Showing posts with label best of 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label best of 2014. Show all posts

Friday, January 2, 2015

More Delaware's Best ArtStuff of 2014!

By Guest Blogger, Alex del Tufo
Alex is a high school student attending Wilmington Friends School with an interest in journalism as a major. She is an editor for her school newspaper, has served as an intern at Out and About magazine and has written for WXPN’s website. Alex hopes to expand her love of music and writing through helping with our blog.  

Narrowing down my "Best Delaware Arts Experiences of 2014" is an excruciating feat. There are numerous concerts, shows, and performances that can be distinguished as some of the best the Delaware Arts Scene has to offer.

A concert that stands out in my mind was Run River North, who performed an incredible set at the Baby Grand in the Grand Opera House in July. The group is categorized as a Korean-American indie folk-rock band, but that doesn’t even begin to describe them. Among the six members, they can probably play any instrument imaginable, including violins, guitars, drums and of course, vocals. The sextet is impossible to squeeze into any one musical genre. I think their performance was breathtaking and has me hoping Delaware will see much more of them in the future.

My second 2014 Delaware Arts moment is not strictly 2014, but the annual Spring Standards Boxing Day Event at Arden Gild Hall. For seven years, the day after Christmas has been dedicated to witnessing the religiously enthusiastic and talented trio, The Spring Standards, light up Arden. Just steps away from my house, the Gild Hall is home to not only our annual favorite but also welcomes several foreign acts. We Were Promised Jetpacks, a Scottish indie rock band, graced the stage in March. I first heard their music in the indie film, The Kings of Summer, and couldn’t stop listening. I hope that the Gild Hall can welcome them to be a part of their list of regular performers alongside The Spring Standards.

A Delaware music moment that cannot be overlooked is the 3rd annual Firefly Music Festival in Dover. This summer event started as a relatively small outdoor concert but quickly erupted into a musical extravaganza hosting around 100 bands and welcoming tens of thousands of festival fanatics. Firefly 2014 brought in performers from Foo Fighters to our local group, New Sweden. My favorite show had to be the energetic indie pop duo, twenty one pilots. Four days of non-stop music and good company was a weekend never to forget, and never to miss again!

A change in pace from the many excellent bands that hit Delaware in 2014, is the outstanding performance of James Joyce's The Dead by City Theater Company. They served up nine performances of at The Black Box at OperaDelaware Studios, where they turned the space into a working Irish "pub." The show was an excellent combination of intriguing dialogue and beautiful musical pieces. The plot simply followed a group of family and friends in their house in Ireland, and the family conflicts that can arise in the comfort of one’s home. The intimate performance space of the show sparked a connection between the actors and the audience that is hard to beat.

2014 brought too many more outstanding concerts and shows to list — and I have faith that 2015 will do much the same for Delaware!

Holly's Top 10 Picks of 2014

It was another great year for the arts in Northern Delaware -- Here are my 10 Best picks for 2014, in categories I made up, and in no particular order:

Best Small Production: Bootless Stageworks’ Venus in Fur. Starring Sean Gallagher and Kelly Warne, this might have been the most underrated production of the year. Opening night had way too many empty seats, but the two actors put on a show worthy of a packed house. Now that Bootless has a permanent home in St. Stephen’s Church on Broom Street, hopefully theater fans will be able to find them.

Best Musical: It’s going to be The Candlelight Theater, it’s just a matter of which show. If you love musicals, you should really have a season pass, because that’s almost all they do, and they do it well. It was between Fiddler and Always… Patsy Cline, but the edge goes to Always... Patsy Cline because it marked the return of Erica Scanlon Harr to the Candlelight stage.

Best Youth-Oriented: This one’s a dark horse (for me at least, since I’d never seen one of their productions before): Reedy Point Players’ The Outsiders. There probably isn’t a production that works so well in a library gymnasium in Delaware City. And that’s not a backhanded compliment, it was actually the perfect setting. The strong cast was well-led by Middletown High’s Brandon Dawson.

