A Delicious Tradition

The region’s biggest celebration of the Italian grape harvest, the da Vinci Society of Delaware’s Vendemmia da Vinci, is back on Sunday, Oct. 9, for its second year at Bellevue State Park.

With fine Italian wines from each region of Italy and an Italian beer garden—featuring Peroni and Moretti brews—the 13th annual event will also include catering by 25 local Italian restaurants, live music, vendors and homemade wine and gravy-making contests. Music will include four hours of opera, classic Italian and contemporary pieces.

The society preserves Italian culture through education and community events, and Vendemmia, which translates to “grape harvest” and has been celebrated in villages throughout Italy each October for centuries, is a nostalgic example. The organization, a nonprofit, donates funds toward Italian language education at schools, and has given scholarship funds to the University of Delaware’s language department for eight years in a row.

Last year alone the da Vinci Society of Delaware awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships, family assistance and cultural programs.

Former da Vinci Society president and current member Larry Giacchino says he is looking forward to the merry crowds.

“It’s a real happy celebration,” he says. “It truly represents first-generation Italian customs as it relates to food, wine and entertainment.”

Last year the crowd went through 800 bottles of wine; this year Giacchino is expecting 3,000 vino-and-food lovers to attend and perhaps top that total.

The festival is from 2-6 p.m. Admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door. For more information and to order tickets, visit societadavinci.org.

Sips – Oct. 2016

Here’s what’s pouring

Delaware Wine & Beer Festival

The seventh annual Delaware Wine & Beer Festival features national acts Sam Grow and the Dueling Pianos on Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Delaware State Fairgrounds. Local and regional wines, beers and spirits will be available. Painted Stave, Evolution Brewing, Bellefonte Brewing Co. and Dogfish are just a few featured at the noon-5 p.m. fest. For more information, visit delawarewineandbeerfestival.com.

Wine Feast and Auction

Delaware Theatre Company will host a Wine Feast and Auction at the Delaware Art Museum on Friday, Oct. 28. It will be an evening of fine food from Caffé Gelato, Harry’s Hospitality Group, Domaine Hudson and more. Wines from purveyors like Branmar Wine and Spirits, Collier’s of Centreville and Frank’s Wine will be featured. Beer also will be available from Dogfish Head and other breweries. All proceeds from the 6-9:30 p.m. event benefit the artistic, education and community engagement programming of the Delaware Theatre Company. Tickets range from $75-$250. For more information, visit delawaretheatre.org/winefeast.

The Ultimate Tailgate

On Thursday, Oct. 20, the Ultimate Tailgate will bring the best of area restaurants serving interpretations of tailgate food in a sophisticated yet casual setting at the Sheraton Wilmington South (364 Airport Rd., New Castle). The evening will include wine, spirits and a beer garden curated by 2SP Brewing Co. Participating restaurants include Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Buckley’s Tavern, Columbus Inn and more. VIP admission allows entrance at 5:30 p.m., and general admission times are 6-9 p.m. For ticket prices and tickets, visit mealsonwheelsde.org/ultimate-tailgate.

Grainfest 2016

Grainfest 2016 is an inaugural fall celebration of craft beer and live music at Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen on Main Street in Newark, featuring five bands on Grain’s new outdoor stage in the back lot, which provides a backdrop for the new beer garden featuring 15 breweries and two food trucks. The Saturday, Oct. 15, event is 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and will include kids’ activities. For more information, visit grainonmain.com.

Beers & Gears

Rev your engines for Beers and Gears at Delaware Park, a seasonal favorite for area car enthusiasts. On Saturday, Oct. 22, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., the event welcomes all years, makes and models to the show. The craft beer component will take place from 1-5 p.m. Trophies will be awarded in all categories (rat rods, muscles, exotics, hot rods, tuners, pro street, classics, imports, and trucks). Rolling Revolution food trucks will be around for lunch and dinner options. The rain date is Oct. 23, rain or shine. For more information, visit delawarepark.com.

Queen of Katwe

oa-queenofkatwe_header1For Queen and Country: African chess prodigy is the center of heartfelt biopic

The Disney studio, best known for live action films of a more fantastical sort, would seem to be a strange choice to make Queen of Katwe. Its contemporary Central Ugandan slums are a long way, metaphorically anyway, from the lands of Into The Woods, Tomorrowland, or even The Jungle Book.

Nevertheless, the provenance of this heartwarming film has real-life connections to the African country. Tendo Nagenda, a senior executive at Disney who developed the project, is a native of Uganda; and director Mira Nair (The Namesake, Mississippi Masala), though India-born, is married to a Ugandan and has lived in the country.

Based on an ESPN The Magazine article and later book by Timothy Crothers, Queen of Katwe tells the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a female chess prodigy who became a Candidate Master in the game after playing successfully at the World Chess Olympiad. The movie combines the story of Phiona’s emerging skills in the game with a classic fish-out-water tale of a slum girl entering the rarefied world of international chess.

Queen of Katwe effectively focuses on the three main figures in the story: Phiona (played by newcomer and native Ugandan Madina Nalwanga); her independent and fierce mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave); and Phiona’s patient, determined chess coach, Robert Katende (David Oyelowo, Selma). The movie’s drama hinges on the shifting interplay among these fascinating characters, seldom seen in a major studio picture.

Queen of Katwe also effectively portrays the experiences of Phiona and her chess teammates when they go from the slums of Katwe to the brave new world of private African schools and dignified chess tournaments. The film deftly showcases the profound disparities between the two worlds without condescending to the slum children characters.

Director Nair has built her reputation with films that celebrate people who confidently rise beyond the expectations of their modest circumstances. Here, she has an assured hand in shaping and moving this compelling story along. And cinematographer Sean Bobbitt finds sometimes-startling beauty in the multi-hued world of Katwe’s slums. I was tempted to dismiss the rich imagery of this movie as a Disneyfied gloss, but I eventually succumbed to the vivid integrity of the filmmakers’ vision.

