Showing posts with label New Candlelight Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Candlelight Theatre. Show all posts

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.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best of 2015: Holly's Picks

WDL's Memphis. Photo: Kristen Romero

2015 was another great year for Delaware theater, with big changes (The DuPont Theatre was sold by the DuPont Co. to The Grand in January, and Delaware Theatre Company began actually developing shows for Broadway for the first time) and big excitement -- I don’t think I went to a single show in ‘15 without a full audience. I might even go so far as to say that Delaware is in the middle of a theater Renaissance, from Community theater on up.

I get get to catch every show of 2015 -- I don’t cover Delaware Theatre Company for Stage anymore, so I’ve missed a few highly praised productions -- but I did catch a lot of great productions. Here are my top picks:

Best Drama: Nora, Delaware Theatre Company -- One of the DTC shows I did catch was Nora, based on Ingmar Bergman’s A Doll’s House, a gripping story of a Victorian-era woman learning to assert her independence. It’s productions like this that are are putting Wilmington on the map.

Best non-musical comedy: Steel Magnolias, The Candlelight Theatre -- TCT is known for high-quality musicals, so it was a surprise that my favorite of their ‘15 season was their non-musical production of Steel Magnolias, a comic drama with an all-woman cast.

Best Shakespearian: Love’s Labour’s Lost, City Theater Company -- CTC had two big shows in 2015, and while “American Idiot” got more hype, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was the real winner for me. With an immersive stage setup and a rock soundtrack, this was not a typical production of Shakespeare by any stretch, but it was the most successful non-traditional production I’ve seen yet.

Best Summer Production: Evil Dead The Musical, Bootless Stageworks -- Bootless’ Summer Splatter Series is a Wilmington tradition, and a highlight of the summer. They’ve done Evil Dead before, but this year it was at their new location at St. Stephen’s Church on Broom Street, and showed that Ryan P.J. Mulholland may have been born to play Ash.

Best Family Show/Most Fun: Shrek The Musical, Wilmington Drama League -- With a huge all-ages cast retelling the uplifting story of triumphant misfitittery, Shrek was way more fun than I expected it to be.

Best Touring Show: Camelot, The Playhouse -- Despite rumors that The Playhouse would no longer focus on Broadway touring shows, the 15-16 season is packed with big Broadway shows. My favorite of 2015 was Camelot - the updated version of the classic musical had some of the most stunning visuals of the year.

Best Show Overall: Memphis, Wilmington Drama League -- WDL stepped their game up to a whole new level with Memphis, the Broadway musical about the birth of rock ‘n roll. Everything hit the right note: the diverse cast was amazing, the sets were atmospheric, the story was a lesson in American history as well as a lesson in the roots of rock music. Truly a Community production that was up there with the professional theaters.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 'ArtStuff' #INWilm

This blog post also available on the NEW blog site...
IN the final sweltering days of summer, beat the heat #INWilm with sizzling ArtStuff! Vacation — OUT! Stay IN and join the fun…

Friday, August 8, 6:00 -10:00pm | 2301 Kentmere Parkway
Art goes to the dogs this weekend…and this FREE event comes with an enthusiastic “four paws up” endorsement from Dewey the Art Dog! In partnership with Delaware Humane Association, this free event includes dog portraits by caricaturist Sam Mylin in the Copeland Sculpture Garden, plenty of treats for four-legged friends and drinks for you.  P.S. While you’re here, also check out Transitions: The Brandywine Photo Collective, an exhibit featuring works of 20 local artists, located in the Outlooks Gallery.

Running now through August 24 | 2208 Miller Road, Arden
Showtimes vary; visit for tickets & info
More than just a musical (BONUS: you get dinner, too), the show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with Houston fan Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in l961.  All the favorite and memorable songs you love of Cline’s are here: Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and more. It’s a nostalgic journey back in time and a timeless tribute to one of country’s most beloved and best singers. 

Need more #ALLINFUN and #INbudget ArtStuff? Check out these ongoing programs…

Running now through August 15 | Varying locations throughout Wilmington
Visit for complete info
For the second summer, Wilmington’s parks are alive with all manner of arts and culture, thanks to Summer in the Parks.  The FREE programs found everywhere from Titlon, Haynes, Kosciusko and Holloway Parks feature live, interactive performances of music, dance, theater, visual arts and crafts. Bring the entire family and experience the Arts in Wilmington’s green spaces.

