Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 02:38 PM - Posted by AdministratorThe New York Times | March 25, 2011
By SUSAN HODARA
A year before his apparent suicide in 2004, Spalding Gray, the acclaimed writer and performer known for his narrative monologues, appeared at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck to present his latest work. Now, Mr. Gray returns — in words and disarming spirit — when the Emelin stages "Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell," a play composed of excerpts from his letters, journals and published writings.
Tracing Mr. Gray’s nearly 65 years of life, "Stories Left to Tell" was created by his widow, Kathleen Russo, along with Lucy Sexton, the director. As the two pored over sometimes daunting volumes of work, they identified recurrent themes. Those themes are embodied by the play’s cast members, who present Mr. Gray’s words in roles titled Journal, Adventurer, Lover, Family and Career.
The play had its premiere off Broadway in 2007 in a six-month run at the Minetta Lane Theater, and has since been produced more than 100 times across the country, with the original cast members still part of the touring ensemble. Ain Gordon, an Obie Award-winning actor, has played Journal since the show’s debut. "Journal is the narrator," Ms. Russo said. "He sets the stage before each story for what Spalding was going through at the time."
Adventurer, Lover and Family are performed by rotating ensemble members; at the Emelin, they are Carmelita Tropicana as Adventurer, Josh Lefkowitz as Lover, and, as Family, Kathleen Chalfant on April 1 and Ms. Sexton on April 2. Ms. Chalfant, a Tony-nominated actress who appeared in the original "Angels in America," was Lover in the Minetta Lane production.
The role of Career, which centers on Mr. Gray’s experiences in Hollywood, is reserved for a guest actor, usually a celebrity or local personality. "We’ve had tons of famous people in that role," Ms. Russo said, "from Whoopi Goldberg to Richard Gere to Eli Wallach." At the Emelin’s two performances, Career will be played by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham on April 1 and Ms. Chalfant on April 2.
"Hearing other people read the work makes you realize what good dramatic writing Spalding was doing," Ms. Sexton said. "At first, we wondered how it could exist without him, but actors can take control of it, and audiences still get so much from his stories and his thoughts about life."
The Emelin staging comes on the heels of the first international performance of "Stories Left to Tell," as part of the New Territories festival in Glasgow, Scotland. The expanding audience for Mr. Gray’s work is gratifying for Ms. Russo.
"Many people didn’t get to see Spalding perform, and now they want to know who he was," she said. "Which was the whole mission for me as his widow — to make sure his work stayed alive. I think he’d be very pleased."
"Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell" is at the Emelin Theater, 153 Library Lane, Mamaroneck, on April 1 and 2. Both shows start at 8 p.m. and run 90 minutes. Tickets are $40. For more information: (914) 698-0098 or emelin.org.
Friday, March 11, 2011, 11:25 AM - Posted by AdministratorGreat article in the Journal News today about The Gizmo Guys. They will be performing at the Emelin this Sunday at 11 am and 1:30 pm. Don't miss it! Buy Tickets
Click here for the Journal News Article
The Gizmo Guys keep roomfuls of kids entranced
Take five red rubber balls, two funny guys and a roomful of squirming kids, and what have you got?
Heaven, according to Barrett Felker. Felker is one half of The Gizmo Guys, a high-energy family-friendly act that incorporates some eye-popping juggling with music and a dose of age-appropriate comedy.
What Felker and partner Allan Jacobs do with a few balls and a plethora of simple props, like devil sticks and paper boxes, keep roomfuls of kids, their parents, and even grandparents, entranced for an hour.
Interested? You can see them in action at the Emelin Theatre this weekend, where The Gizmo Guys will do two shows on Sunday.
If you're expecting razzle-dazzle, you'll definitely get it, but be warned, there are no elaborate sets, no cagey staging — just two guys and, occasionally, a chair or a table. But their sleights of hand are mesmerizing and the comedic timing between the partners, who have been juggling together since 1987, is priceless.
"Allan's funny, I am not funny," Felker says, who is the shorter one of the two. "He doesn't let me get a word in edgewise. I am the guy who does all the heavy lifting. I'm the straight man."
Just in case you're thinking juggling is limited, Felker says for any particular show, they're likely to come up with 60 or 70 moves. "From an aesthetic point of view, there's a huge vocabulary of moves," says Felker. "We'll do things and then stand back and say, 'what stands out here?' And then we will start weeding them out until we have the best 20 or 30 best things."
In one routine, an unsuspecting audience member is blindfolded while The Gizmo Guys blithely juggle wooden clubs back and forth in front of and in back of his head, trying to knock a straw out of his mouth. While the clubs whiz by, the guys keep up a calm. steady stream of patter until eventually, the straw is cleanly knocked free. In another, Jacobs steps in and assumes Felker's fast-moving stream of bouncing balls that hit the floor, pit, pit, pat and then get juggled into the air and back to the floor.
