Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald is the owner of arts publicity company Arts in Media and manager of the blog Delaware Arts Info. She is a self-described "cheerleader" for the arts and animal rescue, a die-hard Penn Stater and a doting dog mom. She's a big fan of The Beatles, Bon Jovi, strong java and red blends, and in a parallel universe, she's pretty sure she's a writer for Rolling Stone. She and hubby Scott Fitzgerald share their Wilmington home with lovable mutt Eli.
Carl Pariso is an actor/singer/musician based in New York City who began performing at a young age, playing and writing songs for rock bands. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 2015 with degrees in Music Composition and Theatre Performance. During college, he wrote music, performed, and developed a passion for theater, starring in roles like Bobby Strong in Urinetown, Matt in The Fantasticks, Boo Radley in To Kill A Mockingbird and King Arthur in Camelot. He also sang with the UD Chorale, and performed and arranged music for a cappella groups, barbershop quartets and big bands. Pariso stars as Clifford Bradshaw in the touring company of Cabaret, showing at The Playhouse on Rodney Square March 13-18.
This is such an iconic piece of musical theater and role. What drew you to it?
My first experience with the musical was in high school, when my teacher played a clip of the song Willkommen, from the movie. I didn’t really understand the context then. I learned more about the work in Musical History during my senior year at UD, and I began to appreciate the composition much more.
As for the role [of Cliff], I didn’t know much about it [beyond my past two experiences]. Once I submitted for it, I researched — watching Sam Mendes’ 1998 revival on the BBC and was enamored by it — and realized I had to do this role.
Do you feel not knowing much background on the piece helped you?
Yes, in a way. I tend to overthink things, but here, I didn’t have time to do that. Our director [BT McNicholl] gave me great advice on the role, and I think that was most helpful for me in developing the character.
Talk about your experience as part of the cast of Cabaret.
This experience has been nothing but positive! It’s cliché but it’s true — this role and show have changed my life. Working with BT [McNicholl] has been a dream. He’s a genius! He’s inspired me and made me excited about theater in a whole new way.
As for the role itself? I feel Cliff is a character trying to find himself. I think any young person can relate to that idea. I try to relate the role to my college experience…you go not knowing what it will be like or what you’ll do.
Do you have other favorite roles or productions, either professionally or while at UD?
I loved playing Bobby Strong in Urinetown — especially his demeanor and character. The entire show and music fit me well; it was one time I felt I could be funny and truly “let loose.”
I enjoyed playing King Arthur in Camelot about a year ago at the Compass Rose Theater in Annapolis. Arthur’s monologues and songs are beautiful, and that work made me grow as an actor. It gave me a confidence I didn’t have going into it.
I appreciated the role Matt in TheFantasticks. That show is just beautifully written. Also, I played the role when I was 19 — the exact age of the character. It was wonderful to have his perspective and take on that role on as someone his age.
How do you feel about returning to Delaware for your performance in Cabaret?
I’m so excited. Like every college student knows, the person entering at age 18 and exiting at age 22 are vastly different, but I feel the friends and experiences I had motivated me to arrive where I am now. I knew I wanted to do something creative, and I found it by the end of my time at UD.
Many of my music and theater mentors are still here. It’s a bit nerve-wracking to know they might be in the audience…but they helped me discover my passion, so it will be great to be able to share it with them.
Are there any places you’d love to revisit while you’re here?
I don’t know where to begin! Definitely I’d love to visit TheREP and the [Amy E. du Pont] Music Building. In reality, I may not have time to get there, but think everyone could benefit from seeing shows at TheREP.
I’ve told our cast from Day 1: You won’t have a better time than if you go to downtown Newark. All the bars and restaurants — such a fun nightlife! One of my favorite places was Catherine Rooney’s on Thursdays nights and Kildare’s Irish Pub (although it’s no longer there).
The arts in Wilmington offer music—inside and outside
This month, The Playhouse on Rodney Square transforms into the infamous Kit Kat Klub, as Cabaret takes the stage March 13-18.
Based on Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony Award–winning production, Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall’s version of Cabaret marks the first visit to Wilmington for this Broadway revival. Mendes and Marshall are the original director and co-director/choreographer, respectively,
Get ready to be welcomed to the notorious nightclub where the emcee, Sally Bowles, and a sexy, raucous ensemble nightly titillate, tantalize and entice crowds to “…leave your troubles outside.” But as the atmosphere in pre-World War II Germany grows tenuous, will Berlin’s decadent nightlife be enough to get through?
This renowned musical—book by Joe Masteroff and music and lyrics by John Kander and Fred Ebb—originally opened on Broadway in 1966 and London’s West End in 1968. Cabaret has since enjoyed many revivals (London in 1986, 1993, 2006 and 2012; Broadway in 1987, 1998 and 2014) and, of course, the memorable 1972 film starring Liza Minnelli. It features some of the most recognizable songs in theater history, including the hallmark “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.”
This all-new production launched in December 2017 in Worcester, Mass., with tour direction by BT McNicholl, tour choreography by Jennifer Werner and original costume design by William Ivey Long. The company of 21 quadruple-threat performers (actors, singers, dancers and musicians) features Erik Schneider as the animated Emcee, Bailey McCall Thomas as British chanteuse Sally Bowles and University of Delaware alumnus Carl Pariso as American writer and Sally’s tortured love, Clifford Bradshaw.
During his time at the University of Delaware, Pariso studied Music Composition and Theatre Performance and performed with The REP, Chapel Street Players and UD Chorale. He now makes his home in New York City.
Cabaret opens for a press preview on Tuesday, March 13, and runs through Sunday, March 18. Tickets start at $40, and discounts are available for seniors and groups of 10 or more. Call The Playhouse Box Office at 888-0200 for discount information or visit ThePlayhouseDE.org to purchase tickets online.
Christina Cultural Arts Center Hosts Wilmington Debut of Jazz Songstress
Christina Cultural Arts Center continues its streak of presenting well-known regional and national musicians in the intimate setting of its Clifford Brown Performance Space. On Sunday, March 11, Christina welcomes jazz siren Alicia Olatuja in her area debut.
The St. Louis–born Olatuja—who rose to fame after her 2013 performance at President Obama’s second inauguration—released her first solo album, Timeless, in 2014. Her influences include gospel, soul, jazz and classical genres and she has performed with such renowned artists as Chaka Khan, BeBe Winans and Christian McBride.
Christina Executive Director H. Raye Jones Avery notes that during the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Touring Network members’ conference, Olatuja was recognized by Newport Jazz Festival musical director McBride as one of the newest “voices to experience.”
“The outstanding endorsements resonating from her performance at the inauguration and directly from Christian McBride led us to the obvious choice to invite Alicia to Christina Cultural Arts Center’s Jazz Touring Network performance season this year,” says Avery. “Alicia’s lush tone and welcoming stage presence will surely draw audiences into her magnetic personality and performance.”
Tickets for this up-close-and-personal performance are only $20 and are available at ccacde.org through March 10. Olatuja’s engagement with Christina is made possible through The Jazz Touring Network of Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation with support of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Regional Touring Program.
Alicia and her band have performed throughout the country at venues like the Jazz Standard, Vermont Jazz Center, Sioux Falls JazzFest, Rockport Jazz Festival, Markham Jazz Festival, Monty Alexander Jazz Fest and the Harlem Stage Gatehouse.
Market Street Music Welcomes Spring with Musical Diversity
Market Street Music opens its spring performance season with three full-length Festival Concerts and a dozen Thursday Noontime Concerts, all beginning this month.
Leading off the Noontime Concert calendar is a Thursday, March 1, spring celebration by Center City Chorale, aptly entitled “Jubilate!” The weekly series continues through May 10 with genre-spanning artists, including duos of clarinet/piano and violin/piano; a banjo soloist; and a sneak preview of OperaDelaware’s April/May Puccini festival. Admission for all Thursday Noontime Concerts is a suggested donation of $5.
The Festival Concert lineup is equally diverse, beginning with a Sunday, March 4, 3 p.m. return performance by popular chamber ensemble Pyxis Piano Quartet. Pyxis, known for a sold-out series at the Delaware Art Museum, will present a program of piano quartets by Surinach and Chausson.
On Friday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m., Market Street Music welcomes another repeat performance, by Ayreheart Renaissance Music. Founded by Grammy-nominated lutenist Ronn McFarlane, Ayreheart brings the lute—known as the most popular instrument of the Renaissance Era—into the 21st century with the all the energy and flair of a rock concert. This dynamic three-piece ensemble performs music from the Renaissance, interspersed with traditional Scottish and Irish tunes and Celtic- , Renaissance- and Americana-inspired originals.
Finally, the talented Mastersingers of Wilmington present an All-German concert of works by Bach, Buxtehude and Mendelssohn to round out the season on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m.
All Market Street Music performances are held at First & Central Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Rodney Square across from the Hotel du Pont. Tickets for Festival Concerts are $20 ($10 for students) at marketstreetmusicde.org or $25 at the door.
Ballet, Music School open mic, and Bud Martin takes the stage for second time in 37 years
First State Ballet Theatre heats up the baby grand stage this month as it presents a “double bill of dance” with Paquita and The Young Lady & The Hooligan.
Paquita, a ballet by French composer Édouard Deldevez and Paris Opera Ballet Master Joseph Mazilier, premiered in Paris in 1846. It tells the story of a young girl abducted by gypsies as a child who is ultimately reunited with her noble family and finds love with a young French army officer.
