Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ebbie's Top Theater Performances of 2014!

2014 was another wonderful year for the theater in Delaware! I was excited that a Delaware-based theater company, in this case the Wilmington Drama League (WDL), was producing the coming of age show, 13, The Musical. I had taken my nephew to see the musical on Broadway about five years ago and I thought, "what a fantastic show to introduce young teens to the theater!" The WDL's production was highlighted by the rousing performances of its young cast members. The production was such a success that it was transferred to a professional theater company in Pennsylvania!

I was floored by Kathleen Pirkl Tague's performance in The University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players' production of Margaret Edson's play Wit. Tague perfectly captured the emotions and struggles a person goes through while not just fighting, but coming to terms with advanced stage cancer. This play doesn't just land on my top for 2014, but my top for the decade!
I always love spending a summer evening outside watching a performance and the Delaware Shakespeare Festival's exhilarating production of Hamlet did not disappoint. Sipping wine while watching one of the Bard's best tragedies with a great friend made for delightful summer evening. From the stellar cast to the amazing set, the production was absolutely mesmerizing! 

 It was a great treat to see two veteran TV actors (Michael Learned and Daniel Davis) star in A.R. Gurney's sentimental two-character play Love Letters at The Delaware Theatre Company (DTC). I hadn't seen the play since I was in high school when Colleen Dewhurst and E.G. Marshall portrayed the parts at The DuPont Theatre, then The Playhouse. The DTC production immediately reminded me why I fell in love with this charming play so many years ago about a relationship between two people over the course of their lives.

I look forward to seeing more great theater in 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Big, the musical...A Show for Big and Small

By Blogger Charles "Ebbie" Alfree, III

It’s hard not to think of Tom Hanks playing Heart and Soul and Chopsticks at the quintessential New York City toy store, FAO Schwartz (aka "MacMillan Toys" in the movie) when someone mentions the film Big. Fortunately for the audience at the Wilmington Drama League (WDL), they see the iconic scene from Penny Marshall’s 1988 film live on stage in their holiday show, Big, the musical. 

With a boisterous score by David Shire, Big the musical is exactly what it says it is…it’s BIG! Sharing the writing with Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics) and John Weidman (book), the three men have created a show that’s perfect for the whole family during the holiday season.

Directed by Kathy Buterbaugh, Big the musical follows 12-year-old New Jersey boy, Josh (Connor Carp) who likes 13-year-old Cynthia (Rachel Ford). While waiting in line for a carnival ride — which he ends up being too small to ride — he learns Cynthia is dating a boy old enough to drive. Distraught, Josh visits the Zoltar Speaks machine and wishes to be "big." The next morning, Josh wakes up a grown man (Daniel Urdaneto). Not recognizing her now-grown son, Josh’s mother (Kansas Lynn Battern) kicks him out of the house. With the help of his neighbor and best friend, Billy (William Rotsch), Josh travels to New York City to find a Zoltar Speaks machine in an arcade, but instead finds he must wait weeks for a listing of machine locations.

What else would a 12-year-old boy do, but make his way to FAO Schwartz (MacMillan Toys), where he meets Mr. MacMillan (Jack Jordan) who owns a faltering toy manufacturing company. Impressed with Josh’s knowledge of toys, Mr. MacMillan offers him a vice president position and an apartment. Josh now has a place to live, an office with a view of the Statue of Liberty and a job that requires him to play with toys all day…a perfect life for a young boy. But, Josh has to contend with his yuppie colleagues Paul (Bill Swezey) and Susan (Sharon Rueggsegger), who are in a tumultuous relationship and are unable to create a successful holiday toy for the company.

Chaos ensues as Susan begins to drift away from the smarmy Paul and develop feelings for Josh. With Josh, Susan starts to reconnect with her inner-child and enjoy life, instead of climbing the corporate ladder. When Josh finally finds the Zoltar Speaks machine, he has to decide if he’ll stay in his adult form and continue his relationship with Susan or return to his family and friends.

Making that choice is Mr. Urdaneto who is brilliant as a man-child. His mannerisms — even the way he takes off his coat — are exactly what you would expect from a 12-year-old. He has a gorgeous voice that soars throughout the theater. Playing opposite him is an equally brilliant performer, Mrs. Rueggsegger as Susan. Mrs. Rueggsegger, who sings most of the show’s ballads, is amazing. She has a gorgeous voice and I could’ve listened to her sing all night. Ms. Battern as Josh’s mother and Mr. Rotsch as Billy give rousing performances. The four actors lead a BIG enthusiastic cast that keeps the show in motion, especially during the BIG splashy dance numbers choreographed by Brett Anderson.

