Monday, August 31, 2009
What is a Fringe Festival? The festival gets its name from one that started 1947 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Several alternative theater companies performed on the “fringe” of the Edinburgh International Festival, and a tradition was born. Today, fringe festivals can be found in New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Houston. These festivals offer opportunities for artists and performers to showcase material that might not be seen otherwise, because of its edgy, offbeat or “alternative” quality.
Some highlights of Fringe Wilmington include Robin Gelfenbien’s My Salvation Has a First Name, a Wienermobile Journey, OperaDelaware’s performances of “Black Horses” and “The Stronger” and Project Capoeira’s exciting Afro-Brazilian dances.
Tickets for individual performances are $10 or less, and all-access packages are available starting September 1, 2009.
Diana is local musician and Manager of Audience Development at the DuPont Theatre
It's turning out to be a season of unique opportunities here at the DuPont Theatre. This is the first of two or three coming down the pike. I can't wait to tell you about this one, and there will be more, so stay tuned, Broadway fans!
Not since the boys of St. Edmond's Academy joined the cast of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in 1996 have local performers been invited to share the stage with a national Broadway touring company at the DuPont Theatre. On Saturday, September 12, the producers of THE WIZARD OF OZ come to Wilmington to hold auditions for a group of twelve local Munchkins to round out the October cast that opens our 2009-2010 season.
Here's some info on the company: "The selected children will be from an existing group of 12 and will be chosen by the National Tour talent representatives based on the best overall group talent. No individual children and/or partial group will be selected nor allowed to audition. Deadline for mandatory registration for the audition is Friday, September 4."
It’s an incredible opportunity for young aspiring actors/actresses to follow their yellow brick road. For group leaders seeking additional details, email me at Diana.L.Milburn@usa.dupont.com.
So come on out and "sing it high - sing it low" to be on stage at the DuPont Theatre.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
The Wilmington Children's Chorus invites children in grades 3 through high school to audition for the "Singing Ambassadors of Wilmington". Audition Workshop & Select Choir Auditions: Wednesday, September 9. This workshop is open to all interested singers and is an opportunity to review audition material with WCC staff. Auditions for returning WCC members will be held following the workshop. Call 302.762.3637 to reserve your spot. General auditions are granted by appointment: Saturday, September 12 & Sunday, September 13.
For further details, visit www.wilmingtonchildrenschorus.org.
The Delaware Valley Chorale will hold auditions by appointment September 8, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. and September 12 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew & Matthew, 719 N. Shipley Street, Wilmington, Delaware. Singers should bring two (2) copies of a prepared classical solo with piano accompaniment (demonstrating appropriate range and tone). Singers must also demonstrate music-reading ability. To schedule an audition, contact Barbara Kidd at 302.234.4866 or BMKsop@aol.com.
For further details, visit www.delawarevalleychorale.org.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The actors instantly transported us to an ESL (English as a Second Language) classroom. Annie is a newly divorced teacher who has left her husband for another man. Kerry Kristine McElrone, who plays the sometimes flustered teacher, listens attentively and with expression to the students. Mary Catherine Kelley is moving in her portrayal of Sungae, a Korean artist who finally decides to learn English after living seventeen years in this country.
In her novel, Fischer explores the role of language and its relationship to culture, expression and thought. Annie begins to understand her students’ difficulties with foreign language and culture. Her student Ba (played by James Kassees) says “You think Vietnam a war, you forget it is my country.” We later discover Sungae has refused to learn English, because she is afraid to have words for the great losses in her life.
The author related how her own experience as an ESL teacher gave her insights into foreign culture and language. Fischer, who is currently completing another novel, cautioned the authors in the audience about making a work of fiction too autobiographical. A lively discussion about the use of “life material” in fiction ensued. I look forward to more exciting things The Delaware Humanities Forum has in store for us in the coming months.
First in our tour was the oldest piece in the exhibit: a 1964 offset lithography piece by Eugene Feldman entitled Friend's Wife (Mrs. JFK). The stark, grainy image grabs you, revisiting the raw emotion in the original Eddie Adams photo of Jackie O at Kennedy's funeral.
As expected (and to my delight), there is a series of large Warhols lining the wall. The seven colorful screenprints of Mao, 1972 come from a 10-piece portfolio. I've been enamored with all things Andy Warhol since I was a teenager (thanks to junior-high art teacher, Mrs. P.), so of course I was thrilled to see these extraordinary works, on loan from a private collection. They’re classic Warhol—irreverent, campy and powerful.
Another piece that struck me was the enormous 60-piece Deluxe by Ellen Gallagher, an African-American artist whose expansive creation features the techniques of collage, laser etching, clay, and crystal embellishment, incorporated into ad pages of Ebony magazines from the 1960s. You could literally spend hours with this piece and not take in every meticulous detail. It is a breathtaking and brilliant commentary on culture, beauty and media imagery.
