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They might be sittin' in the rain

By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN
Published January 27, 2007


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While I was working on a backstage story at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre this week, I got a sneak preview of how set designer Tom Hansen is going to create real, wet rain on the stage during the upcoming show Singin' in the Rain (opens Feb. 23).

Many theaters, even some large ones with big production staffs, use some form of holographic lighting, light-shaping diffusers or moving, silvered strings to create the illusion of rain during the title song and dance made famous by Gene Kelly in the movie.

Some even place puddles of water that the character can splash into and out of, then mop up after the scene.

Hansen, who seems to thrive on complicated challenges, wanted the real deal. So he has installed above-stage tubes and an in-stage drain to provide genuine H2O during the scene. The Show Palace is moving the front row of seats back a few paces in case of splashes.

Even so, those in the front rows might get damp, when the dancer twirls around swinging his umbrella.

Perhaps owners Nick and Sal Sessa should issue those raincoats that SeaWorld gives to the front row during the whale jumping show.

But, hey, that's the excitement of live theater.

* * *

It seems like only yesterday that the Palace Grand banquet and entertainment hall presented its first show open to the public.

But it was actually Jan. 16, 2002 - five long years ago - that comic Jackie Mason wowed a soldout crowd at the glittering new facility's grand opening.

My mom, who went with me for that big event, still quotes Mason's line on how to find the Palace Grand from New Port Richey:

"You go three Denny's and an IHOP, and you're there," he said.

Mason, the master of put-down, was a huge hit that night, despite (or perhaps because of) his frequent obscenities. He's had three more Broadway hits since then, two of them one-man shows, but he found time to come back to Spring Hill to do six shows in 2005 and is coming back in February for six more.

It seems a fitting way to celebrate the Palace Grand's five big years.

* * *

Former New Port Richey resident Daniel Lee Martin has landed an unusual show on the Sportsman Channel, a cable television network with a motto of "All Hunting. All Fishing. All the Time."

Martin's show, Backstage & Backroads, is a mix of outdoor sports and country music.

Martin left a successful public relations career in Pasco County more than 10 years ago to pursue a singing and songwriting career in Nashville. He has released several albums, come back home to sing at Chasco Fiesta and the Charlie Daniels concerts for the Angelus, done an unusual tour singing in the music department of Wal-Marts and recently held his own Angelus fundraiser in Hudson.

His Sportsman Channel show will be launched in April, and he has already filmed some episodes, said Adam Miller, the channel's publicist in New York.

"It will be footage of him on tour and hunting and fishing with him and his celebrity friends, such as Billy Ray Cyrus," Miller said.

The Sportsman Channel isn't on Bright House Networks' lineup, but it is available through some other cable operators in the area.

Those who want to see Martin's show and other outdoor sports shows can subscribe online for $4.95 a month at thesportsmanchannel.com. Click on "Get the channel."

I just hope my outdoor sports-crazy son doesn't discover this channel, or his lawn will never get mowed.

[Last modified January 26, 2007, 21:13:53]


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