Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Inventive Christmas Tradition at DE Theatre Co

Delaware Theatre Company's “A Christmas Carol” is a wildly inventive take on the Dicken's classic. The transformation of DTC under ED Bud Martin is moving with Amtrack's Acela type speed (one of their sponsors). There is a whole new inventory of NY trained and experienced actors arriving here at warp speed.
The tech crews have been revamped as well. Aisle Say has seen neither the dramatic lighting nor the creativity of set pieces in this 4 decades old performing arts venue. Credit goes to Chris Lee and Brian Prather respectively.. Lee, for example, has lit over 150 shows on Broadway, London's West End and overseas.
DTC's recent history BB (before Bud) was to attempt to pacify both the budget and the audiences with small casts and unit sets.
While there are only 5 is this cast, all but Scrooge (Andrew Long) played more characters than one could count. Playwright Patrick Barlow solved the dilemma for the audience by simply naming them Actors 1 through 4. (Barlow also wrote Broadways' “39 Steps” which was staged at Philly's Walnut Street Theatre last season).
Huzzah to Director Joe Calarco - winner of 2 Barrymore Awards and 4 Helen Hayes Awards – for keeping the action apace.
3 of the actors play instruments, adding so unequivocally to the gaiety of this message of Christmas humanity. Steve Pacek plays the drum and the flugelhorn; Tina Stafford the accordion - of all things! (I was waiting for the Dickensian take on “Lady of Spain” but it didn't happen); and Jessie Shelton (making her professional debut after graduating from Carnegie Mellon only last year), the violin.
While there was no choreography per se, the paced movement of the actors – and their costume changes – was reminiscent of the UD's REP Ensemble presentation of “Our Country's Good” last year. It was as fluid as the Brandywine Creek being diverted into the millrace and then back again to the creek. You thought you saw a change, but then again it was so sinuous you weren't quite sure.
It's the small things, the devilish details that this whole new era of DTC is about. Tiny Tim is a wooden puppet. It would have been easy to buy one from a theatrical house and train his Dad, Bob Cratchit, how to mobilize that woodeny character. DTC went to one Thomas Getchell, a puppet designer who recently graduated from U of Connecticut's Puppetry Program. He designed and built Tiny Tim expressly for DTC.
Forever imprinted in my Christmas movie mind vault is Scottish actor Alistar Sims' portrayal of Scrooge in the black and white version of 1951. Scrooge awakes realizing he is still alive and the night's torment was only a dream. To call him positively giddy is to say that Rodney Dangerfield was 'somewhat' funny. Sims is deranged, beside himself and we love it. He opens the window and sees the boy passing by. He screams, he cavorts, he implores the boy to go buy the turkey to give to the Cratchits. I am not saying that Andrew Long would replace my image of Alistar Sims..but he was close.
This is a show for the entire family.
It was good to see that in DTC's program was an insert for New Candlelight Theatre, opening with “The Producers' on 25 January. Theatres helping other theatres is a good thing.
Through December 30. 302.594.1100

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bat Boy: The Musical - Hysterically Horrifying

Murder, mayhem and misogyny...passion, perfidy and pathos...fantasy, fraud and pheromones. And that's just in the first act of City Theatre Company's “Bat Boy: The Musical” !!!
This group has worked off of miniscule budgets that tumbled off the fiscal cliff after the first show decades ago. Yet they continue to scale what would be insurmountable precipices for most acting companies.
This merry band of mavericks are the theatrical equivalent to those adrenalin junkies who scale mountains with neither crampons nor belaying ropes. The only equipment they bring is chalk dust and nerve.
Of the words gracing the first line of this missive, perhaps only Pheromone” is foreign. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual. Pivotal to this frankensteinian plot is the claim that the party of the first part, “the secreting individual” - (a common household bat) impacted the party of the second part – (the fertile mother Meredith, played by Dana Michael), resulting in the not-so-blessed event of Bat Boy ((Brendan Sheehan).
Director Michael Gray consistently uses every square inch of the black box of Opera Delaware Studios, this time even foraging for air space.
Bat Boy first appears peering over a crib, the identifiable ears a dead giveaway. He learns to speak from his adoptive family, yearns for acceptance and tries to join society, only to face hatred and violence from a town that fears him and jealous rage from his foster father.
The book deals with serious themes (such as hypocrisy, acceptance, forgiveness, racism, revenge and scapegoating), but often punctures the most serious moments with slapstick, surrealism, camp-horror and irony. The show also contains religious themes. Act II begins with a religious revival tent meeting featuring a faith healer (Steven Weatherman channeling his most vociferous Elmer Gantry). It's not so ironic that the town is named Hope Falls.
No other theatre company in Delaware could do justice to this stirring and evocative show. The songs are great; the singing equals the songs. Sheehan has a beautiful arching voice and we pity him as his plaintive calls for love and understanding go unanswered.
Many of the actors have duel roles. Adam Wahlberg plays Daisy, a woman – or is she a transvestite? (Director Gray is known for swapping genders with the same alacrity as our Congressmen trade insults). Wahlburg's show stopper is as Pan. Hold it. I didn't tell you there was a satyr in the story? Well, you'll just have to see it. And, you should.
This production is not for the faint of heart. In Act II we recreate the birth of Bat Boy. I was not the only audience member thunderstruck. Do horrifying and hysterical belong in the same sentence?
A great backstage band conducted by Joe Trainor.
Through December 15.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Walnut's MUSIC MAN. Climb on board for "The Wells Fargo Wagon".

“The Music Man” is not only a beloved Broadway classic, but also has imprinted in our minds 4 signature characters from which succeeding actors are yardsticked. I speak of Robert Preston as Hill, Shirley Jones, Marian; Ron Howard, Winthrop and Paul Ford, Mayor Shinn.
The Walnut Street's “Music Man” succeeds in eliminating the “almost as good as” or 'not quite so and so”. This is as joyous and lovingly staged and acted a musical as you will ever witness. Smiles were plastered on the audience throughout. One felt privileged being in attendance. A classic show in a classic theatre (America's oldest - in its 204th season!) served up with the highest quality talent and production values.
If a child actor is good, well, you've heard the rubric about following kids and animals. Vincent Crocilla plays Winthrop, the insecure little stutterer who falls under the spell of the consummate showman, Harold Hill, suitor to his big sister Marian. This precious child is TOO cute. When he struts the tune “Gary Indiana” (resembling Psy's Gangman dance), the house exploded. There were tears coursing down cheeks on a number of faces, male and female.
Jeffrey Coon (Hill) has a gorgeous voice. One must be a triple threat to do this part and he does not miss a step in Director/Choreographer Marc Robin's exhilarating production numbers. Robin's background must be in ballet, for there was much more of that than the normal jazz dance of past productions Aisle Say has witnessed.
Jennifer Hope Wills (Marian) starred for four years on Broadway as Christine in “Phantom”. Enough said regarding her transcendent voice! The ingenue merely changes addresses – from Paris to River City Iowa.
Set design at The Walnut has always been a strength. In the review of last season's “The King and I”, I mentioned the romance, glamor and power of Robert Andrew Kovach's set. River City is a long way from Siam's monarchical palace, but the fine art created by Kovach make the trees appear three dimensional. Quite a feat. It's like you are seeing a two dimensional set in Imax.
With the largest subscriber base of any theatre in America, The Walnut has a budget to do things to near perfection. Costume designer Colleen Grady fulfills her mission in capturing middle America in brilliant hues. As far as attention to detail....look at the shoes, the bonnets, the dresses of those pictured.
Tickets to this production would make thoughtful pre-Christmas presents. Thoughtful? Most certainly. It means you care enough about the recipient to wish she/he and theirs to glory in one of the two forms of music created in America...jazz and MUSICAL THEATRE. I doubt your friends will ever forget this show...this pastiche of close to perfection as one could achieve.
Through January 6. 800.982.2787

