Reedy Point’s Miracle Weekend

I got something to say!!!!
Last weekend the Reedy Point Players in Delaware City pulled off a miracle and like most miracles it came in the guise of hard work and I daresay friendship.
See, they had the 2nd Annual Playwriting competition. It was the usual deal, you know – mandatory lines you had to use, a mandatory prop, and the same set and blah. Blah, blah.
But here is where it all was a bit different. You see Delaware City can seem a bit off the beaten path and theaters in Newark and Wilmington were putting on their own shows on the same weekend, so it turned out “the little theater that could” had a smaller than usual pool of actors, and directors from which to pull.
Those in England now abed …
Sadly directors had to act, actors appeared in multiple shows, and writers to hold their collective breaths.
I won’t go into a play by play of who won what (except I won fan favorite male actor), but magic happened.
This group of crazies put five superb shows across the boards last Saturday night. There were mysteries, love stories, comedies, and one really weird wedding story.
Here’s the kicker – it was a competition with each player invested in someone else’s show. Writers of one show acted in another, trying to kick their own ass for a director they may never have met before.
It was really cool. In fact, it was the gosh-darndest thing you ever saw.
And the shows rocked. Brand new theater across the stage hooking and jabbing to ensure the audience got their money’s worth.
There were rehearsals in backyards; rehearsals on Sundays, rival directors invited to everyone else’s rehearsals, and of course there was beer. Cold beer.
I guess a shout out to Jacob Hunter is in order and so is one for Gail Springer. Jacob was our leader and Gail was the best fantastic cake finder ever!!

 

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Forgot to mention Brittany Wilson in my Review

Apologies to Brittany Wilson for my omission when reviewing “Murder On Cue.”
I am big fan of Brittany Wilson. The first time I saw her was this year at the Delaware Theater Association in the “Before I take the Stand.” She was great I that and great the other night as beauty queen Ms. Car Lot. I probably left out other actors and I am sorry.

Murder on Cue — Great Cast Work

Somebody asked me to review “Murder On Cue” this year’s fund raiser for Newark’ Del. Chapel Street Players, playing this weekend and next. For more info go to http://chapelstreetplayers.org/.
Anyway.
The cast is so huge I won’t be able to mention everyone; they were all wonderful.
The show starts out, it seems, as an homage to the 1976 Neil Simon comedy “Murder by Death” and the longtime favorite board game Clue. I could be wrong, but it sure felt that way.
There’s the deaf housekeeper, the nun with a vow of silence, the beauty queen, and the usual suspects in any mystery spoof. It was actually quite effective. This campy tribute goes on for about 15 minutes.
That’s where things change.
Scott F. Mason, the Writer and director of “Murder on Cue,” is shot. The house lights come up and an investigation of the entire cast, crew, and house staff begins under the watchful eye of FBI Agent Sawinski played with pitch perfection by Andre Wilkins.
I knew he was a good actor, but his performance last night cemented him as a great leading man kind of guy.
A plug for Nicole Pierce. She has a certain indescribable vibe (or presence) that I just love; she was her usual superb self this particular evening. Will someone please put her in a leading role!? Jeepers.
Back to the show.
I don’t know if I had ever seen Courtney Lynahan before, but I really liked her as the vow of silence nun and the pilfering cast member (oops don’t want to give too much away).
I can’t go any further without mentioning five of my favorites in the CSP stable of stars. I just love Michelle Cullen, Judy David, Peter Kuo (who is hilarious btw), Michelle Opaleski, and Brian M. Touchette. Each one was superb and acted with great skill. They heightened the tomfoolery and suspense. Bravo!!
As I said in previous reviews – I love Susan Boudreax and Susie Moak. They knock my socks off.
I had never seen Ann Matthews act Before, but she too, was a delightful surprise. She appeared with her husband of 33 years Pete Matthews. I had never seen him act either. Whenever I see him he has a hammer in his hand; this time he had a cigar. Regardless of hand tool, he did an excellent job.
Remember the gloriously evil bad guy in CSP’s production of 1984? That was Zack Jackson. In this show, he played a hilarious loudmouth plumber and then himself as the show progressed. BTW, he has one of my favorite actor skills – he makes great faces.
I’ll tell you who doesn’t get enough credit around here — Heather McCarty. She is a blast to watch and also makes great faces. I always see her doing something interesting down stage left. Isn’t that weird?
Renee G. O’leary celebrated her 55th consecutive fund raiser. She was delightful as Boddy and took a second to show off her great legs to audience.
Danielle Jackomin played bestselling murder mystery novelist LC. She is always fun to watch. Pay attention to her last couple of minutes on stage, those are pretty special.
I don’t know who Darin Bishop is. I think he got swallowed up in the crowd of actors after the shooting of Mr. Mason. He is listed as the EMT in the program, so maybe I had a bad seat and just couldn’t see him.
The last time I saw Patricia Lake was last Spring when she appeared in Holy Traffic. She was delightful.
I really enjoyed Matthew Brown’s performance of Newark policeman Bernhart. It had an honesty and naivety that was really refreshing when juxtaposed to the snarky witness interviews of Mr. Mason’s shooting/murder.

