Plein Air Easton: East Meets West with Master Jove Wang

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Given the abundance of local and regional participants in Plein Air Easton, it’s something hard to remember that the Plein Air movement is an international one. And someone who makes that undeniably clear is the presence of one of China’s most celebrated artists, master Jove Wang, on Goldsbrough Street the other day.

Professor, author, and award-winning Plein Air painter, Wang has devoted over thirty years to move his work beyond the technically proficient into a world more associated with the extension of his soul.

In fact, Jove feels that the best metaphor for his work is that of a symphony conductor that delicately alters the impressions of light and color on canvas similar to someone leading an orchestra to bring out the very best performance.

As the invitation of Betty Huang, artist and owner of Studio B in Easton, Jove Wang makes his first appearance at Plein Air Easton with a live demonstration at the Avalon Theater on Friday starting at 9 am followed by a reception at Studio B (where is work is exhibited) on Saturday.

The Spy talked to Jove with the help of Betty’s translation skills to understand his three decade approach to his art and life.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information and events like this with Plein Art Easton 2019 please go here.

Chestertown Music in the Park: “Music from Musicals” Concert to be Held in Sumner Hall, Sat. July 20

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Tred Avon players in 2018 in the cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” Top Row: Ricky Vitanovec, Rachel Elaina, Beth Anne Langrell, Erinne Lewis, Bill Gross, Mike Sousa, Shelby Swann – Middle Row: Ed Langrell  – Bottom Row: Kathy Jones, Sarah Anthony, Matthew Keeler. 

The Tred Avon Players will present an evening of music from Broadway musicals at Chestertown’s next Music in the Park concert. Directed by Marcia Gilliam, this talented group of local singers and actors will bring the magic of Broadway to the stage in Sumner Hall this Saturday, July 20.  The music begins at 7:00 pm and will last approximately 90 minutes. Admission is free and open to the public.

The concert will be indoors due to the extreme heat expected this weekend – in the 90s on Saturday evening with “feels-like” temperatures of over 100. Sumner Hall will be air-conditioned. There is also a lovely little museum there that visitors can enjoy before the concert or during the intermission.  Sumner Hall is located at 206 S. Queen St. in downtown Chestertown.

The concert will feature songs from famous composers such as Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, Cole Porter, and Stephen Sondheim.  There will also be tunes from more contemporary composers such as Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), and Stephen Schwartz (Wicked).

There will be solos, duets, and trios along with full ensemble numbers. Among the musicals included are It Shoulda Been You, Once Upon This Island, Tick Tick Boom, The Apple Tree, Waitress, A Little Night Music, and Little Shop of Horrors.

Accompanying the singers will be noted pianist Ellen Grunden. Chorus members include Marcia Gilliam, Kathy Jones, Beth Anne Langrell, Ed Langrell, Shelby Swann, and Mike Sousa.

If you’ve enjoyed the classic Broadway musicals as performed at the Church Hill Theatre or in Oxford by the Tred Avon Players, then don’t miss this chance to walk down Broadway again! There will be old favorites as well as some new songs from shows currently on Broadway. And of course, some to sing along with! Please join us at 7:00 pm on Saturday, July 20, at Sumner Hall.

Sumner Hall is located at 206 South Queen St. in Chestertown. It has wheelchair access and an elevator. Seating capacity is limited to 75, so you might want to arrive a little early in order to be sure of getting a seat.

Marcia Gilliam, director and member of Tred Avon Players

Built around 1908, Sumner Hall is one of only two remaining Grand Army of the Republic lodges built by and for African-American soldiers who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. Sumner Hall has been completely restored and modernized and currently serves as a small museum and community center with a full calendar of events, including other concerts. According to their website at http://garpost25.org/, Sumner Hall’s mission is “to preserve Sumner Hall as a place of remembrance, to promote an understanding of the African American experience within the context of American history and culture, to honor the contributions of African American veterans, to promote the pursuit of liberty for all, and to advocate for social justice.”

Music in the Park is a free summer concert series sponsored by the Town of Chestertown with support from The Kent County Arts Council & Community Contributors. To help make these programs possible, please send donations payable to the Town of Chestertown with “Music in the Park” in the notes field of the check. Mail to Chestertown Town Hall, 118 N. Cross Street, Chestertown, MD 21620.

The next bands in the concert series will be Swing City on Saturday, Aug. 3 and Quiet Fire on Legacy Day, Aug. 17.