Every Thursday through October 16 | 10th & Van Buren Streets
Thursdays in Cool Spring Park are the place to find fresh local veggies, delicious food truck options and plenty of great music, thanks to the partnership with Gable Music Ventures. Free live music livens up the park from 6:00-8:00pm ‘til Labor Day, and 5:00-7:00pm after Labor Day. The market itself opens at 4:00pm — get there early, buy some delicious snacks and stake out a prime spot to enjoy the likes of Nik Everett, Nature Jams and more!

Tuesdays through September 16 | ShopRite Christina Crossing
Another successful Year 2 event is this movie series, sponsored by The Kenny Family Foundation.  For only $6, you can enjoy big screen features on the rooftop of, with selections chosen by YOU! Many of Wilmo’s popular food trucks are also on hand to offer delicious snacks. Movies start at sundown and will be moved to Theatre N in case of rain. Showings of “Marley & Me,” “Frozen” and “The Blind Side” complete the month. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Couple of Ladies Visit "The Odd Couple"

By Guest Bloggers Dottie Verne — lifelong Ardentown resident and artist and Kathleen Ford — Wilmingtonian recently returned home, former Wilmington Arts Commission Administrator and Art lover.

Once again, the New Candlelight Theatre (NCT) was a delight. On June 20, we trekked over to the woods of Arden for NCT’s production of The Odd Couple, which ran from 6/6-6/22. The play was presented with a clever twist from the original — the two (historically male) characters with very opposite personalities were both played by women.

Tori Healy played Olive Madison and Gerri Weagraff played Florence Unger with great humor. The actors seemed to be having fun with the fast-moving witty repartee. The show really came alive in the second act, when the two charming Spanish gentlemen arrived, hysterically played by Dan Healy and Anthony Connell.

New Candlelight Theatre certainly is a local gem!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A "Spelling Bee" to Remember at NCT

Photo: Marilyn Scanlon
Judging by the number of open seats at the New Candlelight's Saturday opening of William Finn's The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the relatively obscure comic musical doesn't have the up-front draw of big names like Miss Saigon, Annie or Cats. That's too bad, because Spelling Bee is every bit as entertaining as the bigger shows, and more fun than your average musical.

Under the direction of Robert M. Kelly, Spelling Bee tells the story of -- well, a spelling bee. If that sounds dull to you, you're probably not familiar with the quirks, pressure and sheer drama of spelling bees, and you've definitely not seen the subject handled in such a funny and charming way. And when I say funny, I mean Spelling Bee is hilarious.

In the first Act, Rona Lisa Perretti (Lindsay Mauck), the moderator and winner of the 3rd Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, introduces the competitors: Reigning champion Chip Tolentino (Anthony Connell), mini political activist Logainne "Swartzy" Schwartzandgruennier (Michelle Cabot), caped homeschooled outcast Leaf Coneybear (Billy Hart), sniffling nerd William "Barfy" Barfée (David T. Snyder), parochial school genius Marcy Park (Dana Kreitz), and anxious and addled Olive Ostrovsky (Victoria Healy). Then, in addition to the six scripted characters, she calls the names of four real audience members who join the actors on stage to participate in the bee. So basically, no one knows what's going to happen. When you see it -- and you should -- Act I will play out differently, and that, of course, is part of the fun. We had a great, sharp group of audience volunteers on Saturday, and really, there aren't many things funnier than the dance number that included the volunteers (who, of course, didn't know the choreography). It adds a level of interactive-ness, even among the seated audience, that few shows have.
Billy Hart, Michelle Cabot, Dana Kreitz and Anthony Connell. Photo: Marilyn Scanlon

As great as the audience participation is, the show is about the six young spellers, Rona, and her co-moderator Vice Principal Panch (Ryan Ruggles). Over to the side is Daniel Bontempo as Mitch Mahoney, a parolee earning community service credits by escorting losing contestants off the stage and comforting them with a juice box. Keep an eye on Bontempo -- Mitch is a small part, but he magically transforms into other characters in the minds of the contestants. He plays the more nurturing of of Swarzy's two fathers, with Hart dropping the goofy facade of Leaf to play her uber-competitive, win-at-any-cost dad. He also plays Olive's absent father, a distant man in a business suit who sings to her, along with Mauck as her really absent mother, in the most moving scene of the show.

