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The 14th Annual Oceanaires

“A Classical Concept with Lots of Balls”


An old (former, I mean) Queen Beach DeBris subbing for this year’s Queen Robin

“who is abroad”…


                                                                   Photos by Lorraine


Parallel Universes


It was an evening of extremes: the Sublime and the Serious: Musicianship vs. the Mock with Grove Icon Philomena’s lowball riffs (excuse the pun) on George Garvey’s stage representing an elegant lawn party, strewn with all sizes of balls – and a classical music concert revealing some surprising polished occasionally professional (no actual credits in clever program notes) testimony to the multifaceted personalities of Cherry Grove.



The opening anthem was performed in a serious mode by

Laura Ann Giusto on trumpet and W. John Bainbridge (as listed in program but looking very much like the ubiquitous Isaac) on piano.


The only reference to the Grove I know and love was the inimitable MC-ing of Philomena.


Of the sports represented Philomena favored baseball, wearing a Reyes’ uniform shirt mentioning “I can handle balls, even the little ones tucked up, hidden away, longing and itching to be free.”



The first number, “O Del Mio Dolce Ardor” By Gluck was sung in a secure tenor by William George McGarvey, as accompanied on piano by Isaac Steven Vaughn, illustrated that Gorgeous George is not just another pretty face who designs sets.


In honor of the event Philomena, who is developing her catering business, whipped up a “Wimbledon” snack, strawberries and cream. Since there was not enough to go around she had to force some whipped cream down some throats manually.

Stating that musicians require as much strength and conditioning as musicians she quipped “put the balls in the hands of a musician and see who beats them”


A. Massager’s “Solo di Concours” featured Chris MacDonnell in a polished performance of many moods, notably clear and concise, poignantly presented with clarion precision on clarinet. Accompanied Isaac


Phil boasted “Kissing is a sport and even in college I was a 4 letter man. As for phone sex, I do not have sex with a phone”



 “Il Bacio” (The Kiss) by L. Arditi, coyly singing  to a sledge hammer in a hat adorned with a ping pong racquet and ball and matching colorful ping pong balls on her uniform Her expressive face and gestures deliver meaning and emotions denied by a foreign tongue concluding with a resounding high note.


Philomena threw a foul with the following: Why was Cinderella kicked off every team? Because she ran away from the ball. (groan)


Chopin’s scherzo No 2 in b flat minor, op i4 was played with great spirit by Clarence Perry which made the clarinet “dance”.



The first act finale was an opus by J Brahms called “Liebeslieder Walzer” by Molly Watson, soprano and Sherri Rase, alto (who joined in some glorious harmonies), Curtis Strohl, tenor, Eric Coyne, bass in three part scenarios intricately intertwined which must have required a great deal of rehearsal.




Note this is a “forbidden” no flash terrible picture by me but I thought you must see the “costumes” to believe it


 Act II opened on a lighter note with J  P Sousa’s “Star & Stripes Forever” played by not one, not two, but three: Anthony Chiocci, Clarence Perry and Isaac who encouraged the audience to sing along the parody :Be kind to your web footed friends…” rewarded by a true Grove audience show of approval: clapping stomping and whistling. Question:  cannot imagine how they divided the keyboard.


Philomena interjected a propos of nothing that it costs more to buy a baseball team than to buy an election! Later adding that Germans coined the word gymnastics and .defined Soccer as a half dozen men running around for hours watched by half million people who need the exercise.



Vaughan Williams’ “Silent noon” gave Isaac a chance to accompany Brent Weldon Reno’s tenor rendition which commanded your attention with power and feeling and expert enunciation 



You haven’t heard it all until you hear Lee Sharmat. Previously known at the Grove for her tap dancing, play Gershwin’s “An American I Paris” on a Tuba! As a comic relief? But this is a serious musical evening and one can imagine the years of practicing that made this experience possible. That very low last note drew hoots of appreciation from the laugh starved audience.


Isaac, whose piano drove the piece, Seth Bedford on viola and Chris MacDonnell on clarinet joined forces in Seth’s original piece, “Music for a Summer Night”, which started in up tempo, provided some intricate syncopation and closed on a quite note. And remember, it premiered here!



The powerhouse number of the evening went to Shirley Ritenour who offered up close a powerful Wagnerian soprano voice that usually fills up a great concert hall and most likely could be heard over at the Ice Palace, Island Breeze and Cherry’s!

The Wagner piece “dich, teure halle” about a woman returning to a beloved concert hall was echoed here.  Life indeed copies art.



The finale was grande in its innovation and ambition as W John Bainbridge, Seth Bedford, Anthony Chiochhi, Eric Coyne, Laura Ann Giusto, Sherri Rase, Brent Weldon Reno,, Gene Rohmer, Lee Sharmat, Curtis J. Strohl Molly Watson were led by the brilliant  musicmeister extraordinaire Isaac in an intricate, precise, multi voiced accapella fugue by E. Toch which reminded me of  the opening number on a train of The Music Man where the salesmen recite the words in a variety of rhythms – a mistake by anyone could be quite glaring in the precision required to pull it off – and happy to say it sounded perfect.


It was my first Oceanaires and I didn’t know what to expect so I am not sure how different this was from the rest. It was like parallel universes: Phil in varying drag outfits, rapping out ribald riffs on sports, specifically on balls, while a serious, classically trained cast, heretofore unknown to me, revealed itself in an astonishing display of talent.


The connection, other than dressing the performers in oddly related pseudo sports attire, a mystery


At the end Philomena added – “next year we are celebrating our 15th anniversary... the gift is crystal and I don't mean meth!!!