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Spy 7 Files a Report: Knightly Provides Night to Remember for Plein Air Easton

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The 2019 Plein Air Easton Meet the Artists event over the weekend brought several hundred people to the historic Knightly estate on Leeds Creek off the Miles River. Alice Ryan received a warm standing ovation during dinner for hosting the event at her beautiful 81-acre farm and estate. 

Guests were invited to arrive a few hours early to wander around the estate and engage with the Plein Air artists who were pressed to complete their work by 7 PM. During the reception and dinner, guests were encouraged to purchase the just completed works and well before the evening concluded, the red “sold” tags were abundant.

This week-long annual event organized by the Avalon Foundation provides a remarkable opportunity to view artists at work and, of course, to enjoy art. But, remember, the message: The best way to ensure the future of Plein Air Easton and the Health of your Arts Community is to buy art!

For more information and a complete schedule for the week: www.pleinaireaston.com 

 

Four Poets and a Family Farm: Wendy Ingersoll Perry on “Walking the Sunken Boards”

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For ten years, four Delaware poets, who collectively have had seven books published, and received five Delaware for the Arts grants, five Pushcart nominations, two “Best of the Net” nominations, and one new best poet award, descend on one Wendy Ingersoll Perry’s family farm not to far from Quaker Neck Landing near Chestertown.

During the summer weeks, the poets spend most of their day writing by the Chester River and use their evenings to read some of their day’s labor. It is one of the highlights of the year for these four friends who have formed a unique bond through the power of words and And last year, the four came up with the idea that this decade of material would make a fine book to honor the sense of place they have received from the Ingersoll family farm.

And just recently that book, entitled Walking the Sunken Boards by Linda Blaskey, Gail Braune Comorat, Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll, and Jane C. Miller, has been published with a book celebration set for the Bookplate in Chestertown on July 12 with an introduction from local writer Amanda Newell.

The Spy couldn’t resist finding out more about this unique project and sat down with Wendy before the kick-off event to get the lowdown and hear one of her poems.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information and to purchase the book please go here

Delmarva Review: Bodrum Hamam By Katherine Gekker

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Author’s note: “During a recent trip to Turkey, I visited a traditional hamam. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The tenderness and intimacy of the visit surprised me and reminded me of having my face washed by my parents, something I had not thought of in decades. It also brought back memories of seeing their arms crossed after their deaths.”

Steam echoes off blue and yellow
tiles, rivulets stream down walls.
Roof’s oculus opens to Turkey’s hot sky.

We have this round room to ourselves.
We dip ladles into heated pools, then tepid,
like a Finnish sauna but inside, in summer.

My feet appear, disappear in clouds,
our red-checkered pestemals like
keffiyeh, like Arafat wore, wet as puddles.

A man enters. I lie down. He folds my hands
over my heart. He washes me with huge
towel-covered hands, suds fly everywhere,

like blowing bubbles. He and I laugh.
Then he washes my face – no one
has ever washed my face except my parents.

I remember crossing my mother’s hands
over her chest after the end, seeing my
father’s hands crossed by someone else.

My bones sharp against the tiles,
all liquids have escaped me. I’ve
never been so thirsty or so clean.

We dress to the muezzin’s afternoon call
to prayer. Outside, I hear seagulls,
smell the Aegean, then the Baltic.

You take photos of me at the hamam entrance.
Later I notice how sunken, how hollow-cheeked
I look, everything sucked out of me.

 

Poet Katherine Gekker is the author of “In Search of Warm Breathing Things” (Glass Lyre Press, 2019). In addition to “Delmarva Review,” her poems have been published in “Little Patuxent Review,” “Broadkill Review,” “Poetry South,” “Apple Valley Review,” and others. She has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Some of her poems have been set to music, including a collection “…To Cast a Shadow Again,” by composer Eric Ewazen, and a seasonal cycle of poems, “Chasing the Moon Down,” by composer Carson Cooman. She was born in Washington, D.C. When not writing, she practices piano.

“Delmarva Review” publishes the best of original new poetry, nonfiction, and fiction selected from thousands of submissions annually by authors within the region and beyond. The independent, nonprofit literary journal is supported by individual contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. The print edition is available at Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford, and Amazon.com. An electronic edition is also sold at Amazon.com. The website is DelmarvaReview.org.

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RiverArts Curator Cindy Stafford on “Patterns of Eastern Shore Life”

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Residents and visitors to the Eastern Shore love spending their time here because of the quality of life. Much of that joy comes from the patterns found in our natural surroundings.

Artists were challenged to interpret this theme broadly, capturing the beauties, and wonders of rural eastern shore life.  Some artists were inspired by the seasonal rhythms of planting, a bountiful harvest, an early frost, or how light and shadow play across a changing environment.  Some enjoyed capturing the bustle of parades, fairs, summer parties, farmers’ markets.  Others were taken by the wildlife and still others by the water.  Artists were asked to capture the patterns that can be seen all around us in the life on the Eastern Shore.

For more information, please go here.

Spy Review: The Rolling Stones “No Filter” Tour

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The Rolling Stones made it back to Maryland during the long Fourth of July holiday, following the postponement of their Memorial Day weekend concert due to Mick Jagger’s heart-valve surgery. Any doubt that the Stones can still play, that Jagger can still command the stage and prance about in full-throated theatrical vigor, was obliterated on a steamy night that would drain men half his age and that of his partners comprising—yes, indeed—the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band ever.

Take that, Beatles fans. More on that later.

A confession in AARP terms: Historical perspective informs my opinion that the Stones are now performing better than ever. Which is saying a ton. In my estimated 27 times of seeing and hearing them live, which may account for my partial hearing loss, I’ve never known the Stones to mail it in, to go through the motions, though at times in the ’70s, when Keith Richards chased his heroin hangover with Jack Daniels, the band occasionally lost focus. Even then, their ragged play reflected a spontaneous and one-of-a-kind genius.

But on this Fourth of July eve, the Stones were as deliberate in their seemingly raucous mayhem as I’ve ever experienced. From the “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” opener to the “Satisfaction” finale, the band—even with several new contributors to their supporting cast and sharply limited rehearsals constricted by Jagger’s recovery—never missed a beat. We can thank Charlie Watts for that. The band’s senior—an original Stone along with Jagger and Richards who turn 76 this year—has anchored their controlled chaos for 57 years, coming in at the last instant with the percussive heartbeat they all lean on, if only by vibration when they can’t hear it onstage.

I first heard the Stones in 1964, as I recall, on WCAO-AM, the top 40 station in Baltimore, when an overnight DJ wandered off the playlist to spin a 45 flipside that had Jagger moaning in bluesy-beggar mode “I need you, baby, Mona.” (“Without your love I’d surely die.”) Perhaps this captured the love-life anguish of a dateless 16-year-old. Whatever. The Stones’ Brit/blues fortified me against near-universal peer pressure to tilt my allegiance toward The Beatles. Six years later, when the Fab Four were no more, I taunted their fans by calling The Beatles “the world’s most overrated band.” It was tongue-in-cheek, sort of. They were undeniably great, but also hyped beyond measure. My measure was how well a band balanced studio albums and original songs with live performance. The Beatles never mastered the latter. They surrendered to screaming girls who drowned them out. The Stones, instead, virtually invented the modern rock concert by installing their own sound, and later video equipment plus beyond-Broadway stage sets. Meanwhile, The Beatles and other touring bands at the time relied on sound systems available to them at, for instance, Shea Stadium in New York, or the Civic Center in Baltimore.

The Stones’ mastery of this vital piece of their legacy is so evident as to be taken for granted. Most in attendance at FedEx Stadium, Hyattsville home of the Redskins, expect such aural and visual enhancement at any big-venue event. But geezers like me remember when bands sounded like what you might hear on a P.A. system at a bus or train terminal. Squawk! Squawk!

My first Stones concert was 1965 in Baltimore and the second that same night (or maybe it was vice versa) at the even-then decrepit Washington Coliseum. I discovered by way of Bill Wyman’s coffee-table scrapbook, which he autographed early this millennium, that I paid $7.50 for each concert. A few years ago, at what I expected would be my final Stones attendance, ticket prices moved two decimals to the right. That I could procure nosebleed tix for $99 this time around persuaded me to see them again, I presume, once more, for the last time. I’ve been fooled before, but given Jagger’s surgery and the Stones’ four-to-five-year gap between tours, that makes most of them 80-plus next time around. 

Wyman, now 83, may be responsible for the Stones’ astute attention to sound equipment. Senior to other band members, he was hired, in part, because he had his own speakers, better than any the others could afford. 