Yes, as hilarious as it is, the show is moving, even emotional, with heart that exists in any really good work of comedy. These are children under tremendous pressure to excel, hormones just starting to rage, and they all have a sadness about them. One by one, they are eliminated, each responding in a different way. The last two standing are the ones who most want to be there, and you feel it, because all of the actors play their parts perfectly. I've said it before -- if you haven't been to the NCT, you're missing out. I hope word spreads about this show, and it starts selling out night after night until it closes on October 28. It deserves it.

For tickets and show times, go to

Monday, July 23, 2012

NCT Kisses Birdie Goodbye

Erica Harr and Doug Atkins
It's the summer of Bye Bye Birdie in Wilmington this year, with not one but two local productions of the nostalgic show (see Ebbie's review of the Wilmington Drama League's version here). We're not sure how that happened, but there's really no such thing as too much Birdie -- and if it affected ticket sales, you wouldn't know it by looking at the sold-out crowd at the New Candlelight Theatre.

For those still unfamiliar with the show, Bye Bye Birdie is a musical loosely based on Elvis Presley's draft into the Army in 1957, and the insanity that surrounded him at the height of his popularity. At the center of the story are Albert, the agent of the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie, and his secretary and love interest Rose. Together they hatch a plan to give Birdie a televised send-off where he kisses one of his biggest teenage fans goodbye, to the tune of what they hope will be the highest-selling record of his career. The lucky fan, 15-year-old Kim McAfee, lives in All-American Sweet Apple, Ohio, which is turned upside-down by the arrival of the superstar.

From Jeff Reim's outstanding, quick-changing set design to Timothy Lamont Cannon's meticulous 1950s costume design, everything comes together, allowing the actors to transport the audience back to 1958 without distraction. Erica Lynn Harr returns to the NCT stage after nine months performing for Disney Cruise Line, and she's as amazing as ever as the long-suffering Rose. As Albert, NCT newcomer (but not new to the stage) Doug Atkins often seems to channel Dick Van Dyke, who originated the role on Broadway and in the 1963 film. The two stars dominate and work well together, with the help of the hilarious Susan Dewey as Albert's overbearing mother, Mae. Joining them in central roles are Michelle Cabot as Kim and Steven Calakos as Conrad.

Michelle Cabot as Kim MacAfee, Steven Calakos as Conrad Birdie and Anastasia Bokas as Ursula Merkle.

Among the other characters, there is always a scene-stealer. Often, it's Kim's best friend Ursula or her steady boyfriend Hugo. Although these characters are played wonderfully by Anastasia Bokas and Caleb Whipple, the big scene-stealer in this production is Dewey Oriente, as Kim's excitable father Harry. The choreography during the Ed Sullivan Show scene couldn't have been funnier; much of the credit goes to Director and choreographer Dann Dunn, but Oriente made it perfect. Another scene-stealer is Lindsay Mauck as Gloria Rasputin, the young woman Mae tries to replace Rose with. She does a lot with the small role.

The ensemble supports the cast without flaw, though few of the background characters pop. Exceptions are Peter Briccotto, whose nerdy Harvey Johnson stands out, and the Maude's Bar trio of David McConney, Timothy Lamont Cannon, and Steve Stonis.

By the end, you may be ready to return to a world where parents can simply call their kids' cell phones rather than run around town in pajamas in the middle of the night and teenagers aren't expected to pair off for life -- but you will have had a great time in Sweet Apple while you were there.

Bye Bye Birdie runs through August 25th; tickets include a buffet dinner.

See for tickets and more information.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Your Typical Christmas Show at NCT

With Thanksgiving still nearly two weeks away, it was no surprise that the crowd at New Candlelight Theater in Arden on Saturday was a bit smaller than usual. Don't expect such intimacy once the holiday season is in full swing. "A Very Candlelight Christmas" has been much-anticipated by fans of the dinner theater, not least of all because this seasonal production is an original, written and directed by NCT's Producing Artistic Director Chris Alberts and longtime friend Sonny Leo. For a theater that's done such familiar shows as "Cats" and "Annie" this season, the feeling of not having any idea what to expect is a definite change of pace.

