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The Uncle Moldy Show: Press

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The Dundalk Eagle (Oct 11, 2007)
Uncle Moldys House of Socks

Date: July 27, 2006

"When I was a teenager it was to get chicks!" thats how Mike Barton, on half of Uncle Moldys House of Socks, expressed why he got involved with music. Another reason was just to get his feelings and thoughts out and it was a great way to have fun. The other half of the duo is Johnny Trotta. Johnny says, "...the more you play, the more confident you become."

Mike has been playing bass since he got his first bass for Christmas in 1982. He has also been playing guitar and singing for one year now. Some of his inspirations include Rush, Iron Maiden, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, WIllie Nelson, and Jim Croce. "One of the things I like about Cash and Dylan is that they are story tellers and I like to do that when I write," says Mike. He and Johnny each do tell many hilarious stories of situations that have occurred over the years.

Johnny has been playing guitar for thirty years and harmonica for six months. "Playing for thirty years give you a lot of different influences, the longer you play the more appreciative of the different artists you have now then when you were younger."-Johnny. Some artists have a favorite experience while playing but for Johnny, he says that playing wise doesn't matter because each situation is good whether the people enjoy it or not, it's the actual performance of trying to play the perfect set that always inspires him and Mike.

The band is currently recording their very first EP titled Tales From the 'Dalk. Some of the bands songs are based on the experiences that they had growing up over the years and the many characters that they encountered in life thus far. Their music is suitable for audiences of all ages. Some of their songs that seems to be their favorites, and their fans favorites, would be 'The Fromms are Landing' and ' The Dirtball Twins.'

If you are a musician that would like to get your music out to the public or just starting out playing- here's some advice from Uncle Moldys House of Socks:

1. Check out the open mics in your area. You will see a lot of people like you out there, they will give you an inspiration.

2. Have a back up plan. Get an education and some viable skills you can use to support yourself. Very few get to earn a living doing this. Don't quit your day job.

3. Do what makes you happy and stick to your guns. Express youreself. Let the world know what is inside og you.

4. When it is not enjoyable anymore, give it a break. Search your soul and find that groove. Life is too short to dedicate yourself to something that doesn't make you happy.

5. Join

6. Don't take crap off of anyone!!!
Every week Static Chain selects an "artist of the week" based on the number of unique clicks an act receives. This weeks top honors go to "Uncle Moldy's House of Socks," the unofficial first artist to sign up with Static Chain. Their music is a blend of rock, folk, and country with a lot of slide guitar and strange lyrics. People have described them as Johnny Cash meets Bob Dylan meets Tenacious D. They sing about lots of things, but more particularly about characters from the neighborhoods they grew up in, and other strange childhood events. Recent developments include the addition of an operatic style female vocalist and delving into serious style lyrics. This is their fourth time receiving artist of the week honors on Static Chain.

Catch them on November 22nd at Static Chain's ThanksGathering at The Arbutus FireHall. The show starts at 9 pm and features, King Belvedere, Juice Box Heroes, Pasadena, Pikesvillain, The Mad Attix and Gregory T. Scruggs. Tickets are $15 with a canned food donation and once you are in the doors beer is free all night.

Visit UMHS on Static Chain
Theatre Review: ‘A Murder is Announced’ at Cockpit in Court

A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks, at 6:30 pm.”

Thus is set in motion one of Agatha Christie’s most clever and complex murder mysteries presented by Cockpit in the Court at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). A Murder Is Announced was first published in 1950 and was adapted for the stage by Leslie Darbon after Christie’s death. Miss Marple is the lead in most of Christie’s plays, and thanks to PBS, American television audiences have enjoyed at least two Miss Marple incarnations produced by the BBC.

This kind of crime novel is commonly known as a “cozy,” a subcategory of the murder mystery genre characterized by a reliance on deduction instead of focusing on or showing the grisly details of the crime. The setting is usually a quaint village and the mystery is solved by or with the assistance of an amateur sleuth. No doubt, Miss Marple is one of Christie’s most beloved characters.

When the murder announcement appears in the local paper, it unnerves Letitia Blacklock (Janise Whelan, excellent in a demanding role) and her guests, for it is her Victorian boarding house that is the location of the impending foul deed – or is this simply a joke? Currently residing at Little Paddocks is Letitia’s slightly daft old friend, Dora “Bunny” Bunner (a marvelous Mickey Mullany). Fairly recent arrivals are Letitia’s two young cousins – the beautiful but cool Julia Simmons (Megan Farber) and her charming but lazy brother Patrick (a wonderfully rakish Jordan Friend). Another resident is the young widow, Phillipa Haymes (Neena Boyle) whose son is in boarding school. Letitia’s housekeeper and cook, Mitzi (a delightful Ilana Hirschhorn) provides many comic moments in the production. She is a refugee from Russia who is very excitable and frequently murders the English language.

Enter Miss Marple (prim, spunky – and surprisingly flirty – in Heidi Toll’s interpretation), delivering a gift of violets from her nephew to Bunny. She is invited to return that evening to see how the murder announcement will play out. A curious neighbor, Mrs. Swettenham (Ruta Douglas Smith) accompanied by her son, Edmund Swettenham (Emil Sueck), also drop by out of curiosity.

At the designated hour that evening, the clock chimes, a masked man bursts through the back door carrying a gun and yells “Stick ‘em up!” Then the lights go out. Is this a parlor game or is he really there to shoot someone? He begins shining the torch (flashlight) in everyone’s face then suddenly shots are fired. When Patrick replaces the fuse, it is revealed that the would-be thief is lying dead on the floor. Mitzi has been locked in the dining room. Letitia is in shock, bleeding from her earlobe, apparently the victim of a stray bullet. After removing the victim’s mask, Bunny recognizes the man as Rudi Scherz (Mike Barton, who also plays Sergeant Mellors), the receptionist at the local spa who had recently asked Letitia for money.

The next day, Inspector Craddock (a formidable and amusing Marc Rehr) is on the scene with his sergeant. He is a very methodical and shrewd investigator but soon he welcomes the assistance of Miss Marple. When another murder occurs during Bunny’s birthday party, hitting tragically too close to home, it is classic Christie. All is not as it seems and the audience is presented with a Chinese puzzle box of twists and turns, hidden agendas, secret relationships and identities – all resolved in a surprising ending.

Sherrionne Brown gives deft direction to the production (as well as providing the set design) though the pacing at the end of the first act was slow. Cockpit creates a cabaret-style theatre-in-the-round that puts the audience in the middle of the action. Four corner set pieces create a sense of space. One represents the back door the actors enter and exit, another a window, the next is where the liquor cart stands and finally, a mystery door that figures prominently in the resolution. The attention to detail in the furniture and props is impressive as are the costumes designed by long-time CCBC veteran James J. Fasching, who blends vintage with new and ready-made garments to create mid-century styles. There was an overuse of the familiar and ominous “dum da dum dum” music after the end of scenes that would have been appropriate if the play had been played as a spoof.

This is the perfect “cozy” mystery for the whole family, full of mind-bending clues, humor and surprises.

Running Time: Approximately 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.

A Murder is Announced is running through August 4, 2013 at CCBC’s Cockpit in Court, 7201 Rossville Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21237. For tickets call 443-840-1369
‘A Murder is Announced’ at Cockpit in Court by Amanda Gunther

A murder is announced: to take place at the time of 8:00 pm, on Fridays and Saturdays, and recurring on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm in the upstairs cabaret space of Cockpit in Court. Do be present, particularly if you intend to be the victim. Cockpit in Court closes their summer season with a deliciously thrilling Agatha Christie murder mystery, complete with hokey ‘whodunit’ sound effects at the end of each climactic scene. Who’s the killer? Who’s the victim? You’ll have to attend this masterpiece, Directed by Sherrionne Brown, to find out. Dun! Dun! Dun!

Serving as the show’s Scenic Designer, Sherrionne Brown crafts beauty and brilliance into the set design, giving these 1950’s English parlors their distinctive timeless charm. Brown’s attention to detail is stunning; the little fixtures that add decorative touches make the room feel cozy. Sprightly green walls are accented with rich cherry-wood doorframes and windows; and there are enough polished old-fashioned chairs, sofas, and rolling ottomans to comfortably seat the entire cast all at once.

While the costumes don’t immediately scream 1950’s London, Costume Designer James J. Fasching does ensure that they look authentically mysterious. There are even scenes when no one is wearing the same color, a bit like a game of Clue unfolding before the audience’s eyes as the characters enter individually. Fasching does exceptional work with Mrs. Swettenham’s (Ruta Douglas Smith) peculiar threads, always decked out to the nines in the most absurd manner. If it’s not a full animal draped around her neck it’s enormous feathers and dead birds pinned to her hat; the perfect look of eccentricity to add a little flavor to an already suspenseful murder mystery.