Back to “No Filter,” the Stones’ current tour: Every Stones epoch is represented on their playlist, including a brief instrumental interlude of “2120 Michigan Avenue” and a cover of “Mercy Mercy,” both preceding the 1965 blockbuster “Satisfaction,” ranked rock’s No. 2 all-time by Rolling Stone. The Stones played it like it was first time, virginal (or at least horny). Sometimes rock stars and others in stadium venues turn the microphone toward the audience to fill in the blanks, such as “I can’t get no” or “You can’t always get what you want,” and the gesture falls flat. Not here. The stadium reverberated with live feedback. The same on the disco-ish “Miss You”: “Too too too too, too-de doo. Too too-TOO too!” Even the apocalyptic “Gimme Shelter,” with now climate-change overtones, evoked a mournful wave of “ooooh ooooh woooh.”

On any and all of these numbers it’s impossible to miss the “rookie” among Stones regulars. In 1975, Ronnie Wood succeeded Mick Taylor, who replaced drug-addled Brian Jones before he was fired, then died face-up in a swimming pool in 1969. Wood is a “Picasso on guitar,” as Jagger described him. Next to the frontman, he’s the Stones live-concert centerpiece, displaying his electric and acoustic string athleticism, balanced by Richards’ inventive and high-caliber showmanship. Regrettably, Keith is a lesser figure in that the Stones are not producing new songs. It once bothered me that fans sat on their hands when the Stones played new material on their tours in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. It doesn’t matter anymore. There’s a treasure of songs left off the current 20-song setlist. I didn’t hear my personal favorite, “Dead Flowers,” or the one I personally identify with as a Dutchman’s Lane farmboy—I retired to Easton Club East, next door to the former dairy farm I grew up on—“Sweet Virginia” (“got to scrape the [excrement] right off your shoo-ooze”). But there were songs from every period, sung with no punches pulled, including “Start Me Up,” which was played at our first-dance wedding reception, best known for the lyric “you make a grown man cry,” ending with the woman in question’s desirability to a dead man. 

The Stones are profane and poetic. R-rated Bob Dylan, if you will. Who can argue with their philosophy: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time you just might find you get what you need?”

If you’ve never seen the Stones, this could actually be your last chance. They’re playing July 23 in Philly, barely a two-hour drive from Easton (less from Chestertown) since the Middletown bypass opened. Failing that, there are two shows Aug. 1 and 5 up the Jersey turnpike at MetLife Stadium. If you care about rock ’n’ roll at all, you must see these masters of the art.

I have no regrets now, having seen them, I suspect for the last time. But what of my post-Stones life? These guys are not too old to play. But I may be too old to see them. Getting to FedEx was way more hassle than I’d bother for a Redskins game or anyone else besides the Stones. But if they never tour again, what am I left with in terms of guilty pleasures? I don’t smoke and gave up recreational drugs way back in the last millennium. I don’t drink to excess and have been faithful in decades of marriage. The Stones are my last surviving vice. Guess I’ll have to take up gambling.

Steve Parks, retired journalist and arts writer/editor, is a recovering Stones addict now living in Easton.

 

Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Celebrates 10 Years

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Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival returns to Easton this Labor Day weekend bigger and better than ever!

Cyrus Chestnut

The energetic, ever-swingin’ festival features an exciting lineup, boasting some—if not the—best jazz musicians in the country, including guitarist/vocalist Allan Harris, pianist Matthew Whitaker, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, and the ever-phenomenal headliner, Monty Alexander.

The festival runs Friday, August 30th through Sunday, September 1st, with concerts at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, plus a Sunday morning brunch at Hunter’s Tavern, located at the Tidewater Inn.

Matthew Whitaker

Vocalist, guitarist, bandleader, and composer, Allan Harris kicks things off Friday at 8 p.m. with Nat King Cole at 100—a fitting tribute considering the Miami Herald referred to Harris as an artist blessed with “the warmth of Tony Bennett, the bite and rhythms sense of Sinatra, and the sly elegance of Nat ‘King’ Cole.”

“Jazz is a great expression of what we are,” Harris says, adding that he’s also a fan of the freedom within the genre. “Every night when we do a song, we do it differently. We keep the template of what it is, but try to stretch it a little bit.”

Saturday’s program begins with a free community concert, starring jazz guitarists Randy Napoleon and Dan Wilson.

Rooted in jazz tradition, Napoleon is widely-known as a forward-thinking musician and one of the most sought-after guitarists in New York. In addition to leading his own trios and other small combos, Napoleon tours with legendary singer/pianist Freddy Cole. Guitarist George Benson calls him “sensational.”