Climb onto "The Wells Fargo Wagon" for The Walnut's MUSIC MAN

“The Music Man” is not only a beloved Broadway classic, but also has imprinted in our minds 4 signature characters from which succeeding actors are yardsticked. I speak of Robert Preston as Hill, Shirley Jones, Marian; Ron Howard, Winthrop and Paul Ford, Mayor Shinn.
The Walnut Street's “Music Man” succeeds in eliminating the “almost as good as” or 'not quite so and so”. This is as joyous and lovingly staged and acted a musical as you will ever witness. Smiles were plastered on the audience throughout. One felt privileged being in attendance,. A classic show. in a classic theatre (America's oldest - in its 204th season!) served up with the highest quality talent and production values.
If a child actor is good, well, you've heard the rubric about following kids and animals. Vincent Crocilla plays Winthrop, the insecure little stutterer who falls under the spell of the consummate showman, Harold Hill, suitor to his big sister Marian. This precious child is TOO cute. When he struts the tune “Gary Indiana” (resembling Psy's Gangman dance), the house exploded. There were tears coursing down cheeks on a number of faces, male and female.
Jeffrey Coon (Hill) has a gorgeous voice. One must be a triple threat to do this part and he does not miss a step in Director/Choreographer Marc Robin's exhilarating production numbers. Robin's background must be in ballet, for there was much more of that than the normal jazz dance of past productions Aisle Say has witnessed.
Jennifer Hope Wills (Marian) starred for four years on Broadway as Christine in “Phantom”. Enough said regarding her transcendent voice! The ingenue merely changes addresses – from Paris to River City Iowa.
Set design at The Walnut has always been a strength. In the review of last season's “The King and I”, I mentioned the romance, glamor and power of Robert Andrew Kovach's set. River City is a long way from Siam's monarchical palace, but the fine art created by Kovach make the trees appear three dimensional. Quite a feat. It's like you are seeing a two dimensional set in Imax.
With the largest subscriber base of any theatre in America, The Walnut has a budget to do things to near perfection. Costume designer Colleen Grady fulfills her mission in capturing middle America in brilliant hues. As far as attention to detail....look at the shoes, the bonnets, the dresses of those pictured.
Tickets to this production would make thoughtful pre-Christmas presents. Thoughtful? Most certainly. It means you care enough about the recipient to wish she/he and theirs to glory in one of the two forms of music created in America...jazz and MUSICAL THEATRE. I doubt your friends will ever forget this show...this pastiche of close to perfection as one could achieve.
Through January 6. 800.982.2787

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

UD REP Ensemble's absurdest French farce "Anything To Declare"

Philadelphia professional sports teams are having an off year. The Phillies's Chase Utley and Ryan Howard suffered injuries and below par batting averages; the Eagles are imploding and the Sixer's long sought after big man, Andrew Bynum, has mysterious bone bruises.
The UD REP Ensemble - without doubt our state's greatest theatre - is suffering through its own sort of malaise. It is not the acting...which is always impeccable. And certainly not the other 'actors' in the production; the set, costumes and sound. It is the choice of shows.
This fourth season opened with an Irish play, “The Weir”. Even the director suggested in his notes it might be retitled “The Weird”. Aisle Say agrees.
Set in a desolate pub on a desolate night, tales of ghosts and the supernatural are shared by the characters in attendance. These yarns of love and loss were preternaturally talky talky and went nowhere.
Second up and currently playing is the French farce “Anything To Declare”. Sandy Robbins, Producing Artistic Director of this professional group, has consistently prodded, provoked and piqued his audiences. These two selections, however, had me scratching my head. Neither are classic examples of their genre.
Oui, madames et monsieurs, “Declare” is an example of turn of the century French vaudeville and debuted in 1906. Vaudeville features intricate and implausible plots with no pretense of a moral conclusion. So, in that context, it is a learning experience for the audience. In “Declares” case, however, there is a disconnect between the pushing of the artistic envelope and entertainment. Part of the disconnect is the use of contemporary catch phrases such as 'for pete's sake', 'scam', 'seal the deal'. In a 1906 setting in France?
An analogy would be the reason that George Gershwin's music in his many stage shows are not more popularly performed. It's due to the impossibly sophomoric and dated plots. The plot of “Declare” is simply too absurdest for even those familiar with farce to embrace. The laugh lines seemed forced.
There were scattered tittering circulating through the theatre during this production. Nothing, though, to compare with the mass eruptions of hysteria in the French farce “The Imaginary Invalid” of REP's premiere season, followed by year two's “Midsummer Night's Dream” or last year's “Skin Of Our Teeth”.
The extremely talented ensemble maintains their excellence. Michael Gotch, Elizabeth Heflin, Mic Matarrese, Stephen Pilinski and Kathleen Pirkl Tague are consummate actors.
Next up in January Sandy Robbins once again pioneers into unknown territory with the first DE production of “The Threepenny Opera”, lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and music by Kurt Weill. For those of you over 50, you may remember Bobby Darrin making his signature song “Mac the Knife”.
Through December 9. 302.2204

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Candlelight serves us a 'banquet' of holiday Song & Dance

