In the several years of Del Shakes, originating at Archmere Academy, Aisle Say does not recall a production with so spirited, sworn and skilled cast.

DEL SHAKES FESTIVAL - Two Gentlemen of Verona

In the several years of Del Shakes, originating at Archmere Academy,  Aisle Say does not recall a production with so spirited, sworn and skilled a cast.

I recall seeing Romeo & Juliet at the Ashland OR Shakespeare Festival whose setting was the Civil War.  Director and Choreographer Samantha Bellomo, a new talent to Delaware, chose The Roaring Twenties.  Not only were the costumes bright and fanciful, but she employed her second day job, that of choreographer, in short and rousing jigs reminiscent of the Charleston. One such began the show, building momentum which lasted through its entirety.

(It also pays to have on one's theatrical resume "other talents". These facilities came into play with a few of the actors doubling as musicians, again to add diversity to the program. To wit: (Ponthino) Alan Holmes, a fine actor, plays a mean accordion as well! I hope he thanks Mom and Dad. Holmes probably hated going to practice.)

Love, perhaps wasted on the youth, is alive and well in Shakespeare; at least the foolish and petulant behavior of puerile love. (Proteus) Adam Darrow is madly in love with the winsome (Julia), Clare Mahoney, soon to be a cross dresser. (The Bard used this gambit more than once in his canon.) But Proteus journeys to Milan and instantly falls in love with (Sylvia) Emilie Krause.  Unfortunately, she is close to marriage with his best friend (Valentine) Brandon Pierce. Julia takes the same trek to Milan and witnesses her 'lover' now serenading Sylvia. Woe is Julia!

(Launce) Griffin Stanton-Ameisen has a glib tongue and an undeniable way with Crab his sidekick (a real 'rescue' dog!). Launce plays the fool, generally the smartest character in Shakespeare. On seeing Sylvia he remarks on her qualities, "she hath more hair than wit, and more faults than hairs, and more wealth than faults".

TWO GENTS is considered to be Will's first. It opens the vein he worked so richly afterwards – the vein of crossed love, of flight and exile under the escort of the generous sentiments; of disguised heroines, and sufferings endured and virtues exhibited under their disguise. As such, for lovers of Shakespeare, this is a must. And unlike the most of his works, it is spoken in either blank verse or prose.

This, then, is THE production to see. Lovingly directed, surfeit with high caliber actors and staged in the pastoral backyard of Rockwood Mansion; a perfect theatrical experience for a summer night.

Through July 28. 302-415-3373


Summer brings to NCT a brief respite from the big budget productions of the fall and spring seasons.  But a four man show, PLAID does boast a live onstage combo whose keyboardist interacts frequently with the cast members.

While the music of "PLAID" is impossible to malign; "Three Coins In the Fountain", Love Is a many Splendored Thing" - who doesn't love them performed in rhapsodizing harmony? But this is one bizarre premise on which to base a musical. The lads were driving to a gig and are struck and killed by a bus transporting 'virgins' from a Catholic high school. (A gag that probably went over when the show was first written but now verges on political incorrectedness.) Although now dead, the boys are sent to earth for one last concert.  At the finale, they ascend upward. One questions why they need all that just to sing period specific hits.

(Frankie) Caleb Whipple, (Smudge) Dan Sanchez, (Sparky) Peter Briccotto and (Jinx) Jeffrey Lanigan are the aspirants. In more than one tune their voices channel The Four Aces (singers of both of the aforementioned gold record tunes).

Fun fact regarding 3 Coins: Songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne were asked to write the song to fit the movie "Three Coins In The Fountain". They were unable to either see the film or read the script. They completed the song in an hour.

Director/Choreographer Dann Dunn pulls a few tricks a la Tony Award winner and DE native Susan Stroman in the implementation of common household objects as dance pieces (think the granny walkers in "The Producers"). He has the Plains use long handled plungers as mics and choreos around them is a very amusing "Perfidia". All of the gents are born hams, so the spoof about being on camera was hysterical. Dan Sanchez shone in his solo. Lanigan's tenor equals that of NCT's best.

The foursome still needs some work on the a capella "Scotland The Brave", but it's a long run.

Jeff Reim's set was magnificent. The chaser lights became part of the cast. I am certain we will see that set again.

Through August 25.   475.2313