Above: Arden Gild Hall offers a wide range of performances, from singer-songwriters to the Ardensingers to community dinners. Photo by Joe del Tufo.
By Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald
Wilmington boasts an impressive collection of creative arts organizations — a list quite remarkable for a city its size. From the state’s only professional ballet company (First State Ballet) to the century-old Wilmington Drama League (Aubrey Plaza, John Gallagher, Jr. and Keith Powell are alumni), the area scene likely has a performance to please your artistic palette. To see for yourself, here is is a quick look at what to expect in the opening months of the 2023-24 season.
Christina Cultural Arts Center
This fall, come witness how Christina Cultural Arts Center has empowered our community through the arts for 78 years! As winter approaches, warm up with the smooth sounds of the incomparable Christine Dashiell, performing Saturday, Sept. 30. The holiday season is adorned with the stirring music, dance, and powerful narration of Carols in Color, featuring the Eleone Dance Company at The Grand on Sunday, Dec. 10. To close out the year, CCAC School of the Arts students will display their talents on the Clifford Brown Performance Center stage in the annual Holiday Showcase on Friday, Dec. 15.
705 N. Market Street, Wilmington | 302.652.0101 | ccacde.org
City Theater Company & Fearless Improv
City Theater Company celebrates its 30th anniversary this season. The First State’s off-Broadway experience kicks off at their home base in The Delaware Contemporary, where they have been artistic partners since 2021. CTC’s popular Fearless Improv offers all-ages shows for big laughs every month, beginning Saturday, Sept. 30. The Tax-Free Comedy Festival returns to the small wonder on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20 & 21, welcoming stand-up comedians and comedy acts chosen from nationwide submissions. In December, the company stages their “revival” of the cult favorite Hedwig And The Angry Inch — one of the biggest hits from CTC’s long history. The edgy musical by John Cameron Mitchell & Stephen Trask rocks this “Wicked Little Town” of Wilmington (Dec. 8-16).
Performance Space: 220 S. Madison Street, Wilmington
302.220.8285 | city-theater.org
Delaware Art Museum
AllHipHop and the Museum present the Inaugural Hip-Hop Cultural Summit, commemorating Hip-Hop’s 50th Anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 7. Exhibitions, panel discussions, DJ battles, and performances will explore the foundations of Hip-Hop, its role in highlighting inner-city struggles, and how it has empowered communities through music, dance, art, and knowledge. Next, the Korean Festival on Saturday, Oct. 14 offers a vibrant cultural extravaganza showcasing the country’s rich traditions, music, dance, and cuisine. The fourth annual Día de los Muertos: Walk Among the Ancestors on Saturday, Oct. 28, invites guests to enjoy Indigenous rituals, labyrinth walks, and to contribute to altars with photos and food. Opening with Danza Azteca Anahuac and La Catrinamia, this event welcomes all ages to honor ancestors meaningfully. Finally, join in a weekend honoring Pre-Raphaelite art. Revel in exclusive insights, music, Rossetti tours, high tea, and a magical Pre-Raphaelite Promenade (Nov. 9-12), in a nod to the Victorian era and concluding the museum’s art-filled celebration calendar.
2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington | 302.306.9799 | delart.org
Delaware Children’s Theatre
The Delaware Children’s Theatre begins its 50th season with The Addams Family (Oct. 7-29). They then unfurl the Yellow Brick Road for The Wizard of Oz (Nov. 18-Dec. 16), with a festive Friday, Dec. 15 wine-and-cheese night performance. The theater is holding a special Gala on Saturday, Nov. 4, that includes a video retrospective, stage show, and silent auction for a nostalgic look back at five decades of DCT’s remarkable history. We’re certain it will be filled with plenty of fun surprises and delicious goodies!
1014 Delaware Avenue, Wilmington | 302.655.1014 dechildrenstheatre.org
Delaware College of Art & Design
DCAD welcomes an incoming class of artists and designers this fall to its vibrant downtown campus. On the main floor of this iconic Market Street building is the Toni and Stuart B. Young Gallery, presenting year-round exhibitions of DCAD students and visiting artists from Delaware and beyond. Its Bi-Annual Faculty & Staff Exhibition opened on Monday, Aug. 21 and will continue through Sunday, Oct. 22. Special exhibits featured are YESTERDAYNITE by visiting artist Alim Smith, which is showing Friday, Nov. 3 through Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, and a permanent selection of works in the 2nd Floor Gallery by artist Valetta.
