Entertainment Featured Health

Aunt Mary Pat brings the humor to help raise money to fight breast cancer

Aunt Mary Pat will use laughter to help raise money for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition.

The popular character created by Wilmington’s Troy Hendrickson will appear on an indoor stage on Oct 29, the first time she has since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

The 90-minute show at Catherine Rooney’s in Trolley Square will only be opened to 40 ticket holders to ensure social distancing. Tickets are $100  and can be found here. The show will be livestreamed at 7 p.m. Nov 5 for $25. 

“My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor,” said Hendrickson. “It means a lot to me to be able to give back to the community.” 

[adrotate group=”11″]

The live event includes a silent auction, food and drinks (two drink tickets are included in the purchase of a ticket) and a DBCC swag bag. 

Hendrickson said Aunt Mary Pat’s 90-minute live comedy show will include music performances, crowd work and all things Philadelphia. 

“I describe it as a variety show,” said Hendrickson. “Some of the stories come directly from my mom and others are just things that pop into my head.” 

The character Aunt Mary Pat came to life after she was created by Hendrickson for a video making fun of his mom after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018. 

[adrotate group=”11″]

He sees Aunt Mary Pat as an archetype of the average South Philly mom who works in the area — in her case, a grocery store — and gossips about area wives. 

Hendrickson grew up in Wilmington and went to Columbia College in Chicago for film and TV, but he has been performing in some way since he was in middle school. During the last decade, he’s focused on drag shows.

He set Aunt Mary Pat’s character as Philadelphian because there’s such strong personality types associated with that city.

“Wilmington doesn’t really have its own identity, so we all really cling to the Philadelphian area,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve also been working in the Philly area. You just pick up how people talk, and it becomes a part of your vernacular.” 

[adrotate group=”11″]

Hendrickson partnered with Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition through a former coworker, Sue Murray, now operations Director of the DBCC. Murray has  been supportive of Hendrickson’s career since the beginning. 

He has been performing fulltime as Aunt Mary Pat since 2018 when the character became popular online. That’s meant producing 300 events per year between Aunt Mary Pat and drag shows, he said.

Stand-up comedy was a first for him when Aunt Mary Pat became a hit. 

“We were doing our first national tour this year. The last show I was able to do was in New York before COVID put everything on hold,” Hendrickson said. “It was the trickiest thing for the entertainment industry because everything happened so quickly, and we all had to cancel events.”

[adrotate group=”11″]

Hendrickson has been able to do online shows as well as a number of in-person outdoor shows during the summer. The breast cancer event will be the first indoor event he has been a part of since coronavirus shutdowns were put in place. 

“We’re well under the room’s capacity,” Hendrickson said. “I feel pretty safe about it.” 

Patrons will be required to wear masks, but he doesn’t expect that to stop the laughter.

“There’s a great need for live entertainment right now, I think,” Hendrickson said, “especially where people get to be around other people.”

Entertainment Featured

New book chronicles 100 must-do things in Delaware

A visit to the state's tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, is on this First State bucket list
A visit to the state’s tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, is on this First State bucket list. Photo by Kalmar Nyckel


For people who wonder why Delaware is called the “Diamond State,” Dan Shortridge and Rachel Kipp’s new book, “100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die” is here to help.

Although the original reference came from Thomas Jefferson describing what a jewel Delaware was for its strategic location on the coast, the book helps families discover many of the hidden facets in our First State gem.

The book was written to be a handbook for discovering Delaware by everyone from newcomers to those whose families have been here for centuries. With suggestions running from the warm ocean beaches to bucolic farm country, historic landmarks to quirky entertainment stops, the book is full of family-friendly listings and must-do itineraries. It even includes itineraries that detail where to go and what to eat, from the best beach popcorn to that unique regional creation, scrapple.

It was a lot of fun,” said Kipp. She and her husband/co-author – journalists who have lived in all three counties – checked out each site. “It was a nice excuse to do some things.”

The two had been meaning to check out the Wilmington and Western Railroad, a scenic railroad in New Castle County, for years, and finally got to it for the book. Listings in their book include many “inside scoop” details – like where to go to kayak around a primeval forest, or where to get the best vegan sandwiches on the Wilmington Riverfront.

It really highlighted homegrown businesses in Delaware,” said Kipp.

