The Little Prince Set for the Garfield this Weekend by Lanny Parks


In 1943, Antoine de Saint Exupery published his novella entitled The Little Prince. It’s length – or lack thereof – and the age of its central character pushed it into the realm of ‘children’s literature’, although the subject matter is certainly more serious than was usually considered age-appropriate for children. Loneliness, love, loss, despair, and death are wrapped in a fable about a downed pilot and a mysterious little boy in the middle of the Sahara desert. It has become one of the most translated books in publishing history, and has been adapted for stage, screen, ballet, opera, television, radio, and recordings. On Friday it opens at The Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theater in Chestertown for two weekends only.

This timeless fable is played out in front of a stage set that is every bit as original as the story itself. Bryan Betley, the newly named Theater Manager of the Garfield, has created a stunning backdrop for his mostly youthful cast, emphasizing the story’s narrative that living in reality pales in comparison to life in the world of the imagination.

The cast features Paul Camberdella, no stranger to the Garfield stage, as the pilot, and Alden Swanson, a novice, as the title character. They are each more than capable of carrying their roles; it is Camberdella’s strongest performance to date, and young Miss Swanson shows a real affinity for the stage. Backed up by a cast that includes seven veterans of the summer Playmakers camp, some familiar more adult actors, as well as a few newcomers, the play makes the book come alive as the author intended.

Despite much directorial imploring and harping during rehearsals, young performers sometimes have difficulty remembering to project their voices and slow their speeches, so be advised that your seat should reflect your ability to hear. However, you should certainly put yourself in the audience for The Little Prince.

Performances are February 16-18 and 23-25. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 senior and military, and $10 for students of all ages. To purchase tickets please visit or call the box office at 410-810-2060. The Garfield Center for the Arts is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Biloxi Blues: A Boot Camp Hoot!


Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey (John Haas, left) addresses his boot camp squad in Church Hill Theatre’s “Biloxi Blues” –  Top Bunk – Robbie Spray & James Rank; Middle bunk – Timothy Daly & Troy Strootman,  Bottom Bunk – Anthony Daly & Morgan Jung.  Photo by Steve Atkinson

Biloxi Blues, by Neil Simon, is a semi-autobiographical play about young soldiers undergoing basic training during World War II. Directed by Michael Whitehill, it is currently playing at Church Hill Theatre.

Set almost entirely in an Army training camp near Biloxi, Mississippi, the play focuses on six soldiers in one platoon and their hard-nosed drill sergeant. Like other comedies with a military setting, it gains much of its humor by contrasting the raw recruits — a motley crew with different backgrounds and personalities — with the Army’s demand for discipline and adherence to an apparently irrational set of rules.

Originally produced at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in 1985, Biloxi Blues ran for 524 performances. It is the middle piece in Simon’s “Eugene trilogy,” featuring a young Brooklyn Jew whose experiences roughly follow Simon’s own early life. The other two segments are Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway BoundBiloxi Blues won Tony awards for best play, best actor (Barry Miller as Arnold Epstein) and best director (Gene Saks); Miller also won a Drama Desk award. Others in the original production were Matthew Broderick as Eugene, Simon’s self-portrait character, and William Sadler as drill sergeant Toomey. 

A 1988 film adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols, brought back Broderick as Eugene and featured Christopher Walken in the role of Sgt. Toomey.

On the train to boot camp in Biloxi! Photo by Steve Atkinson

While there is a great deal of broad, often profane comedy, the play also has at its core a serious story about growing up and learning about the world. The narrator, Eugene, has ambitions of being a writer, and he keeps a journal in which he writes his impressions of his fellow recruits and their experiences. Right at the beginning, Eugene says that he has four goals for the near future – to fall in love, to lose his virginity, (not necessarily in that order), to become a writer and to make it out of the army alive.  Like much comedy, the play draws its materials from events that may seem far from amusing to those caught up in them, but that with time and experience become funny even to those involved.