Best Classic: Wilmington Drama League’s To Kill a Mockingbird did justice to the classic Depression-era story of injustice, featuring a standout performance by Tomorrow Jenkins, Assistant Principal at Kennett High, making her stage debut as Calpurnia.

Best Production Featuring Actors who are Famous Outside of Delaware: It’s hard to pass over Love Letters with Michael Learned and Daniel Davis (aka the iconic Butler from “The Nanny”), but the big surprise in star-powered theater in Delaware in ‘14 was DTC’s Rest, in Pieces, featuring Donna Pescow of Saturday Night Fever fame and Lenny Wolpe, the Wizard in Broadway’s Wicked.

Best Production I Wouldn’t Normally Cover: Made an exception to the “no high school productions” rule to check out Wilmington Christian’s Sunshine on Leith, the first ever production of the Proclaimers’ musical outside of the UK or Ireland. I’m glad I did. While the kids on stage were great, the general theater etiquette at high school productions will not have me changing my policy any time soon, though.

Best Dance Production: First State Ballet’s Irene was written and choreographed by Delawareans Shaun Dougherty and Alex Buckner. It’s a ballet set in the vampire underworld. No way this wasn’t going to make the list.

Best Holiday Show: While I credit Candlelight's A Christmas Carol with getting me into the holiday spirit in November, my top pick for best holiday show is City Theater’s James Joyce’s The Dead, just a great story and a great show, a grown-up holiday production where The Black Box was converted into an Irish pub for the audience.

Best Non-Theater Event: Underground Comic Con, Jabaar Brown and Eric Cooper’s scaled-down version of the comic book convention (which have evolved into ridiculously expensive spectacles that seem more about meeting celebrities than anything else) is fun, diverse, family-friendly, and free, making it accessible to everyone. I hope this event keeps on coming back.

Local CD I Can’t Stop Playing: I don’t listen to a ton of Classical, but Melomanie’s Excursions is so addictive that for a while I’d come back for it if I left the house without it (hey, driving music is important). I’m very partial to the back half, a multi-part piece called “The Nobility of Women” by Philadelphia composer Kile Smith. Really great CD. (I don’t get a lot of local CDs/digital albums to be honest -- if you think your CD is Best of ‘14 (or ‘15), send it to me for possible review via

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ebbie's Top Theater Performances of 2014!

2014 was another wonderful year for the theater in Delaware! I was excited that a Delaware-based theater company, in this case the Wilmington Drama League (WDL), was producing the coming of age show, 13, The Musical. I had taken my nephew to see the musical on Broadway about five years ago and I thought, "what a fantastic show to introduce young teens to the theater!" The WDL's production was highlighted by the rousing performances of its young cast members. The production was such a success that it was transferred to a professional theater company in Pennsylvania!

I was floored by Kathleen Pirkl Tague's performance in The University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players' production of Margaret Edson's play Wit. Tague perfectly captured the emotions and struggles a person goes through while not just fighting, but coming to terms with advanced stage cancer. This play doesn't just land on my top for 2014, but my top for the decade!
I always love spending a summer evening outside watching a performance and the Delaware Shakespeare Festival's exhilarating production of Hamlet did not disappoint. Sipping wine while watching one of the Bard's best tragedies with a great friend made for delightful summer evening. From the stellar cast to the amazing set, the production was absolutely mesmerizing! 

 It was a great treat to see two veteran TV actors (Michael Learned and Daniel Davis) star in A.R. Gurney's sentimental two-character play Love Letters at The Delaware Theatre Company (DTC). I hadn't seen the play since I was in high school when Colleen Dewhurst and E.G. Marshall portrayed the parts at The DuPont Theatre, then The Playhouse. The DTC production immediately reminded me why I fell in love with this charming play so many years ago about a relationship between two people over the course of their lives.

I look forward to seeing more great theater in 2015!