The Culture Maven Report 2014

Because I am an Arts & Culture media person people imagine that I am out all the time at cultural events.  This is not true.  As a single mom without a familial support system close by with a full time job, I often in my PJ’s by 8pm snuggled up with a good book or binge watching whatever TV series I have chosen to view in order to stay conversant with people (this past year I binge watched GAME OF THRONES and HOUSE OF CARDS and kept up with season 4 of DOWNTON ABBEY).  But looking back over 2014 I was able to glean, through saved ticket stubs, roughly how much culture I absorbed.

I thought it would be fun to share the tally with you, though I am certain it is not entirely accurate as there were events I attended without tickets like THE HERITAGE HARVEST FESTIVAL at Monticello and other events I attended purely as part of my job at WNRN like THE RED WING ROOTS MUSIC FESTIVAL.

So here is most what I saw/did/experienced in 2015:

1 Opera – I wish I had seen more.  I was sad to miss two different productions of LA BOHEME along with Va. Opera’s entire season. 😦

7 Concerts– That seems way off but often I am on the guest list and I have the memory of a goldfish.  I can tell you that the best concert I attended this year was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings– positively awe-inspiring!

13 museums/exhibits– This does not include art galleries.  My favorite exhibit was a guilty pleasure viewing of Hollywood Glamour at the MFA in Boston- I know it should be something loftier like the Goya, Jamie Wyeth or Gordon Parks but hey, I was a fashion major in art school and am a big sucker for old movies.

14 Films – And I think I never go to the movies- Hah! My favorite film I saw this year…GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE, an Iranian vampire movie in black and white. Caught it at the Virginia Film Festival. Tender love story with a twist. Adorable.

25 Plays– Excluding a production of SPAMALOT at Tandem Friends School in which my daughter played Patsy, my favorite play this year was CYRANO DE BERGERAC at American Shakespeare Center.  I have said it before, John Harrell’s portrayal of the title character was the performance of a life time. I feel privileged to have witnessed it. 🙂

John Harrell as Cyrano at ASC

John Harrell as Cyrano at ASC

Not bad for 52 weeks.

Here’s to a Culture filled 2015!

What is your culture tally for 2014? Do you have a favorite play, movie, exhibit or other cultural experience to share?

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WNRN Culture Connection for Nov 10 – 16

Ahhhh November.  The month that ushers in  the sugarfest that is commonly referred to as “The Holidays”.  This week I have sweets on the brain and have curated three plays that have some sweet related thing about them.  The first is Edward II at the Blackfriars in Staunton. King Ed has an obsession similar to a sugar addiction which ruins his reign.  Then aptly titled, The Sugar at Live Arts in Charlottesville, is all about a woman trying to kick the glucose habit just when her world seems to be falling to pieces. Lastly but definitely not least, Clay Chapman brings his Pumpkin Pie Show to Richmond.

For information on the featured events, click the links below.  To listen to this week’s Culture Connection, go to wnrn.org, click on Features then on Culture Connection.

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Edward II:

http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=1746

The Sugar:

http://www.livearts.org/

The Pumpkin Pie Show:

http://claymcleodchapman.com/performances/the-pumpkin-pie-show

So get your sweets fix without the calories this week and have a cultured good time.

All the best,

Mary

The Culture Maven

PS: Caught Fed Up at the Virginia Film Festival this past weekend and am working on a blog post about it on culturenuts.wordpress.com.

Illness and a few holiday events

In the last post, I mentioned had been/was sick.  Well, I felt better, ran around doing holiday business and work and landed right back in bed for four more days missing a few holiday parties and emerging on Saturday the 21st for a visit to Jefferson Vineyards with my dear friend Jacquie O’Connor and road tripping to Staunton with Jacquie and 7 other good pals to see THE SANTALAND DIARIES at American Shakespeare Center. It was, as usual, great fun.  I adore David Sedaris and have laughed at this monolog countless times.  After the show we all went to dinner at Emilio’s in Staunton and other than the arrangement of a private room (which, as wine was consumed and the group became quite loud, was a godsend), I cannot recommend it.  In fact at least two people in our party felt quite ill later in the evening but we had a great time anyway and next time I will make sure to get a reservation at Zynodoa, Aoli or the Mill well in advance (they were booked that night and it was inconvenient trying to find a better place to eat with a group of nine to herd).

