May 12, 2011 —
The question that hangs in the air is whether there is such a thing as “too much fun?” Judging by the past week, I hesitate to say “yes” but that said, I’m grateful that I must slow down for a brief shining moment and share my exploits, while sitting still.
Over the weekend, I became momentarily overwhelmed (what else is new) when forced to make decisions on “where and when.” So many choices of great events to attend can create (personal, psychotic) inner chaos but ultimately, I don’t believe that “less is more” concerning the arts and entertainment world of the Upper Delaware Valley. Therefore, I took off at lightening speed...
My conundrum began with the “First Fridays” concept. There are several from which to choose, but only one first Friday each month. This time out, I went with the Upper Delaware Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (UDGLBT—hold the mayo) event at the Water Wheel (www.waterwheelcafe.com ) in Milford, PA. The organization, (www.udglbtcenter.blogspot.com ) is busy, busy, busy, and this is the first opportunity that I’ve had in over a year to pay them a visit.
First Fridays coordinator Patty Tomaszewski works tirelessly to create these highly successful events, and had invited singer/songwriter aj shanti (www.myspace.com/ajshanti ) to entertain. I’m a huge fan, so it was easy to select UDGLBT as my destination this time around. Many in the audience had not experienced shanti before and they were (clearly) impressed with her style, incredible vocals and her unique connection with each audience she encounters as she travels the world, sharing her talents. Between the crowd, the (swell) venue and the show—(almost) too much fun.
I have (finally) discovered the reasoning behind so many organizations’ creating festivals of one sort or another—each and every one that I attend turns out to be fun, fun, fun. I headed out to Sullivan County College (www.sullivan.suny.edu ) for its annual Kite Festival, with the thought of snapping a photo and being on my way, but there was so much going on, that I stayed for hours. A perfect opportunity for families to spend time together, the festival included kite demonstrations, booths, vendors, food, music, an art show and (yep) loads of fun.
Later that same day I flew to yet another destination I’ve been dying to check out: the Rolling River Café, (www.rollingriver.net ) in Parksville, NY. Proprietors Kim and Rob Rayevsky were as charming as the inviting setting they have created, and certainly know how to throw a party. Local comic Rich Kiamco (www.richkiamco.com ) was the entertainment headliner, and it was cool to see him perform an entire (very amusing) set, since he often is introducing others to the stage, as he continues to bring comedy to the Catskills with his group (www.the 
The opening act was a fresh young guy named David Wiswell (facebook.com/people/David-Wiswell) who handled the hecklers (yes, hecklers) with hilarious retorts and delivered a solid, rip-roaring set, rife with cultural references and held his own, despite the rowdy (uninvited) audience participation. I stayed to the (not so) bitter end, since I was having too much fun. The menu was also inviting, so a return visit is definitely in my future!
It would be a stretch to describe playwright Lorraine Hansberrys’ intensely gripping drama, “A Raisin in the Sun” as “fun” but the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop (www.scdw.net ) has opened its 2011 season with this production and I attended on Mother’s Day. Director G. Oliver King shared his connection to the play with the audience before the show commenced, and I was immediately struck by his passion for the work, the gorgeous set, created by Rachel Keebler, and impressed by the production, overall.
DeLois “Cookie” House, as “Mama” Lena Younger, set the tone with a thoughtful, layered interpretation of the character, and her performance not only (IMHO) enhanced the other actors’ performances with her well-honed skill, but carried the show by her mere presence.
Joining House with some fine acting were Crystal Tweed, John Nealis, Ebony Isaac, Oliver King and a great comic turn by Cynthia Toliver, as the nosy neighbor, Mrs. Johnson. Rounding out the cast, 13-year-old Frank Degroat shows great promise, alongside cast mates Bruno D. Roberts, Francis Young-Henderson and Paul Puerschner.
The play itself, set in the early 1950s, illustrates the mind-set of a nation and the complicated issues of integration, bigotry and the onset of the civil rights movement, which forever changed the landscape of our world. The play runs through May 15 at the (still new and improved) Rivoli Theatre in South Fallsburg, NY, and although it may not fall under the “fun” category (given the subject matter), is well worth a visit. I’m happy to be “linked in” (keep ‘em coming!) and thrilled that the Upper Delaware Valley can be described as “too much fun.” Nothin’ wrong with that.