Coyle’s favorite pieces include the Gallagher and a series by Richard Prince, based on pulp fiction nurse novels from the 1950s and 1960s. She noted that she enjoyed discovering the “backstory” to these artists’ inspirations, how they derived information and images from pop culture, poetry and media, and made it their own. “It adds a richness to the story if you know what the artist started with,” she said.
You can also read Coyle’s blog on the exhibit at http://exposed-exhibition.blogspot.com/.
Don’t miss this exhibit, on view until October 4.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Millie Dillmount, sung beautifully by a sympathetic Erica Scanlon Harr, is a small town girl following her dreams to New York City. Her odyssey lands her in a fleabag motel, which is merely a front for a “white slavery” ring funneling unsuspecting young women to Hong Kong via a laundry hamper. Micki Sharpe, who also directs the show, plays the hysterical, conniving Mrs. Meers, slipping in and out of her fake pigeon English when necessary. Bun Foo and Ching Ho, unwilling cohorts in her slave trade, are played by Reza Mirsajadi and Brian Peeke respectively. They are side-splittingly funny as they sing their numbers in Mandarin, with the subtitle translations overhead.
As Millie’s dream of marrying her boss goes hopelessly wrong, she meets and falls in love with Jimmy Smith, played by the handsome and lithe Justin Damm. The wealthy Muzzy Van Hossmere is expertly sung by Jillian Pirtle. Megan Pisors’ portrayal of the slightly clueless Dorothy Brown is charming. As the big boss Mr. Graydon, actor Patrick O’Hara almost makes us want to like his bumbling, womanizing character.
Be sure to see this heart-warming show, filled with snappy dance numbers, whirling secretaries’ desks and flapper dresses.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Philadelphia-based Melinda Steffy is the Art Loop’s featured artist this month. Her exhibit "Vegetable/Mineral" is hanging in the lobby and along the classroom corridors of the Music School of Delaware. Though these hallways are a slightly cramped venue for some of her larger, more colorful works, the marriage of music and art is a vibrant one. How wonderful to think a student or teacher might pause after a cello lesson to look at Sequence I-III. (see photo). Steffy related to me she had an ancestry of quilters. The idea of using found objects such as old lace, or discarded plastic colored barrettes in her work continues this tradition. These objects retain their original meaning within the framework of the piece. Her show “Remnants and Residual Memories” runs from August 21 to October 4 at the Connelly Center Art Gallery at Villanova University.
Walk into the 2nd floor gallery of the Carvel State Building, and you see the photographs and captions, all beautifully blown-up and mounted. Take a few steps closer and you are drawn into the captivating and tragic tale of homelessness in our city. Valerie Miller of the Delaware State Housing Authority worked in conjunction with Friendship House, Inc. to coordinate this Photovoice project. Eight men, all over the age of 55 and living in Andrew’s Place shelter, took photos of various locations or situations familiar to them. Underneath each picture, a caption explains things a person who isn’t intimately familiar with homelessness might not notice or understand. One photo, entitled Budget Motel shows rows of empty Budget rental trucks open in the back. The caption explains that the workers from Budget leave them open because they know the homeless crawl in there to sleep. Another photo shows a woman who had just looked for food in a trashcan, and the caption relates just how common this practice is for the homeless. In reading the captions and viewing the photos, we gain a glimpse into the hardscrabble life of the homeless and destitute in our city and country. The Photovoice exhibit will be at the Carvel Building until August 28.
Entering the Dupont Gallery I at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts on August 14 gave me a jolt. Having read the excellent notes written by Assistant Curator Susan Isaacs should have cushioned the shock but the seven stark graphite and gouache works of Zoë Charlton’s Imitation of a Life left me breathless.
Perhaps it is because Charlton has captured the good and enchained it in evil – as often happens in life. She has taken a loop from a 1934 film Imitation of Life directed by John M Stahl which is a scene in which a successful black businesswoman comes to find her daughter who has run away and is trying to pass as white. Charlton has put a Ku Klux Klan hood on the daughter’s head.
So is this an imitation of success? When the tearful mother tries to woo back her daughter to ‘black’ life, is it begging her to fail?
The seven works seem also quite stark – all on creamy white paper with no frames, the graphite figures of naked women seem indefensible – vulnerable – enslaved to the unseen evil powers that have made them toys of their masters. The occasional spots of color are mocking accessories to the crime.
If you need a lift when you leave the Dupont I, visit the Fractious Happy installation by Heather Harvey in the Constance S and Robert J. Hennessy Project Space or just wander the halls and acquaint yourself with works of the studio artists who are the mainstay of the DCCA – or come back on September 4 and see the brilliant colors of a Ken Mabrey or a fanciful construct by Jane Quattarone.