In 1881, dancer and choreographer Marius Petipa—considered one of the most influential ballet masters in history—produced a revival of the ballet in Russia, adding new pieces arranged and composed by Ludwig Minkus.
The additions included the Paquita Grand Pas Classique, now known as one of the foundations of the traditional ballet repertory. The Paquita Grand Pas Classique blends Spanish flair with classical performance in an expressive and timeless masterpiece.
First State Ballet last performed the work in May 2009. For this iteration of Paquita, its principal dancers are Rie Aoki, Leonid Goykhma and Zane Winders.
The Young Lady and The Hooligan is based on Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1918 film about a criminal transformed by his love for a young teacher. The work was initially performed at the Leningrad Malii Opera Theater in 1962. The dynamic music conveying this melancholy lovers’ tale comes from composer Dmitri Shostakovich. The score was created from a number of Shostakovich’s existing works, arranged by his longtime musical colleague, Levon Atovmyan.
Principal dancers are First State Ballet’s Mary Kate Reynolds as the Young Lady and Richy Romero as the Hooligan. Executive Director Kristina Kambalov notes that Artistic Director Pasha Kambalov chose the two pieces because they are completely different stylistically, emotionally and technically. “The Young Lady and the Hooligan has a great deal of emotion and drama, and Paquita is pure classicism,” she says.
Beginning this month, The Music School of Delaware’s Open Mic Nights will become a regular event at its Wilmington Branch. The open community event now expands to the second Thursday of each month (Feb. 8, March 8, April 12 and May 10 at 7 p.m., with a 6:30 p.m. artist sign-up) and offers a revised staging setup.
“In addition to regular dates, we’re also excited to offer a new format for these events,” says Chris Braddock, the Music School Studio Department head and Open Mic Night coordinator. “Our previous open mics were more like small concerts; this setup will be less formal, with club-style seating for musicians, their families and friends.”
Braddock also notes that new sound equipment will be available for performers’ use, and food and drink will be available during the show. Also new this year: One act will be chosen from each open mic performance to participate in a “Best Of” concert in December.
The Music School Open Mic Nights are open to soloists or groups ages 14 and up in all musical genres as well as spoken-word artists. For more information, call the Music School’s Wilmington Branch at 762–1132.
DTC’s Bud Martin Onstage!
Another regional premiere hits the Delaware stage in playwright Simon Stephens’ Heisenberg, running Feb. 7-25 at Delaware Theatre Company (DTC).
Stephens—also playwright of the celebrated The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—opened this play off-Broadway in 2015. It was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in 2017.
The story opens in a bustling train station in London, as Georgie spies Alex, a much older man, and kisses him on the neck. The encounter plunges the two into a fascinating and life-changing game.
The DTC production is directed by Matt Pfeiffer and stars Karen Peakes as Georgie (seen previously in DTC’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, The War of the Roses and The Explorers Club) and DTC Executive and Artistic Director Bud Martin as Alex. This show marks just the second time in 37 years that Martin will take the stage as an actor.
“It’s a beautiful show about how two lonely, hurt people—very unlikely to ever get together—can find something astonishing when they give in to the unpredictability of their future,” Martin says of the production.
“[This production] is a perfect role for Karen, whom I adore,” he says, “and they don’t often write these roles for older men. When else would I get the chance to play a part like this with someone like Karen?”
Due to sexual situations and profanity, the show may be best suited for mature older teens and adults.
Two show dates (Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 14 and 15) have already sold out. Tickets for the remaining dates are $15 for students and $25-60 for all other seating and are available at delawaretheatre.org.
Celebrate Mardi Gras in Arden
The folks of Arden invite you to bring your beads, masks and a pair of comfy dancing shoes as Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas take over the Gild Hall for a proper Mardi Gras music festival beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9.
Band leader Nathan Williams hails from St. Martinsville, La., the heart of Creole country. He moved to Lafayette to pursue his dream of playing zydeco and was mentored by two of the greats—Clifton Chenier and Arden’s favorite son, Buckwheat Zydeco.
Tickets are $25 and available at ardenconcerts.com. The Gild Hall dance floor will be wide open on Feb. 9; join in the fun and allons danser!
Throughout its 100-plus-year history, the Delaware Art Museum has presented a myriad of dance, music and theater experiences, expanding upon its own programs and showcasing the broad artistic range in Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley.
Now, the museum’s new (yet-to-be-named at press time) performance series will double down on that commitment, while attracting artists and performances that are relevant to the diverse population in the area. The entire series will aim to address critical issues affecting our surrounding communities while pushing the boundaries of experimentation in performance arts.
“This series allows us to create connections and conversations among people who may not otherwise come into contact with one another,” says Jonathan Whitney, the museum’s manager of Performance Programs and Community Engagement. “We’re responding in real time to what’s happening in our city, our region and our nation through opportunities for thoughtful introspection.”
The menu of interdisciplinary programs ranges from the popular chamber music of Concerts on Kentmere to the fusion of modern dance, music, multimedia and sculpture works. Some of the series events feature outside-the-box performances by the likes of trumpet virtuoso Nicholas Payton (Feb. 8) and large-scale collaborations like the contemporary dance project Step Afrika!
The Step Afrika performance, called The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, will be co-presented with The Grand Opera House and Delaware State University (April 13).
The Step Afrika! project is inspired by Lawrence’s iconic paintings and combines body percussion and dance in a moving depiction of the migration north of African-Americans in the early 1900s. For this piece, the museum is also partnering with the Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education (DIAE) to bring three-day workshops to local elementary and middle schools.
“We encourage students to have a more in-depth art experience,” says Ashley SK Davis, DIAE artistic director and executive and artistic director for Pieces of a Dream, Inc. “Instead of students simply seeing a performance, we send our teaching artists to partner with schoolteachers. We work with the students to participate in art making, and through that experience help them develop a deeper understanding of the work they’ll experience.” Following the teaching artists, a performance artist will meet with the students and teach them to create a step dance similar to what they’ll see in the Step Afrika! performance.
According to museum staff, this first year of programming will see many presenters pushing the boundaries of their respective disciplines. In March, the museum presents Hand Eye, a performance from the multi-Grammy-winning sextet Eighth Blackbird (flute, clarinet, piano, percussion, violin and cello) at The Queen in Wilmington. The site-based dance performance, REPLICA, by choreographer and media artist Jonah Bokaer will be presented in the Copeland Sculpture Garden. In the summer, spoken-word and contemporary movement artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph will present /peh-LO-tah/, a groundbreaking hip-hop performance inspired by his memories of playing soccer as a child and his travels to World Cups in South Africa and Brazil. And in November, Bessie Award-winner Okwui Okpokwasili’s Poor People’s TV Room will consider the Nigerian histories of the Women’s War of 1929 and the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 girls by Boko Haram. Okpokwasili’s performance will be accompanied by outreach at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts.
“The museum is becoming more civically engaged,” says Sam Sweet, DAM’s executive director and CEO. But why bring in artists to present somewhere else? How does that come back to the museum? Sweet says he likes the idea of these partnerships and taking artists into neighborhoods where there is opportunity to create new audiences. “It will be up to us to get audiences to see these artists in venues where they live, but also to create incentives for them to come to the museum and discover what’s happening here,” he says.
To formally introduce the series, an exclusive preview party is planned for Thursday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m. at the museum. The event will feature a sampling of the multidisciplinary works to be presented in the series.
Cultural Crossroads Honors 50 Years of Dr. King Legacy
The Music School of Delaware honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his death as part of its Cultural Crossroads series. On Friday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m., the school’s Wilmington Branch hosts its Martin Luther King Jr. & Black History Tribute—a celebration fusing music, art and spoken-word performances.
Cultural Crossroads Series Coordinator Chris Braddock calls this program one of his favorite Music School projects. “Needless to say, it’s an exciting one to present—drawn from an endless reservoir of inspiring music and words,” he says.
This year’s event focuses on the social upheaval of the late 1960s brought to life through the stirring words of award-winning Delaware storyteller TAHIRA and the soulful music of local R&B artists Fuzion Sol. Audiences will also hear live readings from King’s illustrious “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, given the day before his 1968 assassination. Performances from the DuPont Diversity Choir, pianists Clarence and Jacqueline Beach Faulcon, and the Music School’s student rock ensemble (in a tribute to bluesman Robert Johnson) round out the event. Works from noted regional visual artist Dane Tilghman will be displayed on site as well.
All tickets for the event are $5 and can be purchased at musicschoolofdelaware.org.
Gamers’ & Musicians’ Worlds Collide
On Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m., The Grand Opera House taps into your arcade memories of yesteryear with the one-night-only event Video Games Live. It’s an immersive concert reviving music from some of the most popular video games in our collective memory. The performance features several members of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra playing along with exclusive video footage, synchronized lighting, live action and interactive segments to create an explosive event worthy of any Missile Command battle. Music includes themes from then to now and from such iconic games as “Donkey Kong,”“Space Invaders,”“Frogger,”“Mario,”“Zelda,” “Tomb Raider,”“Assassins’ Creed” and more.
The concept was created and produced by gaming industry veteran and video game composer Tommy Tallarico to support the culture and art that video games embody in the zeitgeist of the 1980s to now. The performance also bridges a generational gap in entertainment by exposing new audiences to the symphony orchestra experience while offering a unique musical event for families and non-gamers alike to enjoy.
