The Big Arts Preview: Must-See Exhibits, Musicals and More

Here’s the scoop on the hottest events coming your way.


You won’t believe the things coming your way this fall. Fan of the Netflix royal smash “The Crown”? Winterthur knew that—which is why the museum is exhibiting some VIP pieces straight from the show’s wardrobe. Fan of Kevin Smith? Then snoochie boochies, friend, you will be psyched for what the new management over at The Queen has planned for you in November—including Cheap Trick. Tape Face of “America’s Got Talent” fame cameos at The Grand. A fairy-tale one-two punch of Cinderella and Belle will put some twinkle in your eyes. First State Ballet’s lineup will put some twinkle in your toes. Mark your datebooks.


- Advertisement -

Biggs Museum of American Art


All you’ll do is win, win, win when you check in to the Biggs’ Award Winners exhibit, which features the stellar talent of every Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist Fellow. The victory parade runs until Oct. 22. Since you’re already there, you’d be silly to miss the work of the creative powerhouse duo of husband and wife Christo & Jeanne-Claude. Talk about spousal property: The exhibit chronicles their work over a 40-year period. See it through Oct. 22.

Sept. 15-17 offers a little something different at the Biggs—a fundraiser showcasing the work of many a green thumb. The designs of professionals and local garden clubs will be on display, with creations inspired by the Biggs Museum works of art. Be sure to return for the Delaware By Hand juried exhibition Nov. 3-Jan. 21. If you’ve yet to be introduced to the work of Delaware by Hand, you can say hello to the Biggs resident artist members.

Brandywine River Museum of Art

Chadds Ford

You have until Sept. 17 to see more than 100 of Andrew Wyeth’s finest works, culled from major national museums and private collections, as a celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday. The work in the third-floor gallery definitely makes a splash. Oct. 14-Jan. 7, see how Brooklyn artist Dylan Gauthier, who spent a year in residence at the museum, transformed a gallery into a four-channel, 4K video installation, with an accompanying original sound composition, that narrates the path of a single drop of water down Brandywine Creek. Gauthier combines video, sculpture, performance and digital media to explore the natural world of the creek.

The Candlelight Theatre


Fall means funny when Fanny Brice takes over The Candlelight Theatre. The “Funny Girl” herself headlines Sept. 16-Oct. 22. Iconic songs like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “I’m the Greatest Star” make it easy to see why this show was nominated for eight Tony Awards. While we can’t promise Babs, we can promise one of the most fabulous female roles ever written for the musical stage. Another girl takes over Nov. 11-Dec. 23—a most peculiar mademoiselle. We’re talking the French fairy-tale extraordinaire, “Beauty and the Beast.” 

Clear Space Theatre Company

Rehoboth Beach

Anyone who tells you nothing goes on at the beach after Labor Day weekend has never been to Clear Space Theatre. The playbill is packed until the new year. “Wit” kicks off the fall season Sept. 22-Oct. 8. Vivian Bearing a John Donne fanatic, has dedicated her life to teaching his brilliant yet difficult sonnets. After a cancer diagnosis, however, she has no choice but to reassess her life, with much humor and profundity. (Expect a fair share of word play.) Next up is “The Fantasticks,” and we have but one simple request: Close your eyes, use your imagination, and follow us into a world of magic and moonbeams as the tale of boy falls in love with girl (until their fathers get involved) unfolds. It’s quite romantic, so make it a date night. The show runs Oct. 20-29. Nov. 10-12, get out the Windex and shine up your glass (slippers, that is) for “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” Talk about a fairy-tale fall. And it only gets better with “Miracle on 34th Street.” We’ve been to Macy’s. It’s magical, so who can blame little Susan for thinking the department store Santa is the real deal? Get pumped for the holidays Nov. 24-Dec. 10. 

