Showing posts with label DelShakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DelShakes. Show all posts

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.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunshine on Leith Has Its US Debut in Delaware

The Scottish musical Sunshine on Leith, featuring songs by The Proclaimers, has never had a production outside of the United Kingdom -- until now. Under the direction of Allyson Good (the DE Shakespeare Festival's Education Coordinator and Poetry Out Loud State Coordinator), the heartfelt story of love, family, and community made its US debut on the amateur stage of the Wilmington Christian School.

It's a challenging show, not just with the required vocal harmonies and choreography, but because it tackles a modified version of the Leith dialect (the true dialect, Good explains, would be nearly impossible for the audience to understand). It's clear the actors spent a lot of time working on the accents, both in the dialogue and in the song lyrics.

The present-day story centers on Davy (Jeremy Gouveia in the production's standout performance) and Ally (Daniel Jacobson), two friends returning home to the working-class Leith section of Edinburgh after serving in the war in Afghanistan. They land jobs, hang out at the pub, and think about their futures. Davy's sister Liz (standout Katie Barton), who is also Ally's girlfriend, is restless. Through Liz, Davy meets her friend an fellow nurse, Yvonne (Kaylene Mummert), a young English woman, and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Davy and Liz's parents, Rab (Peter Spangler/Isaac Barrick in flasback) and Jean (standout Christina Sanders) hit a rough patch as they celebrate a milestone anniversary.

The youth cast handled the material well, from the stirring opening featuring "Sky Takes My Soul" to the popular "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" in the finale. Though the story is rooted in a community far away, it's one that transcends place and time; Wilmington Christian should be very proud.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrating the Spooky Holiday with Shakespeare & Poe

By Guest Blogger, Bradford Wason. Brad is the Founder and Director of 23rd & 5th Design Group and currently works with DMG Marketing in Greenville. He is also on the faculty of Delaware College of Art & Design, and is an ardent Wilmington Arts & Culture supporter.


DSF's actors add the appropriate "flair" to
the macabre tales by Shakespeare & Poe.
As fall fast approaches, the nights grow colder, and with it we enter the Halloween season. Traditionally, Halloween means ghosts and ghouls, masks and candy, or hayrides. But if you're looking to experience an intimate evening in the dark side of theatre, the Delaware Shakespeare Festival (DSF) has all the mirth and matter you'll need this season. Ghosts, spirits, witches and haunting stories are included, in this mash-up of William Shakespeare plays and poems and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. This format uniquely blends the two together in one fascinating macabre journey, as narrated by DSF veterans Caroline Crocker (A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Gentleman of Verona), Adam Darrow (The Two Gentleman of Verona), James Kassees (A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Two Gentleman of Verona), and a newcomer to DSF, Clare O'Malley.  

After its debut hit in 2012, The Shakespeare/Poe - A Night of Readings from The Dark Side returns, traveling to the gothic halls of Rockwood Mansion, the galleries of the Newark Arts Alliance and the grandeur of the Read House & Gardens in Old New Castle. As DSF Producing Artistic Director David Stradley said, "Our summer Festival audiences come from all over the area; so this year, we decided to share this fun evening in venues throughout New Castle County. I think each will bring its own interesting energy to the night."

I couldn't agree with him more, having thoroughly enjoyed the 30-seat, sold-out performance Saturday night at the Read House. The evening of readings runs just over an hour, which made for a excellent late dinner and conversation to follow.

The readings are compiled and directed by Stradley, who does a masterful job weaving the works into a continuous piece. The evening ebbs and flows, from dramatic delivery by James Kassess in The Fall of the House of Usher (Poe) to the "excited sensations" narrated by Clare O'Malley in The Masque of the Red Death (Poe). Not to be outdone by the dark short stories and poems of Poe, Adam Darrow and Caroline Crocker bring to life the juxtaposition of Poe's The Masque of the Red Death in an excerpt of Macbeth (Shakespeare), Act 3, Scene 4, where the tortured Macbeth is visited by the ghost of Banquo.

I appreciated the narrative notes and short quips added by the cast to lighten the mood and provide background. Although the evening is rooted in macabre storytelling — such as an excerpt from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, or Poe's The Raven — it provides more humorous moments, such as the Hamlet/Raven Mash-up read by the Ensemble. The audience gave a good chuckle to fill out the room as the evening ended with Caroline Crocker's narration of the Caliban Monologue – Act 3, Scene 2, from The Tempest (Shakespeare).

"Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet aires that give delight and hurt not."

If you're looking to enlighten and indulge your senses, this short, intimate evening by the Delaware Shakespeare Festival is not to be missed! ONLY at www.delshakes.org.