October 2014 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

Marlene S. Gaylinn shares her reviews on local theatre in Connecticut and New York in the Marchedition of her newsletter, On CT & NY Theatre. This month's shows are:

INTIMATE APPAREL
Westport Country Playhouse, Wspt. CT.

In choosing “Intimate Apparel, “ a delightful play by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, Westport Country Playhouse has ended its theatre season on a high note.

Sensitively directed by Mary B. Robinson, this is a bittersweet portrait of a spinster seamstress who is struggling to survive the 1905 “melting-pot” of New York City. It’s a story that may be familiar to many of us who have had a single relative or family friend we respectfully referred to as the “Tanta” (“Auntie”).  However, despite the play’s predictability, when “Esther” steps out of this family album, the fate of this plain looking, woman who just happens to be black is absorbing and touching.   Which proves that takes a fine writer, director, and a talented cast to take a simple story and turn it into a masterpiece.

Because Esther has gained a reputation for creating women’s fine lingerie, she is able to pursue her trade by mingling with various classes of society. In order to transition smoothly from place to place, Allen Moyer has neatly created sliding cubicles that depict the living quarters of Esther, complete with Singer sewing machine and a colorful, crazy quilt. Mayme, a prostitute who plays ragtime on her piano just fits into another cubicle, and Mr. Marks, the kind-hearted, Orthodox, Jewish fabric seller has his own intimate square of living space.

Appropriately situated above these boxes is the large, luxurious bedroom of Mrs. Van Buren, a wealthy, white, society lady. Each living space has one thing in common, a dweller with a lonely heart. And so, we are examining alienated people from various classes of society from the African-American perspective.

Nikki Walker is a sensitive, yet strong survivor, Esther. Aleta Mitchell plays her authoritative boarding house mistress. Leighton Bryan is the benevolent, society lady, and the gentle Jewish merchant is Tommy Schrider. The muscle-flexing Isaiah Johnson, who has more of an Irish accent than a West Indian, is Ester’s double-crossing scoundrel. The original, ragtime music by Fitz Patton is outstanding.
       
“Intimate Apparel” may be one of the best plays of this season. 

Plays to Nov. 1 Tickets: 203-227-4177

 

OUR TOWN AT LONG WHARF
New Haven, CT

One should congratulate Gordon Edelstein for selecting Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” as the opening play of Long Wharf Theatre’s 50th season.  He should also be given an A+ for innovative thinking.  This classic work with universal appeal, ponders the cycle of life and the sobering fact that we are all bound to die. And yet, few of us are able to fully appreciate each, significant moment while we are alive.

In reflecting on this all-encompassing concept, Edelstein wove Long Wharf Theatre’s history into his production by incorporating several, former actors as well as portraits of deceased, theatre personalities into the play’s cemetery scene.  He filled the stage with a cross-section of local performers who are enrolled in its various, community-based programs, and situated “Our Town” in a thoroughly homogenized community that is more of a wishful Utopia than a fact. 

Edelstein’s vision is not a deterrent because in the end,  “… the play’s the thing” and the hope is that you will suspend belief that this is supposed to be 1901 in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire.   If you ignore the daily, horse-drawn milk wagon, the newspaper delivery boy, stay at home moms preparing full, hot breakfasts and feeding backyard chickens, and simply give your trust to the god-like narrator, you will be both touched and enriched by the work itself – as was the very receptive, opening night audience.  After all, we are used to taking the same liberties with Shakespeare  – so acceptance of such mixed-up oddities are now considered commonplace.

 And yet, for me first impressions are hard to dismiss. I was introduced to “Our Town” via a high school subscription to a series of plays.  I had to convince a girlfriend to travel with me from the Bronx to Houston St., in lower Manhattan, on a Saturday evening, and I shall never forget my chagrin when we entered this small theatre a bit earlier than the crowd.   Since the curtain was open and there was no scenery except for two workmen’s ladders set against the bare, brick, rear wall of the stage, we began to wonder if we were in the wrong place.  “Was there even going to be a play that night?” Well, I have to say that in all my years as a theatre columnist, this performance turned out to be the most unexpected, theatrical experience I ever encountered.  I don’t remember any of the other plays I saw in the series but I shall never forget this highly imaginative production of Wilder’s masterpiece as performed by this unknown theatre
group.  So there!  I guess I’m a purest.