600 N. Market Street, Wilmington | 302.622.8000 | dcad.edu
Facebook: @DCADedu | Instagram: @dcadedu
The Delaware Contemporary
The Delaware Contemporary presents its fall season Escape opening Friday, Sept. 8. Escape can be an act of privilege or a necessary evil; provide relief and joy; or introduce unease and uncertainty. These exhibition artists explore the landscapes we cross to escape through imagination, games and entertainment, and personal journeys. Each Friday Art Loop event features On Art conversations with studio artists as well as special programming, food trucks, and a cash bar. On Friday, Sept. 29, celebrity Chef Robbie Jester (Guy’s Grocery Games, Beat Bobby Flay, Pressure Cooker) promises a one-of-a-kind menu at the Palette to Palate fundraiser. On Friday, Oct. 13, TDC introduces Freaky Friday! Halloween IS the holiday made for ESCAPE, so kick off your festivities at this eerie-sistable event featuring pumpkin carving, a costume contest, live music, and beer and cider tastings. TDC wraps up the year with its Holiday Craft Show and Art in Bloom Ikebana display on Friday, Dec. 1 during the Art Loop. This festive shopping experience is dedicated to showcasing contemporary crafts of emerging and established artists. Shop handmade products and unique gifts that are perfect for the holidays.
200 S. Madison Street, Wilmington | 302.656.6466 decontemporary.org
Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education
On Saturday, Sept. 9, bring your top hats, feather boas, and dancing shoes to SPOTLIGHT: An Evening of the Arts — DiAE’s signature gala that celebrates its supporters and the impact they make on students and teachers. This year’s theme is “The Roaring Twenties” with venue The Blue Ball Room Dance Studio; live musical performances from Wilmington artists Jea Street and Nadjah Nicole; and a poetry performance by Christian Wills a.k.a. “Athem.” Proceeds benefit DiAE’s arts education programming.
1200 N. French Street, Wilmington | 302.660.4783 | diae.org
Facebook: @diae.org | Instagram: @diae_arts
Delaware Museum of Nature & Science
The museum’s next traveling exhibit, Mindbender Mansion, opens Saturday, Sept. 30. Mindbender Mansion is a wonderfully perplexing world full of puzzles, brainteasers, and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem-solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers. Adults and children alike enjoy trying to master each of the 11 individual brainteasers and the three group activities in this fun, quirky new exhibit! Fall events include fundraisers geared toward adult patrons — Wine & Dinosaurs (Sunday, Sept. 24) and N3RD Thursday: End of the World Party (Thursday, Oct. 19). The Monsters, Myths & Multiverses: The Science of Imagination event invites science buffs of all ages to join in the fun on Saturday, Oct. 28. Also on the museum schedule is the World of Discovery speaker series with the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment as well as holiday-themed events, and much more.
4840 Kennett Pike, Wilmington | 302.658.9111 | delmns.org
The Delaware Shakespeare Community Tour returns this October (Oct. 4-22) with a three-week, statewide presentation of Cymbeline, Shakespeare’s beautiful, funny, and chaotic saga. The Tour seeks to share theater with the full spectrum of humanity in our state, traveling to non-traditional venues such as homeless shelters, prisons, and community centers — including a return to Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, Sussex Correctional Institution, and a first-time performance at New Castle County’s Hope Center. Cymbeline tells the story of Imogen, a young princess, who must deal with an evil stepmother and a deadly potion, before befriending mysterious men in a woodland cave. The plot should sound familiar to Snow White fans, and the play is often referred to as “Shakespeare’s fairy tale.” Most performances at the partner locations are open to the public as well as individuals served by the organizations. A gala performance on Saturday, Oct. 21 will both celebrate the tour and provide an opportunity to support this program, which brings high-quality theatre experiences to those with limited access to the arts.
4 S. Poplar Street, Wilmington | 302.468.4890 | delshakes.org
Delaware Symphony Orchestra
Delaware’s only professional orchestra announces its 118th season with the most diverse lineup of artists and repertoire to date. This year boasts five full-orchestra Classics concerts and three intimate Chamber concerts featuring DSO percussionists, holiday music in the glittering Gold Ballroom, and music of the African diaspora. Travel this season from shimmering sonic seas of Debussy’s La Mer to the vibrant Argentine sounds of Ginastera’s Estancia; the fiery passion of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol; Jessie Montgomery’s rhythmic Strum; a celebration of John Williams’ music; and Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 7 Song of the Night. Music Director Laureate David Amado will conduct the season’s opening and closing performances. In addition, the Symphony welcomes guest conductors Michelle Di Russo, André Raphel, and Scott Speck as well as the following soloists: Brazilian guitarist João Luiz, violin virtuoso Jennifer Frautschi, magnetic pianist Stewart Goodyear, and Delaware’s own, baritone Grant Youngblood. The first performance is the Classics concert, “Sky, Sea, and Rhapsody,” on Friday, Oct. 13 at The Grand.