Screenwriter William Wheeler’s script follows the predictable rhythms of a sports movie, but the fresh setting and unfamiliar milieu of chess hide some of the story’s more obvious beats. In the end, the viewer is captivated by Phiona and her triumphant ascension. Interestingly, the film ends with a compelling reminder of its real-life roots as the actors are paired with the actual person they have been portraying, and everyone’s pride in this film biography resonates.

Six-pack Cinema – Oct. 2016

Mind Games:
Six films about competitions that are more mental than physical

Akeelah and The Bee (2006)
Eleven-year-old Akeelah (Night at the Museum’s Keke Palmer) is smart but struggling with a mother who ignores her in their impoverished neighborhood. She enters a spelling bee to avoid detention for her many absences from school. To her surprise, she wins and finds herself competing against many better-prepared students from wealthy backgrounds to reach the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee. This award-winning movie also stars Laurence Fishburne as the English professor who coaches Akeelah but struggles with his own demons. (PG)

Clue (1985)
A star-studded cast of familiar cinema comics (Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, and more) camp it up delightfully in this farcical mystery based on the classic board game. No trope of the genre goes unskewered and no low-brow joke gets passed up. The whole company looks like they are on the verge of cracking up at any moment. No great art here, but great fun. (MF)

Quiz Show (1994)
In this earnest drama based on a real scandal, Ralph Fiennes plays Charles Van Doren, a Columbia University professor who became a minor national celebrity for his remarkable success on a TV quiz show called Twenty One. Unknown to the public, the producers rigged the game in favor of attractive and patrician Van Doren over a working-class schlemiel who lacked the charisma to garner bigger ratings. Robert Redford directs another all-star cast that includes Fiennes, John Turturro, Paul Scofield, Elizabeth Wilson and Rob Morrow. (MF)

Sleuth (1972)
Oscar-winning writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz helmed this intense puzzle of a film starring two British acting powerhouses, Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. Olivier portrays a faded mystery novelist who initiates a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with his romantic rival (played by Caine). The English manor house setting is filled with whimsical, game-oriented gimcracks that Mankiewicz uses to drolly comment on the action as the story progresses. Oscar Award trivia: this is one of only two films in the Academy’s history where the entire cast was nominated for Acting Oscars (The other is identified at the end of the sidebar). (MF)

The Great Debaters (2007)
This 1930s-set drama tells the true story of the debate team at historically black Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. After finishing its first season nearly undefeated, the team challenged Harvard for the national championship. Directed by Denzel Washington, who also stars as the team’s controversial coach, the movie shows the hard realities of black people’s lives during the Depression as well as the bright young students’ determination. Nate Parker, whose current film The Birth of a Nation created controversy even before its release, plays one of the young debaters. (PG)

The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game tells the story of Alan Turing, who invented the computer. Turing was a British mathematician whose team cracked the Nazi code Enigma, which the Germans used to send military messages during World War II, an achievement that was a major factor in the Allies’ victory. As Turing, Benedict Cumberbatch leads a cast of accomplished British actors (Downton Abbey’s Allen Leech and Matthew Goode, as well as Keira Knightley) in this absorbing drama. (MF)

The other film in which the entire cast was nominated for an Acting Oscar: Give ‘Em Hell, Harry! (1975). The cast consisted of James Whitmore.

Bites – Oct. 2016

Tasty things worth knowing

Domaine Hudson’s Seasonal Bar Menu

Stop by Domaine Hudson this fall to get a taste of the new bar menu, featuring a selection of seasonal bites. The menu has several new options that are focused on boards: a regional picnic board with nostalgic picnic delights; cheese board and charcuterie board, and a variety of other small plates including tomato toast, grits, duck, salad, scallops and pork belly. More than 40 wines along with handcrafted cocktails and beers are available, too. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily, enjoy happy hour with $2 off all beers, cocktails and wines. For more information, visit domainehudson.com.

10th Annual Housewares Warehouse Sale

In support of Meals on Wheels, the 10th Annual Housewares Warehouse Sale at Centerpoint Business Complex Park in New Castle (802 Centerpoint Blvd.) will be the largest sale yet. This year’s sale begins with the ticketed Meals on Wheels’ Stock Up for Seniors day on Thursday, Nov. 10, which gives ticket-holders first access to the warehouse sale. Prices start at $25, and the event runs from 6:30-9 p.m. At this sale, bargains and factory pieces include items from premium European brands Emile Henry, Duralex, LéKué, Mauviel, Rösle and Novis Vita Juicer. On Nov. 11-12, the warehouse is open to the public and admission is free. Doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday (the parking lot opens at 7). Ticket sales as well as five percent of the proceeds from the warehouse sale will benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware. Visit mealsonwheelsde.org to purchase tickets.

Whose Chili Recipe is the Best?

The Wilmington Chili Challenge is back at Kelly’s Logan House on Sunday, Oct. 2, from 1-4 p.m., raising funds for Compassionate Care Hospice Foundation. Guests can sample all kinds of homemade recipes—traditional, gourmet, vegetarian—for $25. For those who want to take part in the challenge, the price is $25 for cornbread entrants and $35 to enter a chili. For team entries, the first member pays $35 and all other members pay $25. The traditional category consists of red or green chili with or without beans and only beef, while gourmet is considered white chili, seafood chili, poultry chili—anything without beef. Vegetarian, of course, consists of non-meat options. For more information and to enter, visit wilmingtonchilichallenge.com.

Arts & Crafts Fall Festival

On Saturday, Oct. 8, Woodside Farm Creamery will host an Arts and Crafts Fall Festival, welcoming fine crafts and art from local artists—and fall-favorite pumpkin ice cream. The event is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a next-day rain date. Mums and pumpkins will be on sale. Each year the creamery chooses an animal-focused charity to receive a portion of its vendor fees. This year nonprofit Forgotten Cats will join the event to share information about its mission and to accept donations. Parking and admission is free. Visit woodsidefarmcreamery.com for more information.