Veteran Director Bob Kelly pulls together a panoply of old and new theatrical faces for a heartstrings tugging ode to the most wonderful time of the year in "Christmas by Candlelight".running through December 23.
No real plot, simply a very diverse musical array of what Christmas means to family and loved ones; a sumptuous banquet of sentimental, humorous and joyous musings.
Renown composers by the score were listed, many from Broadway. Jerry Herman's “We Need A Little Christmas” opened the show, perhaps a metaphor for the global conflicts abroad and the divisiveness nationally. Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, partners in numerous Brdway shows also wrote “Let It Snow” and “Christmas Waltz”. My favorite '50's cowboy, Gene Autry composed “Here Comes Santa Claus”. Frank Loesser, of the immortal “Guys & Dolls” wrote “Baby It's Cold Outside”, finessed charmingly by Colleen McGinness and Rick Fountas. Meredith Willson of “Music Man' fame composed “It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”. The chestnut, “Christmas Song” by Mel Torme, channeled by Timothy Lamont Cannon provoked some dewy eyes by those at our table.
This is a show of firsts: the first time ice skating was danced on NCT stage. Ice dancing choreographer Peter Bricotto gingerly navigated the tiny stage and exhibited fluid moves.
One of my favorite and certainly one of the most supremely talented choreographers in the region signed on for the show, Jen Quinn. Hopefully she will become a staple at this venerable venue. There were multitudinous tempo changes in the multitude of numbers and Jen's charges did not miss a step.
The vocal stars of the show – as they have in past productions – are David Snyder and Erica Scanlon Harr. Erica serves as emcee, segueing from one theme to another. Her monologue is perhaps a bit schmaltzy and at points, slows the energy created by the talented ensemble.
However, the duos clarion voices excel in “Have Yourself A Merry Merry Christmas” and “Silver Bells”. Music Director David Wills did a wonderful job in ensemble harmonizing of the joyous and jubilant religious oeuvres such as “Little Drummer Boy”, “O Holy Night” and “Do You Hear What I Hear”, featuring the beauteous Lindsay Mauck.
Mr. Cannon doubles down as Costume Designer. I am well aware his budget is slim. Yet, the outfits on the women sparkle like the top of the tree.
Another new face behind stage is Tracy Friswell Jacobs, who has brought several 9-13 year olds to perform. Some of the kids' bios are precious: Lily Grace Nordheimer is “super excited to be on the main stage”; Evelyn Schiavone declares “I have been an actress for 4 years!!!”
A tender and warm hearted show for the entire family. A great gift and a great way for your kids to be inspired by seeing other kids perform. Through December 23 302.475.2313

Tracy Jacobs has her own show with these kids and more upcoming on the Laird stage at Tatnall school on 15 and 16 December. Tickets 302.595.4160

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alfred I. perhaps the greatest du Pont humanitarian

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden has thrown down his gauntlet in the millions at stake between Delaware and Florida over the Nemours Foundation.
Alfred I could arguably be considered the most humanitarian of all the celebrated du Pont family members. The family and company changed our tiny state into a global commodity and international tourist destination..
Alfred ranks with founder, E I, who forever ingrained not only chemical knowledge but also social consciousness in the fibre of the company; P S invested $6 million of his own money to completely upend the racist based “Separate But Equal” education system of the '20's. Coleman du Pont, who with his own money constructed Rt 13, the first paved road coursing an entire state.
These three cousins bought the company from their uncles in 1902. The elders were about to sell to a competitor. Alfred was the only of the three who worked at Eleutherian Mills. He came up with the grand idea to save the company and keep it here.
Without A.I's daring plan for purchase, today there would be no Nemours Foundation, no Longwood Gardens, no Winterthur, no X Station, no Wilmington once pegged as “The Chemical Capital of the World”, no Nemours Mansion, no Mt. Cuba, no Hagley, no Howard High, no Tower Hill School...the list goes on.
Think Frank Capra's “It's A Wonderful Life”.with an adverse outcome.

In 1927 A.I.'s net worth in DuPont stock was valued at $70 million. That did not include the value of the undeveloped northern Florida land he would acquire totaling 320,000 acres costing $1.6 million (a princely $5.00 an acre) and the seven banks he established there during that time.
Alfred, like E.I, had social consciousness. His enlightened values centered on on the elderly retirees who had no lifeline to exist beyond others. He was a social legislator before his time.
In 1929, 40% of Delawareans over 65 were dependent upon others. That year A.I had introduced before the state legislature a bill to provide pensions. This was the very first legislation in the country that provided for blanket pensions to those of the certain age. He declared in the prologue of the bill, “ simple human justice decrees that society preserve independence and self respect of the elderly.”
He didn't have to do this. He could have sat back with his millions. But he - as the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son of the founder - practiced words spoken from 1802: 'For every privilege, there is inseparably bound a duty'
The bill did not pass. The legislature would not convene for another two years but du Pont was optimistic of its passage going forward. It was not in his character to fiddle over incidentals.
Alfred collected names of all those who qualified for his proposed pension plan. For the next two years, he paid out of his own pocket $200,000.00 per year to these Delawareans... anonymously.
A few years later A.I fully subscribed to the aspirations of FDR's New Deal, pointing out he had been advocating these issues for years. He believed in the reapportionment of wealth in the country, giving more to the needy and less to the rich.
The Nemours Foundation was originally chartered to care not only for children with orthopedic problems but also pensioners. He wrote: 'The Nemours Foundation shall be created and maintained as a memorial to my great, great grandfather, Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours....for the purpose of maintaining...a charitable institution for the care and treatment of crippled children, but not incurables, or the care of old men or old women, and particularly couples, first consideration, in each instance, being given to beneficiaries who are residents of Delaware.'
A.I's net worth at his death at 70 years in January of 1935. He and his third wife Jessie Ball du Pont created the concept for Nemours Foundation. They originally considered the Mansion to be converted into the hospital. Jessie and her brother Ed Ball outlived him by many years and invested millions in Florida.
Said the modest A.I. “My philosophy of life is simple: be fair to every one; do as much good as you can. Be honest with yourself, which means, be honest with everybody.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

COLLABAGALA: The Gargantua of Non-Profit Giving

Innovation comes easy to Ajit George, founder of the nationally regarded and highly successful Meals From the Masters fund raiser for Meals on Wheels Delaware, now in its 15th year. This event has become a signature of statewide benevolence and consumes an entire week of bountiful benevolence and gastronomic gorging.
His immediate brainstorm is Collabagala; i.e. Collaboration + Gala, to be staged at the Chase Center November 17. One hundred per cent of the net proceeds will benefit 10 Delaware charities. They are Blood Bank of Delmarva, Westside Healthcare, American Lung Association, Best Buddies of Delaware, Catholic Charities, Delaware Center for Justice, Newark Day Nursery and Children's Center, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Read Aloud Delaware and YWCA.
The RDC, the Chase Center and Strongpoint Marketing (George's firm) are the founding sponsors. Founding media sponsor is the News Journal.
The Delaware Community Foundation and DANA (Delaware Association of Non-Profit Agencies) are in the mix as well, although not beneficiaries.
Says Chris Grundner, CEO of DANA, “We chose to get involved in Collabagala as a partner because we believe the event could be a game-changer and it is important for us as the sector leader to help push the envelope a bit in the community. Because the event is brand new and so ground-breaking, we expect it to grow over time and get bigger and bigger each year.”
The founding sponsors are removing all the risks that non-profits confront when staging a fund raiser: management and promotion. The beneficiaries must sell tickets and solicit Silent Auction items from their respective lists of donors.
George expects well over $100,000.00 in auction items. Coming from so many different organizations, they will be copious and diverse.
Exclaims Ginny Marino, CEO of YWCA, 'Collabagala is a game changer and we are thrilled to be a part.”
Mary Hirschbiel, ED of Read Aloud Delaware, echoes the sentiments of all of the charities. “We look forward to sharing our story a wider community.”
The exposure that all will achieve in the “Collaboration” is ten times what they could do on their own. When a charity stages their own in house Silent Auction or other event, everyone knows about them from the starting line. This is reinforced by Michael Waite, Director of Marketing and Communications at Blood Bank of Delmarva. “This is an opportunity for us to collaborate (there's that word again!) with other non-profits. BBD does not do many special events so it is a chance to get involved with a fun event in a different atmosphere.”
The theme is James Bond, appropriate to the premiere of the new Bond movie at the new Penn Cinema at the Riverfront. (They are donating 1000 tickets).
The $125.00 ticket price includes food, open bar and $25 of chips for Casino Royale.
George admits he has no idea the turnout, but is laying the groundwork. The mantra of entrepreneurs will forever be....”with great risks come even greater rewards!”
For tickets and donations to the Silent Auction
To become a sponsor, connect with Strongpoint Marketing 302.295.5060

