Showing posts with label Grand Opera House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Opera House. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Wilmington 1968: New Website Empowers Community Reflection

This post content comes from a press release from the Delaware Art Museum...

Twenty area organizations collaborated to launch the Wilmington 1968 website, a tool for community reflection. Via, Delawareans can access community resources that teach about the local Civil Rights Movement through words and pictures, and address present-day racial and social justice issues. Additionally, the community can share memories of their own to contribute to cross-generational conversations about this historic event. These oral histories will be archived for future generations. The Wilmington 1968 website will also serve as a hub for information about related exhibitions, performances, events, and forums. It will be available to the community through January 2019.

Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Wilmington high school students converged on Rodney Square. Subsequent to these protests, looting and fires prompted a request for the National Guard to restore peace. Although other American cities experienced the same level of uprising after April 4, 1968, Wilmington, Delaware experienced the longest peace-time occupation in modern times. Wilmington remained under martial law for nine and a half months. This extensive patrol of Wilmington by the National Guard drastically changed the city from the inside out. Residents went about their days and nights watched, restricted, angry, and fearful. Numerous businesses along Market Street closed.

If it is true that we are destined to repeat the lessons we haven't learned, today's youth are adamant that we will not get left back. Youth-led movements such as #NeverAgain-nationwide protests stemming from the latest school shootings-are taking center stage in our social consciousness and awaking a new generation of activists. 

In 2017, Simone Austin (2017 Alfred Appel, Jr. Curatorial Fellow with the Delaware Art Museum; current graduate student, University of Delaware, History Department), was instrumental in bringing this shared history to the forefront as the primary contemporary researcher on these events for the Delaware Art Museum's summer exhibition series. 

The community-wide reflection beginning this spring will bring "both answers and questions," says Austin. "People of my generation and those who are not from Wilmington will start to understand what happened, why Wilmington looks the way it does today, and why people have certain perceptions of the City of Wilmington and of Delaware. I also think in terms of questions because the work that I've done is not the end. There are so many stories that just aren't found in traditional sources and I'm hoping that more people will come forward and share their experiences."

The Wilmington 1968 partners see the upcoming events, performances, and forums as ways to constructively process the physical and emotional toll on our city stemming the uprising and its aftermath. Our community needs to know that we, representatives of the arts & culture community, are not oblivious and unaffected by this quest for healing, and support all Wilmingtonians as they contribute to these necessary cross-generational conversations about race and reconciliation.
Drawing inspiration from the protest art of the 1960s, Squatch Creative — the design firm that created the Wilmington 1968 website — blends technology and art to empower activism. Marcus Price, the site designer, shared, "While creating the aesthetic for the Wilmington 1968 remembrance, I wanted to do justice to the people who lived through this experience. It's different than creating a website for a product or a brand. It was an entire movement and people. I wanted to be sure that I honored that and the spirit involved." 

Partner Organizations in Wilmington 1968 project:

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Grand Announces 2015 Summer Children's Theater Schedule

This information taken from release courtesy of The Grand Opera House...

The Grand Opera House is pleased to announce its 2015 schedule for Summer Children Theater that will celebrate 20 years of free entertainment for the kids! Over the past two decades, The Grand has served more than 200,000 children from across the region and we're still going strong! The Grand’s Summer Children’s Theater presents a variety of fun and engaging performances each season with free admission (a suggested donation of $5 per person is requested for reserved seating).

This year promises more exciting performances for all ages – with comedy and juggling, music and dancing, unique adventures and larger-than-life characters! The shows are designed to introduce children to the excitement of live entertainment. Most shows are appropriate for children from preschool through middle school, and all of them are perfect for schools, summer camps, daycares, and families. The Grand also offers the chance for local students to audition with Missoula Children’s Theatre and perform on The Grand’s stage.  All shows are performed at The Grand, 818 N. Market Street in Wilmington.

2015 Summer Schedule
MARK NIZER 4D  A new dimension in entertainment!
Thursday, July 2, 10:00am & 1:00pm

HOT PEAS ‘N BUTTER  As seen on Nick Jr!Thursday, July 9, 10:00am & 1:00pm

REGGY’S CARIBBEAN ADVENTURE  Reggy the Purple Party DudeThursday, July 16, 10:00am & 1:00pm

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK  Delaware Children’s TheatreThursday, July 23, 10:00am & 1:00pm

BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE  Missoula Children’s TheatreFriday, July 31, 1:00pm & 7:00pm

Running time for all shows is approximately one hour. Tickets are only $5 (suggested donation), and seats may be reserved by making your donation in advance. If you prefer to bring your donation on the day of the show, you will be given the best seats available at the time of your arrival.