Recruits Arnold Epstein, Don Carney, and Eugene Jerome are berated by Sgt. Toomey.     Photo by Jane Jewell

At the center of the play is Arnold Epstein, a gentle misfit who draws the wrath of Sgt. Toomey almost from the minute he arrives in camp. Even though he considers Arnold his closest friend in the army, Eugene can do little more than watch as Epstein is assigned endless KP and latrine duty as a result of his failure to meet the sergeant’s standards. Epstein, for his part, continues to assert his humanity, even as other recruits mock him (and Eugene) for being Jewish.

The plot, on the whole, is episodic. We see the recruits’ first reactions to the demands of Army life and learn their backgrounds and quirks. We follow them through confrontations — one soldier in particular, Wykowski, is especially scornful of the two Jews in the squad — though that attitude softens somewhat throughout the play as the six recruits go from being strangers to being a unit, soldiers together.  We see the six going to visit a prostitute for their first sexual experience. Eventually, all of them — even the sergeant, who has a plate in his head where he was wounded in battle — gain a degree of humanity and sympathy by the end of the play.

Whitehill has assembled a cast dominated by young actors —  — just right, given the age of the characters they are portraying. He said after the opening night performance that the youngest cast member is only 13 while the oldest is in his early 40s,  most are in their teens or early twenties. Almost all have some previous theatrical experience, though this is the Church Hill debut for several of them. While there were a few first-night glitches, the performance was, on the whole, up to the high standards local audiences have come to expect.  Be sure to read the Director’s Notes in the Play Bill as he gives some interesting information on the production and using memoir as a narrative technique.

Whitehill also noted that he broke in the young cast by having them do push-ups as punishment for arriving late to rehearsals — 15 push-ups for each minute late! It was all good-natured, Whitehill said, with the young actors often running in just on time, pointing at their watches and shouting “I’m here! I’m here!” Not only did it improve promptness, it got the recruits in shape to perform push-ups at the sergeant’s command during the show! 

Troy Strootman, who has appeared at the Garfield Center and with Shore Shakespeare, makes his CHT debut as Eugene. He effectively strikes the balance between the character’s youthful naivete and his innate intelligence and insight into his fellow recruits — this is, after all, someone who is going to grow up to become Neil Simon. A good job in an important part.

Robert Spray takes the role of Arnold Epstein, in many ways the focus of the play’s main drama. He brings out the awkward recruit’s genuine distaste for the dehumanizing aspects of military training, and makes his confrontations with the sergeant appropriately comic.

John Haas, a CHT veteran, is well cast as Sgt. Toomey, who turns out to be a more complex and sympathetic character than the stereotypical drill sergeant he appears to be when the soldiers arrive at boot camp. Haas is convincing as the hard-nosed drillmaster, but when the opportunity arises for the character to demonstrate genuine concern for his men, he makes the switch believable – not an easy thing to do!

Daisy and Eugene dance at the USO. (Kendall Davis & Troy Strootman with Carney (Morgan Jung) and hostess Scarlett Chappell dancing in background)    Photo by Jane Jewell

Daisy Hannigan, Eugene’s love interest, is played by Kendall Davis, a 2o16 Washington College graduate who is appearing in her fourth CHT production. She convincingly projects the sweetness and innocence of the Catholic school girl who meets the soldier at a USO dance, winning him over with her knowledge of the literary world he aches to become part of. A very warm performance, given an extra dimension by Davis’s dancing.

Brothers Anthony and Timothy Daly play Roy Seldridge and Joseph Wykowsky, two of the recruits in the squad. The sons of Jeff Daly, who has many CHT credits in his own right, they give solid performances. Timothy’s character, at first a somewhat dim-witted anti-Semite, comes to recognize that he is part of a team, and all the members need to work together if they are to survive the coming ordeal of wartime. Anthony’s character thinks of himself as the comedian of the bunch, though he’s not as witty as he thinks.