Tuned In – Oct. 2016

Not-to-be-missed music news

Kategory 5 Are Champs
Newark group wins WMGK Battle of the Bands

This summer, Newark band Kategory 5 took home the win at Philadelphia classic rock station 102.9 WMGK’s Battle of the Bands. The classic rock group, which also covers the best of blues, R&B and pop music from the ‘70s onward, went up against fellow finalists Sweet Revenge, Taggart, Green Machine and Tongue n Groove. Now the official house band, Kategory 5 will play at all big station events throughout the year, including Brew Blast, Big Bad Bonfire and Big Gig. For more information, visit kategory5band.com.

Burning up the Dance Floor for Autism
Organization’s 18th annual fundraiser is Nov. 4

Dress code is “funky” at Autism Delaware’s fall auction gala on Friday, Nov. 4, at World Cafe Live at The Queen. With the theme “Disco Inferno: Burning Up the Dance Floor for Autism,” the 6-11 p.m. event is the organization’s 18th annual fundraiser for programs and services statewide dedicated to supporting individuals with autism. Says Autism Delaware Event Manager Deanna Principe: “Everyone’s invited to make the scene in their platforms and bell bottoms, to boogie all night, and to help us raise critically-needed funds.” DJ Josh Grant will spin vinyl for Autism Delaware’s version of Lip Sync Battle as well as for dancing, of course. An auction will feature vacation packages, wines and spirits, event tickets and more. The $95 ticket price covers cocktails, small plates and admission to live and silent auctions. For more information, visit autismdelaware.org.

NY Blues Hall of Famer Coming to Saint Georges
Country Store appearance is Oct. 12

New York Blues Hall of Fame member Regina Bonelli, special guest and renowned bluesman Michael Hill, plus a band of world-class musicians will perform original music from Bonelli’s 2015 release Open Up The Door at Saint Georges Country Store (1 Delaware St., Saint Georges) on Wednesday, Oct 12. The release has received rotation on BB King’s Bluesville Station, on SiriusXM Radio and more. The 7:30-10:30 p.m. event is $20 for Diamond State Blues Society members and $25 for non-members. For tickets, email mrbluz2@aol.com.

Swan Lake in Wilmington
First State Ballet Theatre presents the classic Oct. 22-23

First State Ballet Theatre will present Swan Lake at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22-23. Staged by Artistic Director Pasha Kambalov, the beloved story of the swan queen Odette and Prince Siegfried will be performed by the company’s 25 professional dancers to Tchaikovsky’s dramatic score. Performances are 7 p.m. Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to $50. For more information, call 1-800-37GRAND (1-800-374-7263) or visit ticketsatthegrand.org.

David Amado Signs Through 2023
That will mark 20 years for Delaware Symphony director

Music Director David Amado, of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, recently signed on to extend his role through 2023, which will mark his 20th year with the orchestra. With experience at the Juilliard School and Indiana University, as well as an apprenticeship and tenure at symphonies around the country, Amado has brought a wealth of knowledge and passion to the DSO and the Delaware arts scene for more than a decade. For more information, visit delawaresymphony.org.

October Brings Two Newark Symphony Concerts
The Independence School hosts Oct. 9, Oct. 30 events

The Newark Symphony Orchestra, celebrating 50 years this year, has scheduled two concerts this month. Both will be held at The Independence School, 1300 Paper Mill Rd., Newark. Led by music director Simeone Tartaglione, the symphony will present a free performance targeted at young audience members on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m. The theme, “To the Planets and Beyond,” includes two of Gustav Holst’s suites “The Planets,” (“Mars” and “Jupiter”), and selections from Star Wars. The concert will be narrated by actor and musician Greg Jukes. The concert on Sunday, Oct. 30, beginning at 3 p.m., is also planet-themed. It will feature the Music School of Delaware Women’s Chorus and the University Singers, with visual effects by Giovanni Ciranni, and more. General admission tickets for this performance are $25. Senior tickets are $20, $15 for students, and free for those in eighth grade or younger. For more information, visit newarksymphony.org.

Bridget Jones’ Baby

oa-bjones_headerBridget Jones’s Baby

Our favorite British career gal, Bridget Jones (as winningly played by Renée Zellweger) is back in Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third film to feature the winsome character. In this installment, Bridget has finally found professional success and stability, but still longs for a man in her life. After a pair of unexpected trysts—one with an American Internet mogul and the other with her long-suffering ex, Mark Darcy—Bridget finds herself with a surfeit of men and with a baby on the way.

The plot steps from that promising set-up to an expected but rewarding conclusion that could be drafted by every person who’s ever seen a movie rom-com. Nevertheless, Zellweger’s endearingly daft Bridget wins over the audience easily, and she is well-supported by a cast of top-drawer British actors (and one American, Patrick Dempsey), including Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as her parents, Colin Firth as the stolid Mr. Darcy, Shirley Henderson and Sally Phillips as her married mum-chums, and Sarah Solemani as her single pal and co-worker. Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay with original author Helen Fielding, is almost worth the price of admission by herself as Bridget’s acerbic ob-gyn.

Triple Threat

Actor, real estate agent, entrepreneur: Lyman Chen manages to toggle effortlessly from one to the other

Unlike author and minister Robert Fulghum, who wrote the 1986 bestseller All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Lyman Chen received his life-changing and painful lessons a few years later—in middle school.

Born in Newark to parents who had immigrated from China, Chen entered those formative years at the height of the school busing movement, which for him proved to be bad timing. “I wasn’t black and I wasn’t white,” he says. “So I got it from both sides.” Sixth to eighth grade became a personal gauntlet for him, punctuated by the occasional beating and frequent thefts of his money, lunch and comic books.

