What is Normal?




 

The rock musical “Next to Normal” tells the story of a mother struggling with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family. At the same time, the play addresses such issues as grief, suicide, drug abuse, medical ethics and suburban life. Winner of Outer Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Score and three Tony Awards, it also received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, only the eighth musical to receive the honor. See Bootless Stageworks’ production May 9-19 at Newport Industrial Park. 887-9300, bootless.org

Lovin’ Life

Organist Neil Harmon and pianist David Schelat perform songs from America about the many faces of love, as sung by the Center City Chorale as part of the Market Street Music noontime concert series on May 16. “Love American Style" features works that are romantic, stormy and religious, including “I am the Rose of Sharon, “If Ye Love Me,” “Stormy Weather” and more. See it at First and Central Presbyterian in Wilmington. 654-5371, marketstreetmusicde.org

Bank on It

Longer days are here again. Enjoy them at Winterthur. On May 17, take a picnic and lawn chairs for live bluegrass music along Clenny Run Bank. We can think of few places as beautiful for an open-air concert. 888-4600, winterthur.org

But Wait, Another Beautiful Place…

How about an open-air concert on Delaware Bay? Board the MV Twin Capes at the Lewes Ferry Terminal on May 18 for “Romance at Sea.” Symphony at Sea is the third annual fundraiser for Dover Symphony Orchestra. You’ll not only hear the group play beautiful music, but you’ll enjoy a silent auction, wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres and open bar. It’s easy to go overboard. 270-1903, 800-64FERRY, cmlf.com

A King for the Kids

What happens when Anna, an English schoolteacher, brings Western notions to the Kingdom of Siam? Find out in “The King and I.” The new personal tutor to the king’s wives and children, Anna arrives to find her new position to be more difficult that she had imagined. Territorial squabbles, forbidden young love and life lessons help bring this classic musical presented by The Children's Theatre Inc. to life on stage at The Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover. See it May 18-19. 678-5152, schwartzcenter.co

Blonde Ambition

Follow the recently dumped and undeniably persistent Elle Woods as she follows her ex-boyfriend all the way to Harvard Law School. Bent on proving she is more than a pretty fashion plate, Elle shows she’s smarter than she looks and finds that being yourself never goes out of style. See it through May 19 at The New Candlelight Theatre in Arden. 475-2313, ncstage.org

A Familiar Family?

Award-winning actor and writer Steve Solomon brings his international hit comedy “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy” to the Delaware Theatre Company in Wilmington through May 26. The show, which played for two years in New York City and has toured internationally in more than 100 cities, has been described as “one part lasagna, one part kreplach, and two parts Prozac.” It’s based on Solomon's life growing up in a wacky family and all the people in his life whose sole purpose was to drive him into therapy. No matter your ethnicity, if you have a family, you can relate. 594-1100, delawaretheatre.org

Inside the Studios

It’s a great time to visit the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, while it’s offering guided tours of the Andrew Wyeth Studio, the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio, and the Kuerner Farm. Explore the connection between art and life during an individual tour or package. Art of Andrew Wyeth Studio Tour, on Mondays and Tuesdays through Nov. 19, lets you immerse yourself in the art of Andrew Wyeth with a visit to the location where many of his finest works were painted. The program begins with a docent-led tour of the museum's renowned Wyeth Galleries, followed by a lunch in the museum restaurant overlooking the scenic Brandywine Creek. After lunch, board a shuttle bus for a short ride to the studio where, surrounded by the tools of the artist as he left them, a guide will discuss Wyeth's creative process. On Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, tour all three studios, fascinating spaces where three generations of Wyeths have painted. A docent-led tour of the Wyeth galleries provides an introduction to the family. And don’t forget: “Andrew Wyeth's ‘Ides of March:’ The Making of a Masterpiece” through May 19. Wyeth painted most of his significant paintings in egg tempera, which he described as having “no limitation.” The exhibition includes “Ides of March,” a rarely seen tempera painting, plus more than 30 of the studies that were instrumental to Wyeth's development of the composition. (610) 388-2700, brandywinemusuem.org

Off the Map

It’s never spring until Winterthur reopens, so we’re happy to see “Common Destinations: Maps in the American Experience.” More than 100 rare objects illustrate Americans’ changing interaction with maps as they evolved from an elite status symbol to a crucial tool for day-to-day life. “Common Destinations” reveals the compelling story of how America’s identity was inextricably linked with maps, whether traditional maps on paper or map images on objects, ranging from playing cards to needlework. You can see it now. winterthur.org/commondestinations

