Local Scene News

We have new feeds added From Charleston Underground and The Defintley Loud Podcast!!

These two cover much of the local art and music scene and if you are from out of town this will give you a great heads up on what goes on in Charleston and the Rest of WV.
You can Read it here on the Empty Glass site or click on the Links and read if on the on the original Site.

Married "Hamlet" stars find joy in Shakespearian tragedy 

By Shawnee Moran

Stephanie Holladay Earl is Patrick Earl's wife.

She has been his lover. She is also his mother. And, at one point in time, she was his sister.

Patrick said they don't let it get weird, though, and it doesn't affect their marriage. It just comes with the territory of acting for the American Shakespeare Center.

"Here's the weird thing - I thought it would be strange, but once we started rehearsing it kind of became about the work rather than our actual relationship outside the play," he said, referring to the couple's roles as mother and son in the company's touring production of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

Patrick and Stephanie, along a cast of talented actors from the American Shakespeare Center, will perform "Hamlet" Friday evening at the Scottish Rite Temple on Capitol Street, as a part of the 2014-15 Method in Madness Tour.

Patrick, who will play the melancholy Prince of Denmark, said he found a love and appreciation for Shakespeare's works when he was pursuing a MFA degree in acting at the University of Houston nearly six years ago.

"I really, really loved speaking the text of Shakespeare and getting to the heart of what makes these characters human," he said.

It was also at the university where he met and fell in love with his wife, and the couple has worked and traveled together with the American Shakespeare Center consistently ever since.

Patrick said being married to another actor can pose some "cool possibilities" on the job as well as some great difficulties. Actors have to travel to different cities in their line of work to get jobs, he said, which can often separate couples and cause some friction in a long-distance relationship.

"But for Stephanie and me it hasn't been that way," he said.

He said it is rewarding to be able to travel the country and create memories together.

"It's this cool professional life/permanent honeymoon we're on ... I think for me it's kind of a dream come true that I'm doing work I'm proud of and I get to share that with my best friend," he said.

Patrick said getting an opportunity to portray Hamlet also is a dream come true.

"Hamlet" was the first production he saw at the American Shakespeare Center before he was hired as a professional actor.

Patrick watched and admired the actors on stage, but said he never thought he would have an opportunity to play the famous character.

It hasn't been easy. He said playing a well-known character and living up to audience expectations is a lot of work, especially at the American Shakespeare Center.

Patrick said actors have a very specific way of developing their characters.

Before rehearsals begins, actors have to memorize their lines and be able to perform without a script. On the first day they get to practice with other actors. Then, the following day, they must perform for directors and a small audience.

The actors only have a week and a half to two weeks of rehearsal before they hit the road and start performing in front of an audience.

When Patrick sits down with the script to begin to memorize his lines, he reads it over and over studying lines intently to discover who his character really is.

"I like to dig into the text and not only see what other characters say about my character, but what the lines mean to me as a person in particular," he said. "I figured if I attacked the character in a way that would make sense to me, then the choices I made onstage would be more human."

Once performance time rolls around, the actors hit the stage and present the play in an unconventional way.

The American Shakespeare Center follows the basic principles of Renaissance theatrical productions and presents shows to audience members the way it would have been performed in Shakespeare's day.

Sara Vazquez, the troupe manager and assistant director for the Method in Madness Tour, said one of the main differences audience members will experience is universal lighting.

By leaving the house lights on during performances, actors will be able to engage with audience members in a way that will make them feel more included in the production. It also helps pull audience into the performance and helps them understand the dialogue better.

She said they hope to abolish "Shakes-fear" through this type of interactive play.

"We employ a lot of Shakespeare's staging conditions. That's kind of what the company was founded on," Vazquez said. "It's fun to watch somebody else react...it can be as simple as taking a question out to an audience member, high-fiving somebody in the front row or using them to hide behind. That's the way we think it should be done."

She said during this six-month long tour she hopes people will fall in love with Shakespeare and have a wonderful time.

Patrick said people should come to the play with an open mind, relax and enjoy the show.

"I think we think of Shakespeare and 'Hamlet'...as extremely tragic. But Hamlet is funny. The lead character is very smart and he lets the characters on stage and the audience know he's funny," he said. "I think our production is a really strong one, and when you come in with an open mind you can make new discoveries and insights as an audience member that you haven't done before."

