Sunday, July 26, 2015

Longwood & Brandywiners Team Up for a Fine "Fiddler"

By Guest Blogger, Julia Mason
Julia has been working in the marketing world for over seven years and has a deep passion for Wilmington, Delaware. When she is not working on revitalization efforts and exciting projects for Wilmington with The Buccini/Pollin Group, she enjoys working on her personal project,

Brandywiners' cast of Fiddler On the Roof
The charming and thought-provoking Fiddler on the Roof is now on performance at the magical Longwood Gardens Open Air Theatre.  The talented Brandywiners are putting on the production, and like the Longwood Gardens have a unique history.

The group began in 1932 with the goal to bring joy into people’s lives during the Great Depression. Chick Laird, co-founder of the group, just so happened to also be the favorite nephew of Pierre S. du Pont, owner of Longwood Gardens and the Open Air Theatre, The Brandywiners have been performing there ever since!

Fiddler on the Roof is The Brandywiners 84th annual performance and all of that experience strongly shows through the play. The jubilant Marissa Broujos’ energy as The Fiddler can be felt strongly throughout the entire show, and her dancing was perfectly on point. William Fellner, as Teyve was impeccable at bringing out the character’s wit. Susan Brown captivated the audience with her motherly yet quick-witted personality. The real head turner was Tricia Beichner, who perfectly carried out the role as old Grandma Tzeital and was both mystifying and terrifying all at the same time!

The entire cast and orchestra did an excellent job and if you haven’t been to The Open Air Theatre to see The Brandywiners, or you haven’t seen Fiddler on the Roof, I would highly recommend attending. The play is just as wonderful as the setting and by being outdoors it somehow brings you that much more entrenched with the performance. The star-filled night sky and fireflies dancing above your heads make it all very enchanting.

P.S. The ending of play is not the end of the show, there is a dazzling fountain display, but I won’t spoil the surprise! You have to go see The Brandywiners yourself!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Delightfully ‘Shrew-d’ Lesson Under the Stars

By Guest Blogger, Carol Van Zoeren
Carol is a 40+ year veteran of community theater and retired from DuPont.

DelShakes Opening Night in Rockwood Park
Full disclosure – I am a DelShakes groupie. I’ve attended every year since they started, and love everything about it: The Shakespeare factoids to read and pause as you trudge up the hill, the community picnicking, the beautiful setting. It just isn’t summer in Wilmington for me without them.

And the shows! Always good, and this year’s Taming of the Shrew is most delightfully one of the best I’ve seen. Director Samatha Bellomo and the cast expertly tackle the challenges of in-the-round staging, which draws the audience in so we feel we’re part of the action. The vibrant costumes by Kayla Speedy keep it visually interesting while helping guide us through the multiple disguises. And the outsized physical antics and perfect delivery of the Bard’s baudiest lines produce hearty belly laughs.

At its core, however, Shrew is a difficult play for modern audiences to square with gender equality. Both Producing Artistic Director David Stradley and Director Bellomo made this point in their program notes. The company’s struggle with threading that needle has really paid off, and I now see the play in an entirely new light.

Most of this challenge falls on the central pair Petruchio (Charlie DelMarcelle) and Katharina (Felicia Leicht), and they succeed.  Their first meeting crackles with breathless attraction, which launches a lovely trajectory for each character. DelMarcelle’s Petruchio is more caring and less cocky. Leicht conveys a delicate vulnerability, even longing, behind her brash exterior. From this grows genuine affection, mutual respect and desire for the others’ happiness. In this context, Katharina’s final monologue is not submission to a conqueror. It is liberation from self-imposed exile. Yeah, I admit I got a little weepy.

The relationships between masters and servants echo this genuine affection. Lucentio (Kevin Hoffmann) trusts his servant Tranio (Ife Foy) with his name and his love life. Petruchio’s poor put-upon servant Grumio (James Kern) always comes through in a pinch. In contrast, the Katharina’s sister Bianca (Tabitha Allen) proves to be disdainful under her “perfect” exterior, especially in a very funny Act 1 scene with her sister and father (Michael Gamache).

It’s a thrill to learn something new about a familiar play. It’s even better learn something new about oneself. DelShakes delivers on both, and proves once again that Shakespeare always has something to teach us. Plus, it’s just really, really fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Ladybug Preview & CD Review

By Guest Blogger, Ken Grant
Ken Grant has worked in Delaware media, politics and marketing for 25 years. He and his Lovely Bride enjoy Wilmington's arts and culture scene as much as they can.

Photo courtesy of Nalani & Sarina.
At first listen, Nalani & Sarina’s new EP, Scattered World sounds like a well-blended mix of pop and soul with just the right amount of funk and rap added for extra flavor.

But listen closely and you can hear the influences the identical twins grew up with 
stellar lyricists like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, as well as the classical music training they received in childhood.

Like many sibling musicians, Nalani & Sarina Bolton not only blend voices perfectly, but seem to match each other’s energy and style in every track – from the opening anthem “We’ll Be Free” (which promises to be a great number for live performances) to the haunting “Shadows in the shade.”
Themes running through the tracks of Scattered World cover things as difficult as teen runaways and adolescent confusion without family or community support, to a celebration of love and freedom.

Whether you appreciate 60s soul, 70s funk, 80s dance, 90s hip-hop, or modern pop, Nalani & Sarina have something for you musically to enjoy while engaging your mind with thoughtful, well-placed lyrics.

Nalani & Sarina will be playing the Ladybug Festival in Wilmington on Thursday, July 16. The free event features some of the best performers in the mid-Atlantic region.

Find out more about Nalani & Sarina:

Find out more about the Ladybug Music Festival: