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Dots hits high note with traveling songfest

What better way to spend an evening when the snow is at — your door than sitting by the fireplace inside the Restaurant Verdant — at Lithia Springs Resort, 2165 W. Jackson Road, Ashland, while eight talented — people sing and dance the night away and attentive waiters keep returning — with yet another of the five courses prepared in the kitchen of Executive — Chef Dennis Hanson?

The event, "Songs for a New Season," is a joint venture — between Lithia Springs Resort and Connect the Dots Theatre Company The — resort intends to host more theater productions at the restaurant and — on the grounds.

Connect the Dots Theatre Company is based in Grants Pass — but sees the scope of community theater as being without walls. In that — spirit, last year Connect the Dots took its production of "Les Miserables" — to California, Roseburg and Medford and its production of "The Laramie — Project" and "Little Shop of Horrors" to Medford.

Ashland is the third and final stop for "Songs for a New — Season." The previous two shows were at Grants Pass High School Performing — Arts Center and at Summer Jo's in Medford.

The evening was a combination revue and preview directed — by Shane Skinner, choreographed by Tony James, with musical direction — and accompaniment by Meagan Iverson.

The first half of the show featured 12 songs from a variety — of musicals. There were solos, company songs, duets, trios, men only, — women only. And there were love songs, silly comical songs and dramatically — poignant songs. The total effect was to experience the rich diversity — of vocal styles and ranges in the cast and their repertoire.

Where else could you hear two guys trying to cheer up — a friend — as only guys can — by trying to figure out how to clobber him — with a "Big Ass Rock," sung with convincing male bravado by the trio of — Barry Russell, Skinner and James?

On the other side of the sexual spectrum we heard from — Heather Lane who, handkerchief in hand to tend to her sneezes, plaintively — sang of "Adelaide's Lament." It seems an unmarried girl worried about — ending up an old maid may notice the onset of certain maladies: "a poiy-son — - can develop a cold."

The second half of the program consisted of 11 selections — from the six Broadway musicals being considered for Connect the Dots? — 2005 fall musical. Audiences and theatergoers can cast their votes for — their choice at www.toconnectthedots.org on the Web or call in their vote — at 541-472-8868. That's how "Les Miserables" came to be chosen for last — year's show.

It's going to be a tough choice given the candidates: — "Evita," "Ragtime," "Chicago," "Cinderella," "Sunset Boulevard" and "Wizard — of Oz."

When Marian Horton stepped forward carrying a bundle in — her arms, placed it gently on the floor and sang "Daddy's Son," your vote — went to "Ragtime." Just hearing Sonia Leamons and Kelley Chaffee belting — out "All that Jazz" like their own horn section in a jazz combo made you — want to vote for "Chicago."

Your vote switched to "Sunset Boulevard" when Julia Strickland — sang a tender "As if We Never Said Good-e." But then you heard Chaffee — sing a stirring "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and your vote changed to — "Evita."

A few suggestions, bearing in mind this is a new venture — for all concerned. In such an elegant setting and at $50 a ticket, I would — take the whole thing up a notch or two. The maitre d' and the wait staff — couldn't have been more gracious, but I would have dressed them up a bit. — White shirts, black slacks. Maybe even ties. The same with the performers. — They were wonderful. Maybe gowns or dresses for the ladies and some dressier — outfits for the men to add to the elegance. I'd push the "wall-less" theatrical — envelope even further and thereby closer to Broadway. The food was good — but with a little more attention, it could have been great.

The show continues at 5:30 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. — 30. Call 488-1062.

Aviator —

6 Golden Globe Nominations

A biographical chronicle charting the early years (1920's — - 1940's) of tycoon Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire industrialist — and Hollywood mogul famous for romancing some of the world's most beautiful — women.

Directed by Martin Scorsese ("Goodfellas," "Raging Bull," — "Gangs of New York")

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Alan — Alda, John C. Reilly, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani

PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language — and a crash sequence, 170 min.

Coach Carter —

Based on a true story, a controversial high school basketball — coach received both high praise and harsh criticism for benching his entire — undefeated team for poor academic performance in 1999. Samuel L. Jackson, — Robert RiChard, Rob Brown, Debbi Morgan, Ashanti.