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Marie Dugan: Educating the Absorbent Mind

It all started in 'the little red schoolhouse' in Arden DE in 1971, a rather non-prepossessing multi- purpose facility a/k/a The Buzz Ware Center.
Now, Wilmington Montessori School, only a mile from its birthplace, is a 65,000 sq ft building on 25 acres; the state's largest and acknowledged as one of the top 10 Montessori's nationally. The school was the first to be jointly accredited both by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) and the American Montessori Society. Dugan, Head of School, has garnered numerous awards owing to her efforts for 'her children' and the Montessori mission nationally.
WMS has received a $1 million matching gift from an anonymous donor. This occasion marks the beginning of a fund raising campaign as they celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2013-2014.
How and why this success? By the drive of Marie Dugan, one who found her sole mission in life decades ago and nurtured it to fruition. “The gift is a tribute to 50 more years of joyful learning”, says Dugan. She is confidant in securing the matching funds.
Dugan is back at WMS after leaving the school in 2000. She was asked to be the Coordinator for the Center For Montessori Management Management (CMSM) in White Plains NY., where teachers and administrators achieve credentials from the American Montessori Society.

Now she is back to her beginnings in Delaware as interim Head of School. While she would be the last to admit this, the grant had all to due with her return. Word traveled quickly. Enrollment is up.
To understate, parents, teachers, staff – and most importantly students are thrilled. Dugan, typically modest, paraphrases the book Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten with ...”everything I know I learned here at WMS!”
When my first child was two, I had misgivings over sending him to school half the day. That was a mite young, I considered; allied to yet one more expense for a new family. He could do better at home with Mom. Two decades later I was proven wrong. That investment gave as much a return to him - and to his parents - as did DuPont's investment in nylon.
From the 1st...okay, maybe the 3rd or 4th son loved going to school. He loved his teachers and they loved him back. Dugan had two-way mirrors installed where parents could watch their child interact with teachers and peers. Mothers would spend hours there. They gained knowledge about their children. Priceless encounters and precious relationships created behind those mirrors.
There is this native African term “it takes a village”. It does not take long for parents to discover the village that Montessori encompasses.

Montessori education is characterized by an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. These elements are essential:
  • Multi-aged classrooms; ages 0 to 12 years
  • Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options
  • Uninterrupted blocks of work time
  • A 'discovery' model where students learn concepts from working with materials, rather than by direct instruction
From birth to age 6, the Montessori method observes that the child undergoes striking physical and psychological development. The child is seen as a concrete, sensorial explorer and learner engaged in the developmental work of psychological self-construction and building functional independence. Montessori introduces several concepts to explain this work, including the absorbent mind, sensitive periods, and normalization.
Absorbent mind: Montessori described the young child's behavior of effortlessly assimilating the sensorial stimuli of his or her environment, including information from the senses, language, culture, and the development of concepts with the term "absorbent mind". It believed that this is a power unique to the first plane, and that it fades as the child approached age six.
Sensitive periods: Also observed are periods of special sensitivity to particular stimuli during this time called the "sensitive periods". In Montessori education, the classroom environment responds to these periods by making appropriate materials and activities available while the periods are active in the young child. Identified are the following periods and their durations:
  • Acquisition of language—from birth to around six years old
  • Order—from around one to three years old
  • Sensory refinement—from birth to around four years old
  • Interest in small objects—from around 18 months to three years old
  • Social behavior—from around two and a half to four years old
WMS' elementary program students continue through grade 6.. Outcomes include confident, competent learners,independent, intrinsically motivated, socially responsible, academically prepared for seventh grade.
Dugan this year initiated a class with babies of only 6 months. For them, she opines, there is truly a whole lot of world to absorb. 302 475.0555

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Sea Change at DTC with "The Outgoing Tide"

The times they are a changin' at Delaware Theater Company. Bud Martin, the new Producing Artistic Director, has transfused the 3 decades old institution with game changing steroids.
Aisle Say has always been impressed when one such as Al Pacino consistently works on refining his craft in New York live theatre. Both motion pictures and tv acting is easy. As Peter Strauss, the star of DTC's “The Outgoing Tide” commented to me after a packed house opening last Saturday, ...”in live theatre you're out there naked for an hour and half. You mess up, and everybody knows it.”
(Strauss and Nick Nolte starred in the provocative mini series “Rich Man, Poor Man” in the '70's)
.While Michael Learned of “The Waltons” fame may be the biggest name of the 3 person show, this is Strauss' show playing Gunner, a husband and father who has hatched an unorthodox plan to secure his family's future. The idea is met with much consternation by his wife (Peg) and grown son, Jack (Ian Lithgow).
Playwright – and Philadelphia native – Bruce Graham has wonderfully articulated a brutal dilemma of growing old. It is impossible to believe that the plot did not resonate profoundly with the audience. Gunner is at early stage dementia (although Strauss emphasized to me this could be any ailment...any disease.)
Interspersing dark humor with pathos, one is not sure where we are headed in Act 1. The playwright's conceit was to switch scenes decades back to create familiarity with the family dynamic. Strauss, for example, went from a young father to a crotchety old man with Alzheimers. Peg was always the over protective mother.
Jack (Lithgow) was an only child of a sarcastic, teasing and rough-edged father. The naïve son believed everything Dad said.
Jack: Why didn't I have a brother or a sister?
Gunner: You weren't the only kid. You were the only one we kept. We sold your two brothers to the circus. (At that point, Jack, as a child, starts crying).
Peg wants to put Gunner in an assisted living facility. After 50 years of marriage, she is weary now of his forgetfulness and doesn't feel she can properly care for him. “We could do a murder-suicide, but he would probably forget to shoot himself!”
Gunner will have none of the assisted living idea, PERIOD. He waxes on the reason for living...”If I don't know you, what's the point?”
Gunner has a plan to tie up loose ends. He will commit suicide so that the family can collect double indemnity life insurance. Peg is outraged, but he demands her blessing before he can go forward in his last dinghy ride with his bottle of scotch.
Are the ends tied? I will leave that for the future audiences. This is a difficult play, gut-wrenching and supremely acted.
Note to director: as a father who at times has had his own strained relations with his son, boy... would I love to see a hug in the final scene.
Through October 28 302.594.1100
Next up is “A Christimas Carol”, then “Boeing Boeing” directed by consummate actor/director of UD Rep Ensemble Steve Tague. DTC's first full blown Broadway musical, “South Pacific” ends the season, directed by Bud Martin and choreographed by our local legend, Sonny Leo.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