The Gizmo Guys have been all over, from television to international juggling competitions. They've taught at circus schools, too. One year, Felker thinks it was 1992, The Gizmo Guys did 400 shows. These days, they're down to about 150 a year, and that requires a lot of physical stamina, never mind the comedy chops. Yeah, turns out, jugglers are pretty awesome athletes, too.
"You need to take care of your body," Felker says. "There are a lot of injuries you need to avoid, such as repetitive stress injuries. So having a regular routine, and practicing all the time is necessary. You don't take two weeks off and think you can jump back in."
Both "Guys" started out as juggling hobbyists. "A cousin taught me, and Allan's college roommate taught him," says Felker. "It was a lot of trial and error; the basics with three balls. We'd say, if this is possible, then something else might be possible, and it went from there."
Felker, who started juggling at 15, was at the University of Arizona and undecided about his future. "There were a few things I wanted to do, but juggling was the most realistic. That's a little scary, right?" So he dropped out, moved to Boulder, Colo., and devoted his full attention to honing his skills. He ended up winning the International Jugglers Association's team championship. That led, believe it or not, to a solo gig with the Harlem Globetrotters. What started as an eight-week contract turned into a 3-year around-the-world tour.
In the meantime, Jacobs was studying psychology at the University of Massachusetts . But that's not what he wanted to do either, says Felker.
Even after 24 years, what you see is what you get. "We don't have that fourth wall between us and the audience," Felker says. "We're not actors, and we don't pretend to be people we are not. We're just ourselves—slightly exaggerated. Primarily, we are jugglers and that's pretty consistent on stage. We know who we are."
More importantly, they know where they are. Even a few misplaced steps can mean disaster for jugglers, but Felker says practice has made them nearly perfect. Still the world of juggling has changed; these days young performers perfect their moves with the help of computer programs.
"We'll go to these forums and you run into these young science kids with their laptops saying 'this is move 1457; check it out.' That's not how we learned."
In the end, that's what audiences love about The Gizmo Guys: along with virtuosic juggling, there's always an element of old-fashioned showmanship that delights even the biggest of kids.
"What we really try to do is put on a good family event," says Felker. "There are kids shows where the parents think 'ugh, I can't wait for this hour to be over.' And then there are kids shows that are over the kids heads. We are really trying to take everyone in, and I think we do a good job."
Friday, March 4, 2011, 12:39 PM - Posted by Administratorhttp://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti ... 1103030359
Local artists, groups receive arts awards
Written by Karen Croke
From a couple with a world-class art collection to an innovative art program at a public school system to a dedicated special-ed teacher, the annual Arts Awards, given by ArtsWestchester, recognize both individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the cultural life of Westchester County.
This year, five individuals and five organizations were honored. "This is our version of the Academy Awards," says Janet T. Langsam, who heads ArtsWestchester.
The Arts Award has been presented annually for more than 33 years. Past honorees include Frances Sternhagen (2010), Nelson Rockefeller (1977), and U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins (2002), as well as The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College (2001), and the Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts (2006).
An awards luncheon honoring this year's recipients will take place on April 6.
This year's honorees are:
Arts Patron: Art collectors and benefactors Doreen and Gilbert Bassin have served on boards and councils of the Neuberger Museum, Smithsonian National Museum for African Art, MOMA and New Museum. Their private collection, which they open for select groups, includes the works of Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Huma Bhabba and Arshile Gorky.
Artist: Writer Benjamin Cheever has written novels (" Famous After Death," "The Plagiarist," ) along with two memoirs, "Selling Ben Cheever" and "Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete." Along with fellow writer Warren Berger, Cheever help found the Marmaduke writing factory in Pleasantville, which serves as both a space for writers and a networking group.
Arts Organization: Since 1972, Mamaroneck's Emelin Theatre has brought high-caliber performing arts to more than 30,000 patrons each year, including live music, dance, kids performances and theater. The Emelin serves over 40 different regional schools, providing them with substantially reduced price tickets.
Abishai Ben Ruben Mount Vernon, O'Bey Foundation: Abishai Ben Ruben, an activist and educator, founded the Mount Vernon-based O'Bey foundation to make African cultural and educational programs more accessible to the community.
New Rochelle Opera Company: Founded in 1985 by Camille Coppola and Billie Tucker, the New Rochelle Opera Company works to expand the knowledge and enjoyment opera, while creating opportunities for the growth of young professional singers.
School of the Holy Child, Rye: The school has strengthened its art programs, giving students the opportunity to study stage management, dance, create and edit films, and produce music ensembles in wind, string, percussion, and jazz.
Smart Girls Program, Katonah Museum of Art: Targeted toward girls from age 8 to 17, the program, in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club of Mount Kisco, aims to increase self-confidence in "at risk" tweens and teens. Girls in the program are trained to lead tours of the museum, and also learn about, create and study art.