Dan Wilson

From a young age, Wilson knew he wanted to pursue a career in music. Though his style is jazz-focused, it certainly draws influence from a wide variety of genres. He’s been touring nationally and internationally with three-time Grammy nominated jazz organ legend, Joey DeFrancesco. He describes the human connection between the performer and audience that’s created during a live show as “second to none.”

The duo’s performance, titled Guitars, Without Compromise, begins at 11 a.m.

Matthew Whitaker, who made his debut on the Festival stage last year at the Young Artist Showcase, returns—this time around in the Saturday matinee spot!

Blind since birth, Whitaker began performing at the age of three, when his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard.

By 15, he was named a Yamaha Artist, becoming the youngest musician to join this group of notable musicians. Hastily making a name for himself in the jazz world, the now 18-year-old was recently named one of seven rising stars for 2018 by USA Today network’s 201 Magazine.

Catch Whitaker in An Exciting Debut, An Eagerly Awaited Return at 2 p.m.

The Festival’s eponymous headliner takes the Avalon stage at 8 p.m. for what will undoubtedly be a lively celebration of his 10 years at the helm of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival.

Considered one of the top five jazz pianists ever, Alexander’s musical expression combines elements of the blues, gospel, calypso, and reggae. He’s renowned for his vibrant personality, magnetic charisma, and breathtaking talent.

Tickets for Monty Alexander Celebrates the 10th Anniversary will sell out—and fast!

Unlike previous Festivals, this year’s Jazz Brunch will be held on a Sunday, which is great news for jazz enthusiasts as that means they won’t have to wait as long between Saturday’s showstopper and Sunday’s matinee for live music.

Allan Harris

From 10 a.m. to noon, attendees can indulge in impeccably crafted brunch dishes while listening to the musical offerings of Wilson and Napoleon—the jazz guitarists featured at Saturday’s free community concert. Reservations via Hunter’s Tavern are required.

Closing out the weekend is pianist Cyrus Chestnut, performing Where Gospel Meets Jazz at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 1st.

Born in Baltimore—his father the organist at his local church—the composer and producer says he’s always believed in the deep connection between jazz and God. His works unabashedly demonstrate this concept, seamlessly blending facets of jazz with elements of gospel, R&B, and classical genres.

Weekend passes for the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, along with individual show tickets, are on sale now.

Over the last decade, the Festival has grown from a modest venture—comprising two performances by saxophonist Grace Kelly on its opening night and Alexander the following evening—to a three-day jazz extravaganza, featuring outstanding, first-class talent from across the nation.

“The response has been exceedingly enthusiastic,” says Festival Producer, Al Sikes.

Not only has the amount of shows presented increased, but the audience continues to expand rapidly, too. An unwavering optimist, Sikes admits with a hearty laugh, that he imagined bringing great jazz to the area would excite the community. Still, he’s been pleasantly surprised with the Festival’s ever-growing success.

“I’m just delighted at where we are,” he adds.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is partially underwritten by the Maryland State Arts Council and the Talbot County Arts Council. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.

Short Attention Span Brings Laughter to Garfield

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Sharon Herz as Lucy, an energetic Shih-Tsu dog who annoys the more serious dog, Archibald, played by Lyle Pinder.  Archibald’s owner is played by Christine Kinlock — “Park and Play” in Short Attention Span Theatre – AKA SAST – All photos by Steve Atkinson 

Short Attention Span Theatre is back! The Garfield Center’s 10-Minute Play Festival runs three weekends through July 7, showcasing local actors, directors, and playwrights in eight rib-tickling comedies.

Paul Cambardella as Marvelous Man in “The Superhero.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

First up is “The Superhero,” written by Brent Lewis and directed by Diane Landskroener. It features Brianna Johnson as a cat burglar who breaks into the apartment of a comic book fan played by Dan Guidice. Tom Dorman makes a brief appearance as a city cop warning about burglaries, and Paul Cambardella takes the title role. The final straw is when the burglar finally figures out what’s really valuable among the fanboy’s possessions.  It’s a hoot.

Next on the list is “Don Vito’s Method,” by Rich Pauli, directed by Garfield Center theater manager Nick Carter. Bradley Chaires plays a Mafia don who seeks a very special favor from his grandson, played by Lyle Pinder. Chaires does one of the better Marlon Brando imitations you’re likely to see, and Pinder is earnest and clueless as the young minion. It has a clever twist at the end!