There will be a pre-show performance starting at 7 p.m. which will feature actors playing live acoustic music on stage by contemporary artists like Foo Fighters, Kansas and Gnarls Barkley.

The actual performance will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65 and over, and $10 for students. They are available at the door or in advance at Taylor Books with a small fee added.

The American Shakespeare Center will also host an adult/teacher workshop Saturday morning as a part of FestivALL Fall.

For more information about the American Shakespeare Center, visit their website at http://americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=1 or their Facebook page.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

FestivALL Fall brings jam-packed weekend of family-friendly activities 

By Zack Harold

The weather is turning chilly, but Charleston residents are getting one last weekend of activities before winter hibernation.

The third-annual FestivALL Fall opens on Friday.

FestivALL co-director Brittany Javins said the event has grown every year, just like the main FestivALL celebration held in June.

"It's a way to keep it going every now and then throughout the year," she said.

Javins said organizers tried to schedule a wide variety of activities, and space them out so families can see as many events as they want.

On Friday and Saturday, the Charleston Ballet will present "Romeo and Juliet," a ballet based on William Shakespeare's classic tragedy.

"There's not a tutu in this. It's like a play, but danced," director Kim Pauley said. "It's one of my favorite dramatic ballets. It just tells the story so well, and the music carries the story too."

While most ballets allow dancers to show off their skills with special solos, Pauley said all the moves in "Romeo and Juliet" serve to further the plot.

"There's a lot of sword fighting in this one. It's a man's ballet, really," she said.

The Charleston Ballet hasn't performed "Romeo and Juliet" in 30 years.

"Don't miss it. It's not going to come around anytime soon. It's a very complex production. You need a lot of people and you need a lot of sets and costumes for it to work," Pauley said.

The dance company is partnering with Radenko Pavlovich's Columbia Classical Ballet from South Carolina.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. each night at the Civic Center's Little Theater.

Advance tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors, and are available at the Civic Center box office, online at www.thecharlestonballet.com, at Backstage Bodywear on Washington Street West, or the Charleston Ballet offices on Capitol Street.

Tickets also are available at the door but are $5 more.

That's not the only Shakespeare production you'll find in Charleston this weekend.

On Friday, the American Shakespeare Center will perform "Hamlet" at the Scottish Rites Temple on Capitol Street. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 students.

On Saturday the theater company will host "Sweet Smoke of Rhetoric," a workshop exploring how rhetorical devices can help actors understand William Shakespeare's plays.

The workshop is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Scottish Rites Temple. Admission is $10.

Also Saturday, Dr. Mark Hornbaker and Academy Music will present "A George Gerswhin Review" at Centered Pilates, located at 225 Hale St. in downtown Charleston.

The free program begins at 6 p.m. and will include Gershwin's best-loved songs and feature singers Kathi Elkins, Kim Javins, Grace Javins, Hope Snodgrass, Bonnie Stark, Amy Teter and Andrew Willis.

The Harvest Gift Boutique runs Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Woman's Club of Charleston, located at 1600 Virginia Street East.

This is the second year for the event. Javins said the organizers have been recruiting sellers since summer. The sale will include artisans featured during June's Capitol Street Art Fair.

"It's catching on," she said. "It's a good opportunity to do local holiday gift shopping."

The Kanawha County Public Library will hold its annual used book sale on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Civic Center.

The sale will then reopen from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. for the bag/box sale, when used books, music and movies are sold for $2 per bag or $5 per box.

The annual Carriage Trail Leaf Walk will take place on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"It's a free event, but people are always amazed it's free," she said.

Entertainers include Born Old, a local old-timey band, a horn trio and three local theater groups.

LimeLight Theatre Company will perform "Boone," an original work about Daniel Boone. The Alban Arts Center will perform the one-act play "Words, Words, Words" by David Ives.

The Theatre Project, an offshoot of Children's Theatre of Charleston, will present an original mystery written, cast and produced by high school students.

Participants can enter the trail from either the top or the bottom. Javins said each of the events are staggered, so everyone can see everything.

"We try to schedule it so you can walk, stop and watch and see the next one," she said.

Community Music Live will host the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at the University of Charleston's Geary Auditorium on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for college students and $5 for children.

You can purchase tickets at www.communitymusiclive.org, by calling 304-744-1400 or 304-380-6782, or at the box office an hour before showtime.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting's "Mountain Stage" will close out the weekend on Sunday night with a show featuring Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Kate Miller-Heidke, Janiva Magness, Storyman and Gabriel Kahane.

