Two Words: du Pont and Camels

“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, opens at The Thompson Theatre on Nov. 17. 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 fiancée, 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,

Fantastic Folk

Tom Paxton is one of the great songwriters of the last century and will be reckoned as one of the greats in this new century, as well, says Melissa Lim of Delaware Friends of Folk. See Paxton play at the Wesley College Chapel in Dover on Nov. 17. Paxton has made his mark on music not only through hit records and awards, but by the admiration of three generations of fellow musicians. Beloved around the world, he has always chosen goodwill over commercial success. This is the man who wrote and lives the words, “Peace will come, and let it begin with me,” and his generosity has taken such shape as a benefit concert for a little girl fighting leukemia. You can see why the Friends promise a special show. Attendees are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items and toiletry items for the Food Bank of Delaware and used musical instruments for Delaware Charitable Music Inc. 827-3655,

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A Dazzling Debut

Mélomanie makes its long-awaited debut in Sussex County at All Saints’ Church in Rehoboth Beach on Nov. 18. The chamber group is popular for modern interpretations of baroque music and baroque-ish interpretations of modern music. Sunday’s concert will present two contemporary selections by Delaware composers, “Pavane-Variations” by Ingrid Arauco and “Dumgoyne” by Jennifer Margaret Barker, as well as traditional works by Rameau, Telemann and Paxton. The partnership includes a performance for the 9:30 a.m. service on Heritage Sunday at the historic St. George’s Chapel and a full concert at All Saints’ at 2 p.m. It’s a concert you won’t soon forget. 764-6338,

Remembering 9-11

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Composer Wilson G. Somers has several hopes for “Requiem for 9/11”—to remember victims of 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. 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.

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. First, there’s the model railroad. As many as five of the 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. Finally, the new Music on the Brandywine program will feature clarinetist Benito Meza and pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine on Nov. 15. Meza, from Columbia, has appeared with the Boston Philharmonic, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, Washington, D.C.’s Modern Music Set, the Los Angeles Wind Ensemble, and on Harvard University’s Chamber Music series. Russian-American pianist Alexandre Moutouzkine has toured Europe, Russia, North and South America, China and Japan, appearing as a soloist with the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Television Orchestra of Spain, Cleveland Orchestra, Louisiana Philharmonic, Valencia Philharmonic, the National Symphonic Orchestra of Cuba, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic. Their performance will dazzle. 610-388-2700,

You’re Killin’ Us

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 “Murdered to Death” is Peter Gordon’s spoof of every Agatha Christie murder-mystery ever written. The scene is an English country manor house. The crime is a murder, of course. When the police are called, who should arrive but a clumsy detective and his sidekick constable. Do they see the obvious? If you like the Pink Panther movies, this is your cup of tea. See it through Nov. 17 at Kent County Theatre Guild in Dover. 800-838-3006,

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. 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,

All About Fun

New from The Grand: Operation Fun Pass, a statewide program that gives local arts, entertainment and cultural attractions a way to donate coupons, discounts, free passes, and gift certificates to active-duty military and their families. More than 25 cultural organizations, museums, and theaters are already participating. At The Grand, that means buy-one-get-one-free tickets for select performances. To raise awareness of Operation Fun Pass, The Grand is asking the public to submit photos and a brief biography of family members and friends who are serving or have served in the military. The information will then be posted on The Grand’s social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Blogger) as a salute to the brave local men and women protecting our country. The photos will also be displayed in a slideshow on The Grand’s YouTube page and may be used during The Grand’s pre-show slideshows and The Grand’s annual fundraiser, The Grand Gala. The Grand will accept submissions for “A Grand Troops Salute” until Nov. 20.  Just e-mail your submissions to communications manager Sara Sultanik at ssultanik All the best.

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

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