Director Sherrionne Brown has woven layers of suspense into the characters as they arrive. Little ways the actors sit and stand, or enter and exit a room, the way they speak and how they articulate certain words makes just about everyone seem likely to be the murderer before the play draws to its enthralling conclusion. Brown does, however, take us on a bumpy ride down accent lane. While many of the cast do manage a proper British accent that suits the show, a few fade in and out quite drastically, Lady Blacklock and Julia included in the latter category. Brown’s coaching of Mitzi’s accent, however, is impressive. Sounding like a rogue with a chip on her shoulder the cook’s Hungarian accent is cause for a great deal of laughter when she butchers English grammar and stomps about like a furious hornet ready to sting at anyone who dares protest her cooking.

There’s always trouble afoot when there’s family involved. Brother and sister Patrick (Jordan Friend) and Julia (Megan Farber) are quite the troublesome duo, verbally sparring with one another and making faces throughout the better part of the production. Friend’s accent is spot on and his jovial attitude overall, erring on the side of lusciously drunk, peppers amusement into his character as one might a fine stew. His facial expressions are quite the picture, particularly when they become painted with lipstick in the second act.

Kind and sweet Phillipa (Neena Boyle) does her best to stay out of everyone’s way. There is something eerily calming about her presence on the stage; when she speaks she captivates everyone’s sympathy. Boyle interacts well with the others, casually sliding into relationships of all sorts, particularly where Edmund Swettenham (Emil Sueck) is concerned. Sueck is the epitome of snobbery wrapped up into a pretty-boy polished look. With a chip on his shoulder and an attitude to prove it, he struts about the lodging house as if he owns the place; might he also have something to hide?

The woman at the center of it all is Letitia Blacklock (Janise Whelan). A bit over trusting of just about everyone, Whelan does not take long to settle into the character’s insecurities. The emotional outbursts that come flying out of her mouth once she accepts that someone is out to murder her are loud and heartfelt. And she’s forever doting upon poor Bunny (Mickey Mullany). Being the confused aloof woman, Mullany masters the role of teetering on the brink of her memorable sanity. With a slow pace and great pauses in both her speech patterns and her movement, Mullany plays a convincing woman of that age and mental state.

Inspector Craddock (Marc Rehr) arrives on the scene with his own unique brand of humor, often amusing himself (and the audience, though no one else in scene) with the quirky things that come flying out of his mouth. Rehr has a polish almost Scottish sound to his voice and knows exactly how to deliver moments of extreme exasperation while playing them for truth in the scene. His sharp retorts never sound forced, even when his eyebrows are surging high up into his hairline. Accompanied by the unofficial Junior Detective Mrs. Marple (Heidi Toll) the case may not be a lost cause! Toll is wonderfully present every time she appears on the scene, and brings a bouncing sense of comedy with her; creeping in holding the gun to prove a point, asking crazy questions and calmly explaining situations as if she were Sherlock himself. Toll’s soft and muddled accent is as appropriately mysterious as her character turning up at the oddest of times. This particular role is Toll’s finest work ever executed on stage.
The show stealer that keeps the audience in stitches is Mitzi (Ilana Hirschhorn). Wherever there is drastic mystery an element of comedy never hurts to defuse the tension and Hirschhorn brings the laughs with her into every scene. A wild and crazy accent with hair that’s equally bonkers has her off-kilter right from the beginning of the show. She’s bitter and snaps at the littlest comments. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of her; between her histrionics and her bouts of raging temper it’s an uproarious good time with the Hungarian cook of the house. Hirschhorn may steal the show but make sure she doesn’t steal your favorite teacup! Or your life! A brilliant well-rounded and grounded performance well worthy of praise from this young actor, making the show a smashing success.

Bring along your magnifying glass if you think it will help, Delicious Death will be served just after intermission, so do be cautious! This is one murder mystery you will not want to miss.

Running Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, with one intermission.

A Murder is Announced plays through August 4, 2013 at Cockpit in Court — on the main stage of the Theatre Building of the Community of College of Baltimore County Essex Campus – 7201 Rossville Boulevard, in Rosedale, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (443) 840-2787, or purchase them online.