At Long Wharf, Edelstein tenderly directs Jenny Leona and Rey Lucas as the young sweethearts Emily and George.  Don Sparks and Linda Powell play George’s parents while Christina Rounder is Mrs. Webb, and Leon Addison is her husband.  Myra Lucretia Taylor, like the clear voice of God, takes full command as our Stage Manager/Narrator.   This unique production of “Our Town” brings its own, homespun atmosphere to the stage.
Plays to Nov. 2   Tickets:  203-787-4282

2014 JR Forever Memorial Walk/5K Run

JR Forever
JR Forever

Sunday, October 5th at Pear Tree Point Beach (12:30 check-in, 1:15 start) 

This year's event includes a 5K run which will follow the Pear Tree Point loop twice around. Recipients of this year's proceeds are the Darien Junior Sailing Team to help rebuild facilities that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and JR's Ray of Hope that provides financial donations to families in Darien who are experiencing major tragedies. Register on line or through the mail. Details on www.jrschoen.org.

Genealogy Drop-In Help

Will you discover royalty in your family?
Will you discover royalty in your family?

Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon
On the Second Level

Do you want to get started on your family history? Or do you know exactly where you're getting stuck and need help. Skilled genealogist, Steve Anderson, can help! He can help you find elusive ancestors' military records, census data, birth certificates and more using Ancestry.com Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and FamilySearch. 

To find him, just come to the Second Level and ask the reference librarian for Steve! 

Steve is the president of the Middlesex Genealogical Society

Donate Blood and Your Library Overdue Fines are Waived

One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Source
One donation can help save the lives of up to three people. Source

Wednesday, August 27th

From 1:00 p.m. until the last appointment at 6:15 p.m.

Darien Library will be hosting the American Red Cross for a blood drive in August. Registration that day will be in the Community Room then donations will occur in the Red Cross' specially equipped bus in the parking lot. Visit the Red Cross' website to schedule an appointment. 

Blood donors and those who attempt to donate are eligible to have their overdue fines waived (does not apply to bills or replacement charges). 

Facts about blood donation from the Red Cross

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
  • Roughly 1 pint of blood is given during a donation.

Source

Bunny by the Darien Library Garden

A few weeks ago, the Library planted its first vegetable garden. Since then we've spotted a new friend who is *very* interested in our little garden plot...

June 2014 Local Theatre Shows

Marlene S. Gaylinn
Marlene S. Gaylinn

Marlene S. Gaylinn shares her reviews on local theatre in Connecticut and New York in the Marchedition of her newsletter, On CT & NY Theatre. This month's shows are:

Read Gaylinn's reviews.

  • "American Ballet Theater" at Metropolitan Opera House. Plays till June 28th
  • "Mary Poppins" at Westchester B'way Theatre. Plays till July 27th
  • "Sing for your Shakespeare" at Westport Country Playhouse. Plays till June 28th.

A Bonus review:

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA

The sky was clear, the stars were bright, and it was a perfect opening night for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” at Norwalk’s Pinkney Park.  This seldom-performed comedy, said to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest works is mainly about love and loyalty.  The plot is a bit convoluted so it would be wise to read the Program’s Synopsis before the show begins.

In short, two close buddies from Verona, “Proteus” (Ben Chase) and “Valentine” (Nicholas Urda) are coming of age and thinking about their future.  Proteus is sure that he’s in love with “Julia” (Medina Senchore) and is busy writing her love letters while his comic servant, “Speed,” (Matthew Dalton Lynch), cautions him about the nature of love.  Meanwhile, Valentine bid Proteus farewell and is off to Milan in his quest for new adventures.  Along the way, Valentine falls in love with Sylvia (Katie Wieland).  As luck would have it, Proteus is sent to Milan, and while there, he falls in love with Sylvia too.  If you find your way through the forest of love and loyalty, there are enough conflicts between the two men, the two women, the fathers, and even the servants to form a Gordian knot. And, like all fairytales everything neatly untangles in the end.