Performance Space: 818 N. Market Street, Wilmington 302.656.7442 | DelawareSymphony.org
Delaware Theatre Company
Delaware Theatre Company launches its 44th season with another year of toe-tapping musicals, uproarious comedies, and an inspiring drama. It continues DTC’s tradition of creating new shows for Broadway or Off-Broadway — the only theater company in Delaware to do so. First up is Noises Off, one of the most popular comedies of all time (Sept. 20 through Oct. 8). This Tony Award–winner by Michael Frayn is full of surprises and gut-busting humor. DTC next presents Kings of Harlem by acclaimed playwright Layon Gray (Oct. 25 through Nov. 12). It’s a historical drama about the first Black-owned, all-Black professional basketball team who overcame adversity to win more than 2,000 games. In the holiday slot is Peter and the Starcatcher, written by Rick Elice and based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with music by Wayne Barker (Dec. 6-24). Hailed as a grownup prequel to Peter Pan, this Tony Award®–winning, swashbuckling production explores the Neverland you never knew!
200 Water Street, Wilmington | 302.594.1100 | delawaretheatre.org
First State Ballet Theatre
Join Delaware’s professional ballet company this fall at The Grand for the comedic and family-friendly Coppélia (Oct. 21-22) in Copeland Hall followed by a mixed-rep sampling of classical and contemporary dance in Up Front on Market (Nov. 18-20) upstairs in Studio 1, and the sparkling production of the holiday tradition, The Nutcracker (Dec. 16-23) in Copeland Hall
818. N. Market Street, Wilmington
302-656-7897 x3851 | firststateballet.org
Facebook: @Firststateballet | Instagram: @firststateballetofficial
The Grand Opera House & The Playhouse on Rodney Square
The Grand is thrilled to open another season starting Wednesday, Sept. 6 with Byrds co-founder and guitarist Roger McQuinn. On Friday, Sept. 22, The Grand presents the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop Concert featuring Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Fat Joe, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E Fresh, EPMD, Rakim and Slick Rick at Frawley Stadium on the Riverfront (see story page 22). Other highlights of this season’s current line-up include: seasoned singer-songwriters Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (Thursday, Oct. 5); beloved Disney Junior characters and Marvel Superheroes in Disney Junior Live on Tour: Costume Palooza! (Tuesday, Sept. 26); comedian Tig Notaro (Sunday, Sept. 17); a celebration of world music and culture with the Pedrito Martinez Group (Friday, Sept. 29) and Tablao Flamenco (Saturday, Sept. 30); Broadway legend Alan Cumming (Saturday, Oct. 28) and more! The Broadway in Wilmington series at The Playhouse opens in October with the North American tour of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic story, Pretty Woman: The Musical (Oct. 13-17). The Playhouse celebrates the holidays with the heartwarming rock ‘n’ roll musical Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (Nov. 17-19) and to start the New Year, the feel good, family favorite Annie (Jan. 5-7, 2024).
818 N. Market Street, Wilmington | 302.652.5577 thegrandwilmington.org
1007 N. Market Street, Wilmington 302.888.0200
Hagley Museum & Library
On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Hagley Car Show brings together hundreds of antique and restored cars. This year’s show has three “feature fields” highlighting dozens of cars celebrating the theme, A Drive Down Memory Lane — Celebrating Bygone Brands. The Car Show also includes a vehicle parade, motoring music, and a food court. Hagley Craft Fair returns (Oct. 21 & 22), welcoming artisans from the Mid-Atlantic area to display and sell works in wood, leather, pottery, jewelry, fibers, metal, and other media, and includes a specialty food market. Science Saturdays (Sept. 9 & 23, Oct.14 & 28, Nov. 11 & Dec. 9) will satisfy the curiosity of young science buffs with themes like “Creepy Chemistry,” “Robotics Roundup,” and more! For the holiday season, Hagley’s theme is “Treasures and Traditions” featuring events like the Gingerbread House Contest and Santa Days. The popular Twilight Tours have been rebranded as Holiday Nights at Hagley.
