Thursday, April 21, 2016

Music & Visual Arts Combine in an Evening of Jazz Vespers

By Guest Blogger Sharon Bryant 
Jonathan Whitney's ensemble performs at SsAM Jazz Vespers.
Sharon has lived and worked in Wilmington all her life. She is a member of The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew and currently the Chairperson of their Downtown Arts Ministry. She enjoys being a part of the City of Wilmington and although she loves the arts, she truly loves the musical side of it all.

The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew (better known as SsAM) – which has long been known for a variety of fabulous musical programs – held a Jazz Vespers on Sunday, April 17. Named in memory of the late Rev. Rod Welles (former associate minister at SsAM and a major jazz lover), the evening had the traditional Vespers elements wrapped around wonderful music and interactive art.  Musician Jonathan Whitney, percussionist and Artist-in-Residence at SsAM, used folk artist Eunice LaFate's paintings to inspire his music. A number of youth artists – both from SsAM's congregation and from the larger community – in turn used his music to inspire their live painting.

I truly enjoyed the Jazz Vespers. It was such a soothing type of evening but at the same time very energizing. We listened intently to the music and then watched those blank canvases come to life through the artistry of the children under the direction of Eunice LaFate.

Even the audience got involved, as we were encouraged by Jonathan Whitney to walk around and watch the children at work while enjoying the music in the background. No real talking going on with us – just moving around, taking photos, quietly smiling, as we were simply in awe of it all.
Eunice LaFate poses with the young artists of Jazz Vespers. 
Amazing that Rev. Welles spirit was in the room as he would have just loved it! Oh yes, he was truly there – his God-loving spirit was in the room for real, and that was especially meaningful when we learned that the day was also his birthday!

It was an evening of truly amazing music and the first time something so interactive has happened at the Jazz Vespers! But, hey, we know SsAM is known for being first at so many great things in this community. I suspect this will not be the last time that something like this happens.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Head to 42nd Street – And Dance, Dance, Dance!

Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square.
Mary Ellen Hassett has lived and worked in Delaware since 1996 as a paralegal and attorney. She and her husband Keith enjoy Wilmington arts and culture and devote a lot of volunteer time to Delaware Humane Association.

The musical 42nd Street – The Song and Dance Fable of Broadway – opened with the full cast tap dancing to Audition. This high-intensity performance engaged the audience from the beginning and lasted the entire show.

Director and co-author Mark Bramble with choreographer Randy Skinner did a magnificent job in casting, directing and bringing to life the story of Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), a young dancer from Allentown, PA who came to New York to audition for her first show, Pretty Lady. Peggy gets her chance to shine when the lead in Pretty Lady breaks her ankle and Peggy is asked to step in by the director Julian Marsh (Matthew J. Taylor). You'll definitely recognize several of the hit songs from this performance like We’re in the Money, I Only Have Eyes for You and 42nd Street.

All of the dancers were phenomenal, but you definitely do not want to miss the lead male dancer who plays Billy Lawlor – Blake Stadnik. Although blind since age seven, Blake led the dance routines flawlessly and captured the audience with his smooth style, charisma and charm.

Enough cannot be said about the great choreography and costuming for this performance. The full cast is used in most scenes, and it was amazing to see how they were able to fit this large group onto the small stage and execute the dance sequences with such grace and excitement. The costumes were colorful and unique and added a lot to the overall presentation.

The staging for this show is rather simple, but with all of the great choreography, costuming and dance, there is no need for anything more!

Although a musical, this performance has many comical highlights that the audience fully enjoyed. If you want to see one of the best musicals that has come to Delaware this year, come and see 42nd Street!

The show runs at The Playhouse thru April 24 during the following times: Wednesday and Thursday evening performances at 7:30pm; Friday and Saturday evening performances at 8:00pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $40-$90, and discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.


Artist Ave Opens Doors in Wilmington's Creative District

This post content courtesy of a press release from Artist Ave Station.

Artist Ave Station announces its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 6, 3:00pm at its location at 800 N. Tatnall Street in downtown Wilmington. 

Artist Ave Station opened its doors on December 31, 2015 and has since served the Creative District community as a hub for artists, creatives and entrepreneurs to simultaneously live, work and create.

Artist Ave offers its members luxury loft-style apartments with awesome aesthetics, a high-design shared workspace and a functional creative space to get down and dirty. Tours will be available for the newly renovated third-floor studio loft apartment, which has been gutted and custom remodeled. 

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the space will showcase works by local artist and advocate Michael Kalmbach and his team from the Creative Vision Factory – an organization that provides individuals with behavioral health disorders an opportunity for self-expression, empowerment and recovery through the arts. The Creative Vision Factory members will display a mosaic tile project they've created in collaboration with Artist Ave Station.  

This event will also feature the launch of Artist Ave Station member Llennef Clothing's new spring/summer collection. 

Artist Ave Station is a purpose-built environment that specializes in providing artists, creatives and entrepreneurs with a variety of areas to focus, collaborate, lead and/or socialize. The organization offers members use of space as a gallery or pop-up shop to exhibit work and host events.