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Arts Events In and Around Delaware to Put on Your Calendar This Fall

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Wipe those fat sea-salt tears off your cheeks and turn your beach bag inside out to sweep away the last remnants of our glorious beach towns—summer’s over, pal. But lucky you, you live here. That means seasonal weather, rich color change and a fall arts scene so stacked that you’ll forget star-winking oceanside evenings were even a thing.

Don’t believe us? Some highlights: At First State Ballet Theatre, Transylvania meets tutus in the world premiere ballet “Dracula,” choregraphed by award-winning darling-of-dance Viktor Plotnikov. The Delaware Contemporary scores huge when it brings the work of internationally coveted, Jamaican-born painter Peter Wayne Lewis to town. And if you’re jonesing to get back to the beach, Rehoboth is doing big things this season, too—The Independent Film Fest shines on the mid-Atlantic festival circuit, and this year’s Jazz Fest hosts 32 acts in four days. Not to mention the Lewes History Book Festival, which brings the Alice Hoffman to town to discuss her latest fiction. Get those planners out—you’re going to need them.

Biggs Museum of American Art

406 Federal St., Dover • 674-2111

The Great Delaware Pumpkin Carve held last year at the Delaware State Fairgrounds included all the fall essentials: hayrides, bonfires, seasonal brews and perfectly Instagram-able barns. It was such a treat that the Biggs Museum of American Art has no choice but to do it all over again. Pencil in Oct. 19 as your date with beautifully illuminated and artistic pumpkins. But first, pop into the opening reception of “Ripped from the Headlines: Photojournalism in Delaware,” which features iconic photographs from the First State’s local coverage of news near and far. (We’ll meet you at the Delaware Today section.) 

Brandywine Baroque

Box office: info@brandywinebaroque.org • 652-4190

Brandywine Baroque is full of big noise this fall. The season kicks off Oct. 4 with a selection of cantatas and sonatas from 18th-century London, with Laura Heimes, soprano, and Tony Boutté, tenor. Dec. 6–8, check out a program of concertos that features an antique Viola d’Amore in a concerto by Antonio Vivaldi, plus a flute concerto by Telemann and a cantata by Handel.

Brandywine River Museum of Art

1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, Pa. • 388-2700

Add some (calorie-free!) culture to your trick-or-treat bag this year with a visit to the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Beginning Sept. 14, the museum hosts “Reality Reassembled: The Halloween Paintings of Peter Paone.” Paone, a longtime Philadelphia artist, has a thing for Halloween, which he likens to a “day of denial.” Utilizing jewel tones and textured surfaces, Paone’s paintings bring unsettling concepts to “bootiful” thought-provoking fruition. See the exhibition until Nov. 3. Go from scary to fairy with “Cinderella & Co: Three Fairy Tales Reimagined.” Cinderella, Goldilocks and The Three Little Pigs are the stars of the show. Check out various interpretations—from experimental to edgy to unconventional—of this fairy tale crew, with an assist from guest curator Nicholas B. Clark, former chief curator of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Catch Cinderella & Co. from Oct. 5 to Jan. 5, 2020. Fan favorite “A Brandywine Christmas” pulls into the station Nov. 29. See the region’s most bonkers train display backed by resplendent holiday accoutrements until Jan. 5, 2020. The first week in February, the Museum has just one question: Who runs the world? 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. “Votes for Women,” opening Feb. 1, examines the visual history of the suffragette movement. Take a cue from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and wear your best white outfit to pay homage to the long road to a women’s right to vote.

Christina Cultural Arts Center

705 N. Market St., Wilmington • 652-0101

On Sept. 28, find us on Shipley and Markets Streets for Soul of the City: Community Fun Fest, a family friendly day of local music, food and vendors. The celebration is the the product of a partnership between the Christiana Cultural Arts Center and the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew & Matthew. Right under our noses, the CCAC has become famous for hosting intimate performances by acclaimed jazz and R&B artists in its Clifford Brown Performance Space, and this season is no different. On Nov. 9, catch Ajoyo World Music Band; on March 20, spend the evening with Ghost Note (formerly of Snarky Puppy). It’s all about holiday majesty Dec. 1 when the stunning contemporary dance/music/narration of “Carols in Color” hits The Grand Opera House, performed by Philadelphia-based Eleone Dance Theatre.