200 Hagley Creek Road, Wilmington | 302.658.2400 | hagley.org
Market Street Music
Market Street Music returns with a dazzling lineup of performers for both its free half-hour Thursday Noontime Concerts and full-length Saturday afternoon Festival Concerts. Thursday Noontime highlights include the amazing accordion player Dallas Vietty, the New York-based string duo Violalina, and the annual December performance by Cartoon Christmas Trio. Festival Concerts feature the virtuoso Pyxis Piano Trio and vocal ensemble Trio Eos, performing music of forgotten women composers. Their hugely popular post-concert parties after Saturday concerts continue at DE.CO with food and wine for all! Most programming takes place at First & Central Presbyterian Church just off Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington.
1101 N. Market Street, Wilmington | 302.654.5371 MarketStreetMusicDE.org
Facebook & Instagram: @MarketStreetMusicDE
The Music School of Delaware
The Music School of Delaware offers more than 100 concerts and events annually statewide. The Faculty & Friends series presents faculty, guest artists, and Serafin Ensemble in concert. Other season highlights feature The Studio: Rock, Jazz & Folk; Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black History celebration; monthly Bluegrass Jams; and virtual Open Mic Nights. In June, the school hosts Serafin Summer Music, a three-week chamber music festival featuring guest artists from around the world. Other professional and student performances, master classes, and workshops are offered throughout the year. Most events are free of charge; donations are appreciated.
4101 Washington Street, Wilmington | 302.762.1132 musicschoolofdelaware.org
OperaDelaware’s season kicks off with Verdi’s sumptuous drama Rigoletto (Oct. 27 & 29) at The Grand. The dark tale of power and corruption will star Delaware’s own Grant Youngblood as the titular Rigoletto; Rachel Blaustein as his guileless daughter Gilda; and Dane Suarez as the treacherous Duke of Mantua. In addition to riveting storytelling, Verdi possessed a masterful ability to compose iconic arias. In fact, the Duke’s signature aria, La donna è mobile, was such an irrepressible earworm that it had to be prepared in secrecy before its debut. You’ll surely be humming this legendary showstopper for weeks to come. And don’t miss the Opening Night Microgala on Friday, Oct. 27 — the party before the performance complete with a red carpet runway photoshoot, professionally run games of blackjack and poker, delicious Italian food from Bachetti Bros, and plenty of champagne. The Microgala kicks off at 5:00 p.m. and the opera begins at 7:30 p.m.
4 S. Poplar Street, Wilmington | 302.442.7807 | operade.org
Facebook: @OperaDelaware | Instagram: @operadelaware
The Renaissance Band’s 39th Wilmington season explores rich centers of music-making in early modern Europe. The ensemble’s sound is exceptional within its two Gothic Revival venues, Christ Church Christiana Hundred, nestled along the Brandywine next to Hagley Museum, and Immanuel Church in the Highlands neighborhood. The season opens Sunday, Oct. 15 with a program provocatively titled The Year the Music Died, which features composers William Byrd, Thomas Weelkes, and Philip Rosseter, who brought the era of the English Renaissance to its apotheosis before they passed away within months of each other in 1623. Three guest vocalists and two lutenists bring beautiful madrigals and lute songs to vivid life. Germans have perfected Christmas festivities for at least 500 years. Guest soprano Clara Rottsolk joins Piffaro for Christmas in Southern Germany, on Sunday, Dec 10. with a program of Advent duets and magnificent Epiphany hymns from Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Heidelberg.
Varying locations, Wilmington | 215.235.8469 | piffaro.org
Resident Ensemble Players (The REP)
The REP opens with Dame Eileen Atkins’s Vita & Virginia (Sept. 21 through Oct. 1). Adapted from letters and diaries to deftly weave the story of the improbable love affair and enduring friendship between aristocratic novelist and poet, Vita Sackville-West and aloof literary icon, Virginia Woolf. This was an age when people wrote profusely and frequently, though few were as adept as Vita and Virginia. The fall continues with suspense and intrigue in John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night (Nov. 2-19). Set in 1962, a white man is discovered dead in a small Alabama town. Local police arrest the only stranger in town, a black man named Virgil Tibbs. Little do they know, their suspect is a detective from California. Left with no witnesses, no motives, and no clues, Detective Tibbs becomes this racially tense community’s only hope of solving the brutal murder. Adapted for the stage by Matt Pelfrey from the book that inspired the Oscar-winning film, it’s sure to be a compelling evening of murder and mystery-filled theatre.
