The Delaware Theatre Co. has had rough going with bad weather causing them to cancel Sunday’s performance of its Christmas offering, “The Story of My Life,’ with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram and the book by Brian Hill. Unlike most of the theatrical offerings at Christmas, this is a play with a serious message. This is the story of two friends in a small town who are inseparable until one, Tom, an author, currently with writer’s block, leaves for college and a more sophisticated life. The other, Alvin, stays in the small town and runs the family bookstore after his father dies. They lose touch until Alvin falls off a bridge and is killed, and Tom is asked to do the eulogy but finds he has great difficulty as they have been separated too long. There are many musical numbers in this piece, but none remains with the listener. There are some fine lyrics “Write about what you know” and “Mrs. Remington” (who smiled at me).
The play covers their lives from age 6 to 35. As children they make a pact that they would say the eulogy at each other’s funeral, even though they knew this is impossible. Their strongest link seems to be that every Christmas Eve it snowed and they made snow angels and then watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which has the play a parody of the movie “We Have a Bell Ringing When An Angel Gets His Wings.” Alvin is a beloved fixture in the town and Alvin either falls or jumps off a bridge as there is no angel to talk him out of it.
As Alvin is dead, in parts of the show he wears a beige suit often hit with pink lights. Tom is in big city gray flannel. The furniture is all white which gives lighting expert Jim Leitner marvelous opportunities to change the mood, have clouds appear and best of all project snow angels onto the back of the set.
This two-man show has two seasoned and award winning actors in this difficult roles. Barrymore Award winner Ben Dribble plays Tom, the frustrated writer who truly does not understand the reason he has been asked to do the eulogy. Dribble has appeared in more than 50 theatrical productions in the Philadelphia area. Rob McClure, winner of Tony Award, Drama League and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards plays the more childlike Alvin. Director Bud Martin meshes the difficult scenes as they jump back and forth from childhood to planning the eulogy with the use of colored lighting so it is never confusing. This play highlights how little we clearly remember about our early years, even when spent with a best friend. It goes back to “Write what you know.” Due to the cancellations due to the weather, the play will be at the Delaware Theatre only through Dec. 22. For tickets call 302-594-1100.
We have so many knock out museums in our immediate area, we tend not to visit the lesser known Rockwood Museum in Wilmington. It is decorated for Christmas, and during December tours of the mansion are free. They are given Wednesdays through Saturdays at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sundays at noon, 1 p.m. 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. During the rest of the year admission is $10.
Rockwood was built between 1851-1854 by merchant-banker Joseph Shipley as his retirement home, after spending most of his life in Liverpool. The English style mansion was designed and built without either the architect or Shipley seeing the site. When Shipley moved to it he brought his horse, his dog, his gardener and his housekeeper.
As Shipley had never married, at his death his great nephew Edward Bringhurst inherited the property in 1891, moving into the house with his wife Anna and their three younger children Mary, Edith and Edward. Their eldest daughter, Elizabeth, had married and lived in a castle in Ireland. She was the person most influential in furnishing and decorating the house. This is important, as Rockwood is filled with mostly original furnishings that had been in the house.
As Mary Bringhurst, who never married, inherited the house and lived there until she was 100, much of the furniture is from the 1890s. She left the mansion to her niece, Nancy Sellers Hargraves, who left it to a non-profit. Today it is owned by New Castle County with the Friends of Rockwood as care givers, When you visit you will see the beautifully made clothing worn by the family when they were received at court. Apparently Brother Edward was spoiled rotten with no restrictions ever put on him. Being very much a social climber, Edward, through the influence of his older sister who had married an Irish Lord, insisted on being Edward V, even though he was really Edward III. He just thought the Fifth sounded more impressive than the third.
I do recommend the tour as the guides give a really informative tour.
The United Way of Chester County has two enticing benefit events coming up that should get everyone’s attention. The first one will be the Kennett Chocolate Lover’s Festival, a wholesale celebration of all things chocolate similar to the one held last year at the Red Clay Room. That was So successful they have had to move it to Kennett High School to have both more room and more parking. This is a benefit to be held on Sunday, Feb. 9. The price will be $5 for six tastings, but you can always buy double the tickets. If you would like to donate chocolate goodies or have a table, go to www.kennettchocolate.org or call 610-4357.