AISLE SAY interviews Clint Eastwood on upcoming DE theatre season

AISLE SAY is thrilled and honored to introduce the iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood to its venerated column. Mr Eastwood, still on a high from the Republican Convention: as stratospheric an emotion as his movie 'Space Cowboy' (which soon after release plummeted to earth). Eastwood offered a free ranging interview on the openings of 3 shows at local venues: DE Theatre Company's “The Ongoing Tide:, UD REP Ensemble's “The Weir” and New Candlelight Theatre's “Putnam County Spelling Bee”.

AISLE SAY: Thank you so very much for being with us today. In fact, in your honor I wore the same sombrero that sat atop Eli Wallach in “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”.
CLINT EASTWOOD: You nitwit. Wallach was a bandido in “The Magnificent Seven”. You're crazy, absolutely crazy. You're getting as bad as Biden. Now we know there are two intellects in Delaware; you and the Vice President.”
AS: You are aware, sir, that DTC welcomes a TV icon, Michael Learned, from 'The Waltons' in their opening show, “The Ongoing Tide”. Her tag line at the end of the each installment gained as much cultural traction as your own from 'Dirty Harry'.
CE: Damn. I told myself that I was not going to use that at the Convention. I was caught up in the moment of my daring improv and was egged on by the Tea Party constituents. It is just that conservative people pay closer to the vest. They don't go around hot-doggin' like the Dems.
AS: Miss Learned was quoted about the show: “When I read the play the first time, I found myself laughing out loud . . . and at the end I wept; sort of how viewers responded to your flic “Pink Cadillac” but not for the same reasons.
CE: You have to ask yourself, do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? You're beginning to get me annoyed. I had to make the tough decision between Bernadette Peters or Clyde the chimp for a leading lady.. They're my movies. I'm the supreme decider.
AS: Would you decide to make “Dead Pool” again? Okay, Okay...a little humor from me. Now, moving on: your interview with a seated President Obama, you commented: “You are an ecological man. Why would you want to drive that around.” With all due respect that comment left much of the audience scratching their heads.
CE: That wasn't the word I planned, knucklehead. I meant to say something else but spelled it wrong on my post it note. I was never a great speller. My special gift is mumbling through movies and intimidating the perps through my well rehearsed squinty eyes.
AS: Well, then to freshen up, Mr. Eastwood, I suggest you attend NCT's show, “Putnam County Spelling Bee”. Each night the show is quite different and unscripted; similar to your Convention speech. 'Putnam' is audience participation. Some nights a panelist gets the word correct; sometimes not. The actors must improvise
CE: That idea makes my day. I would be great in that – as I showed at the Convention. Hey, does Candlelight serve food with the show? I go for red meat!
AS: The UD REP Ensemble opens with an Irish play “The Weir” Taking place in a pub, it's a tale of hauntings and ghosts; a mere souffle compared to the intellectual gravitas you brought to your classic man/chimp oeuvre in “Every Which Way But Loose”, which Aisle Say suggested be renamed “Every Which Way But Good.”
(Eastwood rises out of his chair and leans down into my face.)
CE: Ever notice how sometimes you come across somebody you shouldn't have #^*#ed with?" Well, I'm that guy. Listen, you delinquent, it's time for a business man....or at least a good writer to take over your column.

Putnam County Spelling Bee – September 14 – October 28 302.475.2313
The Weir – September 27- October 14 302.831.2204
The Ongoing Tide – October 10-28 302.594.1100

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

PBS Celebrates the inimitable Cab Calloway

"Hi de hi de hi de ho!" When that clarion call pierced the air, you knew a rousing time was about to be had. Cab Calloway was a force of nature. When he appears in movies, one simply cannot take your eyes away....even with that delectable Lena Horne in the same frame.
Charisma and creativity, energy and elegance all dressed up in white on white double breasted zoot suit with looping gold chain.
Calloway led one of the most popular African American big bands during the jazz and swing eras of the Harlem Renaissance in the '30's and '40's.
PBS's “American Masters” will premiere 'Cab Calloway: Sketches' beginning Monday February 27 at 10 pm.
Mobsters owned the Cotton Club. Cab and his band were “invited” to sub for Duke Ellington when the latter was on tour, being given the infamous Mafia 'offer'. Suddenly, the young Calloway (barely 23 in early 1930) was the new star, the chic place for rich, white people to enjoy the twin thrills of slumming in Harlem and taking in the elegant, sexy revues performed by stunning and scantily clad black showgirls. He soon became the darling of journalists and of New York’s nightlife. The radio quickly caught on to the phenomenon, broadcasting his shows three times a week. The United States had discovered Cab Calloway, and he was an overnight success.
Calloway lived in a segregated world. At The Cotton Club blacks could only perform, not attend. His was one of the first bands to tour the segregationist South, suffering through the indignities of Jim Crow. He finally demanded his own Pullman car.
The song “Minnie The Moocher” with its endlessly scatted chorus of “Hi de ho”, Calloway became the first black performer to sell a million copies of a 78 rpm record. Oddly enough, the upbeat-sounding song actually tells the tale of a poor girl under the thumb of a pimp who cares more about coke than love. The lyrics, emanating from the primordial core of Calloway, perhaps are never fully absorbed.
The PBS show explores Calloway's musical beginnings and milestones in the context of the Harlem Renaissance including period footage of that era of segregation.
The Broadway composing master of them all, George Gershwin, modeled the character Sportin' Life after Calloway. In 1952 he sang that part in a production and toured for two years.
He had his own Renaissance with “The Blues Brothers” in 1980. Calloway influenced Michael and Janet Jackson, Prince, Alicia Keys but others that you might not consider: present day hip-hoppers!
The biopic includes interviews of Cab's daughters, Cecilia and Camay, one of whom lives in Hockessin and continues a presence at Cab Calloway School of The Arts.
Aisle Say suggests you see this show on PBS. Additionally, if there is one movie that captures ALL the Afro American performers of that glorious age, it's Stormy Weather (1943). The history of jazz is brought to life with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Fats Waller, Lena Horne, and in the grand finale, Cab Calloway, surrounded by celebrated tap dancers the Nicholas Brothers. Wow! While Horne's “Stormy Weather” makes every male wish he was snuggling up with her on that wet and wild night, the Nicholas Brothers dancing sequence down that staircase is extraterrestrial.
One assumes there will be a universal home work assignment at Cab on Friday the 24th!
PBS. Monday, February 27, 2012, 10:00-11:00 pm. ET; repeat. Friday, March 2, 2012, 9:00-10:00 pm. ET