Set Designer Pete Worth has created BIG sets that delight and actually become characters in the show! From Josh’s bedroom to the carnival (where the Zoltar Speaks machine is) to Josh’s whimsical office and apartment, the sets do not disappoint.

Big, the musical runs through December 28, at the Wilmington Drama League. Visit or call 302.764.1172 for additional information and tickets.     

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Call for Directors: Wilmington Drama League

The Wilmington Drama League is seeking prospective directors for their 82nd subscription season, commencing September of 2015. Directors who are interested may submit their proposal using the guidelines found here:

“For directors, the true advantage here is that they can realize their vision utilizing the full resources of the theater at their disposal,” said Adam Wahlberg, Vice President of Artistic Development for WDL. “We want to make them feel supported.”

The Wilmington Drama League first opened its doors in 1933, not far from their current location on Lea Boulevard. Since then, it has been second home to family and friends who volunteer their time to mount high-quality theater productions. Famous alumni include John Gallagher, Jr., Aubrey Plaza, and Keith Powell.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Fearless Weekend of Comedy Started with a Buzz

By Guest Blogger, Michelle DiMarino

Playing to an intimate crowd, City Theater Company’s Fearless Improv kicked off their busy four-show weekend at the Buzz Ware Village Center on Friday night.

The group welcomed the audience with beat boxing and freestyling in a delightfully “Bad Rap,” immediately reassuring the crowd that they had made the correct decision in spending their Friday evening with Wilmington’s only improv team. 

After soliciting a series of adjectives and professions from the audience (the improv favorite “proctologist” included), the group began a round of “Party Quirks.” The party host hilariously struggled to guess her eclectic guest list: a dyslexic bongo player, kinky engineer and damp proctologist. In the skit “New Choice,” two members of Fearless Improv conversed and were interrupted by a third member who shouted new choice when the spoken word was not to his liking. Beginning as two women talking about their children playing in a treehouse, the conversation skipped from bananas to boogers to Red Robin’s endless fries. 

At this point in the show, the audience was ready and willing to follow the improv team down any winding road they wandered. A song which began as an ode to retirement and ended as a request for cream cheese at a bagel shop. In one skit, a couple describing scenes from their vacation to snow covered Buffalo, NY transitioned from a football huddle to a stampede at Walmart. Starting as a scene from an Olympic volleyball game, a round of “Freeze Tag” jumped to the conjuring of magic spells. However, the skit “La Ronde” perfectly encapsulated the raucous randomness of the evening.

In “La Ronde,” characters move in and out the scene, but never change as in other improv skits such as “Freeze Tag.” This allows the characters to develop and the team to illustrate their ability to play off each other, which Fearless Improv achieved with much success. Two members began as birds, contemplating the lack of freedom yet comfort found within the bars of their cage. Others floated in and out of the scene as the birds’ owner and son, a disgruntled neighbor, and animal right’s activist/Grammy-winning musician Sarah McLachlan. The audience learned of one bird’s compulsion to eat when anxious and the limits of the songstress’ love of animals. Truly, the skit was the climax of the show.

By the final skit, a recap of the evening sung over the chords of a blues tune, it was apparent that the show was filled with unanticipated swerves in topic. However, that is the essence of great improv, which Fearless Improv skillfully accomplished.

For information about Fearless Improv’s upcoming performances, visit

Monday, November 24, 2014

Delaware Art Museum's 19th-Century American Art Galleries Reopen to the Public November 28

Release and photos courtesy of The Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to unveil its renovated and re-installed 18th- and 19th-Century American Art galleries — Galleries 1, 2, and 3 — to the public on Friday, November 28 from 10:00am-4:00pm.  Just in time for the holiday season, the beautifully redesigned space will display over 50 works of art, including many permanent collection objects that have not been on view for over 10 years. As part of this re-installation, the galleries will highlight 150 years of portraiture, sculpture, landscape painting, still life, and history painting.

"I am excited to be able to present our local Wilmington history within the context of the dynamic national art scene," explains Heather Campbell Coyle, Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. "The product of more than two years of research and planning, the redesigned space gives us the opportunity to showcase the Museum's outstanding collection of American art to the local community, visitors, and school groups in new and exciting ways."