Tickets range from $54-$62, with an additional “Ultimate Gamer VIP Experience” available that includes a pre-production tour, meet & greet with Tallarico and more. All are available now at thegrandwilmington.org.
Here’s a sampling of the December events in Wilmington
Retelling a Family Classic With the Drama League Family
Wilmington Drama League’s (WDL’s) mainstage collaborates with its children’s theater arm, The Chrysalis Players, to celebrate the season in the timeless tale, A Christmas Carol (Broadway Version), Dec. 15-30.
Based on the Charles Dickens classic, this holiday staple is directed by regional theater maven Jeffrey Santoro—also artistic director of the Delaware All-State Theatre—with music direction by Jake Collins and assistant direction/choreography by Shauna Goodman. A Christmas Carol (Broadway Version) was originally presented in 1994 by Radio City Entertainment at Madison Square Garden, directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Delaware native Susan Stroman.
The theater typically produces a family-themed show around this time of year, notes Kathy Buterbaugh, WDL production manager, often competing in the “buzz” of other local holiday-themed shows. “But it’s always a bit more special when we can connect the excitement and flavor of the season to our stage,” she admits.
When the folks at WDL realized no one was presenting A Christmas Carol locally this season, they jumped at the opportunity. And, Buterbaugh adds, “It takes an amazing team to produce something on this large a scale, and we’re blessed to have exactly that in Jeff, Shauna and Jake, whose combined talents can handle anything.”
To put things in perspective, the cast itself numbers over 50 actors, ranging in age from 7 to 70.
“We’ve assembled some of the best talent around to bring these engaging, robust characters to life,” notes Santoro. “In the uncertainty of today, it’s nice to present a heartwarming, family-friendly production. As Dickens said, ‘No one is useless in the world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.’ That’s a great lesson for all of us this Christmas season!”
A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a wealthy miser who places money above people or happiness. With his trademark “Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge looks down on all things related to celebrating Christmas—until one evening when he is visited by three ghosts who show him the value of kindness, love and family. The production features music by celebrated composer Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens. (Fun fact: Ahrens was a main writer and performer of the beloved ABC-TV series Schoolhouse Rock!)
What is Buterbaugh’s favorite aspect of this grand-scale production? “It’s a tie,” she says. “Journey versus destination. The people involved are amazing—together we sing, dance, build, paint, fall down, get up, share a collective experience. But it’s just as thrilling to share our product with audiences, especially in this season of giving. So, my favorite part? Sharing.”
Wilmington Drama League’s A Christmas Carol (Broadway Version) runs December 15, 16, 22, 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Matinees are Sunday, Dec. 17; Saturday, Dec. 23, and Wednesday, Dec. 27, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors/students and $10 for children and can be purchased at wilmingtondramaleague.org.
Delaware Theatre Company’s Side-Splitting Ode to the Bard
Hold onto your codpieces, Wilmington, and get ready for some jolly holiday belly laughs. Delaware Theatre Company re-creates all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays with the madcap romp The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised], running now through Dec. 23.
Three men—in tights—in about 97 minutes, weave their way through parodies of The Bard’s collection of master works, including Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, Othello, Hamlet and more. Actor 1 is played by John Zak; Actor 2 by Jeffrey C. Hawkins and Actor 3 by Josh Carpenter.
Director Steve Tague (who himself has portrayed Hamlet, Macbeth and Richard III) will undoubtedly put his own stamp on this beloved spoof. Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, the play premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1987 and has been the most performed stage parody for the last 20 years.
“The first show I attended at DTC [in 2007] was Steve Tague’s production of Complete Works,” recalls DTC Artistic Director Bud Martin. “I don’t remember laughing so hard at a show before. When I came to work at DTC…I was anxious to have Steve revive that wonderful production for us.” Martin notes that one of the entertaining characteristics of this piece is that it can change every day based on current events. Given today’s pop culture climate, it will likely be much different from the 2007 staging. Kendall Jenner as Juliet? I can’t wait…
Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at DelawareTheatre.org or by calling 594.1100.
A Holiday Mash-Up of Two Musical Favorites
Two popular local ensembles join forces this season in a holiday and nostalgia-filled musical extravaganza. Bring the entire family to enjoy the Cartoon Christmas Trio accompanied by the Wilmington Children’s Chorus at the Delaware Art Museum on Sunday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.
Since its inception in 1995 by bassist Rob Swanson, the trio’s focus has been classic soundtracks of holiday cartoon music, especially that of the beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas. The trio is Jimmy Coleman on drums, Jeff Knoettner on piano and Swanson on double bass. Recently, the trio has been adding the voices of children’s choirs to complete the original vision of the music from the Charlie Brown special.
“I believe it’s now the fourth year we’ve worked with the kids [from WCC],” says Swanson. “We’re very excited to collaborate again.”
Tickets are $10 and are available at delart.org. A cash bar and light fare will also be available for purchase.
A Stirring Holiday Story in Vivid Color
For more than 25 years, Christina Cultural Arts Center has partnered with Philadelphia’s renowned Eleone Dance Theatre to bring Wilmingtonians a dazzling blend of music, dance and spoken word with the distinctive holiday musical Carols in Color. Now, Carols returns for a one-night-only performance at The Grand Opera House Sunday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m.
Carols in Color retells the story of the birth of Christ according to the Gospel of St. Matthew using contemporary music, exuberant dance and powerful narration. It was originally based on the piece Black Nativity by Langston Hughes and a 1960s musical adaptation by Vinette Carrol.
Carols was first produced in 1992 by Philadelphia-based director, choreographer and arranger Leon Evans and continues today under the artistic direction of Shawn-Lamere Williams with executive direction by Sheila A. Ward and the musical direction of Patrick Crawford.
Tickets are $25-35 plus fees for adults and $16 plus fees for students, and can be purchased at TicketsattheGrand.org or by calling 800.37.GRAND.
Nov. 11 showcase for artists offers works for any budget
On Saturday, Nov. 11, The Delaware Contemporary hosts an event that is not only a fundraiser but also a call to action for the community to become art owners as well as art appreciators. The event, SABA III, creates a convivial, arty atmosphere focused on the promotion of art collecting for any budget or environment.
SABA III’s goal is twofold: To provide an opportunity for artists of all ages and stages to showcase their work, and to ignite community interest in collecting by providing affordable pieces for every level of interest.
The event is built around the aura of mystery—the artist of each work in the event is unnamed until the piece is purchased. “The excitement is in the ‘anonymous factor’—whose work are you actually purchasing?” says Kathrine Page, interim Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art. “Works range from those by local art students to emerging and established artists, Contemporary Studio Artists and staff members. The artists’ names will not be revealed until after the artwork has been purchased.”
Each participating artist is tasked with creating a 6×6-inch piece. That size, Page notes, is the “sweet spot” for art donations as well as art collectors. More work can be displayed and accommodated in a variety of spaces in that format, and it’s also easy to install. She says several other galleries and museums use a similar model in their events.
SABA III is more sale than auction—all artwork will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at a flat price of $25 per piece. The competitive element will be centered around who can get to the artwork first.
Executive Director Joseph J Gonzales is looking forward to the first major fundraising event under his tenure. He’s hoping it will create energy around art, artists and the art of collecting in a competitive environment. “Many arts organizations host events like this not only because they are mission-related and good fundraisers, but equally imperative as fun, festive ‘awareness’ occasions,” says Gonzales. “And bringing people together who love art to compete for ownership makes for an exciting evening.”
“We’re looking forward to a fun frenzy of purchasing during the event,” says Tatiana Michels, The Contemporary’s marketing manager.
Artist Delona Seserman will be participating. “The piece I donated depicts a geographical symbol of our state. It also represents my token of appreciation for the mission of The Delaware Contemporary,” she says. “Come to SABA to see what it is!”
Seserman has been an active studio artist, docent and teaching artist of The Contemporary since her move to Delaware in 2012. She observes first-hand that the organization delivers a complex art experience through annual exhibitions, artist studios and residency, and cultural events that promote the importance of a strong community. “There are not many organizations that can compel so harmoniously the essence of contemporary art in our society as The Delaware Contemporary,” she says.
The evening also includes live music and catering from food truck Pizzeria Pronto. Tickets range from $25-35 with a limited $100 patron preview option available, offering patrons the early chance to preselect works. Get tickets at decontemporary.org.
City Theater Company’s Reverence for Sondheim
The founders of City Theater Company (CTC)—Jon Cooper, Michael Gray and Tom Shade—launched the company in the early ‘90s with a nod to their “dramaturgical touchstone,” Stephen Sondheim. Now, more than two decades (and many tributes) later, CTC presents yet another Sondheim classic with Sunday in the Park with George.
The musical was inspired by French painter Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It takes the audience into the world of George (a fictional Seurat), who is fixated on the creation of his masterpiece, and his great-grandson George, himself a cynical contemporary artist.
Brendan Sheehan stars as painter Seurat in a stripped-down take on what it means to create art for both artist and audience. Founding Artistic Director Tom Shade returns to direct alongside Producing Artistic Director Michael Gray.
CTC’s production runs Dec. 1-16 at The Black Box on the Wilmington waterfront. Tickets are $15 (youth to age 15); $20 (students and military personnel with ID) or $40 (VIP) and are available now at city-theater.org.