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

After witnessing a number of Irish penned plays at UD REP Ensemble, Aisle Say comes to the conclusion this 'Sons of Erin' author/playwright fellowship are a most schizophrenic lot. From George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett to the more contemporary Gabriel Bryne, Brian Friel and now to 'Cripples' author Martin McDonagh, their love for their land is 'just complicated'!
“What would heaven be like? It can't be more beautiful than Ireland.” The writers love the beauty, revere the simple folk but rail at their passiveness against the ruling classes (UK), extol Catholicism in one breathe but are horrified by the oppressiveness it demands relating to one's feelings.
I am amazed and disconcerted by the lack of young people in the audience. The REP is a laboratory for students of theatre. Pretty words on a sheet are one thing. The REP actors give the written word flesh and blood and by the art and character they create, the drive those words without abandon into your soul.
So it is with “The Cripple of Inishman”.Directed at a pretty pace by J.R.Sullivan, the story takes place on a small island. Author McDonagh attacks the stereotypical portrayals of the Irish and their culture like Seinfeld goes after George Costanza. “I've seen nicer eyes on a goat!” “I'll be laying off the whiskey now and again....and at breakfast.” “Did you ever see the Virgin Mary thinkin' aloud? It didn't do her much good, now did it?”
The first reaction to this beautiful theatre is the consistency of dialects. Steve Tague – also a REP actor – has been an exquisite teacher of dialects since the groups inception.
The second reaction is the contortions that Billy (Michael Gotch), the Cripple, must put himself through to realistically portray a seriously handicapped person. His entire hand appeared to have no attending ligaments. Mammy (Carine Montbertrand) continues to astound comically. She is a latter day Imogene Coca.
Teachers, bring hither your students.
Through Feb 12. 832.2202


Speak about a kid who stepped in it. Over 60 years ago Agatha Christie's daughter birthed a boy. As a present, Agatha said, “Oh, I'll give him the rights to my new whodunit, 'The Mousetrap' Nothing will come of it.”
On this, the 60th anniversary of the world's longest running play (24,500), Mousetrap Productions has licensed 60 productions world-wide. Walnut Street is one of the few US venues. Seeing it live is the only way audiences can experience the mystery for their has never been a film adaptation.
There lurks a murderer amongst this group of strangers trapped by a snowstorm in the manor house. With each performance, audiences are pledged not to divulge the culprit.
The Walnut's production qualities continue to be excellent. The scenic design by Glen Sears gives off that musty air of the glory of a wood paneled manor house of centuries past.
Mollie Ralston (Jennie Eisenhower – yes, David and Tricia Nixon Eisenhower's daughter) is one of the most gifted triple threats in the region. She's too pretty and talented to be the murderer...but just could be.
Christopher Wren ( Eric Bryant) plays a very flamboyant boarder at the manor. His mannerisms are quite amusing and reminds one of the foppish valet character in 'The Producers.” Christopher does have motivation indeed! He is constantly being criticized for his limp wrists.
Inspector Giles Ralston (Dan Hodge) sports a terrific Cockney accent. But...sacre bleu...he cannot be culpable, he's a law enforcement officer.
'The Mousetrap' is one for the bucket list. Next up is 'Ethel', the life of Ethel Waters.
Running thru March 4. 215.574.3550

Friday, February 3, 2012

MISS SAIGON Premiere "ascends" by helicopter & ascendant voices

With great risks come even greater rewards. This has been the mantra for the last year at New Candlelight. “Miss Saigon” had never been staged by a local production company, mostly attributed to that pesky- but iconic – descending helicopter scene in Act 2. Design and engineering such a feat separates soldiers from civilians in the world of regional theatre. The show was penned by the duo of “Les Miserables” (you may have heard of it). The plot is nearly as epic; the characters equally flawed; the emotions stirred similarly heart wrenching; the music and lyrics bear resemblance in power and majesty. The duo of Sonny Leo (Director and Choreographer) and Chris Alberts (Producer and Lighting Design) have teamed once again to create transcendent musical theatre. Leads were two newcomers Kim (Dana Kreitz) and Chris (Anthony Connell). Cast aside any notions of musical comedy; this is a serious show. (Vietnam never contributed a lot of yucks). These two characters must not only have soaring voices but must sell the pain, pity and pathos and of their relationship. They are superb. Two locals that Aisle Say has seen in tens of productions give their finest performances. Engineer (Paul Goodman) who has been type cast historically as a 'nice guy', 'you can lean on my shoulder type”, sheds that golly gee image in this slimy, predatory, obsequious role. His “American Dream” was a come-to-Jesus show stopper. For Ellen (Sharon Brown Ruegsegger), the tragic but noble figure is this sorrowful triangle, Aisle Say always has admired her voice. She rose to another plateau above the clouds in this role. Thuy (Rick Fountas) was strong of voice but his cartoonish and over the top stridency of evil incarnate was way out of balance of the naturalistic portrayals of the characters around him. Staging is choreography, especially under Leo's direction. The fluidity of the fall of Saigon scene was ballet unto itself. Hours must have been spent in rehearsal to not only keep the masses flowing but to create the frenetic energy of the moment. This may have been the impetus for Leo's program book comment, “I've learned patience.” The awe-inspiring highlight of the production was the opener of Act 2, “Bui Doi”. In Vietnamese it means 'the dust of life', the brand burned into the mixed race children spawned by American soldiers and Vietnamese women; those left behind. It's a horrific appellation but an incredible song. John (Dave Snyder) along with a men's chorus, OWNS that song. If there had been live action replay, I would have been there 4 more times. In a drama this tense, there must be comic release. Peter Briccotto and Adam McLean ? (oh, I get it) were hysterical as American sex tourists. Their costumes, by Linda Reilly, were right testimony, I still have a few memorabilia in my closet from the very plaid and brightly pallet-ed '70's. Jonny Carroll (Tam) the offspring of the two weeks between Chris and Kim, was deemed 'adorable' by not one but two Elizabeth's at my table. Now, back to the helicopter. Alberts pulls it off. It descends in the chaos of evacuation. His dramatic lighting (especially the spot lights searching the audience) give a strong sense of the abject fear in the hearts of the evacuees. During that time Chris screams out, “all I made a mess”, which to those who lived through this era, is a metaphor for the US involvement in Nam. Thru March 11. 302.475.23 NCT is staging their annual fund raiser on February 11. Call the box office for details.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Time Stands Still' evocative with conflicts of war and love