- Partner Content -

Delaware Art Museum


If you’re into the idea of a beautifully complicated sculpture called “Divorced Beheaded Died,” comprised of ceramic, wood, freshwater pearls, quartz, Swarovski crystals, metal, gold leaf and oil paint, the museum has got a guy for you. “Tableau: The Art of Richard Cleaver” is on display Sept. 16-Jan. 7. Cleaver creates elaborate sculptures full of hidden compartments to capture the lives and secrets of his muses. You really have to see his sumptuously decorated work to believe it. “The Fabric of Life: Works in Fiber by the Harmony Weavers Guild” features fabrics for public spaces, for wearable art and for the home, which members have been producing since 1971. See it Sept. 30-Jan. 14. If you’d like to take a four-city tour this fall that includes Philadelphia, New York City, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Gloucester, Massachusetts, start at the Delaware Art Museum beginning Oct. 21 for “An American Journey: The Art of John Sloan.” The exhibit includes his works inspired by the locales on our itinerary, plus other works—nearly 100 drawings, prints and paintings produced between 1890 and 1946. See it until Jan. 28. 

The Delaware Contemporary


One thing you can never say about The Delaware Contemporary is that it’s short on, well, anything. With new exhibits every month or more throughout the fall, you won’t miss a medium. Through Oct. 15, Ola Rondiak’s paintings—which stem from her family’s experiences living in Ukraine, the events of WWII and Stalin’s Iron Curtain, among other influences—are on display. Native Delaware daughter Monique Rollins checks in through Nov. 19 with “Eastern Poesia,” paintings inspired during her time in China. And Adam Ledford urges “Don’t Worry About the Government” Sept. 5-Dec. 3, with his clay work taking center stage.

Delaware Shakespeare Festival


Last fall, the folks at the Delaware Shakespeare Festival kicked off a professional production of “Pericles” at community centers, homeless shelters, detention facilities and other locations across the state as part of its mission to expose the arts to the underserved. It worked. This year’s installment is “As You Like It,” and you can like it—for free—all over the state Oct. 25-Nov. 9. The weekend of Nov. 10-12, “As You Like It” lands at OperaDelaware Studios with a special Saturday night benefit performance.

Delaware Symphony Orchestra


The musical fall at DSO kicks off Sept. 15 at The Grand, with a David Amado-helmed concert that features the OG work in the symphonic repertoire: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. (Catch it downstate Sept. 17 at Cape Henlopen High School in Lewes.) Also on tap for the September concerts are Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1, “Classical,” and the Mozart Concerto for Flute and Harp, with DSO soloists Kim Reighley, flute, and Sarah Fuller, harp. The rest of the Classics Series at The Grand will happen Nov. 17, Jan. 27, March 63 and May 18. The Chambers Series begins Oct. 17 with the music of Mozart and Ravel and the Brahms Piano Quintet, with pianist Lura Johnson and members of the DSO. Dec. 12 promises a holiday treat—the Suite from “The Nutcracker.” Feb. 20, DSO will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. with a selection of spirituals sung by bass-baritone Kevin Deas and Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” 

Delaware Theatre Company


DTC’s season opener, “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” is not a send-up of “Macbeth,” but a look at the small-town Midwest of 1938, when 13-year-old besties Jim Nightshade and William Halloway get the spook of their lives when a mysterious traveling circus comes to town. See it Sept. 13-Oct. 8. On Oct. 25, meet Jack Johnson in “Dare to Be Black: The Jack Johnson Story.” Before Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, there was boxing champion Johnson. He captured the hearts—and in some cases the hatred—of crowds. Though it has been more than a century since Johnson stepped into the ring for his blockbuster bout, his quest for equality has never seemed more timely. It runs through Nov. 12. Back to The Bard: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged”—all 37 plays presented in 97 minutes—runs Nov. 29-Dec. 23. This irreverent, fast-paced romp through comedy and tragedy will be like nothing you’ve seen before. Take that, CliffsNotes. 

