Not So Great Gatsby: Manton Avenue Project Gala

Dear Nick,

2016 MAP Gala kids 2As you may know, there are many great RI organizations that are near and dear to my heart. I met Daisy at the PPS Bash, we attend the Farm Fresh Event at Castle Hill every year, and Newport Polo is always a blast. But there is a wonderful organization that has won a large tract of my heart in a short time: The Manton Avenue Project.

The Manton Avenue Project (MAP) is an after-school program in the Olneyville section of Providence where kids learn to express themselves through theater. Specifically, playwriting. The kids write plays on all sorts of topics, and then adults act them out for audiences. The shows are exciting and original, and audiences love them.

The MAP Gala annual fundraiser is taking place on June 5 (on a Monday for all you theater types; the theaters are dark on Mondays) at the Pell Auditorium in downtown Providence. There will be food and drinks and some performances and raffle items. The whole shebang is hosted by Trinity resident actor and local superhero, Joe Wilson, Jr. It’s a ton of fun, all for a great cause. And it’s from 6 – 9pm, so you won’t be out past your bedtime on a school night.

SS-KevinDelaney-FireThis year is going to take the event to another level, as Kevin Delaney is going to be in attendance doing some “street science.” Kevin was one of the MAP performers and now has made his name doing science experiments on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and his own show “Street Science” on the Science Channel. In anticipation of his appearance, MAP director Meg Sullivan sat down to ask Kevin some questions:

Meg Sullivan: You were a part of some of the first Manton Avenue Project productions. Can you tell us about some of your favorite characters you played in MAP plays?

Kevin Delaney: I got to play all sorts of incredible characters in MAP plays, but a few favorites I’ll mention are a polar bear with freezer eyes, a giant squid bodyguard, and Mr. Jammy Salad — a cigarette-smoking, villainous, unhealthy salad.

MG: You are travelling from Arkansas to be the special guest at this gala. Why is MAP so important to you?

KD: I’m very excited to visit with all of my friends in Providence, many of whom are longtime MAP volunteers. I worked with MAP for a few years, and so I really got to understand the importance of giving kids the opportunity to unleash their creative voices, and seeing how proud they are of the plays they write and the effect that it has on their families and lives makes supporting MAP an easy decision. If they asked me to volunteer to go to Mars to start a project for the martians that hopefully live there, I’d say yes right away. And Mars is too cold and it takes way longer to get there. 

MG: You left Providence and then you become a science sensation. What got you interested in doing science demonstrations?

KD: I’ve always loved science. I was first able to combine my love of performing with science education here in Providence at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, which got me involved in the field of science communication. I moved to Little Rock and started working at a science museum.

MG: You’re now the host of new hit show on the Science Channel called “Street Science!” What’s the craziest or scariest experiment you’ve ever done on that show? Where is the most memorable place you’ve shot the show?

KD: Working with explosive materials and volatile chemicals is always a little nerve-wracking, but we have a lot of safety precautions and consultants who work on the show to help out. We shot “Street Science” at a lot of great locations, including Tropicana field — the huge indoor field where the Rays play — complete with a tank full of rays maintained by the Florida Aquarium. 

MG: Do you miss Providence?

KD: Of course. I love Providence very much. Besides MAP, what I miss most are my friends, one bar, a few great restaurants and the ocean.

MG: Without giving it away, can you tell us a little bit about the experiments you’ll be sharing with us at the MAP gala?

KD: I’m bringing one of my favorite lasers. I hope everyone has fun and learns something. It should be cool!

I’m so excited for the gala, and I hope to see you there, Old Sport. It’s Monday, June 5, at 6pm at the Pell Chaffee Performance Center, 87 Empire St, PVD.  For tickets:

See you there!


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