As summertime winds to a close, many visitors and residents in the beach communities are reflecting on the memories they made this season. Likewise, Patti Grimes, vice president of outreach and programming for the Carl M. Freeman and Joshua M. Freeman foundations, is pleased with the way the season has gone for the organizations. The Freeman Foundation’s Summer Stage Series, held at the Bayside community, near Fenwick Island, hosted an impressive 47 performances this season, and plans to end the summer with an extraordinary finale this weekend.
“We’re very excited with what the Freeman Foundation has accomplished with its summer program,” said Grimes.
The August headliner and Summer Stage finale will include a weekend of incredible caliber as the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafrtiz Young Artist Program graces the stage on Friday, Aug. 29, followed by the Choral Arts Society of Washington on Saturday night. Both shows will begin at 7:30 p.m.
The Young Artist Program, now in its seventh season, is overseen by legendary singer Placido Domingo and is preparing many performers for international careers. Friday evening’s performance will offer guests the sounds of well-known opera compositions by Rossini, Puccini, Bizet and Verdi, as well as others.
“It will be a nice introduction for people who have not had an introduction into opera,” Grimes noted, “and at the same time, it will appeal to everyone on the audience.”
The Choral Arts Society of Washington, slated to take the stage Saturday evening, features the society’s vocal ensemble, including 12 performers, performing well-known songs from musical productions such as “The Sound of Music,” “Oklahoma!,” “West Side Story,” “By George” and other famous American tunes.
The night, coined “A Grand Night for Singing,” ought to compliment the summer series, with an enjoyable send-off for attendants and listeners. Artistic Director and founder of the Choral Arts Society Norman Scribner will lead Saturday night’s show.
A laser light show will wrap the night up, providing a spectacle for the whole family, set to music.
“The night will really be great for the audience who enjoys this caliber of singing and entertainment,” added Grimes. “We really want to show that the foundation is bringing the arts to Sussex County with this finale. We’ve already come a long way this summer, and I know people understand that.”
This will be the first time that either organization will take its talents to the Delaware coast region. The performances are not only a way to bring the arts to Sussex County, but an outlet for people to experience productions typically held in the larger metropolis.
“There are many representatives in the arts through Washington D.C.,” said Grimes, “and they’re pleased to partner with the Freeman Foundation to bring these performances to the shore. There’s always an exuberance and enthusiasm from everyone who comes to our shows, and it’s really exciting to offer something that many people wouldn’t have the chance to experience otherwise.”
Throughout the summer performances, more than 10,000 people have attended the shows, which have included family nights on Thursday evenings, music nights on Fridays, a Saturday morning children’s hour and movie nights on Saturday evenings.
Each month, the Freeman Foundation also hosted a headliner. Musical productions “Einstein’s Breakfast,” written by local playwright Harold Schmidt, and “South Pacific,” produced by Clear Space Productions, have both graced the limelight of headliner shows.
The response has been so overwhelming and widely attended that the foundation plans to extend monthly performances through the end of the year. On Sept. 20, at 7 p.m., the Freeman Foundation will present “100 Years of Broadway,” which will offer songs and dancing to celebrate a history of Broadway favorites. October will include a Fall Festival, with Southern rock-country band Dakkota playing in November, and song and activities for the holiday season set for December.
The Summer Stage performances this season, leading into the fall, are just a taste of what the Freeman Foundation has planned for the region in the time to come. Continuing development of the Joshua M. Freeman Cultural Arts Center is still under way, with plans to bring a variety of visual and performing art presentations to the area on an ongoing basis.
“It’s really been tremendous to feel a need for the arts in the area,” Grimes said. “The response we’ve had shows that. We offer a great exposure for children and families. These productions help to bring everyone together.”
All performances put on by the Freeman Foundation are open and free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs. For more information about productions, call the Freeman Summer Stage Hotline at (302) 436-3015. For more information about the foundation itself, visit www.freemanfoundation.org online or call (302) 436-3003.