Crooners, Stompers and Nutcrackers

Chat about Delaware’s arts and entertainment scene.

Welcome to Delaware Today’s arts blog, the spot to dish on the many cultural opportunities available to Delaware audiences. We’ll cover as many genres as possible, and note cool events offered by organizations large and small, in all three counties.

Ode to Buddy…and Marie

“An Evening With The Chirping Crickets” plays November 13-15 at The Delaware Children’s Theatre. This authentic 1959 rock concert recalls the hits of Buddy Holly, including “Peggy Sue” and “Oh Boy.”  Wilmington’s own Bennett Dunn, who plays Holly, starred in the 2000 North American tour of “The Buddy Holly Story.” The Delaware Children’s Theatre vets George Murphy and Kenn Koubek round out the Crickets on upright bass and drums.

Proceeds benefit the great Delaware Children’s Theatre, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. (Thank indefatigable founder and director Marie Swajeski for that.) “We decided to keep our ticket prices as low as possible,” says Dunn, “to allow for a little bit of recreation and escape for just about anyone wishing to travel back in time. We hoped that by doing this, we would appeal to an even larger audience.”  (Tickets are $20.)

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The show will be nostalgic for parents and grandparents, and eye opening for kids. “I sometimes forget how the younger generation has been brought up on Top 40 (music), and rarely ever breaks the binding of a music history book.” The goal of the show, in other words, is to remember when rock was young.
The theater will be converted to a concert stage, complete with professional lighting and sound. Dunn promises a few surprises. Audience participation will be encouraged. Wear dancing shoes.

“We also hope that we’ll bring more awareness about The Delaware Children’s Theatre to our concert-goers, and that it’ll be a successful turnout to allow for the theater to make much-needed renovations,” says Dunn.

Here, here. The theater needs some sprucing up. Efforts are needed to preserve this icon.

Grace Note: Dunn just got a callback for a new Broadway show called “Million Dollar Quartet,” set to open in April 2010. He’s up for the role of Jerry Lee Lewis. Break a leg, Bennett.

Contact info: 655-1014 or

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Page 2: Lollipop, Anyone?


Lollipop, Anyone?

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra offers “The Magic of the Nutcracker” on November 14. The show should be a fabulous precursor to the holiday season, and probably our most creative “Nutcracker” offering. This performance, which features selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker,” brings together the DSO, First State Ballet Theatre and the Wilmington Children’s Chorus. Tina Betz, the City of Wilmington’s director of cultural affairs (and a fine singer), narrates.

The one-hour concert is part of the DSO’s Lollipop Series at The Grand Opera House. There will be an instrument petting zoo for kids one hour before curtain, says DSO spokesman Mark Mobley. “The original narration sets the story in Wilmington.”

“It should be a wonderful preview of “The Nutcracker, with Delaware’s finest orchestra and Delaware’s professional ballet company performing together,” says FSB spokesman Robert Grenfell.

Grace Note: The Wilmington Children’s Chorus offers children of Greater Wilmington the opportunity to excel in choral singing, performance and musical knowledge. Membership is free and open to all interested children, so no child is ever turned away. Artistic director David Christopher founded in 2002 this chorus of 100 male and female singers, ranging in age from 8 to 18. We’ll discuss the chorus’ spring concert soon. Stay tuned.

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Contact info: 652-5577 or

Page 3: Big Reels Keep On Turning


Big Reels Keep on Turning

The Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, scheduled for November 11-15, presents the perfect excuse to drive downstate this weekend. And Rehoboth Beach is beautiful this time of year. Here’s your chance to screen some of the 100 American and foreign films offered at the Movies at Midway. 

Considered a premiere, Mid-Atlantic cultural event, the fest showcases features, documentaries and shorts. The real perk is that you can see all of them in one location. Seminars are typically part of the gig, and the Children’s Cinema Corner offers films for elementary school-aged children.

This year’s films include “Terribly Happy,” “Jury Duty,” and “Moon.”

Here’s the “Moon” premise, provided by fest officials:
“Nearing the end of a three-year contract with Lunar Industries, Sam Bell is counting the days until his return to Earth. The lone occupant of a lunar mining base, Sam monitors the tractors that harvest the moon’s surface for helium energy. Buoyed by sporadic transmissions from his wife and young daughter, he combats monotony and isolation by tending to plants, continuing his predecessor’s woodcraft project, and interacting with the station’s robotic computer, Gerty. But Sam is beginning to unravel mentally. After a hallucination causes him to crash his lunar rover, he wakes up in the sick bay and soon realizes that his life at the base is not what it seems. Moon is a refreshing philosophical and ultimately touching Indie inflection on a genre that too often loses sight of character and story amid the wizardry of its special effects. In confining the story to one man (and his robot), director Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son) and writer Nathan Parker create an intimate and insightful character piece about memory and identity anchored by Sam Rockwell’s perceptive performance; he brings out the heartache, contradictory emotions, and existential terror of a man gradually stripped of the most fundamental sense of who he is. So for all the creativity of its amazing visual design and ode to technology, “Moon” is less about outer than it is about inner space.”

Contact info: 645-9095, or

Page 4: Put a Lid on It


Put a Lid on It

Unless you’ve seen “Stomp,” you probably never thought of a trash can lid as a musical instrument. “Stomp,” which plays at the DuPont Theatre November 13-15, is one of those must-do things in life. You have to experience it at least once.

“Stomp” is not a play, nor is it a traditional musical. It is, instead, a celebration of percussion and dance, performed by talented and toned percussionists and dancers, of course. The sorts of objects we usually disregard, like old newspapers and trash can lids, create the sounds.

The highly choreographed show is dependent on unusual percussive instruments, but the show has evolved into a more structured, theatrical presentation than it was 10 years ago. It’s a popular offering at the DuPont Theatre. “Stomp” is not part of the DuPont’s Broadway subscription series, and it tends to attract younger patrons. That’s a good thing. This is the kind of show that gets future patrons excited about theater.

Apparently, show creators Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas reject the idea that the show is performance art. They’re the founders. They get to describe their show. I’ve seen “Stomp” three times. To me, it is performance, and it is art. It’s also a blast.

Contact info: 656-4401 or


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