Performance Series at DAM Explores Culture and Diversity

‘Thoughtful introspection’ is one of the goals

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

Christina Cultural Arts Center’s student dance ensemble performs during a past Music School MLK & Black History Tribute program. Photo courtesy of The Music School of Delaware

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 presentdrawn 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.

The Playhouse is Back

The Wizard of Oz is coming to The Playhouse Nov. 14-19. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square

…and you can become a partner in its success

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.”

Dorothy (Cassie Okenka) and Toto (Snickers) from the 2008 tour. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square
Dorothy (Cassie Okenka) and Toto (Snickers) from the 2008 tour. Photo courtesy of The Playhouse on Rodney Square

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.

Hungry for the Arts?

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 97s) 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

ArtzScape
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.orgFacebook: @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.orgFacebook & 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.orgFacebook & 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.orgFacebook/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.comFacebook/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.comFacebook & 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.orgFacebook: @MarketStreetMusicDE

Mélomanie
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.orgFacebook: @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.orgFacebook, Twitter & Instagram: @MusicSchoolofDE

OperaDelaware
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.orgFacebook, 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.comFacebook, 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.eduFacebook & 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.orgFacebook: @WilmingtonDramaLeague; Instagram: @WilmingtonDramaLeague

Rock Opera Kicks Off CTC’s 24th Season

Photo Joe del Tufo

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

Facebook: @CTCImprov • Twitter/Instagram: @CityTheaterCo

UD REP Tackles Diverse Stories This Season

Photo Joe del Tufo

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

Facebook: @rep.udel.edu Twitter: @Delaware_REP