The other chocolate event is the Salon du Chocolate to be held on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the home of State Rep. Chris Ross and Cecelia Ross from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The evening should have some divinely decadent offerings with artisan chocolates by local chocolatiers that will be paired with fine wines. There will also be a beer garden, inside I hope, a cigar bar and live music. This enticing evening is $75 per person or $125 per couple. You may buy tickets now at 610-444-4357.
These are such terrific ways to benefit the United Way. In these hard times they need our help.
It may seem a bit early, but the 2014 Brandywine Wine and Food Festival will be held May 14 through May 17 with 42 food, wine, beer and spirits events in 40 different locations from private homes to stately hotels and award winning restaurants. Now that it is December, many of the special events are decided so go to www.mawff.org for exact information. You may also buy tickets, which is often a good idea as many of the events sell out.
The First State Ballet Theatre will perform its traditional “Nutcracker” at the Grand on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 22, at 2 p.m. Once again, Clara will be protected by the Mouse King in this beautiful fantasy.
Sugar Plum Tea – A lovely gift for young dancers might be the Sugar Plum Tea given in the Grand Salon at the Grand Opera House on Sunday, Dec. 22 at 12:30 p.m. This is limited to 60 patrons. Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for students 16 and under. Call 1-800-37-GRAND.
The village of Arden, Del., will host two concerts in the Gild Hall on Boxing Day, Dec. 26. The singing group The Spring Standards will perform at the 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The first concert will have Inland Traveler for the 6:30 p.m. concert as the opener with the DuPont Brothers at the 9:30 p.m. The Spring Standards is a local trio of James Cleare, Heather Robb and James Smith. Tickets are $18 for each concert or $30 for both from wwwardenconcerts.com.
The Delaware Natural History Museum has some special events during the holiday season. On Thursday, Dec. 19, the Caravel Academy will sing from 10 a.m. to noon. The Cathedral Choir School of Delaware will sing from 2 to 3 p.m. and Winter Sky Program from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. are happening on Saturday, Dec. 21, the museum will celebrate the Winter Solstice with crafts and a “plant-a-wish” activity. On Sunday, Dec. 22, the museum will hold a dinosaur-themed wreath-making activity that sounds like a lot of fun.
If you think you might be feeling a little down after Christmas, consider going to the Merriam Theatre, 250 S. Broad St., sometime between Dec. 26 and Dec. 29. “I Love Lucy” live on stage will include Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred. For tickets call 215-790-5883.
Queen and Ben Elton’s worldwide smash hit “We Will Rock You,” built around 24 of Queen’s biggest hits, will be at Academy of Music (Broad and Locust streets) Jan. 14 through 19. This musical is now in its 12th year in the largest theatre in London’s West End, where it was voted the United Kingdom’s favorite show in 2011, winning the Olivier Award, the equivalent of the American Tony Award.
The story is about a future age on a planet once called Earth that is now controlled by mighty corporation where individuality is taboo. The hope of breaking free from the dreary sameness rests with a group of rebels. The script was written by Ben Elton. If you think you don’t know who he is, you do know if you have ever watched the English comedy “Mr. Bean,” as that is Ben Elton who wrote the show and is the star,
Tickets range from $20 to $104.50 from 215-790-5883.
The Wilmington Drama League is performing that warm, fuzzy Christmas story “Miracle on 34th St.” through December 28th. This might be a nice introduction to the theatre for any young fry in your household. Tickets are available from 302-764-3396.
The Kennett Flash says it needs volunteers. If you can help out, call 610-570-6141. They are also looking for paid kitchen positions. Call the same number if interested.
Friday, Dec. 29 –Johnny’s Dance Band, that once filled the 16,000 seat Spectrum.
Saturday, Dec. 21 – Songwriter/singer Jeffrey Gaines
In a conversation with a male friend, I mentioned how thrilled we were with a duvet we had bought as it worked so perfectly. He stiffened up and said I really don’t want to discuss things like that. I was taken aback and responded,” You don’t feel comfortable discussing blankets?” And then he said, “I must have been thinking of something else”.
Give me credit. I did not break into laughter. Apparently he was thinking of the word “bidet,” which I admit I probably would not have been discussing with him.
Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.