Innovative Strategies Program, Mount Vernon School District: This program, which received an Edward E. Ford Foundation Grant in 2007, paired art teachers with artists to help educators learn how to incorporate local exhibitions and cultural programs into all areas of learning, including, mathematics, science and English.
Sophia Abeles Award for Community Arts: Given each year to a teacher or teaching artist doing exemplary work in arts-in-education in an underserved school in Westchester. Fuentes has been an art educator for students with special needs in The Greenburgh Academy in Yonkers since 2005. Fuentes is also involved in many community arts organizations including the Side By Side Artist mentoring program.
Monday, February 28, 2011, 11:36 AM - Posted by AdministratorGreat article about the Bluegrass series at the Emelin on Patch.com today! Thanks to Patch and Marc Ferris for the support!
http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/fro ... e-emelin#c
From Kentucky to Mamaroneck: Bluegrass At the Emelin
One of the longest-running series of bluegrass music concerts isn't in Kentucky, the birthplace of the genre, but in Mamaroneck at the Emelin Theatre. Started by enthusiasts J. Jay Mautner and Doug Tuchman 29 years ago, the showcase still attracts large, boisterous crowds.
After Mautner moved to Manhattan and Tuchman passed away, the torch passed to Arnie Fleischer in 2006. Fleischer, a Brooklyn native who lives in New Rochelle, is a bluegrass devotee who plays banjo in a group called the Westchester Bluegrass Boys and scouts out bands that he thinks will be successful in Mamaroneck at festivals and gatherings nationwide.
Kentucky native Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, forged the traditional sound in the late 1940s and 1950s, emphasizing the banjo, mandolin and fiddle as solo instruments. Sometimes called "folk music on steroids," bluegrass bands convey their musical message through instrumental virtuosity and tight harmony vocals.
"It's not the kind of music you usually get in this area, but Arnie picks the best of the best," said Lisa Reilly, executive director at the Emelin. "And he does it all as a volunteer; usually people get paid for programming."
Fleischer mixes established acts, like the Nashville Bluegrass Band, who performed last October, with up-and-coming groups like Gold Heart, consisting of three sisters, who appeared in December. Female-fronted bands are a plus and he likes to include a mix of traditional bands that adhere to the sound of the music's Golden Age and contemporary acts that include different influences.
"It's more of an art than a science to do it right," he said. "The biggest challenge of putting together a series like this is to keep the current audience, build that audience by attracting new fans and not price people out."
Though no seat tops $42 this year, some of the bigger bands in the genre, like Del McCoury and Rhonda Vincent, who appeared in the past, are too expensive nowadays.
"Bands that come from the South in a big bus that gets three miles to the gallon started raising their rates when gas prices started going up," said Fleischer.
Many of the bands on the circuit don't tour full time, so when they cross the Mason-Dixon Line, they often combine bookings.
"Usually, they buzz in and buzz out with no interaction, but we've talked about sponsoring ancillary activities that would keep them here a little longer, like school programs," said Reilly.
Audiences at the concerts are enthusiastic. During a show last year by Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, an established group that appears on National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion," attendees refused to let the band leave the stage. The group obliged by playing an extended second set and delivering several encores.
For the first 20 years, Mautner underwrote the series, but he attributes its long-term success to Tuchman and Fleischer, who, he said, "are able to get involved in the industry, forge strong friendships and bring world class artists through at attractive prices."
Also, "there is a nucleus of bluegrass fans in the area," he said, "but the other aspect is that the people in and around Mamaroneck are adventuresome and they'll go for a night out to the Emelin and once they hear bluegrass, they get hooked. I've never met anyone who heard the music and doesn't like it."
March 11 – Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper
April 15 – Dailey & Vincent
To purchase tickets online, please visit the Emelin Theater website here.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 10:49 AM - Posted by AdministratorComing up on March 12, the Westchester Jazz Orchestra will have their debut performance at the Emelin. We are extremely excited to have the WJO join the Emelin family and bring their lively, captivating music to our stage. Over the years, the WJO has garnered much critical acclaim, "has built a reputation for deeply researched, strikingly executed performances" (The New York Times, 9/19/10) and was recently described as "operating in the jazz stratosphere, earning a reputation as one of the top jazz big bands now in business" (The Gazette, Jan 20-24, 2011).
WJO's artistic director, noted pianist and composer Mike Holober, will lead the band from the piano. Also featured will be bassist John Patitucci, trumpeter Marvin Stamm, tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby, drummer John Riley and alto saxophonist Jay Brandford. The tunes will be an eclectic mix of Miles Davis (Freddie Freeloader), John Coltrane (Lonnie's Lament), Horace Silver (Peace), Gershwin (Summertime) and others. The band will also perform a song or two from their Maiden Voyage Suite inspired by Herbie Hancock's remarkable 1965 album.
We hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to see this extraordinary group in their first big band appearance on this side of the County in over 5 years.