Clear Space Theatre

20 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach • 227-2270

If Brienne of Tarth is looking for a gig now that her days in Westeros are over, her agent (Podrick, obviously) might do well to put a call in to Clear Space Theatre for its first production of the fall: “Three Tall Women” looms large in Rehoboth. The Edward Albee drama, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994, features characters A, B, C, and The Boy; A is the 92-year-old woman who reflects on her life to B and C, who happen to be younger versions of herself and the Boy is their son. This drama burned up the Broadway stage in 2018, so we thank Clear Space for the inspired choice. See it Sept. 20–Oct. 6. Next, the play that put pottery-making on the pop culture map—cry your eyes out all over again with “Ghost” to usher in October. Sam and Molly have a very good thing until Sam dies. Desperate to connect with Molly and certain she’s in danger, he uses a storefront psychic as his own personal Instagram DM to communicate with his beloved. See it Oct. 18–27. November is all about “James and the Giant Peach,” the Roald Dahl classic; and “A Christmas Story,” the equally esteemed leg-lamp classic. Your children are welcome at both, but choose wisely—we don’t think you want to be unsticking tongues from frozen poles this winter. Anyone who tells you nothing goes on at the beach after Memorial Day weekend has never been to Clear Space Theatre.

Delaware Art Museum

2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington • 571-9590

Wilmington’s Delaware Art Museum opens the fall art scene with “Mitch Lyons: The Hand Translated.” For more than five decades, the Philadelphia born-and-bred artist has brought such nuance and singularity to the art of print-making that he’s practically innovated the medium on a local level. With roots as a traditional potter, Lyons now identifies as “a clay person making prints.” See his work Sept. 8–Feb. 2, 2020. A real treat in October, “Angela Fraleigh: Sound the Deep Waters” brings majestic, opulent, glimmering oil paintings that look rich and deep enough to sink your fingers into. The showcase is all about depicting women freed from the social constructs of their time—we can get behind that. If you’re interested in the intersection of gender and race, you’d be remiss not to check out “Posing Beauty in African American Culture,” running Oct. 19–Jan. 26, 2020. Curated by New York University Tisch School of the Arts’ Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging Deborah Willis, the exhibition explores the contested ways that African American beauty has been historically represented. See it all—and more—at the Delaware Art Museum.

The Delaware Contemporary

200 S. Madison St., Wilmington • 656-6466

This fall will be nothing short of visionary at The Delaware Contemporary. Their first get of the season? Critical darling Peter Wayne Lewis, the internationally coveted Jamaican-born painter who has spent the past 10 years making his abstract art out of a studio in Beijing’s renowned artists’ district. The large-scale abstractions that color “Beijing Booster Paintings” are a cultural revolution: see influences of African American expressionists, Japanese sumi ink paintings, Chinese calligraphy and traditional American painting. Starting Oct. 4, you might want a passport for this one. On Nov. 9, get savvy with SABA V and score unique pieces small-batch style at the Small Art Buying Adventure. But wait: This year, during the patron preview, the order in which you bought your ticket gives you a better draft choice, so to speak—first to buy your ticket, first to score the art and so on. But don’t worry, the general admission portion of the program will resume the traditional elbow-knocking, art-grabbing frenzy of years past. At $25 a pop, the anonymous-until-sold 6×6 inch treasures are a steal. Tickets on sale now.

Delaware Shakespeare Festival

Statewide • 468-4890

This year, Del Shakes wonders, “Did my heart love till now?” On Sept. 20, the Delaware in Love fundraiser invites you to put your spin on the Bard’s legendary tales of star-crossed lovers to raise funds for Delaware Shakespeare’s efforts to make Delaware + classical theatre = forever. The event will feature first-state couples like former Gov. Jack and Carla Markell, and happens at OperaDelaware. If you think you and your crew are squad goals, you have another thing coming—when the masters of macabre get together, it’s an all-time hang. Check out “Shakespeare, Poe & Friends” Oct. 10–13 for a night (or two) of readings from the dark side. The venues include Wilmington’s Old Town Hall, the New Castle Court House Museum, the Historic Odessa Stone Stable and Dover’s Old State House. Art should be accessible to all—this principle guides the Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s community tour, which began in 2016 with stagings at community centers, homeless shelters, detention facilities and other nontraditional theatre locations across the state. This year, the theater company is pleased to hit 18 venues on its quest to bring the arts to the underserved. “Romeo and Juliet” hits the (unconventional) road Oct. 23–Nov. 15. The tour comes home to OperaDelaware studios Nov. 16 –17 for two nights of Montague and Capulet drama—the tea will be spilled. 