He complained to his father, who, hardened by his previous life in China, showed little sympathy. “My dad told me I wasn’t there to make friends,” says Chen, “just to get good grades.”

So he did. He adapted, survived and, eventually, thrived. Indeed, Chen looks back on those years with his characteristic jovial attitude. Laughing, he says, “I’m actually thankful for that experience. It taught me people skills, how to get along with people.” And, he admits, it involved a bit of acting, too, a nascent talent he would develop later in life.

His years at Newark High School, where he was captain of the tennis team, went much smoother. He moved on to the University of Delaware, where he joined Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and spent four happy years.

With a degree in finance and marketing, Chen embarked on a career in the financial world, going straight out of college to J.P. Morgan & Co. on Wall Street, no less, before being assigned to the firm’s Delaware office. Although he was successful in his work, he came to realize that banking, as he says, “was just not my thing.”

He wanted to be his own boss, much like his father, who was in real estate. “He ran a little mom and pop shop and he encouraged me to get into the business,” says Chen. At first he resisted, but soon relented and found himself studying for the exam, which he passed while still at Morgan.

He dabbled in real estate on the side for a while, then, after two-and-a-half years, he left the financial world and went into the business full time. It was a quick and successful transition.

“Real estate came easy to me,” Chen says. “I had worked at the old Wick’s Ski Shop during summers and I learned there that I had a knack for selling. And I had a ready-made customer base in the Newark area because I had spent my life there.” He formed RE/MAX Sunvest Realty, which has multiple offices in Delaware.

Meanwhile, his wife, Caroline, who also was in the banking industry, was accepted by Wharton, the prestigious business school at the University of Pennsylvania. But she too was unhappy and decided to pursue her true love—art. She started a graphic design firm—Chengraphix—and also developed her talent for painting. Today she maintains a studio at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, and she was included in the 2010 book 100 Artists of the Brandywine Valley by Catherine Quillman.

Both Chens achieved success in their banking careers, but, says Lyman, “We decided we didn’t want to be held hostage by money, and we pursued our passions.”

But he wasn’t finished with alternate careers. While he enjoyed selling houses, Chen discovered that his true love was something that had its beginnings back there in middle school: acting.

“I was always a movie and TV fanatic,” he says. “I was one of those annoying people who would mouth the lines of the character on screen. I saw random Asian actors and I would say, ‘I can do that!’, and other self-deluded statements.”

Finally, Caroline said, “Oh, you think it’s that easy?” and called his bluff by buying him acting classes at Delaware Theatre Co. Inspired, Chen then took lessons at Mike Lemon Casting in Philadelphia. Lemon quickly saw the potential in the 6’-1”, 210-pound Chen.

“There were no Asian men actors in Philly, and especially none my size,” says Chen. “Mike was like, ‘where have you been?’”

Lemon soon cast him in a training video for the DuPont Co. (“They were pushing diversity,” says Chen).

That 2004 project was his introduction to how a movie is produced, and he reveled in it. “We put in 14- or 15-hour days,” he says, “and all the extras were miserable. But for me, it was, like, the greatest day ever. I got to see behind the scenes on a film.”

His next significant role was a small, recurring one on Hack, a TV drama about a former Philly policeman who becomes a crime-fighting cab driver that starred veteran character actor David Morse (ER, The Green Mile) and Andre Braugher, who won an Emmy for Homicide: Life on the Street, and who currently stars in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

For two years, Chen was in almost every episode of the one-hour show. “It was great,” he says. “The job didn’t interfere with my real estate business, and I got to watch David Morse and Andre Braugher work.” Aside from garnering acting techniques, the garrulous Chen picked the brains of the crew, learning film-making terminology and procedures. “I treated it as my master class in film,” he says.

That approach is appreciated by casting people. “Lyman understands the business, whereas many actors don’t,” says Diane Heery of Heery Casting in Philadelphia, who has worked with him several times. “And this is huge. Plus, he’s a very personable, fun guy; everybody enjoys working with him.”

She adds that Chen’s availability to travel and his ethnicity also are advantages. “It’s all a package,” she says.

Following Hack, he landed in a series of commercials as what he calls “the token Asian.” In one, for Campbell’s Soup Co., he was garbed in winter clothing and eating chili. “The commercial was shot in 90-degree weather on a set that made it look like 10 below,” says Chen. “It ran for two years during football season, and I was on screen for maybe a second, but the residuals were pretty phenomenal. In fact, sometimes when my wife asked if I was going to work that day I would tell her, ‘let me check the mail box.’”

But seeking roles in commercials soon became frustrating. He was driving to New York four days a week for auditions that often didn’t result in a job. “That was four hours a day away from my family.” (The Chens, who live in North Wilmington, have a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.) So he told his agent he wanted only movie or TV work. “I thought that was probably the end of my acting career,” he says.

But in 2005, his biggest role came along. His agent called him to audition for The Departed, the Martin Scorsese-helmed movie loosely based on Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger.

Chen went to New York four times for auditions, then waited. And waited. A month went by and he heard nothing. Which is not unusual, he explains. “If you don’t get the job, they just don’t bother to tell you.”

The Departed was one of the year’s major productions, with a cast full of heavyweights—Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg—and Chen assumed he had little chance of landing the part. “I said, ‘this is a joke,’ and I was ready to quit. I had given it three years, I had a couple good wins, but I figured that’s it, I better get back to selling houses.”

And then, out of the blue, he got the job. “I was beside myself,” says Chen.

In his first speaking role in a movie, he played an interpreter negotiating a deal between Nicholson’s mob and a Chinese gang. The scene, which included Nicholson and DiCaprio, was shot on three consecutive nights in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. “It took about 100 takes because of the different camera angles,” says Chen, adding that DiCaprio stayed through the entire scene, even though he didn’t have a line in it and could have easily had a stand-in take his place.