 The show starts out like a typical Christmas variety show, complete with overly-enthusiastic hosts Katherine and Alan, comically played by Lindsay Mauck (who is underused in this production) and Tim Moudy. It's not long before the exuberant show derails, as the show-within-a-show's director, Devlin Powers (Patrick Hunt O'Hara), blows up at Katherine and sends everyone home, including his long-suffering brother Marcus (Paul Goodman). Not only does Devlin have no Christmas spirit, he's also sick to death of musical theater -- and thus begins his "Christmas Carol"-esque journey, complete with ghosts, time travel and  Bob Fosse.

A non-traditional set of Three Kings.
The NCT knows it draws lovers of musical theater, and almost all of the show's comedy references Broadway musicals. In that way, this is not a one-size-fits-all Christmas musical. It's for theater people, including die-hard fans. The Three Kings (also the ghosts of Christmas Past) are Don Quixote (Paul Goodman), the King of Siam (Andre Dion Wills) and "Fiddler on the Roof's" Teyve (Dave Snyder). Audrey III from "Little Shop of Horrors" even makes an appearance. It's more focused than it sounds, but some scenes work better than others. Tommy (Dan Sanchez) and Alan's rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside" would have felt edgier if TV's "Glee" hadn't done a male duet version of it last Christmas, but Candlelight's version does have its own unexpected twist. And while some numbers, such as the Chanukah medley, seem to come out of nowhere, all of the musical numbers are well done. Standouts include "Shall We Dance" with young Zach Pennington and Jamieson O'Brien; "There's a Christmas Song for Every Situation" with Kaylan Wetzel Acon; and a very moving "Auld Lang Syne."

The often self-deprecating show pokes fun of beloved Broadway shows, but, of course, it's all in good fun. Just as it ultimately celebrates "that barn in Delaware," it also loves musical theater in a way only those who have made it their lives can.

"A Very Candlelight Christmas" runs through December 23; The 2012 Season starts up on January 27 with "Miss Saigon."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Annie" Brightens the NCT

Jamieson O'Brien as Annie. Photo: NCT

Being a female kid of the '70s, I was an "Annie" fiend in elementary school, as was every other girl I knew. Sticker collections and Annie, that's all that mattered, as well as Pink Floyd's "The Wall," which we didn't necessarily have to like, but it was there, and it seemed to be on our side. "Annie," with its defiance, paired with its belief that a little kid could potentially change not just her own life, but the world, was definitely on our side.

I took my 7-year-old niece, Sophie, to the opening night of Annie at the New Candlelight Theatre. I don't know if  the show has the same presence for young girls it had 30 years ago, but I do know that she is hooked, playing the same old record we listened to countless times. (Fun fact: three regulars of the much-missed  "Al Alberts' Showcase" were cast in the original Broadway cast of Annie, including the original Broadway Annie herself, Andrea McCardle. Chris Alberts, the son of the legendary Al and Stella Alberts, is the New Candlelight Theatre's Artistic Director.) So, for me, at least, this nostalgic show was a must-see.

Jamieson O'Brien as Annie, Patrick O'Hara as Mr. Warbucks
The NCT production lives up to the high standards the theater has set this season with shows like Cats and The Full Monty. As Annie, Jamieson O'Brien lights up the stage as any Annie should, and the rest of the orphans -- Rebecca Smith, Katie Loftus, Gueneviere Sherlaw, Jordan O'Brien, Kayla Brock and the scene-stealing Nicole Hemphill -- are a delight. Geri Weagraff's Ms. Hannigan is both sleazy and surprisingly sympathetic, though not to the point where you feel bad when she gets her comeuppance. Rooster and Lily, characters who have to own their scenes (as a point of reference for those not familiar with the play, they were played by Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters, respectively, in the movie version) are played solidly by Dewey Oriente and mega-talented NCT regular Lindsay Mauck. The role of Daddy Warbucks is played by another NCT regular, Patrick O'Hara, who brought both the required conservative staunchness and warmth to the role. You have to care about whether Annie and Warbucks become father and daughter for the play to work, and O'Hara does make you care. Rounding out the cast is the lovely Megan Pisors as Grace, Dave Snyder as FDR, Andre Dion Willis as the butler Drake, and an incredibly strong ensemble.

