Special Guests
Saturday, March 3, 2007

Walter Bobbie

At the University of Scranton, Walter Bobbie thought he'd be an accounting major. Thank goodness he came to his senses. These days, he's an award-winning director known for his work on Chicago (for which he won the Tony, Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award), Sweet Charity, Footloose, High Fidelity and other productions. After graduate school at Catholic University, Bobbie hit New York, where he did four or five shows before landing a role in the original cast of Grease in 1972. He acted in other plays, including Guys and Dolls, Assassins, Anything Goes and Driving Miss Daisy, and in movies and television shows like The First Wives Club, "Hill St. Blues" and "Law & Order." He was artistic director of New York City Center's Encores!, where he directed Fiorello!, Chicago, Tenderloin and Golden Boy. He has also directed for the New York Shakespeare Festival, Manhattan Theatre Club, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Sundance, the O'Neill Center and Goodspeed Opera House. His stage adaptation of Irving Berlin's White Christmas is in its third season, with productions in Minneapolis, Detroit and the United Kingdom.

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and how could a city with a poetic name like that not send an artist off to Broadway. She was dancing as soon as she could walk, and her mother remembers her singing herself to sleep. Kristin said, "When I was about 4 we were watching ballet on TV, and I said, 'I want to do that.' My mom went, 'What?'"

She was brought up Baptist and began her singing career in church. She was so good at it she ultimately won a scholarship to the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadephia, after graduating from Oklahoma City University. In Philly she added an "in" to her original name, figuring Kristi might be a little light for opera. When she first arrived in New York she would say "hello" to everyone she met on the street. Made for a tiring day, she said, saying hello to 3,000 people.

She has recently appeared on Broadway in "Charlie Brown," "Steel Pier," and "Epic Proportions,"and Off-Broadway "A New Brain," "Scapin," and the Encores production of "Strike Up The Band." She has won a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. She's taking it all in stride, exactly as you'd expect from a former Miss Oklahoma City University.

Rob Fisher

For four seasons conductor and pianist Rob Fisher headed up the Coffee Club Orchestra on Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company, and he remains a frequent Prairie Home Companion guest. He served as music director and conductor of the Encores! series at New York City Center from its inception in 1994 through 2005, and he was the original conductor and music director for Chicago and its Grammy Award-winning cast album, and supervisor of Chicago companies around the world. In 2001, he conducted the PBS broadcast of Sweeney Todd, with Patti LuPone, George Hearn and the San Francisco Symphony. As guest artist, he has led the Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta, Virginia, Colorado, Baltimore and National symphonies, among others. Fisher regularly creates evenings for the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y, and he is currently providing musical direction and vocal arrangements for the Roundabout Theatre Company's production of The Apple Tree.

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks

Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks are renowned on the New York scene for their commitment to preserving and authentically presenting 1920s jazz. Each piece they perform is inspired by, and arranged from, original recordings from greats of the era. The Nighthawks are Vince Giordano, Andy Stein, Brad Shigeta, Mark Lopeman, Dan Levinson, Dave Brown, Randy Sandke, Dan Block, Peter Yarin, Mark McCarron and John Gill. They were recently featured in the movie The Aviator and can be heard every Monday and Tuesday at Charley O's Times Squre Grill on Broadway and 49th.

Bonnie Raitt

Minnesota has a claim to fame in music legend Bonnie Raitt's extraordinary career: Her first album was recorded in the Twin Cities suburb of Minnetonka and produced by Minneapolis blues stalwart Willie Murphy. Born to a musical family (she's the daughter of celebrated Broadway singer John Raitt and pianist/singer Marge Goddard), Raitt grew up in Los Angeles. Her creative journey began the Christmas she was eight, when she got her first guitar. In her teens, she heard the album Blues at Newport 1963. "That one record changed my life," she says. By the late '60s, as a Harvard/Radcliffe student majoring in African studies, she was making the rounds of Cambridge coffeehouses. After three years of college, she quit school to commit herself full-time to music. Soon she was opening for the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. These days, Raitt can claim legions of fans, stacks of recordings, and a host of awards, including nine Grammys. In 2000, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the following year she was welcomed into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame, along with her father. Her recent CDs are Souls Alike and Bonnie Raitt and Friends.

Vern Sutton

Tenor Vern Sutton grew up in Oklahoma City. He remembers being applauded for the first time in first grade for his performance in the role of Baby Bear in Goldilocks. From that day on, he was hooked on show business. Sutton first met Garrison Keillor when they both were students at the University of Minnesota. Sutton went on to spend 36 years as a faculty member at the U of M School of Music. He directed the opera program at the university, and he served as director of the School of Music. In addition to his work on campus, Sutton appeared with many major orchestras, opera companies, and musical groups and earned an international reputation for his work with the BBC, the New Opera Theatre of New York, the Wolf Trap Festival and other organizations. He has directed plays, operas and musicals all over the Midwest, including a 1993 tour of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, which was performed on seven Midwestern working farms. Vern has made frequent appearances on A Prairie Home Companion for more than three decades. In fact, he was a guest on the very first show, in July of 1974.

Robin and Linda Williams

Robin and Linda appeared on our show in 1975, the year they recorded their first album here in town on the Flashlight label; Peter Ostruoshko was on that album, along with Mike Cass and Dave Hull. They've just recorded their 17th album, on Red House and titled Deeper Waters; it has received enthusiastic reviews, like their albums do. One critic called it "nothing short of a masterpiece." Others said, "the real deal," and "shine like diamonds amid rhinestones," and "rich in harmonies, original songs and acoustic brilliance." They aren't from here. Linda is from Anniston, Alabama, and Robin was born in Charlotte, North Carolina; they've made their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia for many years. A fine elderly farmhouse, it is, with a driveway that can hold a semi. But they spend so much time on the road every year that we see them about as often as if they lived in South St Paul. Which we think is a very good thing.

Andy Stein

Andy Stein (violin, saxophone) definitely has far-flung musical leanings, He collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson, and he's performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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