- Advertisement -

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino


The fall at Dover Downs is pretty stacked. First up, veteran actor, comedian and OG of the fist bump Arsenio Hall hits the stage Sept. 22. Southern rock band legends 38 Special rocks the Rollins Center Oct. 13. Get your dancing shoes out for the Glenn Miller Orchestra on Oct. 27—the big noise will cause big moves. And Dec. 7, the Texas Tenors bring some tannenbaum twang with a special Christmas concert. 

First State Ballet Theatre


The 18th season of First State Ballet Theatre means one thing: a serious case of twinkle toes from Wilmington to the beach. Catch “Giselle” at the Baby Grand Oct. 21-22. The transcendent love story follows an innocent village girl transformed into a tender spirit after dying of a broken heart. With its hauntingly beautiful ensemble of white tutus, its classical technique and its heartbreaking romance, “Giselle” is seriously on pointe. Get intimate with the ballet Nov. 17-18 at Up Front, where a small, select audience is graced with a gorgeous performance of classical and contemporary moves. What holiday season would be complete without “The Nutcracker”? Catch it at The Grand Dec. 22-23. Feb. 17-18 boasts double the dance. Check out “Paquita,” which blends Spanish flair with exquisite classicism to create one of the beautiful and enduring masterpieces in the ballet repertoire, and “The Young Lady and the Hooligan,” based on Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 1918 film about a street criminal transformed through his love of a young teacher. 

The Grand Opera House


One of comedian Josh Blue’s claims to fame is putting the cerebral in cerebral palsy. The former “Last Comic Standing” champ has an undeniable likability and brings a flair for brilliant improvisation every time he takes the stage. He’s at the Baby Grand on Sept. 15. When Eric Clapton calls a guy “the best guitar player alive,” you need to see him. Buddy Guy returns to The Grand on Oct. 9. He’s 80, but you wouldn’t know it. New Zealand’s Tape Face is wowing the world with his innovative take on mime work. See his shtick at The Grand Oct. 14. A capella phenom Straight No Chaser celebrates over 20 years on Oct. 29. Nov. 18 belongs to the King of Pop when “Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson” moonwalks in. 



Welcome to OperaDelaware’s fall season–or should we say, HoperaDelaware? The organization kicks off the fall with a little hop in its step: “Opera Uncorked: Arias, Ambers and IPAs.” You might have mastered what brew best pairs with what burger, but if you want to be a connoisseur of pairing your favorite adult beverages with operatic highlights, raise a glass on Oct. 20 and Oct. 22. Follow it with “Werther,” the Jules Massenet opera, based on Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” Nov. 18-19. 

The Playhouse on Rodney Square


Did you know that at one particular intersection, the yellow brick road goes left to Emerald City but hooks a right to The Playhouse? One royally red pair of heels takes center stage Nov. 14 when “The Wizard of Oz” national tour makes a stop. Dorothy and her friends will only be here for a limited engagement, so stop in before the ruby reds head elsewhere after Nov. 19. Ring in the holiday season with Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Dec. 10. Then, let the mind-blowing moves from “The Illusionists,” Broadway’s best-selling magic show, give ole’ Kris Kringle a run for his money Dec. 21-23. “Cabaret” and “Dirty Dancing” sashay into town in March and April. 

The Queen


The Queen may be under new management, but it’s rocking the same, as always—loudly and wonderfully. The Rock Orchestra presents its one-of-a-kind take on The Beatles Sept. 16. Take it slow and easy with an acoustic evening with rock band Parachute on Sept. 17. Comedian Jim Breuer stops in Oct. 27. The evening of Nov. 2 belongs to Kevin Smith—the Kevin Smith of “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy,” “Clerks” and, of course, Jay and Silent Bob fame. Snoochie boochies! The comedian, podcaster, actor, filmmaker and comic-book geek delivers a one-man show. We want you to want Cheap Trick when the rock band brings its talents to Wilmington Nov. 16—perhaps just in time to hear a sample from its upcoming Christmas album? 

