Gabby hits “Annie” at Wilmington Drama League and, inspired, calls on local arts leaders for 2011 highlights. It’s going to be a great year.

Baby, it’s cold outside! To the theater Gabby goes to spend an evening with “Annie” at the Wilmington Drama League. Oh, dearies, the WDL is the perfect antidote to the holiday hectics, especially when the little darlings putting on the ritz are children. They were simply fabulous. Tatum Schutt, the 9-year-old star of the show, was so wonderfully Annie that Gabby dabbed her eyes with a silk Hermes before the first song was even in the books. Becca Smith, bless your little heart. Had the Avon Grove Intermediate School fourth-grader been any more adorable, Gabby might have been brought up on kidnapping charges. She was just a divine little Molly, prancing around all blonde and joyful. Well done, you two.

One thing about the Wilmington Drama League that you might not know, my lovelies—and this is perhaps because you’re simply not going to WDL (tsk tsk to you)—is that it’s delightfully low key, casual and intimate, a welcome change from the exhausting, little-black-dress business a gal goes through to ready herself for most shows.

After a fabulous performance, Gabby got the giddies about what’s to come for the arts this year. So of course she had to pour a cocktail, open her little black book, get on the horn and gab.

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Coming off of an exceptional “Nutcracker” performance in December that teamed First State Ballet Theatre dancers with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, First State board president Robert Grenfell was simply ecstatic. Two things tweaked Gabby’s ear as must-dos. First was First State’s world premiere—as in first in the universe, darlings—of global choreographer star Viktor Plotnikov’s new show, “The Adventures of Pinocchio.” How did little Delaware get so de-lucky? Viktor is an old classmate of artistic director Pasha Kambalov. Robert assures Gabby that “Pinocchio” will be an out-of-this-galaxy performance, and his nose didn’t grow one inch, by golly. It takes center stage in April with performances at The Grand and the Schwartz Center in Dover. But before “Pinocchio” hits, don’t miss your chance to get up close and personal with First State dancers at “Upfront with FSBT,” the premier event for lovers of ballet. The Baby Grand Studio 1 will be set up this month for a mixed-rep performance, followed by cocktails and chitchat with dancers and the board. This year’s highlights for FSBT also include a pirouette down the highway for a mixed-rep performance in Fenwick’s Bayside community.

As much as Gabby wanted to listen to dear Molly Keresztury at the Delaware Art Museum, she couldn’t help tuning out after she uttered a few magical words: Nordstrom. Gala. Sneak-preview shopping. Cocktails. Have mercy, Molly. Delaware Art Museum is a beneficiary of the April 6 gala at the Christiana Mall to fete the opening of the store. With chairs like Governor Jack and Carla Markell and Garrett and Tatiana Copeland, Gabby guarantees a fabulous evening. Now, if you’re good and patient, boys and girls, the museum will celebrate its centennial with a special gala scheduled in November. Molly was aglow with the news. “We’re celebrating Howard Pyle,” she said. “It’s going to be at the museum—and definitely black tie.”

Joan Hoge, formerly of the Delaware Historical Society, has settled in nicely at Hagley, where she works hard but still finds the time to admire the changing of the seasons from her office window. This year features $1 Saturdays through March. Gabby dares you to find something even half as fancy to do for $1. A DuPont weddings exhibit will open next month, covering the first 100 years of DuPont I Dos. Vintage wedding gowns? It’s a can’t-miss for all you fashion nuts. Civil War aficionados will be delighted to know that there will be a large focus on the conflict at Hagley this year, what with 2011 marking the 150th year since the first battle. And back this year, Joan is proud to note, is summer camp. “It will have a Civil War education focus,” she said.

