Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ain't Misbehavin'...DTC Is!

By Guest Blogger, Christine Facciolo
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music. An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer. 

The joint’s indeed jumpin’ at the Delaware Theatre Company with the raucous and infectiously joyful Ain’t Misbehavin’. This 31-song revue of Fats Waller tunes captures the ebullient spirit of the Harlem Renaissance thanks to the direction of creator Richard Malby Jr. and a five-member cast that truly understands the many moods of the prolific composer, from the irreverent Fat and Greasy to the mournful Black and Blue.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a joyous celebration of Black America’s contribution to our culture. You’ll hear swing, the rhythms of ragtime, the passions of blues, jazz, be-bop, waltz and jitterbug all served up with a dash of double-entendre that hints at the nasty. Y ou’ll see movement from tap to the Charleston and back again, with everything in-between.  And all that accomplished with sass, brass and bountiful belting.

This revue contains the best of Waller’s songbook plus many tunes he performed and turned into hits. The cast — Doug Eskew, Eugene Fleming, Kecia Lewis, Cynthia Thomas and Debra Walton — seem to have as much fun as the audience singing and dancing to the numbers.

The cast coalesces beautifully into an ensemble in selections including The Joint is Jumpin’ and the irresistible title tune.  But everyone gets their turn in the spotlight as well.  Walton brings a lustrous elegance to Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now, while Lewis delivers an emotional and heartfelt Mean to Me. Thomas bring a ladylike come-hither to Squeeze Me, while Fleming slinks and slithers through the (literally) smokin’ The Viper. As for Eskew, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Waller with an outsized persona and vocals to match.  His take on Your Feet’s Too Big is uproarious.

The finale includes a medley of tunes Waller performed, including many he didn’t write. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie are all recognizable standards nicely sung.  And when the cast unleashes an ebullient reprise of Honeysuckle Rose, it becomes impossible to keep your toes from tapping.

The cast gets support from an ace five-piece jazz band. The conductor and pianist is William Foster McDaniel, whose flying fingers ably accommodate Waller’s stride technique.   The show plays out on Kacie Hultgren’s set, which evokes a cabaret/nightclub of yesteryear but does not crowd out Waller’s music.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ is Broadway’s first jukebox musical, making it one of 13 musicals that had a profound impact on the art form, according to a recent article in Playbill magazine. This production closes DTC’s 35th season as it commemorates the musical’s 35th anniversary.

This is an amazingly fun, toe-tapping experience. Fats Waller’s music deserves to be performed by talented and respectful performers. This cast will entertain you far beyond your expectations — Don’t miss this production!

See www.delawaretheatre.org.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Evening of Chamber Music with the NSO & Guests

The United Methodist Church hosted both Newark Symphony Orchestra players and members of the University of Delaware Opera Theatre department for an evening of chamber music and song. It was a lively evening of music and an excellent opportunity to get to know the musicians of the NSO and their guest performers up close.
NSO Conductor Emeritus Roman Pawlowski

The first piece was the very difficult Beethoven Trio in C Major, Opus 87 for two oboes and English horn. This work, as Maestro Tartaglione said in his introduction, is an early, classical work by Beethoven. The harmonies and style show a great deal of Mozartian influence, and the first oboe has the bulk of the unflinchingly tough technical demands which Elizabeth Stevens certainly met, even though she had to fight her reed a tad in the Adagio. Cathy MacIntyre’s English horn came through with great smoothness and jollity, which, together with the smooth oboe tones of Susan Ritter, made all four movements a pleasure to hear.

The Woodwind Quintet in A-flat major, Opus 14, a piece by Gustav Holst which had been unearthed in 1978, was a fun, romantic romp which Michelle Webb (clarinet) obviously relished. Jennifer Hugh had a great night with the fairly demanding bassoon part as she led the Bel Canto quintet through the lush and romantic canon. It was a great opportunity to hear Bonnie McDonald’s horn playing and the silver sounds of Crystal Norman’s flute.

The UD Opera Theatre performers had four short and breezy opera selections which flew by.  All were conducted by Ian Christopher Passmore and accompanied by Paul Fleckenstein. Standouts were singers Kameron Ghanavati, tenor and Jessica Williams, soprano. You can hear more of their singing in the May performances of Puccini’s La Bohème.

The concert was crowned by a wonderful performance of Roman Pawlowski’s arrangement of Victor Ewald’s brass quintet — a wildly difficult piece which Maestro Pawlowski arranged for fourteen brass players. Casey Hesse’s trumpet sounds were both subtle and virtuosic as she soloed in the lush Russian work for which the reverberant church was a great acoustic setting. Current Maestro Tartaglione conducted and recognized former conductor Roman Pawlowski’s dedication to the Newark Symphony Orchestra. The theme of the concert, A Gift from Roman, was in evidence in his superbly crafted arrangement.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Local Writers Works' Featured in "Wicked" New Anthology

Avaricious, cruel, depraved, envious, mean-spirited, vengeful—the wicked have been with us since the beginnings of humankind. You might recognize them and you might not. But make no mistake. When someone wicked crosses your path, your life will never be the same. Do you know someone wicked? You will.

This is the introduction to the Written Remains Writers Guild's new book, entitled Someone Wicked: A Written Remains Anthology.  The 21 stories in this work, released by Smart Rhino Publications, were written by members of the Guild and their friends and were edited by JM Reinbold and Weldon Burge. 

Initial reviews have been quite positive:
[From Barnes & Noble...]
"In one word: AWESOME! Smart Rhino Publications has done it again with a wonderful collection of stories, all on the theme of wickedness. Suspense, mystery, thrills ... all here!” 

“There is a lot to love about this book. First off, the cover really grabbed my attention and that is saying something. So many books are being released these days with book covers that make you laugh or wince, but this one is great. Luckily the best part of it isn't just the cover. The stories in here are rich and diverse. There really is something for almost anyone..."   

[From Goodreads...]
“I've just finished this delightfully twisted anthology. This is my first exposure to the Written Remains Writers Guild, but certainly will not be my last. The stories in this collection all revolve around the theme of characters that commit wicked acts of some sort..."
The Written Remains Writers Guild was founded in 2009 by a group of Delaware writers who believe that greater literary excellence and career success can be best achieved by working together, sharing knowledge, skills, and resources. The Guild supports groups and events such as the Writers' Breakfast, Delaware Writer's Network, Open Mic Night at Newark Arts Alliance, and several workshops and classes for authors at all skill levels.

The paperback and Kindle versions are currently available on Amazon.