Art Beat: Busy week coming for performing arts in Anchorage

Mike Dunham
Cirque Mechanics, trolley hoop
Courtesy Cirque Mechanics
“Hardscrabble Miners,” by Daniel DeRoux, is among the Juneau artist's works that will continue on display at Jens' when the restaurant reopens in February, 2013.
Courtesy Daniel DeRoux

Anchorage will have a crowded performing arts calendar this weekend. In addition to "Tosca" and "Ever After," noted elsewhere in this section, Cirque Mechanics will perform in Atwood Concert Hall on Friday and Saturday. The Anchorage Concert Association is hosting the troupe of comic "acro-dancers," who mix bizarre machines with their athletic feats, and who will be holding workshops for high school and college students during their stay here. I'm not sure I'd want my teenager trying the stunts seen on online videos, particularly the trapeze bits. But it does look like fun. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. both days with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday.

Next door, in Sydney Laurence hall, Perseverance Theatre will present the world premiere of "Bigfoot & Other Lost Souls," a musical featuring music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann, who won a Tony for "Urinetown" and who previously worked with Perseverance when "Yeast Nation" was premiered in Juneau in 2007. We'll have more on this next week, but in the meantime, the production dates are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3, with a pay-what-you-can preview this Thursday.

Also opening Friday is Anchorage Community Theatre's production of "A Shayna Maidel." This play deals with a family in New York struggling to piece itself together after World War II. Erin Dagon Mitchell directs. The cast includes Karina Becker, Heather Sawyer and Shane Mitchell. We're told that Brian Saylor has designed "another brilliant set" and have no doubt that it's impressive. Shows will take place at ACT's theater, 1133 E. 70th Ave. through Feb. 17. Tickets and other information are available at

Finally, it's the last weekend for "Freud's Last Session" at Cyrano's, reviewed at And Valley Performing Arts' "Sense and Sensibility" continues in Wasilla where we hear ticket sales have been decidedly brisk. Anchorage Janeites may have to wait until next month when the same play (with a different cast) is presented at the University of Alaska Anchorage.


Literary license

Word buffs will want to know about a wild letter event presented by the Alaska Literacy Program, "Scrabblers Scramble for Literacy." It's not a normal game of Scrabble but a team event. All tiles are face up and all four team members create words one at a time. Each game features different challenges regarding the kinds and patterns of words needed to score points and each lasts about five minutes. The event will take place at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3900 Wisconsin St., starting with a dinner at 6 p.m. A series of six games will ensue after that. The cost per team (four members each) is $140, which includes the dinner, drinks, dessert and prizes. Money raised will be used for area literacy projects -- and civilization can always use more readers. If you have three friends who zip through crossword puzzles and know the difference between "imminent," "immanent," "eminent" and "emanant" (OK, the last is not a word; just testing you) sign up for the tournament of verbal champions by calling Gladys Geertz at 337-1981 or 743-0206 or email More information about the program is available at


Art grants announced

The Alaska State Council on the Arts has awarded over $44,900 in grants to Alaska artists and arts organizations in its third funding quarter of the year in the following categories.



Artchange, Inc., $2,500, Sitka

Cyrano's Theatre Company, $4,000, Anchorage

Institute of the North, $2,000, Anchorage

Kachemak Bay Writers Conference, $4,000, Homer

Kodiak Arts Council, $4,500, Kodiak

Performing Arts Society, $2,750, Kenai

Valley Arts Alliance, $4,000, Palmer



Christine Byl, $900, Denali Park

Linda Ketchum, $900, Anchorage

Enzina Marrari, $900, Anchorage

Melissa Mencini, $900, Anchorage

Rebecca Poulson, $600, Sitka



Alaska Theatre of Youth, $1,000, Anchorage

Kenai Performers, $860, Kenai



Jennifer R Olney-Miller (apprentice)/ Nicholas Lee Galanin (master),$2,000, Sitka

Vaughn Eide (apprentice)/Nathan Jackson (master), $2,000, Ward Cove/Saxman



Gustavus School, $1,820, Gustavus

Kasuun Elementary PTA, $2,490, Anchorage

Nikiski Middle and High School, $1,860, Nikiski

K-Beach Elementary School, $1,550, Kalifornsky Beach

St. Paul and St. George/Pribilof School District, $3,390, St. Paul and St. George

Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.