The Weekend In Review: We are blessed

This past weekend (Aug 21-23) I had the pleasure of attending three different local events (out of the dozens on offer), each of which exemplified the depth of talent in our community, as well as the spirit of volunteerism, that makes our part of the Catskills a special place to call home.

Friday saw the opening night of the Shandaken Theatrical Society’s new Play Fair festival. Featuring six short plays by six local playwrights, drawing on the considerable acting skills of local residents, directors and producers, Play Fair had my teenage son and myself laughing hysterically throughout. It seems a little unfair to single any play out, as they were all marvelous, but Tom Cherwin’s “Psychotherapy” was above and beyond, easily good enough for the national stage. Play Fair runs until August 30; tickets are $12 and lower for two hours, a bargain compared to the average movie (especially allowing for the Theater’s $1 home-made snacks). Attending an event at the STS, on Church Street in Phoenicia, is not only good value, but it’s interactive and supports the arts in the community.

img_2785.jpg The scene in Phoenicia Park Saturday evening for the Opera In The Park. Fortunately, the organizers had the good sense to erect tents for the inevitable rain.

On Saturday, the Phoenicia Park saw a possibly unprecedented event: a gather of world-class (but locally based) singers and instrumentalists performing, under a tent, to a crowd of around 300 people, as what many of us hope will prove only to be the first Opera In The Park. This fund-raiser, for the purpose of replacing the antiquated playground equipment in the Park itself, was a success on so many levels, including the fact that it brought opera to the (relative) masses; that it was humorous as well as being classy; that it sought to incorporate show tunes and piano pieces; that local restaurants supplied freshly-made food at family-friendly prices… and that the thunderstorms stayed away until the concert was over. Credit is due to the community members who not only envisioned this idea but then had the sheer audacity (and wherewithal) to see it through. Hopefully, we will soon see the results in the playground itself.

img_2773.jpg Locally based, internationally renowned (and all round good people) opera singers Louie Otey and Kerry Henderson (at back), Maria Todaro (front left) and pianist for the evening Jennifer Peterson. Two local choruses – one long established, one that came together especially for the event – also participated in the performance, as did pianist Justin Kolb.

We were not quite as lucky with the rain on Sunday at Kidstock on Belleayre Mountain (an event that also served as a fund-raiser for local animal charity Friends of Snuffy): a massive storm in mid-afternoon curtailed some of the outdoor activities. But the rain couldn’t dampen the crowd’s spirits. The hundreds of kids (and their parents, of course), merely focused their attentions from the Musical Woodland Journey, and the Rock’n’roll Fashion Show, and other outdoor events and stalls, and headed indoors to hear local musicians like Uncle Rock, and the School of Rock All-Stars, and participate in the Kids’ Pet Poetry Reading and Air-Guitar contest, with one fortunate kid winning a genuine electric guitar. A spirit of child-like wonder rained – sorry, reigned – throughout the day.

img_6449.jpg John Lennon in his Sgt. Pepper period could be found entertaining local kids as part of the Musical Woodland Journey.

img_6572.jpg Janis Joplin and John Lennon in a rare moment backstage at Kidstock

These were only some of the weekend’s myriad activities. There was modern opera at Mount Tremper Arts, a live show by Uncle Monk on Main Street in Phoenicia, the ongoing exhibitions at Arts Upstairs and Cabane Studios, not to mention the dozens of others shows, concerts, movies, gallery openings, and various performances taking place all the way up and down what we sometime call “the Route 28 corridor” but which we can also consider, more poetically, the Heart of the Catskills. We are, truly, blessed to live in such a thriving area.

The teenagers from Paul Green’s School of Rock (the influence for the Jack Black film of that name) closed out Kidstock with their tribute to the music of the original Woodstock Festival. (Complete with The Who’s “Sparks.”) Gene Simmons from Mini Kiss joined them. It was that kind of day. More pictures from Kidstock can be found at the Belleayre Music Festival’s web site.

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1 Comment(s)

  1. 21 September, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Is that Weller’s old Rickenbacker! Hey Tony!

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