Morgan Jung and Jeffrey Rank fill out the boot camp squad with portrayals of Don Carney and James Hennessy. Carney sings — off key! — in his sleep, to the annoyance of his bunk mates. and Hennesey, who is the oldest recruit and who claims to be part African-American, comes across as slightly more attuned to Army life.  Good jobs by both.

The boys are initiated in the mysteries of sex by the local prostitute Rowena , played by Christine Kinlock. Biloxi Blues Photo by Jane Jewell

Christine Kinlock, who has become a regular in the local theater scene, has a meaty if brief part as Rowena, a prostitute. Again, the character, who might have been a stereotype, turns out to have depths that Kinlock nicely brings out.

Scarlett Chapell appears as another USO hostess, dancing with the soldiers. The character is not in the original script, but Chapell, who is in her first show at CHT, makes good use of the opportunity to create a character without speaking a word.  Beautiful dancing in a shadowed background.

Given that the majority of the cast is in uniform for the entire length of the play, the only real chance for costuming flash is in the three women’s outfits — which nicely distinguish the three characters.  Both USO girls are wearing distinctive 1940s dress styles. Note that the recruits are all wearing realistic, WWII “dogtags” around their necks.

The sets are quite effective, creating a believable 1940s army camp and surrounding scenes. The main set is a surprisingly realistic two-sided unit with the soldier’s three-tiered bunks on one side and a latrine on the other. The set not only swings around to give two different scenes, it rolls offstage when a less specific scene is needed — for example the open floor of the USO dance.  A side portion of the stage is used for a train car, Toomey’s office, and Rowena’s bedroom. While not as spectacular as some of CHT’s past sets, it does an excellent job of creating the atmosphere of the time and place. Kudos to Whitehill and Brian Draper, who designed and built it.

Not surprisingly, given its subject and setting, Biloxi Blues has its share of adult situations and language — and a good number of the characters share the prejudices of the time and express them in the language of the era. Parents might think twice about bringing very young children to the production. But adult audiences, or even teens, will appreciate the larger message of the play — how growing up involves surviving harsh experiences and making something bigger than any one individual’s feelings or abilities. And there is plenty to laugh about, along the way.

Biloxi Blues runs through Feb. 4, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. The audience was packed on opening night and there were also  sizable crowds for the Saturday evening and Sunday matinee of the opening week.  For reservations, call the theater at 410-556-6003 or visit the theater website.

Photo Credits: Steve Atkinson and Jane Jewell

Biloxi Blues second side of reversible, rolling set.         Photo credit: Jane Jewell

At the USO dance.         Photo by Jane Jewell

Biloxi Blues – curtain call on opening night. Photo by Jane Jewell
















































The Recipients of the 2017 KENNY AWARD for Commitment to the Arts in Kent County: Diane & Jim Landskroener


Last December, Kent County residents and visitors alike were treated to a delightful stage production of the classic Christmas movie “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center for the Arts.  We’ve lost count but we are pretty sure that this is the 1 millionth production that has been produced, directed, or had a cast led by either Jim or Diane Landskroener in the last 40 years. 

All kidding aside, the Landskroeners have been a staple on Kent (and Queen Anne’s) County stages since 1980’s.  Together they have asked some of the most important of life’s questions, such as “who’s on first?” “why is nobody listening?” “to be or not to be?” and even “Is Santa Claus real?”!  Jim and Diane, with colleagues like Vince & Leslie Raimond and Kate Bennett, Kate Schroeder, Vincent Hynson and countless others, have created one of the best, most welcoming environments for theater artists anywhere.  And it doesn’t stop there, they are educators, designers, administrators, and more. 