To make a reservation with your advance donation, visit The Grand’s website at to download and complete a reservation form, then return with your payment. For other questions, please contact Nora Reilly at (302)658-7897 ext. 3201 or


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Tradition Continues with Carols in Color

Photo: Eleone Dance Company

Few holidays shows are as inspiring as Carols in Color, a Holiday Dance Music Celebration, performed in Wilmington by Eleone Dance Theatre and presented by Christina Cultural Arts Center and Revive the Village. For 22 years, the show, a spectacular telling of the Biblical Christmas story with an African American Gospel flavor, has graced area stages. Whether the show is performed in a high school auditorium or a big proscenium theater, it always delivers. This year, the Wilmington show was performed at The Grand Opera House downtown to a packed room, including many local children and families, some of whom were gifted with tickets through CCAC.

That generosity is part of Eleone Dance Theatre Artistic Director Shawn-Lamere Williams' mission. "We must invest in our children," he said after the show. "There's a saying, 'It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.' Today it takes a World to Raise a Child."

Funds raised from Carols in Color and its sponsors, including United Way of Delaware, Delaware Division of the Arts, AstraZeneca, Black Heritage Education & Theatre Group, Center Wilmington Early Learning Readiness Team, and Delaware Office of Early Learning, help to support Christina Cultural Arts Center Education Programs.

For the uninitiated, Carols in Color is an original production of the Eleone Dance Company in Philadelphia, conceived by the company's founder, E. Leon Evans, II. It combines modern dance and a live Gospel chorus, as well as music from various gospel artists, to tell the Christmas story starting from Gabriel's first visit Mart?. Several local students of Christina Cultural Arts Center? also participate in the show.

The first act of Carols in Color focuses on the confusion, helplessness and hardship Mary and Joseph faced as they dealt with her very unexpected pregnancy. Most of the first act is comprised of beautiful solo dances -- performed this year by Anthony Rhodes as Gabriel, Dara J. Meredith as Mary, Matthew Thomas as Joseph and A'aliyah Khan as the Angel of God -- with their voices sung by Jeremy Isaac, Tina Finks/Germaine Downing, Kairi Guinn and Tia McNeil, respectively. Songs include "What Shall I Do," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and "No Place To Go."

The second act opens with "Go Tell It On The Mountain," as Mary presents the baby Jesus, played by little Dakota Meredith. The celebration continues with "Hallelujah" from Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, "The First Noel," "Silent Night," with "Angels We Have Heard On High" finishing the show with the entire cast of dancers and singers on stage.

If you missed this year's celebration, be sure to catch it next year, when the company will continue the tradition for the 23rd year. For more information on how to support Christina Cultural Arts Center and Carols in Color, go to and

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wilmington Youth Jazz Band Wins "IN THE SPOTLIGHT"

Release courtesy of The Grand Opera House, June 12, 2013
The Wilmington Youth Jazz Band. Photo by Nancy JL Powel.
The Grand Opera House has announced the winner of its 2013 In The Spotlight talent competition. Wilmington Youth Jazz Band took the top honor in a juried finale earlier this month.

In The Spotlight, which has been presented regularly by The Grand over the last five years, holds a unique place in local/regional talent competitions, because it does not focus exclusively on singing or even music but presents the diverse talents of all those who audition. Both the preliminary qualifying rounds and the finale are decided by a panel of local judges with experience in the performing arts.

As the 2013 winner, Wilmington Youth Jazz Band received not only the bragging rights winning but also a $150 cash prize from The Grand and the opportunity to perform a showcase at the historic downtown venue during the upcoming season.  The band also received a $700 prize package that included donated gifts from several area merchants including the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Delaware Natural History Museum, Winterthur, Harry’s Hospitality Group, Hockessin Athletic Club and Dogfish Head Brewery and Restaurant.

“All of the finale acts could be considered winners,” says Pamelyn Manocchio, Director of Community Engagement at The Grand, “because they all get the opportunity to perform on the stage of Copeland Hall, where so many legendary performers have stood before them. But, Wilmington Youth Jazz Band impressed the judges more than any others.”

For more information about In the Spotlight, visit

Monday, July 23, 2012

Aubrey Plaza Returns to Wilmington to Premiere Her Latest Film

Aubrey Plaza on the red carpet. Photo: Holly Quinn
Wilmington is not exactly movie premiere central. Jeremy O'Keefe's wrestling premiered in Wilmington in 2008, and Luke Matheny's 2011 Oscar-winning short film "God of Love" was celebrated with a special local screening, but such big-screen events are few and far between. So, when Wilmington's own Aubrey Plaza (star of NBC's "Parks and Recreation") decided to bring her first leading role in a feature film to Delaware for a red carpet premiere, it was a pretty big deal.

