Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Serafin String Quartet Welcomes Violist Sheila Browne

Post content courtesy of press release from Serafin String Quartet...
Serafin String Quartet (SSQ) is pleased to welcome Shelia Browne as its new violist. Ms. Browne replaces Esme Allen-Creighton, who stepped down after four years with SSQ to pursue a degree in music therapy.

Ms. Browne has also recently been named the new Assistant Professor of Viola at University of Delaware's Department of Music. She joins both the University and the Quartet from her position at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she has been on the faculty for 10 years.

The Quartet is delighted that Ms. Browne has accepted the position. They will be working together this summer to prepare for an exciting first season, with performances at the University of Delaware, where the Quartet has recently accepted re-appointment as Quartet in Residence for the next three years.

A preview of SSQ's 2016-2017 season, including performance dates on local series at The Arts at Trinity and The Music School of Delaware, will be announced soon.

See www.serafinquartet.org.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Candlelight (Re)Introduces You to the Classic, "The Music Man"

New Candlelight Theatre's production of The Music Man.
Photo by Ken Grant
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.

Meredith Wilson was born in Mason City, Iowa in 1902 and played flute in John Philip Sousa's band from 1921-1923. He went on to a full and successful career in music, radio and film. This background and experience was clearly the inspiration behind his biggest hit 
– The Music Man.

The musical is based in the Summer of 1912 and centers on the exploits of a two-bit con man with no expertise who gets the town of River City, Iowa convinced that there's a danger to the town's future and their only hope is to buy what he's selling. Thank goodness we live in 2016 and everyone is too sophisticated to fall for such fear-mongering from such a blatantly dishonest and opportunistic fraud. :)

Fortunately, the good people at The Candlelight Theatre in Arden are able to transport us back in time to enjoy a summer of pageants in the small town that grows to to accept and even live the con man. The con man 
– "Professor" Harold Hill  is portrayed pitch-perfectly by Bob Miller. Through Miller, the audience can see the gears turning as he charms the town's women and convinces the men to join voices and divert attention away from his lack of credentials.

While the town's transformation occurs at a steady pace throughout the production, Hill's growth is more of a slow burn that reveals itself late in the second act.

The primary inspiration for that growth is the town's librarian and legitimate music teacher, Marion Paroo, played by Lauren Krigel. She exudes strength, smarts and clarity, seeing through Hill's deceptions, but also seeing a way to challenge him into becoming more than he expected.

The more than 20 cast members bring River City to life
 with voices and choreography that fills the entire theater space.

The heart and soul of The Music Man is, of course, music. With such iconic songs as Trouble, Seventy-Six Trombones, Gary, Indiana and Shipoopi (to name a few), the audience finds itself smiling and toe-tapping during the production.

Whether you've seen the film, enjoyed the cast album or have yet to experience Meredith Wilson's masterpiece, you should make your way to Arden to enjoy this fun production (and tasty buffet dinner included with your ticket price).

The Music Man plays through August 28 at The Candlelight Theatre.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Wilmington’s Creative District Unveils Veterans Freedom Mural

Content of this post courtesy of press release from the Creative District Wilmington...

Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) and Creative District Wilmington dedicated the Veterans Freedom Mural on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at Marcella’s House in downtown Wilmington. Governor Jack Markell and Secretary of State Jeff Bullock were among the distinguished speakers at the event.

The Veterans Freedom Mural, Getting Back to the World, is the inaugural project for Wilmington’s first-ever free public art training program, entitled Public Art Prep Program (PAPP). Creative District Wilmington and Connections Community Support Programs, Inc., partnered to develop PAPP as an opportunity for local artists to learn new skills as well as expand their experience in neighborhood mural-making by combining community engagement practices and public art-making techniques.

