“Stompin’ at The Savoy” is a world premiere musical at the Delaware Theatre Company. Martin French illustration courtesy of Delaware Theatre Company.

Delaware Theatre Co. unveils fun, thoughtful ’24-25 season

Ken MammarellaHeadlines, Culture

“Stompin’ at The Savoy” is a world premiere musical at the Delaware Theatre Company. Martin French illustration courtesy of Delaware Theatre Company.

“Stompin’ at The Savoy” is a world premiere musical at the Delaware Theatre Company. Martin French illustration courtesy of Delaware Theatre Company.

The 2024-25 Delaware Theatre Company season features a world premiere musical, a Tony-winning musical, a play produced by DTC in 2005 but is newly relevant, a one-man show and a new holiday revue – plus multiple ways to create conversations and connect with the community.

The season includes “Kinky Boots,” “Every Brilliant Thing,” “Home for the Holidays in the 302,” “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”

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Matt Silva, the nonprofit’s executive and artistic director, used the words “conversation” and “community” a dozen times during an interview about the season.

Consider the opener, “Kinky Boots,” a feel-good musical by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein about a down-at-heels (!) shoe firm that revives its business by making footwear for drag performers.

It’s being produced as part of a new theatrical partnership with New Light Theatre.

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It involves a community partnership with the United Way Pride Council, interested in spreading the show’s “message of acceptance and celebration of identity,” Silva said.

New Light bakes the community and the conversation into its mission, which calls for “improving the human condition by partnering each production with thematically connected charitable causes” and “deepening our empathy and connection with one another through meaningful artistic work.”

Silva believes that the only way that a regional theater like DTC, founded in 1979, can exist is with partnerships, such as the the one with New Light, founded in 2018. New Light co-founder Lena Mucchetti is directing “Kinky Boots,” which runs Sept. 25-Oct. 13.

In December, DTC is creating a revue that celebrates all the holidays of that time of year with “song, dance and cheer” The publicity calls it “ ‘White Christmas’ meets ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ ”

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Home for the Holidays in the 302” will include local choirs and celebrities with special talents. “Everything will connect us to the sense of nostalgia,” Silva said, “when you come home for the holidays.”

One thing that isn’t in the season is a play by Layon Gray. DTC produced his “Kings of Harlem” this season and “Black Angels Over Tuskegee” the season before.

Silva recently saw Gray’s “Cowboy,” about the first black U.S. deputy marshal, but felt it “doesn’t have any sort of historical overlap with things here” so it doesn’t speak to the Wilmington area.

He is interested in Gray’s “The Girls of Summer,” which uses baseball to consider “the complexities of racism, deception and betrayal,” Gray said. It received raves this year in Miami.

Silva is directing “Every Brilliant Thing,” a one-man show about a son who makes “a list of everything that’s worth living for” for his ailing mother. The list includes “1. Ice cream. 2. Kung Fu movies. 3. Burning things. 4. Laughing so hard you shoot milk out your nose. 5. Construction cranes. 6. Me.” The 2013 play, which runs Oct. 23-Nov. 10, is by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe. It was also made into a HBO movie.

“Home for the Holidays,” which runs Dec. 4-22,” will vary in performers each time.

Silva is also directing “Tuesdays With Morrie,” which runs Feb. 19-March 9. It’s based on the true story of professor Morrie Schwartz sharing lessons on life and death with former student Mitch Albom, who wrote the play with Jeffrey Hatcher, based on Albom’s memori.

“It’s a beautiful story about death and dying,” Silva said. “Especially after a pandemic, bringing that story to life and creating conversations about end-of-life care is really timely. And it allows us the opportunit to see these things once again through a celebratory lens, a joyful lens. We’re not mired down in the loss of Morrie. He knew he was dying and wanted everyone to celebrate that.”

The season’s final show is “Stompin’ at the Savoy,” April 16-May 4. It’s by Phaedra Michelle Scott and Alan Govenar, with composition, arrangement and orchestration by Eyal Vilner.

Scott is a Mount Pleasant graduate and a dramaturg, director and writer who “is passionate about art as activism.”

The musical focuses on Ida Moore , who dreams of becoming a dancer at the Savoy Ballroom in 1930s Harlem, the only dance floor in America where Blacks and whites could mix. The show features new arrangements of songs by Ella Fitzgerald, Chick Webb, Benny Goodman and other Big Band hits.

Delaware Theatre Company ’24-25 season

All shows have viewpoints on the Wednesday matinees and the first Wednesday evening show in which the director, designer or both talk about context, choices and dramaturgy. All shows have talk-back performances after every Thursday performance with the cast and representatives of the community partners.

“Kinky Boots,” Sept. 25-Oct. 13.

“Every Brilliant Thing,” Oct. 23-Nov. 10.

“Home for the Holidays,” Dec. 4-22.

“Tuesdays With Morrie,” Feb. 19-March 9.

“Stompin’ at the Savoy,” April 16-May 4.

Season subscriptions are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale Aug. 2. All performances will be at Delaware Theatre Company, 200 Water St., on the Wilmington Riverfront.

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