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 & Album 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:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summertime Art Looping in the City

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.

Pablo Picasso said, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."

Wilmington offers that opportunity to "wash the dust off" and appreciate new perspectives every month through the city-wide Art Loop (aka Wilmington's Art on the Town).

July's Art Loop featured more than a dozen exhibitions at places as varied as government buildings, restaurants and community outreach centers. The work displayed is just as eclectic --- from photographs focusing on compartmentalization (Joe Natale at the Grand Opera House, above left) to large murals exploring questions of space, dimension and emotion (Ken Carley at Connections West End, above right).

"Art is not a handicraft," argues Leo Tolstoy, "it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced."

Artist Michael Silva (left) uses acrylic, oil and wood burning to transmit his experiences of beauty at the leasing office of 2nd and LOMA, while Jo Worme (right) experiments with a variety of canvases, including boards, to show her ability to capture the feeling of creativity and action at Film Brothers Movie Co-op.

In addition to interesting and engaging visual arts, venues like the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and LOMA Coffee featured live music throughout the evening.

President John F. Kennedy said, "If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him."

The arts, business, non-profit and government communities in Wilmington have demonstrated a commitment to provide artists in the area with the platform to share their considerable talent. It's now up to us, as a society, to do our part. You can start by taking a few moments to simply gaze at the work being created; you just might find the dust of daily life being washed off your soul.

The Wilmington Art Loop is normally held the first Friday of each month. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Fest of Gore, Splatter and Camp with Bootless' Evil Dead, The Musical

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.

Bootless Stageworks production of Evil Dead, The Musical.
Photo by Kent Grant.
You know you're in for a fun theatrical experience when the orchestra is dressed in t-shirts and stage hands have mops at the ready to clear the stage and front row of the splatter and gore sprayed, flung and cascaded over the audience.

And with cheesy grins, knowing winks and truly horrifying puns (as if there's any other kind), the cast and crew of Bootless Stageworks provide that with Evil Dead, The Musical.

From the peppy and poppy opening song "Cabin in the Woods" where our band of happy campers are heading to their Spring Break getaway to the triumphant finale of "Blew That Bitch Away" where our hero is figuratively carried around by customers and fellow employees at the local box superstore, Evil Dead, The Musical entertains and engages the audience.

You need not be familiar with the original 1981 cult classic Evil Dead or the franchise in order to follow and enjoy Evil Dead, The Musical --- but if you're a fan, your heart should jump at some of the iconic poses and lines in this production.

The cast of Evil Dead, The Musical. Photo by Kent Grant.
The plot is your basic "friends go camping, discover book that unleashes evil, fight evil and create much blood and gore in the process" story. For anyone who has seen a trailer for any movie featuring young people, camping and a scream, there is no such thing as a "spoiler" in describing this play --- and the writers capitalize on that from the beginning with lines like, "We're five young people headed to a deserted old cabin in the woods... what could possibly go wrong?"

Ryan PJ Mulholland does a great job of channeling Bruce Campbell as Ash, the hero who knows how to handle just about any weirdness that comes his way. Justin Walsh takes the best friend role of Scott to new levels during in his duet with Mulholland "What the F*** was That?"

The dialog, singing, dancing and splattering is all handled deftly by the talented cast. The special effects put together by John and Roseanne DellAversano are impressive and fun to watch. Music Director James Fuerst increases the energy on stage and adds elements to the show that no pre-recorded music could offer.

Just in case the title, descriptions of gore and song titles haven't conveyed the message yet, this is not a show for children nor for those who find themselves offended by salty language.

Evil Dead, The Musical runs July 17 and 18 at Bootless Stageworks theater located in The Annex @ St. Stevens, 1301 Broom Street in Wilmington. 


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Music & Pet Lovers Unite: Mozart, Debussy & Beach to benefit DHA!

This event gets "four paws up" from DEWEY the ART DOG (who is also a rescue)...

Delaware Humane Association is excited to present an evening for animal lovers and music lovers alike! Violinist Andrew Irvin and pianist Hiroko Yamazaki will perform masterpieces for violin and piano of Mozart, Debussy and American romantic composer Amy Beach. The performance is on Tuesday, July 7, 7:30pm at First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1100 N. Market Street in downtown Wilmington.

A free-will offering will be accepted, and all proceeds will benefit Delaware Humane Association. Click here for the recital program and more information about the musicians.