Covering the arts on a weekly basis as we do at The Inlander, it's easy to get caught up in the "what's-going-on-this-week" syndrome and forget just how incredible the arts scene has been this year. With both the winter leg of the Visual Arts Tour and Phantom of the Opera kicking things off in February, 2000 was off to a winning start. As we looked over a year's worth of art events, we were impressed by how much there really was to do. Whether you're into local theater, classical music, history or film, this was a year where the old adage "there's something for everyone" really held true.
& & Phantom of the Opera & & & &
The Inland Northwest's ugliest month was considerably brightened by the five week run of Phantom of the Opera in February. Like an injection of show biz -- Broadway-style -- Phantom was both an inoculation against the late winter blahs and a significant financial booster shot for the city's economy. Love Andrew Lloyd Webber or hate him, there's no denying the Midas touch of the simple white mask -- WestCoast Entertainment (then Cavanaugh's) estimated that the musical brought in 82,000 out-of-town visitors and more than $9 million rushing through the city's retail businesses and restaurants. Capping off a great "Phabulous Millennium" year that included Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera proved what Jack Lucas told us in February, that in New York, Spokane is called "the little town that could." We can't wait for the next "really big show," Annie Get Your Gun with Marilu Henner in February.
& & The Anne Frank Exhibit & & & &
Gonzaga University's Institute for Action Against Hate was responsible for bringing the Anne Frank exhibit to Spokane and there's no denying the effectiveness of the five part series of panels in fighting hate with understanding. Visitors silently filed past panel after panel, meeting Anne Frank and her family while witnessing the horrific carnage of the Holocaust. The exhibit set the events of Anne Frank's short life and the events of the Holocaust within a historical context, showing how such a frightening reality came to be. Thousands of regional schoolchildren viewed the exhibit, and for many of them (and for most of the adults as well), the most moving part was when they visited the little room, designed by G.U.'s theater department, which closely replicated the look and dimensions of Anne's room in the Secret Annex.
& & The Bach Festival & & & &
The Bach Festival is a highly anticipated winter gala around these parts, celebrating the life and work of the great composer, who wrote more than 2,000 pieces of music throughout his lifetime. This year, Gunther Schuller returned to his erstwhile stomping grounds, along with Dr. Christoph Wolff, Michael Faust, Ilton Wjuniski and Margriet Tindemans. The new Pasi organ at St. Augustine's Church had its debut then, with James David Christie at the helm and the last piece of music Bach wrote on the evening's program. The high point came with the rousing rendition of the Mass in B Minor, said to be Bach's masterwork -- and quite an accomplisment for the Festival.
& & The Visual Arts Tours & & & &
The Inlander is thrilled to be a part of the Visual Arts Tour, which takes place in February and again in October. Highlights of the winter tour were four WPA lithographs at the Cheney Cowles Works from the Heart Show, the opening of the Seattle-based Bitters Company near Art By Yourself, and the Cheryl dos Remedios show at the Chase Gallery. In October, the V.A.T. coincided with the last Live After Five series of concerts, culminating in the riotous, righteous Rally in the Alley -- an art show/street fair near the just-opened Far West Billiards.
& & Northwest Film Festival and Best of the Fest & & & &
We were lucky to have not one but two great film festivals this year. In February, the Northwest Film Festival featured American Gypsy -- a documentary on Spokane's infamous Jimmy Marks -- as one of four nights of innovative filmmaking which also included a short by Julia Sweeney and two documentaries on a troubled section of downtown Vancouver. In late May, Art Cinema at The Met offered five days of "The Best of the Seattle Film Festival." Bravo!
& & Get Lit! & & & &
Spokane's first ever poetry slam was just a small part of what's become the biggest literary happening of the year. Northwest writer Denis Johnson made a rare appearance in support of the festival (and the local debut of the film based on his novel Jesus' Son). Downtown bars, coffeehouses and bookstores were packed with readings and other Get Lit! events all weekend. And yes, there was a poetry slam at Mootsy's Tavern, with the Seattle Slam Team and the Olympic Writing Group showing us how it's done.
& & ArtFest & & & &
This hugely popular summertime arts happening moved to Coeur d'Alene Park in Browne's Addition this year, while the Cheney Cowles Museum's grounds are under construction. Everyone who went agreed it was a successful change -- ArtFest was easy to find (as far as we know, nobody got confused by the park's name and headed east on I-90), there was plenty of room to move around and the live music was spectacular. This year, the art fair will again be at the park, but in 2002, look for ArtFest in its new home at the old site.
& & Classical Mystery Tour & & & &
The Spokane Symphony had an incredible roster of concerts this year, including Carmina Burana, Copland's Appalachian Spring and a visit from Sandy Duncan. But our favorite would have to be their Dec. 7 appearance with The Classical Mystery Tour, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. Four Beatlemania alumni wowed local audiences with their ability to assume the personas of John, Paul, George and Ringo, and the Symphony more than met the challenge of bringing "Eleanor Rigby" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" to life.
& & Local theater highlights & & & &
When faced with the challenge of picking just one or two favorite theater moments this year, we couldn't do it. We thoroughly enjoyed the touring production of Ain't Misbehavin' at The Met last winter, but we can't leave out the debut of a Broadway-bound musical at the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater, Interplayers' well-received drama Collected Stories, Grease from the Spokane Theatrical Group or the Civic's recent run of A Wonderful Life. Best of all, this year saw the debut of not one but two new theatrical companies, the improvisational Blue Door Theatre and the innovative High Impact Theatre.
& & The Festival at Sandpoint & & & &
Outdoor concerts are one of the undeniably great pleasures of summer. In August, the Festival at Sandpoint lasted for an incredible ten days, which included concerts with the Spokane Symphony, Dwight Yoakam, Manhattan Transfer and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, to name a few. Sandpoint's Memorial Park was an understated-but-delightful setting -- you can see Lake Pend Oreille just a few city blocks away and the grounds were lined with vendors selling hot dogs, barbecue and handmade jewelry. Our favorite concert would have to be Laura Love, who had the whole crowd on their feet and shaking their collective bootay, all under a brilliant North Idaho night sky.
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