“Time Stands Still' refers to photographs...mind-etching photographs exhibiting the carnage and degradation of war in a single frame. Admittedly Aisle Say is a 'let's get to the next laugh' musical theatre junkie, but this incisively writing and superbly acted production is one of the most thought provoking experiences in recent memory. Images of war...I sat there thinking about that little naked Vietnamese girl running in terror toward the photographer, the napalm exploding behind her; the Vietman general blowing the prisoner's brains out on the streets of Saigon; Ghaddafi lying bloodied and brutalized in a cold storage freezer. One might infer then, this show is a downer. By no means! Writer David Marguilies has infused and balanced the drama with Mandy, who initially comes across as a ditz, “...the lawyer is doing that pro bono, yunno. That means free!”, but at final curtain we actually see her as as the one cool clear voice of reason. Drama means conflict. There are a few going on. Sarah (Susan McKey) is a war photographer who is rehabbing back in the Brooklyn, having been injured and scarred by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Her live-in for 8 years, Jamie (Kevin Kelly) a free lance writer, was with her in the war zone but returned earlier due to PTSD. Their stateside magazine editor, middle aged and (anchored with love handles) Richard (Bruce Graham) meets them there along with his new and very May-December trophy and soon-to-be wife Mandy (Megan McDermott). Jamie has had enough of the 8 year non-commitment. He wants to be married and perhaps have a child in Brooklyn – NOT in a war zone. But even as he pours her a first drink after their long time apart, Sarah has a telling moment. Her brain freezes for a moment. She blurts out “Where are my cameras!” (Similar to one's own deadly fear when a cellphone is misplaced). Later, we understand those pieces of equipment are her raison d'etre. In his pleas to Sarah not to return, Jamie argues what all those who have considered the egregious, horrible and life altering mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan.”Do you really honestly feel you are going to change things in that country” he asks, full knowing they will go on with or without her presence. Contemporary references? My mind flashed to the very day we quitted Iraq. A mere six hours later the Shiite President Al Maliki proposed an arrest warrant for his Sunni Vice President. Stay tuned for the sectarian civil war to follow. Heading east, Karzai is laughing at his neutered American handlers, shoving billions down the tribal rabbit holes. Sarah, an award-winning photo-journalist – even suffering from wounds – finally admits she must return. Her life is not fulfilled unless she is in danger and recording it all for humanity. Even the supposedly superficial Mandy confronts her on the issue of involvement. “How can you stand by and do nothing when something horrific is happening? Why can't you just drop your damn camera and go to that person's aid rather than taking a stupid picture and doing nothing?” Sarah replies that her camera and the cameras of others are there to record life, not change it. This is a fascinating interchange. Both actresses are so very naturalistic in their interpretations that we feel in our gut their respective arguments. This production is so well balanced, so well tempered. Part of the brilliance is the surgical employments of laughter to break the tension. Thru February 5 302.494.1100

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

U of D's WVUD now at 6800 watts - a 43 year history

43 years ago the first words heard on U of D campus radio station were, “WHEN is Now....and you ain't heard nothin' yet!” Plagiarizing Al Jolson's famous line from the first 'talkie' in 1927 probably was not the subtlest of gestures that General Manager Greer Firestone on this honor bound campus, but my guest that day - UD President Arthur Trabant - remained cool and composed. Today 's WVUD 91.3 FM is a long way from the carrier current (phone lines) of that maiden year, which 'carried' on into the decade of the '70's .- 6800 watts away! Now with the capital campaign successfully completed, the swath of FM station extends past New Castle County and into the nearby environs of MD and PA. New transmitter, new antenna tower and fibre optics will do that. 1969 - that first year for me and my 'hand-picked' (read: friends from the dorm) staff. It was like one-armed Civil War Major John Wesley Powell strapped into his wooden rowboat navigating the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That took place in 1869. (See. You were asking yourself what connection the daring Major Powell had with Aisle Say and the UD radio station? His exploration was exactly 100 years apart and I assure you that our adventures were of similar derring do!) During the first year we had no clue what we were doing; but we had fun doing it. I do recall that we were bequeathed a particularly arrogant advisor, Bob Blake. Blake loved to say he had no enemies. That may have been true, but he was intensely disliked by his friends. While today VUD is a student run organization of approximately 70 volunteers, Steve Kramack, '93, is one of two paid staffers. Kramack attended A.I. Du Pont High School and as a senior, began his career at the station. “I knew what I wanted to do. The undergrads were not too keen about a high school kid hanging around. But, there I was, hanging around!” Four years of sports and morning shows, training and programming director and now the salaried Station Manager is married and with kids. In addition to the HD FM station, VUD has a second station called The Basement, entirely run by students. “A few students do join for they wish to have a career in studio, but far and away they enjoy this extracurricular as a hobby.” Every musical genre is touched in the block format instituted by Kramack. Student announcers follow the sports team. “We can see how popular the sports shows are by the online streaming. Football is off the charts and this year, with our successes, both men's and women's basketball are having a resurgence.” There are some old timers who have had their regular programs for decades. This aspect weaves a wonderful tapestry of tradition and knowledge. George Stewart has been on the air for over 40 years with two shows; SideTwo and Crazy College. Ron Smith recently celebrated the 33 1/3 year (get it?) of his blues program. VUD has been a feeder for regional radio stations, predominantly Delmarva Broadcasting WDEL, WSTW and Graffiti Radio. Company President Pete Booker was a former GM at the U of D. Says Booker, “When I was a student at UD, we had a less structured operation and we got to do pretty much what we wanted, but we tried hard to make it like “real radio”. The experience and the ability work with and eventually lead other dedicated performers gave me a real education in our business at a real young age. I started as a commercial broadcaster at age 17 and haven’t stopped! My UD Radio experience was 4 years of non-stop fun; one of the great times in my life!” Delmarva employs several grads including Robin Bryson, Sean Green, Mike Nigro and Brian Smith, among others. Their annual Radiothon is coming up. Listen online at

