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HomeNewsArchivesSCENE & HERD - DEC. 10, 1999

SCENE & HERD – DEC. 10, 1999

Seals of the season: The last Virgin Islands Children's Seals edition of the 1900s may be the last ever. Organizer Nina York on St. Croix, who initiated the annual project as a fund-raiser to benefit V.I. youth groups in 1987, says she's ready to retire from the labor of love, and so far no one is volunteering to take over in her stead. (Well, truth to tell, she said that last year, too.)
This year's designs are the work of part-time St. Croix artist Donald Laurent Dahlke — five of his popular "portal" paintings that take the viewer from the exterior of a structure through a doorway into a darkened interior and on to a window on the other side that looks out onto a sunny seascape. There are 15 seals to a sheet and sheets are priced at $3 loose (for separating the seals and using them to adorn the backs of holiday greeting cards), $5 shrink-wrapped and $20 framed in wood for collectors, of which there are amazingly many hereabouts. This year's proceeds will go primarily to the territory's 4-H Clubs.
On St. Thomas, the seals are being sold at Dockside Bookshop, Color of Joy, Montessori School, The Pampered Pirate and Red Hook Mail Services. On St. John, they're available at both Connections offices, Pine Peace School, Frames of Mind, Pink Papaya and Wicker Wood & Shells.
Jamboree spree: Last Friday's Dockside Jamboree with the lighting of the imposing Havensight Mall Christmas tree and live music all over the place attracted hordes of holiday shoppers — most of them locals. And that, of course, was the whole idea. Tonight, it happens again. Look for the usual seasonal suspects — Santa, Mama Deer (that ol' dog) and assorted helpers passing out treats and selling tickets for an ongoing raffle with winners to be announced on Christmas Eve. Making music this time will be Milo's Kings, the Starlites, Smalls and the Music Makers, Seabreeze, and the All Stars Steel Band.
Mall stores' doors will stay open until 9 p.m. and artisans will be selling their wares outside. The Havensight Mall Association is putting it all together, with support from the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, the Committee to Revive Our Culture and The West Indian Company Ltd.
This will be the last full-fledged Jamboree of 1999, mall association executive director Linda Pinson says. Havensight stores will stay open late on Friday, Dec. 17, but the entertainment action will be downtown for "Miracle on Main Street." On Christmas Eve, Friday, Dec. 24, the stores will be open 'til 9 p.m., local choirs and carolers are encouraged to come make music in the mall (Challenge of the Carols early birds, take note), and the raffle winners will be drawn. "On Christmas Eve, we're looking for a lovely evening with an opportunity for last-minute shopping," Pinson says, "but we're keeping it low key."
Production production: For several years, Pistarckle Theater faithfully mounted an amusing version of that holiday chestnut "A Christmas Carol," and those who took it in will never forget Hans Eisler's hilarious Scrooge. This year, Pistarckle, in keeping with its focus on developing children's theater, has opted for a holiday play that's a contemporary story about and involving kids.
Any parent who has ever been involved in the production of a school play or other performance knows the experience can be, to put it mildly, challenging. Just keeping the youngsters under control is more than many adults can manage. Consider the complications, then — to say nothing of the implications — when some neighborhood toughs decide to move in on the action at a Christmas pageant rehearsal and do it their way.
That's the premise of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," which opened Thursday and runs this weekend and next in the amphitheater at Coral World. The play, which has serious and humorous moments, is about changes of attitude on the part of the children, the involved adults and the rest of the small community. The cast numbers 34, many of them young people. St. Thomas drama therapist Pamela New is the director.
Show time is 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, plus next Friday through Sunday, Dec. 17-19. Tickets are $12 for children under 12 and $22 for everyone else. They're available at Bumpa's, East End Secretarial Services, Marina Market and West Indies Coffee Co. You can also get them at the door or via charge card by calling 775-7877.
Good mornin', good mornin': Breakfast with Santa, a Rotary East tradition on St. Thomas, takes place Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School cafetorium. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, fruit and juice. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door. School band and choir groups will perform, and the kids get to share secrets with Santa, collect a toy and, if their grown-ups agree, get their pictures taken with the jolly old elf for $5 more.
Street beat: The "Sesame Street" set gets the chance to share hellos and hugs with their favorite PBS television characters Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Emancipation Garden at the "Guavaberry Village" being hosted by WTJX-TV/Channel 12. Elmo and Cookie Monster will be there, along with Arthur, Theodore Tugboat and, naturally, Santa. There'll be storytelling, face painting, and even pony rides — plus a mini-shopping mall for youngsters to purchase presents for their favorite friends and family members for $1, $2, $5 and $10. To learn more, call 774-6255.
Dance, dance, dance: Another tradition of not too many years ago on St. Thomas was the mounting by the St. Thomas School of Dance of the ballet "The Nutcracker" under the stars and beneath the clock tower in the courtyard of the Fort Christian Museum. The school is gone and the venue is still undergoing restoration from damage dating to Hurricane Hugo. But the Christmas-time tradition of dance is alive and well — at the V.I. Institute of Performing Arts.
