Memorial Day Carnival to kick off Freeman Stage season

The 2009 Freeman Stage at Bayside will kick off this Saturday, May 23, with the “St*ARTS and Stripes” Memorial Day Carnival at 2 p.m. At the event, the Southern Delaware School of the Arts will be performing one of their plays, “Twice Upon a Time”; the Army Band Broadway Trio and the Indian River Junior ROTC will be performing; and the Rehoboth Children’s Theatre will perform “Peter Pan.” There will also be games for the kids and patriotic crafts.

Coastal Point • File Photo: The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra performed at the Freeman Stage in Bayside last year. The orchestra will make an appearance again this year on June 19.Coastal Point • File Photo
The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra performed at the Freeman Stage in Bayside last year. The orchestra will make an appearance again this year on June 19.

The Freeman Stage 2009 season boasts some favorites from last year’s inaugural season and some new additions, as well, and organizers said they are proud of the diversity in the performing and visual arts they are offering for 2009.

“We’re so excited for our second season – we have some fabulous performances planned, and we’ve reached out to a diverse group of performers, from visual artists, to music, theater and dance. It’s really important to me that we showcase all types of art, particularly in an area where you may have to drive for hours to see a performance,” said Michelle DiDebo Freeman, chairman and president of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation.

Feature performances for the 2009 season include the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, with a kick-off June 19. The season will wrap up with the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists on Friday, Sept. 4. Also, three musical-theater performances will be featured on the stage: “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Oliver!” and “Flyer.”

In between, the stage will feature Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Lucky Burns Flame Performance on Saturday, July 11; Rennie Harris Puremovement Hip-Hop Dance on Thursday, July 30, and Grammy-award winning artist Terrance Simien with his authentic Louisiana Creole sound on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Patti Grimes, vice president of outreach and programming at the foundation, said these new acts will be an added flavor to the favorites, and the new offerings of music and gives teens and young adults something, in addition to the programming they have for small children on Saturday mornings that includes plays, art lessons and acting lessons.

“What I am most excited about for our second year is we have taken a good core program and have expanded it to have diversity in the performing arts,” Grimes said.

She added that visuals arts are as much a draw as the performing arts, and they have expanded their jazz festival to a two-day event.

“There’s such talent in local artists with visual arts. We have a two-day jazz festival the 24th and 25th of July. When we say we are bringing in the arts, we are bringing performing and visual arts. It’s all inclusive.”

Friday, July 24, will feature Streetlife and the Boilermaker Jazz Band, and Saturday, July 25, will feature Joe Baoine Sextet, Delmarva All Stars and visual artist John Donato.

Other local acts are the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Delmarva Big Band, Sir Rod, Katari Latin folk music and an African dance team from Dover.

“Delaware is a wealth of quality arts, and if we can showcase that,” said Grimes, “hopefully, folks will see it as a destination.”

Freeman added that, not only will the stage have a more diverse population of performers this year, but they are working to diversify their audience, as well.

“We’ve expanded our programming this year to reach out to more disadvantaged populations – particularly children. We’re working with several local non-profits to bring in children who would probably not be able to go to Wilmington or Baltimore to see the opera or the ballet,” Freeman said. “I think that the arts are the great equalizer – and exposing these kids to music and theater and dance is a very important part of our mission.”

The majority of the events are free and open to the public. For the 2009 season, the three musical theatre performances – :”Ain’t Misbehavin’,”, “Oliver!” and “Flyer” – will require an entry fee of $10. There is no admission charge for children younger than 12.

For more information or for a complete calendar, visit online. The stage is an outdoor venue, so visitors are being encouraged to bring chairs or blankets for seating. In the case of inclement weather, visitors are being encouraged to check the Web site or call (302) 436-3015 for updates on the schedule.