Now in Newark

The Newark Arts Alliance is all about local artists, and it has a great season of their work to show. On view now, see “Flowers” through June 1, an all-media, juried show of works that celebrate the flower, followed by Nate Metz's solo show “Summer Streets” June 4-29, a show of photographs of interesting objects found on the streets in summer. There's more throughout the year, so stay tuned. 266-7266, newarkartsalliance.org

Much Better Living Through Science

Hagley Museum and Library is displaying a portion of its fashion collection for the first time in its newest exhibit, “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon.” This exhibit shows how nylon revolutionized the fashion industry and influenced how people have dressed since its launch in 1938 by the DuPont Co. “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon” celebrates the 75th anniversary of nylon’s introduction to market. On Oct. 27, 1938, the brand new material was announced to the public, then quickly replaced silk in the ladies hosiery industry. Nylon was so popular that its early sales created near riots. The highlight of the exhibit is the early development of nylon and its impact on the fashion industry, but it includes other uses for the discovery such as parachutes, toothbrushes and carpet. “Fashion Meets Science: Introducing Nylon” highlights “firsts” of this discovery from pure science. Visitors will be able to view the first polyamide fiber sample (basis of nylon) and first souvenir sample of nylon thread, first all-nylon woven fabric, one of the first pairs of stockings manufactured at the Experimental Station, and the first pair of seamless stockings. The first wedding dress made of nylon (1942), first dress made of 100 percent spun nylon (1949), and first nylon football pants will also be on display. in addition to other nylon “firsts.” Nylon and other related synthetic fibers made clothing that was durable, washable, stretchable, stain-resistant, and affordable. Visitors can see the first nylon overlay lace dress (1940) and a prototype black nylon nightgown from Vanity Fair (1947). Clothing made from Qiana, a silky nylon fiber that debuted in the late 1960s and influenced fashion of the disco era, will also be displayed. Featured Qiana items include a Bill Blass Qiana Boudoir Robe (1968-1969), William Travilla Qiana evening gown (1968-1969), Oscar de la Renta Qiana wrap dress (1968-1969), and a Charles Kleibacker Qiana cocktail dress. Whether a science geek or a fashion fan, you’ll love this exhibit. It runs through March 31. 658-2400, hagley.lib.de.us

Juxtaposed

Also at the Biggs. “Points of Juxtaposition” features works by seven local artists. Carl Williams, Tony Burton, Seldon Dix, Ernie Satchell, Kennie Jones, Alex Gamble and Michael Morris, all members of the regional artist critique group called Points of Juxtaposition, will display artwork within a gallery along the museum's timeline display of the fine and decorative arts. These artists have directed their brushes, styles, camera lenses, and graphic design at the social ills, beauty, history, and place of African-Americans in this country. Each artist will represent his own contemporary African-American artistic perspective. The exhibit as a whole is visually unified by elements of color, pattern, history and spiritual awareness. Works include oils, watercolors, prints, mixed media, photography, sculpture and ceramics. All are invited to attend. See it through May 26. 674-2111, biggsmusuem.org

Talkin' Trash

“Taxonomy of Trash" at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington finds Tim Eads, artist-in-residence at Revolution Recovery, a Philadelphia recycling company, uniting a team of professionals in what “is at once a hybrid form of art, connoisseurship, scientific research, audio-visual documentation, readymade sculpture, and performance that underscores much of today’s collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to artistic practice,” according to curator Maiza Hixon. As she explains, Eads invited a sound engineer, videographer, photographer, and biologist to help him analyze the aesthetic potential of trash. From Revolution Recovery’s inventory, the team selected objects of visual interest, recorded the sounds the objects made when activated as ersatz instruments, and photographed and categorized them in a phylogenetic tree chart. At the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, all of these inventive examinations and permutations of art and trash are on display. In addition to the sensory connection to trash that the visitor experiences in the gallery, Eads supplements "Taxonomy" with a kinetic sculpture called the “Mobile Trash Lab.” This photography studio/garbage bike on wheels travels to litter-strewn locations and enables the driver or citizens off the street to select ubiquitous city trash, then have it “taxonomized” on the spot, free of charge. Displayed alongside audio-visual recordings of garbage picked from this geographic region and exhibited in proximity to a chart categorizing these biodegradable and non-biodegradable items, the DCCA visitor is invited to view both an objective and ethical analysis of what we throw away. See it through July 13. Also at the DCCA, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by well-known artist Philemona Williamson investigate the complexity of lives of adolescents of all races and genders, delving into the complexities of adolescent life. See it through July 14. (And there's more on the DCCA below.) 656-6466, thedcca.org

