The Coastal Star

Summer Arts: Monsters at the Morikami! Plus rock, country and Sondheim

By Greg Stepanich

Before James Cameron made his dream of 8-foot blue people on a distant planet come stunningly to life, makers of film and television had much more modest resources on hand when they wanted to bring the creatures of nightmare to screens large and small.

But that doesn’t mean their visions were any less intense, and for a generation of creators in Japan, the threat of nuclear annihilation and environmental catastrophe was very real, even if the ultimate products often proved to be laughable fodder for late-night viewing years on.

Delray Beach’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens has been running an exhibit since June called Kaiju! Monster Invasion! in which more than 100 vintage toys depicting some of the more alarming and puzzling beasts in the Godzilla orbit are on display.

The show includes play figures of grotesque critters such as Gamera, a gigantic flying turtle with tusks whose big green feet shoot flames, and Gomora, an enormous T-rex-style lizard who was the first foe to ever defeat Ultraman, star of an allegedly popular Japanese TV series by that name that debuted in 1966. “Kaiju” — monsters — were played by actors wearing rubber suits, stomping around on sets with miniature
models of cities, according to the Morikami.

The kaiju exhibit runs through Oct. 17 along with an installation of paintings, ceramics, prints and photographs that depict the city of Kyoto, considered Japan’s cultural capital. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets are $12, $11 for seniors and $7 for students and children. Call 495-0233 or visit

Music: It took a while this summer for things to get really cooking at the Cruzan Amphitheatre outside West Palm Beach, but fans of country, Boomer, teen, emo and alt-rock will have a chance to see some of the most popular acts in those niches.

Toby Keith, whose über-patriot stance and fight with the Dixie Chicks during the run-up to Iraq War helped give his career fresh fuel, appears Sept. 4 at the Cruzan with Trace Adkins, while the beloved country band Rascal Flatts arrivesSept. 24 with American Idol successstory Kellie Pickler in tow.

Tween-sensation trio Jonas Brothers come to town Sept. 7 with Demi Lovato, while the elder sisters of the JoBros fans in that crowd likely will wait for the 11th to see John Mayer, almost as well-known for his romantic life (see Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, etc.) as for his catchier songs and bluesy guitar playing.

Kings of Leon, the popular alt-rock quartet of the Followill family, appears Sept. 17, a month before the release of its fifth album, Come Around Sundown. And looking ahead to Oct. 2, it’s a blast of

Canadian prog-rock, as the distinctive voice of bassist Geddy Lee rises above the churning polyrhythms he and his Rush bandmates have been turning out since the early 1970s. All real Tom Sawyers will doubtless be there for this stop in this durable band’s Time Machine tour.

Tickets are available through Live Nation or Ticketmaster, which have merged.

Theater: Stephen Sondheim’s fans are legion, but the composer-lyricist has now had such a long career (he turned 80 in March) that there are devotees of his post-Sweeney Todd oeuvre who might be less acquainted with earlier
scores, such as Anyone Can Whistle.

One of his very finest earlier works is Follies, a big effort from 1971 that derives some of its great musical interest from songs that evoke bygone Broadway styles that were part of the fictional Weissman’s Follies around which the plot revolves. Some of its songs are now
classics of the stage, including Losing My Mind and the survivor ballad I’m Still Here.

Caldwell Theatre artistic director Clive Cholerton produced impressive concert versions of Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods last season, and starting Oct. 1, he’ll mount four concert performances of Follies. The book of this show has always been problematic for some critics, but the score has been cherished from its debut, and the Caldwell is not likely to lose a lot by doing it in semi-stage format.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3. Tickets range from $25 to $35. Call 241-7432 or visit

Greg Stepanich is the editor/founder of the Palm Beach ArtsPaper, available online at

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