VIIPA presents a play full of music and dance, "In Search of the Christmas Spirit," Saturday at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. The work of dance instructor Malayisha Rabsatt, it's the story of a girl, played by Johanie Taylor, who falls asleep wondering what the spirit of the season is all about and dreams her away around the world checking out the possibilities. Her guide is the Swan Princess, played by Torri Kappelman. Okay, so there are intimations of Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy here; it's hard to be entirely original in anything anymore. Actually, the production — featuring 137 performers — includes some of the "Nutcracker" ballet, along with Broadway music, vocal medleys, dance, gymnastics and even tai chi.
The program begins at 8 p.m. Tickets in the covered section are $20; those in the open air are $15 and $7 for adults, $5 for kids; they're available at both Modern Music shops, Silk Greenery, the VIIPA center and the Reichhold box office; call 777-9110.
Oldies but goodies: It's taken a year of planning to put together Sunday's "first annual" (well, only if they do it again next year) public auction of antiques, art and "collectibles" (un-new items not quite of an era or condition to qualify as antiques) being held by The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas. More than 300 pieces will go on the block at the Old Stone Farmhouse, about half of them from a fortuitously encountered estate on the island of Saba.
The proceeds from the event will go toward restoration and upkeep of the St. Thomas synagogue, a National Historic Landmark that is a popular tourist stop in downtown Charlotte Amalie. For donated pieces, the bidding will open wherever prospective buyers want to start. Consigned works, for which the owners will realize 70 percent of the selling price, will have a reserve price at which the bidding must begin.
Adam Hunter of New York's Tepper Galleries will conduct the auction, which begins at 1 p.m
. and is expected take about four hours. The goods up for grabs will be on view from 10:30 a.m. An oil painting that may or may not be the work of the well-known 19th Century English land- and seascape artist Joseph Mallord William Turner, some West Indian furniture pieces, and a page from one of St. Thomas son Camille Pissarro's sketch pads are expected to fetch well into four figures. (About the painting: It has the name "Turner" on the back but the private owner had not had the work authenticated; Hunter was to have a look at it Friday and base the reserve price on his expert assessment.)
There will also be a "tag sale" table of items priced under $100 which may be purchased from the time the doors open. And, of course, for the price of admission — $10, which includes the catalog — you can ogle and mingle to your heart's content without so much as a nod in the direction of the auctioneer.
Rain check: The annual Antilles Holiday Bazaar that was supposed to have taken place last Sunday was rained out, so it's been rescheduled for this Sunday, Dec. 12. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the school grounds. The offerings will include fresh-cut Christmas wreaths and trees, hand-made holiday decorations, home-made holiday baked goods, toys and games, books and videos, plants and miscellaneous flea market stuff. There'll be live music by school groups, and burgers, pizza and soft drinks for those in need of fuel. Admission's free. Proceeds benefit the various school classes and organizations doing the selling.
Headmaster Mark Marin says the organizers realize that Sunday is also the day of the big antiques and art auction fund raiser for the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas and they hope that no one feels the need to make a choice between one event and the other. While viewing of the items to be auctioned begins at 10:30 a.m., the actual auction is from 1 to around 5 p.m.
Screen scene: This weekend's "Cinema Sunday" offering is a film that will never make it to a commercial movie house in this country. It's a 1998 Iranian production that relates the experience of an Islamic family whose father kept his 11-year-old twin daughters confined inside their home from birth for religious reasons and was eventually denounced to social workers, who rescued the girls but later returned them and undertook to educate their parents. The teen-age director read about the case in a Tehran newspaper and actually persuaded the family members and a social worker to portray themselves in her film. This may sound less than entertaining, but reviewers and film festival jurists have been impressed with the artistic quality as well as the documentary aspects of the work. To learn more, see the Source story under "Movies."
Joy-full noise: Corinne Van Rensselaer is a St. Thomas watercolorist who some years ago opened her own gallery and gift shop, The Color of Joy. As is the way of the working world, the business demands deducted from her creative time, and so while she has always included her own work among the gallery offerings, she hasn't had a solo show of her own "in a long time," as she puts it.
Well, that's about to change. On Thursday, Dec. 16, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., The Color of Joy will host an opening reception for a new exhibition of Van Rensselaer's own work. She's calling the show "Colors That Sing." The opening-night festivities also add up to a Christmas party "thank you to all our customers," she says. There'll be refreshments and the traditional Color of Joy entertainment — Sally Smith on keyboard and vocals (along with whoever else decides to sit in).
The evening, Van Rensselaer says in marketing mode, is "free and open to art lovers, art collectors, art appreciators, art haters, art novices, shopaholics, busy executives, bored housewives, millionaires and philanthropists." If that doesn't cover you, throw in "and anyone else" for good measure. For more information, call 775-4020 or e-mail to art@virginislands.net.
Music, music, music all this week:
* The annual Downstreet People Christmas concert is at 7 p.m. tonight at the Palms Court Harborview Hotel, featuring the Pandemonium Steel Orchestra and the Evelyn Marcelli School choir. Tickets are $10 general admission, $5 for children 12 and under; they're available at the clubhouse next to the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel; call 777-1685.