“He’s a great guy,” says Chen. “He came up to me and introduced himself on the first night.” Chen ranks DiCaprio right behind Danny DeVito among the friendliest actors he has worked with.

Jack Nicholson playing Frank Costello, next to Lyman Chen playing a Chinese translator in the Martin Scorsese film, The Departed. (Photo courtesy of Lyman Chen)
Jack Nicholson playing Frank Costello, next to Lyman Chen playing a Chinese translator in the Martin Scorsese film, The Departed. (Photo courtesy of Lyman Chen)

Following The Departed, his next career milestone was the role of a concierge in the campy Sharknado 2 in 2014. His character was swept away by a wave, created by the sharknado, which shot out of an elevator door. He of course was a fan of the original, and he threw a party for about 250 family and friends at Theatre N to watch the movie’s premiere on the Syfy channel. The audience cheered wildly when he delivered his two lines—”Can I help you? No one else is here.”

Last year, he and his whole family got a fleeting, uncredited moment in Creed, the Sylvester Stallone boxing film that was shot largely in Philadelphia. They played tourists at the Rocky statue. “My wife stressed over hitting her marks,” he says, “but it helped her understand what I do and that it is pretty stressful.”

And last November, he landed a recurring role as Joseph Yun, a Chinese CIA agent in Rush Hour, a CBS show based on the 1997 film starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan as two mismatched police partners. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after one season.

His acting gigs inadvertently led Chen to yet another endeavor. While doing some TV work in California, he says he became “quite addicted” to the frozen yogurt served in the Los Angeles area. And he wasn’t alone. “Those places were just packed with customers,” he says.

When he came back to Delaware, the real estate market was in a severe downward cycle. Looking to make up the lost income, he sat down with his wife, who also had become a fan of frozen yogurt, and said, “Why don’t we diversify?”

So it came to pass that the week before Christmas of 2011 the Chens opened Berri Yummi Frozen Yogurt in a strip mall on Naamans Road near Shipley. Despite the winter weather, he says, “There was a line out the door right away.” The next year he opened a second store in the Shops of Limestone Hills, and both locations are busy year-round.

Today, Chen toggles effortlessly from one of his three careers to the other. At 44, he has accumulated more than 30 credits in his IMDb in just 12 years, and he has one or two projects lined up. That includes a small but recurring role on Mr. Robot, the popular USA Network drama that’s in its second season, airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m.

“He’s been very successful, especially in the past year,” says Diane Heery. “There are so many variables in acting that it’s hard to predict, but I think he can go as far as he wants to go.”

Chen has thoroughly enjoyed his ride as an actor, and whatever roles may come his way will just be icing on his many-tiered career cake. He chooses to use a different metaphor to describe his acting endeavors: “I’ve been playing with house money since day one.”

Arts Attack!

From ballet to jazz to opera, we’ve got you covered this season

Arden Concert Gild-San Fermin-Photo Joe del TufoARDEN CONCERT GILD
This fall, Arden’s concert series returns with the outstanding variety and quality, high-energy artists they’re known for, all within the confines of a 165-year-old barn with a hometown atmosphere. On Saturday, Oct. 15, comes the mesmerizing blues guitar and soul-testifying vocals of Joe Louis Walker. A different energy arrives on Sunday, Oct. 23, with the “raw and ragged pop-rock” of Islands, the latest band from Unicorns founder Nicholas Thornburn. On Saturday, Nov. 5, (finally) returning is Ben Sollee, an engaging world-class cellist, songwriter, storyteller and activist. A busy November continues with a gear shift to Buenos Aires Cumbia with La Yegros—marking Arden’s second year of a salsa/rock/dance-filled evening. And never in a rut, the Gild has its first spoken-word show with the renowned Andrew WK—a show that was trending on Facebook when it was announced and will certainly sell out. More to be announced, so stay tuned on Arden Concert Gild’s Facebook page and website.
2126 The Highway, Arden • 898.9308 • ardenconcerts.com
Facebook: @ArdenConcertGild • Twitter: @ArdenConcerts

Christina Cultural Arts Center 2-Photo Faye BonneauCHRISTINA CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
Christina kicks off its year-long 70th Anniversary celebration on Friday, Oct. 21, with a performance by renowned jazz musician Jermaine Bryson. The center’s arts season rounds out with “Movies for Grown Ups” at Theatre N sponsored by AARP in September. In October, there will be the unveiling of its new Shipley Street mosaic wall and “Life RE-imagined”—a partnership with AARP, including a workshop with art-making. Bebe Ross Coker brings the musical work “Sistas Can Sang” to CCAC in November, and December revels in the return of Eleone Dance Theatre and the breathtaking performance of Carols in Color—a retelling of the Gospel according to St. Matthew through electrifying music, exuberant modern dance and powerful narration.
705 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.0101 • ccacde.org
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @CCACDE

City Theater Company-HAIR-Photo Joe del TufoCITY THEATER COMPANY
Delaware’s Off-Broadway experience turns 23 and is partying throughout 2016-17 with new and classic offerings. Following (recent) CTC tradition, the kickoff begins at World Cafe Live at The Queen on Saturday, Oct. 22, with I Want My CTC: A Tribute to the ’80s—an old-school dance party with an all-star band and CTC powerhouses performing the biggest hits of the early ’80s, all led by Joe Trainor. CTC transforms The Black Box into a sizzling nightclub for La Cage aux Folles (December 2–17), in an over-the-top romp of the musical comedy by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman. February sees a World Premiere by acclaimed playwright David Robson—After Birth of a Nation—a farcical send-up of history, sexism, racism and politics centered on a comically disastrous evening at the White House in 1915. Fearless Improv also will host a series of workshops and performances in February at The Black Box. The season wraps in April with the Regional Premiere of Lizzie, a tour-de-force tale of rage, sex, betrayal and murder described as “…American mythology set to a blistering rock score”—with four women fronting the live six-piece rock band.
Performances: The Black Box, 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 220.8285 • city-theater.org
Facebook: @CityTheaterCompany • Twitter/Instagram: @CityTheaterCo