Together they have co-hosted the annual Dancing with the Stars Event to benefit Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s County.  For years Jim has MC’d the wildly popular Chestertown Tea Party Raft Race.  He has been an educator at The Kent School for 30 years, and directs their annual spring musical every year.  He’s also entering the final year of a two term commitment as the Chair of the Board of the Garfield Center for the Arts.  Diane spent 20 years as a graphic designer at Washington College now freelances and donates her time and talent to many nonprofit organizations and her thoughtful and inspired design work can be seen in organizations all over Kent County and across the internet. Having most recently played the creepy Dr. Sawyer in Miracle on 34th Street, she’s also recently directed “Love, Loss and What I Wore” at the Garfield.

Created in 2006, the Kenny Award honors Kent (hence Kenny, like the “Annie” in Anne Arundel County, and the “Howie” in Howard County) County residents who have gone above and beyond in their giving to talent, energy, and resources to increase the quality of life in our County.

We are honored to announce their selection as the 2017 Kenny Award Winner.

The award will be presented on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Garfield Center for the Arts.  All are invited to come an applaud the honorees.  The event is free, but reservations are required.  Please call the Kent County Arts Council at 410-778-3700 to reserve your seats (or email  There will be a light dessert reception following the program.

The Hedgelawn Foundation provides competitive grants to support humanities and arts organizations on Delmarva, and research initiatives in Venice, Italy.  The Foundation’s Board is chaired by Judy Kohl.

The Kent County Arts Council seeks to invest in, infuse, inspire the arts in Kent County Maryland. KCAC provides competitive grant awards for nonprofit arts organizations as well as Project grants for artists and community organizations producing arts programming.

Natalie Diaz to Read at the Rose O’Neill Literary House


The Rose O’Neill Literary House kicks off this semester’s literary event series with a reading by acclaimed poet Natalie Diaz. The event will be held on Thursday, February 1 at 4:30 p.m., at the Rose O’Neill Literary House. It is free and open to the public.

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2012.

Diaz’s work has also appeared in Narrative Magazine, Gwarlingo, The Rumpus, and Ploughshares. Her poetry has garnered the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Narrative Poetry Prize, the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, a United States Artists Ford Fellowship, a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. Her poems, folding Spanish and Mojave into American English, yield an urgent and important new voice to the canon of contemporary Native American poetry, finding a place among the work of Leslie Marmon Silko and Joy Harjo.

For more information on this and other events, view our annual Literary Events Calendar brochure here: For more information on the Literary House, visit

Biloxi Blues Opens at Church Hill Theatre on January 19


Nothing chases away the winter doldrums like the heat and hilarity of Biloxi Blues, one of Neil Simon’s funniest comedies.  Based on Simon’s own memories of boot camp in Mississippi during World War II, the play finds humor in the coming of age experiences of young draftees way outside their comfort zones. As members of the Greatest Generation rapidly leave us, it’s good to remember that our fathers and grandfathers probably were once just as rowdy, randy and rambunctious as the guys Simon served with. Michael Whitehill, who directed last season’s most serious drama (Doubt), shows he’s equally adept with the fast paced verbal exchanges and physical humor that make Biloxi Blues so much fun. His cast has obviously enjoyed the chance to inhabit Simon’s memorable characters.

Clockwise from top right: James Rank, Troy Strootman, Morgan Jung, Anthony Daly, Timothy Daly, Robert Spray. Photo by Steve Atkinson.

While our forebears of course never cursed, these soldiers do! They also engage in activities not included in letters home to their mothers. Older teens might learn some useful lessons about the transition to adulthood but this show is not recommended for elementary and middle school students.

John Haas, often a “good guy” in CHT plays, takes on the role of Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey, the drill instructor who finds sadistic pleasure in breaking young men to mold them into his kind of soldier. Troy Strootman plays Eugene Morris Jerome, a bookish youth based loosely on Simon himself. Robbie Spray, last seen at CHT as the murderous Leonard Vole in Witness for the Prosecution, portrays Arnold Epstein, a draftee who is Toomey’s mentally tough nemesis.  The other soldiers in the barracks are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey.  Since soldiers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about women, Biloxi Blues gives us a couple of archetypes. Kendell Irene Davis plays Daisy Hannigan, the sweet young woman every soldier dreams of coming home to and Christine Kinlock plays Rowena, a woman with no last name but quite a past.  Interestingly, both actresses played opposite types in the recent production of Witness for the Prosecution.  The cast is rounded out with Scarlett Chappell, playing a Junior Hostess at a USO dance.

