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