Welcome to Delaware Today’s arts blog, the spot to dish on the many cultural opportunities available to Delaware audiences. We’ll cover as many genres as possible, and note cool events offered by organizations large and small, in all three counties.
The news: UD’s professional and fabulous Resident Ensemble Players (mostly known as REP) opens this weekend with “I Am My Own Wife,” the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play by Doug Wright. I will see it this weekend and be back next week with a review. In the meantime …
If you ever talk to me about a community theater show, please don’t use the word “amateur.” It irritates me. It implies ineptness. I’m not comparing professional to community theater here. I’m simply saying that “amateur” suggests that people who don’t get paid to perform are somehow less than, as if they’re not worth supporting. And that’s just not the case.
Few talented theater folk actually make a living by performing. Lots of them would rather perform in a community show than not perform at all. Some of these characters are honing serious chops, preparing for the invitation to join Equity, the union for legitimate (professional) stage personnel.
When you support a community theater production, you support a community. You pay a nominal fee, and you usually leave happy. You may even have cash left over for dinner.
Hail the Wilmington Drama League and the Chapel Street Players. Both are celebrating 75 years in showbiz.
“Dame Edna” opened the Chapel Street Players season last week, with final shows on September 18-19. The real Dame Edna Everage, described on her Website as “the most popular and gifted woman in the world today: housewife, investigative journalist, social anthropologist, talk show host, swami, children’s book illustrator, spin doctor, Megastar, and Icon.” The character, created by Australian comedian Barry Humphries, has won worldwide raves.
Our guy, er, girl, er, guy who plays a girl, Newark’s Scott Mason, has won raves, too. While he impersonates the Humphries character, he writes and localizes his own material. And he looks pretty darn close to the real Dame. An aside: Mason was a featured “hot single” in Delaware Today a few years back.
The Wilmington Drama League starts its 75th season with the ambitious Mel Brooks musical, “The Producers,” set to run thru September 27. If you saw the 1968 Mel Brooks movie of the same name, you know the plot: A washed-up Broadway producer named Max Bialystock and a nerdy accountant called Leo Bloom conjure up a get-rich-quick scheme by charming rich, older women into investing in an intentionally horrible stage show. But the show is a surprise hit, and Bloom and Bialystock are left holding the bag.
Mel Brooks is an equal opportunity offender. If there’s a place to insert a stereotypical joke, he finds it. There are skating Nazis and elderly dancing women with walkers. The song and dance number “Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden,” needs no explanation. And yes, dancers wear swastika armbands.
Brooks’ musical comedy broke Broadway records in 2001, winning 12 Tony Awards. I was fortunate to see the original Broadway production, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The chemistry between them made the silliness work, and the improbable plot slightly probable.
The buzz is that WDL’s leads, David Willis (Max) and Brendan Sheehan (Leo) work that chemistry. But a show of this magnitude is only as good as its director, so kudos to Nick D’Argenio. The talented musical director Steven Weatherman and choreographer Darrin Peters assist D’Argenio in offering a polished production.
If you don’t want your kids to see a show involving sexual situations and naughty words, hire a babysitter. But let’s be real. Compared to what kids are texting and seeing on cable, “The Producers” is pretty tame. That being said, there’s crude language and adult humor. Kids under the age of 12 won’t get it, and probably won’t sit still for the two-plus hour show anyway.
Contact info-WDL: 764-1172 or wilmingtondramaleague.org
Contact info CSP: 368-2248 or chapelstreetplayers.org