Filling the Square with Noontime Music
Market Street Music’s venue, First & Central Presbyterian Church, sits on Rodney Square—one of the busiest business and social hubs in our city. Yet many of the countless workers, students, visitors and Wilmingtonians who traverse the square are unaware of the diverse and affordable mid-day musical menu available to them each week.
Now through May of next year, Market Street Music offers a respite from the weekly grind in the form of Thursday Noontime Concerts. The series delivers plenty of musical diversity: Center City Chorale; violin & piano duo Dina Nesterenko and Oksana Glauchko; countertenor Augustine Mercante and pianist Hiroko Yamazaki; Brandywine Harp Orchestra; Cartoon Christmas Trio, and much more. And best of all, it’s free (a suggested $5 donation is welcomed).
Music Director David Schelat notes that the series was developed to help introduce different genres of music. “Thursday Noontimes provide such a sampling of musical styles, listeners can enjoy a half-hour ‘taste’ and see if it’s to their liking,” he says.
The doors are open every Thursday at 12:30 p.m., and all are welcome. For more, go to marketstreetmusicde.org.
The Playhouse has an exciting Broadway season coming up, complete with four full-week productions and two special weekend engagements. After three years under The Grand’s management, the entire Playhouse staff is thrilled about the direction “Broadway in Wilmington” is headed and about the transformation that has already occurred.
To usher in the new season, The Playhouse has introduced a patron loyalty program, called Playhouse Partners. This initiative is designed to reward subscribers for sharing information about performances, capitalize on word-of-mouth advertising and increase audiences and overall downtown visitors throughout the year.
Playhouse Partners gives existing subscribers a rebate when they bring a new subscriber to the Playhouse.For every new referral subscription generated, the existing subscriber receives a $20 rebate—and the new patron will save the same $20.
“We created the Playhouse Partners program as a reward for those subscribers who actively assist us in building that audience,” says Playhouse Executive Director Mark Fields. “They benefit in two ways: a secure future for Broadway shows at The Playhouse and a little cash back in their pockets. It’s a win-win.”
Initial response to the program has been positive. “We wanted to find a way to mobilize current subscribers to help us rebuild a regional audience for high-quality musical theater,” Fields says. “After all, they understand the value first-hand, and a stronger base of support for us means a steady supply of shows for everyone to enjoy.”
And more changes are coming. With the sale of the Hotel du Pont, both staffs are seeing positive changes in the partnership and communication between the hotel and theater. The construction underway has created its unique set of challenges, but both organizations are excited to see this relationship create cross-pollination opportunities between theater patrons and hotel guests.
“As we continue to make the attending experience inside the theater as great as it should be, we are pleased that the Buccini/Pollin Group is working to make the building itself more inviting, more varied, and more enjoyable than it has been in recent years,” Fields says. “The coming years will see upgrades to the Hotel, a new food hall, reinvigorated retail, and eventually residents in the building.”
Fields recognizes that it will take a while to bring about these improvements, and there will be some temporary inconvenience. But, he says, when it’s all done, the building will be transformed into a real showplace, where everyone will want to go and of which everyone can be proud.
Go Over the Rainbow
The Playhouse season begins with what is possibly the greatest family musical of all time, The Wizard of Oz, touching down with eight performances, Nov. 14-19. This magical production—a celebration of the 1939 MGM movie classic—includes breathtaking special effects that will sweep audiences away from the moment the tornado twists into Wilmington. Tickets are on sale now at ThePlayhouseDE.org or at 888-0200. They start at $40.
Leading the cast as Dorothy is Kalie Kaimann, who previously played the role for the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Chris Duir will play the role of Scarecrow/Hunk; Christopher Russell portrays Tinman/Hickory; and Victor Legarreta portrays the Lion/Zeke.
The other leading roles include: Emily Perzan (Miss Gulch/Wicked Witch of the West); Kirk Lawrence (Professor Marvel/The Wizard of Oz); Ashleigh Thompson (Aunt Em/Glinda); and Michael Weaver (Uncle Henry/Gatekeeper).
Most important, everyone wants to know who will play Toto. That would be Murphy, a white Brussels Griffon/Cairn terrier mix with scruffy fur and an adorable underbite.Murphy was rescued from the Chandler, Ariz., ASPCA by Lizzie Webb, music director for The Wizard of Oz tour. This will be his second time playing Toto. He even has his own hashtag: #montanamurphy.
Director Dean Sobon previously created the national tours of Fiddler on the Roof and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Amy McCleary, director/choreographer of the national tour of Memphis: The Musical, will create the magical choreography.
As expected, the production will feature all the classic songs by Harold Arlen: “Over the Rainbow,” “Ding-Dong! The Witch is Dead” and “If I Only Had A Brain.”
This opening production promises to captivate the entire family as you travel down the yellow brick road for an unforgettable day at the theater. For more information visit wizardofoztour.com or theplayhousede.org
Literary Café Features Author Jeff Hobbs
Christina Cultural Arts Center leads off its 71st year by unveiling the The Literary Café, a free community program and a partnership with New Castle County Libraries/NCC Community Services.
“For young people to gain a passion for reading, it’s critical for them to observe adults reading and engaging,” notes CCAC Executive Director H. Raye Jones Avery. “Our Literary Café takes the private experience of a great read to the next level by connecting authors and community, and enabling literature lovers to form relationships through robust discussions.”
The first edition of the Café welcomes New York Times best-selling author and Kennett Square native Jeff Hobbs, who will discuss his book, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. Hobbs graduated from Tower Hill School, followed by Yale in 2002. His work is a haunting nonfiction story with a title that is tragically revealing. Hobbs and Peace were roommates at Yale, and the book is filled with questions about Peace’s life and whether anything could have saved him.
“Our first pick for the Café season is masterfully written by a regionally born author,” Avery notes. “Jeff Hobbs’ work serves as a catalyst for readers to consider how they might redirect loved ones from ‘no return’ toward self-fulfillment.”
The public is invited to join the conversation on two dates—Friday, Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m., at the Route 9 Library & Innovation Center in New Castle, or Saturday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m., at CCAC in Wilmington. Both will be facilitated by Hugh Atkins, former English Department Chair at Tower Hill School, who taught Hobbs. The events are free, but advance registration is encouraged at ccacde.org.
CCAC enjoys a longtime partnership with Atkins and the Wilmington Public Library, which makes this new collaborative venture with the Rt. 9 Library special. In the future, Avery notes, there will be more programs from CCAC in which literature and youth literacy take center stage.
DTC’s 39th Season Delivers a 1-2 Punch
Delaware Theater Company brings a true-life narrative of sports history and racial unrest to the stage in its debut of the one-man powerhouse, Dare to Be Black: The Jack Johnson Story.
Against the backdrop of an intolerant turn-of-the-century America, Jack Johnson – the first acknowledged black heavyweight boxer (1908-1915) – tells his story, through solo performer and play author Tommie J. Moore.
“Jack Johnson was an African American before his time,” says Moore. “He did things in the late 1800s and early 1900s that some would call suicide.”
A controversial figure in the boxing ring and in his personal life, Johnson made headlines for his interracial relationships during the Jim Crowe era. After wresting the heavyweight title from Tommy Burns in 1908, he married Etta Duryea, a white woman, in 1910. Johnson then became the target of white supremacists, who sought a white boxer—”The Great White Hope”—to defeat him. Ultimately, Johnson was arrested twice for illegal transport of white women across state lines. He was convicted, and spent a year in prison. More than a century later, there is a movement to have Johnson posthumously pardoned.
Moore wrote the story as a monologue in one week. He says he felt a need to tell the story. “I know he’s passed away, but this is more about the need for an apology,” Moore says, adding that a pardon would bring focus to the forgotten boxer and the racism that stigmatized the memory of his career.
This hard-hitting journey runs Oct. 25 through Nov. 12. Tickets can be purchased online at DelawareTheatre.org or call 594-1100.
