Hello, my name is

Almost no one gets my name right. They think it’s spelled like the first guy to get Lou Gehrig’s disease, the fascist, or the reputed inventor of the hot dog. Which I mention because many (okay, one) of you asked me to review the Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s latest twist on Figaro, which I saw last week, and the thing that stands out most to me wasn’t the performance at all, fun and inventive and beautifully sung as it was. It was the fact that a majority of the people there were wearing nametags.

Never in my theatre-going experience can I remember patrons getting nametags to wear. Granted, not everyone had a tag, just the Ambassadors, as Jeune Lune calls them–patrons who have signed up somewhere, on something, pledging to evangelize on behalf of the theater. And though it may say as much about the Jeune Lune’s need/desire to fill seats as its no-holds-barred, direct-to-consumer approach to everything it does, I think it’s great. How many times do you see people at a theater talking to patrons they didn’t come with?

Want another way to get involved? Attend Jeune Lune’s April 22 Cabaret evening at another favorite venue of mine, the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, featuring performances, great food, and a silent auction.

This weekend, if I wasn’t checking out the best theater to attend after a day of canoeing-biking-hiking, I’d be headed to the Theater Garage to see some of the area’s sharpest, warmest, most inviting actors (Stacia Rice, Bob Davis, Zach Curtis) in Torch Theater’s A Thousand Clowns. And I may still try to hit the Cedar Cultural Center on April 22 to hear Vieux Farka Toure, son of Mali’s (if not Africa’s) most famous musical genius, Ali Farka Toure. The Cedar’s trying to raise enough money this month to get a sizable matching grant, and while it got a big help at last week’s sold-out Gangbe Brass Band show (did anyone go? How was it?), it could use some more.

Tonight’s my official first meeting of the Arts Commission, where I’ll be called yet another name: Commissioner Gihring, per house rules. We’ll see if they spell it right.

Next week: Singles nights at theaters. Oh. Yeah.

Photo of Vieux Farka Toure