Perseverance pays delightful dividends



By Marilyn Delk

David Warner, Artistic Director for Darke County Center for the Arts, was quite relieved and happy to wrap up bookings for the much-postponed and re-envisioned 2022-2023 season of presentations, enabling DCCA to complete and mail season brochures projecting an enticing slate of programs from September through May. However, even though restrictions due to the COVID pandemic lessened, complicating factors did not cease to occur.

In February, a Coffee House Series show scheduled for Union City’s Arts Depot had to be canceled due to dangerous winter weather, the first cancellation in DCCA’s long history. And then, David was informed that the vocalist/guitarist scheduled for the Coffee House season closing performance at Wayne Trail Historical Society in Arcanum was dealing with serious health issues and would not be able to perform. As they say on the radio, the hits just keep coming.

But the ailing artist’s agent suggested a more than adequate substitute; a singer named Sunny Wilkinson who has enjoyed an amazing career singing with the likes of the Count Basie Band, Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Edgar Winter and many others while also making significant contributions in jazz education. I found this happy circumstance quite exciting, as I have seen Sunny perform with jazz bands in the Dayton area and found her to be not only an excellent singer but a lovely person who connects to her audience through her music. “That’s what jazz does — creates a soulful connection,” Sunny explains. “And I love singing right to the soul.”

Sunny will passionately perform timeless music with perfection, accompanied on the piano by her husband Dr. Ron Newman, a professor at Michigan State University where he served as Director of Jazz Studies from 1980 to 1995. Their set list will include intimate ballads, up-tempo gems and much more, offered with an emotional and thoughtful approach that will keep the audience spellbound. The singer herself says that she loves the improvisational nature of jazz, “always doing something new, even with old familiar songs.” You can experience the delight to be found in a Sunny Wilkinson performance tonight, Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at Arcanum’s Wayne Trail Historical Society! Tickets are $10, and will be available at the door.

When DCCA’s season brochure went out last spring, it did not include the Family Theatre Series because — well, because David Warner had been unable to book a season, as touring theatre companies were not yet booking or touring. But the Artistic Director persevered, and early this year, DCCA announced an appealing FTS season of three performances; the season closes this Sunday with an exciting performance offering something different from the usual musical based on children’s literature. Mister C’s Full Steam Ahead LIVE! uses hair-raising science, toe-tapping music, and mind-blowing media to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) subjects in our daily lives.

Mister C is the Emmy-nominated producer and host of Full STEAM Ahead, which airs on PBS stations across the U.S.A. long-time educator who has spent time as a classroom teacher and school administrator is also the creator of the popular YouTube channel Learning Science Is Fun. Mister C’s high energy performances using silly songs, exciting experiments, and dazzling demonstrations, inspire audiences to have fun exploring the hows and whys of what is happening in front of their very eyes. He will have everyone singing, dancing, and learning as he uses humor, media, and the engineering design process to make the ordinary extraordinary!

DCCA’s presentation of Mister C’s Full STEAM Ahead Live! on Sunday, April 24 will take place at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall in Greenville; the show begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are only $5, and will be available at the door. For more information contact DCCA at [email protected] or by calling 937-547-0908. And we owe a big thank you to DCCA Artistic Director David Warner for his patience and perseverance, resulting in this performance where audiences will have fun learning together, as well as the performance by Sunny Wilkinson, which will remind you of why you love music and will leave you feeling uplifted and joyful.

Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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