Satisfy your palate with this delectable menu of Wilmington-area arts
8th Avenue Arts Collective Jasmine Brown leads this creative agency that helps artists, makers and doers to create and share in their own communities. 8th Avenue supports artists across the city through visual art exhibitions, open mic night performances and more. For September’s Art on the Town (Friday, Sept. 8), the organization features artist Erin Courtney’s acrylic resin work in an exhibit at Artist Ave Station. On Sunday, Sept. 3 and 17, 8th Avenue will host Art in the Park, an open-air, all-ages gathering. Bring your own supplies, sit together and create at the Wilmington Green Box location at 420 N. Market St. The Flavour, 8th Avenue’s regular open mic event, will be held Wednesday, Sept. 27, also at Wilmington Green Box, weather permitting. (If inclement weather, the location will be Wilmington Jaycees Clubhouse.) All events are free to attend. 800 N. Tatnall St., Wilmington • 723.9197 • 8thavenuecollective.com Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @8thAveCG
Arden Concert Gild Arden has an outstanding season ahead with new shows continually added. The kick-off is the annual end-of-summer jubilee, Arden Fair, on Saturday, Sept. 2, with rides, games, food, art and the free Shady Grove stage featuring music by Garry Cogdell, Steal Your Peach and Jr. Wolf. Thursday, Sept. 21, heralds the first-ever David Bromberg Quintet performance at Gild Hall. Friday, Oct. 6, brings Rhett Miller’s (of the Old 97’s) solo show and Thursday, Oct. 12, Dar Williams concert and book reading (What I Found in a Thousand Towns includes an extended section on Wilmington). Hot young Brooklyn duo—the Indie-folk-with-electronic-undercurrent Overcoats—hits the stage Friday, Oct. 20.Jazz perfection is celebrated on Friday, Oct. 27, with Etienne Charles on trumpet and percussion with his Creole Soul Sextet. Finally, on Saturday, Nov. 4, the vibrant voice of Mary Fahl (formerly of October Project) fills Gild Hall for a debut performance. 2126 The Highway, Arden • 898.9308 • ardenconcerts.com Facebook: @ArdenConcertGild • Twitter: @ArdenConcerts
The Arts at Trinity This free series in the heart of Wilmington, hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church, is in its seventh season of “pop-up” events in literature, drama, poetry and visual arts. This year opens on Saturday, Oct. 7, with the Serafin String Quartet performing works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and American composer William Grant Still. On Sunday, Nov. 5, Trinity Church Choir and orchestra, conducted by Terrence Gaus-Wollen, performs sacred music by Bach as part of its regular Sunday service. On Saturday, Dec. 2, rising jazz pianist Gil Scott Chapman performs, including classical and jazz works and his own compositions. 1108 N. Adams St., Wilmington • 652.8605 • theartsattrinity.org Facebook: @TheArtsatTrinity
Based in Wilmington’s bustling LoMa neighborhood, ArtzScape has created an equally bustling scene for local and regional artists, poets and musicians, providing a rental space for private and public events and encouraging active networking at events. On Sunday, Sept. 17, ArtzScape presents the third installment of its MUSIC.POETRY.ART series, featuring Christian poet Charles Robinson-Snead. Tickets are available at eventbrite.com. 205 N. Market St., Wilmington • 267.679.2711 • artzscape.com Facebook: @ArtzScape
Christina Cultural Arts Center A new Literary Café program leads off Christina’s 71st year, featuring author and Delaware native Jeff Hobbs on Saturday, Oct. 21, discussing his New York Times best-selling work, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce. CCAC’s focus on intimate live performances returns on Saturday, Nov. 18, with a concert by SPANK, featuring gospel/soul/hip hop drummer George “Spanky” McCurdy. Finally, CCAC embraces the majesty of the holidays on Sunday, Dec. 10, with the stunning contemporary dance/music/narration production of “Carols in Color,” performed by Philly-based Eleone Dance Theatre. December wraps up with CCAC’s own Holiday Festival of the Arts on Saturday, Dec. 16. 705 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.0101 • ccacde.org Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @CCACDE
The Delaware Art Museum The museum welcomes two major exhibitions this fall. The first, Tableau: The Art of Richard Cleaver (Sept. 16-Jan. 7, 2018), features elaborate sculptures full of hidden compartments to capture the lives and secrets of historical figures and personal acquaintances of the artist. The next, An American Journey: The Art of John Sloan (Oct. 21-Jan. 28, 2018), is the first major retrospective of Sloan’s work since 1988. It covers his work as an illustrator in Philadelphia, his depictions of New York City, his views of Gloucester, Mass., and his studies of Santa Fe, N.M. Throughout the fall, the museum also offers many engaging, informal programs for all ages: enjoy Art is Tasty (Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 3), a monthly series pairing 30-minute art discussions with a delicious lunch in the Thronson Café; take part in Peace Week Delaware or Día de los Muertos with the Labyrinth Walks on Friday, Sept. 22, or Thursday, Nov. 2; listen to Concerts on Kentmere on Thursday, Sept. 28, with “ensemble in residence,” Pyxis Piano Quartet; or talk with New York Times best-selling author Robert Wittman at his lecture and book signing on Thursday, Sept. 7, for The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich. 2301 Kentmere Pkwy., Wilmington • 571.9590 • delart.org; Facebook: @DelawareArtMuseum; Twitter/Instagram: @DelArtMuseum
The Delaware Contemporary The Contemporary keeps our eyes, hearts and minds busy with its group exhibition that began last month and runs through Oct. 25—Spiral, Recoil: Honoring a legacy of Black Art —which asks the imperative question: In 50 years of “progress,” how far have we really come? Additional exhibits now through the fall: Artist Monique Rollins’ Eastern Poesia: A cultural exchange expressed through emotional abstraction through Nov. 19 in the Carole Bieber and Marc Hamm Gallery, and Ola Rondiak’s Behind the Lines: An Iconographic Journey of a Ukrainian Family’s Experience through Historical events, through Oct. 15 in the Beckler Family Members’ Gallery. Running Sept. 5-Dec. 3 in the Avery E. Draper Gallery is Adam Ledford’s Don’t Worry About the Government: Investigating the ideologies of mid-century modernism by leading the viewer through three-dimensional space. Be sure to stop by “the place to be” on Art Loop Fridays for exhibitions openings, open artist studios, food trucks and more. The music ensemble Mélomanie also launches its Wilmington Concert Series at the Contemporary on Saturday, Oct. 29. 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington • 656.6466 • decontemporary.org; Facebook & Instagram: @DEContemporary
Delaware Shakespeare Once more upon a midnight dreary, Delaware Shakespeare opens many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore during its autumnal celebration of the macabre with Shakespeare, Poe and Fiends. New selections, new authors, new venues— including the courthouse in Historic New Castle and Old Town Hall in Wilmington—will usher guests into a world of literary spirits and specters for a night of readings from plays, prose and poetry. This year’s event runs one weekend only, Oct. 12-15.The fall Community Tour production of As You Like It stars DelShakes alum Danielle Leneé as Rosalind, directed by Madeline Sayet, with original music composed and performed by Joe Trainor. The tour will present 13 free performances over three weeks (Oct. 25-Nov. 9), for audiences that traditionally have limited access to the arts, in the Rick Van Story Resource Center, Greenwood Public Library, Delaware Psychiatric Center, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution and Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia. Where possible, productions are open to the public. The tour concludes with three ticketed performances at OperaDelaware Studios (Nov. 10-12). Performance venues: Varying in Delaware • 415.3373 • delshakes.org; Facebook & Instagram: @DelShakes
Delaware Symphony Orchestra The Orchestra’s season begins Friday, Sept. 15, at The Grand Opera House with a concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5; Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony No. 1; and Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp, with soloists Kim Reighley, flute, and Sarah Fuller, harp. Music Director David Amado will conduct and give a pre-concert talk one hour before each concert. The second classics concert is Thursday, Nov. 16, featuring Pictures from the Floating World by David Ludwig with guest bassoon soloist William Short; Debussy’s La Mer; and Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. The first concerts in DSO’s Chamber Series are Tuesdays, Oct. 17 and Dec. 12, in the Gold Ballroom of the Hotel du Pont. 100 W. 10th St., Suite 1003, Wilmington • 656.7442, delawaresymphony.org • Facebook: @DelawareSymphony; Twitter: @DelawareSymph
Delaware Theatre Company
This fall, DTC continues its vision as the only theater in the state developing new shows for Broadway with the World Premiere musical adaptation of Something Wicked This Way Comes, based on the Ray Bradbury novel, with book by Brian Hill and music & lyrics by Neil Bartram (Sept. 13-Oct. 8). Picture 1938, a small town, a mysterious carnival and two young boys bent on escaping to find adventure and themselves. Dare to Be Black follows (Oct. 25-Nov. 12), written by Tommie J. Moore. Before Muhammad Ali, there was champion boxer Jack Johnson, whose quest for equality has never seemed more timely. Finally, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [Revised] reinvigorates the Bard’s works in a madcap romp (Nov. 29-Dec. 23). These men in tights weave their way through all Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies in one wild ride, leaving you breathless with laughter. 200 Water St., Wilmington • 594.1100 • DelawareTheatre.org; Facebook/Instagram: @DelawareTheatreCompany • Twitter/Snapchat: @DelawareTheatre
First State Ballet Theatre
Delaware’s premiere professional ballet company first sweeps you away with Giselle—a transcendent story of a village girl transformed into a tender spirit after dying of a broken heart. The performances, at The Grand Opera House, are Saturday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 22. Next, the company’s hallmark Up Front series opens Friday, Nov. 17, and Saturday, Nov. 18, in Studio 1 of the Grand, giving audiences an intimate look at the company’s classical and contemporary work. Then, ring in the holidays with Wilmington’s favorite tradition, the magical Nutcracker, for two dates at The Grand on Friday, Dec. 22, and Saturday, Dec. 23. 818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 658.7897 x3851 • firststateballet.com; Facebook/Instagram: @FirstStateBallet • Twitter: @FSBTheatre
Gable Music Ventures After the smashing success of this summer’s expanded two-day Ladybug Festival, Gable continues to be the conduit for live music in and around Wilmington. Gable is booking regular performances in a variety of genres at places like 40 Acres’ Halligan Bar, Concord Pike’s Stoney’s British Pub and, of course, the highly anticipated weekly curated open mic showcase, Wilmo Wednesdays, at Ernest & Scott Taproom on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. Check the website for complete, up-to-the-minute details. Performance venues: Varying in Wilmington; gablemusicventures.com; Facebook & Instagram: @GableMusicVentures; Twitter: @GableMusic
The Grand Opera House & The Playhouse on Rodney Square
The Grand’s newest season is sure to impress entertainment lovers of all kinds. America’s Got Talent’s Tape Face brings unconventional silent comedy on Saturday, Oct. 14, and a Capella showmen and Grand favorite Straight No Chaser will perform two shows Sunday, Oct. 29, in what will be a certain sellout. Broadway star Ana Gasteyer fills The Playhouse with saucy songs and comedy Thursday, Dec. 7 and comedian Sinbad returns with his sharp topical humor Friday, Dec. 15.The Playhouse on Rodney Square kicks off its Broadway in Wilmington season with The Wizard of Oz (Nov. 14-19), captivating the entire family with a trip down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond. All your favorite characters from the beloved TV classic come to life in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical in a limited engagement to kick off the holidays with two shows on Sunday, Nov. 26.
