Story last updated at 3:50 p.m. Thursday, March 11, 2004

Eclectic 'World CafE' cast

performsFrom belly dance to marimba polka, homegrown acts delight audiences

By Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: entertainment

  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Annie Griffin plays a rousing number on the piano Saturday afternoon at the Mariner Theatre, with skis on.  
Ever heard the blues played with the backup jingle of hundreds of belly dancers' decorative tassels?

If not, you missed this year's "World CafE," which included a smorgasbord of innovative acts as well as some tried-and-true favorites.

Among the more surprising numbers in this year's Homer Council on the Arts fund-raiser was a reading of Longfellow's "Skeleton in Armor" by Fay Smith, decked in full Viking attire.

Captivating and dramatic, Smith recited the raucous tale of the Viking's encounter with, and subsequent kidnapping of, a blue-eyed damsel.

photo: entertainment

  Photo by Carey James, Homer News
Homer High senior Tovi Newman, a newcomer to the stage, plays an original number on the guitar.  
Another new act to grace the Mariner Theatre this year was Tovi Newman, a Homer High senior who took the stage for the first time Saturday with a guitar and a song he wrote himself, titled "David Lynchs' Interpretation."

Newman's well-practiced performance on both guitar and vocals drew two rounds of applause from the crowd when it heard this was his onstage debut.

Also new to the stage, and the only act to draw the matinee crowd to clap along, was the Marimba Mamas, with an unusual twist on their instruments a polka medley.

And then there was Annie Griffin, who tramped to the piano wearing skis, which she then used to provide a percussive accompaniment to the vocalist's act.

Griffin at least we think it was Griffin returned to the stage in the second act to provide guitar accompaniment for Brad Hood in "Lovesick Blues."

"World CafE" seemed to flip-flop between the sad and the silly, with Christa Collier's dramatic vocalization of "My Man's Gone Now," starting the show off, and Craig Stempniak and Fred "Fast Freddy" Kann finishing things off with the rousing blues tune "Katie Mae."

In between, the audience traveled to Russia with Yelena Marycheva and Sunrise Sjoberg singing "Mamenka" and to the Irish music scene with sea shanties and folk tunes.

Several tried-and-true favorites returned to the stage this year, including the ever-popular Shivering Gypsies, which provided the only dance number this year.

The Little Sisters of Hoboken, Linda Munns and Rose Beck, shooed the gypsies off the stage with questioning comments about the dancers' midriff baring attire, and performed "What Would Elvis Do?" from their ever-popular Pier One Theatre performance of "Nunsense II."

The Seaside Singers went blue this year with "San Francisco Bay Blues" and "Bye, Bye Blues," accompanied by its hallmark choreographic accompaniment. Tom Quinn, Sally Wills and Mary Jane Shows added their voices to the show.

Perhaps the only questionable act this year, Jesse "Moonkloud" Smith's "Fly Off to My Love," was arguably due more to an out-of-tune guitar than an off-kilter performance.

As in years past, however, it was the final act when the entire cast poured on stage to dance along with the blues that encapsulated the feel of "World CafE" a celebration of the many talented folks in this community willing to share their gifts with the rest of us.

Carey James can be reached at