Ask most people who have hit this milestone, and they’ll probably say, “Life truly begins at age 40.” Delaware Theatre Company is ringing in its 40th anniversary season with a Broadway-bound musical and two premieres, conquering bold subject matter and sublime humor.
Sanctions, a world premiere by Bruce Graham, the Philadelphia playwright behind DTC’s recent production of White Guy on the Bus and 2012’s The Outgoing Tide, tackles (pun intended) the big business of college football and the fallout of a university’s NCAA sanctions. Institutional racism in sports and campus sexual assault are topics that ensure this play cannot be dismissed as simply a sports drama.
Some #MeToo elements of the story inspired DTC to partner with Wilmington University, the University of Delaware and the YWCA to prepare the cast and audiences for the issues this play raises, with talk backs and speaker panels after performances.
Kicking off on September 12, Sanctions is DTC’s season premiere.
Following this serious subject matter, DTC turns to comedy on October 12. Becky Mode’s Fully Committed features a single actor, starring as a harried host, responsible for taking phone reservations at Manhattan’s highest-rated restaurant.
That actor is Barrymore-winner Kraig Swartz, who originally created the role in 2002. He alternates between aspiring star Sam Peliczowski and 40 other characters to deliver the story.
No doubt, the advent of Yelp Elites and Instagram influencers since this play’s debut will strike the restaurant callers’ coercion, threats, bribes and histrionics as somehow familiar to the audience. Human beings remain desperate to dominate humble restaurant workers, despite what unavoidable obstacles they collectively face.
November brings Richard J. Robin and six-time Emmy winner Bruce Vilanch’s A Sign of the Times, a 1965-set musical featuring classic 60s hits “Downtown,” “The Boy from New York City” and “You Don’t Own Me.” This show makes its regional premiere in Delaware before heading to the Great White Way.
Cindy is a middle-America gal coming into her own in New York in the turbulent times of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, an era of passion and change.
In February, DTC takes on a classic: Saint Joan, by Bernard Shaw. This production, adapted by Chelsea Marcantel, takes a fresh look at French country girl Joan of Arc. Joan’s visions both inspire her to lead her countrymen to rescue France from English domination, and find her on trial for her life, as the Medieval patriarchy cannot bear her power. DTC patrons will recognize Clare O’Malley from Hetty Feather and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
Marcantel’s adaptation will inspire girls and women. She says, “To be female is to be meek, but Saints are unapologetically angry.”
April’s HONK! Is an Olivier Award-winning musical adaptation of “The Ugly Duckling.” Most adults know how this story about being yourself ends, but still, this tale and its memorable score are sure to delight adults and children alike. Since 1993, Anthony Drewe and George Stiles’ Honk! has seen over 8,000 productions internationally, in many different languages. DTC has pulled together an all-star cast of regional actors, many of whom are DTC veterans, including Kim Carson (Nora), Jake Blouch (Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ella: First Lady of Song) Clare O’Malley, Rachel Brennan, Michaela Shuchman, Adam Hoyak, Michael O’Brien (Hetty Feather), and Nichalas Parker.
In addition to these five productions, DTC presents its annual Wine Feast & Auction on November 2.
Of the 40th anniversary, Executive Director Bud Martin says, “With inspiration from our audiences, fellow artists, students in our education programs, and the world around us, we've built a company devoted to delivering stories for all.” He adds, “This season, we're bringing you a little bit of everything from classics to class acts.”
This non-profit professional theatre has produced nearly 200 plays attended by over one million guests. DTC’s location, just two hours outside of New York City, and its intimate, 389-seat venue, make it a perfect proving ground for Broadway-bound works.
In 2015, DTC committed to developing new work for Broadway and Off-Broadway and has since hosted six productions with commercial aspirations, including: the world premiere of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Neil Bartram, and Brian Hill; Because of Winn-Dixie by Nell Benjamin and Duncan Sheik; Maurice Hines’ Tappin’ Thru Life by Maurice Hines; Diner by Barry Levinson and Sheryl Crow; The War of the Roses by Warren Adler; and the aforementioned The Outgoing Tide and White Guy on the Bus.
This commitment has garnered DTC numerous awards, including ten BroadwayWorld Delaware Awards in 2017: nine for Something Wicked This Way Comes, and one for Best Professional Theatre Company. DTC’s education program was nominated for the Barrymore Victory Foundation Award for Outstanding Theatre Education Program, while Something Wicked This Way Comes was nominated for 11 Barrymores.
Visit Delaware Theatre Company's website for more on their 40th season!