Delaware Symphony Orchestra

100 W. 10th St., Suite 1003, Wilmington • 656-7442

Break out your boho best—the musical fall at DSO kicks off Sept. 27 at The Grand with “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Devoted to Dvorak, Bohemian tunes, folk dances and a sunny vibe permeate his ever popular 8th Symphony. Violinist Tessa Lark will kill with her supple, virtuosic violin concerto, and A.I. duPont Prize-winner Missy Mazzoli, a musical juxtaposition of tenderness and fire, will blow open the show. The Hotel duPont’s opulent Gold Room hosts a little ditty of Piazzola and Tchaikovsky on Oct. 22. Then it gets serious, Tolstoy style, Nov. 15 with “War and Peace,” when the trifecta of Ravel, Nielsen and Beethoven pay stormy homage to ghosts of wars past. If one of your 2020 resolutions is to invest more time in the arts, why not start with the symphony?

Delaware Theatre Company

200 Water St., Wilmington • 594-1104

Calling all sleuths! Sniff this one out: What do you call an exhilarating collision of slapstick comedy, absurdity and silliness brought to the stage with one magnifying glass and a trifecta of theatrical invention? It’s “The Hounds of the Baskervilles,” Delaware Theatre Company style. This three-man production is a makeover of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved entry into the Sherlock Holmes canon. See the spoof Sept. 11–29. Next, “One November Yankee” brings stars Harry Hamlin of “L.A. Law” and Stefanie Powers of “Hart to Hart” to our Wilmington stage. The play, which the Los Angeles Times says, “unfolds like theatrical origami,” explores human connections in the aftermath of a tragic plane crash. Poetic and haunting, this one won’t be easy to shake off once the house lights come up. See it Oct. 23–Nov. 10. Then in December, see “A Christmas Carol” like you’ve never seen it before. The Dickens classic gets a refresh with props, puppets and five actors who challenge the imagination. This pre-holiday treat starts Dec. 4 and runs through Christmas.

The Grand

818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 658-7897 (Admin), 652-5577 (Tickets)

The Grand is all about recognizing fierce women this fall, and we are giving all the snaps. First, how about this one-two punch of musical partnership in the form of Lucinda Williams (Sept. 22) and Rhiannon Giddens with guest pianist Francesco Turrisi on Sept. 28? Cult-favorite albums steeped in Southern Gothic starkness tempered with hope have emerged from Williams’ Lake Charles, Louisiana, world view—rich in culture, poor in resources. With three Grammys to her name, Williams brings her hits to The Grand. Giddens, ostensibly an American folk and traditional artist, brings a world influence to her vocal, banjo and fiddle game—Italian, Mediterranean and West African flavor permeates this duo’s act of music globalization. Celebrate Carole King Nov. 14–17 with “Beautiful,” the musical that narrates her rise to fame; along the way, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation. And Dec. 7 Patti Labelle will be in the house for The Grand Gala. We can’t even sit still writing this sentence. Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister! The party of the season just leveled up. Big time.

First State Ballet Theatre

818 N. Market St., Wilmington • 658-7897, ext. 3851

While not technically “fall,” we couldn’t let this end-of-summer spectacular pass you by—give summer a proper sendoff with an assist from the fancy footwork of the First State Ballet Theatre’s professional dancers. They hit the Freeman Stage at Bayside for a free performance under the stars on Aug. 28. You’ll really want to sink your teeth into the ballet Oct. 18–20, when Transylvania meets tutus in the dramatic staging of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” This world premiere production features award-winning choreographer Viktor Plotnikov. It’ll be a gothic good time. The fan favorite FSBT Upfronts, which offer an intimate, front-stage seat to highlights of the classical repertoire as well as new contemporary work, kicks off at the Baby Grand Nov. 15–16. And of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a FSBT “Nutcracker.” Catch it Dec. 21–Nov. 22 at The Grand.

