribution to the D.C.-area theater scene. “The theater needs more of this kind of creative energy, and accomplished, skillful artists who want to try their hand at it,” he said. “So it’s very exciting to have this caliber of artist working locally and unveiling this piece to the world through Signature Theatre.”
The event was the final Post POV event of the season, but the first for Marks:
“If the conversation can go on, with people who love theater, it’s an extension of my job and it does me a world of good to have people engaged, so we can actually have a dialogue with people in the arts,” he said.
SOURCE: Washington Post
[VIDEO] "Wide River to Cross" by Sheryl Crow & MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band (CNN Heroes)
[PIX] Sheryl Crow & Barry Levinson - Diner: An Intimate Conversation
Sheryl, Barry Levinson and WaPo's Chief Theater Critic Peter Marks @ Green Room
(Photo credit: Signature Theater)
Photo: Desh Rager
[ CLICK TO ENLARGE ]
Photo: Scott Ableman
Photo credit: Signature Theater
Photo: Joe Zaben
Photo: Joe Zaben
Signature Theatre's MAX Theatre
Arlington, Virginia (USA)
8 December 2014
[VIDEO] Sheryl Crow interviewed during rehearsal for "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute"
[VIDEO] Sheryl Crow open up at special performance @ Vanderbilt University
:: PHOTOS ::
Blair School of Music
Nashville, Tennessee (USA)
4 November 2014
[NEWS] DINER: Intimate Conversation with Sheryl Crow & Berry Levinson
[NEWS] ‘Diner’ Returns to Its Roots for World Premiere
Northern Virginia Magazine
Signature Theatre will host the world premiere musical adaptation of Barry Levinson’s 1982 film
Who says you can’t come home? After a bumpy road, the musical adaptation of Barry Levinson’s 1982 film “Diner” is doing just that with its world premiere at Arlington’s Signature Theatre. With music from Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow, book by Levinson and choreography and direction from Tony Award-winner Kathleen Marshall, Signature has landed a juggernaut to help celebrate their 25th anniversary season.
In development since 2011, the “Diner” world premiere was delayed in San Francisco in the fall of 2012, and then again on Broadway in April 2013. Original producer Scott Zeiger left the production and was replaced by Scott Landis, who, with the rest of the creative team, decided that a regional theater near the Baltimore area, where the film is set, would be the perfect locale to get “Diner” going.
“A call came asking if we would have any interest in premiering ‘Diner,’” says Signature’s Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. “The writers knew our track record of producing new work and it was the perfect fit.”
One of Signature’s calling cards over its 25 years has been their development of new projects. The theatre has had 38 world premieres since its conception, including a musical adaptation of Iris Rainer Dart’s novel “Beaches,” which wound up being the theatre’s highest selling world premiere. But Signature is extremely excited about “Diner” in large part due to the talent involved.
“It’s not too often an artist who has sold 60 million copies comes to Signature,” says Signature’s Managing Director Maggie Boland about Crow. Boland had to make some last minute shifts, however, to make sure they could lock up the premiere.
“It happened at just the right moment as we were finalizing the season, schedule and budget,” says Boland.
“Diner” was able to slide into a space previously occupied by a revival of “The Fix,” a musical by John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe. According to Boland, the shows were close enough in budget that the switch wouldn’t cause any problems. “The Fix” has been pushed to the 2015-2016 season.
Above all, Signature is confident in the show. Set in 1950s Baltimore during Christmas, “Diner” follows a group of friends who reunite for an upcoming wedding. Together they face the realities of adulthood—marriage, money and the mysteries of the opposite sex—at the place they will always belong, the diner.
“For folks who love the movie ‘Diner,’ the musical is going to be exactly what they’re looking for,” says Boland. —Michael Balderston
“Diner” premieres December 9 and runs through January 25, 2015; signature-theatre.org
SOURCE: Northern Virginia Magazine