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The Beige Channel, Eric Benoit

From time to time, you'll hear complaints that Albany, like many cities, is a "Mustang Sally" town--that cover bands dealing exclusively in worn-out retreads of ancient R&B numbers rule the roost. But, if you find your musical patience worn thin by Commitments-style faux-soul party bands, and you haven't availed yourself of any of the many left-of-center, out-there, or way-out-there musical adventurers who call this region home, you've got no one to blame but yourself. On Sunday, you'll have a chance to rectify the situation, when the Beige Channel and Eric Benoit fill the Larkin Lounge with Lowercase Sound and provide a welcome antidote to your I-IV-V verse-chorus blues.

Lowercase Sound is the title of a series of CD compilations, as well as an e-mail listserve, but in Farley's parlance, it’s also a genre unto itself: It is "a type of music, sound art, or listening experience that emphasizes, or includes, some or all of the characteristics of low volume, silence, soundscape/field recordings, indeterminacy, and psychoacoustic treatments of space." In Sunday's performance, the Beige Channel will focus--if that's the right word--on digitally manipulated found sound, short wave captures and field recordings. Boston-based Benoit also works in treated and untreated field recordings, centering on the "sculptural aesthetic of sound."

The Beige Channel and Eric Benoit will play the Larkin Lounge (199 Lark St., Albany), on Sunday (Feb. 24). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $4. For more information, call 463-5225.

Dance by Chance

If you decide to attend the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company performance at the Arts Center of the Capital Region on Saturday, you won’t know ahead of time if any given dance will be a solo, a duet, a trio or a quartet—or how the evening’s climactic dance will be sequenced. Then again, neither will the dancers.

Saturday’s performance, titled Dance by Chance, will feature a program whose exact order and composition will be determined on the spot by audience members spinning a wheel under the direction of emcee William Spillane, an area actor, singer and dancer. “He was very excited about it; he was thrilled,” says company general manager Kim Engel of Spillane’s reaction when approached to participate. “He’s taken it and run with it. We didn’t create a script for him. He’ll have audience members spin a wheel numbered 1 through 4 to let us know if we’re doing a solo, duet or trio. We have a couple of quartets that will fit into a small space, so there are a few quartets on the menu.” Also, while the company changes costumes, Spillane will play games of chance with the audience, giving some a chance to win prizes donated by area businesses.

“The evening will end with a ‘dance of chance,’ where the audience will help create a dance on the spot,” Engel continues. “That’s going to work with the wheel again. We’re going to have phrases that we will put in order according to how the wheel is spun. If the wheel is spun 4, 2, 4, 1—we’ll do the phrases in that order. We’re anticipating that this is going to be fun for everybody right down to the dancers, because this is a totally different way of approaching a performance. We’re really trying to stretch ourselves. It may not come off perfect, the dance of chance, but it’s going to happen as it’s supposed to.”

Explaining the idea behind Dance by Chance, Engel says “We knew we were going to do a performance at the Arts Center and that we were facing a very small performance space. We knew that there was a lot in our repertory that we would not be able to do just by virtue of the fact that we can’t fit eight people on the stage. We were faced with doing an evening of solos, duets and trios, and faced with the challenge of making that interesting for the audience. So I proposed the idea to Ellen of having an evening based on chance.”

The company usually calls the Egg home, but feels “it’s good to try other areas, to approach other audiences,” says Engel. “This year we will have performed three times at the Egg, and there’s only so much we want to do in one place.”

Regarding Saturday’s performance, Engel adds that “the whole evening starts with chance and ends up at the tail end with chance.” When audience members come to the door, they will pick from a deck of cards to determine their admission price, which will range from $1 to $13. “It’s the whole idea of chance,” says Engel. “We’re hoping that people will feel the excitement and the fun of the evening from the start. ‘What card am I going to pick? Am I going to pay five bucks, am I going to pay 10 bucks?’ ”

Dance by Chance will be performed on Saturday (Feb. 23) at 8 PM at the Arts Center of the Capital Region (265 River St., Troy). Reservations are strongly suggested, and can be made by calling 273-0552.

--Rebecca A. Morgan

Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Reading

Next week, fans of mystery fiction and live theater will get a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something that could gain considerable momentum. The New York State Theatre Institute recently made a deal with mystery author Mary Higgins Clark to adapt her best-selling tales into stage works, and beginning on Wednesday, theatergoers will get their first sneak peek at the first two plays to emerge from NYSTI’s collaboration with Clark. Local light Ed. Lange wrote two new plays, Body in the Closet and Bye, Baby Bunting, which are extrapolated from Clark’s short-story collection The Lottery Winner. Staged readings of the works-in-progress will be presented at NYSTI through March 3.

Patrons will be invited to give feedback on the two one-act plays, which will be performed by actors with scripts in their hands, and on a nearly bare stage. In its 25-year history, NYSTI has nurtured the creation of more than two dozen plays and musicals, and the company also has a strong base in Clark’s genre of choice: Twenty past NYSTI productions have been mysteries. Lange, who also will serve as director of the two new productions, wrote one of the best-received NYSTI mysteries, Sherlock’s Secret Life. The new plays depict the adventures of popular Clark protagonist Alvirah Meehan, a cleaning lady who becomes a detective after winning a lottery prize; her partner in crime-fighting is her husband, Willy.

Body in the Closet and Bye, Baby Bunting will be performed on Wednesday (Feb. 27), Feb. 28 and March 1 at 10 AM; on March 1 and March 2 at 8 PM; and on March 3 at 2 PM. Tickets are $10, $5 for students and kids. For more information, call 274-3256.


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