Eugene Jerome (Troy Strootman) enjoys a high-spirited dance with the beautiful Daisy Hannigan (Kendell Irene Davis). Photo by Steve Atkinson.

Michael Whitehill has assembled an experienced and creative production team for Biloxi Blues.  Sylvia Maloney pulls together the before-the-show-opens details as Producer and Steve Atkinson wrangles the behind-the-scenes details as Stage Manager. Working with Designer Brian Draper, Whitehill designed and constructed the set. Once again, Douglas Kaufmann, the master of the light booth, put together the lighting plot. Laura Crabtree, Katie Sardo, Wendy Sardo, and Janice Selby complete the back stage team.

Biloxi Blues will open at Church Hill Theatre on January 19, 2018, and run through February 4, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. CHT offers 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, January 19, to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at

Until I Am By James Dissette


James Dissette is the founder of monthly community newspapers in Oregon, Michigan and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He is the 1971 winner of the Sophie Kerr Award for Creative Writing, and most recently published Fierce Blessings, a collection of poems in 2008. He is a partner at Chester River Press and recently designed their current publication, Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as translated by Alexander Pope and is currently working on his book, A Hungry Moon. He is a contributing editor for the Chestertown Spy and Talbot Spy

Cellist Natasha Farny Returns to Chestertown for the National Music Festival’s Resonance Series


Natasha Farny

The beautiful sounds of Natasha Farny’s cello will fill the parish hall of historic Saint Paul’s Church on the afternoon of Sunday, January 14.  The concert, at 3 p.m., is the latest offering of the National Music Festival’s Resonance concert series, which runs from October to April. This is one of the Resonance “Fireside Concerts,” where you can warm yourself by the fire as you listen to great music, and there will be refreshments at intermission.

Farny has been the Cello Mentor at the National Music Festival for the last few seasons. Although she is unable to return to the Festival in 2018 we are pleased to welcome her back to Chestertown for her Resonance performance with pianist Anne Kissel. Farny is Associate Professor of Cello at the School of Music at SUNY Fredonia. She has appeared with the Boston Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and many other orchestras. Local music fans may remember her remarkable performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto at the 2017 National Music Festival.

Farny and Kissel will perform music by Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and others.

After January 14, the Resonance season will continue with concerts every month from February through April, culminating in a performance by the acclaimed Jasper String Quartet (former mentors at the National Music Festival) on April 14, 2018. The next concert will be the Cornelius Wind Trio (featuring NMF Oboe Mentor Jared Hauser) at St. Paul’s on Sunday, February 18.

It’s not too late to purchase an Annual Pass, which gives the bearer access to all Resonance concerts (there are four remaining this season) and the 2018 National Music Festival. At $300, the Annual Pass is the best value for the greatest amount of music! Passes are transferable; if you can’t make it to a concert, loan your Passes to family or friends. Want to attend the 2018 National Music Festival, but can’t make it to all of the remaining Resonance concerts? You can buy single tickets for each Resonance concert for $20 and a Festival Pass for $250 (includes access to all ticketed events during the 2018 National Music Festival, a souvenir Festival Guide, and invitation to a Pass-Holders only reception).

Saint Paul’s is at 7579 Sandy Bottom Road in Chestertown, off Route 20 between Chestertown and Rock Hall.  Single tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door; children and students are $5 at the door. For ticket information, go to the Resonance website. .

