|by Fay Jacobs|
|ELBoW Hits the Circuit
Every gay resort has its specialties. In Rehoboth, standouts include Poodle and Gordon's Pond beaches and our stupendous gourmet restaurants. P-Town in Massachusetts has the market cornered on gay entertainers. But Rehoboth stands ready to give the tip of Cape Cod a run for its reputation.
ELBoW Productions, a brand new company, has been formed to bring the best in gay entertainment to our home town. And the quartet of female entrepreneurs behind this venture means business.
ELBoW stand for Ellen Feinberg, Lesley Rogan, Barbara Fishel and Wendy Grooms. Ellen and Lesley live in the area full-time and are affiliated with CAMP Rehoboth and its Women's Conference. Barbara and Wendy are Sussex County weekenders and hope to spend more time here.
With the intention of "not losing money," and, if profit comes, sharing it with organizations like CAMP Rehoboth, this lesbian-owned business is ready to shake the rafters at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center (and other venues) with laughter and song.
Get that summer calendar ready, because Elbow's first corporate venture will be the weekend of August 19-20, with two big-name concerts. Friday at the Convention Center will bring comic Suzanne Westenhoefer back to town, while Saturday night multi-talented entertainer Suede will rock the hall. Both women are hugely popular on the gay and lesbian entertainment circuit and both are also veterans of the Olivia Cruise comedy/music line-up.
But that's only the half of it. ELBoW Productions got its start with Ellen and Lesley taking on the then-unfamiliar task of booking entertainment for the CAMP Rehoboth Women's Conference. Back at the start, in 2002, Ellen, an attorney by profession and Lesley, a physical therapist, asked "How do we do this?" "Where do we rent a piano?" "Can we break even?" "What do we do first?"
By asking around and doing some research, they figured out how to get the things they needed to turn the Convention Center into a concert hall, how to get in touch with singer/pianist Margie Adam and bingo, they came up with a sold-out concert.
The learning curve included everything from a crash course in microphones and lighting to how to keep entertainers stocked on the things they need in their dressing rooms.
Ellen and Lesley, and the team from CAMP Rehoboth, followed up in succeeding years with sold-out evenings featuring Suzanne Westenhoefer, Barbara Higbee & Theresa Trull, and Chris Williamson.
So, as a prelude to the launch of ELBoW Productions and their for-profit producing organization, the women of ELBoW will once again book entertainment for the 2005 CAMP Women's Conference planned for April 15-16.
And the biggest news of all, is that they've managed to book legendary lesbian comic Kate Clinton for her first Delaware appearance ever. "We were up in P-Town this summer, and asked her if she was interested," says Ellen, "and she said 'Yes!' We're thrilled."
That Friday night concert will be followed on Saturday by an encore presentation by Margie Adam.
The fledgling entrepreneurs have managed, in just a short time, to develop a good reputation with agents, bookers and the entertainers themselves.
"People are talking about Rehoboth," says Ellen, "and how it's been a good experience. They want to come to small town Delaware."
In fact, ELBoW has been getting unsolicited e-mail offers from entertainers wondering how they can get a gig here at the beach. ELBoW is putting Rehoboth Beach on the circuit.
"Obviously, from the response we've had, audiences are hungry for entertainment here," Ellen says, "and the performers are also looking for new opportunities."
So what's it like being producers? Well, according to Lesley and Ellen, they've learned a lot! The team has handled everything from travel agent duties, including personally transporting entertainers from airports to Rehoboth, to the idiosyncrasies of entertainer requests.
"One performer asked us to have a special recipe chicken soup available before show time," Ellen recalls. "I called a friend who cooked, she eagerly volunteered and we got it done."
In addition to the intricacies of stocking dressing rooms, producing requires a whole array of skills. For ELBoW, that meant forming a corporation, developing contracts for the artists and other legal work. Fortunately, Ellen, who recently moved to the firm Smith, O'Donnell, Procino & Berl in Lewes knows those ropes.
With public relations and communication another huge part of producing successful shows, it's a natural fit that Wendy is the Vice-President of PW Communications in Bethesda, MD.
Lesley runs her own physical therapy practice, Peninsula Rehab & Sports Medicine.
It's a long way from that first year of the Women's Conference, when Ellen volunteered to handle the entertainment and then thought "Gee, I have to be nuts! I don't know anything about this!"
ELBoW is on the way to making Rehoboth Beach a first class venue for well known comediennes, singers, songwriters, and musicians. Who needs those producers on Broadway,
when we've got our own right here in Rehoboth Beach?
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 1February 11, 2005