Go! Perform: The Arts for All

From singing and acting to twirling, a school in Middletown offers a little something for every kid. On with the show.



    With Somebody’s School of Dance in almost every strip mall and as home to a renowned school of painting, you would hardly think Delaware ever lacked for arts education.

The brother-and-sister team of Fred Munzert and Lisa Munzert Bonacquisti saw things differently when they decided to open Premier Center for the Arts in Middletown.

“We looked at the growth of Middletown, and it was clear that the area needed something for students to continue their education,” Munzert says. “We liked the idea of bringing all the arts under one umbrella.”

The pair renovated an old warehouse into three dance studios, eight private music studios, classrooms, a black-box theater space and school store, and it’s here that PCA students find classes in all disciplines at all levels.

“It’s unique to have all the arts—fine arts, performing arts—together,” Bonacquisti says. “It creates a synergy between the arts,” adds Munzert. Students at PCA interact on projects. Recitals can include dancers, twirlers, musicians and singers performing one after the other or, sometimes, together.

Of course, before a recital comes class time. PCA’s students participate in dance including tap, jazz, ballet, baton and hip-hop, from introductory classes for three- and four-year-olds to the audition-only competitive dance troupe. Private instruction is available in piano, voice, guitar, drum, brass, woodwinds, music theory and composition, plus group classes for beginners in guitar, drum and music theory. The center also has art discovery classes for three age groups, ranging from 3- to 16-year olds, and a series of theater arts classes that cover everything from improvisation to makeup application.

When they say all arts under one roof, they mean all the arts. The inclusive approach makes things easier for families. Instead of carting kids to different lessons all over town, parents can go to one location and find a variety of activities, and a friendly waiting room for any impatient siblings.

PCA’s faculty also appreciates the variety. “Once you get involved in one thing there, there is so much else to do,” says Missy Vestal, who teaches movement and art classes, performs in many PCA shows and hosts themed birthday parties. “When in one place, you can sing your heart out, walk 10 steps and dance, turn around and design a show. It’s pretty special. There’s nothing I want to do there that I can’t do. I love that they’ll let me try anything.” That energy and enthusiasm keeps classes exciting for the students, too.

PCA’s Main Stage Season includes four shows that combine a cast of professional actors with students and community members, creating a learning environment for all involved and giving students the experience of working with seasoned performers.

Last season included adult-themed offerings like “Pink Floyd’s The Wall” and an original Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre play, plus child-friendly shows “Annie” and “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” based on the 1970s TV series. Theater workshops include instruction from a staff director and a performance during the last week of class. Last fall, 4- to 7-year-olds presented “Disney’s 101 Dalmatians” and 6- to 17-year-olds performed in “Music Man Junior” in March. 

One of PCA’s more popular classes has been the School of Rock. Students in guitar, bass, keyboard and drums are placed in bands that work with an instructor throughout the year, learning to function as a group while playing covers and original songs. The end-of-year battle of the bands allows each band to show off what it learned during the season.

The School of Rock is one way PCA appeals to students with various interests. “We’re trying to find ways to keep students involved in the arts as they get older. Keeping it relevant is the best way,” Munzert says.

The center offers classical training in all disciplines, but also wants to react to what’s happening in the arts world today. “It makes it real to the younger student who may quit because they don’t understand the classic form,” he says.

Reacting to student need is another PCA hallmark. One of the faculty’s goals is to help each student figure out what he or she wants. Even for those who are just enjoying themselves, a background in the arts gives them self-esteem, discipline and the ability to present themselves well. But, as Bonacquisti says, “We have the opportunity to take students from the area and get them to New York City or Los Angeles,” and if that’s what a student wants, PCA will teach them what they need to know.

Munzert cites PCA’s organizational structure as another reason it is able to adapt. Unlike many arts schools, Premier Center for the Arts is a for-profit business.

“There is a trend for arts organizations to set up [limited liability companies] as opposed to non-profits,” Munzert says, in part because arts funding isn’t as available as it once was. In addition to class fees, PCA’s funding comes from ticket sales and sponsors. Without a board of directors to answer to and grants to apply for, PCA can quickly implement new programs and classes.

More than 800 students have passed through the doors since PCA opened. Munzert and Bonacquisti may have different specialties and different personalities, but they have enormous respect for one another.

Bonacquisti, a trained emergency room nurse, is a champion baton twirler, gymnast and dancer who wore the crown as the 1990 Miss Delaware (she also won the non-finalist talent competition at that year’s Miss America Pageant). Munzert, who graduated from West Chester University with a degree in music, is a musical theater veteran who has taught voice and piano for 25 years. (He also worked for a few years on the Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World.)

Between the two, there’s a wide expertise in arts education. “They both have strong backgrounds in what they do,” Vestal says. “It’s obviously an equal team.” And neither hesitates to point out the other’s strengths. Their easy rapport doesn’t hurt, either.

“This is much larger than the two of us now,” Munzert says. “We just come in each day and try to catch the wave.”

