Sex! (but it's not what you think…)

“If ‘Anything to Declare?’ has one redeeming quality, it’s laughter,” says director Steve Tague. “The play is all about sex, but sex in a world of old-fashioned innocence where young women remain chaste until their wedding night and husbands would do anything—including a visit to a working girl—to prove how much they love their wives.” “Anything to Declare?” presented by UD’s Resident Ensemble Players, is running now at The Thompson Theatre. Billed as a question—wacky farce or camel drama?—the hilarious play tells the tale of Robert, who, after marrying into the du Pont family, returns from his honeymoon in desperation. “In a French farce, of course, the innocence is wrapped in a wacky story of misplaced pants, mistaken identities, and a whirlwind of zany characters running in and out of lots of doors,” Tague says. “Anything to Declare?” has it all. Unable to fulfill his husbandly duties, Robert must deal with two grandchild-demanding in-laws, a jilted fiancé, a camel dealer, and one very popular and artistic courtesan. This contemporary translation of Maurice Hennequin and Pierre Veber’s classic play is guaranteed to keep you in stitches. Did we mention it happens in Paris in 1912? See it through Dec. 9. 831-2204,


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The Grand Opera House in Wilmington features several great concerts this month—including one by the great Smokey Robinson. Known as the King of Motown, Robinson is both a great writer and a great voice, having written and performed some of popular music’s all-time biggest hits, including  “Tears of a Clown” and “My Girl.” Hear the tunes—and learn a little about his life—on Nov. 20. 652-5577,

Remembering 9-11

Composer Wilson G. Somers has several hopes for “Requiem for 9/11”—to remember victims of the terrorism, to honor men and women who have served in the military, to “restore the vision of the relationship between our heavenly father and this country,” and to raise funds for The Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. “It’s more than just music,” Somers says. “It’s really consciousness building.” Compelled by the attacks—especially by the experience of one of his chorus students at Tatnall School—Somers began writing the traditional mass 10 years ago. All parts of it have been performed as he has written, though the piece won’t have been heard in its entirety until it premieres at The Grand Opera House in Wilmington on Nov. 25. “The modern era really ended in 2001,” Somers says. “Now, in this post-modern era, we’re tryting to figure out what’s real, what’s authentic. I deal with it every day as an educator. How do I give students hope?” Somers is known locally for his “Mass for the Homeless,” which premiered in 1997. Compelled by the suicide of a troubled friend, “Mass,” also 10 years in the making, sold out long before anyone but Somers had heard it and raised $40,000 for local homelessness organizations. With interest growing among corporate sponsors, Somers is hoping production costs of “Requiem” will be covered so that all proceeds from ticket sales can be donated to The Friends of Flight 93. One other hope: That we’re all reminded of how fortunate we are to live in the United States.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

One of the things we love most about the holidays is visiting the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa. First, there’s the model railroad. As many as five of 150 locomotives and 300 freight cars run simultaneously on more than 2,000 feet of track, winding past a village, stone quarry, oil refinery, mountains and waterfall as Santa and his sleigh fly overhead. This year’s display highlights the train experience in Japan after WWII, with model trains by Sakai, Stronlite, Ajin and IMP. Second, there’s the critter ornaments, handmade by local volunteers for sale to support the museum and programs. The decorations will adorn seven trees on the first and third floors, and charming critter scenes will surround the base of the trees and fill display cases. One towering tree, also decorated with critter ornaments, will rise three stories through the central lobby. For sale in the gift shop witll be “Teasel & Twigs, ‘Tis a Critter Christmas Tale” a new children’s picture book about the critter ornaments. This year’s celebration also features “Pop-Up! Illustration in 3-D,” a display of books that range from late 19th-century examples to sophisticated constructions designed by contemporary paper engineers working with noted artist-illustrators like Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola. To show the complexity of the process, the exhibition includes pre-production mock-ups by Chuck Fischer, Edward Gorey and Robert Sabuda. Also on view is “Donald Pywell: Golden Impressions of Andrew Wyeth,” which features exquisitely crafted jewelry by Pywell and inspired by Wyeth’s paintings. Pywell collaborated with Wyeth on the design for each piece. Everything is on display Nov. 23-Jan. 6. As part of A Brandywine Christmas, choral groups from local schools will provide musical entertainment in the second floor lobby throughout December. A complete list of the groups, with the dates and times of their performances, can be found on the museum’s website. (610) 388-2700,

When Christmas Bells are Ringing…

When the seventh annual Chocolate Festival happens at the Rollins Center of Dover Downs Hotel & Casino on Nov. 24, not only will you be able to sample chocolate creations and other foods, you’ll also be able to see the Delaware Hospice Festival of  Trees and see The Capital Ringers perform holiday tunes on handbells. Instrumentals and choral performances will be featured, in addition to dance presentations by Delaware Ballet Company. A highlight: The Dover Symphony Orchestra will perform Ringing in the Holiday Season on Nov. 25. Along with seasonal music, the winner of Youth Concerto Competition, Chelsea Lee, will play one movement of a violin concerto. It’s a special weekend.

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A Holiday Classic

Here’s a show we love: The Possum Point Players production of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas: The Musical,” based on the 1954 Paramount film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. This score features 17 Irving Berlin standards, including “Happy Holiday,” “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing,” “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” and, of course, “White Christmas.” Hear them during PPP’s show Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and Dec. 7-8. The story is this: Veterans Bob Wallace (Kenney Workman of Milford) and Phil Davis (Don Megee of Georgetown) have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, the two follow a duo of beautiful singing sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes (Lorraine Steinhoff of Dover and Deni Robinson of Lewes) to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander, Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Michael Williams of Georgetown), so they decide to put on a show. But you don’t need to go to Vermont. Just head to Georgetown. 856-4560,

A Unique Insight

You know Arden—that wacky place where all the artists live. See how they work during the fourth annual Ardens Artists Studio Tour. It begins with a reception Dec. 7, as part of Wilmington’s Art on the Town, then contines through the weekend. Since its founding in 1900 by sculptor Frank Stephens and architect William Price, Arden has been a haven for visual artists, crafts people, musicians and actors. The three Ardens—Arden, Ardentown and Ardencroft—are Single Tax and Arts & Crafts communities. The Single Tax is an economic theory proposed by Henry George, an economist and philosopher who believed that a land value tax was the most fair and equitable tax. The Ardens also were founded on the ideals of William Morris, as an Arts and Crafts community, a reaction against the industrial revolution that valued handcrafted goods and individualistic design. The Arden Craft Shop Museum still supports this idea. It hosts Afternoon with the Artist one Sunday every month, when a local artist displays his or her work. The studio tour is different. It’s your opportunity to meet and see the artists where they work. Twenty artists are part of this year’s tour, which continues through the weekend, and a group show will be mounted at the Buzz Ware Village Center on Friday night. Lots of work will be for sale. “There is a resurgence of the visual arts in Arden as we artists become more aware of each other,” says longtime Arden artist David Burslem. “The history of Arden as an artist colony is perhaps the reason that our residents and artists alike have been drawn here to live and work. It’s as if the town itself and all of its creative activities have bred a mystical place in which to nurture creativity. Just as our own art that we produce could probably be made anywhere, it’s the acceptance and interest of what we do by the community at large and the contacts that we have with our own community of artists which really allows us to more freely be creative in our own private utopia.” Burslem cites local artists Aurelius Renzetti, Bunni Hurlong, and Ash and Mary Burslem as influences. “When I moved to Arden 19 years ago from Center City Philadelphia I wondered if I would fit in,” says Linda Celestian. Her new surroundings influenced a return to nature-themed work. She also found herself regularly dropping in on friends in their studios, which never happened in the city.  “I love working in the village and being surrounded by so many artists and talented people. I walk into my studio and immediately get lost and totally absorbed in designing and making my jewelry.” says Joy Davis. For a full list of participating artists, scroll to the bottom of this week’s posting.