The first gallery presents portraits that span 1757 through 1856, featuring familiar favorites by Benjamin West (1738-1820), Thomas Sully (1783-1872), and Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825). Two images of Delawarean women, five-year-old Anna Walraven (1846-1927) and Sally Ann Ross Paynter (1812-1866), will also be on view. These portraits, all produced within a 50-mile radius of the Delaware Art Museum, reflect the aspirations and accomplishments of local families.

The second gallery introduces landscape painting, which became very popular during the mid-1800s. The loan of Michele Felice Cornè's romantic overmantel painting (circa 1800), which hung at Mount Cuba Center in recent decades, provides a prelude to the meticulous landscape paintings of the Hudson River School. These evocative landscapes are joined by history paintings, sculptures, and a luscious still life by Severin Roesen (1815-1872).

In the third gallery, the story of landscape painting continues with works by George Inness (1825-1894) and John Twachtman (1853-1902), which now hang near an early painting by Robert Henri (1865-1929) and a pair of etchings by Thomas Moran (1837-1926) and local printmaker Robert Shaw (1859-1912). One wall has been hung salon-style, creating an interesting juxtaposition of 16 works of art from the Museum's 12,500-object permanent collection and select loans.

In November 2013, the Museum underwent a major renovation and reinstallation of its gallery dedicated to contemporary American art, which nearly doubled the amount of objects on view from the permanent collection. The reinterpretation of the permanent collection galleries allows the Museum to find new ways to present its history and material culture to visitors of all ages.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Nathan the Wise" Delaware Premiere at Drama League

The Delaware Premiere of a controversial and inspiring drama will open for a short run this weekend at the Wilmington Drama League.

Nathan the Wise tells the story of Jews, Muslims and Christians who discover how to live in peace. It is a parable of timely interest, considering continuing unrest in the Mideast, yet it was written during the Enlightment in 1779 and is set six centuries before that, in Jerusalem. The three main characters are Nathan, a Jewish merchant; Saladin, the Muslim sultan who ruled over much of the Mideast; and an unnamed Christian templar participating in what is now called the third crusade.

“This play was banned and burned in Nazi Germany – and was the first play performed in Berlin after the end of World War II,” said director Pat van Catledge of the work, which was written in German by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. The Drama League production uses a modern translation. The Nazis banned it because the title character is Jewish.

To help capture the power of the play, there will be a discussion after the Nov. 16 performance. A study guide will be available for a performance scheduled just for high school students.

“Theater, at its noblest, is great storytelling which takes us out of our current situation and enables us to better understand who we are – individually and in relationship with others. That’s exactly what Nathan the Wise does,” van Catledge said. “This is a story of love and hope in a precarious world; of restoration after deep loss and suffering; of friendships that overcome biases and prejudices; of humor and mistaken identities."

Nathan the Wise runs November 13-16, at the Wilmington Drama League. Performances are at 8:00pm November 13 through 15 with a 2:00pm matinee on November 16. Tickets are $17. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Album Review: Excursions A Musical Trip with Mélomanie

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.

Never underestimate the power of music to transport an audience to other states of mind and place. Mélomanie explores this potential with the release of its latest CD, Excursions.

As its name suggests, Excursions takes the listener on a journey through a variety of musical terrains and recollections via an eclectic range of compositions written for and performed by Mélomanie. 

For example, Jennifer Margaret Barker’s Dumgoyne (2012) evokes the sights and sounds a native Scot would experience during a climb of the hill for which the composition is named. In Angico (2009), Sergio Roberto de Oliveira celebrates the fulfillment of his mother’s lifelong dream: The construction of a family vacation home in the Brazilian mountains and the successful effort to save a cherished tree on the property. Mélomanie has built its reputation on its striking and evocative pairings of early and contemporary music. 

And while this collection features contemporary works by living composers, that mission continues. Both the title track by Roberto Pace (2009) and Ingrid Arauco’s Pavane-Variations (2009) combine 16th Century forms with modern tonalities, rhythms and melodic structures. Kile Smith also applies modern compositional language to Renaissance and Baroque dance forms as the sarabande, allemande, branle, musette and canario in his eight-movement suite, The Nobility of Women (2012). 

Mélomanie (L-R): Tracy Richardson, Christof Richter,
Doug McNames, Kimberly Reighley & Donna Fournier
Photo by David Norbut Photography
There are other “provocative pairings” as well. Two selections — Angico and The Nobility of Women — are scored for Baroque instruments, while the other three works feature the modern and Baroque playing side by side. These hybrid groupings feature guest artists Eve Friedman on the modern flute and Priscilla Herreid on oboe.