Delaware almost didn't get the film, Safety Not Guaranteed, on the big screen. After a successful debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, it was slated to open in select theaters across the country this summer. Unfortunately, none of those theaters were in Plaza's home state. "That was not OK," she said from the stage of the Grand Opera House before the screening, looking stunning in a little black dress. So, with the help of what seems like half of Wilmington (including but not limited to The Wilmington Drama League, The Grand, Theatre N, Ursuline Academy, AIDS Delaware, Delaware Community Foundation, McConnell Johnson, and PSCI), the Delaware premiere of Safety Not Guaranteed became a reality. The event was to be more than a screening: All of the proceeds from the tickets, which ranged from $20 for the movie and Q&A to $125 for a VIP experience including a meet-and-greet reception and afterparty, would go to The Wilmington Drama League.

The choice of beneficiary, said Plaza, was easy. The WDL was her "home away from home" growing up, where she performed with the Chrysalis Players and honed the skills that would eventually shape her career as a professional actress. She reminisced about Delaware with humor and charm, as she was joined onstage by WDL fixture Kathy Buterbaugh. Governor Markell presented her with "naming rights" to any unnamed space in Delaware (he would have simply named a plaza after her, but, he explained, it's not that easy -- "You've all seen 'Parks and Recreation,'" he quipped.) "They'll regret this," Plaza said of her newfound power with a smile.

As for the movie itself, it's funny, moving and unpredictable, with the kind of plot that reminds you that, with an endless parade of remakes, sequels and reboots on the screen this summer, there are still original ideas out there. If you missed the screening, keep an eye out for its home video release. It will be worth the wait.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OperaDelaware opens with Magic Flute

Although they had produced Mozart’s Magic Flute in the recent past, OperaDelaware put a new spin on this latest production. They started in an 18th Century art museum and had Prince Tamino wake up in the 1950s. This made way for some silliness which was fun and still in keeping with the comic intent of the master who created it.

Alok Kumar played Tamino with the same strength and vigor he had given to Alfredo Germont in last year’s La Traviata. His very strong voice and thorough preparation for the role made his character believable in spite of the extremes to which the opera goes to promote the principles of the Masons.

The three ladies of the Queen of the Night (Veronica Chapman-Smith, Melody Wilson and Charlotte Paulsen) stole the show for me with their close harmony, perfectly paced singing and gestures. Their comic romps were hilarious and kept everyone laughing.

The ladies were perfect foils for Papageno, brilliantly played by Sean Anderson. Anderson is not only an excellent singer, but also a great comic. He actually played harmonica rather than letting the orchestra dub his miming, and this bolstered the effect of his comic role. His voice blended seamlessly in his duet with Pamina (Susan Nelson) and his comic verve provided a vector for her to show her comic side, too.

Susan Nelson has a beautiful and well-trained voice and was able to convey a wide gamut of emotion in her singing and her acting. She has control, expression and strength enough to come through strong and clear in her duets with Tamino, the musical culmination of the show.

A fun and polished performance supported by an excellent orchestra was made all the more immediate to me by Stefan Kozinksi and Nicolas Muni’s skillfully wrought English translation of Emanuel Schikander’s original German. The next performances are Friday, November 4 and Saturday, November 5 at 7:30 at the Grand Opera House.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Night of Music & Friends for the Arts in Wilmo!

Last night, Wilmington and the Baby Grand on Market Street were buzzing from the energy of a killer concert for two excellent causes. The Joe Trainor Trio (Joe Trainor, vocals/piano/keyboard, Kevin Neimi, bass & Jeff Dement, drums) are fantastic local musicians with huge philanthropic hearts.  They put together a blowout tribute to the music of Billy Joel with a few of their most talented friends, and their performance was a benefit for The Arts Academy at the Grand and City Theater Company (CTC). 

Billed as JT3 & friends present the music of Billy Joel, the evening featured musicians Chuck Kuzminski (lead guitar); Kerry Kristine McElrone (vocals); Jill Knapp (vocals/percussion/saxophone) & Matt Casarino (vocals/guitar/saxophone), who are known as the musical duo Hot Breakfast.  Special guest performers were CTC Artistic Director Michael Gray (vocals), Melissa Joy Hart (vocals), Stephen Manocchio (guitar/harmonica) and Gordon Holmes (vocals).  It was quite a full stage, and this musical gang had the near-capacity crowd hooting, clapping and eventually dancing in the aisles.  It was also clear that the group enjoys performing together: laughing, dancing and mugging to the crowd and each other throughout the sets.

The whole show was awesome (several folks commented to me afterward that they were "totally blown away"), but the highlights for me were, in no particular order:
  • Matt Casarino's "Billy the Kid" performance
  • The group performance of "Only the Good Die Young"
  • Gordon Holmes' kickass cover of "Pressure" (photo at right)
  • The rousing closing performance of "Piano Man"
Trainor is tremendously talented in so many respects.  He's fun to watch, his voice moves you, and he has an incredible knack for aligning musicians to produce a knockout musical punch.  (I sat next to his former music teacher during the show, and she was just beaming.)  JT3 and this collection of musicians are local gems that I think everyone should celebrate---for their talent but also their willingness to share it for the greater good of the Arts in Wilmington!