Simply Beautiful

Now at the Delaware Art Museum, “So Beautifully Illustrated” shows the work of Katharine Richardson Wireman, who studied with Howard Pyle before embarking on a 50-year career as an illustrator. Her illustrations, which often featured domestic scenes, ranged from advertisements and fashion features to children’s books to covers of magazines such as The Country Gentleman. “So Beautifully Illustrated” continues the series of exhibitions focused on the Golden Age of Illustration and the students of Howard Pyle. See it through Jan. 6. 571-9590,

The Moment is Now

 “The Aesthetic Moment: The Art of Still Life” at Delaware Art Museum features 11 regional painters with different styles, but a common love for the genre. The still life arrangements are uniquely perceived and rendered by the artists, then perceived uniquely again by the viewer. The guest curator is Paul DuSold of Philadelphia, who has shown his work widely across the United States over the last 30 years, concentrating on still life. His unerring eye reveals a range of still life subjects, themes and styles that will astound you. See it though Jan. 6. 571-9590,

Young at Art

Don’t miss “Young Country,” a traveling show of art that speaks of place. Organized by DCCA, it hit UArts in Philadelphia and Salisbury University in Maryland before its exhibition in Delaware. “Young Country” examines how artists living in fringe art centers are re-defining ideas of fine art, class, and “country” in America. The exhibition features artists who use rural images and subjects such as horseracing, honkytonks, and homesteading to address how the visual culture of a region shapes perception and identity. The show features work by artists from Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Houston, Seattle, New York, Louisville and Lexington, Kentucky, and other areas. The show grows as it travels. Also showing at DCCA through Dec. 9 is “Natural Forces,” large-scale sculpture and installations of burnt wood, spiraling metallic pieces, and cardboard constructions by Alison Stigora that explores the relationship between the destructive and creative forces of nature. 656-6466,

The Art of Business

Little-known fact: The library at Hagley holds the records of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Hence “100 Years of Picturing the Nation’s Business: Photographs from the Collection of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America,” which celebrates the chamber’s centennial. The exhibition shows famous—and not-so-famous—photos, some capturing significant moments such as reaction to the stock market crash, aftermath of the Dust Bowl and news of the Titanic sinking, some showing iconic companies such as Ford Motor Co. and American Airlines in their earliest days. While you’re there, see “The American Eagle: Symbol of Freedom and Enterprise to the du Pont Family.” The bird was an important symbol, one that Mrs. Louise du Pont Crowninshield collected and displayed in her ancestral home, Eleutherian Mills. The exhibition is on view through Jan. 1. 658-2400, 658-2400,

It’s All About Us

In 1962, the interstate highway system was just getting traction, the Delaware Memorial Bridge had only one span, and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry had not yet set sail. Fifty years later, the state is a much different place, and through it all, Delaware Today has been there to document the changes. See how in “Delaware Yesterday, Delaware Today: 1962-2012” at the Delaware History Center in Wilmington beginning August 18. The exhibit shows how the magazine has evolved from a small black-and-white publication with regular features like the quaint Flo Knows Fashion into the glossy, full-color publication you read today for the latest on great restaurants, the arts, emerging lifestyle trends, home design, interesting personalities and more. Objects from the collection of the Delaware Historical Society round out the story. “Delaware Yesterday, Delaware Today: 1962-2012” is informative, entertaining and nostalgic, and we humbly submit that you’ll find it as interesting as we here at DT do. 655-716,

The participants of the annual Ardens Artists Studio Tour:

Alan Burslem, ceramics

David Burslem, sculptural paintings

Kim Brainard Celis, watercolor paintings

Linda Celestian, paintings and fiber sculptures

Joy Davis, art-to-wear jewelry

Joe del Tufo, photography

Pamela Dennis, fiber arts

Tom Dulin, oil paintings

Phil Fisher, sculpture and art collection

Dolores Pye Josey, ceramics and paintings

Dick Lebeis, SilverWear jewelry

Rhys McClure, paintings and drawings

Russ McKinney, copper embossings

Ashley Messatzzia, photography

Eleanore Morrow, paintings and silk scarves

Mary Mosaic, jewelry and clothing

Erica Orr, ink and watercolor

Jeanne Orr, paintings

Marge Roberts, paintings

Jen Saemann, acrylic and watercolor paintings

Dotty Verne, paintings

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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