Hills & Gardens for Aug. 2

August 2, 2012 By Trudy Whitman Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The parks of the Hills & Gardens are sizzlin’, and it’s more than summer heat that’s making them hot! Musical, literary, and theatrical performances have nudged air-conditioner-hugging neighbors onto the pavement and into the parks, and it’s been well worth it.

The season began with Smith Street Stage’s two-week production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which brought over 1,000 delighted audience members to the park at Carroll and Court streets in Boerum Hill during the show’s two-week run.

Carroll Park’s entertainment schedule continues with an ongoing kids’ concert series. You can still catch two of these, the first on Saturday, Aug. 25, by Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, presented by the Friends of Carroll Park in collaboration with the Cobble Hill Playgroup. The Deedle Deedle Dees will be on hand on Saturday, Sept. 29. P.S. 29 is the co-sponsor of the triple D performance. Both shows begin at 2 p.m.

A green canopy harbors the pre-Kindergarten audience while buffering the noise from Atlantic Avenue during the annual Free Stories in the Hoyt Street Garden series every Tuesday evening in July. Hoyt Street’s star activist, Margaret Cusack, has arranged the series for many years, this summer with help from Maryanne Fishman.

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We attended the next-to-last reading of the summer given by the husband (writer) and wife (illustrator) creative team of Denis Markell and Melissa Iwai, who read from their latest release, Hush Little Monster. A weirdly wonderful take on the lullaby “Hush Little Baby,” the book will be released by Simon and Schuster this week.

Iwai has illustrated numerous children’s books, including Good Night Engines, Snuggle Mountain, and Green as a Bean. Soup Day, published in 2010, is a book about the joys of cooking healthy food with kids, and is the first she both wrote and illustrated. It is included in the 2011 PA Baker’s Dozen list.

Denis Markell credits his love of children’s literature to his alma maters — Grace Church Nursery and Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn Heights. On his way to writing children’s books himself, he responded after an email inquiry, he spent more years than he cares to remember “toiling in musical theatre, sitcom and writing comedy material for everyone from Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth to Connie Chung.”

The couple’s first collaboration, The Great Stroller Adventure, was published by Scholastic in 2005. It was inspired, Markell said, by the “experience of pushing his son’s stroller on the very Promenade where his parents brought him when he was a baby.” Iwai and Markell live in Brooklyn Heights with their son Jamie.

The garden story tradition is made even sweeter by free lemonade, watermelon, and cookies. However, the mosquitoes are not so sweet (honestly, Brooklyn mosquitoes have attitude!), but there’s bug spray provided by the organizers as well. The series ended this week with readings by Assemblywoman Joan Millman and Candace Woodward.

Cobble Hill Park, at Verandah Place and Clinton Street, was alive with the sound of music Thursday nights in July, thanks to the Cobble Hill Association. This annual series, which pleases everyone from residents of the Cobble Hill Health Center to members of the stroller set, was organized by Bryan Johnson and sponsored by the Ridgewood Savings Bank, Ted & Honey Café & Market, and Brooklyn Bridge Realty.

The July 26 storm, which tragically brought scaffolding surrounding Christ Church down on a local man who died from his injuries, caused the cancellation of last week’s concert by Kelley McRae. Look for rain-date postings at the park.

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