'100 Things to Do in Delaware Before You Die,' by Dan Shortridge and Rachel Kipp

They came up with the idea to write the book after one of Kipp’s friends wrote a similar book about Indianapolis, and they couldn’t find something like that for Delaware.

The most they could find was a few paragraphs in other books.

Delaware deserves more than a few pages,” Shortridge said.

They began making a database of Delaware delights and found selecting just 100 items was difficult.

For example, they were amazed at how many stops are available for maritime history all over the state. Making decisions in the food category was pretty painful, said Shortridge.

All their research and the first draft were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Delaware. They were pleased to see that many of their entries still held up, even when sheltering in place.

The Delaware Children’s Museum, for instance, is open online, and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth was doing curbside pick-up.

There are at least seven long-distance bicycle rides mapped out in Delaware, said Shortridge. He and Kipp also used the book during lockdown to help them choose takeout food.

They added a tips tab on 100thingsinde to list the top five places for social distancing.

I like the way the book unfolds as a love letter to Delaware,” said Kipp.

“There’s no place quite like Delaware,” the book description says. “Where else can you drive the length of the state in three hours, bump into a US senator at the grocery store, and see the preserved hull of a 1798 shipwreck – all in the same day? It may be one of the smallest states in the Union, but Delaware has countless hidden gems to offer visitors and residents alike.”

The details: The $19.95 Reedy Press book is available on 100thingsinde, Amazon or at local bookstores.


Movies at Milford May Open by End of Year

by Terry Rogers 


Photo from ShureLine Electrical Facebook

Arthur Helmick, owner of the Movies at Milford under construction in the former Walmart building on North Dupont Highway is enthusiastic about the opening of the theatre. It is his hope that the new movie theatre will be open before the end of the year and is aiming for an opening Thanksgiving weekend.

“We have had some tough times,” Helmick explained. “COVID caused us to shut down our theatres and, even now, we have much smaller audiences than we had in the past. People, especially seniors, are still scared. On top of that, Hollywood just pulled a lot of new movies that would have been great moneymakers, so that doesn’t help. However, even with all the setbacks, we are moving forward and I don’t see any reason why we cannot be open by the end of the year.”

Helmick stated that the COVID-19 pandemic put them behind about a month. Even though the construction trades did not shut down, there was a need for social distancing which meant trades could not have 50 workers inside the building at one time. They had to use smaller crews and this led to longer periods between each stage of completion.

“We also had difficulty getting some materials during the pandemic,” Helmick said. “If we had to get something from overseas, it was almost impossible. We are meeting on Thursday to talk about the final certificate of occupancy and if that goes well, opening at Thanksgiving is very much doable.”

One of the issues Helmick sees is making sure people know that going to the movies is one of the safest activities you can do during the pandemic. They are practicing all COVID-19 protocols, including ample hand-washing stations throughout the theatre. Patrons are asked to wear a mask to their seat and while they are eating. When they are not eating, they are asked to put their masks back on simply to avoid forgetting it if they need to leave their seat. Helmick explained that the computer system used in the theatre will automatically socially distance groups as they purchase tickets.

Photo from ShureLine Electrical Facebook

“If two people come in, the system blocks their two seats and then several on each side of them,” Helmick said. “A group of three, they will be seated together and then seats around them blocked. The system is set up to do that for us. Our bathrooms are already heavily sanitized as people eat in our movie theatres. We want them as clean as possible. Our theatre is cleaned each night by a company that also cleans doctor’s offices. That means they use the same anti-bacterial soap that is used in healthcare settings.”

In addition to sanitizing and social distancing, Helmick stated that theatres already have extremely efficient HVAC systems. He explained that when there are 300 to 600 people sitting in a theatre with the doors closed and no windows, there is a need to regularly bring in fresh air. The air must be treated to avoid damage to the HVAC equipment as well. Helmick explained that the HVAC system they use is just “one step below what is used in hospitals.”

“We want people to know the movies are a safe environment,” Helmick said. “When you go to the movies, you use all your senses. You use sight, hearing, taste, smell and even your emotions can be impacted depending on the movie. We want everyone to know that our theatres are clean, friendly and the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening. New movies tend to be released around Christmas time and it is our goal to be open to show those movies this year.”

The Movies at Milford will only use half the former Walmart building and Helmick said the other half has not been rented at this time. Because of the pandemic, he felt it better to just wait to search for a tenant.

