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Middletown Transcript
Theatre arts reviewer for past 15 years. Delve in to biz of arts also
This weekend's NCT fund raiser - Too many Brdway showstoppers to count!
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By Greer Firestone

- Playwright/actor in 1 man First Person Multi Media Living History show THE DuPONT STORY  A FAMILY A COMPANY

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Aisle Say

- Playwright/actor in 1 man First Person Multi Media Living History show THE DuPONT STORY  A FAMILY A COMPANY

- Playwright of Broadway style musical GERSHWIN, by GEORGE: The 1936 Radio, JUDY GARLAND \x34World's Greatest Entertainer\x34

- Author of historical novel: ALEXEI and RASPUTIN

- High school soccer and lacrosse ref and arts/non-profits advocate

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By Greer Firestone
Sept. 23, 2013 12:18 p.m.



House lights down. The sound of silence. Stage lights up. Enter magic. The audience is transported to a whole other world. In the universe of musical theatre, (along with jazz, the only American-birthed form of music) the path to the curtain call is suffused with energetic dance, sonorous melodies, comedy, a heart break and happy ending.

In the '70's dinner theatres were as plentiful as the canned laughter on The Big Bang Theory, (but certainly not as annoying). I recall 6 in New Castle County alone. Now there is but a lone survivor - emphasizing the word 'survivor' - New Candlelight Theatre in Arden.

"Dinner theatre is a beast to manage" says board member Cindy Goldstein. (In Greek Mythology, think the many-headed Hydra).  Dinner theatre's profit margins are Mahatma Ghandi-thin. It has several entities wrapped in one; food, entertainment, set construction, employees, liquor, sound, lighting, royalties, publicity, maintenance to name a few. In an aging structure, maintenance becomes a central issue.

Candlelight was built as a barn, the same year as the first river bottom stones went into building The DuPont Experimental Station...1903. Rented and renovated by dinner theatre founders Julian and Annabelle Borris & John and Lena O'Toole in 1969, the stage has seen hundreds productions and delighted and warmed the hearts of tens of thousands of audience members. Marriages have been made there, perhaps even consummated there...(ah, what secrets lie in the dressing rooms). Friendships lasting for life have been created there. Much joy, much celebration, much love.

Lindsay Mauck, a stellar talent now in her 5th year of performing at NCT says, "it is my second family."  Lindsay made another comment that should be considered. "Look around at other theatres. They do one, maybe two musicals a year. Musicals are so much more expensive to stage than dramas. Yet that is ALL we do at Candlelight! "

Board member Cindy Goldstein was part of the first group that began to reorganize everything at the theatre. After founder John O'Toole passed, individuals who understood what Candlelight had done for them wished to donate. There was no place to put that money. A month or two later, NCT had their first fund raiser. Cindy's husband Lee - a basketball playing friend of mine from Brandywine High - was then board chairman. Three days later while traveling in Spain, Lee suffered a heart attack and died. Again, individuals wished to donate. Cindy was a prime mover to establish an endowment fund for both John and Lee, creating a solvent future for the now non-profit theatre.

Of primary concern is the condition of the stage itself. Tens of thousands of dancing hooves over the 40+ years has taken the once level surface to sway back status. Actors gain inches to their stature standing on either wing! Producing Artistic Director Bob Kelly suggests that is difficult enough building a set to last for a six week run. Try doing it to accommodate varying levels on what SHOULD be a flat surface!

It's now time to give back....this weekend! The Capitol Campaign, under the direction of Peter Briccotto, does it "The NCT way", that is with Song & Dance. For 3 days only you will be entertained with the most extensive collection of Broadway opening numbers on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. This is one great concept.

In 1969 Candlelight opened with FORUM, so one expects the hysterical "A Comedy Tonight' to be included, if not 'open' the "openings show'.

As Briccotto says, "we've got to keep that candle burning!" I'LL SAY!!

September 27 - 29     NCTSTAGE.org   475.2313

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