Friday, January 6, 2012

Mayor Baker's Five Stages of Grief

Philosophers tell us there are five stages of grief: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Jim Baker winds down his tenure as the city's first time three term mayor. His legacy may be more about his rage than the Riverfront; antagonistic disparagements rather than the transformation of The Queen; rhetorical convulsions rather than The Plan for Change that resulted in $80 million from collection of delinquent taxes and parking tickets.. . Here is Aisle Say's fictional take on the flood of emotions from a man who has built his legacy on shooting from the mouth and savaging his critics. The majority of the quotes are his and his alone. Others are representative Scene opens and is set in the 9th floor sanctum sanctorum of the City/County Building. Communications Chief John Rago and Chief of Staff Bill Montgomery are in attendance. 1.DENIAL/ISOLATION “There is NO way I am leaving office”, screams the Mayor as he leaps on his desk slamming his feet repeatedly like a petulant child. “I refuse to believe this is over. The citizens will be wandering in the desert without me. Those idiots in City Council will try to marginalize me this final year, like they did to Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. I just want to be alone. I'm not taking calls from anybody, even those Buccini twins. (The rant ceases for a moment. He arches that long left eyebrow). “Hold on a minute! I have it!. I'll stage a coup d'etat, kinda like that guy Putin. Now, there's a leader!” In a somber and tempered voice, Montgomery suggests, “They've never worked in America, Mr. Mayor. It's unconstitutional” 2.ANGER Baker: “I don't care what you say, Montgomery. Stuff it! If I say it's constitutional, it's constitutional. I'll fight the Council tooth and nail if they want. Doesn't matter to me. They want to have a war for the next year and a half? Fine. We will have it. And it will be past those 400 days when I get re-elected by citizen acclamation. I'll finish off all of them then! Anybody who opposes me, I'll simply call a fool. They'll be too intimidated to deny it!” Counseled Rago: “Not everyone you call an idiot is really an idiot, Mr Mayor. Some are my friends.” Baker: (jumping to the floor) “They're idiots if I say they are. They're nattering nabobs of negativism. (ponders). Who said that? Rago: Spiro Agnew, sir. He ended up in jail. Baker: That shouldn't have happened. And by the way, Rago, you're an idiot for saying people I know who are idiots are not idiots...and there's a whole lot of them out there, especially the ones who don't do exactly what I say!” 3.BARGAINING: Montgomery: “Mr. Mayor, assuming you want to stage this coup d'etat, the press has you painted as the Ndamukong Suh of local politics, stomping on anyone who dares a debate with you.” Baker: (pausing). Hmm. Finally a good point from you. (to Rago) Okay, Rago, you're the spinmeister in this administration. Let's start putting out some pictures with me reading to kids. Get me a couple of juvenile delinquents and get them reduced jail time to say I've been mentoring them for years behind the scenes. Get me on the board of Ronald McDonald House. Rago: “Genius, Mr. Mayor. I'll get right on it.” (Immediately gets out his I phone and googles all child-based Wilmington non-profits) 4.DEPRESSION: Baker sits back hard in his chair, wipes a tear from his eye and in a rare moment of introspection says, . “Life is not worth living. My entire self esteem is built around people I can push around, including my staff. If I can't be Mayor anymore, what will become of me? I haven't had a sale of my book in years, which, by the way, is the greatest encyclopedia on black music ever created. What's left for me?” Rago: “Well, perhaps, Mr. Mayor, you could begin teaching Dale Carnegie courses.” Baker: “There you go, being an idiot again. And a damn fool to boot!” 5.ACCEPTANCE: Baker blows in his handkerchief and throws his head back: “So, it's over. Truth is, I'm fine with it. A collective sigh of relief emanates from the lungs of Montgomery and Rago. Baker: “Ha! Had you two fools fooled for a minute. The hell I'm fine with it. Bring on City Council, bring on all those namby pamby reporters looking for a quote! A person that criticizes me is about an useful as a flea on an elephant. This is a Place To Be Somebody and that somebody is me. I'll kick any body's ass that doesn't agree.” Rago: “Yes, sir. Of course, sir”. (seen whispering in Montgomery's ear as the two leave the room. ...”I've always hated that lame slogan”).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Arden Concert Gild schedules a wide range of artists

The Arden Gild Hall is simply one of the coolest venues in the state to see a concert. Driving past the innumerable developments on Grubb or Marsh or Veale Roads into the trio of the Ardens, one experiences a sort of anti-anxiety release or blood pressure reduction. To call the diverse selection of architecture in Arden 'eclectic' is to be kind. Homes that one wonders of their viability in the next hurricane stand next to beautifully appointed marvels of design. The Gild Hall, the center of the community, seats about 300 in a very intimate and funky Bohemian-style atmosphere. This inherent quality makes it equally a hoot for the performers. On Boxing Day (December 26) a celebratory crowd was entertained magnificently by 3 locally bred musicians “The Spring Standards”. They write their own music. It's a rarity that each song of the hour and one half set was joyous and fulfilling. Aisle Say in offering a service to the readership by suggesting you brighten your day by searching them on Face Book and hearing their tunes. Arden concerts was the child of resident tye-dye wearer and caretaker, George Brocklesby. George was following in an ancient tradition at Arden. Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Burl Ives had trod the boards many decades previous. Brocklesby and Mark Taylor (who has a Roots show on U of D's WVUD) brought in Bela Fleck in 1997. Ron Ozer, a Cornell-trained chemist at the X Station, joined the Gild in 2003 and began a drive to expand the program. Early blue grass concerts evolved into World Music, Americana, the blues, jazz, classical, folk and rock; the programming as miscellaneous as the neighboring habitats. Ozer made two funding connections which aided the cause; DE Division of Arts and The Grand. The Grand shows, normally in the baby grand, have focused on World Music and Jazz. (the former being one of Ozer's predilections). “These shows”, says Ozer, “are generally harder to sell and The Grand offers a wider promotion base.” The Concert Gild is an all volunteer organization. Says Ozer, “ While we love to introduce new bands to our audience, they have an international name performing on Saturday February 18. The legendary David Johansen. Here's a guy who gives new meaning to eclecticism: The New York Dolls, Buster Poindexter, punk and New Age. Joe Trainor, who seems to be everywhere of late, is celebrating the 37th anniversary of Led Zeppelin's double album magnum opus, “Physical Graffiti”. Trainor's tribute band of superior musicians 'In The Light” will perform the album in its entirety. Ozer says the show is selling well so it is best to buy in advance. The date is January 14 and ducats are $15.00. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant state this is the pinnacle of Led Zep. The album was the first ever to go platinum before its release. It is so very impossible to get the “Kashmir” riff out of your head once implanted. Hoots and Hellmouth, who I recall have trod the boards there before, return on March 3. I have no explanation for this synapse, but each time I see their name, my mind reverts back to the late '60's group “Strawberry Alarm Clock” and their one hit wonder, “Incense and Peppermints.” Where in the world do these groups come up with their monikers? What fun! Arden's next collaborative show with the Grand is Bettye Lavette on February 3..  She did an Arden show on Saturday, April 22, 2006. Says Mark Fields, Managing Director of the Grand, “When we at The Grand decided that we needed to forge partnerships in the community to diversify our programming, the Arden Music Gild was the first group that we turned to. We had observed the Gild’s enthusiasm for all kinds of music and the members’ dedication to promoting the work of exciting artists. And, we were especially taken with Ron Ozer’s tireless promotional skills. We have established a number of other effective partnerships, but the collaboration with Arden was the one that got us started and convinced us that partnership was the way to build audiences for everyone.” If after checking out the event schedule you find that a few of the concerts interest you, a Gild membership will give you reduced prices.