Rehoboth Art League

Rehoboth Beach

Art is happening all season long at Rehoboth Art League. Enjoy a triple-threat Oct. 13-Nov. 12 when “Mixed Metaphors,” “Abandoned Places” and “Conversations” all share exhibition space. Nov. 4-5, get a jump on your holiday shopping at the 28th Annual Holiday Fair and Fine Craft Show. The Members’ Sales Gallery goes down Nov. 17-Dec. 31. 

Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival

Rehoboth Beach area

Save the dates of Nov. 2-12 for the 2017 Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival. You can see more than 100 fantastic foreign and indie films. Theme to come, so stay tuned. And by the way, if you haven’t been yet, this year marks 20 years of thriving independent film. 

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival

Rehoboth Beach

Did you now the “Greatest Jazz Festival in the World” happens in our little state? It goes down in Rehoboth Beach Oct. 12-15. You’ll find more talent at the festival than you can shake a trombone at. Various locations close to the ocean host acts like Boney James, 2017 Grammy Award-winner Lalah Hathaway, Keiko Matsui, Rick Braun, Nick Colionne and more. 

UD Department of Music


The fall music repertoire kicks off Sept. 15 with visiting guest artist Calidore String Quartet, winner of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and the International Chamber Music Competition Grand Prize, the largest prize for chamber music in the world. Check out how hard the faculty can funk when the teachers do a little hands-on work at the Faculty Gala Sept. 23 and the Faculty Jazz Concert Oct. 16. Some world-class artists are dropping in, like violinist James Stern on Oct. 15, and, direct from the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, principal horn Julie Landsman Oct. 28. The wildly popular Chamber Orchestra Cinema Symphony Series picks back up with Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lodger” on Oct. 20. It’s a sublime experience to watch a silent film with live orchestral accompaniment.

UD Resident Ensemble Players


“The Mountaintop” opens the season for the university’s REP Sept. 14-Oct. 8. The play takes you through a fictionalized imagining of the last evening of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. On that night, King retires to his quiet room in the Lorraine Motel, exhausted after delivering his famous “Mountaintop” speech. A chance meeting with an enthusiastic maid leads him to reflect on his achievements and all the work he has left to do. “From the Author Of…” debuts Nov. 9 and ends its run Dec. 3. After her new book recounting stories of self-inflicted homelessness is labeled a publicity stunt, Meredith Renner is publicly scorned. The PR fix? Meredith takes in a real homeless person with the goal of rehabilitating her. REP resident playwright Chisa Hutchinson is behind this blunt, insightful and amusing play, but warning: mature audiences only. Swing into spring with Shakespeare’s classic comedy of mistaken identity and unrequited love, “Twelfth Night,” April 19-May 6. 



Frauds! Fakes! Trickery! Deceit! No, it’s not an election year, but Winterthur is resplendent with fakes in its current exhibition, “Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes,” through Jan. 7. You’ll learn the sordid tale of one of New York’s oldest and most reputable art galleries, shut down after selling a cool $60 million in forgeries. You’ll see the fake Babe Ruth glove that sold for $200,000. And what about that fake 1787 bottle of Chateau Lafitte purportedly owned by Thomas Jefferson that Bill Koch bought? Catch these and more fakes at this scandalous exhibit. Opening Sept. 9 is a sure-to-be parent fave, “Go to Your Room!” a display of vintage materials dating back to the 1870s that showed how to design spaces with youth in mind. In the tradition Winterthur began with its gorgeous “Downton Abbey” exhibits comes “Eye on the Iconic: Royal Splendor,” in which the replica Queen Elizabeth II coronation gown (as seen on the Netflix series “The Crown”) is on display Oct. 20-Jan. 7. Stay tuned for further “Eye on the Iconic” installments, which will feature one singular item worth all the fuss. 

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

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.