The Grand: 818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652.5577; TheGrandWilmington.org • Facebook: @TheGrandWilmington; Twitter/Instagram: @TheGrandWilm The Playhouse: 1007 N. Market St., Wilmington • 888.0200 ThePlayhouseDE.org • Facebook: @ThePlayhouseDE
Market Street Music Wilmington’s most affordable and diverse music series presents full-length Festival Concerts featuring organist David Schelat on Saturday, Oct. 14; Pyxis Piano Quartet on Saturday, Oct. 28; and Mastersingers of Wilmington on Saturday, Nov. 4. Its much-beloved mid-day music fest, Thursday Noontime Concerts, begin Thursday, Oct. 5, with a varied roster that includes the Copeland String Quartet; regional favorite artists like pianist Daniel Carunchio and countertenor Gus Mercante; and a return appearance by the Lyra Russian Choir—the vocal ensemble of St. Petersburg. The noontime series culminates in the holiday tradition of the Cartoon Christmas Trio on Thursday, Dec. 7, and a holiday choral concert by Center City Chorale on Thursday, Dec. 14. Performance venue: First & Central Presbyterian Church, 1101 N. Market St., Wilmington • 654.5371 • marketstreetmusicde.org; Facebook: @MarketStreetMusicDE
Wilmington’s “provocative pairings” music ensemble celebrates its 25th anniversary season. A new partnership with the Delaware Historical Society presents two performances: the first on Saturday, Sept. 30, Up Close and Personal, features violinist Christof Richter, and the second on Sunday, Dec. 3, which includes holiday music. A post-concert partnership with La Fia Bistro also follows each of those performances. The ensemble’s Wilmington Concert Series at The Delaware Contemporary begins on Sunday, Oct. 29, with a premiere by composer Mark Hagerty and guest percussionist Chris Hanning. The remaining series dates—Sundays, Jan. 14, March 11 and April 8—see three additional premieres written for the ensemble as well as a collaboration with Delaware’s Poets Laureate, The Twin Poets. Performance venues: The Delaware Historical Society, 505 N. Market St., Wilmington & The Delaware Contemporary, 200 S. Madison St., Wilmington • 764.6338 • melomanie.org; Facebook: @MelomanieDE
The Music School of Delaware
The Music School boasts a busy fall of performances, both student and professional. Its Wilmington Branch professional concerts will feature the music of the Revolutionary War; the 10th anniversary of its “Music of Many Lands” program; and an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. Additionally, faculty recitals at both Wilmington and Milford Branches will be presented throughout the season. The Wilmington Community Orchestra, under the baton of Tiffany Lu, will perform works from Barber to Beethoven. Alumni return to share their musical stories in concert. And, the school continues to host its Classical Cafe sessions (complimentary coffee and donuts included), where attendees engage in lively discussion with select faculty on a variety of music-related topics. The Music School also hosts and presents events in genres from classical to rock, including quarterly Open Mic Nights, a monthly Bluegrass Jam, jazz and rock performances. 4101 Washington St., Wilmington • 762.1132 • musicschoolofdelaware.org; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @MusicSchoolofDE
OperaDelaware continues to tweak our perceptions of what opera is and what it can be in its distinctive programming and collaborations. The fall begins with Opera Uncorked! on Friday, Oct. 20, and Sunday, Oct. 22. Arias, Ambers and IPAs will flow at the group’s Riverfront Studio as operatic highlights are paired with your favorite beers provided by Swigg. Saturday, Nov 18, and Sunday, Nov. 19, features Werther—Jules Massenet’s opera based on Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther—in concert with piano, again at the Riverfront Studio. 4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 442.7807 • operade.org, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @OperaDelaware
The Queen Wilmington
The Queen is bringing national touring acts to Wilmington that have never performed in the area—Third Eye Blind, Regina Spektor, Cheap Trick, Andrew Dice Clay, Kevin Smith, Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness and more. With genres ranging from reggae to rock and roll to hip hop, there’s something for every kind of music lover here. 500 N. Market St., Wilmington • 215.309.0150; thequeenwilmington.com; Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @QueenWilmington
Summer in the Parks
This annual city-wide program completed its final week of free arts activities, and by all accounts, it was another wonderful collaborative effort by the City of Wilmington, the Grand Opera House and the 176 individuals (including 50 students), representing 31 artists/organizations who participated. This year’s Summer in the Parks has served 2,700 participants. Approximately 80 percent of those participating were children. Nearly 1,000 observers enjoyed the arts throughout almost every neighborhood, providing a total arts reach of 3,667 people.In all, Summer in the Parks presented 52 daytime events and eight evening concerts, showcasing all types of music, dance and movement, arts and crafts, live theater and fun workshops. At the end of August, the Grand Opera House and the City of Wilmington Department of Parks & Recreation held an end-of-summer BIG BASH, featuring a performance with Illstyle & Peace on the mobile stage, to celebrate the program’s success. Performance Venues: Varying Parks in Wilmington • 658.7897; thegrandwilmington.org/parks • Facebook: @SummerinParks
University of Delaware Department of Music The Concert Season begins Friday, Sept. 15, with a return performance by the Calidore String Quartet. Additional season highlights include Sublime Strings, a group of five performances anchored by Quartet-in-Residence Serafin String Quartet, Blair String Quartet and Calidore String Quartet. UD Faculty perform at the Faculty Gala on Saturday, Sept. 23; in Faculty Jazz on Monday, Oct. 16, and in acclaimed Resident Ensembles and Faculty Artist Recitals throughout the semester. Students also perform throughout the semester in the award-winning UD Chorale, UD Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and UD Opera Theatre. The popular Chamber Orchestra Cinema Series opens with Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1927), a silent movie with live orchestral accompaniment on Friday, Oct. 20. Gore Recital Hall, Roselle Center for the Performing Arts, Newark • 831.2578 • music.udel.edu
University of Delaware Master Players Concert Series
Producing Artistic Director Xiang Gao invites you to experience “Unity in Variety,” celebrating music as our diverse planet’s universal language. Now in its 14th year, Master Players Concert Series brings the world’s top musicians and ensembles to Delaware in its role as UD’s cultural ambassador. The three concerts on campus begin with musicians of the Baltimore classical music scene performing solo and chamber works in The Stars of Baltimore: Season Opening Gala on Sunday, Oct. 1; The Shanghai String Quartet: 35 Years of Our American Experience on Saturday, Nov. 4; and Holiday Pops: Frank Sinatra’s Coming to Town on Saturday, Dec. 9. Mitchell Hall, Roselle Center for the Performing Arts, Newark • 831.2905 • masterplayers.udel.edu, Facebook & Twitter: @UDMPCS
Wilmington Drama League For its 85th season launch, the Drama League presents Godspell (Sept. 15-24), directed by Chris Turner with music directed by Caty Butler. Based on the Gospel according to Matthew, the show features a troupe of eccentric players who team up with Jesus to teach His lessons in a new age through parables, games and tomfoolery. More madcap comedy follows with the farce Moon Over Buffalo (Oct. 20-29), centering on two stage actors with one last shot at stardom—if they can keep their act and relationship together. The Tony Award-winning Peter and the Starcatcher arrives Nov. 10-19, telling the story of how a miserable orphan comes to be The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (AKA Peter Pan). The fall season closes with the classic tale A Christmas Carol (Dec.15-27), reimagined by Broadway heavy hitters Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens. 10 W. Lea Blvd., Wilmington • 764.1172 • wilmingtondramaleague.org; Facebook: @WilmingtonDramaLeague; Instagram: @WilmingtonDramaLeague
Rock Opera Kicks Off CTC’s 24th Season
City Theater Company, Delaware’s off-Broadway experience, drops the axe on its 24th season with Lizzie, a blistering rock opera based on the 19th century legend of Lizzie Borden (Sept. 8-16). Four women front a six-piece rock band to tell a tale of murder and mayhem, with music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt; lyrics by Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner; book and additional music by Maner, and additional lyrics by Hewitt. The musical is based on an original concept by Cheslik-DeMeyer and Maner.
Michael Gray, CTC’s producing artistic director, helms the piece, which he’s been looking forward to producing for some time. “I was intrigued by the story told by four women (though ‘men’ were always present) and how the music (rock, thrash, punk) was used to capture their rage—the years of abuse and neglect, and the loneliness and betrayal that led to the horrific murders. It’s compelling to see one woman, in a time when single women had little status, take control of her narrative. That’s the story we are excited to portray.”
Lizzie marks the CTC debut of Darby Elizabeth McLaughlin in the title role, alongside Jill Knapp of popular band Hot Breakfast!, Kyleen Shaw and Grace Tarves. The band features Caty Butler, Meghan Doyle, Jon Luther, Noelle Picara, Joey Lopes and Sheila Hershey.