Entertainment Events Featured Scene About Town

Attention ghosts, goblins: Here’s where to go for fun

Fifer Orchards corn maze

Yes, the coronavirus has kiboshed popular Halloween events like the Sea Witch Festival at the Sussex beaches and the Halloween Loop in Wilmington, but a few holiday and fall events – with Frightland at the top of the list – have figured out how to adapt to all the coronavirus restrictions. (Punkin Chunkin, alas, didn’t.)

Reservations are highly recommended or required.

And if you’re celebrating at home, the state has some ideas.

Bellevue State Park: The Grand is thematically ending October with two drive-in movie musicals at the Brandywine Hundred park. “Little Shop of Horrors” will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. The 1986 PG-13 film stars a flesh-eating and singing plant. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. The 1993 PG film animated classic follows Jack Skellington’s desires to celebrate Christmas in Halloween Town. Tickets start at $15 for a car and driver.

Brandywine Zoo: The Wilmington zoo will sport spooky decorations and offer socially distanced activities at Boo at the Zoo. Kids and grown-ups are encouraged to come in costume. There’s availability 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 23 and on Halloween. Tickets are free-$7.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Delaware Museum of Natural History: The Greenville museum is planning four sessions of trick-or-treating by costumed kids on Halloween: 10-11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on Halloween. Activities also include pumpkin science and encounters with creepy crawlers. It’s free-$12.

Fifer Orchards: The Camden institution’s 6-acre corn maze (with a Pac-Maize theme) is open Monday-Saturdays through Halloween, online reservations only. It’s free-$10. Ditto for apple picking, Thursdays-Fridays through mid-October.

Fort Delaware: The three-hour Paranormal Adventure is at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 24, with only a 6:30 tour on Oct. 24. Tickets are $50 from the Delaware City ticket office and include a roundtrip ferry to Pea Patch Island.

Frightland: Delaware’s biggest Halloween attraction features eight themed areas, and the only ticket this year is the timed FrightPass ($45 at the door, $35 paid in advance). Guests will go through in a predetermined order starting with the Haunted Hayride, creating a one-directional flow. The chills in St. Georges run Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 7, plus every Sunday in October and two Thursdays (Oct. 22 and Oct. 29).

[adrotate group=”11″]


Hagley: Children are invited to come in costume to visit treat stations throughout the Greenville museum noon-4 p.m. on Halloween, getting candy and other goodies through a treat tube to maintain social distancing. Hayrides are also offered on weekends through Halloween.

Old Swedes: The Wilmington church hosts virtual evening tours called the Ghosts in the Graveyard of its 1638 burial ground on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. The church is one of the oldest in the United States still in use as a house of worship, and its burial ground is the final resting place of more than 8,000 storied souls.

Wilmington & Western: A friendly witch is the star of the 1½-hour Halloween ride from Greenbank to the Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove and back. It’s at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Halloween. All passengers in costume pay $10. Those not in costume pay $13-$15. The littlest ones are free.


Claymont candy-makers to debut at Hagley Craft Fair

Hope's Caramels
Hope’s Caramels

A Claymont candy-making couple are making their debut at the Hagley Craft Fair, among dozens of other food makers, artists and artisans in the 42-year-old tradition. Among the returning favorites is a Hockessin weaver.

The fair is 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 17. To reduce coronavirus exposure, it will be entirely outside and requires $5 timed tickets bought in advance. Fairgoers should use Hagley’s Buck Road entrance.

Hope’s Caramels

Hope and Brady Shuert began making caramels five years ago, and by March Hope’s Caramels had grown enough for them to rent a commercial kitchen and for it to become their full-time jobs.

“We go wild with our flavors,” Brady said.

Their first and by far most popular flavor is sea salt, a blend of brown sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, butter, vanilla that Hope makes herself, salt and cream of tartar.

The other “everyday” flavors are chocolate salted, spicy, vanilla and coffee. Seasonal and specialty flavors have included coconut lime, blood orange, chai, stout and honey.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Flavors are tested out on son Samuel, daughter Carys and “anyone who wants to try.”

Caramels are $10 for a half-pound bag, with three bags $25 and a subscription service available.

Hope said she has also figured out how to make lollipops from those final, overheated bits in a caramel batch. The $1 lollipops come in vanilla, chocolate, coffee and apple.

Scarf by Pamela Horstmann
Scarf by Pam Horstmann.

Pam Horstmann

In her clothing, Pam Horstmann likes to experiment, with yarns, techniques, dyes and accessories.

