Two Premieres and a Broadway-bound Musical Highlight Upcoming Delaware Theatre Company Season

The Delaware Theatre Company kicks off their 40th season on Sept. 12 with the world premiere of “Sanctions” 

The 40th anniversary season at the Delaware Theatre Company will offer “a little bit of everything, from classics to class acts,” according to executive director Bud Martin. 

And with each show this season, patrons can take a closer look at the story’s themes with guest speakers, panel talks and post-show community discussions.

The season kicks off with the world premiere of Sanctions, a hard-hitting new play by Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham, writer of White Guy on the Bus and The Outgoing Tide. When a university athletic department returns to the big business of college football after its NCAA probation is lifted, staff conflict and a new scandal involving a freshman tutor threaten to blow up the whole program. This incendiary and timely new drama inspired by true events tackles issues of institutional racism in sports and sexual assault on college campuses.

Sanctions focuses on Claire, the education supervisor for athletes, as she juggles a handful of dilemmas. Claire questions the value of sports and education. She questions the school’s failure to provide an adequate education to the players, in particular, African American players. Because the school prioritized the football program over their educational growth, the staff “assisted” students through courses to ensure that they could play, resulting in their NCAA sanctions. Now, Claire worries that players who are held accountable for their academic standing will lose either their education or their dream of playing football professionally. Graham introduces the sexual assault as a theme as well, displaying the deep complexity that athletic departments and students face.

According to director Bud Martin, “The subject matter is incredibly timely, and it is our responsibility to tell this story. I recall the effects of sanctions and scandal against Penn State and Ole Miss. It’s more than a game- it cripples the town’s economy.”

He adds, “The issues around sexual assault on campus are shocking because of the alarming prevalence. The University of Delaware just released the results of a survey where 48.5% of female respondents had experienced unwanted sexual contact and 10% of females had been sexually assaulted. We’re proud to present this story in support of the #MeToo movement. 

We’ll be partnering with Wilmington University, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and the YWCA to help prepare our cast and audiences for the issues they will deal with in this play. DTC will be hosting talkbacks and speaker panels after performances to offer audiences the opportunity to talk about the subject matter in a productive and safe way.”

The first discussion panel on Sat., 9.22., titled “Breaking the Silence” focuses on sexual assault on college campuses – 4 pm. Staff and students from UD will be on the panel. The panel on Sat., 9.29 titled “Athletes in Academia” will focus on recruitment and balancing education from the perspective of faculty, athletes, and staff. All other performances will be followed by a free post-show community discussion.

Directed by Kathryn MacMillan, “Fully Committed” runs Oct. 17 to Nov. 4, 2018

Becky Mode’s Fully Committed offers a much-needed laugh. This devastatingly funny one-man show follows a struggling actor who mans the red-hot reservation line at Manhattan’s number-one restaurant. Coercion, threats, bribes, histrionics—a cast of desperate callers will stop at nothing in their zeal to land a prime reservation, or the right table.

Barrymore-winner Kraig Swartz aces a true test of an actor’s versatility and stamina, portraying our everyday hero Sam and 40 other unique characters. Swartz reprises his award-winning performance in Fully Committed, which he originally created at Act II Playhouse in 2002. Sixteen years later, he brings new expertise, increased tragedy, and higher stakes to the role. Swartz has also starred in The Legend of Georgia McBride (Marin Theatre Company,) Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike(Philadelphia Theatre Company,) and I Am My Own Wife (Gulfshore Playhouse.)

Featuring the songs of a generation from Petula Clark and multiple hitmakers of the 60s, A Sign of the Times tells the story of Cindy, a young woman pursuing her passion and finding her voice in New York City in 1965. Set against the backdrop of women’s liberation, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War, the book is by legendary comedy writer and six-time Emmy Award-winner Bruce Vilanch, based on an original story by Richard Robin. 

This musical is about a young woman finding her voice in New York City in 1965

The show is directed by Gabriel Barre (Amazing Grace), choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter (School of Rock), with music supervision and orchestrations by Joseph Church (The Lion King), and will feature Broadway stars Chilina Kennedy (Beautiful), Crystal Lucas-Perry (Lincoln Center’s Bull In A China Shop), Drew Seeley (Jersey Boys), and Ryan Silverman (The Phantom of the Opera).  

With events as relevant today as they were then, A Sign of the Times will transport audiences to the big city in the 60s with heart and soul, featuring classic songs such as “Downtown,” “You Don’t Own Me,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” and “The Boy From New York City.”

For the classics and literature lovers, George Bernard Shaw’s masterpiece Saint Joan is as relevant today as she was 400 years ago. This production, adapted by Chelsea Marcantel, takes a fresh look at a French country girl who finds herself on trial for her life after the nation’s rulers become threatened by her influence and popularity. With mysterious visions of saints inspiring her to help recover France from English domination, she paves the way for victory.

A French country girl finds herself on trial for her life when the country’s rulers find her influence threatening

Starring Clare O’Malley from Hetty Feather and Something Wicked This Way Comes, this epic, transcendent story brings renewed life to one of history’s greatest heroines as she pushes the boundaries of a society dominated by political and religious forces. 

Chelsea Marcantel’s adaptation will inspire girls and women. Marcantel says that she grew up without watching female heroes. “To be female is to be meek, but Saints are unapologetically angry.”

Inspired by the stories of female saints, she plans to rewrite this narrative. Her adaptation condenses Geroge Bernard Shaw’s original, adding a stronger female voice and presence.

Finally, the season concludes with Honk!, a family-friendly musical with a familiar tale of an ugly duckling. This delightful and award-winning adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved fables is a heartwarming celebration of what makes us special.

Winner of multiple awards, including the 2000 Olivier Award for Best Musical, this tale of learning to embrace being different is sure to delight audiences of all ages with its sparkling wit and memorable score.

Honk! runs April 17 to May 12, 2019 at the DTC

The DTC is joined by an all-star cast of Philadelphia area actors including Kim Carson (DTC: Nora,) Jake Blouch (DTC: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ella: First Lady of Song,) Clare O’Malley (DTC: Something Wicked This Way Comes, Hetty Feather,) Rachel Brennan, Michaela Shuchman, Adam Hoyak, Michael O’Brien (DTC:Hetty Feather), and Nicholas Parker.

Performances and readings are held at DTC’s intimate, 389-seat theatre, located at 200 Water Street in Wilmington, DE, just feet from the beautiful Riverfront. Subscriptions to the 2018/2019 season are on sale and start as low as $168 for a five-show package, a 20% savings off the cost of individual tickets. Subscribers can join Delaware Theatre Company’s artistic staff at a series of invited readings. For no cost, subscribers are welcome to sit in on the artistic process of selecting a season, by experiencing professional actors reading scripts of potential candidates for our upcoming season.

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