Mike Dunham

The brand new Glenn Massay Theater at Mat-Su College is kicking off its first full season with a production of the musical “Chicago.” The beautiful, 520-seat concert/dance/theater auditorium formally opened in February and has seen a regular succession of events ever since. The Palmer-Wasilla area had previously depended on cafes, schools and the Machetanz Theatre, a repurposed pole barn, for shows and concerts, but the Massay is the first such state-of-the-art, dedicated venue in the Valley. The cast features Katy Schmidt as Roxy Hart, Ted Carney as Billy Flynn, Rob Tracy as Amos Hart and Chanel Grover -- you’ll remember her from “Moose: The Movie” -- as Velma Kelly. Veteran director Grant Olson is in charge of the show, Andrea Lang directs the band, and Pam Burlingame has worked up the...Mike Dunham
The production of “My Fair Lady” that opens in Anchorage on Oct. 20 is not a bus-and-truck touring show. “This is being produced exclusively for the Anchorage Concert Association,” said director Andrew Ferrara. Ferrara was the executive director of last year’s Anchorage staging of “Les Miserables,” another ACA commission from California-based Plan-B Entertainment, which creates the show , hires and rehearses the performers and delivers the finished product. There are advantages to such an arrangement, Ferrara said. “(ACA) can choose the title, what it looks like and when to bring it to Alaska,” he said. It also leaves key artistic decisions in the hands of the local sponsor and the Plan-B people. “We’re really doing our own take on it,” Ferrara said. “We took the flavor of the movie and...Mike Dunham
The U.S. Department of the Interior has issued a letter stating that Alaska Native items in the possession of Andover Newton Theological School of Massachusetts are subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act . The Sealaska Heritage Institute of Juneau alleged in June that a halibut hook in the school’s collection on loan to the Peabody Essex Museum of Massachusetts was a sacred object used in fishing rituals . In the letter, Michael Bean, an assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, said that insofar as Andover Newton participated in federal student aid programs, it was governed by the law. He said the school hadn't completed a summary of Native American objects in its collection by April 2010, which “constitutes a failure to comply with the...Mike Dunham
Art 30 years of head hunting UAA’s juried self-portrait exhibit “No Big Heads” celebrates its 30th year this fall. There’ll be a reception from 1:30-3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at the Student Union Gallery and a workshop with juror Kiel Johnson, 7-10 p.m. Thursday in the Student Union Den. Johnson, known for his creative use of ordinary materials, will lead participants in a class to make 3-D masks from cardboard. Hey! That’s just in time for Halloween! The workshop is free and open to the public. The "No Big Heads" show will remain on display through Nov. 11. Music Organ jewels Hans Uwe Hielscher, the cantor of the Marktkirche Lutheran Cathedral in Wiesbaden, Germany, will present an organ recital at Anchorage Lutheran Church, 1420 N St., at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. Hielscher is not only...Mike Dunham
The question one asks when sitting down to see a 74-year-old comedy is this: How well does it hold up? In the case of Noel Coward, the answer is usually, it holds up very well. His snippy and natural dialogue, peculiarly revealing plots and structure are always masterful. And while the pre-war society he depicts, his “set” of upper, upper middle class British (that is, they have servants but not their own yachts) whose world is split between some vaguely intellectual profession and snooty idleness, has largely vanished along with, happily, some of the class pretensions that drive his jokes. But in the popular imagination that world still exists and always will, as surely as Jane Austen’s country gentry and Charles Dickens’ sooty city dwellers. In the case of “Blithe Spirit,” the Coward...Mike Dunham
One year from now, elite artistes in the world of food will descend on Erfunt, Germany, for the International Exhibition of Culinary Art, often called the Culinary Olympics. It’s said to be the largest exhibition of championship cooking in the world. As in the sporting Olympics, contestants will march in by nation, carrying their flags, dressed in formal kitchen uniforms, tall, starched, white toques perched on their heads. Top chefs from scores of nations will compete in categories that range from pastries to hot and cold dishes and -- the category that concerns us here -- food art. Competitors will number in the thousands. The delegation from Taiwan alone could be as many as 200. The delegation from Alaska will consist of one: Bang-on Roulet. This year will be her second time at the...Mike Dunham
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International food carving champion Bang-On Roulet lives in Anchorage, where she is preparing for the International Exhibition of Culinary Art in Germany, often called the Culinary Olympics. It’s said to be the largest exhibition of championship cooking in the world. As in the sporting Olympics,...
Mike Dunham,Tara Young
For the past several months, a back-and-forth debate over Alaska Native items held in Massachusetts has embroiled one of America’s oldest museums, the oldest graduate theological seminary and the Sealaska Heritage Institute of Juneau. Bits and pieces of the story have popped up as the matter has evolved, with many assertions presented, some denials and numerous personalities involved -- notably the late, revered Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff. Soboleff died in 2011 when he was more than 100 years old. Sealaska’s new cultural research facility in Juneau is named for him. At issue are objects collected in Southeast Alaska a century ago and held by Andover Newton Theological School near Boston. The school was reportedly planning to sell some pieces that have been on loan to the Peabody Essex...Mike Dunham
Alaska veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Alaska Territorial Guard now touring national monuments in Washington, D.C., will return to Anchorage on Saturday. The public is invited to join the “heroes’ welcome” celebration at Stevens International Airport. Ron Travis, president of Last Frontier Honor Flight, which arranges the tours for veterans, said the plane is expected to arrive at 12:15 p.m. He advised people to start gathering between 11 a.m. and noon. An information table will be set up to direct attendees to an area on the second floor ticketing level near the main TSA security gate. “We’ll have some parking validation for people,” Travis said. “We’ll keep handing them out for as long as they last.” Travis said an orchestra will be playing before the welcome ceremony...Mike Dunham
Jack Dalton’s play “Assimilation” made a powerful impression when it premiered in Anchorage five years ago. Dalton, best known for his comic interpretations of Native lore , had written a blistering indictment of the boarding school era with roles reversed. In his telling, a vicious Native headmaster punishes white children for not being sufficiently Native. Dalton has said he wrote the play to promote healing, “However brutal the play might be. This is a history the entire state must address.” When “Assimilation” was restaged in 2013, panel discussions were held to allow those who went through the system and others to speak about their experiences and offer support. After one performance, Mentasta Ahtna Chief Fred John said, “I have never cried for white boys before, but I can tell you,...Mike Dunham