She’s been weaving since 1982 and felting for 10 years, built on studies in art and textile design at the University of Vermont, a year studying in Denmark and an apprenticeship in Vermont.

She makes coats, jackets and scarves, for $55 to $400, from rayon, chenille, silk, wool and cotton.

[adrotate group=”11″]


By painting the loom’s warp with fiber-reactive dyes, she creates “a huge interplay of color.”

She once weaved full time, but motherhood and a job as a preschool assistant led her to going only part-time. Weaving is tough on her legs and back, so she alternates it with cutting and sewing.

Acknowledging there’s a limit on how much longer she has for this craft, she has taught weaving to daughters Sarah McGinty and Catherine Horstmann.

Entertainment Featured Scene About Town

Where to get scared (or just have fun) for Halloween

Boo at the Zoo is an annual tradition at the Brandywine Zoo.


A few favorite Halloween events are going on in the area, all of course following all the coronavirus restrictions. Reservations are highly recommended or required. If you’re celebrating at home, the state has some ideas.

Brandywine Zoo Boo at the Zoo: The Wilmington zoo will sport spooky decorations and offer socially distanced activities. Kids and grown-ups are encouraged to come in costume. The Oct. 23 and 24 events are sold out. There’s availability 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 25. Tickets are free-$7.

Delaware Museum of Natural History Halloween: The Greenville museum is planning four sessions of trick-or-treating by costumed kids on Halloween: 10-11 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-2:30 p.m. and 3-4 p.m. on Halloween. Activities also include pumpkin science and encounters with creepy crawlers. It’s free-$12.

[adrotate group=”11″]





Fort Delaware Paranormal Adventure: The three-hour ghost tours are at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 24, with only a 6:30 tour on Oct. 24. Tickets are $50 from the Delaware City ticket office and include a roundtrip ferry to Pea Patch Island.

Frightland: Delaware’s biggest Halloween attraction features eight themed areas, and the only ticket this year is the timed FrightPass ($45 at the door, $35 paid in advance). Guests will go through in a predetermined order starting with the Haunted Hayride, creating a one-directional flow. The chills in St. Georges run Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 7, plus every Sunday in October and two Thursdays (Oct. 22 and Oct. 29).

Old Swedes Ghosts in the Graveyard: The Wilmington church hosts virtual evening tours of its 1638 burial ground on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24. The church is one of the oldest in the United States still in use as a house of worship, and its burial ground is the final resting place of more than 8,000 storied souls.

Wilmington & Western Halloween ride: A friendly witch is the star of the 1½-hour round-trip from Greenbank to the Mt. Cuba Picnic Grove. It’s at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Halloween. All passengers in costume pay $10. Those not in costume pay $13-$15. The littlest ones are free.

Art beach Entertainment Featured

Murals around state create trail of interactive street art

Newark artist Natalia Ciriaco “was inspired by the beautiful landscape, and the important elements that represent the town” in creating her mural that’s part of the new Delaware Discoveries Trail.

“I wanted the mural to fit in Wyoming, and for people to feel like they were part of the town,” said Ciriaco, a Newark Charter art teacher and Delaware’s Art Teacher of the Year in 2015.

That’s why her interactive street art incorporates peaches, sunflowers and the railroad.

The trail, the Delaware Tourism Office’s fifth thematic way to explore the state, has been in development for over a year to boost off-season visitation and draw younger travelers. Its debut in a time of coronavirus restrictions adds a chance to promote it as a socially distant outdoor activity.

[adrotate group=”11″]


The trail was launched Sept. 21, featuring nine pieces of street art intended for selfies. To encourage the sharing, when visitors take photos in front of at least four pieces and upload them at the Delaware Discoveries Trail, they get a free paint pour kit developed with the Developing Artist Collaboration.

“It’ll be fun to see how creative people will be” with photos, said office director Liz Keller.

Officials hope for comments like this, from Ohio photographer Debbi Bollman on Instagram: “Big Chill Beach Club in Bethany Beach. I made a special trip here specifically to see the mural by the amazingly talented @kelseymontagueart and it did not disappoint! Little did I know, this place is really cool – great atmosphere, a view of the Indian River Inlet Bridge at sunset, and an awesome mural by @paulcarpenterart as well!” (Paul Carpenter’s mural in the club is not part of the trail.)

The locations were picked to be scattered around the state and showcase different fun things, such as breweries, places to eat, historical sites and scenic spots, Keller said.