Walt Osborne played Major General Cleopold Poupon and was especially good throughout the sho0,w but really shined in the first few minutes with a small dance bit that got entire audience clapping.
I guess that’s it. Not a whole lot more to say. There is a bunch of people acting and you’ll like them. The show and the cause (CSP Fund Raiser) are a good place to spend your entertainment dollar. So go see it.

Chapel Street Player’s NEXT’s – George Cope 24-Hour Playwriting Festival.

 

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Joe Pukatsch, Christy Wall, and Susie Moak work out blocking details with members of two different casts

A friend of mine asked me to write a review of playwriting festival, but I can’t.

 

I can tell you what I saw, heard, felt, and experienced, but a review is out of the question.

You see, I love the George Cope 24-Hour Playwriting Festival and there is no way I could possibly give you an unbiased review of this miraculous event. So, I am not even going to try.

At about 7:30 pm, Saturday night, the clouds opened and proceeded to pour buckets of water, about 100 hearty souls came to the Chapel Street Player’s Theater, in Newark.

As they dripped their way to their seats, having paid a scant $5, Jose Pukatsch, Lyn Anderson, and Alan Harbaugh raced about shaking hands, making notes, and pressing buttons that made the lights work correctly.

Writers and directors took their seats, held their collective breaths, and each in his/her own way, crossed their fingers.

And after 24 straight hours of casting, writing, and rehearsing — It was showtime!

The night’s emcee, Mr. Harbaugh said it best, “24 hours ago none of this existed,” he said.

Mr. Harbaugh told the drying audience that writers started writing Friday night, and handed off their scripts to directors Saturday morning, and the directors worked throughout the day with casts they had never seen before.

Before the first show, Mr. Harbaugh and Mr. Pukatsch paid a tribute to the festival’s namesake – George Cope. The festival, they said, was Mr. Copes brainchild. Mr. Cope died earlier in the year.

The first ten-minute number was “The Connection” by Sean Kelly, directed by Zachary Jackson, starring Mike Barko, and Connie Regan. It told the story of two memories finding each other in the fog, gently coming together, and drifting back to the fog only to reset again (implying the perpetual remembering and forgetting and remembering again).  

“Unbreakable” by Eric Merlino, directed By Judy David, and starring Susan Boudreaux and Angela Teague was up next. It was tricky little number that told the story of a covetous niece visiting her aunt to buy a valuable painting. Both ladies handled their roles with grace and aplomb. There was a surprise ending and I won’t reveal in case it is ever staged again.

The Birdcage by Lance Thompson. Was a bit more straight forward. (Mr. Thompson was also on the committee that brought the whole evening to life). Sean McKeen, veteran of the first 24-hour ply festival, directed this adult comedy about a woman who finds her own way out of oppressive marriage while maintaining her vows. Michelle Opalesky hopped, skipped, and drug one leg across the stage, wreaking revenge on her philandering husband played with despicability by Leslie Blackburn.

The Magic Stone was playwright Joe Redden’s maiden voyage with the festival. This show directed by Aneila Meinhaldt (many may know her from Reedy Point), Vaughan Ellerton, Mr. Harbaugh, and Heather McCarty portrayed a family finding a magic stone and greedily wishing for everything, but world peace. It was a scream. (A special note Heather McCarty was hilarious. Her voice, movement, and pitch were superbly funny).

Next up was “The Key’s the Thing” written by me. Susie Moak, directed Marlene Hummel and Josh Coslar in this upside down story of a crime family matriarch. Marlene’s special tonal quality and ability to make great faces drove the piece with just the right amount of crazy. Mr. Coslar’s performance built on itself until an explosive end.

Then came the night’s most “no holds barred” production of  “Sleigh Bells” a script written by Jacob Hunter, Kevin Meinhaldt (yes, that Kevin Meinhladt), and award winning playwright Brain Smith. This was a Sweeney Todd, meets Rudolph, meets Body Heat kind of story full of hilarious characters and one dead Santa. Like I said, “No holds barred.” Although Lacey Eriksen, Andre Wilkins, and Gina Olkowski were the only three on the stage, it sure seemed like more. They approached their roles with the enthusiasm of a border collie on speed and with the precision a laser surgeon removing a speck from an eyeball. It was wonderful.

Pulling six different plays, with six different directors, six different casts together I am sure was like herding cats. If I ever need lessons on feline wrangling, I’m calling stage manager Christy Wall. She single handedly kept all the trains running on time and in the same direction.  

I guess that’s it.

It was a great night of homegrown theater for the folks who made it through the rain. In a way the rain was kind of fitting. This was the first time Mr. Cope’s name was added to the event title, so it was more of a baptism of a new thing instead of handwave goodbye to friend.