The show begins at 7 p.m. at the Culture Center theater. Tickets are $15 in advance at Taylor Books, www.mountainstage.org and 1-800-594-8499, or $25 at the door.

Local restaurants will celebrate FestivALL Fall with "Taste of FALL."

The event is not an all-in-one culinary showcase like the annual "Taste of ALL," but rather a collection of specials at local restaurants that will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"It's a way to bring attention to local cuisine," Javins said.

Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream will serve a special pumpkin ice cream sundae, while Tricky Fish will serve rustic clam chowder and Ichiban will feature "Falling Leaves Maki," a dish of tempura asparagus, shrimp and blue crab sensation, topped with salmon and a miso glaze.

Visit the FestivALL homepage at www.festivallcharleston.com for a complete list of Taste of FALL specials and details about any of the events happening this weekend.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

Theater troupe brings "War of the Worlds" radio play to the stage 

By Zack Harold

In 1938, Orson Welles petrified radio audiences with his "War of the Worlds" broadcast for the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Susan McGinley doesn't expect to generate mass terror when the Jackson County Players brings the radio play to the stage this weekend.

She just wants to give audiences a peak into the golden age of radio drama.

The theater company has staged radio dramas twice before, performing "The Hitch-Hiker" (which was later adapted for an episode of "The Twilight Zone") and "It's a Wonderful Life."

Director Susan McGinley said both productions were well received, so they decided to try it again.

"I love radio," she said. "I have loved old radio theater since I was a kid. I'm too young to have listened to it much, but my grandmother didn't have a TV. I'd listen to 'Gunsmoke.'"

She said performing "War of the Worlds" seemed a natural fit for Halloween time.

Since the plays require a large cast and no one needs to make costume changes, McGinley said each of the actors have several roles.

The actors do not have to memorize their lines - radio actors work with scripts in hand - but McGinley said frequently switching between characters isn't easy.

"They have to be ready to change their voices depending on what they're doing," she said.

And while the actors do not need to move around the stage, McGinley said they can't help but act.

"Their bodies change, I've noticed, while they're doing their part. That sort of thing just happens naturally," she said.

Men who play military officials tend to stand a little straighter. Women who play seductresses tend to get a little more sensual with their body language.

But that's not the only performance audiences will see during "War of the Worlds."

"It's a play within a play. We're going to be radio players in 1938, reading these plays as if we were there," she said. "They'll stay in character from the time we open the doors to the time its over."

The actors will dress in 1930s costumes, and even smoke fake cigarettes in the "studio."

"One lady has a flask because she sits there forever and ever before she comes on," McGinley said. "I don't think any of our audience ever saw a live production like they used to do. They see how it works, they also see how people interact with each other, they see the Foley artist trying to get everything together."

In addition to directing the production, McGinley also serves as Foley artist for the radio plays. It's an old radio and film term for "sound effects guy."

McGinley has a digital sound effects box to make some noises she cannot recreate onstage, like bombs. But for the most part, she creates each of production's sound effects.

She uses a Mason jar to mimic a Martian spaceship.

"We're just unscrewing that jar as the Martians are going out of their ship," she said.

When the aliens speak, McGinley changes her voice by speaking into the jar.

She also stomps her feet, blows whistles for boats, bangs a gong to create the sound of church bells and smacks around a Christmas garland as Flash Gordon tries to free himself from an evil plant.

"What's funny is the audience will see me doing all of this," she said. "The kids think it's hysterical and for the older people, it's sort of nostalgic."

In addition to "War of the Worlds," the Jackson County Players also will perform two episodes of the old "Flash Gordon" radio show.

McGinley said "War of the Worlds" has stood the test of time, but Flash has not fared so well.

"It's going to be a little cheesy with Flash Gordon. They don't age well, but they're funny," she said.

The play opens 7 p.m. Friday at Ripley's Alpine Theater. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door, or online at www.alpinewv.com.

Additional performances will be Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Visit www.jacksoncountyplayers.com for more information.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

Update On The Jasons 

jasons cdIt’s a big week for The Jasons, the band of merry horror punksters who star in the latest RFC MINI SHOW (seen above). Not only did they release their own extraordinarily cool music video (see it below) they also announced a pre-order for their new EP CD. If you hurry, you might still be able to order a special package that includes STALK AND SLASH SUMMER plus 2 buttons, a poster and a set of personalized postcards signed by each member of the band by visiting HERE. Soon you’ll just be able to get the CD.