PCA’s 7,500-square-foot facility is at 27 Anderson St. in Middletown. Upcoming events include the “Jungle Book Kids” theater workshop and show November 10-12, the Mainstage Production of “Beauty and the Beast” December 1-3 and 8-10, and the “Into the Woods Jr.” workshop and show in spring. For a full class and performance schedule, call 378-1384, or visit www.pac-de.com. 

DT

 

 

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February 2016

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Where:
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1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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More information

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Penn Museum
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More information

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Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

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View map »


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More information

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, DE


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Kimmel Center - Commonwealth Plaza
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Show Less...

Delaware State University will feature the following events and exhibitions during its 2016 Black History Month celebration: Wednesday, Feb. 3 Black Lives Matter Symposium Documentary...

Cost: FREE and open to the public

Where:
Delaware State University
1200 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
View map »

More information

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

Where:
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201 Hagley Creek Rd
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Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
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Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Nanticoke Memorial Hospital
801 Middleford Rd.
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 ext. 2540
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View map »


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Cost: $13

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More information

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Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
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Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $0-14

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View map »


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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
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View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
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, DE


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Cost: Free

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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Cost: $15–$18

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The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
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First State Heritage Park
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View map »


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Cost: $40

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Humpty's Dumplings
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, DE

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Where:
, DE

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Our Winter Group Show features oil paintings by Rosemary Castiglioni, Jim Gears and Mary Ann Weselyk. Still-life paintings with subtle color variations by...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
View map »

More information

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Cost: $13

Where:
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1101 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »

More information

Explore some of the diverse ways that human beings have understood sex and sexuality, gender and gender diversity in this small but broad new exhibition, presented in conjunction with the 2015-2016...

Cost: Free with Museum Admission.

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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What was behind the legendary story of King Midas and his golden touch? That is the question to be answered—not with chests full of gold, but with a spectacular array of ancient artifacts,...

Cost: Adults $20; seniors $18; students (with ID) $15; children (ages 6–17) $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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Guests can explore three floors of exhibitions in the Visitor Center, stroll along the river through dozens of historic structures from the Industrial Revolution, and explore the gardens and...

Cost: $0-14

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Rd
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Meg Marcozzi
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Penn Museum opens the world premiere exhibition The Golden Age of King Midas—featuring ancient treasures on loan from the Republic of Turkey—with a spectacular daylong public...

Cost: $15

Where:
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
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This art exhibit features fine art works and three dimensional pieces that embrace the subject “red.” Artist are free to use their imagination and creativity, so works will include...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Gibby Center for the Arts
51 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Gibby Center for the Arts
Telephone: 302-449-5396
Contact Name: Caroline Zeitler
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For more information, please contact: Dave Ruffner ​Rehoboth Beach Film Society 107 Truitt Ave. Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971 302-645-9095, ext. 4 administrator@rehobothfilm.com...

Cost: Free

Where:
, DE


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society and CAMP Rehoboth will co-present "Tab Hunter Confidential" and "Portrait of a Serial Monogamist" as part of its annual Another Take...

Cost: $8

Where:
Metropolitan Community Church
19369 Plantation Rd.
Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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"La Sylphide" shares the beautiful and romantic story of our hero, James—a young Scottish farmer who, on the eve of hid wedding, abandons his betrothed, Effie, after being...

Cost: $25

Where:
Salesanium School
1801 North Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19802
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Sponsor: Academy of International Ballet
Telephone: 1-866-908-5666
Contact Name: Denis Gronostayskiy
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Venture back with us for an evening where we re-imagine the Victorian Industrial Age as seen through our steam-powered, futuristic goggles.  Our biggest fundraiser of the year and all proceeds...

Cost: $100-$110

Where:
Smyrna Opera House
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE  19977
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A spoiled orphan girl is sent to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors and discovers renewed life, for herself and her sickly cousin, in bringing her dead aunt’s secret garden back to...

Cost: $15–$18

Where:
The Secret Garden
47 W Main St.
Middletown, DE  19709
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Sponsor: The Everett Theatre
Telephone: 302-540-8561
Contact Name: Chris Everett
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Location: St. Mark’s High School, 2501 Pike Creek Road, Wilmington Time: Registration: 11:30 a.m. Race: 12:30 p.m. Fee: $25 (until Thursday, Feb. 11), $35 after and day of event...

Where:
, DE

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Location: Beebe Healthcare’s Medical Center, 424 Savannah Road, Lewes Date: Saturday, Feb. 13 (and the second Saturday of each month) Time: 9 a.m. Fee: Free For more...

Where:
, DE

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Ditch the winter whites for a world of dazzling color at Longwood Gardens, where you can stroll through thousands of orchids in bloom. Kennett Square, www.longwoodgardens.org 

Where:
, DE

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A successful writer of Broadway thrillers is struggling to overcome a dry spell when he receives a script from a student —a potential Broadway hit. Thereafter suspense...

Where:
, DE

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Regional artists Carol Tippit Woolworth, Catherine Drabkin, Pahl Alexander Hluchan, Colleen Randall and Dan Jackson explore the concept of place—physical, emotional and spiritual—in...

Where:
, DE

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