Bill’s Best Bets: Wilkinson, Hedges & Corbin at Cactus; Kansas at Civic Center to help Cactus; ‘Matilda;’ ‘Lion King;’ a Food Truck Throwdown

This week’s Best Bets are indeed varied, with music events including a concert by rock band Kansas (seen above), still playing such hits as “Dust in the Wind,” “Point of Know Return” and “Carry On, Wayward Son” – and a smaller show which finds Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges partnering on stage not only with family members, but also popular 78-year-old West Texas native Barry Corbin, a two-time Emmy Award nominee.

Lubbock Community Theater has announced a two-weekend run of award-winning “Matilda: The Musical,” with all performances on stage at LHUCA’s Firehouse Theatre.

And local movie lovers are expected to fill theater auditoriums where the 25th anniversary of Disney’s animated musical hit “The Lion King” is being celebrated with a combination “live action/CGI” remake. After all, competing studios have chosen not to release anything against Simba and Scar this weekend.

The week’s local Best Bets include:

Andy Hedges and Andy Wilkinson (above)

Any appearance by honest-to-the-earth musicians, songwriters and song collectors (aka songsters), cowboy poets and storytellers Andy Wilkinson and Andy Hedges would rank as a Best Bet any weekend … but their show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cactus Theater, 1812 Buddy Holly Ave., might be even more special.

And not just because West Texas actor Barry Corbin, 78, will appear on stage with the two Andys. Although I would not swear there’s a script dictating just what Barry must do.

Reserved tickets for the Hedges & Wilkinson concert are $20 for floor seats and seating in the standard balcony. Tickets are $40 for the eight limited balcony box seats, with each box ticket also including free concessions all night.

Hedges, 39, describes himself as a songster, and the most fun way to define that might be Googling his name and watching videos depicting how his albums are put together. He also could be described as a song savior. Performing since age 14, Hedges is booked next week with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island.

Corbin, a Lamesa native and Texas Tech theater graduate, found his theater career leading him instead to Hollywood and motion picture and television roles. His West Texas accent did not hurt matters as he portrayed John Travolta’s uncle in “Urban Cowboy,” improvised his best line in “War Games” and played bumbling deputy July Johnson in hit series “Lonesome Dove.” He later earned two Emmy Awards for his work on television series “Northern Exposure.”

He was inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2009 and, in 2011, Corbin was given a lifetime achievement award by the Estes Park Film Festival in Estes Park, Colo. His induction into the Texas Film Hall of Fame followed in 2012.

Also performing Saturday will be Hedges’ wife, Alissa, and Wilkinson’s son and daughter, Ian and Emily.

“Barry will introduce each set,” said Hedges, “and share some songs and stories.”

Hedges told Lubbock Lights, “I have been a big fan of Mr. Wilkinson since his ‘Charlie Goodnight’ album came out when I was about 15. I began playing music with him after he produced my first album of music. I had previously only released albums of cowboy poetry recitations.

“I play mostly old folk songs, and Wilkinson plays mostly originals, but we share a love for good songs, regardless of where they come from. On Saturday, I will play a set of mostly old-time songs, and Wilkinson will do a set of mostly originals. We’ll join each other on a few.”

“There’s no telling what will happen” when they collaborate with family and Corbin, but he emphasized, “I know we’ll have fun.”

Wilkinson, 71, emailed, “Andy and I have known each other for many years.” After producing an album by Hedges, “It seemed natural to do some gigs together and, when they worked out well, we began doing them regularly.”

The duo performed a weekly gig on Tuesday nights at La Diosa in downtown Lubbock, adding appearances at cowboy gatherings and festivals. Wilkinson added, “We recorded several albums together: ‘Long Ways from Home,’ ‘The Outlands,’ ‘Mining the Motherlode’ and ‘Welcome to the Tribe.’”

The latter recording won a Western Heritage Award.

“I am drawn to Mr. Hedges’ guitar work, his very personal style of singing and his outstanding knowledge of old-time and cowboy music. He may very well be the living expert on this music,” said Wilkinson.

“It works for us to perform together because we do different material. As he is a songster, his are the old songs, and mine are songwriter tunes – but still, stuff that is complimentary. Not to mention that he is a reliable partner and a fine companion.”