[adrotate group=”11″]


The artists were picked by whose work matched the location. One artist (Christian Kanienberg) was selected through a contest, and the rest were selected with the Developing Artist Collaboration. 

Five artists are from Delaware, and Kelsey Montague is internationally famous, Keller said. So famous that people have waited an hour to pose in front of a Montague work in Nashville, she said.

“Art can spark joy and bring people together,” Montague said in a statement. “I hope my work encourages people to explore the great outdoors.”

Montague loves to create butterflies, and many of the photos on her Instagram account show happy people and pets centered between the wings.

The project cost $100,000, mostly to pay artists, which Keller called important in today’s economic doldrums. The office already has requests from more locations and more artists to get involved.

[adrotate group=”11″]


What you’ll see

The office commissioned six artists to paint nine pieces of outdoor artwork at these locations:

  • Big Chill Beach Club, 27099 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach. The trail’s “brightest and beachiest,” by Kelsey Montague.
  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Refuge Entrance Road, Smyrna. A butterfly just outside the entrance pavilion, by Montague.
  • Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal, 43 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes. “An underwater sea adventure,” by Christian Kanienberg of Bellefonte.
  • DE Turf, 4000 Bay Road, Frederica. Soccer-themed piece on the athletic complex’s main building and visible from Del. 1, by Michael Johnson of Lewes.
  • Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington. A peacock-inspired rainbow of colors, by Laura Erickson of Rehoboth Beach.
  • Delaware Children’s Museum, 550 Justison St., Wilmington. A floral map of the world that’s the most intriguing of the nine, by Erickson.
  • Hagley Museum and Library, 200 Hagley Creek Road, Greenville. A floral work, not attached to a building, on Workers’ Hill near the picnic pavilion, by Leah Beach of Dewey Beach.
  • Mispillion River Brewing Co., 255 Mullett Run St., Milford. “Tap-centric artwork,” by Johnson.
  • Wyoming Town Hall, 1 Railroad Ave. Homage to old-time farming, by Natalia Ciriaco of Newark.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Most sites are free to visit. Hagley charges admission. The Big Chill Beach Club is in the Delaware Seashore State Park, which charges an entrance fee March 1-Nov. 30. 

The tourism office encourages people to view its Go-to-Guide for how to #ExploreSafelyDE. 

The office’s other trails are the Delaware Culinary Trail, the Delaware History Trail, the Delaware on Tap Trail and the Delaware Outdoor Trail.


Books Entertainment Featured

U.S. v. Russia: ‘Weird World War IIl,’ conceived by a Delaware editor


Delaware native Sean Patrick Hazelett will talk about and sign an anthology he edited Saturday in Arden.
Delaware native Sean Patrick Hazlett will talk Saturday in Arden about an alt-history anthology he edited.


Delaware native Sean Patrick Hazlett feels he’s “the one person in the world” who could conceive and edit an anthology about a third world war, a weird American-Soviet war that involves the astral plane, parallel dimensions and the Moon.

The book jacket promises “haunted Cold War visions.”

Hazlett pitched the idea in 2017, spurred by political upheaval that continues today, and the book is published by Baen Books this month, a time that his blog calls the California apocalypse.

“Man, I couldn’t have picked a better year to release an anthology called ‘Weird World War III,’ ” he said.

[adrotate group=”11″]


From noon to 2 p.m. Oct. 3 Saturday, he’ll be signing copies, along with T.C McCarthy, one of the book’s 19 writers. Between Books 2.0 in Arden is hosting the outdoors, socially distanced and masked signing across the street in the parking lot of Jupiter Records, 2200 Marsh Road, Brandywine Hundred.

“It’s H.P. Lovecraft meets Tom Clancy,” Hazlett said as he gave the elevator pitch for his first anthology as an editor, referring to the horror and thriller masters. 

Back in 2017, he recognized that “Russian influence was in the zeitgeist,” and he hopes the short stories “evoke the feeling of growing up during the Cold War, in a bipolar world, where the consequences were existential.” 

[adrotate group=”11″]


Hazlett started writing fantasy when he was in fifth grade at St. Joseph’s in Aston, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Salesianum School in 1994 and wrote a novel while serving in the Army.

“I really enjoyed creating worlds,” he said, citing ones with complex, Tolkienesque backstories. 

He began submitting short stories to magazines in 2011, and his first paycheck for fiction was in 2012. He entered the quarterly Writers of the Future contest 17 times before winning in 2017.