This is The Jasons second CD release, and is the first recording session with the 4-member line-up. STALK AND SLASH SUMMER was recorded in a blitzkrieg 20 hour session at the Fox’s Burrows studio and mixed/mastered in 2 days. It features eight new studio tracks plus one unreleased bonus track, and runs a little over 18 min.

The fun is not over for The Jasons. Next week they pop back up with two more songs on The Radio Free Charleston Halloween special.

Arts and culture briefs for Thursday, Oct. 23 

Ian Anderson, the former front man of Jethro Tull, will play The Best of Jethro Tull at 8 p.m. Friday at the Clay Center.

Anderson is known throughout the world of music as the lead vocalist, flute player and guitarist of the British rock band Jethro Tull.

"The Madman Flutist" who introduced a nontraditional instrument to rock music will play songs from his vast career and recently released album "Homo Erraticus."

Tickets are $39, $55, $65 and $87 and available at www.theclaycenter.org, at the Clay Center box office or by calling 304-561-3570.

For more information, visit the center's website.

The Kanawha Players Theater will present "Evil Dead: The Musical" at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 and Saturday, Nov. 1.

The rock musical is based off of the campy cult classic film series. The first three rows of seats

Tickets are $16 for adults and $10 for senior citizens, children and college students with I.D.

For more information, visit www.kanawhaplayers.org.

Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller will bring their "Bolder and Fresher Tour" to the Charleston Municipal Auditorium at 8 p.m. Friday.

The event is a night of stand-up comedy, storytelling and political commentary with two conservative heavyweights. Both men are veteran talk show hosts. Miller currently hosts a three-hour radio program and has a regular segment on O'Reilly's Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor."

Tickets are $57, $77 and $107 and available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

For more information, visit www.charlestonciviccenter.com.

"Venus in Fur," an adult comedy by David Ives will be performed at the Alban Arts and Conference Center in St. Albans this weekend.

The shows will be held Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., along with a matinee show on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The play-within-a-play focuses on a writer-director's search for the perfect actress for his production. The show contains adult themes and language so parental discretion is advised.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and seniors. They are available at www.albanartscenter.com.

The Charleston Ballet's 59th season will open with a full-length performance of "Romeo and Juliet" at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Civic Center Theater.

The company's upcoming 2014-15 season, "Classical Attitude," will present three full-length works including "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake."

The fall performances of "Romeo and Juliet" will be presented as part of the FestivALL Fall events.

The Shakespearean classic tells the tragic story of two young lovers from feuding families, danced to the moving and powerful Prokofiev score.

The Charleston Ballet will be joined by dancers of the Columbia Classical Ballet from South Carolina and their artistic director, Radenko Pavlovich. Simone Cuttino, Columbia Classical Ballet's resident choreographer, has created this production.

Tickets are available at the Charleston Ballet office, Backstage Bodywear, Civic Center Box Office and online at tickets@thecharlestonballet.com. For more information, call 304-342-6541.

The Culture Center Theater will host Mountain Stage at 7 p.m. Sunday as part of FestivALL Fall.

The featured performers will be Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Kate Miller-Heidke, Janiva Magness, Storyman and Gabriel Kahane.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 on the day of the show. They are available at www.mountainstage.org, at Taylor Books downtown or by calling 800-594-8499.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.mountainstage.org.

"MATH+ART," an original exhibit that shows how artists use mathematical concepts in their creations is now on display at the Clay Center.

The exhibit explores the gallery's collection and the pieces that demonstrate balance and symmetry, patterns, proportion and spatial relationships.

Admission is included in regular museum gallery admission, which is $7.50 for adults and $6 for children.

For more information, visit www.theclaycenter.org or call 304-561-3570.

CharCon 2014, a gaming convention, will be held from Friday to Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center. This year's theme is super heroes.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their favorite board games to set up and play.

The event will run from noon to midnight Friday, 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors who do not play games pay $5 per day. Friday and Sunday passes are $20 each and Saturday passes are $25. Weekend passes are $40 for adults. Admission for children is $10 per day or $20 for a weekend pass.

For more information, visit www.charcon.org.

The Mountaineer Opry House in Milton will host Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for children ages 13 and under.

Concessions will be available. For more information, call Larry and Mary Stephens at 304-743-5749.

Community Music Live! presents Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at 3 p.m. Sunday at University of Charleston's Geary Auditorium.