Meanwhile, Cactus Theater owner Darryl Holland noted, “Andy and Andy compliment each other musically. I see this as a special opportunity to highlight original and historic music elements all in one show.

“Spotlighting local talent has long been a Cactus tradition. … We’re looking forward to an amazing evening.”

‘Matilda: The Musical’

Based on the 1988 novel “Matilda,” by Roald Dahl – with a book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin – Lubbock Community Theatre will stage “Matilda: The Musical” at 7:30 p.m. the next two Fridays and Saturdays, July 19-20 and 26-27, with matinees at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays, July 21 and 28.

(In photo above: Miss Trunchbull played by C. David Morrow makes Bruce played by Grayson Babineaux eat cake for his punishment.)

All performances are in the Firehouse Theatre at LHUCA, 511 Ave. K.

Reserved seats for the musical are $20 for the general public, with $15 tickets for seniors and students. Call 749-2416 for reservations; tickets also can be purchased at the door.

Dahl’s other famous works include “James and the Giant Peach,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “The Witches,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “The BFG.”

“Matilda” opened on London’s West End in late 2010 and the following April at the Shubert Theater on Broadway in New York.

“Matilda” won seven 2018 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical, at the time the most such awards won by a single show.

Eventually, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” passed it with nine awards – but “Matilda” still holds the record for most Olivier Awards won by a musical, tying with “Hamilton” in 2018.

The musical also won five Tony Awards in 2013.

“Matilda” has gone on to win 47 international awards.

The title character, unloved by cruel parents, possesses wit, intelligence – oh, and also psycho-kinetic powers. Matilda, played in the LCT production by Signe Elder, gets along nicely with schoolteacher Miss Honey (Natalie Stanislaus); each has a profound effect on the other’s life.

That said, school life still is far from smooth sailing.

As it happens, the school’s mean headmistress Miss Trunchbull, played by C. David Morrow, hates children and loves creating new punishments for everyone who does not abide by her personal rules.

This play is packed with high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs.

Zach Kochurek-Gentry directs, and will attempt to draw an energetic performance from Ms. Elder. Musical direction is by Annie Burge, with choreography by Brianna Young.

‘The Lion King,’ CGI film remake

It’s not often I include a motion picture among the week’s Best Bets, especially when the film has won both rave reviews and less than stellar comments.

Yet it’s a safe bet director John Favreau’s remake of 1994 animated hit “The Lion King” – seemingly as much computer graphics as “live action” – is bound to attract sellout audiences this weekend at every movie complex in town: Alamo Drafthouse, Premiere Cinemas, Tinseltown 17, Cinemark’s Movies 16 and Stars & Stripes Drive-In.

Even my grands have been looking forward to seeing it with friends as soon as possible.

And, at the very least, it may turn into the biggest success for Walt Disney Productions’ much-discussed series of four live action adaptations:

  • “Dumbo.” Disney’s first attempt at adaptation, released in March, found director Tim Burton attempting to bring “Dumbo” from 1941 into the new century. It was, at best, an interesting failure. Practically everything about the story, with the exception of a big-eared elephant, was different … right from the exclusion of storks, Dumbo being born the old-fashioned way and absolutely no talking animals. That meant the exclusion of Dumbo’s supporter, Timothy the mouse, and the elimination of any crow chorus and, thus, any possibility of a magic feather.
  • “Aladdin.” The 1992 animated Disney musical “Aladdin” can be summed up in two words: Robin Williams. And there was no way any actor in the May live-action remake could come close to equaling the late Williams’ improvisational comedic skills. Kudos, then, to the remake. No, there was little wonderful about the “real” Cave of Wonders. The animated effort was superior in almost every way, right down to Gilbert Gottfried’s comic delivery as Iago, Jafar’s sarcastic parrot. Nevertheless, the remake is entertaining. Will Smith proves to be charming and funny as the blue Genie. Nothing close to Robin Williams, but we knew that going in. And Naomi Scott delivered show-stopping vocal performances as Princess Jasmine, who, by the way, feels qualified to follow her father as sultan.
  • “The Lion King.” The current CGI remake is inspired by the animated hit from the summer of 1994 – whose story is set in Africa but influenced by the story of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” to the point of lion cub Simba’s father, Mufasa being murdered by his paternal uncle Scar. The 1994 film remains the highest grossing traditionally animated film, and the best selling film on home video.