* The Caribbean Chorale's annual Christmas concert takes place Saturday at 8 p.m. under the stars in the Fort Christian Museum courtyard with a special appearance by the Chorale Children's Choir. Tickets are $10 and are available from members; call 776-4566.
* The Eudora Kean High School Music Department's annual holiday concert showcasing the concert band, concert choir, steelband, chorus and choraliers in "A Christmas Fantasia" is Sunday at 4 p.m. in the school cafetorium. Tickets, $5 for all ages, are available in advance at the Education Station and the high school or may be purchased at the door; call 775-6360.
* We From Upstreet's annual Roosevelt Park holiday lighting ceremony, with music by Deep Unda Kova and school and community bands and choirs is Monday at 7 p.m. The park's artistic adornment in all-white lights in recent years has produced a picture-pretty winter wonderland with irresistible appeal to after-hours strollers who live in the neighborhood, stay a bit late in the office, or make the trip to especially to enjoy the sights of the season.
* The V.I. Housing Authority Youth Steel Orchestra will perform at Palms Court Harbourview Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. There's no admission charge, but donations will be accepted at the door.
* The St. John Singers Cruz Bay Christmas concert at Nazareth Lutheran Church is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. It will feature guest accompanist Albert Lynch on piano and keyboards and traditional guest flute soloist Nancy Ruffer. Tickets are $10 for all ages; they're available from choir members and will be sold at the door; call 776-6691.
Happy holidaze: Still to come in the weeks ahead:
Friday, Dec. 17, 5-9 p.m. — the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce Destination Downtown Committee's annual "Miracle on Main Street" after-hours celebration on the streets and in the stores of downtown Charlotte Amalie, with bands, choirs, dancers, mocko jumbies, arts and crafts, food and drink and abundant shopping options; call 776-0100. (P.S. — The party continues at 9 p.m. in Beni Iguana's, where the TNT band will be playing with the cover charge either a new toy or a cash donation for presents to be given to youngsters at the Family Resource Center shelter.)
Saturday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m. — the Territorial Court Rising Stars Steel Orchestra annual Christmas concert, a audio and visual phenomenon like no other as more than a hundred young pannists and drummers flood the full-to-overflowing Reichhold amphitheater with reverberating holiday sounds. Tickets are $10 covered, $5 open-air; call 693-1559.
Saturday, Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. — the Love City Pan Dragons and Baby Pan Dragons youth steel orchestras, in a performance of Christmas music on the lawn of The Battery in Cruz Bay. Tickets are $5 in advance (at Our Market/Hospitality Car Rental and Courtesy Car Rental, or from conductor Samuel Lawrence and parent coordinator Elaine Penn), $7 at the gate; call 693-8807.
Saturday, Dec. 18, 9 p.m. — Mongoose Junction's annual public but adults-only Christmas party, kicking off from Island Fancy with hors d'oeuvres set up by all the restaurants in the shopping complex, cash bars, two bands and proceeds benefiting the Mongoose Merchants Association, which gives out mini-grants in the community. Admission free; 776-6267.
Monday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. — St. John Singers Coral Bay Christmas concert at Emmaus Moravian Church with guest accompanist Albert Lynch on piano and keyboards and traditional guest flute
soloist Nancy Ruffer. Tickets are $10 for all ages; they're available from choir members and will be sold at the door; call 776-6691..
Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 25 and 26, 8 p.m. — the Reichhold's own second annual in-house production of the home-grown holiday musical "A Caribbean Christmas," with performances by (among others) the 50-voice Caribbean Flayva choir, the Lansiquot Sisters gospel trio from St. Croix, the Friends gospel group, Simon Sez as backing band, soloists Lorna Freeman and Ron Nimmo; and Josephine Thomas-Lewis back as musical director. Tickets are $15, $12 and $8 both nights; call 693-1559.
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. — classical and flamenco solo guitarist Dennis Koster, in a Classics in the Garden concert at Tillett Gardens; tickets are $25 with optional pre-performance dinner in Tillett Gardens with concert seating for $30 additional; call 775-1929.
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 8 p.m. — 21st Century, a Caribbean-inspired jazz ensemble formed by two now New York-based Virgin Islanders, saxophonist Ron Blake and drummer Dion Parson, in the Reichhold Center. They'll be joined for the evening by fellow St. Thomian Reuben Rogers on bass; special guests will be singer Cynthia Saunders and the Caribbean Chorale Youth Choir. Tickets are $25 for covered seats, $18 for all others; call 693-1559 for outlets.
Thursday, Dec. 30, 8 p.m. — classical and flamenco solo guitarist Dennis Koster performs at the St. John School of the Arts. Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 for students; call 779-4322 or 776-6777 for the requisite reservations.
To be scene: Scene & Herd previews arts and entertainment events open to the public on St. Thomas and St. John. To have material considered for inclusion, submit it by Wednesday of each week for the following Friday's column by faxing to 776-4812, e-mailing to jetsinger@viaccess.net or calling 776-4812 and leaving a message for a call-back.

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