Read excellent curator notes by J Susan Isaacs and find out about future exhibits and dates : www.thedcca.org
Friday, August 14, 2009
Gallery hours are 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14; then noon to 5 p.m. Thurday and Friday; and 10 to 5 Saturday. There'll be a reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21. Call (302) 449-5396 to learn more.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The music and the idyllic setting seemed like something from another world – picnic blankets, happy faces, dogs and babies, and a very Spanish-sounding classical guitar quartet.
After two movements of Mozart, the quartet played Graper’s arrangement of a Georg Philipp Telemann string quartet, which showed their virtuosity – especially in a tricky fugal movement. They suddenly changed style in a Vivace they added to the Telemann.
Chris Braddock joined Graper on “Ballad for Kay” for two guitars by Nick Webb of Acoustic Alchemy.
After a dramatic Intermezzo from the opera “Goyescas” by Enrique Granados, a crack of thunder drowned the applause. The quartet continued with “Blue Tango” by Leroy Anderson, but those clouds burst and the crowd ran for cover.
The untimely ending left the crowd hungry for more, but no worries. Their appetite can be appeased on October 18 at Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, when BGQ will repeat the show and feature Mark Unruh in a ragtime/swing song that garnered him a bluegrass guitar prize.
Dan Graper’s music: www.myspace.com/dangraper.
Chris Braddock’s music: www.braddockmusic.com.
I began my Loop at the Delaware Art Museum. The overwhelming interest in the program “Illustrating Her World” produced two interest groups, and I happily joined the second for a “pre-tour” of the adjacent Copeland Sculpture Garden and the Labyrinth. There, volunteer Carol Maurer explained the genesis of these peaceful spots, built entirely by volunteers in a former reservoir for Bancroft Mills.
If you like blue, visit Graig Morris’ display upstairs at The Exchange on Market. Blue man in Key West shows a black man with graying hair on a bench in front of a hurricane fence on which the words ‘Restricted Area – Authorized Personnel Only’ are handwritten in red ink. The man is wearing a shirt of midnight blue; his face shows the weary wariness of being shut out of the mainstream. Venus is a small Florentine-style portrait of Venus rising from a Bahama-blue ocean. A new work portrays a young Michelangelo on scaffolding under the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Despite the heat and humidity, the Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park was packed with humanity on Sunday: People sitting in chairs and blankets spread on the grass. Some die-hard fans crowded the stagefront, dancing and enjoying the music up close. A Tribute to Freddie King rocked the Main Stage with their rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago,” while the audience sang along. Their awesome sax and guitar riffs reminded us that the Blues is really the daddy of rock n’ roll.
On the Bandwagon Stage, 61 North gave us a Blues tour around the world, passing through England, Ireland, and the U.S. They played the classic American blues song, “When Things Go Wrong (It Hurts Me Too),” inviting guest musicians to play toward the end of their set.
Delbert McClinton delivered a program ranging from Country-Western to Chicago and New Orleans. His touching ballad “Sending Me Angels” was sweet and lyrical. From his upcoming album Acquired Taste, he sang a rollicking song, “People Just Love to Talk”. His earthy harmonica-playing gives his music the flavor of back porch blues. I watched as people carrying coolers and lawn chairs happily bounced their way out of the park on their way home to the beat of “Have a Little Faith in Me.”
Monday, August 3, 2009
The orchestra, assembled and directed by C. Lawler Rogers, Sr. is stunning. The balance between the accompaniment and the cast is excellent, with each note from the pit precise and in tune. The actors do well with Lerner and Loewe’s bittersweet musical, which is sometimes heavy on the dialogue. The show’s hilarious, yet telling one-liners keep the first act light: Arthur asks Merlin why he has never taught him of love and marriage and Merlin chides, “Don’t scramble them together that way.” The second act becomes dark and brooding: a tale of betrayal and greed. The music, humor and quirky storybook characters keep the show engaging.
Erin Cates plays a sympathetic Guenevere, singing with a clear, sweet tone. Guenevere’s “Before I Gaze at You Again” is one of musical theatre’s gems with its haunting melody and expansive phrases. Kudos to Ted Harding (Arthur) who reprises the role he did with the Brandywiners in 1981. Alexander Bowditch’s (Mordred) cuts through the stage like a knife with his confident and perfectly evil performance. He leads the men’s chorus in “Fie on Goodness”, one of the wittiest numbers in the show. In this number, we catch Broadway at its best and raunchiest, well before the “politically correct” movement made its presence known. One man sings, “When I think of the pleasures that earlier filled my life…Like the time I beheaded a man who was beating his naked wife”.
In addition to its annual summer production, the group also performs concerts of Broadway and American music under the auspices of the Brandywiners Chorale.