Looking ahead from the snows of winter to the warmth of spring, Delaware theaters are brimming with the sound of musicals! Here’s a sampling of your choices to brighten any day, even if it’s gray and snowy.
From its roots in professional summer stock beginning in 1930, Candlelight opened as a professional dinner theater in 1969. Noted for lively ambiance and an always-strong acting company, Candlelight is approaching the 300-show mark and shows no signs of slowing down! Whatever the time of year, a visit to Candlelight is a great way to lift your spirits.
Opening their 2024 season, the theater is presenting the ebullient Hello, Dolly! Running through February 25, this ever-popular musical (adapted from Thornton Wilder’s play The Matchmaker) details the comic and romantic exploits of Dolly Gallagher-Levi, matchmaker and “woman who arranges things.” The show – with its 20-performer cast – bursts with humor, romance, energetic dance numbers, and great songs. Winner of ten Tony Awards, Hello Dolly! features Jerry Herman’s best, including that iconic title song.
Candlelight then mounts The Mystery of Edwin Drood (March 16 to April 21). This Broadway hit musical, penned by Rupert Holmes, is a hilarious whodunit based (improbably but most successfully) on the Victorian author Charles Dickens’ final unfinished work. Written as a show-within-a-show – a first-night performance by the fictional Music Hall Royale – the play calls on the audience to choose the identity of the murderer – and thus finish the Dickens novel.
Next on the musical horizon is a production from this venue on Wilmington’s busy revitalized Christina Riverfront. A short hop from downtown, DTC is a nationally known and respected regional theater. Since its founding in 1979, the theater – known for the range and production values of its first-rate presentations – has produced 220 mainstage shows seen by more than one million patrons.
Sure to warm up any winter chill, from February 21 through March 10 they’re presenting Always . . . Patsy Cline. Produced in theaters all over the country, this popular show was inspired by a true story about Cline and devoted fan Louise Seger. With a live onstage band, the show features 30 songs, including the Cline’s best-known country music hits like Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams, and Walking After Midnight. The title was inspired by Cline’s letters to Seger, which were signed “Love ALWAYS… Patsy Cline.” If you want to make an evening (or afternoon) of your DTC visit, a favorite destination for a pre-show dinner or after-show drink is Banks Seafood Kitchen, just steps from the theater.
Located on its namesake park, this beautiful, ornate downtown theater boasts a most unusual locale – inside the building that also houses the Hotel duPont. In that same building are also favorite Wilmington dining options like DE.CO food court and the elegantly restored Le Cavalier (formerly the Green Room). So a traveler to our region can have a hotel room, meals, and first-rate theater all under one roof!
Managed by the busy Grand Opera House (another historic venue a few blocks away on Market Street), The Playhouse was opened in 1913 as a select theater on the Broadway touring circuit, and after 100 years, it’s the oldest theater continually on that circuit. With over 1200 seats, The Playhouse hosts touring artists each season, but it’s also highly regarded for its popular Broadway series, a well-established regional treat. First-run national tours regularly land on this historic stage, and this spring sees some great musicals coming up.
First off is On Your Feet (March 7-10), the inspiring true story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, exploring their musical heritage. These are two people who believed in their talent—and each other—to become an international sensation. The musical features iconic songs like Rhythm is Gonna Get You, Conga, Get On Your Feet, Don’t Want To Lose You Now, 1-2-3 and Coming Out of the Dark.
After that popular songfest, The Playhouse offers something very different. Come from Away (April 19-21). On 9/11, when the world stopped, something remarkable happened. This surprising, heartwarming. Tony-winning Broadway production tells the remarkable true story of how 7,000 stranded airplane passengers were welcomed by a small town in Newfoundland. As uneasiness turned into trust, music soared, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.
The Playhouse season closes with a musical version of a beloved classic. Little Women (May 9-12), produced nationally and internationally, has been praised for the way it brings this timeless, captivating story alive. Based on author Louisa May Alcott’s life, the musical follows the adventures of four sisters – Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy March – each determined to live life on her own terms. The score is filled with songs of personal discovery, heartbreak, and hope – the sounds of a young America finding its voice.
Whatever your taste in musicals, there’s something in Wilmington over the next few months. Start planning your visit with a free Visitors Guide and Wilmington Discount Pass. And don't forget to grab your show ticket before they're all gone!