‘Cirque Du Soleil Totem' showcases a new Camden

Courtesy photo 
"Cirque Du Soliel Totem" is appearing in Camden, N.J.
Courtesy photo "Cirque Du Soliel Totem" is appearing in Camden, N.J.

We went to the opening of the Totem show by Cirque Du Soleil that is in Camden on the waterfront through June 30. The blue and yellow tents are up and there is lots of parking space normally used for the Camden baseball team and the aquarium.

Not having been to Camden in many years I was stunned by all the new high rise buildings. As all we hear about on TV is the shootings in Camden I was not expecting what I found. The place was filled with new large buildings, some with somewhat suspect architecture, and wide streets. We had left early with the idea of eating at a restaurant we knew on the way. Our progress was marred by a detour for a bridge under repair, but we did pass the restaurant to find it was out of business.

When we got to Camden, we drove for blocks looking for a place to eat, but the city had closed for the evening at 6:30 p.m. We asked a security guard where to go. We did follow his directions but all we found were six police cars with blinking lights in the middle of some sort of altercation with a group of ladies. Eventually we found a café that had some really bad food that we ate.

The show “Totem” has toured for two years around the world and is a display of the abilities of some very fine athletes. If you ever wondered what gymnasts do after the Olympics are over, it would appear that they join Cirque Du Soleil.As I understand, they have six traveling shows. They are superb at what they do, although the hit of the evening was a group of five tiny women on very tall unicycles who pedaled with one foot while hurling metal bowls with the other foot onto the heads of their compatriots.


The mechanical equipment that makes everything happen behaved flawlessly. There were canoes paddled on stage, people flying through the air, roller skaters and lots of gymnastic exhibitions. There was one frequently appearing character that I think was supposed to be funny. There was an amusing moment when a man in a business suit and carrying a brief case walked around the stage followed by a parade of man in his different evolution stages. It was a very professional show, but when I hear the word “circus” I think “Lions and tigers and bears. Oh, My!” Sorry to say, the only animals in the show were people in ape costumes.

Tickets may be ordered from www.cirquedusoleil.com/totem.


Longwood Gardens has just opened an exhibit telling the fascinating story of the Queen Victoria Water Lily and Longwood Gardens.

Explorers began discovering the Victoria Water lily Queen in 1801. Word of these exquisite lilies about 12 inches across that were white on day one, with a purple center on the second day, but beginning to decay by the third day soon began to spread. Most amazing was the 7-to-9-foot span of the lily pad, but they can grow 8 to 24 four inches in a day.

By 1849 the lilies were beginning to be in the grand gardens of the world. The scaffolding of the leaves or pads that makes them so strong has been studied by architects and incorporated into structures of buildings. The pads have sharp spines underneath that protect them from all insect or animal invaders.

In 1956 Russell Seibert, president of the board at Longwood, suggested that Longwood look into growing the lily. Gardeners were sent to South America to gather seeds and in 1957 the lilies were on display. It really wasn’t quite that simple, as there were really two different lilies, so Longwood interbred them to make Longwood’s hybrid. Then they discovered that over time the stock being grown in a protected home needed to have an infusion of new seeds from South America, so they have to go gather more seeds every few years. Now that’s a job I would have liked to have had when I could still handle a canoe.

In South America the lilies attract scarab beetles, as they like the fragrant, moist flowers. I don’t know what Longwood is doing about that, but I am not concerned. To keep the lily ponds from becoming a menace, they have mosquito fish in the ponds eating mosquito larvae.

Back when Gottlieb Hampfler was the official photographer for Longwood, Lieb told me he went to photograph the lily pads and was taken aback to find they had a small teenager dressed as a mermaid with the idea of placing her on one of the pads. He was appalled. I honestly do not remember whether or not they placed her on the lily pad or whether or not he took the photo. Somehow if he had, I think it would have surfaced by now.

This display in the Music Room will be there through Sept. 29. The exhibit is fascinating but I do recommend that you take along a flashlight. It’s mighty dark in there.


There are a lot of “Back to nature” and “Greening” movements, but I was surprised to read in Winterthur’s press release that many of their staff have taken to raising their own little flocks of chickens. They even held a workshop giving information on raising them. I don’t automatically think of elegant Winterthur as having the expertise on raising chickens, but after all, Winterthur was a farm originally.


Strawberry season is here, and we all dislike it when the berries start to mold almost immediately. Here’s a tip. Mix one part white vinegar with 10 parts water and dunk your berries in it. You don’t even have to rinse them. Raspberries will last a week and strawberries two weeks in the fridge without getting moldy.


The Kennett Symphony of Chester County will swing into Longwood Gardens on Saturday, June 22, with plans to show off their terrific brass and percussion sections.It’s not going to be a quiet program, so bring your deaf father-in-law. With music from the Renaissance to Ragtime, along with Handel’s stately “Overture to the Royal Fireworks,” and John Williams exciting “Olympic Fanfare,” they will present an exciting program. In addition the will perform an original composition, “Of Kingdoms and Glory,” by Curtis Institute graduate and trumpeter, Anthony DiLorenzo.