CTC‘s Fearless Improv—the only comedy improv team in Wilmington—returned to Wilmington this summer with Third Thursday shows at Chelsea Tavern and continue through the year’s end with performances on Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Dec 21. Additional shows are scheduled at Penn’s Place in Old New Castle on two Saturdays, Sept. 9 and Nov. 11. Fearless also offers Improv 101 and Improv 301—eight-week, two-hour workshops open to the public that teach basic scene work and advanced performance techniques. Both classes begin Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Delaware Historical Society in downtown Wilmington.
In December, CTC returns to The Black Box to present a stripped-down version of the Sondheim classic Sunday in the Park with George (Dec 1-16). Gray has plans to collaborate with local visual artists to produce a “live” piece of art during each production—in essence, delivering a new and exciting multi-genre experience every night.
Class Venue: Delaware Historical Society, 505 N. Market St., Wilmington; Performance Venue: Chelsea Tavern, 821 N. Market Street, Wilmington • 220.8285 • city-theater.org
The University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players (REP) is the only full-time, resident professional acting ensemble in Delaware and the tri-state region, and one of a few in the United States. Their fall season includes a diverse mix of powerful stories and raucous entertainment.
“The REP’s 2017-2018 season includes something for everyone,” says Sanford Robbins, producing artistic director. “From madcap comedies to suspenseful dramas…to the world premiere of a new play written for the REP by one of America’s most gifted young playwrights, this is going to be a dynamite season.”
It opens with a powerful, intimate look at Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Mountaintop by Katori Hall (Sept. 14-Oct. 8), directed by Walter Dallas. The story finds Dr. King retiring to his quiet room in the Lorraine Motel, exhausted after delivering his famous “Mountaintop” speech. But a chance meeting with an enthusiastic maid leads him to reflect on his achievements and all the work he has left to do.
Next is the comedy You Can’t Take It with You by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart (Sept. 21-Oct. 8). When the eccentric, rule-defying Sycamore family is introduced to high-society parents of their daughter’s fiancé, it is anything but a quiet evening.
November brings the World Premiere of From the Author of… (Nov. 9-Dec. 3) written especially for the REP by emerging playwright Chisa Hutchinson. The story follows a famous New York author who, reeling from disastrous reviews of her new book on homelessness, tries to save face by taking in a street person to rehabilitate. It’s a wickedly blunt, funny and insightful look at loyalty, responsibility and “who owns whose story.”Directed by Jade King Carroll, this play contains adult themes and strong language.
Roselle Center for the Arts, Newark • 831.2204 • rep.udel.edu
Delaware leaders help welcome world’s largest producer of live music concerts to Wilmington
Dylan, Bowie, Sam Cooke and Sheryl Crow all sang about change—the need for it, the inevitability of it, how it will “do you good.” Now, an exciting change has come to Wilmington with The Queen’s new caretakers, Live Nation, a live-events company based in Beverly Hills, Calif., whose website boasts that “somewhere in the world, there is a Live Nation event every 20 minutes.”
On June 14, a healthy mix of musicians, music fans, neighbors, politicians, non-profits and business leaders crowded the 500 block of Market Street to help welcome the new owners. Celebratory sounds from the Wild Bohemians brass band filled the air and three stoic “British guards” stood at attention onstage. (I caught Gov. John Carney trying to converse with one of the guards, to little avail, as she embraced her role.)
The excitement was palpable, especially after an enthusiastic welcome from Buccini/Pollin Group Co-President Chris Buccini and rousing words from Gov. Carney and Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki. Live Nation’s executive vice president for clubs and theaters, Michael Grozier, then stepped to the podium, channeling the Pointer Sisters with his first words to Wilmington. “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!” he shouted.
Live Nation’s Regional President Geoff Gordon (who previously oversaw bookings at Wilmington’s own Kahunaville) joined him to launch a gigantic burst of confetti onto Market Street and usher in a new chapter for The Queen and her city.
“The bones of this building are just fantastic,” Grozier said when I asked about his first walk-through. “And we feel that we’ve got the resources that can build upon that.”
Inside, most of the grand edifice will remain, as will a few familiar faces (e.g., former World Cafe Live talent buyer Christiana LaBuz has moved to the Live Nation team to continue in that role), but there’s also plenty evidence of what will be built with Live Nation’s “toolbox.”
New Bar by Thanksgiving
Guests were greeted by sleek architectural renderings of the new front bar and box office, which Buccini hopes to have completed by Thanksgiving. Walls and hallways were adorned with large music/pop culture-inspired, neon-tinged installations by artists Louis St. Lewis and Nate Sheaffer. Posters touted some of the shows that have already been booked, including Cheap Trick, The Alarm and comedian Jim Breuer as well as longtime local favorites Ben LeRoy and The Snap and Montana Wildaxe.
“From a talent perspective, our plan is to bring in a mix spanning all genres,” said Jon Hampton, Live Nation’s senior vice president for talent. “I expect us to book close to 100 shows annually, keeping the venue active and ensuring the calendar offers something for everyone.”
Grozier concurred: “We hope to bring over 100,000 people downtown for the best in international, national, regional and local talent—in all forms for all members of the community.” It seems that our new neighbor wants to celebrate the local scene as much as endorse Wilmington as a place to draw big-name acts.
“The level of financial, social and emotional investment in this city is amazing,” Grozier said, noting the enthusiasm he’s seen from surrounding businesses and residents alike. “We want to be sure to honor that.”
Community engagement will surely be part of the responsibilities of Trenton Banks, the new general manager of The Queen. Banks—now a downtown Wilmingtonian along with wife Jaclyn and their two young sons—has been busy discovering the surroundings of his new gig.
“We’ve definitely been exploring,” he said. They’ve traveled along Market Street, down to the Riverfront, and have made visits to La Fia and Chelsea Tavern. “As a [new] Wilmington resident, I’m excited to meet fellow residents and support neighboring businesses,” Banks said.
He seems enamored with his new venue and what it offers. “It’s such a gorgeous, spacious building, the possibilities are endless,” he said. “There is underutilized space; we’ll look at how best to serve the needs of the community as we get up and running.”
Banks and Live Nation have plans for concerts, special events and local nights. He noted the addition of the bar inside the corner of 5th and Market, which he envisions as a great enhancement to the neighborhood on both show and off nights, since it will be accessible to both concertgoers and the public.
Shine a Light to Return
Banks said that Live Nation’s involvement will encompass the larger community. “We’re 100 percent committed to supporting and advocating for local arts and community initiatives, and plan to be an active partner,” he said. In fact, at the June 14 event, the team confirmed Saturday, March 3, as the return of Shine a Light, the annual fundraising concert for the Light Up the Queen Foundation. Banks also announced a July 23 job fair for local staffing at all levels.
Asked how the community can support in return, he said, “We only ask that you come out to shows, embrace live music and give us your feedback and ideas so we can work to deliver a world-class venue in the heart of Wilmington.”
Buccini/Pollin Group’s overall vision for The Queen seems to align well with Live Nation’s plans. “Our goal is to fully maximize this space and the music experience in downtown Wilmington, but also to create a more varied talent base—everything from music to comedy,” said Buccini. “Live Nation has the ability to make that happen for us.”
Smiling, he added, “Wilmington is growing up.”
Later, I walked back to my car at 6th and Shipley and noticed a band of blue confetti had migrated there. I smiled myself, hoping it was a symbol of the burgeoning excitement, liveliness and transformation that will benefit all parts of Wilmington.
The festival season gets off to a fast start this month, then kicks into high gear in July and continues into August and even September. Here’s a quick guide to help you plan your festive tour through the summer.
St. John’s Carnival, June 5-10 Milltown Road, Pike Creek
This summer marks St. John the Beloved’s 51st carnival—the longest running carnival in the state, with more than 20 rides and games, carnival-style food and drinks (including beer and wine for the adults), and nightly live music by the Juveniles, The Unforgiven, Chalice, Best Kept Secret, Secret Sauce and HELIXX. Family Night is Tuesday, June 6, and Alumni Night is June 8. The Hall offers poker and blackjack Thursday through Saturday, a $3,000 raffle on Saturday, June 10, and silent auction items available for bidding every night. The grounds are open 6 to10 p.m. during the week and 5-11 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free. For details, visit sjbde.org.
Greek Festival, June 6-10 Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Wilmington
The 42nd annual Holy Trinity Greek Festival heralds the arrival of Wilmington’s “festival season,” and it’s one of the city’s most popular outdoor parties. For five days, Wilmingtonians fill up on authentic food, ethnic music and lively dance from the Greek Terpsichorean Youth Folk group. Festival bonuses include a free lunchtime shuttle from 9th and Market Streets, running from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the online order/curbside pickup running simultaneously. For details, visit greekfestde.com.
Summer Music Festival, June 9 Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington
The art museum’s outdoor Copeland Sculpture Garden comes alive from 6 to 10 p.m. as it welcomes the sights and sounds of a partnership with the People’s Festival that will feature live reggae, Latin, hip hop and special dance performances from Ginger Coyle, Spokey Speaky, Hockaday and Danza Azteca. Throw in food trucks, cocktails, live artist demonstrations and an army of vendors, and it’s a family-friendly party at a very affordable price. Tickets are $5 for museum members and $10 for non-members; free for youth members and $5 for youth non-members. For details, visit delart.org.