'Weird World War III' focuses on a conflict between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
‘Weird World War III’ focuses on a conflict between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

He lives in California. His parents, Ted and Ann, and siblings, Brendan and Erin, live in Delaware.

Hazlett’s MacGyver-like background that grounds the fiction in the anthology includes four college degrees in four subjects (history, electrical engineering, business administration and public policy) from two prestigious universities (Stanford and Harvard) and work with a future U.S. secretary of defense on strategic options for confronting Iran’s nuclear program.

His stint in the Army included working as an intelligence analyst focusing on strategic war games and simulations for the Pentagon, plus “playing laser tag with real tanks on a base the size of Rhode Island.” 

McCarthy has an equally impressive background, including a doctorate, a Fulbright fellowship, work as a weapons expert in the CIA and expertise in future warfare.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Hazlett is vice president of corporate finance in the Silicon Valley, and in the interview he dropped multiple references to weird but true things, like the danger of shotguns to dirigibles and Nazi soldiers on methamphetamine.

As the editor, he asked the writers to considers the effects of an epic war between the United States and the Soviet Union, between the 1945 end of the second world war and the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union. Some tales took liberties with that time frame.

“How would the world have changed?” he writes about the book on his website. “What wonders would have been unveiled? What terrors would have haunted mankind from those dark and dismal dimensions? Come closer, peer through a glass darkly, and discover the horrifying alternative visions from some of today’s greatest minds in science fiction, fantasy and horror.”\

[adrotate group=”11″]

“Weird World War III” is dedicated to Mike Resnick and Jay Harting.

Resnick is a contributor to the book and mentor in writing and editing. He died earlier this year.

Harting was killed by a suicide bomber in 2005.

“Jay graduated from Salesianum with me in 1994,” Haslett said. “He also served with me in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Irwin, California. I dedicated the book to him because he gave his life for his country in Iraq.” 


Art Business Entertainment Featured Health

Delaware arts go virtual: Symphony season all online, DelShakes creates game show

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra will go virtual for its 2020=2021 season
The Delaware Symphony Orchestra will go virtual for its 2020-2021 season

NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect accurate location of DSO’s chamber concerts.

With no clear path to safely put butts into seats, two of Delaware’s biggest arts organizations are going virtual.

The Delaware Symphony Orchestra is offering a fully digital season, recording performances and releasing them to subscribers.

Delaware Shakespeare’s annual fundraiser goes online with “Play On!,” a theatrical game show featuring Del-ebrities playing some of the Bard’s characters and being coached by actors.

[adrotate group=”11″]



DSO’s season will feature three chamber music programs and six performances in its Classic Series. While the chamber programs, which features up to 5 musicians, will have already sold-out audiences in the DuPont Country Club’s Crystal Ballroom, the Classic performances will be done without an audience. They’ll be filmed by a camera crew on a Friday, edited and mastered and then released to subscribers on a Tuesday.

“Though the method of delivery will be completely new for us, the music will be the same—from classics, to lesser-known gems, the season will have the appeal of an in-person one without any of the risks,” said Symphony Music Director David Amado in a press release.

Digital season subscriptions and single tickets are available for purchase on the Symphony’s website.

[adrotate group=”11″]


“As early as last March, we understood that the 2020-2021 season would not look anything like normal,” said Executive Director J.C. Barker. “Our first step was to move the bulk of our season past the beginning of January 2021. We have since watched closely and listened to the science as the virus has progressed.”

Delaware Symphony Orchestra Executive Director J.C. Barker
J.C. Barker

Ticket holders and their household will receive a unique link to view the concert as soon as it premieres. They will also be able to view the performance multiple times for 30 days after it goes live. 

The chamber performances will be available for viewing on Oct. 27, Nov. 24 and Dec. 15. The classical performances will be available Jan. 26, Feb. 16, March 30, April 13, May 11 and June 8. 

Programs will include symphonies by Haydn, Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as Aaron Copland’s suite from the ballet “Appalachian Spring,” Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings,”  and Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella.” They also will feature shorter works by American composers such as Ruth Crawford Seeger, George Walker and Alfred I. du Pont winner Claude Baker.

The classical performances will feature fewer musicians than DSO patrons are accustomed to. A maximum of 44 will play, Barker said.