University of Delaware | 302.831.2202 | rep.udel.edu
Facebook: @rep.udel.edu | Instagram: @delaware_rep
The Rock Orchestra
The Rock Orchestra is happy to return to The Grand Opera House for their sixth season with An Evening of David Bowie on Saturday, Nov. 11. This career-spanning tribute will take place in Copeland Hall and feature TRO regulars Joe Trainor (vocals), Matt Urban (drums), Scott Lawing (guitar) and Brian O’Sullivan (keyboards). In addition, the show will feature Dave Trum (bass), Matt Frankl (guitar), Mike Macartney (keyboards), Micelle Hover (vocals), Nancy Curry (vocals) and Matt Hetzler (sax).
Varying venues in Wilmington | 302.521.4495 | therockorchestra.net
Facebook: @therockorchestra | Instagram: @rockorchestrade
The Sold Firm
The gallery’s three-part exhibit, Soft Girl Era, celebrated the end of its initial installment, Act I, at The Delaware Contemporary in August. This full exhibition of 17 artists’ works runs concurrent with the social movement of the same name, which aims to break culturally embedded images and historical expectations assigned to Black women. The next installment, Liberation: Soft Girl Era Act II, opens at The Sold Firm on Friday, Nov. 3, curating works of artist E. Lizé. The exhibit will be on display through February 2024, after which the final installment will be unveiled with works by Shonté Young-Williams. The Sold Firm will also collaborate with Downtown Visions for the 3rd Annual Tatnall Street Halloween Block Party in October.
Gallery location: 800-B N. Tatnall Street, Wilmington 302.686.3237 | thesoldfirm.com
Wilmington Classical Guitar Society
Wilmington Classical Guitar invites you to experience the soul-stirring magic of classical guitar in two extraordinary evenings. Kick off the season Saturday, Oct. 21 with Polish guitar virtuoso Mateusz Kowalski. Described by legendary guitarist Sergio Assad as “flawless,” Mateusz’ playing is sure to captivate you. Next, mark your calendars for Saturday, Nov. 18 to welcome back award-winning Columbian guitarist Carlos Bedoya. Carlos’ guitar work whispers stories of passion and beauty, promising a performance to illuminate an unforgettable night. Additionally, both artists will be leading master classes on the same day as their concerts. Don’t miss your chance to learn from their mastery.
Performance venue: Presbyterian Church of the Covenant, 503 Duncan Road, Wilmington | wilmingtonguitar.org
Wilmington Drama League
The Drama League celebrates its 90th season with crowd-pleasing musicals, intense dramas, and plays for children. The season opens with Chess (Sept. 15-24), a cult hit using the game as a metaphor for romantic rivalries and the American-Soviet Cold War conflicts. (Some may recall its song, “One Night in Bangkok,” was a hit single during the ’80s.) Offering plenty of pre-Halloween chills, Misery (Oct. 20-29) — based on the Stephen King best-seller — focuses on an injured writer at the mercy of his No. 1 fan. J.B. (Nov. 9-12) is the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning story of a millionaire stripped of his family and wealth but refuses to turn his back on God. Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka adds to holiday festivities with its extended run (Dec. 8-28). The musical highlights the eccentric, reclusive Wonka’s magical candy factory. It is adapted from the 1964 book and 1971 movie and features songs like “Candy Man” and “Pure Imagination.” Outside the mainstage, three Pillow Plays are planned, produced by the Drama League’s Chrysalis Players for a young audience who are invited to bring a pillow or stuffed animal with them.
Varying venues in Wilmington | 302.521.4495 | therockorchestra.net
Facebook: @therockorchestra | Instagram: @rockorchestrade
Winterthur Museum and Gardens
Ann Lowe’s recently emerging visibility as a designer stands in contrast to much of her career and countless unrecognized Black dressmakers and designers who contributed to American fashion. The Ann Lowe: American Couturier exhibition (Sept. 9 through Jan. 7, 2024) is the largest showing of her work to date, featuring 40 iconic gowns — many never publicly displayed — detailing her designs from the 1920s to the 1960s. The exhibition also features contemporary designers inspired by Lowe. On Saturday, Sept. 30, the free Discover Winterthur experience opens the garden and galleries to the public, including a sensory-friendly hour for guests to explore at their pace. Winterthur’s Delaware Antiques Show (Nov. 10-12) at the Chase Center on the Riverfront is one of the nation’s highly acclaimed shows, featuring decorative arts from more than 60 distinguished dealers. Finally, celebrate the season with Yuletide at Winterthur (Nov. 18 through Jan. 7, 2024), touring Henry Francis du Pont’s former home decorated in full holiday splendor. This year’s tour includes trees inspired by the work of Ann Lowe.
5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur | 800.448.3883 | winterthur.org