The clever stage set, by Brian Prather, features two, giant, volumes of Shakespeare.  One of the books lies flat and acts like a platform while its pages are used as steps.  The upright, volume, opened to the play, “The Two Gentlemen of Varona” serves as a backdrop.  The actors, clad in rich and colorful costumes by Grier Coleman, carry cardboard signs, pieces of architecture, trees and other props giving the overall impression of a child’s pop-up book.  The mood lighting by Harrick Goldman and sound design by Shannon Slaton is perfect. Every word can easily be heard.

Director Claire Shannon Kelly should be congratulated for seizing every opportunity to make this obscure comedy come alive.  The use of recorded, classical music is particularly effective.  As one member of our party declared, the lively interludes reminded her of the “Bugs Bunny” cartoons she loved as a child.  It’s very hard to single out any of the leading cast members. Nicholas Urda, Ben Chase, Medina Senghore and Katie Wieland are right in character and give outstanding performances. The hard-working supporting cast and crew deserve extra applause too. 

Tune your eyes and ears to Matthew Dalton Lynch’s interpretation of the clownish “Speed.”  We loved his rubber-limbed antics and major speech illustrating how love is blind.  The long pause, just before the word, “blind,” is sure to invite audience response while the popular phrase sinks in.

Another amusing highlight is “Launce”(Tom Pecinka) the servant to Proteus, who is accompanied by his dog, “Crab.” Crab is really Oliver, a 65-pound, adorable dog  (look for his trainer who sits in the front wearing a white cap).  The love for a pet is sweetly portrayed when Pecinka laments over the trouble his dog is always causing.  However, his love for Crab is so strong that the clown is willing to take full blame for wherever his dog makes a deposit. Oliver looks up with innocent expressions and plays his part well too.

Bring the whole family, come early and picnic in the park.  Blanket and low chairs have separate areas.  Flashlights and jackets come in handy. Bugs are not very annoying.

Plays to June 29 – Oudoors @ 7:30 pm.  Street Parking. Free/Donation requested.

Play: Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well & Living In Paris

The poster
The poster

May 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th at 8 p.m.
May 4th at 2 p.m.

Darien Arts Center, 2 Renshaw Road in Darien

The famous French singer-songwriter Jacques Brel would have been 85 years old this month. To celebrate his life and talent, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, a show described as a cabaret style revue, will be performed for two weekends in the DAC Weatherstone Studio in May. 

Each song is a story unto itself and woven together to shape the fabric of the human experience and a full range of emotions. Some songs will make you laugh; some will make you cry and all will make you think. The Belgian born, French resident, Jacques Brel, wrote the original music and lyrics and they were translated and adapted for English speaking audiences by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman. It is being presented with special permission by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

Learn more and purchase tickets

Darien Collectors' Car Show

This 1961 356 Porsche Roadster will be in the 2014 Darien Collectors’ Car Show. The car  won the “People's Choice” award at the first show seven years ago. (c)AutoPhotos 2012, Ed Hyman
This 1961 356 Porsche Roadster will be in the 2014 Darien Collectors’ Car Show. The car won the “People's Choice” award at the first show seven years ago. (c)AutoPhotos 2012, Ed Hyman

The 9th Annual Darien Collector’s Car Show will be held at Tilley Pond Park at the corner of Lakeside and West Avenues in Darien, CT, on Father’s Day, June 15th, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Over 120 premium vintage and modern, high-performance cars will be on display. All ages welcome for this fun Father’s Day event. Admission is $5.00. Children under 6 are free. The Darien Lion’s Club will be selling hot dogs and hamburgers. Free parking available in the commuter parking lots. The rain date is June 22nd. More information at: dariencollectorscarshow.com and tel: 203-912-8720. All net proceeds will benefit At Home in Darien, a nonprofit 501(c)3, which helps Darien seniors remain in their homes and community as they age.

Show sponsors are: Darien BMW, Collectors Car Garage in Bedford Hills, GPNY in Mt Kisco and Automotive Restorations Inc. in Stratford.

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