Lewes History Book Festival

Lewes • Contact

Calling all history buffs, hardcore or casual—join the first town in the first state’s first book festival in the country solely dedicated to history. At the History Book Festival in Lewes Sept. 27–29, you’ll find the work of more than 20 new and established authors of current nonfiction, fiction and children’s literature steeped in history. If that gets your pages turning, check out this one-two keynote punch: Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Washington Post writer Ken Atkinson (author of the year’s buzziest historical nonfiction book, “The British Are Coming”) gets opening address honors, while literary fiction super woman Alice Hoffman—SQUEE!—closes things out with a discussion of her new book, The World That We Knew, a singular entry into the WWII historical fiction canon (we are here for the magical realism.) Get literary in Lewes, and might be best to make this an adults-only outing.

New Candlelight Theatre

2208 Millers Road, Wilmington • 475-2313

Please have your photo ID and boarding pass in hand for The Candlelight Theatre’s fall premiere, “Catch Me If You Can,” the “Mad Men”-era, high-flying adventure based on the true story of grifter Frank Abagnale Jr. As Abagnale cons his way from one situation (and persona) to another, FBI agent Carl Hanratty is hot on his trail. The swingin’ score and outlandish story will leave you rooting for the “bad” guy. This one takes flight Sept. 14 and lands Oct. 20.
Back by popular demand, “Christmas by Candlelight” takes the stage Nov. 16. The yuletide jam session features your favorite holiday tunes, as well as some new surprises, sung by Candlelight faves. Sing through the whole season, if that’s your thing—the last show is Dec. 20.

OperaDelaware

4 S. Poplar St., Wilmington • 658-8063

OperaDelaware is all about making opera accessible. What better way to do so than firing up the request line from the casual environment of their riverfront studios? Oct. 11 and 13, come out to Opera Jukebox. OperaDelaware’s favorite singers—and Aurelien Eulert tickling the ivories—bring your favorite tunes, up close and personal. You can order up your favorites, no pocket change required. Did you know OperaDelaware is gearing up for its 75th anniversary? Their first order of business to note the grand accomplishment is paying homage to its first (and most requested) opera: “Carmen.” Nov. 11–17, Audrey Babcock and Dan Nadel present “Beyond Carmen,” which weaves Old World legend into a 21st-century musical tapestry. The sound will span generations and genre, from classical to tango, medieval to modern.

Rehoboth Art League

12 Dodds Lane, Rehoboth Beach • 227-8408

Art is happening all season long at Rehoboth Art League. “Rehoboth Dreaming” is on display now through Oct. 20. Catch this homage to our dreamy little beach town off-site at the Rehoboth Beach Municipal Building. “Going Deeper: Finding the Inspiration from Within” is local artist Karen Burn’s watercolor and digital tech collaboration steeped in the themes of intention, music and prayer. See it Sept. 6–Oct. 13. Running at the same time is “A Slice of Space: A Stroke in Time,” a two-person tag team from Martie Geiger-Ho and Kong Ho. Geiger-Ho’s ceramic vessel work and Kong-Ho’s floral-spiral paintings show together beautifully. From Oct. 18–Nov. 24, get a side of history with your art at “Most Wanted: Print Making, Public Art and Political Action.” This brainy exhibit features a series of linocuts of Mexican artists engaged in the public arts of painting murals and printmaking as part of the political struggles following the 1910–1920 Mexican revolution.

Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival

107 Truitt Ave., Rehoboth Beach • 645-9095

While we can’t give up all the goods quite yet—that is, what independent film gems will light up the marquee in Rehoboth Beach this fall—we can tell you that you must save the dates of Oct. 31–Nov. 11 for the 2019 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival. Find more than 100 fantastic foreign and indie films at the Mid-Atlantic fall festival for film enthusiasts. If you haven’t been yet, this year marks 22 years of thriving independent film.