“Crafting the season while slaloming through the limits and vagaries created by the pandemic has been a puzzle,” said Amado. “But I am thrilled at the results. The season is wide-ranging and appealing – old works and new, with music written for the concert hall, the ballet stage and even the silver screen.”

[adrotate group=”11″]


The musicians will be socially distanced while practicing and performing. String and percussion musicians will wear masks. Others will use plastic screens to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Throughout months of planning, the multiple conversations among musicians, board and staff established a set of guidelines that the DSO believes will keep everyone safe during the season.

“We are so excited to get back to performing for our wonderful DSO audience,” said James Finegan, DSO Players’ Committee chair. “This has been a difficult time for many musicians, and we absolutely miss the energy and satisfaction that come from performing for an audience. For most of us, this has been the longest break from performing that we’ve ever experienced. While this season will look a little different, it will give us a chance to perform some new and exciting repertoire.”

[adrotate group=”11″]



With the help of money from the National Endowment of the Arts’ share of the CARES Act funding, Delaware Shakespeare has embraced a variety of programming including Soliloquy Strolls through Rockwood Park and an online evening of Shakespeare and cooking.

Now “Play On!” will take place Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $90 and ticket holders will be sent a link in order to access the event. 

[adrotate group=”11″]


The competition, styled after “The Voice” in which professionals coach amateurs, will ask the Delaware celebrities to perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and try to raise the most donations for Delaware Shakespeare.

Delaware Shakespeare David Stradley
David Stradley

“Audiences will get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens when well-known Delawareans take their first crack at performing Shakespeare,” says David Stradley, producing artistic director of DelShakes.

“The smack talk from our coaches is already at fever pitch as their actors get ready to compete and raise funds supporting our efforts to bring theatre up and down the First State.”

Tina and Rick Betz will compete as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, coached by Newton Buchanan, seen as Master Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 2019.

Guillermina Gonzalez and Charles Sobrero will showcase their control of Spanish and English in a reading of Viola and Orsino from “Twelfth Night,” assisted by coach Liz Filios, who is writing Del Shakes’ bilingual musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night.”

Sarah McBride will take on Shakespeare heroine Rosalind from “As You Like It,” coached by Danielle Leneé, who played Rosalind in 2017.

Michelle Mitchell and Chuck Lewis, superstars from the hospitality industry, will brawl as the inhospitable lovers Kate and Petruchio from “The Taming of the Shrew.” J Hernandez, Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” will coach them.

Entertainment Featured Health

Single plant with 1,500 blooms to star in Longwood’s Chrysanthemum Festival

Longwood Gardens' Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum will have 1,500 flowers on it.
Longwood Gardens’ Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum has 1,500 flowers on it this year.

While the rest of the world is mired in masks, no masks, sports, no sports, Trump or Biden, Longwood Gardens is quietly perking along with plans for its annual Chrysanthemum Festival and A Longwood Christmas to open on schedule.

Both will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions, including requiring masks, and the number of people allowed to enter will be lower, a Longwood spokeswoman said — but few fans are going to argue about the ability to admire the displays with a little more unencumbered space in which to do it.

The annual Chrysanthemum Festival  will run Oct. 22-Nov. 15 and A Longwood Christmas will be Nov. 20 to Jan. 10, both with joyous displays in the conservatory and other attractions around the grounds.

The chrysanthemum show is tied to Longwood’s history. Chrysanthemums were grown and displayed there when founder Pierre S. du Pont opened the Grand Conservatory in 1921.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Highlights include the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum, a single chrysanthemum plant grown to produce as many perfect blooms as possible. Measuring 12 feet wide and nearly 10 feet tall, this year’s plant needed 18 months to reach its count of more than 1,500 uniform blooms.

Longwood’s horticulturists also have grown and nurtured chrysanthemums into unique three-dimensional forms, including shields, fans and cloud forms.

Outdoors, nature puts on a show with its brilliant fall foliage. Longwood’s three treehouses and G-scale Garden Railway, which travels past  miniature Longwood landmarks, will be open.

Longwood is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31 for the Illuminated Fountain Performances at 8:15 pm.

[adrotate group=”11″]


Tickets and member reservations should be made in advance online at

Complex by nature, chrysanthemums are divided into 13 classifications, each representing a distinct flower form. Longwood’s collection spans all classes and includes 226 cultivars, including many rare and unusual varieties.

The Chrysanthemum Festival is one of the largest chrysanthemum shows in the United States, Longwood says.