 

Diane Landskroener and Jim Landskroener as Elise and Walter in “Mistranslation — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Diane and Jim Landskroener star in Jack Rushton’s “Mistranslations,” directed by Jim Landskroener. The schtick here is a set of special hearing aids meant to solve the problem of one member of a couple putting their own interpretation on something the other says. A nice spin-off of a situation familiar to any couple that’s been together longer than one or two dates.

Kara Emily Krantz’s “Park and Play,” directed by Zac Ryan, concludes the first half of the bill. Lyle Pinder plays Archibald, a dog whose owner, played by Christine Kinlock, brings him to the park to play. Unfortunately, Archibald wants nothing to do with the other dogs – especially a flighty Shih-Tsu played by Sharon Herz. Pinder and Herz are thoroughly amusing – and believable – as dogs. This skit is a “howling” success!

Brad Chaires and Paul Cambardella are two princes competing for the sleeping princess (Phebe Wood) in “Power Nap.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

After intermission, Steve Arnold’s “Power Nap,” directed by Tia Glomb, brings on a trio of princes competing for the honor of awakening a sleeping beauty.are two sword-wielding princes who believe it to be their destiny to kiss the sleeping princess and inherit the 47 kingdoms she rules by right. But then arrives a bookish prince who throws the competition into a new light – proving, in the process, that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Phebe Wood pays the princess, who turns out to have her own opinion of what’s involved in the magical bargain.

“Everybody Says I Love You,” features two actors  played by Nick Carter and Amanda Fry (seated) and two script doctors – (Dan Guidice and Jen Friedman ) — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Mark Sullivan wrote and directed “Everybody Says I Love You,” featuring two actors in a love scene, played by Amanda Fry and Nick Carter. But shortly into the scene, two script doctors – played by Jen Friedman and Dan Guidice – decide to tweak the dialogue and the characters’ motivations to make it more dramatic. It’s full of theatrical in-jokes, and the bare-bones plot grows even more preposterous with each rewrite.  For anyone who knows theatre, it rings all too true!

“Old Aquatics,” written by Steven Korbar and directed by Chaires, stars Sharon Herz as a drunken New Year’s Eve partygoer and Robert Holt as a driver sent to get her safely home. But it turns out that the partygoer is looking for more than the driver bargained for. Herz is convincingly sloshed, and her dialogue is a string of hilarious non-sequiturs, while Holt does a good job as the straight man.

Shannon Whitaker as the bride in “Wedding Belles” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

The final offering is “Wedding Belles,” by Brett Horsey, directed by Jennifer Kafka Smith. Shannon Whitaker plays a bride admiring her gorgeous dress, only to be interrupted by the groom – whom she tries to send away, telling him it’s bad luck to see her before the wedding. Finally, the groom, played by Zac Ryan, convinces her that it’s absolutely necessary for them to talk – at which point the real fun begins. It’s capped off by an appearance by Jim Landskroener as the father of the bride.

Mark Sullivan, who is co-producer of the festival with Diane Landskroener, said after the performance Sunday that this year’s festival drew some 80 entries. “It was daunting to read them all,” he said. The eight-person panel making the final selection chose four by playwrights with a local connection, including himself, Rich Pauli, who hails from Annapolis, and Brent Lewis of Easton, both of whom are regulars at the Garfield’s Live Playwright’s Society. Steve Arnold is the former director of Church Hill Theatre. The others are all by published playwrights, many of whom have numerous productions to their credit.

As usual with SAST, the sets are flexible and minimal – a couple of chairs and a table, a doorway, other items as appropriate to the skit being performed. The costumes, on the other hand, are more elaborate, from a superhero’s cape to a prince’s regalia, a bridal gown or even a floppy-eared cap for a canine character. But it’s the actors who make these plays work, and their performances, on the whole, deliver the goods. Especially considering how much local talent was already involved in competing productions at Church Hill Theatre and elsewhere during June, this is a solid turnout by the local theater community.  Do go.  You won’t regret it.  It’s a relaxing and fun evening of laughs.

Short Attention Span Theatre is running for two more weekends through July 7, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $15 for general audiences, $5 for students. Note that some of the plays may not be suitable for children under age 13.

Bradley Chaires (on floor) and Lyle Pinder (standing) in “Don Vito’s Method” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Dan Guidice as Peter and Brianna Johnson as Shell in “The Superhero”  — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Phebe Wood and Ian Ellison as princess and prince in “Power Nap.” — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Ian Ellison and Bradley Chaires in “Power Nap”. — Photo by Steve Atkinson

Diane Landskroener and Jim Landskroener as Elise and Walter in “Mistranslation — Photo by Steve Atkinson

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