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival

1250 Kings Highway, Lewes • 249-0809

Did you know the “Greatest Jazz Festival in the World” happens here? Running for days and featuring 32 artists, the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival goes down in Rehoboth Beach Oct. 17–20. You’ll find more talent at than you can shake a trombone at. Various locations close to the ocean host acts like Gerald Albright (2019 Artist of the Year, anyone?), Boney James, Will Downing, Avery Sunshine, Kayla Waters and more.

UD Museums & Galleries

University of Delaware, 210 S. College Ave., Newark • 831-2792  

Have you ever wanted to pay homage to a clipping of Allen Ginsberg’s beard? What about getting up close and personal to recent mineralogic finds all the way from China? Or read manuscript corrections in Ernest Hemingway’s original handwriting? The University of Delaware Museums & Galleries are stacked this fall, and certainly culturally varied with their offerings. “From Thought into Print: The Creative Process of Publishing” opens Sept. 9. Lit lovers will be astounded at the goods: books and proofs with manuscript corrections by Hemingway; heavily revised proofs and manuscripts by Ishmael Reed; and a scarce original proof copy of Ian Hamilton’s controversial biography J.D. Salinger: A Writing Life. On Sept. 3, catch “The Art of Elizabeth Catlett: From the Collection of Samella Lewis.” With a prolific career spanning more than seven decades, Elizabeth Catlett is widely considered one of the most important African American artists of the 20th century. Her politically charged works blend art and social consciousness, confronting disturbing injustices. See her astounding work at Mechanical Hall Gallery. If you want to rock your world, the University of Delaware’s Mineralogical Museum hosts “Mineral Discoveries, Old Finds and New Mine,” where you’ll find specimens that certainly didn’t travel in economy on their trip from China. Counterculture more your bag? Hang with the Beat authors, opening Sept. 3 at Old College Gallery. “Beat Visions” features rare, one-of-a-kind items ranging from handwritten notes to personal snapshots to, yep, some of Allen Ginsberg’s DNA—which makes a lot of sense, as the Beat movement prized authenticity, spontaneity, spirituality and, above all, experience. All exhibits run through December.

UD Resident Ensemble Players

Box office: cfa-boxoffice@udel.edu • 831-2204

Want to be a voyeur at the family reunion from hell? Then the UD Resident Ensemble Players has you covered with “August: Osage County.” When family patriarch Beverly Watson slips away into a muggy summer night and doesn’t come back, his sister-in-law and three daughters head to the family estate to stabilize the family’s pill-popping, manipulative matriarch, Violet. Wine will be poured. Insults will fly. And decades-old wounds will reopen in this rich, brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning black comedy about family, trauma and going home again. See it Sept. 26–Oct. 13. Mystery lovers, this one’s for you—Hercule Poirot; an opulent, snow-wrecked train; and one very dead passenger amount to an Agatha Christie classic. “Murder on the Orient Express” is a riveting whodunit with just one problem—everyone’s got a damn good alibi. It’s on stage Nov. 7–24.

Winterthur

5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington • 888-4600

Talk about a duel for the ages—this fall at Winterthur, good luck choosing which popular-culture influenced exhibit to partake in. Catch “Costuming the Crown,” which features more than 40 iconic costumes from the Emmy Award-winning Netflix series “The Crown.” With season three of the acclaimed drama anticipated to drop in October, binge all the costumes from season one and two at Winterthur, which is literally the only place on planet earth where you can do so. Getting up close and personal with the crystal beading on the incandescent wedding gown Claire Foy wore as the queen bee is worth the price of admission alone. And Hamilton fans, we’ve got something for you, too—after you see the play in Philadelphia this November, the after party is at Winterthur. “Hamilton and Burr: Who Wrote Their Stories” picks up where the musical leaves off. The exhibition calls on objects from the museum to explain how the legacies of the opponents in the most infamous duel in American history came to be. Be in the room where it happens—both special exhibits run now until Jan. 5.

first state ballet theatre dancers in front of the grand in wilmington

Dancers Rie Aoki and Richy Romero of First State Ballet Theatre./Photo by Sandrien de Bruijn-Mesman