If Carin Brastow had her way, the entire Delaware Valley would repeat the same New Year’s resolution: Rethink opera. The director of development for OperaDelaware had Gabby on her knees—which, dear reader, is not easy to do without spilling one’s martini—and repeating the mantra in hopes of obtaining entree to what Gabby deems the hot-ticket event this gala year: the Opera Ball on February 12. Imagine this: the Hotel du Pont, turned out in turn-of-the-century, high-society Parisian style in celebration of the famous Maxim’s de Paris. Gabby must sit down, for the very thought is making her too giddy to stand (or maybe that’s the martini). A four-night trip to Paris will be auctioned, complete with airfare and, of course, dinner at world famous Maxim’s. Emily Tepe will be on hand to entertain guests. (Has Gabby mentioned how much she loves the opera?) Besides the ball, OperaDelaware’s spring Studio Series presents “Mostly Mozart,” and Carin is proud to announce that the Opera is taking its Studio Series to Rehoboth Beach Arts Center in June. The Opera Bus will be running this year, giving patrons who might not be able to maneuver the streets a way to get to the show. And, of course, “The Merry Widow” takes center stage in May. (“How appropriate,” Carin muses, “a production about a financial meltdown.”)

Things will be huge for the Biggs in 2011. The Biggs Museum of American Art is in line for a facelift that would give Joan Rivers a case of the envies. Think a remodeled first floor, new galleries and studio space for children’s programming, new storage (Gabby bets not for shoes), new flooring—even new lighting. Good thing, because certain shades of light can wreck a girl’s complexion. Cheers to the new remodel, but, drats! The remodeling will make this year’s annual gala a no-go. Marketing guru Sarah DiMondi is bummed, but assures Gabby that the museum has a few smaller parties planned instead.

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Sarah is ready for summer because it’ll bring back one of her favorites: movies on the lawn. “We do this and we see people who we never thought we’d see at an art museum celebrating summer, art and each other,” she said. “It really helps contribute to our goal: to provide a well-balanced arts and culture environment here in Dover.” June will also see “Winescapes,” which will have guys from Anthony’s Coal-Fired pizza firing up pies in the back of a Ford F250, and wine tasting, too. If you can’t wait, April kicks off The Hair Affair, where local salons will compete to see who’s best in the art of hair styling.

Those thespians over at the University bent Gabby’s ear, too. Sanford Robbins, artistic director of Delaware’s only resident professional theatre company, Resident Ensemble Players, is especially excited about his upcoming productions. First up is “The Glass Menagerie,” directed by John Langs, who, Sandy tells Gabby, is the it-boy of young directors in America. Next is “All the King’s Men,” designed by three-time Tony award-winner Eugene Lee, best known for an itty bitty Broadway production called “Wicked.” Most delicious, however, is the April 22 world premiere (two in one column—I die!) of a play written for the REP by Theresa Rebeck, 2010 recipient of the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award. Oh, she only shared the award with the likes of David Mamet. “Theresa is currently developing our script in a series of workshops and readings with our company, and we are very, very excited,” Sandy said. “The play, ‘O Beautiful,’ is a wickedly funny comedy-drama with subject matter ripped from current headlines—gun rights, Tea Party politics, pro-life/pro-choice and the power of today’s media.” Theresa told The New York Times that her plays are about “betrayal and treason and poor behavior. A lot of poor behavior.” An expert in women behaving badly, Gabby is eagerly awaiting that curtain’s rise.

The Brandywine River Museum is joining in on Civil War fun. (To be fair, Gabby does have an entirely different idea of fun, and there ain’t nothing civil about it.) This year sees “Romance in Conflict,” an exhibit of N.C. Wyeth’s Civil War images, including illustrations, murals and more. The exhibition includes work from public and private collections, as well as props and reference materials Wyeth used to create the pictures. Wyeth’s classic “Treasure Island” illustrations will also be on exhibit this year. The “Barry Moser: Bookwright” exhibit runs March to May. “Seeing Red: Southeastern Pennsylvania Earthenware” goes from May to June, in partnership with Winterthur. And fret not, dear hearts, there will be a fete in the fall to celebrate the museum’s fabulous-at-40 birthday. The museum is mum on the theme—scandalous—but in-the-know Lora Englehart assures Gabby from her desk in the media department that it will be spectacular.

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