Delaware Art Museum 2-GuayDELAWARE ART MUSEUM
Fall’s first offering celebrates Imaginative Realism—a genre often related to science fiction and fantasy. The IX Preview Weekend (Sept. 23–25) includes an exhibition of more than 16 artists recognized for contributions to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel & DC Comics and others. The kick-off commences at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, with fantasy-inspired live sketching with Dr. Sketchy; live music, food trucks, cocktails and more. On Saturday, Sept. 24, visit the Copeland Sculpture Garden for a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Truth & Vision: 21st Century Realism (Oct. 22–Jan. 22) exhibit is inspired by Robert C. Jackson’s Behind the Easel: The Unique Voices of 20 Contemporary Representational Painters. Featuring 20 artists from the U.S. and Canada, the exhibit surveys realistic painting at the start of the 21st century. A wealth of diverse programming fills out the fall—New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake on Thursday, Sept. 15; the Korean Festival & Harvest Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 17; Thursday Labyrinth Walks on Sept. 22 and Oct. 27; and numerous film screenings, gallery chats and Kids’ Corner creativity hours. A powerful live performance arrives Sunday, Nov. 20, with Connected: Spoken Word. Presented by community activist group 302 Guns Down, this is an afternoon of poetry inspired by art and featuring Delaware Poet Laureate Nnamdi Chukwuocha and other artists.
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington • 571.9590 • delart.org
Facebook: @DelawareArtMuseum • Twitter/Instagram: @DelArtMuseum

DelShakes Hamlet-Photo Alessandra NicoleDELAWARE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
In September, DelShakes celebrates First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, the national touring exhibit at the Old College Gallery at the University of Delaware. Producing Artistic Director David Stradley collaborates with Professor Steve Tague to examine acting techniques based on clues in the First Folio on Wednesday, Sept. 14. Stradley then presents his one-man collection of monologues and remembrances, How I Came To Love Shakespeare on Saturday, Sept. 24. In October, usher in fall with masters of the macabre and Delaware’s most literary Halloween tradition, Shakespeare/Poe. DelShakes actors read bone-chilling selections inside the gothic halls of Rockwood Mansion, the grandeur of the Read House & Gardens in Old New Castle and colonial-era Stone Stable in Historic Odessa. But choose quickly—there are only 30 souls per performance! The Company rounds out the fall with Pericles, a tale of loss and redemption, which will tour statewide with free performances at venues like the Sunday Breakfast Mission, Dover Air Force Base and Rose Hill Community Center. Ticketed performances of the production will be held at the Delaware History Museum on consecutive weekends, Nov. 12 and 13 and 19 and 20.
Performance venues: Vary • 415.3373 • delshakes.org • Facebook/Instagram: @DelShakes

Delaware Symphony Orchestra-Photo Joe del TufoDELAWARE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The DSO and Maestro David Amado launch the 111th Anniversary Season at The Grand on Friday, Sept. 23, with a powerful Classics Series program of Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 5. Andre Previn also will be on hand to receive the A.I. du Pont Composer’s Award prior to the performance of his Double Concerto, featuring violin and cello soloists, Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson. The Classics Series continues Friday, Nov. 18, with guest violinist Jinjoo Cho and music that orbits around Hollywood: the Bo Derek career-launching Ravel’s Bolero; Eric Wolfgang Korngold’s virtuosic Violin Concerto; and Bernstein’s genre-bending West Side Story. DSO’s first Chamber Series travels to the Gold Ballroom on Tuesday, Oct. 18, with Schoenberg’s luminescent Verklärte Nacht and DSO concertmaster David Southorn as violin soloist in Vivaldi’s timeless The Four Seasons. Bring the entire family to Cab Callaway School for the Arts Auditorium for Family Concerts on Sunday, Nov. 20, and get ready for a fun, musical ride with violin soloist Jonjoo Cho and music from West Side Story and composer John Williams.
100 W. 10th St., Suite 1003, Wilmington • 656.7442 • delawaresymphony.org
Facebook: @DelawareSymphony • Twitter: @DelawareSymph

Delaware Theatre Company-Photo Matt UrbanDELAWARE THEATRE COMPANY
DTC continues its vision as Delaware’s only theater developing new shows for Broadway with the American Premiere of Warren Adler’s The War of the Roses. Baring its evil grin Sept. 14–Oct. 2, this dark comedy follows Jonathan and Barbara Rose as their seemingly perfect marriage devolves into a search-and-destroy mission for each other’s most prized possessions. From Oct. 26–Nov. 13, Anthony Giardina’s impassioned political drama, The City of Conversation, pilots audiences through Washington, D.C.’s evolving atmosphere over 30 years and six presidencies. Returning this holiday season is Patrick Barlow’s new spin on the timeless classic, the tour-de-force adaptation of A Christmas Carol, running Dec. 7–30. Join DTC for yet another artistically ambitious season.
200 Water St., Wilmington • 594.1100 • DelawareTheatre.org
Facebook/Instagram: @DelawareTheatreCompany
Twitter/Snapchat: @DelawareTheatre

First State Ballet Theatre opens at The Grand on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 22 and 23, with Swan Lake—the timeless story of good versus evil with music by Tchaikovsky. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12, FSBT presents Up Front. Performed in Studio 1 at the baby grand, Up Front brings audiences and dancers up close and personal, with classical repertoire and contemporary pieces choreographed for the company. The season continues with a Wilmington holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 17 and 18, at The Grand Opera House. Experience the magical journey through the land of sweets in this lavish production, which will include new costumes and choreography for the battle scene.
818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 658.7897 x3851 • firststateballet.com
Facebook/Instagram: @FirstStateBallet • Twitter: @FSBTheatre