If you’ve heard Mélomanie perform, then you know the caliber of artistry and skill they bring to their music. If not, this recording provides a superb entrée and will no doubt whet your musical appetite for more!

Excursions is available for purchase at or your favorite online music resource. 


Sunday, November 9, 2014

A 'Piece' Not to Be Missed at DTC

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.

Steve Bluestein’s play Rest in Pieces — now in its World Premiere at the Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) — combines laughter and tears in a three-act, three-character dramedy that drives home an immutable law of nature: Life begins and ends with family.

Meet the Becker family of Brooklyn, New York: Leona, the unbearably overbearing matriarch; Ben, her long-suffering husband; and Steve, their mild-mannered comedy-writer son. The play is impressively acted by Donna Pescow (Leona), Lenny Wolpe (Ben) and Frank Vlastnik (Steve). These three seasoned thespians work Bluestein’s script with the precision of a Swiss timepiece.

This is a play for anyone who has ever wondered how their loved ones would react in the aftermath of their demise. Each act focuses on the remaining two members when one is removed. First, we see mother and son sparring as they cope with the loss of Ben, who seems to view his death as sweet relief from the insanely domineering Leona. Next, we watch as the two men resume their lives after Leona loses her battle with cancer. Finally, husband and wife come to terms with the sudden death of Stevie, their only child.

We get to know the family casually and — more important — intimately. Death has a knack for stripping away defenses. It’s a bit like those human-body exhibits that allow us to take a look — in astonishing detail — at the biological processes that go on without our control.

We see that death leaves a void that nothing can ever truly fill, that the living must go on no matter what, and that the life we’ve lived may not have been the life we intended or even wanted to live. But that’s OK too.

Rest in Pieces is a brilliantly written and riveting piece of theatre. Bluestein skillfully pairs razor-sharp repartees with moments of intense emotion, evoking both laughter and tears — often at the same time — from the audience. DTC executive director Bud Martin’s superb direction showcases the cast at the top of its form. 

Rest in Pieces offers a sage piece of advice for anyone who has ever been at odds with a family member: Love your family as you love yourself. It’s a very short stay. 

Don’t miss this one.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Weekend of Music at Christina Cultural Arts Center: Diva Jones & Jazz Vespers

Two events this weekend at Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC) brings even more music to its intimate Clifford Brown Performance Space. 

On Friday, November 7, beginning at 7:00pm, mezzo-soprano Diva Jones will present The Wellthy Diva Jones — a mini-concert for the public and a workshop focused on healthy-living for performing artists. Called "...a mezzo with the stature of (opera legend) Shirley Verrett, plus the flash of Dorothy Dandridge." by The London Times, Jones has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Israel, and United Kingdom with major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Israeli Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic.  She is also a dedicated whole and raw foods chef, who studied under the famed Ann Wigmore Institute.  Tickets for Diva Jones are $15 for adults and $10 for students with ID.

For more information on Diva Jones, visit

To close the weekend on Sunday, November 9, at 2:00pm, CCAC welcomes Music Director Aaron graves and griot Greg Williams for "The Gospel According to JazzJazz Vespers. The program also features Aaron Graves, piano; Tony Williams, saxophone; Cedric Napoleon, bass; Craig Mciver, drums & Tonya Lynette, vocals. A free-will donation is appreciated.

For more information on these events, please call Christina Cultural Arts Center at 302.652.0101.

The mission of Christina Cultural Arts Center Inc. is to make affordable arts and education, workforce training and live performances accessible to youth and adults in a welcoming learning environment.  Christina Cultural Arts Center Inc. was founded in 1945 by the Women's Club of Trinity Episcopal Church to provide activities for immigrant Polish and Swedish working-class families.  In 1969, the Christina mission was re-aligned to serve as a community-based arts center with an emphasis on preserving African-American cultural heritage. In 1993, Christina completed a capital campaign to purchase and renovate its central location in downtown Wilmington at 705 N. Market Street. Today, Christina Cultural Arts Center Inc. is a gathering place for all, exploring diverse creative expression reflecting our shared American heritage.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mics Are Open All Over Wilmington!

Wilmington is suddenly rich with open stages for up-and-coming artists of every genre. Welcome three new open mic venues in the city — Get out and experience them all!

