Thursday, December 16, 2010

Moon & Stars Align with REP's "Midsummer"

Dear Tom Carper, Chris Coons (the luckiest politician in DE), John Carney, Jack Markell, Beau Biden (the UNluckiest politician in DE), UD Pres Patrick Harker and Vance Funk, Mayor of Funkytown,

(In one of the hundreds of jobs Aisle Say has had over his career, one was a news picker for a politician. Whenever the boss's name appears in print, the 'picker' must diligently cut and paste and place said article for further review.)
So, now that I have the attention of these esteemed gentlemen, let me humbly suggest one institution in the state which truly makes us 'World Class' – the UD REP Ensemble.
Aisle Say has had the privilege of seeing all but 3 of their productions in the 3 years of their existence. Relative to what trod the boards pre- REP, their body of work is inspiring.
Producing Artistic Director Sandy Robbins told me The Roselle Center for the Arts sits a few miles outside of the perimeter of the prestigious Philadelphia-based Barrymore Awards. Pat Harker, hey bro, you taught at Penn. Make a phone call, dude. That glass case in the theatre lobby soon would be brimming.
I travel to Philly frequently. While The Walnut stages musicals and The REP stages classics, every minute detail of the latter's work is superior. REP shows would be winners on Broadway.
As a writer, I absolutely wretch at the phrase “can't put it into words,” or when an athlete says, “it hasn't sunk in yet.” Yet, one could attend ' A Midsummer Night's Dream' multiple times and still not absorb all the nuances of this spellbinding and bewitching entertainment.
There were as many stars in this show as those in the midsummer night.
Scenic design is by Takeshi Kata, who takes her cue from the omnipresence of the moon in Shakespeare's most popular tale. Kata's moon not only emits light but serves as a lair for the delightful and intimidating Hippolyta/Titania (Jasmine Bracey), who like many of the leads, play two roles.
Puck (Ben Charles) worked assiduously at turning events preposterously. He is not only a skilled actor but an astonishing (and brave) athlete, gracefully flown over the Kata's moon by Foy, the same firm that harnessed Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby.
Theseus/Oberon (Mic Matarrese) was regal in both roles. Grandiloquent of voice and grand of poise, posture and presence.
The four lovers Hermia (Sara Griffin), Helena (Caroline Crocker), Demetrius (Mathew Simpson), Lysander (Cameron Knight) were gleeful and sensuous and, by the by, great comic artists.
And now to the Mechanicals, in what was the most outrageous Pyramis & Thisbe scene Aisle Say has ever witnessed. Poor Quince (Steve Tague) in that ridiculous wig trying to keep control of the out of control Bottom (Stephen Pelinski). The laughs kept cascading as sure as the rhythm of incoming waves. Pelinski has affected this 'who me?” look plastered on his malleable mug and the audience gladly submits their collective will to Bottom's mayhem.
The phantasmagoric fairy costumes created by Martha Hally have never seen an equal on a Delaware stage. I would request the name of the hallucinogen she took so that I could be half as creative.
The fairy platoon was so very concise in their movements, owing to the playful choreography of Joann Browning.
This show will be imprinted in the mind of the audience for a lifetime.
Through December 12. 302.831.2204

Delaware's only professional ballet company keeps throwing their creative net around the state. Longtime (and passionate) President of the Board Robert Grenfell and Artistic Director Pasha Kambalov hauled in a leviathan for this year's performances; The Delaware Symphony.
Heretofore, Tchaikovsky's music was pre-recored. Having our live symphony in attendance will energize not only the dancers but also the audience.
David Amado has shown a propensity in the last two years to broaden DSO's reach. He is making his troupe more accessible and the rewards are plentiful. Aisle Say attended a recent concert by Natalie Merchant. I felt the symphony was many times more exciting than this one note artist.
Just this past weekend DSO backed up Gary Brooker of Procul Harem, in concert for the Grand Gala; a spectacularly great party.
And, the orchestra was recently nominated for their first Grammy, a Latin dominated CD entitled Interchange. On a podcast by the DE Division of Arts, Exec Director Lucinda Williams pointed out that their label is from the most prestigious producing company of their genre.
Says Amado,”Collaborating with FSBT is thrilling for us. Normally we partner with other musicians. This new 'conversation', i.e. between the dancers and the orchestra is totally different. Both sides are energized and we become a living breathing organism. I think the audience senses this as well.”
Adding to the coup of partnering with DSO, First State Ballet is adding to this embarrassment of riches by inviting the Wilmington's Childrens Chorus to sit on either balcony sides and sing at appropriate times during the ballet. As Grenfell quips,”the music will be surround sound stereo!”
At The Grand Opera House Dec 17 @ 7pm; Dec 18 @ 2pm and 7pm; Dec 19 @ 2p Tix: 302.652.5577

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