PG-13 for violence, language, sexual content, teen partying, — and some drug material,137 min.

Elektra —

Ordered to assassinate a man, a deadly female ninja defies — her orders and defends both the man and his daughter from others. Jennifer — Garner, Terrence Stamp, Kirsten Prout.

PG-13 for action violence, 97 min.

Finding Neverland —

Five Golden Globe nominations for a tale of fantasy inspired — by the life of Jame Barrie, the author of "Peter Pan."

Set in London in 1904, the film following Barrie's creative — journey to bring the character of Peter Pan to life, from his first inspiration — for the story up until the play's premiere. Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, — Julie Christie.

PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. 101 — min.

House of Flying Daggers —

In Mandarin with English subtitles. Golden Globe Nomination — for Best Foreign Language Film. In ninth-century China, two dashing military — agents hope to capture the new leader of a resistance group by pursuing — the previous leader's blind daughter. Beautiful cinematography and inspired — choreography. Directed by Zhang Yimou ("Hero"). Takeshi Kaneshiro, Any — Lau, Zhang Ziyi, Song Dandan

PG-13 for sequences of stylized martial arts violence — and some sexuality, 119 min.

In Good Company —

Comedy about the relationship between a 50-year-old businessman — and his new 26-year-old boss. Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johannsen

PG-13 for some sexual content, 110m

Kinsey —

3 Golden Globe Nominations

The life story of Alfred Kinsey, a man driven to uncover — the most private secrets of the nation, and a journey into the mystery — of human behavior. In 1948, Kinsey irrevocably changed American culture — and created a media sensation with his book, Sexual Behavior in the Human — Male, followed shortly thereafter by one on the human female. Written — and Directed by Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters") Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, — Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, Tim Curry, — Oliver Platt

R for pervasive sexual content, including some graphic — images and descriptions, 118 min.

Meet the Fockers —

In "Meet the Parents," Greg Focker came to know his soon — to be in-laws. Now it's his parents turn. But the hyper-relaxed Fockers — and the tightly wound rneses are woefully mismatched.Ben Stiller, Robert — DeNiro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo

PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief — drug reference, 115 min.

Phantom of the Opera —

3 Golden Globe Nominations

A disfigured musical genius haunts the catacombs beneath — the Paris, falling in love with a singer, the lovely Christine. As the — Phantom devotes himself to her career, he exerts a strange control over — her. Based on the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical; written for the screen — and directed by Joel Schumacher. Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, — Minnie Driver.

PG-13 for brief violent images, 141 min.

Racing Stripes —

An abandoned baby zebra grows up on a Kentucky farm dreaming — of becoming a racehorse. Live action and computer animation. Voice talents — of Frankie Muniz, Dustin Hoffman, Mandy Moore, David Spade, Steve Harvery, — Joe Pantoliano.

PG for mild crude humor and some language, 102 min.

Sideways —

A struggling, 40ish novelist is frustrated over his stalled — career and the fact that his struggling actor buddy is about to get married. — With their emotional baggage in tow, the two set off for a week of debauchery — in the Napa Valley wine country before the wedding. Paul Giamatti, Thomas — Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh

R for language, some strong sexual content and nudity, — 125 min.

White Noise

A successful architect's peaceful existence is shattered — by the disappearance and death of his wife. He is later contacted by a — man claiming to be receiving messages from the wife through EVP - electronic — voice phenomenon. Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, Ian — McNeice

PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language, 98 — min.

Very Long Engagement —

In French with English subtitles. Golden Globe Nomination — for Best Foreign Language Film.

Set in France near the end of WWI in the deadly trenches — of Somme, a young woman relentlessly searches for her fiancee believed — to have been court-martialed and left to an almost-certain death in no-man's — land. What follows is an investigation into the arbitrary nature of secrecy, — the absurdity of war, and the enduring passion, intuition and tenacity — of the human heart. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("Amelie"). Audrey — Tautou, Gaspard Ulliel, Jerome Kircher.

R for violence, sexuality,134 min.