Taking commissions to paint art for calendars was once a marvelous way to get paid well and balance the budget. Work by four great artists who did this were Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle. Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth. Unfortunately, this caused them to be designated as illustrators instead of artists, which bothered some of the artists while it made the public more familiar with their work. Art by these artists will be on display from Jan. 25 through May 18 at the Brandywine River Museum.
The exhibition will have some of Maxfield Parrish’s haunting work for General Electric’s Edison Mazda brand and the images by Norman Rockwell for the Boy Scouts of America. N.C. Wyeth has 12 dramatic paintings inspired by patriotic events in the history of America. These include Coronado’s 16th century expedition to the southwest and Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865, a painting filled with many props from N.C.’s studio, like the Kentucky rifle and the coon skin cap.
Longwood Gardens has finished its gorgeous Christmas display and have glided seamlessly into Orchid Extravaganza, and it is a knockout. Thousands of orchids flow down the walls, dangle from the baskets and are placed to form arches. It is lovely and will be there until March 24.
PAPAYA (Pennsylvania Performing Arts for Young People) is hosting two-by-two Dutch Dance Duets Feb. 1 and 2. This program of two dances recommended for grades three and up is very athletic and modern. The dancers from the Netherlands climb on one another in endless positions without ever touching the walls or ground. It will be presented at The Painted Bride, 230 Vine St., Philadelphia. For tickets call 215-925-9914 for tickets ($25, Kids $15 in advance)
Come one, come all as this weekend is your chance to see this year’s traditional pantomime in the English tradition (no mimed). This is a fun spoof of a known tale. After the actors have gotten through all the bad jokes and bawdy humor and the evil villain has been foiled, there is a happy ending with great music, silly jokes and fun audience participation. It’s your neighbors on stage and something the children should enjoy. Performances are at the Kennett High School on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children either at the door or online at www.callkatsrog. There is no ticketing fee.
Last week I attended the talk by TV journalist Joan Lunden that is sponsored by Smart Talk. Smart Talk says, “she is one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities.” She was knock-out beautiful at age 60-something, a humorous speaker and equipped with a 10-point program on how to reach the economic heights and have it all. However, she left out a few pieces of information. She casually mentioned that she had raised seven children while achieving her success, but never mentioned that she was age 52 and 54 when her last two sets of twins were born, or that a surrogate had them. She told how she laid out the children’s’ clothes each night, as she had to head for work at 3 a.m., but never mentioned that there was anyone else who got the clothes on the children and possibly fed them. I would not rate this dog and pony show as full disclosure.
The First State Ballet Theater will perform classical and contemporary highlights from different ballets in their Baby Grand Studio 1 on Friday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. and Saturday. Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. Called “Up Front” the event is limited to 100 patrons. Adults are $30, students 18 and under $20.
The years-old play “Ghosts” by Ibsen in 1881 currently at the People’s Light & Theatre in Malvern has not lost any of its power and timeliness since it first caused riots and a scandal when it was first produced. They would not even produce the play until Ibsen changed the evening. This dramatic exploration of the damage family secrets can cause is an explosive story with an astounding professional cast that keeps the audience riveted. This is heavy drama leavened by the brilliant performance of the entire cast from the repressed wealthy widow Mrs. Helen Alving (Kathryn Peterson) and the egotistical moralistic Pastor Anders, who is so self-delusional he is inadvertently funny. Veteran actor Peter DeLaurier steals the show in a brilliant performance that keeps the audience laughing, as the rascally dishonest carpenter Engstrand. Strong dramatic parts were portrayed by Mary Tuomanen as adopted daughter Regina Engstrand and Keith Conallen as the dying Oswald Alving.
Opening night was totally sold out to an enthusiastic audience. I don’t know that all those very, very tall people in the lobby were Norwegians, but I have never been surrounded by so many very tall people. The show runs through Feb. 9. Try to get a ticket at 610-644-3500. This is a masterpiece.
I am told that tickets to the Kennett Winterfest that is an outdoor beer drinking event at South Broad Street between State and Cypress streets on Saturday, Feb. 22 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. are almost sold out. Unfortunately the press release did not say where to buy them, but I would suggest going to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $65 for unlimited beer tastings from 40 plus breweries, food by the Country Butcher and Music by the Shady Grove Trio. Designated Driver tickets are $20.
The Delaware Art Museum will celebrate the Chinese New Year with the Chinese Community on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the Lion Dance from 11:30 a.m. to noon.
The Brandywine River Museum will have free Sunday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to noon through Nov. 23, except for May 24 during the annual Antiques Show. While visiting on Sunday mornings, visitors may enjoy Breakfast on the Brandywine in the museum’s café from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
A Taste of Opera
Opera Philadelphia with the Barnes Foundation is offering a free program of selections of Osvaldo Golijov’s spectacular opera “Aimadamar, Readings of Federico Garcia Lorca,” by Dr. Salvatore Poeta and a flamenco dance performance by Pasion y Arte on Sunday, Feb. 2, from3 to 4 p.m. The Barnes Foundation offers free timed tickets through its Free First Sunday’s program.
The Media Theatre, 194 E. State St., Media, is offering special Wednesday performances of “The Diary of Anne Frank” for school students on Jan. 29, 30, Feb. 5, 6, 12 and 13 at 10 a.m. Tickets are only $20 for groups of 15. This true story of a Dutch family hiding from the Nazis is a slice of proven history. The show will have regular performances Jan. 29 through Feb. 16. For reservations call 610-891-0100.
The play “Tribes” by Nina Raine won the 2012 Drama Desk Award with this story of a young deaf man living with his loud, intellectual fiercely opinionated family who has never learned to hear anything he has to say. Only when he falls in love with a young woman who is losing her hearing does he appreciate what it is like to be understood. The lead in the play is Tad Cooley, whose own hearing is gradually diminishing, which gives him a special sensitivity in the role. Performances will be at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard streets with previews from Jan. 24 through 28 with the opening Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. and the closing on Feb. 23. For tickets call 215-985-9429.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.