Cities and People

For the first time in world history, more of us now live in cities than in rural areas, and whether we realize it or not, we make our cities as much as they shape us. Hence, “imPERFECT CITY” now at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. Funded under the theme of Radical Participation by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the exhibition empowers non-artists, with DCCA Gretchen Hupfel Curator of Contemporary Art Maiza Hixson, to help curate a show that represents their ideal city. Some content changes daily to reflect the life of a real city. The culmination of the exhibition will be on June 8 during the 2013 Gretchen Hupfel Symposium, when the project will be discussed along with other Utopian topics in conjunction with University of Delaware's “Earth Perfect? Nature, Utopia and the Garden symposium.” Also at the DCCA, “An Implied Narrative” is a group show of contemporary figure drawings that touch on themes of cultural and personal narratives such as celebrity, gender, political affiliation, and anonymity. The compositions are sparse, with few or no contextual clues to the type of space the figures inhabit. By removing extraneous elements, focus is directed toward the signifiers of facial expression, body language and dress to decipher what is presented. According to curator J. Gordon, Sean Lyman and Mark Stockton take two different approaches to the themes of identity and cultural narrative. Artist Mark Stockton presents the idea of the celebrity, a public identity constructed by the media, and consumers' expectations. Sean Lyman addresses his subjects' anonymity. Bridging the gap between anonymity and celebrity are Jason Maas' drawings inspired by the media's depiction of social unrest. Using journalistic images as a starting point, Maas carefully edits his drawings to explore how clothing and costume function "to establish our sense of order ... and designate positions of authority.” Seeing it will force you to ask, who are these people? For that matter, who are we? See it through June 16. 656-6466, thedcca.org

Celluloid Hero

Don't forget about  “The Projectionist,” on view through June 23 at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover. “The Projectionist” is a documentary, book and multi-media exhibition that explores one man’s lifelong fascination with the golden age of film and, in particular, the grand movie palace. The exhibition features a fully operational 1920s-style movie theater that was created in the basement of Middletown native Gordon Brinckle. A documentary, created by Kendall Messick, provides a penetrating gaze into the life of this self-taught artist. The narrative follows the course of Brinckle’s life, revealing the profound desire, frustration and motivation that propelled him to create such a distinctive art environment. Original works on paper by Brinckle such as blueprints and floor plans and fine art photographs by Messick of Brinckle operating the theater are also on view. It’s a show to see. 674-2111, biggsmuseum.org

Imagine This

Straight from the Delaware College of Art and Design to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, professor Alexi Natchev has his work exhibited in “Imagined Places: The Art of Alexi Natchev" through Aug. 4. The illustrator was born and educated in Sofia, Bulgaria. Since moving to the United States in 1990, he has illustrated 17 children's books, collaborating with major authors and publishers. His work has been shown in many international exhibitions and he has received several national awards. His illustrations conjure up an imaginary world of playful creatures, fairy-tale places, folktales and more. “Imagined Places” features over 60 works by Natchev, including paintings and prints representing the range of his career as an artist and illustrator. See how he researches the art and literature of a region for his illustrations in order to create a sensitive balance between fantasy and believability. “Alexi Natchev is deservedly celebrated for his colorful and imaginative children's books and is an accomplished printmaker with impressive fluency in various techniques," says Mary F. Holahan, curator of illustration. "We are thrilled to be able to display the whimsical and sometimes enigmatic illustrations of such a distinguished artist of our region.” 571-9590, delart.org

A Picture of Today

The year 2012 might have been Delaware Art Museum’s 100th anniversary year, but the celebration continues with “State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle” through June 1. The exhibition features more than 60 works from eight of the most important contemporary illustrators. In 2011, the museum launched its centennial celebration with a major retrospective dedicated to illustrator Howard Pyle. “State of the Art” marks the celebration's end and reflects on Pyle's legacy. In the century since his death in 1911, American illustration has diversified into a wide range of art forms, including animated films, computer-generated images to graphic novels and conceptual art. “No single exhibition could possibly do justice to the noisy, rambunctious history of illustration over the past century,” says curator David Apatoff. “I've chosen instead to feature eight individuals whose diverse talents demonstrate that illustration is no longer the singular profession it was in Pyle's day. It pervades our culture, reaching out to us from billboards, television, store windows, and computer screens.” This is one cool exhibition, with something for everyone in the family. See it through June 1. 571-9590, delart.org

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