Gable Music Ventures-Mary Lambert-Photo Joe del TufoGABLE MUSIC VENTURES
After the smashing success of the fifth Ladybug Music Festival, Gable continues to be the conduit for live music in and around Wilmington. Friday, Sept. 9, heralds the return of Save the Valley Music Festival to World Cafe Live at The Queen, with six acts, including Maryland-based blues singer/saxophonist Vanessa Collier; Splashing Pearls; and American indie/roots rock band Bronze Radio Return. The Ladybug Music Festival presents a collection of singers for its “County Bugs” showcase on Saturday, Oct. 1, and Saturday, Oct. 22, celebrates artist Shane Palko’s Seventh Story album release—all at World Cafe Live at The Queen. Gable also continues to provide live music to Cool Spring Farmers Market through September. For tickets and more details, visit queentickets.worldcafelive.com.
Performance venue: World Cafe Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington gablemusicventures.com • Facebook: @GableMusicVentures
Twitter: @GableMusic • Intsagram: @GableMusicVentures

The Grand and The Playhouse are off to an exciting start. The Grand offers options for the whole family, from children’s sensation The Wiggles to Grammy Award-winning blues artist Jonny Lang. A cappella phenomenon Straight No Chaser returns for two shows, and music legends Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen collaborate in a special acoustic performance of their hits. The Playhouse’s Broadway in Wilmington series starts in October with a limited engagement of the Tony Award-winning classic, Rent. Following is the Playhouse Premiere of 2014 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, and a limited engagement of another Premiere, Broadway Christmas Wonderland. Closing out the first half of the series is the wildly popular Broadway hit Kinky Boots.
The Grand: 818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.5577 • TheGrandWilmington.org
The Playhouse: 1007 N. Market Street, Wilmington • 888.0200 • ThePlayhouseDE.org
Facebook: @TheGrandWilmington • Facebook: @ThePlayhouseDE
Twitter/Instagram: @TheGrandWilm

The Kennett Flash-Arden Kind-Photo Brianna & Ryan PhotographyTHE KENNETT FLASH
In downtown Kennett Square, The Flash is less than 15 minutes from Wilmington. A sampling of fall offerings includes singer/songwriter Tim Easton on Wednesday, Sept. 14; Blues guitarist and Yardbird Johnny A. on Friday, Sept. 23; Leigh Nash (lead singer of Sixpence None The Richer) on Sunday, Sept. 25; “Midnight at the Oasis” songstress Maria Muldaur on Saturday, Oct. 1; former Frank Zappa stunt guitarist Mike Keneally with his group Beer For Dolphins on Friday, Oct. 28; NPR’s Echoes welcomes guitarist Adrian Legg on Wednesday, Nov. 9, and folk favorite Steve Forbert on Friday, Dec. 2. This fall also sees tributes to Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, The Beatles, Steely Dan, The Who, Jethro Tull and more. Look for Open Mic Nights, up-and-coming national acts, former Billboard chart toppers and more at The Flash.
102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, PA • 484.732.8295 • kennettflash.org
Facebook: @TheFlashMusicCafe • Instagram/Twitter @TheKennettFlash

Market Street Music-Pyxis-Photo Charles GroveMARKET STREET MUSIC
Wilmington’s most affordable and diverse music series presents full-length Festival Concerts featuring Pyxis Piano Quartet on Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, March 19; organist David Schelat on Sunday, Oct. 23; Mastersingers of Wilmington on Saturday, Dec. 3, and April 1; and La Bernardinia Early Music Ensemble on Sunday, May 7. Popular Thursday Noontime Concerts begin at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 with members of Mélomanie and continue with such varied artists as Lyra Russian Choir—the Russian Vocal Ensemble of St. Petersburg—in their only area appearance; local jazz favorites Alfie Moss & Dexter Koonce; local pianist Daniel Carunchio; the holiday tradition of the Cartoon Christmas Trio, and more.
Performance venue: First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1101 N. Market St., Wilmington • 654.5371 • marketstreetmusicde.org
Facebook: @MarketStreetMusicDE

Melomanie-Photo Tim BayardMÉLOMANIE
This ensemble’s “provocative pairings” return for a 23rd season, starting with an intimate performance on Sunday, Sept. 18, at Wilmington Friends School. Up Close & Personal: The Viola da Gamba, features Donna Fournier and Tracy Richardson in a program of Baroque and contemporary music. The regular Wilmington series returns Sundays at 2 p.m. to The Delaware Contemporary on Oct. 9, Feb. 5, April 2 and May 14. Featured in the series will be World Premiere works written for the ensemble by composers Daniel Dorff, Bonnie McAlvin and Michael Stambaugh. Mélomanie also launches a new concert series in Rehoboth Beach this fall.
Performance venue: The Delaware Contemporary, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington 764.6338 • melomanie.org
Facebook: @MelomanieDE

Following last season’s nationally lauded performances of Hamlet and Falstaff, the country’s 11th oldest professional opera company begins this year with two performances of Bravo Bel Canto!—a program devoted to music from the bel canto period—on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. Next, a Sunday Artist Spotlight Recital on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. Additional details on the full season schedule will be available soon on the company’s website.
4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 442.7807 • operade.org
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @OperaDelaware

The REP begins the season with God of Carnage (Sept. 15–Oct. 9), a savage comedy of ill-manners that follows two sets of parents as they meet to discuss a squabble between their sons. Harmony devolves into hostility when everyone’s inner child comes out swinging, and the evening descends into hilarious chaos. The modern classic, Waiting for Godot (Sept. 22–Oct. 9), opens shortly thereafter, with two loveable, hapless vagrants grappling with the mysteries of the universe as they wait for a guy who’s lousy at keeping appointments. In November, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning satire Clybourne Park (Nov. 10–Dec. 4) tells the tale of a 1959 white community that tries to halt the sale of a home to an African-American family. Fast-forward to 2009: the same house, in what is now a predominantly African-American neighborhood, where a white family wants to move in. It’s a feisty, funny and insightful look at race, real estate and role-reversal.
Performance venue: Roselle Center for the Arts, 110 Orchard Rd., Newark 4 • 831.2204 • rep.udel.edu
Facebook: @rep.udel.edu • Twitter/Instagram: @Delaware REP