Christina Cultural Arts Center presents "The Pivot" Open Mic
A night for singer-songwriters, musicians, spoken-word artists and more! Opening night of the series began October 31 and now continues on the 2nd and 4th Fridays monthly at the Clifford Brown Performance Space of Christina. Sign-ups at 7:00pm and performances at 8:00pm.
Christina Cultural Arts Center
705 N. Market Street • Wilmington, DE 19801

The Arts at Trinity Open Mic
All storytellers, poets, musicians and singers are invited to come and share your gift during this open mic event, hosted on the 3rd Tuesday of the month by Ginny Wilder. Sign-ups begin at 6:30pm, and the entertainment begins at 7:00pm. Artists wanted. Listeners appreciated.  Mark your calendars with the full schedule: November 18; January 20; March 17; April 21; May 19 & June 16.
Trinity Episcopal Church
1108 N. Adams Street • Wilmington, DE 19801

#theBASSment at The Nomad
The Nomad is already known as the downtown spot for live jazz and hip, cozy gatherings. Now, it will be known for its Tuesday nights with #theBASSment, an open mic hosted by local musician Darnell Miller and his musical friends, The Souldaires. They promise plenty of poetry, funk, soul and good vibes. The fun happens Tuesdays 8:00-10:00pm, with no cover.
The Nomad Bar
905 N. Orange Street • Wilmington, DE 19801

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Darley Arts Center: Call for Artists

Darley Arts Center, at the corner of Philadelphia Pike and Darley Road in Claymont announces a call for art for its winter exhibit, running December 5, 2014 through January 10, 2015.

The call is open to any living artist, who must submit a maximum of three original pieces (no prints) with a "winter" theme. Entry fee is $10 (checks payable to CRDC). Any artist who is willing to volunteer as a gallery docent during a Sunday of the exhibit can receive a discounted entry fee. A 25% commission will be paid to Darley Arts Center on any artists' sales during the exhibit.

Interested artists should send a .jpeg file — including size (not including frame; art should be no larger than 30" on any side), title, medium and price — to no later than Wednesday, November 26, 2014. 

If chosen, art and entry checks can be delivered to the Darley House (3701 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE 19703) on Saturday, November 29, between 1:00 and 4:00pm. If this time is not convenient, please call Rick at 302-798-1364 or email to make other arrangements.


Monday, October 27, 2014

DCAD Gets Animated with Its New Exhibition

Photo courtesy of Augenblick Studios
The Delaware College of Art and Design hosts the November opening of Animation Now! — a curated exhibition of contemporary animation — on display November 7, 2014 through January 9, 2015 in DCAD’s Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery. 

Five animation studios, art centers, individuals and collectives from across the globe who create content for the web, TV, social media and game development will participate. Featuring techniques including stop-motion animation (Center for Creative Works and Tromarama), cut-out animation (Kelly Gallagher), and digital 2-D animation (Augenblick Studios and Honeycomb Interactive), Animation Now! showcases the scope of contemporary animation, including works that transcend the boundaries between art and entertainment worldwide.

An opening reception, sponsored by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will be held Friday, November 7, from 5:00-8:00pm in the Toni & Stuart B. Young Gallery at 600 N. Market St., coinciding with Wilmington’s monthly Art Loop event. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 9:00am-9:00pm Monday through Friday and 10:00am-4:00pm Saturday and Sunday.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Mélomanie Releases CD, Performs in Rio in November

Photo by David Norbut
Mélomanie, the five-piece chamber ensemble known for provocative pairings of early and contemporary works, celebrated the release of Excursions, their newest new CD — and takes an excursion of their own in November with a performance in Rio de Janeiro. They have been invited to perform at international the four-day festival, Compositores de Hoje (Composers of Today), November 20 through 23, 2014.

Excursions features pieces written for and premiered by the ensemble: Excursions: Fantasie Mélomanie (2009) by Roberto Pace; Pavane-Variations (2009) by Ingrid Arauco; Dumgoyne (2012) by Jennifer Margaret Barker; The Nobility of Women (2011) by Philadelphia-area composer Kile Smith and Angico (2009) by Brazilian composer, Sergio Roberto de Oliveira.

"We chose the title Excursions because the pieces take the listener on different journeys," says Mélomanie Co-Artistic Director Tracy Richardson. Barker's Dumgoyne describes her childhood memories of Scotland. Pace's Excursions explores multiple moods and musical terrain. Arauco's Pavane-Variations and Smith's The Nobility of Women give us a fresh visit to old dance forms, and de Oliveira's Angico tells the story of his family's home in the Brazilian countryside. 

"This trip is an exciting landmark for our ensemble!" Richardson says. "We're thrilled for the opportunity to share our music and serve as Delaware's 'musical ambassadors.'"