Whether you want to revisit your youth or introduce a great musical to the next generation, Annie fits the bill. The show runs through August 21, and, as always, the ticket price includes a buffet dinner; a cash bar featuring specialty Annie-themed drinks, specialty desserts and a nightly 50/50 raffle are extra.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh No They Didn't! The Full Monty at NCT

Photo: Marilyn Scanlon
The minute the lights go down for the New Candlelight Theater's production of The Full Monty, you're transported from the big barn in Ardentown to a nightckub in Buffalo -- and it's Ladies' Night. Rarely does the line between watching a play and actually experiencing what's happening in the play disappear so quickly and completely.

Most of The Full Monty, directed by NCT's Producing Artistic Director, Chris Alberts, doesn't take place on the nightclub stage, but those scenes are no less engaging. Based on the popular 1997 British film of the same name, the musical follows a group of out-of-work steel workers desperate to make ends meet, who turn to stripping -- one night only -- in the hopes of making $50,000. The stakes are high: Jerry (Paul Goodman) is behind in child support payments, and could lose joint custody of his son (Timmy Bradford); Dave (David T. Snyder) feels so inadequate that his marriage to Georgie (Erienne Poole) is crumbling; Harold (Patrick O'Hara) has been pretending go to work as a foreman every day for months while his wife (Erica Scanlon Harr) enjoys a carefree middle class lifestyle; and Malcolm (Peter Briccotto) had given up on life altogether. They join together and recruit Ethan (Chris Brown) and Horse (Andre Dion Wills), who each add certain physical attributes, as well as some great chemistry, to the act, which comes to be called "Hot Metal."

Photo: Marilyn Scanlon
Despite some dark themes, The Full Monty is a full-on comedy. And very good comedy, at that. Composer/Lyricist David Yazbeck doesn't hold back. Sometimes it's racy  (it's a show about male stripping, after all), and sometimes it's dark, as with the number "Big Ass Rock," where Jerry and Dave assure the suicidal Malcolm that they're true friends who would kill him in any number of ways if he asked -- a service that was no longer needed once Malcolm realized he had true friends. There is sweet romance; I won't give all of the romance away for those who haven't seen the movie, but it's all done exceptionally well. The show has its share of poignant moments between laughs.

The cast fit their roles to a T, without exception. Scene stealers included Erica Scanlon Harr (is there ever a show she doesn't steal?) with "You Gotta Love That Man," Andre Dion Wills with "Big Black Man," Peter Briccotto in "Big Ass Rock," and Susan Dewey as Hot Metal's practice pianist and showbiz vet, Jeanette.

Ultimately, we are returned to the nightclub, and Hot Metal's big night. It's a wild show you won't soon forget.

The Full Monty runs through May 22, with special Ladies' Discount Nights on April 15 and 29. This is an adult show -- no one under 17 is permitted. For tickets, click here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Modern Millie: Thoroughly Entertaining!

Starry-eyed aspiring actresses, an evil conniving villain, and an unlikely hero who saves the day: Thoroughly Modern Millie at the New Candlelight Theatre in Arden has it all. This rousing production, set during the 1920s, runs through October 10. The show is beautifully staged, choreographed and performed.

Millie Dillmount, sung beautifully by a sympathetic Erica Scanlon Harr, is a small town girl following her dreams to New York City. Her odyssey lands her in a fleabag motel, which is merely a front for a “white slavery” ring funneling unsuspecting young women to Hong Kong via a laundry hamper. Micki Sharpe, who also directs the show, plays the hysterical, conniving Mrs. Meers, slipping in and out of her fake pigeon English when necessary. Bun Foo and Ching Ho, unwilling cohorts in her slave trade, are played by Reza Mirsajadi and Brian Peeke respectively. They are side-splittingly funny as they sing their numbers in Mandarin, with the subtitle translations overhead.

As Millie’s dream of marrying her boss goes hopelessly wrong, she meets and falls in love with Jimmy Smith, played by the handsome and lithe Justin Damm. The wealthy Muzzy Van Hossmere is expertly sung by Jillian Pirtle. Megan Pisors’ portrayal of the slightly clueless Dorothy Brown is charming. As the big boss Mr. Graydon, actor Patrick O’Hara almost makes us want to like his bumbling, womanizing character.

Be sure to see this heart-warming show, filled with snappy dance numbers, whirling secretaries’ desks and flapper dresses.