The current remake is not a shot-for-shot remake, but close to it at times. Songs are saved, and major stars provide voices.

  • “Mulan.” The live action remake of 1998 Disney animated hit “Mulan” will not arrive on screens until next March, but the trailer already is online and being shown before screenings of “The Lion King.” The story is set in the Han dynasty, when Fa Mulan, daughter of an elderly warrior, takes her father’s place when he is conscripted to defend his country against a Hun invasion.

Meanwhile, credit the powerful advertising campaign for so many young moviegoers being excited about the release of the combination CGI and live action remake of a film that some may not even have seen on the big screen.

It has, after all, been 25 years since the animated “The Lion King” made its big screen debut.

Food Truck Throwdown

For the very first time at The Garden, 1801 Buddy Holly Ave., look for a non-competitive Food Truck Throwdown taking place from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

This time, no fewer than 14 food trucks will be present all day.

They include Lubbock Patio Grub Roadside Café, Big Mike’s BBQ, Crusty’s Wood Fired Pizza, La Picosita, The Kettle Korn Guy, Mama Thais, Creole King, The Stand, Mikie’s Fair Foods, The Coffee Can, Angel Star, Bella J’s Gelato, Little Blue Trailer and E&J Smokehouse.

At least nine vendors also plan to be present.

Vendors include Grandma Nettie’s Pickles, Flatland Records, Glitter Tattoos by Inkspirations, Face Painting by Nana, Sarita’s Organic Tortillas, Haff Caff Designs, Paparazzi Jewelry, Carrie’s Crochet Creations and Senegance & Cryoskin.

Live music will take place, although bands have not been announced in advance. The area is dog friendly, and there will be children’s activities.

Admission is free.

The only charges are the prices charged by the food trucks and vendors.

Kansas

Cactus Theater owner Darryl Holland insists the appearance by Kansas at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theater is, in fact, a benefit – with potential profits to be used for improvements at his theater.

Or as Holland phrased it, “I had wanted to do a bigger show that could serve as a fundraising component for our Seat Replacement Initiative at the historic Cactus Theater. We found an excellent routed opportunity for Kansas – one of the most innovative, progressive rock acts of all time. There was a perfect opportunity between Albuquerque and Springfield, Mo. We went about making it happen.

“We have an excellent relationship with the agent, so it came together nicely. As a staple of classic rock playlists for more than 45 years, this was a great chance to bring something special to Lubbock. The show is important for several reasons. First and foremost, it is beneficial to Cactus Theater patrons because it allowed us to ‘upsize’ our space for one night to accommodate the popularity of this major act,” he said,

Thus, Kansas will take the stage Tuesday at the Civic Center Theater, with reserved seats $107, $86, $75 and $64. Prices include all fees. Tickets are on sale at Select-A-Seat outlets in Lubbock.

Fans have the option to purchase higher-priced VIP tickets that include more extra benefits. VIP tickets range from $207 to $257. For a list of the benefits included with VIP tickets, visit selectaseatlubbock.com, click on the Kansas concert link and follow directions to the VIP link.

Kansas rose to prominence in the 1970s. The band has produced nine gold albums, three multi-platinum albums, one other platinum studio album, one platinum live double album and a million-selling single (“Dust in the Wind”).

Kansas appeared on the Billboard charts for more than 200 weeks throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and played to sold-out venues throughout North America, Europe and Japan.

“Carry On Wayward Son” was the second-most-played track on U.S. classic rock radio in 1995 and No. 1 in 1997.

Hits also included “Point of Know Return.”

“One final thought of a humorous nature,” said Holland. “I have been asked if we booked Kansas because one of the band’s signature hits is ‘Dust in the Wind.’ It was not a factor in the booking – but concertgoers may still smile when it comes up in the playlist. Some folks have kidded me about listening to the band that sings a song that, on some days, could be called Lubbock’s unofficial Song of Spring.

“Regardless, the Cactus is excited to present this epic show for classic rock fans. Now we are hoping for a big finish, so we can get close to selling out the show,” he said.

Current band members include Tom Brislin, Phil Ehart, Billy Greer, Ronnie Platt, David Ragsdale, Zak Rizvi and Rich William.

Tragically, on June 25, The New York Times Magazine listed Kansas among the hundreds of artists and bands whose (original) material reportedly was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.