Raise The Curtain!Let the Shows Begin!
By Jerry duPhily
It has become a rite of September: Our annual preview of the upcoming season in the arts.
In fact, for more than three decades we’ve compiled this overview. So many times, to be honest, it’s challenging to create a fresh headline. After all, how many ways can you say Let The Shows Begin without getting silly.
So … let the shows begin.
And they will. Hundreds of them, in venues as varied as The Grand Opera House to The Sold Firm.
I’ve said it for years and I’ll repeat it here: Wilmington’s cultural art scene is one of its greatest assets. Within 15 minutes of Downtown Wilmington there are more than 45 venues dedicated to arts and culture. Dozens more offer exhibits and performances as a side gig. You just don’t find that in many places.
Kerriann Otaño, OperaDelaware’s ebullient vice president of Audience Engagement, said as much during The Grand’s Season Launch Party last month. Otaño and husband Dane Suarez, a gifted tenor who treated those in attendance to a powerful aria from Rigoletto, moved here from Memphis in the summer of 2022. To hear Otaño, you’d have thought they had landed in Oz.
“Do you realize how fortunate we are!” she exclaimed, referring to the richness of Wilmington’s arts scene.
Nothing like a newcomer to remind us.
I was served another reminder on a recent Saturday night. Colleague Jim Miller invited me to join him for the final show of The Rock Orchestra’s six-night stand at the Delaware Theatre Company. TRO, which prides itself on presenting live performances (faithful to the studio recordings) of classic albums, was tackling the entire 215-song Beatles catalogue.
It has become a summer ritual TRO calls All Together Now. Monday night was the Please Please Me album; Tuesday night was A Hard Day’s Night … you get the picture.
For the finale, TRO was performing all songs from Abbey Road and Let It Be — and for good measure, a few bonus numbers.
However, this wasn’t simply TRO founders Joe Trainor and Matt Urban inviting a few musicians to join them for an ambitious endeavor. For most of the evening there were no less than 20 performers on stage, including a nine-piece string ensemble and eight-piece horn section. It was a show worthy of a standing ovation, and on several occasions the full-house crowd obliged.
Remarkably, the cast was all local talent, people you see around town (during a pre-show beer at Iron Hill we bumped into vocalist Ryan Bacher), letting their creative sides shine.
It was impressive. It was invigorating. And it was prideful — not simply for the musicians, but for me as the publisher of a magazine that chronicles this scene.
Far too often, people attempt to describe Wilmington by what we are not. One thing we are is a small city with a large creative core — an arts scene as rich as a mocha Frappuccino.
So, get out there. Not just for the touring shows making a stop at The Grand, The Playhouse, The Queen or Delaware Theatre Company. Check out a community group you haven’t seen.
Sipping wine on the sofa and listening to vinyl is wonderful, and that option will always be there. But when you are part of a live audience, you’re a part of the show. And, yes I’ll say it again, it’s showtime!
— For a comprehensive look at the area’s arts and entertainment calendar, visit InWilmDe.com.