Featured music will be big band, jazz and swing.

Tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for college students and $5 for children. They can be purchased at the box office or by calling 304-744-1400 or 304-380-6782.

For more information, visit www.festivallcharleston.com.

Beth and Alasha and The Hillbilly Carnival will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday at South Charleston's LaBelle Theater.

The concert will include European folk, jazz, traditional and classical music.

Tickets are $7 for adult and $1 for children.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild will present the Broadway classic "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Clay Center soon.

The shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. and Nov. 1, 7 and 8; and at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 and 9.

The musical is set in Russia in 1905 based on the short story "Tevye and his Daughters" by Sholem Aleichem. The story centers on a father of five daughters who tries to maintain his family traditions as external and internal factors encroach on their lives.

For more information or for tickets, visit www.theclaycenter.org or call 304-561-3570.

"American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Keith Albee Theater in Huntington.

In May 2012, the singer/guitarist won the 11th season of "American Idol." The same day he released "Home," the multi platinum hit, which was later included on his debut album, "The World From the Side of the Moon." The show's opening act will be Saints of Valory.

Tickets range from $60 to $78 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

For more information, visit www.marshall.edu/muartistseries.

Compiled by Steve Gill, who can be reached at steven.gill@dailymailwv.com.

n MOUNTAIN STAGE: The Charleston Civic Center will host Yonder Mountain String Band, James McMurty, The Devil Makes Three and Lily & Madeleine at 7 p.m. Nov. 2. Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 the day of the show. For tickets or for more information, visit www.mountainstage.org or call 800-594-8499.

n BILL MAHER: Television host, stand-up comedian, political commentator, satirist, author and actor Bill Maher is bringing his stand-up tour to the Clay Center at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16. The evening of comedy will feature unflinching honesty best suited for mature audiences. For more information or for tickets, visit www.theclaycenter.org or call 304-561-3570.

n ELF: The musical based on the movie of the same name is coming to Huntington's Keith Albee theater at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

n DIERKS BENTLEY: The country singer, most recently known for his hit "Drunk on a Plane," will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. Bentley will be accompanied by special guests Randy Houser and Eric Paslay. Tickets are available at www.livenation.com, www.ticketmaster.com, the arena box office or by calling 1-800-745-3000. For more information, visit www.bigsandyarena.com.

n ARETHA FRANKLIN: The Queen of Soul will sing at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 25 at the Clay Center. Tickets are $65, $90, $115 and $150 and available at www.theclaycenter.org or by calling 304-561-3570.

n JAMES TAYLOR: The musical legend will play the Charleston Civic Center at 8 p.m. Nov. 28. Tickets range from $65 to $85 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

n KATHY MATTEA: The Grammy Award-winning country musician will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Huntington's Keith Albee Theater. The performance is part of the Marshall Artists Series. Tickets range from $40 to $59.50 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. For more information, visit www.marshall.edu/muartistseries.

n LIGHTWIRE THEATER: Seen on "America's Got Talent," this group uses electroluminescent wires and perform in complete darkness. The show will take place at 4 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Clay Center. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.theclaycenter.org or call 304-561-3570.


Motorhead of the Class 


A couple of weeks ago I told you about local filmmaker Holly Siders and her entry in a contest to make a video for the legendary Metal band, Motorhead. Voting for the contest happens over at Ultimate Classic Rock and you can vote every day until the contest ends on October 31. The winner gets a ton of Motorhead merch and their video becomes the offical video for the song.

Holly is an extremely talented creator, which we knew way back in 2007 when we brought you her very first music video, for the band Voices of Anatole, on episode 22 of Radio Free Charleston. We remastered this show last summer and you can see it HERE.

For the contest Holly had to create a video for the Motorhead song, “Killed By Death,” and it was chosen as one of ten finalists in the contest. Currently she’s a strong second in the voting. Even though I normally frown on creative competitions like this, I’m making an exception because Holly does such amazing work, and it’d be really cool for an RFC contributor and PopCult discovery to have an official Motorhead video among their credits. You can vote HERE, and see Holly’s video below…

Fashion icon remembered 

By LEANNE ITALIETHE Associated Press

NEW YORK - Fun, sunny, romantic. Oscar de la Renta approached fashion and life on those terms, but there was more, so much more, those who loved and admired the designer say.

The "more," Vogue's Anna Wintour wrote Tuesday on the magazine's website, was "democratic."