Mélomanie is: Donna Fournier, viola da gamba, Douglas McNames, cellos, Kimberly Reighley, flutes, Christof Richter, violins and Tracy Richardson, harpsichords.

The CD, Excursions, and other Mélomanie recordings are available for download at or your favorite online music outlet.

Mélomanie's participation in Compositores de Hoje is supported by of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Delaware State International Trade Commission; Delaware Division of the Arts; Paul M. Angell Family Foundation; The Music School of Delaware; and A Casa Produções.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Grammy-Award Winning Vocalist Performs in Benefit for Christina Cultural Arts Center

Photo courtesy of Gregory Porter
Just before he takes the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Grammy Award–winning jazz singer, songwriter and actor Gregory Porter makes a rare stop at The Grand Opera House at 7:30pm on Friday, October 17. The one-night-only performance in the Baby Grand Theater is a benefit for Christina Cultural Arts Center.

“We’re thrilled to be able to bring an artist of Gregory’s caliber to Wilmington,” said CCAC Executive Director, Raye Jones Avery. “The event is even more meaningful for us because the proceeds benefit Christina Cultural Arts Center — one of our city's celebrated arts organizations helping to elevate WIlmington's vibrant cultural scene and to inspire our children, youth and teens through the arts.”

Special pre- and post-event ticket packages (one including a post-concert dinner with Porter) are still available by contacting The Grand Box Office at 37.800.GRAND. Single concert tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office.

This performance is just part of Christina Cultural Arts Center’s focus on presenting intimate live performances by both local and nationally known musicians — both in the Clifford Brown Performance Space of CCAC and other venues in and around downtown Wilmington. Past concerts sponsored by the organization include a sold-out performance by jazz-funk ensemble Snarky Puppy and Esperanza Spalding, as part of the Clifford Brown Year-Round Jazz Series in partnership with the Grand Opera House and the City of Wilmington.

Gregory Porter’s new album, Liquid Spirit, earned him a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album in January. The album features three covers and 11 original songs including the title track (Liquid Spirit), Hey Laura, and No Love Dying. Called “the next great male jazz singer,” by NPR Music, Porter made his U.S. television debut last year with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

This engagement of Gregory Porter is made possible through the Jazz Touring Network program of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Christina Cultural Arts Center, Inc. is a premier community school of the arts with a mission to make affordable arts education and live multicultural performances accessible to children, teens and adults in a safe, family environment. CCAC’s leading-edge programs promote self-development, healthy lifestyles, social change, educational success and economic empowerment. CCAC is a partner in Wilmington’s Creative District project and the Center City Wilmington Delaware Readiness Team — a task force aiming to prepare Wilmington’s East Side and Southbridge area children for Kindergarten readiness.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Fringe Wilmo Gets Frightening Every Weekend in October!

Join WILMINGTON FRINGE FANS every Saturday night in October for Midnight Musicals at Theatre N at Nemours to support the Fringe Wilmington festival. Admission is only $5! Sing-a-alongs, themed cocktails, giveaways, props, local actors, 50/50 raffle and more! Costumes strongly encouraged.

Schedule and details:
October 4: Sweeney Todd
October 11: Little Shop of Horrors
October 18: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Sponsored by Delaware Theatre Company
 October 25: Young Frankenstein
Sponsored by Oddity Bar

Oddity Bar hosts a pre-game party before each main event, from 9:00-11:00pm.

The Fringe Wilmington Festival is a five-day celebration of unconventional and experimental art held three times annually as Live Fringe, Film Fringe and Visual Fringe. 2014 Live Fringe Wilmington Festival runs November 19-23, 2014.

Live Fringe presents Delaware’s most outrageous and edgy live performances by local, regional and national artists. Improv, dance, comedy, clowns, magic, drama, musical theater and the indescribable can be experienced in local theaters, vacant storefronts and unexpected spaces.  The Live Fringe Preview Party kicks-off the festival with three-minute “samples” by each of the performing artists at World Café Live at the Queen.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bravo to the 'Heroes and Heroines' of the DSO!

By Guest Blogger, Chuck Holdeman
Chuck is a regional composer of lyrical, contemporary classical music, including opera, orchestral music, songs, chamber music, and music for film.

The Delaware Symphony kicked off its 2014-15 season Friday evening at Wilmington's Grand Opera House. Board chair Charles Babcock — thrust into his role by the sudden death last summer of then chairman Bruce Kallos — gave a light-hearted (if lengthy) welcome to the near full house.