 

George Cope 24-Hour ONE Act Play Festival –ACTORS NEEDED (IF YOU’RE A LUNATIC)

 

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George Cope Introduces a staged reading of his full length play

George Cope was our leader.
He died, and we miss him.
But he didn’t leave us alone.
Tomorrow night is the second iteration of his brain child – a 24-hour one act play festival.
“We need crazy people,” he told me one cold winter Saturday in basement of the Chapel Street Players Playhouse. “People who are willing to take a chance and put some shows on in 24 hours.”
He was convinced a group of lunatics could write, cast, and stage quality shows in less than 24 hours. He was right – we proved that last year.
Here’s what’s going to happen.
At about 7 pm Friday night, May 11, 2018, seven writers will convene at the Chapel Street Players Playhouse. They will be assigned a director and pick, a yet to be determined, number of actors from an audition pool. The actors will audition using a prop they brought with them, giving a quick pitch about the prop. When the actors are picked, and director assigned, the writers will head home (or to Starbucks or Denny’s) and begin writing. By about 7:30 a.m. the writers will return to the theater and hand the play to the director and the actors and won’t see it again to Saturday night when the show begins.
With any luck what happened last year, will happen again – fellowship, blooming friendships, and magic.
Each show was magic last year as writers of differing skills pulled elephants through keyholes banging out comedies, mysteries dramas, and sci-fi. It was unbelievable.
So, if you are a crazy lunatic actor with the guts to take chance come join us Friday night and audition for one of the most rewarding nights of theater you’ll ever experience.

 

 

Betty Ford, Dancer

this is pretty great. CSP and Reedy Point. That arts matter

Pieces of History

April 8, 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of Betty Ford’s birth. Today’s post comes from Nikita Buley, a former intern at the National Archives. 

Betty Ford was known as a vivacious activist for women’s rights. What many don’t know is that she was also a talented modern dancer.

Betty Bloomer Warren dances in “Fantasy,” 1945. At this point in her life, she was married to her first husband, businessman William Warren. (National Archives Identifier 187012)

Born Elizabeth Bloomer, the future First Lady always knew she wanted to be a dancer. At age 8, Betty started taking classical ballet classes in her home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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I Was Sure I Had Cancer Again

I’m finally on the mend.

To be honest, I thought I had a recurrence of lymphoma, but things seem to be getting better. I know it sounds a bit shocking, to hear, but I was sweating it.

I went to the doc Thursday afternoon for her to look at my rotator cuff; my shoulder was aching. After hearing I was fine Kate and I went dinner with a dear friend Lyn Anderson at the Iron Hill Brewery. I had a chicken Caesar Salad, Kate had Reuben, and Lynn cheered us on. We spent quite a while chatting writing and acting.

It was delightful.

Okay, Okay, I’m getting to the story.

When I went home I watched a little TV. I felt a bit queasy so at about 10 o’clock I went to bed. I bolted upright at about 1 a.m. Fire seemed to rip across my abdomen like someone was inside me scouring my intestines with steel wool.

I won’t get into the graphic details, suffice it say, my bathroom reminded me of one of those Sunoco restrooms in the 70’s for which they used to give you the key on a sawed—off baseball with a loop of leather running through a drilled hole. I leave it there.

Anyway, this went on for the rest of the night and by morning I was as miserable as a person could get. I slept fitfully through the day and Easter. As well.

But then a strange thing happened. My intestines started feeling exactly like they had when I was first diagnosed. There was a discomfort that only vomiting would solve – And then came the vomiting. I was sure I was dead duck.

I reached out to my Burkitt’s Support Group and they talked me off the ledge.

On Monday morning, at the earliest possible time I got an appointment at my doc’s office. She was off so, I was sent to another office I the practice. This you PA checked me over and ordered some tests.

She said she’d call later in the day.

Later my cell phone rang, I didn’t recognize the number, so I hung up. Of course, it was her. She left a message that said she needed to speak to me about my results. “Nothing too crazy,” she said. “But I won’t be I the next day”

Having been down this road I know that if everything is normal they say, “You’re fine. See Ya.” Anything beyond that means something.

Christian Care in Newark, Del. has this spiffy messaging thing, so on Tuesday I messaged my doc.

A couple of hours later, a nurse with a British accent called and asked me a bunch of questions. She told me relax and a doctor would call back.

At about noon on Tuesday afternoon, my doc called. She said, “What did you do?”

“I figured I weighted too much so I’d drop 10 pounds over the weekend by not eating and vomiting,” I said.

“Did it work?”

“So far,” I said.”

“Well it’s a good mix of stuff.”

  • It turns out I had:
  • Blood in Urine
  • Elevated White Blood Cells
  • Fever
  • Pockets of or gas or some mass, or something in my intestines.
  • And chills. The freaking chills.

We thought we’d wait until Thursday to decide on a CAT scan. If I was getting better we’d watch, if not we can always run scan.

And that’s what we did. I am slowly turning the corner but am still a bit uncomfortable. We’ll se what tomorrow brings.

I did a lot of work from home because we have a board meeting next Tuesday; I probably shouldn’t have.