Celebrate the holiday season as this studio celebrates its 50th year of The Nutcracker performances at The Playhouse on Rodney Square. This year, the performance will feature New York City Ballet principal dancers Abi Stafford as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Adrian Danchig-Waring as her Cavalier; live music from the Wilmington Ballet Orchestra & Chorus and dancing from the Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. Shows are 2 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, and 2 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4. Get a sneak peek of their Nutcracker Waltz of the Flowers during the New Castle County Faerie Fest at Rockwood Park on Sunday, Sept. 18. Wilmington Ballet will also celebrate its 60th Anniversary with a Gala Benefit in April 2017.
Performance space: The Playhouse on Rodney Square, 1007 N. Market St., Wilmington • 655-1004 • wilmingtonballet.org
Facebook/Instagram: @WilmingtonBallet • Twitter: @wilmballetAD

WDL opens with High School Musical (Sept. 9–25), the tween favorite adapted from the hit Disney Channel movie. Up next is Shakespeare’s epic tragedy, Macbeth (Oct. 14-23), brought to life with an all-female cast. Arriving just in time to entertain you in political season is An Ideal Husband (Nov. 4–13), a comedy by Oscar Wilde that explores themes of political corruption, blackmail, class-structure and honor. WDL’s holiday production is the inspiring A Little Princess (Dec. 9–30). Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel woven with lively dance and Afro-infused music, it chronicles a young girl’s courage and resilience.
10 W. Lea Blvd., Wilmington • 764.1172 • wilmingtondramaleague.org
Facebook: @WilmingtonDramaLeague • Instagram: @WilmingtonDramaLeague

Wilmington Renaissance Corporation continues the momentum of progress and engaging community events in Wilmington’s Creative District. On Friday, Sept. 7, celebrate Park(ing) Day as the latest iNSPIRE LOT series event. The New Wilmington Art Association will debut the design of the 7th Street Art Bridge “Musical Bench,” and the Challenge Program will unveil its innovative parklet, while The Souldaires provide the music. Friday, Oct. 7, marks the final installment in this series, featuring the dedication of the 7th Street Arts Bridge Sculpture Garden by local artist Andre Hinton. The day is complemented by music from singer/songwriter/instrumentalist King Zimm, with food trucks and refreshments by CityFest.
The iNSPIRE LOT, 215-219 West 7th St., Wilmington • 425.5500
Facebook: @WilmingtonRenaissanceCorporation & @CreativeDistrictWilm
Twitter: @CreativeWilm • Instagram: @WilmRen & @CreativeDistrictWilm

A music-packed fall brings noted acts like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell on Sunday, Oct. 9; alternative rockers Blue October on Thursday, Oct. 13; Sunday, Oct. 16, WXPN welcomes An Intimate Night with soulful singer-songwriter Allen Stone; Americana country band Reckless Kelly on Monday, Oct. 24; and Live Nation presents English folk artist Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls on Monday, Oct. 31. Family musical holiday fun ensues at 11am on Saturday, Oct. 29, with a special Halloween costume party with Jason Didner and The Jungle Gym.
500 N. Market St., Wilmington • 994.1400 • worldcafelive.com
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @WCLatTheQueen

Sips – Sept. 2016

Here’s what’s pouring

September at Penns Woods Winery

Every month, Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford, Pa., has a calendar full of exciting events, including yoga, painting and movies. Every Saturday and Sunday features music and food vendors. This month, Penns Woods also will host its Autumn Trail event. On Saturday, Sept. 17, there will be a 5K run at 9 a.m. At the same time the next day there will be an 8K run. Both offer a complimentary glass of wine at the finish line, a performance shirt and free downloadable pictures. The races are limited to 400 entries, so be sure to register and pay the $40 registration fee in advance. To register or for more information about the Autumn Trail Run the Vineyards, visit gooddayforarun.com. For more information about Penns Woods Winery and its events, visit pennswoodsevents.com.

Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest

Join Delaware Saengerbund on the weekend of Sept. 16-18 to celebrate Oktoberfest on 49 Salem Church Rd. in Newark. The festivities will take place on Friday from 5 to 11 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. For $8, attendees can enjoy German food (like bratwurst and traditional plum cake), entertainments provided by the Enzian Volkstanzgruppe, German music, imported gifts and souvenirs and amusement rides. For more information, visit delawaresaengerbund.org or call 366-9454.

The 2016 Kennett Brewfest

On Saturday, Oct. 1, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., the 2016 Kennett Brewfest will take place on South Broad Street in Kennett Square, Pa. This rain-or-shine event is open only to those 21 years or older. There will be food and merchandise vendors, live bands, sponsor tables and sample beers from more than 90 local, regional and craft breweries. General admission is $50 and designated driver tickets are $15. For $75, guests can purchase Connoisseur Tasting VIP tickets, which include a meal from noon to 1:30 p.m. This is a fundraiser with proceeds going to Historic Kennett Square, a non-profit organization working to keep Kennett Square a regional economic and cultural center. For more information, visit kennettbrewfest.com.

Heavy Seas Great’er Pumpkin

The “Uncharted Waters” series by Heavy Seas Beer is welcoming the 2016 edition of the Great’er Pumpkin. This orange-colored pumpkin ale contains aromas of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, brown sugar and pumpkin. The beer is bourbon barrel-aged, which rounds out its flavor with notes of oak, vanilla and bourbon. The Great’er Pumpkin is a limited release, available in all 17 states where Heavy Seas beer is distributed from September through October.