By that, she meant de la Renta possessed the sensibility, the ease, to dine with the rich and famous but happily play dominoes with his staff.

The "more," to others, was his desire to make women feel feminine and pretty, and not just a coterie of first ladies and socialites.

Laura Bush favored de la Renta, and so did her daughter, Jenna, who was emotional on a Tuesday "Today" show appearance in describing the close friendship that developed when he created her wedding gown.

"It was the first dress he showed me. I put it on and he said, 'And now to the most important accessory,' and he handed me his arm and he said, 'The man.' And so I put my arm in his arm and I got to walk through his showroom with Oscar de la Renta."

De la Renta, at 82, died Monday at home in Kent, Connecticut, surrounded by family, friends and his beloved dogs after four decades in the fashion industry. A handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen, did not specify a cause of death, but de la Renta had spoken in the past of having cancer.

Wintour wrote that his strength, his courage, "must have been with him in the hospital last week when he made the decision to turn off treatment; it was not the quality of life he wanted."

Eveningwear was de la Renta's specialty, though he also was known for chic daytime suits worn by ladies who lunch. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors.

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama notably wore a de la Renta dress for the first time. De la Renta had criticized her several years earlier for not wearing an American designer label to a state dinner in 2011.

"Oscar de la Renta truly was the ultimate diplomat for American fashion, a pillar who supported an idea of this country's style beyond that of jeans and work clothes. Much like his designs, from simply elegant daywear to ravishingly gorgeous evening dresses that seduced virtually every first lady during his lifetime, Oscar himself projected an image of elegance," recalled Eric Wilson, the fashion news director for InStyle magazine.

Ruthie Friedlander, deputy editor for Elle.com, understands the "more" that set de la Renta apart. It was about women and his ability to understand their beauty.

"That is something you rarely see in a designer," she said of the generations he crossed. "You could picture yourself wearing his clothes, even if you didn't have an occasion for them. It might have been aspirational, but he had a piece for you in there somewhere."

The designer's path to New York's Seventh Avenue took an unlikely route: He left his native Dominican Republic at 18 to study painting in Spain, but soon became sidetracked by fashion, launching his own label in 1965.

He told The Associated Press in 2004 that his Hispanic roots had worked their way into his designs.

"I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant," he said.

While de la Renta made Manhattan his primary home, he often visited the Dominican Republic and kept a home there. Wintour, Vogue's editor in chief, was a frequent visitor and she has said traveling with him was like traveling with the president.

She recalled last weekend, when she and her daughter paid a visit to his country home in the northwestern Connecticut town of Kent, where gardening and dancing were among his favorite diversions from work.

"We laughed about Bee's love life. He gave her advice, and then he said he had a dream to see the allee and pond he had just designed on the grounds," she wrote. "He could no longer move, so we went out and took pictures on his iPad for him to see and ate a chicken sandwich with Annette (his wife) and Janet, his extraordinary nurse. His last words to me were I love you, and I said I love you back."

Dominican President Danilo Medina said Tuesday that the country is in mourning for de la Renta, both as a symbol of national pride and for improving the lives of children through his charitable work.

"In addition to raising the profile of the Dominican Republic thanks to his art and talent, he has been a great defender of the national interests," Medina said via Twitter.

Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, sees the "more" of de la Renta in the expanse of influences he soaked in.

"Oscar was a designer who really combined Spanish, Parisian and American sensibility in fashion," she said. "The time he spent studying with Balenciaga in Spain, the work in Paris and the tremendous success in New York all ended in creating an international style, one that focused very much on the idea of feminine beauty."

A beauty that stemmed from a love of women.

"He never shied away from saying what he did was make pretty dresses," Steele said. "The goal of the pretty dresses was to make women look pretty. He would dress a woman, her daughter and her granddaughter and they would all feel happy."

HallowEast event to feature live Clue game 

By Shawnee Moran

Who did it? With what weapon? And where?

Charleston residents will be able to answer these iconic questions as they participate in a live, Clue-themed murder mystery Thursday evening as the opening event for East End Main Street's annual Halloween celebration, HallowEast.

HallowEast has been selected and recognized as one of Southeast Tourism Society's top 20 events for the month of October, and in the past has brought more than 5,000 attendees from five different states.

Lori Brannon, board member and city of Charleston neighborhood planner, said every year they look for ways to add or change events to make HallowEast "fresh and exciting" for the public. She also said they listen to feedback and try to make improvements to the event, as well.

