Clark brings Sinatra 2 Soul to Smyrna Opera House

Sussex County native Bryan Clark mixes a variety of musical genres with impressions and dancing for his Sinatra 2 Soul show set for June 3 at the Smyrna Opera House. Proceeds from the show will go toward general operating expenses of the historic theater. (Submitted photo)

Sussex County native Bryan Clark mixes a variety of musical genres with impressions and dancing for his Sinatra 2 Soul show set for June 3 at the Smyrna Opera House. Proceeds from the show will go toward general operating expenses of the historic theater. (Submitted photo)

The sounds of Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr. and many more will light up the Smyrna Opera House June 3 when local singer Bryan Clark performs Sinatra 2 Soul, a concert to benefit the historic theater.

Mr. Clark, a Dagsboro native who graduated from Indian River High School and is now living in Lewes, has been singing professionally for more than 30 years.

He started when he was 19 years old as a lounge act in the old Westwood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, performing there from 1983 to 1987 followed by a six-month stint across the street at the Riviera Hotel.

He quit the business in 1988 for a steadier 9-to-5 gig until he picked it up again in 2004.

Upon graduating from Indian River High, Mr. Clark, now 53, left for Los Angeles and later New York City to study acting but realized that music was his “passion.”

“My father was a doo-wop singer and I just fell in love with his record collection. When you’re a teenager you either stay away from or embrace the music your parents like — and in my case, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree,” Mr. Clark said.

“He had a lot of old school R&B, Motown, Sinatra, The Drifters, Nat King Cole, stuff very similar to what I’ll be doing in Smyrna.”

Joined by percussionist Alan Dale, Mr. Clark’s Sinatra 2 Soul show covers the gamut of music.

“The name of the show encapsulates my musical passions. With the Sinatra part, you have Frank Sinatra obviously, but there’s also singers like Sammy Davis, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole,” he said.

“And with the soul part of the show, we pay tribute to people like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Tom Jones. It’s a variety of music from those who inspired and influenced me.”

The show is performed to accompanying tracks with Mr. Dale filling in the gaps to give it more of a big band sound.

“Alan has been mentored by Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson, who was the drummer for Duke Ellington. He’s had tremendous exposure to the great music that both he and I love. I think we provide a classier style of music that I feel is missing today,” Mr. Clark said.

Along with singing the songs from the Great American Songbook and more, Mr. Clark throws in some impressions of the greats.

“Sammy was probably my first. He was so animated and just bigger than life despite his short size. Ray Charles also had such distinct characterizations that you can’t disassociate his mannerisms from his art,” Mr. Clark.

Although a very brief part of his act, another person is very much in demand.

“I’m always asked ‘Are you going to do Michael Jackson?’ He was an incredible artist and it’s maybe one minute of what I do on stage but he’s still remains very popular,” Mr. Clark said.

Although he mimics certain artists, Mr. Clark doesn’t consider himself an impressionist per se.

“I like to think of myself as a variety performer. Though I may visit impersonations throughout my show, I try to grab the essence of what made these singers great and duplicate that on stage,” he said.

Rich Hill, vice president of the Smyrna Opera House board of trustees and the evening’s organizer, says Mr. Clark’s Sinatra 2 Soul show was the perfect way to help raise money for the venue.

“He was recommended to me by my brother-in-law (local singer-singwriter) Sol Knopf. I saw some clips of him and thought he was incredible. We got in touch with Bryan’s agent and they came up and looked at the venue and liked it,” Mr. Hill said.

“It’s going to be a great night.”

This is a rare Kent County appearance for Mr. Clark as he mainly performs in beach locations such as The Cultured Pearl and Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar in Rehoboth, 1776 Steakhouse in Lewes and Fager’s Island in Ocean City, Maryland.

“I’m very grateful for the restaurants but I really enjoy performing in theaters where there are no distractions and it’s more of a musical experience,” he said.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $20 and can be purchased by visiting smyrnaoperahouse.org, the box office at 7 W. South St or calling 653-4236.

Funds raised will go toward the general operating expenses of the theater.

“It’s really the heart of Smyrna,” Mr. Hill said of the opera house.

“It’s in the dead center of town and has such historical significance. When it reopened in 2003, the citizens of Smyrna and surrounding areas contributed $3 1/2 million to help get it restored. I think that says a lot about what it means to many of us.”

Comedy tonight

Staying at the Smyrna Opera House, as we told you last week, Blue Hen Comedy will present an Evening of Standup Comedy tonight at 7.

Doogie Horner, a comedian, writer, and artist, will headline the show.

His art and writing have appeared in Wired, McSweeney’s, Fast Company, Boing Boing, the Believer, the London Times, the Sun, and other publications.

His comedy achieved national attention when a video of him taming a hostile crowd was aired on “America’s Got Talent.”

He will be joined by Sidney Gantt and Middletown’s Missy Grynkiewicz.

Content may not be appropriate for children.

Tickets are $16 and available at brownpapertickets.com or the box office at 7 W. South St.

Rivers and Rhodes at Guild

Rivers and Rhodes, the performing duo of Ashley Mitchell and Donny Marvel, will perform tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover.

The Maryland songwriting team has received award-winning recognition for their original material that has a modern blues flare.

Their self-titled album features drummer Jarvis Barnes and bass player Shawn Simon.

The show features singer-songwriter Samantha Stafford.

Tickets, available at the door, are $10 with ages 12 and under free.

The Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 S. Roosevelt Ave.

‘Do More’ at Schwartz

Farther north at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover, that theater has recently received some discouraging news: a loss of financial support.

To help deal with the loss of funds, the Schwartz will be participate in the United Way “Do More 24” online campaign for nonprofit organizations, Delaware’s first community day of giving.

This online fundraiser will begin at 12:01 a.m. and end at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. The Schwartz Center for the Arts has a goal to raise $25,000 or more through this one-day effort through their donation page at https://domore24delaware.com/npos/schwartz-center-for-the-arts .

To kick off the day of giving, the Schwartz will hold activities in front of the theater from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, which include a food truck lunch, entertainment and tours of the theater.

Do More 24 Delaware brings together more than 250 nonprofits that serve the entire state. Collectively, Do More 24 Delaware has set a goal to raise $500,000 to benefit the entire nonprofit sector in Delaware.

Rain changes

Due to last weekend’s rainy weather, two festivals were forced to switch dates.

The Fifer Orchards Strawberry Festival is now Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The day includes entertainment by George and Ossi, Man About a Horse and Miss Jackie with children’s music and books by the U-Pick strawberry patch.

Family fun includes hayrides around the farm, mini wagon rides, pony rides, farm animal exhibit, face painting, kids bounces and food.

Fifer is at 1919 Allabands Mill Road, Camden-Wyoming.

The Friends of Duck Creek Regional Library will hold the first Just Ducky Festival July 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Smyrna Municipal Park, North Main Street.

Events include a costume parade, duck carving, races, games, duck call competition, scavenger hunt, music, arts and crafts and food and beverage vendors.

All proceeds benefit the Friends of Duck Creek Regional Library. For more information, email DuckCreekLib@gmail.com.

Summer museum hours

The Milford Museum will expand its summer hours to include Sunday afternoons beginning June 5. Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is closed on Monday and holidays. Admission is free.

The museum is at 121 S. Walnut St. Call (302) 424-1080 for more information or to schedule a group tour.

Now showing

New in theaters is “X-Men: Apocalypse 3D” and Johnny Depp in “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”

New on DVD and download starting Tuesday is the epic film “Gods of Egypt,” the action film “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and the Jesse Owens biopic “Race.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment