Monday, October 31, 2011

This Play's a Walk in the Park

If you're feeling nostalgic for the 1960s, a time when New York City studio apartment rentals were a mere $125.00 per month, then head to the Wilmington Drama League for Neil Simon's comedy Barefoot in the Park!

My first introduction to Barefoot in the Park was in college when I watched the film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. I fell in love with the charming film, and when the Broadway revival opened in 2006, I made my way up to the city to see it.  The comedy, set in New York City circa mid-1960s, is about newlyweds---Corie is a fun-loving young housewife and Paul is a practical lawyer. After spending a six-day honeymoon at the famed New York Plaza Hotel, they have now moved into their studio apartment, which happens to be on the sixth floor of a building without an elevator. During the course of the play, we meet Corie's proper but doting mother Ethel and the couple's eccentric neighbor Victor, who Corie befriends.

The eternal optimist, Corie decides to host a small party in hopes of setting up her widowed mother with Victor. The night culminates with the foursome dining in an exotic restaurant in Staten Island, a fight between the newlyweds, and Ethel never making it home to New Jersey. I'm not going to reveal the ending, but I'll give you a hint---it's a Neil Simon comedy.

Natalie Gaspari shines as the lovable Corie, as does Jack Jordan in the role of Victor. Both characters, along with another famous theater character-Auntie Mame-have been my heroes with their philosophies of "Live, enjoy life, and experience everything!"  Shawn Kline gives a fantastic performance as Paul, a person who finds walking "barefoot in the park" a ridiculous act.  Catherine Ireland as Ethel steals every scene she's in! I also must give a shout out to Mark Ladd, who delivered some very funny lines as the telephone repairman, who has to climb up the six flights of steps to install the couple's new line.

Overall, Barefoot in the Park is not a groundbreaking piece and it won't change your life, but it will entertain you.  It fits in perfectly with the current cultural resurgence of the 1960s---think Mad Men, Pan-Am, and The Playboy Club. They all recall a time when America was innocent and flirty; maybe a time we need to relive now more than ever?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Perky Opening for Mėlomanie

Many changes were made for Mėlomanie this year: a new violinist, performances at new venues, new repertory and a new advertising idea!

The October 29 season opening at Grace United Methodist Church was a lively production of new and old music – with the startling newness of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Paris Quartet No. 5 in A Major, TWV 43:A3 – which the artists split to play half before and half after the intermission. Two composers sitting beside me in the audience were marveling at how much more daring and even classical George Philipp Telemann (1681-1770) can be in his gallant style than his contemporary Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and I think they were quite right. The Telemann was zippy, rhythmically unusual and a great vehicle to show off the new member of the group, violinist Christof Richter, whom many in the audience have appreciated from his former appearances with Mėlomanie.

The Giuseppe Tartini Sonata in G Minor (The Devil’s Trill) was a more sedate piece which provided a bridge to Ingrid Arauco’s Silver (Variation diabellique) for solo flute which Arauco had composed for the 25th anniversary of Network for New Music. With the cold outside, snowflakes falling, the silvery tones of Kimberly Reighley’s modern flute made just the right atmosphere for a cold winter’s night. The shimmery sounds of Arauco’s flowing melodies filled the sanctuary with warm light.

Mark Rimple’s Sonata Circumdederunt me had an entirely different accent – of modernist tendencies and humor interspersed with a flash of technical virtuosity from Donna Fournier on the viola da gamba. The harpsichord accompaniment helped ground the harmonic base of the exploratory composition.

The second half of the concert started with the second half of the Telemann, which seemed almost as new as the 21st Century compositions we had just heard. Richter and Reighley led the merry chase of Telemann’s romp which was certainly a highlight. The concert ended with another 21st Century work, a tango in three movements by Christopher Calliendo.

The audience was given these musical treats plus a perk – a gift of a special blend of Pike Creek Coffee blended for Mėlomanie, named "Downtown Wilmo Blend" and branded with great photos of the group.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Art & Civil Unions: A Terrific Marriage

To celebrate the January 1 implementation of Delaware’s same sex civil union law, engaged lesbian, gay and transgender couples are invited to take part in ONE LOVE on Saturday, January 7, 2012, at 7:00pm at the Delaware Art Museum.  ONE LOVE is a series of activities that culminates in a collective same sex civil union ceremony. As part of ONE LOVE, the guests of each couple will be able to share in the joy of not just one, but multiple, unions.

Says event co-organizer Nikki Brennan of Lovely Girls Events, “Many LGBT couples and their loved ones have waited years to enjoy a ceremony in Delaware, and they shouldn’t have to wait one more day…nor settle for a courthouse ceremony. For those anxious to wed, I wanted it to be soon, and I wanted it to be fabulous!”

The Delaware Art Museum was delighted to help make this event a reality. “Our stunning galleries and spaces are perfect settings for a wedding. We’re thrilled that ONE LOVE will highlight the creative ways that the Museum can make any big day special,” Says Molly Keresztury, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations at the Museum.

To take part in the ONE LOVE Group Civil Union Ceremony, couples must: RSVP by December 1; acquire a Delaware Civil Union license between January 2 and January 6; and show proof of licensing upon arrival.  Nondenominational officiants and staging areas are provided for each ceremony, as well as music, décor, hors d’oeuvres, and cake.  Couples are encouraged to bring items such as prewritten vows, unity candles, ring pillows, cake cutters, and bouquets or boutonnieres for a personal touch.

A complimentary group toast will take place, and a cash bar will be available. Guests will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres and a DJ.  BG Productions will photograph the event, and the Wilmington Photo Booth Co. will also be on site with a photo booth. 

In addition, Brennan and her event partners devised the ONE LOVE Couple Contest to add to the excitement of the collective ceremony.  Among the couples taking part in the group ceremony will be three couples who have entered and won the contest.  This Contest awards three prizes to contestants—one to a gay couple, a lesbian couple, and a transgender couple.  Entrants should describe in 100 words or less, “what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, and what makes you unique as a couple.” Entries can be submitted to by November 3, 2011, at Noon EST.  The email should include the names of the couple, a phone number and email address. Winners will be announced on November 5.  The prize packages include a $400 engagement photo/video session; one grand prize will also provide a complimentary floral order and spa or beauty treatment on the day of the ONE LOVE event.