Saturday night at my grandma's house was always Welk night. Once a week, we would dress up in hats and furs and do the polka. That wasn't as strange as it sounds: From The Lawrence Welk Show's inception in 1955 through the early '70s, millions of viewers tuned in to the hour-long ABC program to see the thickly accented bandleader from rural North Dakota make beautiful music and dance the polka.
Both Grandma and Mr. Welk are gone now (the bandleader died in 1992), but champagne music is still alive and kicking its polished shoes. Through the years, Welk's television legacy has been successfully repackaged and syndicated. According to Susie Dowdy, a publicist for Lawrence Welk, "With viewers 55 and above, we are hot! We are the number-one weekly syndicated show on PBS, and we have more viewers than MTV, VH1 and BET combined." Take that, rappers of the world.
Four years ago, the show's backers decided to take a version of it on the road. And tonight at 7 p.m., The "Live" Lawrence Welk Show will bubble up at the Paramount Theater, 1631 Glenarm Place. The squeaky-clean songfest features six of the original cast members. Promoters promise a mix of big-band, gospel, country, jazz and popular music. There won't be a guy stiffly reading introductions, à la the accordion-wielding Welk, but although nobody stands in for the maestro, ("We wouldn't even try to do that!" Dowdy exclaims), his spirit will surely be present.
Colorado tries on The Underpants.
What is it about underwear malfunctions that can bring a whole nation to its knees -- politically? The Underpants, adapted in 2002 by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) from a 1910 social comedy by German playwright Carl Sternheim, attempts to answer that question.
The farcical plot is a jumble of silliness involving a flash of lingerie by Louise Maske, a young housewife in turn-of-the-century Germany, while she's watching the Kaiser's parade. Her sudden fame sends her husband reeling, thrills her neighbor and unleashes a string of suitors. Ultimately, after a short burst of fame, she returns to her humble beginnings.
The Colorado premiere of The Underpants is presented by Miners Alley Playhouse and Hunger Artist Ensemble Theatre tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Miners Alley Playhouse, 1224 Washington Avenue in Golden. It will run through April 24. Tickets are $16 to $18. For reservations and information, call 303-935-3044 or visit www.minersalley.com. -- Crystal Preston-Watson