Delaware Chamber Music Festival, June 16, 18, 23 & 25 Wilmington Friends School
For its 32nd season, the region’s premier chamber music celebration brings you Strings & Keys: A Brahms Mini-Celebration. As the title suggests, each concert includes a master work from Johannes Brahms, as well as works from Schubert, Mozart, Stravinsky and more sprinkled throughout the four-performance series. This year, the festival moves to a new venue at Wilmington Friends Lower School and adds a free jazz-themed performance at the Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew in downtown Wilmington. The jazz concert features guest artists Julie Nishimura, piano; Douglas Mapp, bass; Tina Betz, soprano, and the young musicians/composers of the Boysie Lowery Living Jazz Residency Program, directed by Jonathan Whitney. For details and tickets, visit dcmf.org.
Delaware Separation Day, June 9 & 10, New Castle
A full weekend (Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) celebrates our 241st year of independence from Pennsylvania and the British Crown. Historic New Castle will be bursting at its colonial seams with food trucks and craft beer stations, an arts and crafts fair, amusement rides like the Coconut Tree and Flying Dragon, as well as pony rides and a petting zoo. A parade down Delaware Street begins Saturday at 11 a.m. And don’t forget about the Beautiful Baby Pageant and live music and entertainment from the likes of the 1st Delaware Regiment, Big Package Band and DJ American Pie Entertainment. A fireworks display closes out the celebration on Saturday night. Details: sepdayde.com.
St. Anthony’s Italian Festival, June 11-18, Wilmington
This year’s festival-goers will experience the charm of Sicily. Italy’s semi-tropical island paradise will be the theme, with accents of lush foliage, volcanic soil surrounding a Mt. Etna volcano, and vibrant artisanal traditions throughout the grounds. The Il Mercato marketplace will feature a variety of Sicilian items, and vendors will include Sicilian specialties such as arancini, a fried rice treat native to the island. The opening Gala concert will fill the air with classical Italian musical selections and a performance by four youth orchestras from throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. In front of St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church patrons can enjoy a captivating light installation provided in partnership with LightAction, Inc. Admission for ages 14-61 is $5; patrons under age 14 (accompanied by parent or guardian 18 or older) and over age 61 are admitted free. For details, visit stanthonysfestival.com.
Dupont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, June 21-24 Rodney Square, Wilmington
Named in honor of Wilmington’s own Clifford Brown—a brilliant trumpet player, unforgettable composer and dynamic entertainer—the first festival was held in 1988 and has since grown into the largest free jazz festival on the East Coast. The multi-day celebration of the music, culture and art of jazz features artists from all over the world in addition to regional and local talent on the dazzling Rodney Square stage. Details: cliffordbrownjazzfest.org.
Smyrna at Night, June 23
Smyrna at Night is returning to light up the downtown. This free, all-ages celebration kicks off at 5:30 p.m. with live music across multiple stages, including artists Big Ric Rising, Bryan Russo, Lauren & Tinto, Trap Rabbit and Megan Knight; restaurant specials and 16 food trucks (including 302 BBQ, The Plum Pit, Mojo Loco, Benson, Rebel Cove and more); craft vendors and family-friendly fun. For details, visit facebook.com/smyrnaatnight.
New Castle County Ice Cream Festival, June 24-25 Rockwood Park, Wilmington
Billed as Delaware’s “largest family picnic,” this festival allows you to get your scoop of fun for children of all ages along with samples of some of the best frozen treats in the state. It features a variety of vendors, live music, local restaurant samples, crafters and local creameries. Details: rockwoodicecream.com.
Pirate Festival, July 8 Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard, Wilmington Riverfront
Ever wonder what it was like to sail the high seas pirating and smuggling, braving dangerous storms and strong currents? Climb aboard the Kalmar Nyckel and learn the real history of pirate life, enjoy re-enactments from the ship’s crews, enter the costume contest or check out model shipbuilding while taking in live music and tasty treats in the park. For details, visit kalmarnyckel.org.
Free Reign Hip Hop Festival, July 14-16 Rodney Square, Wilmington
Formed around the arts education offerings of Street Xpressions, an organization that empowers and educates our community through hip hop culture, music, visual art and dance, this fourth annual event will host daily giveaways, art and dance workshops, group mural painting, emcee and breakdance battles, concerts and more, honoring the legacy of hip hop, the culture that contributed to its rise and the artists it has influenced. It’s free to attend, but donations are appreciated. Proceeds will benefit the Street Xpressions scholarship fund. For details, visit streetxpressions.org.
Delaware Shakespeare, July 14-20 Rockwood Park, Wilmington
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!” “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!” The Bard’s most thrilling speeches will fill the “wooden O” of Rockwood Park this July, as Delaware Shakespeare presents its 15th summer festival with Henry V. Featuring some of the most famous and glorious language in all of Shakespeare, this vigorous examination of leadership tells the ultimate against-all-odds victory story. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and active military, and $14 for students. Sundays at DelsShakes are Family Nights, where children 12 and under are admitted free. In addition, a fine selection of wines by the bottle will be available for purchase during the festival. For details and tickets, visit delshakes.org.
Shady Grove Music Festival, July 15, Arden
Get shady in the cozy, leafy Village of Arden at the area’s premier festival of local and original music. It began in 2002 as the Arden Music Fest, and has evolved into the first Delaware event to solely promote original talent from the tri-state area. One of the headliners this year is Dover’s Hoochi Coochi. The daylong (noon to 9 p.m.), family-friendly, rain or shine festival is great for kiddos (but, sorry, leave pups at home). Bring a lawn chair or blanket and settle in. Tickets are $20 in advance or at the gate, and children under 12 are admitted free. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the Arden Club’s Gild Hall Restoration Fund. For details and tickets, visit shadygrovemusicfest.com.
The Ladybug Festival, July 20 & 21, Downtown Wilmington
This is how Gable Music gets big things started. One year, it’s a one-night showcase of undiscovered talent. Suddenly, it’s a full-blown, two-day festival, taking over LOMA and the 800 block of Market Street, transforming our city into a legitimate summer music festival destination. This year’s lineup includes heavy-hitters and audience favorites Nadjah Nicole, Angela Sheik, Sweet Leda and Nalani & Sarina, with more exciting artist reveals to come. For details and tickets, visit theladybugfestival.com.
Newark Food & Brew Fest, July 22, Downtown Newark
This fest is all about celebrating the relationship between culinary arts and brewing sciences. The noon to 7 p.m. event showcases more than 40 craft beers—Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Troegs, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues and more—paired with creative offerings from 18 Newark restaurants. Patrons travel from restaurant to restaurant sampling dishes designed to complement featured brews. Music includes performances by two Philadelphia acts—Jason Ager and the Steve Oakley Band—and Elkton’s TreeWalker. Details: visit newarkfoodandbrewfest.com.
Riverfront Blues Festival, Aug. 4-6 Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, Wilmington
This annual affair returns to the Riverfront for its 17th year with three glorious evenings of music spread across two stages. At press time, this year’s lineup hadn’t been released, but we assure you, it’s always incredible. And no matter what, there will be all the delicious barbecue you can possibly digest. Details: riverfrontbluesfestde.com.
August Quarterly Festival, Aug. 20-27 Tubman-Garrett Park
Wilmington’s August Quarterly is the nation’s oldest African-American festival, celebrating more than 200 years of religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right of assembly. This year’s festival begins on Sunday, Aug. 20, with opening church services and continues throughout the week with multiple revival services and a Children & Youth Day and Gospel Explosion on Saturday, Aug. 26. Culminating with “The Big Quarterly” on Aug. 27—commemorating the 1813 founding of the Union Church of Africans, the first African-American Church independently incorporated in the United States—the celebration features the August Quarterly Festival Celebration Choir directed by Wayne Carter, as well as local and regional gospel artists. The evening closes with a performance by the Gospel Music Workshop of America. For details, visit augustquarterly.org.
Polish Festival, Sept. 18-23 Wilmington Riverfront
Count us in when the 61st annual St. Hedwig’s Polish Festival hits the Riverfront in mid-September. It’s a fun-filled week of music, dancing, rides, belly-busting food and drink, crafters and more. Who doesn’t enjoy a heaping plate of pierogi, golobki and kielbasa topped off with chocolate babka and chrusciki? For complete info, visit sthedwigde.org.
Fourth Annual Odessa Brewfest, Sept. 9 Historic Odessa
Just south of the canal, a fundraising event for the Historic Odessa Foundation fills the town’s streets on the first Saturday after Labor Day. Crowds enjoy an unlimited sampling of regional and national craft beers as well as locally produced wine and spirits, a variety of food and merchandise vendors, live bands including Spokey Speaky, and more. Festival gates open at noon for the VIP tasting and the regular fest begins at 2 p.m. For more info, visit odessabrewfest.com.
Taste of Trolley Square, Sept. 30, Trolley Square
This annual trip invites you to “sip, savor, shop and stroll” your way through one of Wilmington’s busiest neighborhoods and nightspots. From 1 to 5 p.m., guests can sample food and drink pairings at nearly every Trolley-centric venue. From Featuring Two Roads & Scotch at Kid Shelleen’s to Oskar Blues, Twin Lakes, Weyerbacher, 20+ Craft Spirits and 30+ Wines at Frank’s Wine to 16 Mile at Trolley Oyster House, there’s surely something to please every food and drink palate. When you’ve had your fill, spend some time (and money) at one of the participating Trolley retailers like Petal Pushers, Bloom or Fabrizio Salon. Admission is free, but you must be 21 or older for alcohol-related tastings. For details, visit tasteoftrolley.com.