Music Director David Amado led the orchestra and audience in an enthusiastic rendition of our national anthem. Those of us who attended the pre-concert lecture had already met the soloist for Beethoven's 5th piano concerto — Venezuelan Gabriela Martinez, a charming and lovely young woman, is a graduate of Juilliard and winner of the Anton Rubenstein competition. Her conversation with Amado revealed her strong feelings for the music of Beethoven and her ability to learn concertos quickly — her budding career has included filling in for indisposed soloists.

While their discussion prepared us for a concerto of heroic dimension, the performance by Martinez and the DSO seemed to be propelled instead by lyrical sweep. Martinez plays with a clarity that communicates with great immediacy to an audience. I also enjoyed her use of the pedals, which colorized her sensitive phrasing. While she could always be heard over the orchestra, she nevertheless finessed her approach with daring pianissimos. She and Amado suggested that the second movement was the opposite of the first, introspective as opposed to heroic, yet they chose a tempo a little quicker than some, emphasizing the congenial rather than the mystical. Martinez had spoken of the chamber music implication of Beethoven's detailed writing for the orchestral instruments. Her obvious intense listening to those voices produced a beautiful unanimity, also enhanced by the sensitivity of conductor Amado, himself a pianist. The brilliance of the finale was as much due to Beethoven's witty side as to the composer's heroic strokes. I much preferred to take this concerto on its own terms, rather than be put in the frame of mind of Beethoven's publisher, who dubbed the piece "Emperor." I think for Beethoven, it was just music.

The second half gave us Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov's suite Scheherazade, based on this heroine's endless spinning of tales during 1,001 nights, successfully fending off the threat of the murderous Sultan. As a musician myself (a former bassoonist in the DSO), I realized I had performed this piece much more often than I had actually heard it from the audience. What a brilliant masterpiece it is! Most of the piece plays itself: the rich Arab-tinged harmonies, the memorable tunes, the rhythmic propulsiveness, the striking instrumental solos.

As in their lyrical approach to Beethoven, Amado and the orchestra relished the sweeping melodies, the swells of Rimsky's ocean. The only place that may not have worked quite so well was in the second movement, The Kalendar Prince, which is highly sectionalized. Yes, a good story has many fascinating episodes, but there must be a dramatic tension binding them — as with comedy, it's in the timing, which might have been more dramatically satisfying in this performance. I cannot fail to mention many of the featured musicians, quite a few of whom were my colleagues when I was in the orchestra. One who came after me is the youthfully ebullient concertmaster David Southorn, who shown brightly in Rimsky's numerous violin cadenzas, representing the storyteller, also functioning as a unifying motif. An older musician might display a broader range of expression, especially in the intimate direction, but the audience responded to Southorn's drama, command, and beauty of tone with hearty shouts of 'bravo' during the concertmaster's many bows at the conclusion.

Similar command was shown by my longtime colleague, bassoonist Jon Gaarder, whose pacing and virtuosity were just terrific. Charles Salinger's clarinet and Kim Reighley's flute sounded as lovely and apt as they always do, and Stephanie Wilson, taking the principal oboe role, made a strong impression every time she entered. I can tell you that for double reed players, who generally make their own reeds, the mark of having a good night on stage is having a good reed. Stephanie, nice reed!! Trumpeter Brian Kuszyk, wow, what triple tonguing. And those solos for second trombone, bravo Richard Linn. There was plenty for both first and second horn, bravi Karen Schubert and Lisa Dunham. And thank you, Doug McNames, for those particularly generous glissandos on the 'cello.

Amado and all the strings deserve high praise for the third movement, The Young Prince and Princess. The sound was lush and the ultra-romantic interpretation was remarkably complex, and everyone managed to do it together! One colleague I missed is cymbal-player Tom Blanchard. Rimsky, like many Russian composers, wrote a lot for the cymbals, and Blanchard is a player who can actually build a phrase with this crashing instrument. I like a loud cymbal, but the substitute last night tended to just play loud.

It was indeed a very beautiful concert with an especially large and vocal audience, a terrific launch to the new season by The Delaware Symphony Orchestra! The next program will be given on October 17 & 19 at The Tatnall School.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Love is in the Air at The Delaware Theatre Company!