RiverArts Workshops for 2018


Chestertown Riverarts invites you to step into 2018 with one of these exciting workshops from the ArtsAlive! Education Center.


Bright River by Mary Pritchard

Intro to Pastels

Three days: January 10, 11, 12

9 a.m; – 4 p.m.

Instructor: Mary Pritchard

This classroom-based workshop is for beginners and others who want to explore this flexible and forgiving medium. Students will be introduced to a variety of pastels, painting surfaces and pastel techniques as well as work from still life set ups and photographs.

 More Info and to Register.


Video Editing Techniques and Strategies

Adele Schmidt

Wednesday, January 17

9:00am – 3:00pm

Instructor: Adele Schmidt

Did you always want to know how to edit your video in a way that it flows seamlessly and with progression? In this course, you will learn techniques and strategies to take control over the edit of your video, creating smooth and coherent cuts.

More Info and to Register. 


Websites for Artists and Arts-Based Businesses

Sunday, January 21

10:00am – 4:00pm

Instructor: Raven Bishop

Designed for the beginner (no coding skills necessary!) this class will cover the basics of design-selecting colors, fonts, layouts and branding as well as tools to help drive traffic to your site-including ways to get noticed on search engines and on social media.  

More Info and to Register

Classes and Workshops are Great Gift Ideas!!



Special Trumpet and Organ Concert Jan. 12 at Emmanuel Church


Join us for a special Trumpet and Organ Concert at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, January 12, 2018! Renowned musicians Paul Neebe, Benjamin Lostocco, and Timothy Robson will join forces to present an evening of wonderful music with all proceeds going to support the Emmanuel-sponsored lunch program held each June for the National Music Festival students, mentors, and Washington College student workers. Tickets are $20 at the door for adults, $5 for students with ID.

Trumpeter Paul Neebe returns to Emmanuel for his second Benefit Concert to support our lunch program and to Chestertown where he has served as a trumpet mentor for several years as part of the National Music Festival. Paul has performed as a soloist for the Goethe Institute Cultural Program in Rothenburg, Germany and across the Eastern United States, Bavaria, Norway, Portugal and Slovakia.  He currently serves, as principal trumpet of the Sarasota Opera, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and Wintergreen Festival Orchestra in addition to his solo engagements. He has taught at the University of Virginia, James Madison University, Elon University and the Summer University in Bayreuth, Germany.  Paul holds both the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from The Juilliard School, as well as a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the Catholic University of America.

Ben Lostocco is a freelance trumpet player and teacher based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. He regularly performs in a variety of settings and styles, including orchestral, chamber, jazz, theater, church, and solo. Groups include Symphony of the Potomac, the Tryos Ensemble and National Christian Choir, plus a feature with Jazz One in “A Tribute to Miles Davis” at An Die Musik in Baltimore. Originally from Newington, CT, Ben received his first musical training at the Hartt School of Music Community Division.  He graduated from the University of Maryland with a B.M. in trumpet performance in May 2017, where he was a member of the symphony orchestra, wind orchestra, jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, repertoire orchestra, and several chamber groups. He  attended National Music Festival in 2016, and 2017, and played prelude and postude pieces at Emmanuel at the conclusion of the 2017 NMF.

Organist Tim Robson is well known at Emmanuel as both a substitute organist and an occasional visitor. He was Director of Music at Euclid Avenue Congregational Church in Cleveland for 27 years. Since then he has become an in-demand substitute organist in many churches in northeast Ohio. During the 2017/18 program year, he is serving as the Interim Director of Music at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights. In recent years he has been a regular assisting organist at Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland. He has performed many recitals in the area, most recently at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights. He has made a specialty of performing music from our time and has played world premieres of several works written especially for him. Tim is the current Dean of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  He holds degrees in music and library science from Drake University. Tim recently retired from Case Western Reserve University where he was a librarian and administrator for almost 37 years. His final position was that of Associate Director for Academic Engagement Services in the Kelvin Smith Library.