The Veterans Freedom Mural is on the exterior wall of Marcella’s House, a 31-unit veterans’ residential facility owned by Connections Community Support Programs, Inc. at the intersection of 9th and Washington Streets. Mural-making at its core is a community process, and the Veterans Freedom Mural is a collaborative effort that engaged a number of key stakeholders in community planning meetings and community paint days.

Muralist Eric Okdeh was the lead artist on the project, and facilitated workshops where artists observed and learned from his process, practicing the techniques while creating the Veterans Freedom Mural. Okdeh facilitated community engagement meetings, teaching participants how to elicit feedback and distill it into mural imagery. Participants learned how to use the parachute cloth method to create the mural and the actual installation of parachute cloth. They also learned how to create and install glass mosaic. Participants who

completed the Public Art Prep Training workshop series received a non-credit certificate of completion.

See www.creativedistrictwilm.com.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

DelShakes' The Comedy of Errors Delivers Madcap Fun Under the Stars

By Guest Blogger, Ken Grant
The Comedy of Errors stage at Rockwood Park. Photo by Alessandra Nicole.

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. 

Before the Stooges and the Marx Brothers, there was The Comedy of Errors.

The play, one of William Shakespeare’s earlier works, is a madcap, slapstick, double mistaken-identity romp.

True confession: While driving to the opening night performance at the beautiful Rockwood Mansion, this reviewer asked his Lovely Bride to pull up the play synopsis on her smartphone and read it to him. Arguably, to offer a written synopsis of the play will lead to frustration and confusion for both writer and reader – The Comedy of Errors simply must be experienced.

And the experience with this cast and musicians under the direction of David Stradley is delightful, fun and surprising.

Luke Brahdt and Brendan Moser play the identical twins – both named Antipholus – separated at birth by shipwreck.
Chase Byrd and Sean Close play the identical twins – both named Dromio – separated at birth by shipwreck.

(L-R): Brian Reisman (Dromio of Ephesus), Luke Brahdt (Antipholus
of Ephesus), Abdul Sesay (Officer). Photo by Alessandra Nicole.
Go back and re-read those last two sentences, and you’ll see why a written synopsis can be confusing and frustrating.

[Quick side note]: If you are a high school English teacher who only has your students read Shakespeare’s plays, please stop. Allow the students to experience the power, comedy, drama, tension, fullness, beauty, grittiness and even the silliness of Shakespeare through a live performance or even a video – you will help to shape a better future for all of us. [End of side note.]

The performances by this cast are wonderfully over-the-top, the dialog is downright musical, and the choreography has all of the fun of slapstick with none of the pain.

Everything about this comedy supports the creativity and innovation that is associated with the Delaware Shakespeare Festival: a long runway for a stage with doors on wheels; colorful lighting, costuming that is at once colorful and useful (remember, two sets of twins – the costumes really help in keeping the whole thing straight); and a jazz trio – saxophone, bass, percussion – that perfectly sets and elevates the tone throughout the performance.

If you're ready for a lighthearted, fun, engaging evening, you'll want to get these tickets, pack your lawn chairs or picnic blankets and come out to Rockwood Mansion. Oh, and read the signs on the sidewalk on the way up; there’s some great information there that will make the show that much more enjoyable.

The Comedy of Errors runs for 13 performance this month, Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30pm with gates opening at 6:15pm for preshow entertainment and picnics. Sunday performances begin at 6:00pm (gates open at 4:45pm). No shows are scheduled for Monday or Tuesday nights, although Tuesday, July 26 is a rain date, if needed.

The fourth annual Janssen’s Market Picnic Contest – in which patrons bring their best spreads to compete for the coveted Picnic Contest trophy and bragging rights – will take place on Saturday, July 23. General admission to the festival is $18 (some of the most affordable live theater tickets around). Tickets are $16 for seniors (65+), and active military (and their families), with identification. Student tickets are $14. Children 5 and under are free at every performance.

Every Sunday is Family Night, with special activities for children 12 and under admitted free with a paid adult admission.

See www.delshakes.org.