Michael Learned and Daniel Davis in Love Letters. Photo by Joe del Tufo, Mobius New Media. 
You can take a trip to New York City to see the latest starry Broadway revival of Love Letters, but there is no need to travel to the Big Apple when we have our very own starry production right here in the First State! Last night the Delaware Theatre Company opened its 36th season - with A.R. Gurney's sentimental two-character play starring Michael Learned and Daniel Davis - to a standing ovation.

Love Letters is a unique play because the two actors never physically interact; instead, they sit at separate desks reading letters their characters have written to each other over the course of about 50 years. Since there is no blocking, sets or props, the play depends solely on the strength of the actors. Thankfully, we have two veterans in the roles who can certainly handle the challenge.

The two characters come from waspy New York families. They both spent their formative years in boarding schools and summer camps, but the families couldn't be more different. Melissa Gardner (Ms. Learned) grew up with divorced parents who used their wealth to keep their daughter happy rather than give her the attention she longed for, while Andrew Makepeace Ladd III (Mr. Davis) grew up in a conservative household with loving, supportive parents. The play begins in the 1930s when they meet in second grade, and thus starts their lifelong love affair. We learn about each character's personal and professional successes and failures through the letters they write to each other as they attend out-of-state schools and continue their very different lives.

They both journey into adulthood in separate directions. Andrew becomes a Washington, DC lawyer and later a republican New York senator, while Melissa becomes a free-spirited artist who uses her family's money to travel the world. Although both have multiple relationships and marry others, with whom they have families, they never stop corresponding.

The beauty of the play is that it comes to life through Mr. Gurney's words. The audience gets an opportunity to mentally visualize the action rather than have it played out for them. It's a play about these two people, but it's also about the art of letter writing, which today has been mostly replaced by technology - emails, texts, social networks, etc. As Melissa becomes dissatisfied with writing, Andrew reminds her of the beauty of it and how it's an extension of him. He feels that his letters are gifts. The two do correspond at times by phone, which we learn of their conversations through their letters, but they always return to the art of letter writing.

Ms. Learned and Mr. Davis both give exceptional performances. Their delivery is captivating and engaging. They have the difficult task of bringing these characters alive through only their vocal and facial expressions.

Stay in our great state to see this wonderful production. Love Letters runs through October 5. For information and/or to purchase tickets, visit or call 302.594.1100.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Auditions, Auditions!

It's audition time in Delaware ArtLand, folks!  Here are a few auditions happening in and around the Wilmington area. 

The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware: Open Call
Monday, Sept 15, 2014 • 6:00–7:00 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church • Pennsylvania Avenue & Rodney Street • Wilmington DE
Friendly Joining Process & No formal audition. Non-Singers & Volunteers welcome!
Visit the RCD's website for more details, or send an email to the Artistic Director.

Wilmington Drama League: Auditions for Waterspout Hero
Chrysalis, Youth Theater at the Wilmington Drama League, will hold auditions Monday, September 15, 2014, 4:30–6:30pm & Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 4:30–6:30pm for this Pillow Play that will run November 1-9, 2014 at WDL. Age range is 7 to 12 years old.  Auditions are cold reading from the script. Get more information about our free Pillow Play shows by kids for kids.

Wilmington Drama League: Auditions for Big, The Musical
Auditions Sunday, September 14, 2014, 7:00–10:00pm & Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 7:00–10:00pm. Callbacks, if needed, will be on September 29, 2014, 1:00-4:00pm. 

All auditions will be at the Drama League. All roles are open, no appointments are necessary.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

CheckIN’ Out the Brandywine Festival of the Arts

The full article can be found on's blog HERE...

By Tee Alexander, Wilmington INBassador
Fly Home Birdhouses
It was 85 degrees at 10:00am, but that didn’t stop thousands of visitors from attending the annual event that is the Brandywine Arts Festival. In Brandywine Park, at the bottom of Monkey Hill, over 250 artists put up tents and tables in order to showcase their unique talents. They come from different locations across the country, and so do the patrons who travel to the festival to find that perfect “one of a kind” item for their home, or that special gift for someone else.

The variety of art is impressive. There are paintings, photographic works, sculptures, metal art, hand-crafted jewelry, personalized art, clothing, woodworking, blown glass, and so much more.

Wine Barrel Designs offers one-of-a-kind furniture made from recycled wine barrels. Some items displayed were a bistro table with stools and a wine rack in the base, as well as a coffee table with a wine rack in the middle.

Fly Home Birdhouses caught my attention with their bright colors, whimsical designs, and copper roofs atop their hand-crafted creations. Artist Clark Hansberger traveled 4 hours for the festival and shared that “Wilmington is a nice little town.”