"We have a group of really creative volunteers," she said, adding that Keely Steele, owner of the Bluegrass Kitchen, Tricky Fish and Frutcake, was the person who suggested incorporating Clue into the Main Street Murder Mystery this year.

She said most people volunteering fondly remembered playing the board game when they were young and were intrigued with the idea. So, they took a hands-on approach and tried to imagine how the concept would translate from a board game into a real-life event.

"We got together and played the game and modeled ours after it with roughly the same amount of characters and crime scenes," Brannon said.

Ric Cavender, East End Main Street executive director, said the group is "very confident" the event will be a success and expects hundreds to attend.

"I'm really excited about it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun," he said. "It's something you just can't find anywhere else."

While the board game focuses on players strategically maneuvering around as characters trying to solve a murder, Cavender said the live murder mystery will be a little different. It will follow the same plot, but information will be changed to incorporate Charleston's East End.

The planners don't want to give too much away, but Brannon said they created suspects that "reflected some of the history of the East End."

Instead of having original characters like Miss Scarlet, Colonel Mustard and Mr. Green as suspects, East End Main Street has created characters named after East End streets like Ms. Virginia, Professor Maxwell and Betty Beauregard.

When participants arrive at Appalachian Power Park they will receive a Clue card, much like what was in the board game.

Brannon said true to the board game, someone will "die" at the beginning of the event, and from there, host Rod Blackstone will lead participants throughout the park where they have an opportunity to interact with actors, gather clues and catch the killer.

At the end of the evening, people who answer all three questions correctly will be entered in a drawing for various prizes including gift cards and an authentic signed machete from American actor and stuntman Derek Mears, who portrayed Jason Voorhees in "Friday the 13th."

The money from ticket sales will go to East End Main Street, which spearheads economic and historic revitalization efforts in that neighborhood.

Brannon said she hopes this event will allow people to see Charleston in a different light and maybe experience it in a way they haven't had before.

"I hope they get some exposure to East End businesses maybe they haven't been familiar with. I think they'll have a good time," Brannon said. "We couldn't do what we do without the efforts of volunteers ... It's an incredible thing to count on the community to come out and support us."

Blackstone said he is excited to be a part of the event and thinks this will be a great launch for the weekend full of events in Charleston, which include HallowEast and FestivALL Fall.

"It's going to be a lot of fun; the premise is marvelous," he said. "It's an honor and it should be a lot of fun. They have a great foundation for the Clue storyline and I think the people that come will enjoy it."

"I think it's another way people will have a lot of fun and it's one of those kind of events that bring people together and reinforce Charleston's image and the notion that Charleston is a fun place to be."

Tickets for the event include a Clue Card and hors d'oeuvres, and are available for purchase at the door. They are one for $15, or two for $25.

For more information about Main Street Murder Mystery: Clue or HallowEast, visit halloweast.com or their Facebook page.

Contact writer Shawnee Moran at 304-348-4872 or shawnee.moran@dailymailwv.com. Follow her on Twitter @shawneemoran22.

The PopCult Toybox: Batman Bender 

DC-3921_1__00832.1405342021.1280.1280Last year I wrote about a set of Justice League of America bendy figures from NJ Croce. For that review, which includes a background of just exactly what a bendy figure is, go HERE. This week in the PopCult Toybox we’re going to look at the follow-up, Batman Classic TV Series bendies.

These are based on the 1966 Batman TV series, which is due out soon on DVD and Blu Ray, and it sports the same uniform package art and color scheme that Mattel used on their impressive Batmobile back in the summer of 2013 (and if you’re still interested in that Batmobile, both of our local Toys R Us stores finally got them–more than a year after they were initially released). I think the artwork on this round of packaging is by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, working in a simpler style than usual.

The boxed set of five Batman Classic TV Bendies

The boxed set of five Batman Classic TV Bendies

As with last year’s batch of DC Comics figures, this is a pretty nifty set. The sculpting is pretty close to the actor’s likenesses and the details are pretty good, given the limitations of the bendy format.

DC-3921_1__00832.1405342021.1280.1280Batman looks great, with a terrific likeness of Adam West. The figure is molded in gray, with six paint colors applied that work very well in capturing the look of the 1966 television Batman. The cloth cape is glued in just like with last year’s figures. The only weakness is that the flesh-colored paint on his face is a little thin, allowing some of the gray to show through.