There are lots of other great music pieces featuring the brass with solos by the principal trombonist Timothy Soberick, who is also a member of the Harrisburg and Lancaster symphonies, trumpeter Luis Engelke, hornist Karen Schubert, timpanist Bill Cain and percussionist Bill Kerrigan, leaders of the full brass and percussion work. Of local interest will be the playing of Tommy Pederson’s “Blue Topaz” that will feature 17-year-old David Hoch, who is a student at the Curtis Institute. The program will end with a real swinging arrangement of Benny Goodman’s “Sing. Sing, Sing!” and Tomasi’s “Fanfares Liturgique,” considered to be the definitive brass and percussion work.

Tickets bought in advance are $35, $40 at the door, and include all day admission to Longwood Garden


The world class stride pianist Neville Dickie and the Midiri Brothers, Joe and Paul, will join forces for a wild jazz afternoon on Sunday, June 9, for the Tri-State Jazz Society at 2 to 5 p.m. Dickie is among the most accomplished stride and boogie-woogie pianists on either side of the Atlantic. He has made hundreds of appearances on the BBC and can be heard on hundreds of jazz recordings.

The Midiri Brothers have made both jazz and classical music the focus of their lives since the 1980s. They have recorded with everything from trios to big bands featuring the arrangements of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and the Dorsey Brothers. Tickets are $20 and $10 for first timers and members and free for students with ID’s. For more information and directions go to info@tristatejazz.org or call 856-720-o232.


Artists Jamie Wyeth and Rockwell Kent never met, but both liked to paint the island of Monhegan, and both were fascinated by it. Together the paintings depict a century of island life although from different viewpoints. Wyeth’s paintings are done with his “back to the sea,” focusing on the inhabitants, while Kent prefers coastal views of the headlands. Paintings by both men will be on display at the Brandywine River Museum June 15 through November.

The exhibition was organized by the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine, and enlarged upon by the Brandywine River Museum. They have added more than a dozen additional works and the debut of a new painting by Wyeth. A full color catalogue of the original exhibition along with a companion publication will be available. Jamie Wyeth will be signing the catalogue at the museum on June 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. You will have to buy the catalogue which will be the original one from the Rockport Museum plus a smaller one with the additions to the show at the Brandywine River. There is a limit of two signed catalogues per person.


The Delaware Theatre Co. that brings us such intriguing theatre will hold a benefit on Saturday, June 22. Called “From the Chorus” it stars Donna McKecknie, the actress/dancer who won all the awards for her portrayal of Cassie in “The Chorus Line” and has had a busy TV career ever since. Also headlining will be Tony Award nominee Malcolm Gets, actor best known for his role as the colorist in the TV show “Caroline in the City.” The honored guest of the evening will be DTC founder and Artistic Director Cleveland Morris.

There will be a Proseco Pour at 7 p.m. with the curtain at 7:30 p.m. A reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres will follow the performance. Cocktail attire is requested. Tickets are $100 per person or $175 per couple. For tickets call 302-591-1100.

Civil War

The Historic Odessa Foundation in Odessa, Del.,has an exhibit. “Dear Lou – Civil War Letters Home From Captain Charles Corbit.” The letters, written to his wife Louisa record details of lie in the army and portray life at home from 1863 to 1865. Captain Corbit is recognized as a hero. He was an officer in the in the First Delaware Calvary Regiment. Just 24 hours before Gettysburg, Corbit and his band of 100 soldiers collided with J.E.B. Stuart leading 6,000 horsemen. Corbit not only lost, he and his men were captured and he was wounded. However, the skirmish delayed Stuart from arriving at Gettysburg and possibly saved the Union.

There will also be an exhibit of authentic Civil War objects that belonged to Captain Corbit. As Corbet’s family, as well as several other familiar names in Delaware, has lived in Odessa for generations, the old houses in Odessa have been a treasure trove of historic information. Go to the Visitor Center, 291 Main Street, Odessa. For information call 302378-4118.Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4:30 p.m.


The Concord Presbyterian Church in Wilmington will present its gala spring concert on Sunday, June 9, at 7 p.m. with professional musicians and special guest artists. The will perform “Songs For Peace” featuring Leonard Bernstein’s stunning “Chichester Psalms,” among other exciting works.


The Media Theatre, East State Street, Media, will show Disney’s “101 Dalmatians” on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and on Sundays at 1 p.m. in June and July. Ages four and up will enjoy this tale of oodles of puppies, all with spots, and that old meanie Cruella DeVille. For information call 610-891-0100


“Rock of Ages,” the smash hit production in London and still on Broadway will be at the Merriam Theatre,250 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, for five performances June 14 through 16. This hilarious, feel-good love story told through the hit songs of the top rockers including Journey, Styx, Speedwagon, Foreigner and Whitesnake. The show features 28 classic rock tunes including “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” “Here I Go Again,” “Harden My Heart” and “Renegade.” For tickets ($20 - $100) call 215-731-3333.

‘Five Years’

The 11th Hour Theatre will present “The Last Five Years” on June 20 through 30 at the University at the Arts Caplan Studio Theatre, 211 S. Broad St., 16th Floor. It is described as” the story of a marriage from falling in love to falling apart, or from falling apart to falling in love, depending on how you look at it.” This contemporary musical is an intensively personal look at love, ambition and the challenges of marriage. This two-person musical tells the story of a marriage from his perspective and from hers. For tickets www.11thjpirtheatrecpmpany.org.

Kennett Flash

“Warm Bodies” –FILM –The world is full of a horde of zombies when R meets a human named Julie. He wants to protect her as they are caught between the “Bonies” zombies and the paranoid human forces. June 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.