Christmas Eve found me at Pearl’s bake shoppe picking up a gorgeous chocolate/mocha bouche de Noel for an afternoon tea party at some good friend’s in Richmond then off I went with my daughter in tow to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art to see the Hollywood Costume Exhibit.  I bought her a membership to the VMFA for part of her Christmas present (the student membership cost the same as her admission to the exhibit) which turned out to be a brilliant idea.  She felt very grown up having her own membership and she actually squealed with glee at some of the costumes she saw worn by a few of her idols like Edward Norton and Robert De Niro (she has strange taste for a 13 year old) plus she discovered some new films and actors.  She thanked me profusely for taking her to the exhibit as we enjoyed a coffee and a ginger ale in the Best Cafe. My favorite costume was one worn by Ginger Rogers, a sequined number with mink on the back of the skirt.  The exhibit leaves in early February (I think) so get there soon- this is the only east coast stop. After tea and carol singing at my friend’s, Sam (my daughter) and I went to my favorite Indian restaurant, Lehja for Christmas Eve dinner.  As usual, Sunny and his staff offered up good service and good food warming us on a chilly night and fortifying us for the drive back to Cville to feed our cat, Norton (yes, named ofter Edward Norton- told you my daughter is a fan) and wait for Santa. I had the corn soup for a starter and we split the Saag Paneer for our entree.  Lehja simply has the best Saag Paneer I have ever tasted, a spinach and cheese dish that means Indian comfort food to me.

We spent Christmas at Keswick Hall where we dined with several members of my extended family.  Talk about decking the Halls, Keswick is especially festive at Christmas with loads of garland, several decorated trees and a buffet lunch with items to satisfy everyone in your party.  I particularly enjoyed the prime rib and the duck salad. I just adore Keswick Hall as a place to take visitors and simple to feel like I am in that certain part of Charlottesville that is gracious, beautiful and embodies the mood that Ralph Lauren strives for in his preppy collection.  I just always feel so at home in the lounge seated next to the blazing fire and just enjoying the sumptuous country life to which Jefferson prescribed.

Friday night found me at The Livery Stable, a new restaurant/pub on the west end of Charlottesville’s downtown mall. There is a drink featured there named something like A Russian Mule, vodka, ginger beer and something else served in a special copper mug. It is my new favorite cocktail.  I also indulged in a pot roast slider (without the bread, of course) which was so delicious I was sorry to have only one order.  Chef Felix has plans to bump up the menu in 2014 possibly including adding Korean bbq. YUM!

Saturday was a day of shopping the sales with my Mum at Short Pump- part of my Christmas present.  We shopped for hours and enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cafe in Nordtrom.  My Tuscan Salmon was pretty good and would have been better had it been served a bit warmer but overall a lovely lunch.

Sam is gone and I am basically basking in the stillness and quiet but if I do go somewhere you will learn about it next week.

Happy New Year!

Mary

The Culture Maven

PS: WNRN Culture Connect, the extended version with me and Matt Slaats, premiers on Sunday January 5th at 11:00am on WNRN. Go to worn.org to stream it.

ASC on TV tonight

Just got this notice from the PR office at the American Shakespeare Center.  I am very excited that they are getting some television coverage.

Dear Culture Maven,

Tune in to WVPT tonight at 8:00pm
when PBS brings your favorite theatre company into your living room.

Shakespeare’s American Home
a new half-hour documentary
about the American Shakespeare Center
premieres right here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Featuring interviews with ASC Co-Founders Dr. Ralph Alan Cohen and Jim Warren;
ASC Actors Benjamin Curns, Sarah Fallon, Allison Glenzer, John Harrell, and René Thornton, Jr.;
and footage from the 2013 Spring Season production of Love’s Labour’s Lost and rehearsals
for the 2013 Summer Season production of Romeo and Juliet.


Photo Credit: Patrick Midgley as Navarre in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Photo by Lauren D. Rogers. 

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