DC-3922_1__70352.1405343421.1280.1280Robin avoids that problem by being molded in flesh-colored rubber, with six paint applications and a glued-on cape. Again, it’s an uncanny likeness of Burt Ward. The cape color is a bit off, and doesn’t match the collar, which is painted on, but it’s not a major distraction. It’s great that Robin is available on his own card in this series. With the Mattel action figures last year you could only buy him as part of a set.

DC-3925_1__67908.1405342152.1280.1280The Penguin is an excellent depiction of Burgess Meredith. Molded in black with five paint applications, this is a sharp figure that disappoints only that it lacks the character’s signature umbrella. The flesh-colored paint for his face does not have the problem of showing the color of the rubber below, so it really looks like Meredith in his Penguin drag.

DC-3924_1__36454.1405341929.1280.1280The Joker is a dead-on likeness of Ceasar Romero as The Clown Prince of Crime. They didn’t bother to sculpt a mustache to paint over, as other companies have done, but it doesn’t matter. This looks exactly as it should. Molded in purple, with five paint applications, this is possibly the most-detailed figure of the bunch, with lots of fine detail and two shades of green.

DC-3923_1__95043.1405342260.1280.1280Catwoman is a very close facsimile of Julie Newmar, but her expression is more sullen than sexy. Molded in black with six paint applications, this is still a fine figure.

I have not yet seen these figures on the individual cards. I decided to spring for the boxed set of five figures from Amazon, since it was quite a bargain compared to paying eight to eleven bucks each for the carded versions. (Images of the carded figures come from the NJ Croce website.)

Package art

Package art

All in all, this is a pretty great set, with all the advantages and drawbacks of the bendy format. It’s a great gift to go along with the DVD/Blu Ray sets of the show, and it’s a pretty cool item for any Batman fan.

However, if you bought Mattel’s 6″ action figures when they came out last year (or hit our local TRU a week or two ago) then you might want to give these a pass. They don’t have the articulation or detail of Mattel’s efforts, but they’re pretty cool on their own.

The card insert can be removed from the outer box without damaging either.

The card insert can be removed from the outer box without damaging either.

The back of the box

The back of the box

Leno praised for humor while receiving Twain award 


WASHINGTON - For a moment there, it seemed as if the red-carpet procession was going to be a serious affair - not quite what you'd expect at a gathering of some of comedy's heaviest hitters for an evening of mirth at the ceremony for the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

At first, the celebs, who were chatting up reporters along the velvet ropes leading to the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall on Sunday night, were so eager to heap praise on Jay Leno, the longtime "Tonight Show" host and the event's honoree, that things were getting a wee bit ... sincere.

"Jay showed everybody how important the monologue is," said Seth Meyers, who inherited his "Late Night" hosting duties on NBC from Jimmy Fallon, who replaced Leno earlier this year on "The Tonight Show."

Jerry Seinfeld said that Leno played a big role in his own comedic career. "He showed me the way of what I wanted to be - to let your inner crankiness out," Seinfeld said. "That can make good comedy. Entertaining complaining is a lot of what stand-up comedy is about."

Leno himself was in a reflective mood. "Comedy's a bit like golf," said Leno, who just announced that he is heading back to the airwaves to host a car-centric prime-time show on CNBC. "You can do it until you're 80, if you pace yourself and play it right."

But the cutting-up eventually commenced. The funny folks walking the carpet - including Wanda Sykes, Chelsea Handler, J.B. Smoove, Kristin Chenoweth and Ross Mathews, who got his start as "Ross the Intern" on Leno's "Tonight" - could hold out only so long.

While being interviewed on camera, Fallon became so distracted by Seinfeld, who was talking to a reporter just a few feet away, that Fallon launched into an amped-up impression of the elder comedian. "I can't hear myself think!" Fallon yelled as he ran a safe distance away.

Smoove showed off his best Leno impersonation. He noted that while hosting "The Tonight Show" for two decades, Leno had a habit of pointing at guests as he broke for commercials. Smoove mimicked the move in a contortion akin to the Heisman Trophy pose.

Amid all the praise, Mathews threw a playful barb at Leno, mocking his former boss's penchant for wearing what's known as a Canadian tuxedo. "I'm a man who takes a bold fashion risk," he said, motioning to his own silver-brocade tuxedo jacket. "I'm not bold enough to do denim-on-denim. God bless you, but I can't pull that off."