Welcome to the Underworld - Grab a Microphone

The audience seems to have passed from life into death, and find themselves at a reception for the freshly deceased. The Keeper of the Underworld likes to welcome the new intake with some entertainment, so he drags reluctant souls out of the darkness to sing. After each song the Keeper and his assistants sing their own short song of contempt for human foibles. As the humans yearn for the sweetness of life, the jaded Keepers contemplate torture as a better way of passing eternity.

The Cast


  Richard Thompson - composer, vocals, guitar
Named by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of all time, Richard Thompson is also one of the world's most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. Among the many accolades, Thompson is the recent recipient of an Ivor Novello Award for Songwriting, the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Orville H Gibson and the 2010 Mojo Les Paul Award. His work has been recorded by such artists as Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, and Bonnie Raitt. From his teenage years as founding member of the British pioneering folk rock group, Fairport Convention, to duo work with his ex -wife, Linda Thompson, to over 25 years as a solo artist, Richard Thompson's astounding body of work includes over 40 albums as well as numerous soundtracks including Werner Herzog's documentary “Grizzly Man. Most recently Thompson was named 2010 curator of London's prestigious Meltdown Festival where he presented a hugely diverse array of programs that included everything from classical to comedy, folk, soul, pop, Islamic punk, an evening of guitar legends as well as the UK premier of Cabaret of Souls.

Peter Askim - conductor
Active as a composer, conductor and bassist, Peter Askim is the Music Director and Composer-in-Residence of the Idyllwild Arts Academy. He has been a member of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra and served on the faculty of the University of Hawaii-Manoa, where he directed the Contemporary Music Ensemble and taught bass, theory and composition. As a conductor and performer, he has championed the music of our time, commissioning and giving the World Premieres of many new works, including Cabaret of Souls and works by Rufus Reid, Richard Danielpour and Chris Theofanidis. He has collaborated with many diverse artists, including Matt Haimovitz, Vijay Iyer, Eugene Drucker (Emerson String Quartet) and Martin Chalifour and Carrie Dennis (Principals of the L.A. Philharmonic). His compositions have been widely performed by soloists, chamber groups and orchestras internationally and are available on iTunes, Amazon,, and the Gasparo and Albany labels.
  Harry Shearer - vocal, narration
Harry Shearer is a comic personality who takes "hyphenate" to new levels - first and foremost an actor, he is also an author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright, multi-media artist and record label owner. The Los Angeles native and New Orleans resident has enjoyed enormous success over the last twenty years for his voice work for The Simpsons. Shearer recently directed THE BIG UNEASY, a feature length documentary in which we meet the investigators who poked through the muck as the water receded from New Orleans and a whistle-blower from the Army Corps of Engineers, revealing that some of the same flawed methods responsible for the levee failure during Katrina are being used to rebuild the system expected to protect the new New Orleans from future peril.
  Judith Owen - vocal
Judith Owen has been described by Jamie Cullum as "a female Randy Newman" and by The New York Times as having "the kind of wailing folk-jazz voice that slices away surfaces to touch vulnerable emotional nerve endings and leave you quivering." Owen's live performances brim with humor and theatrics, distinguishing her from other female singer/songwriters. Her new CD "The Beautiful Damage Collection" features sixteen meticulously crafted songs from past and present. February, 2011 marks the UK premiere of Judith's latest endeavour "Ruby Wax- Losing It" Starring Ruby Wax and Judith Owen. Ruby Wax's acerbic wit and worldly wisdom combined with Judith Owen's touching and poignant songs create a show that is at once vulnerable and surprisingly thought-provoking as well as being laugh-out-loud funny.
  David Piltch - double bass
Toronto-born, Piltch landed in a highly musical family, which includes his woodwind and reed-playing father Bernie - who played on a Duke Ellington Record! Piltch quickly became an in-demand bass player, doing work with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Chet Baker and Art Pepper as a teenager. Globally-acclaimed Canadian chanteuses came calling, and he worked with Holly Cole in her career-launching early stages, and with k.d. Lang - on record and onstage- for 20 years. Based in Southern California with his family since the early '90s, Piltch's recent workload has included studio work with Alan Toussaint, Bill Frisell, Mose Allison, Aaron Neville and Ramblin' Jack Elliott.
  Debra Dobkin - percussion, vocal
Debra Dobkin is a native Chicagoan who has recorded and played in concert with Bonnie Raitt, Was (not Was), Jackson Browne, Shawn Colvin, and Perla Batalla, among many others. She performs and records as part of Richard Thompson's 1000 Years of Popular Music ensemble. Debra currently resides in the greenish pastures of the San Fernando Valley.
  Pete Zorn - flute, vocal
Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Pete Zorn was born in Pennsylvania, raised in Ohio and Arizona, and moved to London, England in 1971 where he enjoys a solid reputation as a busy session musician and singer. He has been performing with Richard Thompson since 1981, playing on Shoot Out The Lights, Hand of Kindness, and all of Richard's live albums. He has long been a featured part of Richard's live shows, playing woodwinds, strings and singing.

With the Idyllwild Arts Academy Orchestra

Violin I
Dorisiya Yosifova
Kristina Zlatareva
Min Yeong Kim

Violin II
Xiao Fan Liu
Fu-Yen Chi
Carmen Ang

Rayna Chou
Joyce Huang
Howard Cheng

Ting-Yu Yang
X-O Liu
Tiffany Christensen


West Coast Premiere

Richard Thompson
featuring Harry Shearer, Judith Owen & special guests

Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 8:00 PM
UCLA Royce Hall


Preview Performance
Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Stephens Recital Hall - Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA

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