Art Beat: 'Ebenezer' in photos, Kasaan clan house restoration and more

Mike Dunham
West senior Alex Lammon soars as Belle, the love interest of a young Ebenezer Scrooge, as Scrooge is shown his past in Ebenezer, a modernized version of A Christmas Carol, Saturday evening Dec. 15, 2012 at West High School. The performance by the West High Dance Program was dedicated to the late art teacher Steve Ortland. Holiday shows, performances and assemblies are taking place around the Anchorage School District as the semester winds down for winter break. The last day of school for the year is Thursday, Dec. 20.
Erik Hill
A dream of happier times in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to life in Ebenezer, a modernized version of A Christmas Carol, Saturday evening Dec. 15, 2012 at West High School.
Erik Hill

It's gone like Christmas past, but earlier this month West High School presented a lively updating of "A Christmas Carol" titled "Ebenezer." The big-cast production featured flappers, a break-dancing Ghost of Marley and eerie glow-in-the-dark special effects.

Daily News photographer Erik Hill caught some of the more memorable moments on camera and has posted a gallery online that proved popular with readers last week. Take a look at the ambitious work that young Anchorage thespians are doing at


Kasaan clan house under repair

The Chief Son-i-Hat Whale House in Kasaan, on Prince of Wales Island, is undergoing restoration by the Organized Village of Kasaan and its corporate entity, Kavilco, thanks to a grant funded by the National Park Service. The building, originally constructed in the 1880s, may be the best example of 19th century Haida workmanship remaining in Alaska. The site, which includes several totem poles, was largely reconstructed in the 1930s, when Kasaan boasted stores and a cannery, but suffered neglect as the village waned.

Frederick Olsen, Jr., who is coordinating the project on behalf of the village, said the work is in the second phase of a seven-phase plan. The hope is to use as much of the existing structure as possible and to employ traditional carving tools and techniques for such materials as must be re-fabricated.

Photos at the village website,, show workers laboring on the building and wrapping the splendid house posts in plastic. The television show "Heartbeat Alaska" will feature a program on the project this weekend. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. on Dec. 23, 24 and 25 on GCI Channel 1. It will also air on the Alaska on Demand channel, GCI Channel 777, during the same dates.


Two artists buried at the same hour

Simultaneous funeral services for two longtime Anchorage artists took place on opposite ends of Anchorage at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 20. Armond Kirschbaum's service took place at St. Patrick's in Muldoon while Scott McDaniel was remembered at St. Benedict's in Jewel Lake. Obituaries for both ran on Dec. 19. A public celebration of Kirschbaum's life is planned for January 15 at the new Blue-Holloman Gallery on Arctic Boulevard and 36th Avenue.

A tribute to McDaniel will take place next summer. He was best known for his Alaskana, landscapes, cabins and caches. He also did the painting of the "Nativity of Christ" at Providence Alaska Medical Center. It was given by the artist in thanksgiving, he said, for treatment he received for a heart condition there in 1994. A gentle and modest man, McDaniel seldom spoke of his military service in World War II. (Kirschbaum also served, a Seabee in the Pacific.) A rare exception happened when a young relative excitedly described the game of paint ball. "It's fun," he said. "Did you ever do it?"

McDaniel replied with a smile and a near-whisper. "No. We used the real thing."


Boxing Day recital

Homegrown soprano Sydnee Waggoner, who recently earned her master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music, is in town for the holidays and teaming up with tenor Hector Manuel Mir in a program of opera excerpts, English and Spanish songs and a few holiday tunes at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 26, at St. John's United Methodist Church on O'Malley Road. Janet Carr-Campbell will accompany the duo.

Waggoner, a former Miss Alaska, will be performing Zerlina in "Don Giovanni" in New York next year. She and Mir will be following the Anchorage concert with one in Mir's home town, Miami, next month as part of the Emerging Artists series sponsored by What if Works.

The concert will be free, though donations will be accepted. A reception for the singers will follow.


They came, they saw, they wrote about it

Helen Spector teaches a basic writing class at UAA and every year arranges for students to catch a play. "We basically buy out the house," she says. Sometimes she has them write about it. This month they attended "It's a Wonderful Life" at Cyrano's and sent in their observations.

"I watched each of the actors, wondering how in the world they were able to act as different characters. It was amazing!" wrote one. "After that thought, I had an epiphany; this is why they're called actors, because they're capable of doing such these type of stuff, like disguising their voices and making it look so real."

Another said, "Even my boyfriend, who I brought with me, liked it a lot, and would now like to go to more plays."

"One thing that made me happy was the applause sign. I have always wanted to be in an audience with a sign like that," said yet another.

We posted all of the comments at "It's a Wonderful Life" wraps up its run at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 23. Other local productions with final shows today include "My Three Angels" at Anchorage Community Theatre, also at 3 p.m., John Dalton's "Raven's Radio Hour -- the Muktukmas Show" with Pamyua at Sydney Laurence Theatre at 3 p.m. and Valley Performing Arts' "Cottonpatch Gospel," at the Machetanz Theatre in Wasilla at 2 p.m.


Revisiting Vann's book

Speculation and bloviation around the horrific shooting at a Connecticut school last week has not subsided. "The Last Day on Earth" by Alaska-born author David Vann came to my mind. In the 2011 book about Steve Kazmierczak, who killed five people plus himself at Northern Illinois University in 2008, Vann had unusual access to the killer's emails and friends. With assiduous reporting and excellent writing, he created a map of the mass murderer's mind. I found the whole thing creepy, an unpleasant but unputdownable read. But given the similarities -- and differences -- that are popping up between Kazmierczak and Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, as information about the latter dribbles out a drop at a time, it probably deserves revisiting.

I've reposted last year's review of Vann's book at


Last-minute gift

If you're stumped for a gift for music-loving friends, consider tickets to the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra's upcoming "Wicked Divas" show. Julia Murney and Emily Rozek, aka Glinda and Elphaba in productions of "Wicked" on Broadway and elsewhere, will join the orchestra with selections from popular musicals like "Gypsy," "Ragtime," "Titanic" and "Carmen." Hey? How'd Bizet's opera get in there?

The concert will take place on February 9 and is not included in most subscriber's season ticket packages.