Party Perfect

When it’s time to celebrate a special occasion or simply gather some friends for a good time, do it with style. Here’s the ultimate advice for throwing an affair to remember.



The end of fall signals the approaching party season. With holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and Kwaanza, its time to gather family and friends for some of the most important occassions of the year.

Throwing a party at home, however, can be challenging. Guests have high expectations. They want something fanciful and fun. Couple that trend with well-traveled guests who’ve developed educated palates and the pressure to impress goes up a few notches.

No worries. From invitations to flowers to food, here are some ideas to help you throw the perfect party.

 

 

 

Make it Easy

Plan to Have Fun

 

Planning a party is no picnic, especially when you’re juggling work, household chores and kids with homework. Too often, you’re so stressed that you can’t enjoy your own event. Relax. Here are a few ideas to help you ease the strain.

 

Buy prepared hors d’oeuvres and desserts.

It’s important to start and end the meal on a memorable note. But unless you’re Nigella, you probably abhor the thought of fussing with puff pastry.

Leave the fancy foods to the experts. The Cheese Chalet in Pike Creek sells a variety of phyllo-wrapped appetizers. Choose from spinach and feta, goat cheese and artichoke, or crab and brie (the most popular), says owner Carol Huffman.

 

Supplement your main course with prepared side dishes.

With all the gourmet food stores in the area, there’s no reason to do it all yourself. Moveable Feast in Wilmington offers an array of side dishes, from roasted potatoes to mesclun salad with goat cheese, granny smith apples and walnuts.

In Dover, 33 West features broccoli and green bean salads that add vivid color to your entrée. The Cheese Chalet is so well known for its broccoli salad—made with raisins and walnuts—that one steady customer brings a serving bowl into the shop and tells the staff to “fill it up,” Huffman says.

 

Buy the whole meal.

If you’re pressed for time, but expecting six for a dinner at 8 p.m., buy the entire meal. Gourmet food stores including Janssen’s and Food Source, both in Greenville, can offer soup to nuts.

 

Hire a caterer.

For larger parties, consider a caterer. It will save time and your sanity. Some caterers will drop off the food. Or, you can pick up your order. Many will deliver the food, set it up and serve it. They can also provide ancillary items, such as tables and linens.

If you opt for servers, ask about server policies. The caterer may only provide waitstaff if you have a certain number of guests. Also ask if gratuity is included in the price.

If you nix the servers, at least consider hiring a bartender, which lets you mingle with your guests instead of mixing their cocktails.

 

Care for the kids.

Kids might be welcome at your event, but you don’t want them underfoot. Bobbie Yarrusso, owner of Creative Event Designs by Bobbie in Wilmington, has seen the move toward activities designed to keep kids occupied. At a 40th birthday party, she arranged games with prizes.

 

Call a rental service.

You can rent everything from serving spoons to plates to wine glasses. And here’s the bonus: afterward, you need only scrape and rinse—no washing dishes into the wee hours of the morning. The convenience has prompted people to rent place servings for small functions, says Beth Martin of Events Unlimited in Wilmington.

Rented linens are an easy way to set the stage without props. Gold lamé and silver linens add glitz. Imperial stripes—a tone-on-tone pattern created with texture instead of color—deliver class. Diamond State Party Rentals in Wilmington offers 50 solid colors, as well as prints, says owner Annie Jones.

To make a fashion statement, drape the serving table in a contrasting color, Jones suggests. After the party, simply shake, fold and return. Nothing could be simpler.

 Buy the Numbers:

How to Plan Food and Drink

 

It’s a common scenario. Worried that you won’t have enough food, you overbuy. For days afterward, your family is stuck eating canapés for dinner. Meanwhile, bottles of unused wine take up space in the basement.

Determining the right amount of food and drink is a numbers game. Here are some general formulas to help you budget. Remember, the numbers will vary depending on your guests’ preferences. If there are few beer drinkers on the guest list, you can cut back on the cases. Be flexible.

• For individual appetizers, including bacon-wrapped scallops and the like, figure between two and three appetizers per person per hour. If you also have stationary setups, such as cheese and fruit trays, you may not need as many individual pieces. You’ll need more pieces, however, if hors d’oeuvres are the primary menu item. You’ll also need more substantial selections.

Choose at least three different appetizers for a guest list that runs eight to 10 people, four to five choices for 14 to 16 people, and six selections for up to 45 people.

• A 750-milliliter bottle of wine yields about five 5-ounce glasses. A case of wine is enough for 24 people.

• A case of beer offers 24 12-ounce servings.

• A 2-liter soda bottle offers about 11 6-ounce glasses. Remember to buy enough for mixing.

• Allow two beverages per hour for the first hour of the party. Allow a beverage an hour for the next three hours. The consumption should decrease as the party progresses. If it doesn’t, start collecting car keys.

• Allow a pound of ice cubes per person, more for larger parties.

• Buy enough salad to give each person a 4-ounce serving.

 Chef’s Special:

Fashionable Food

 

In the old days, hosts and hostesses could rely on a few good party dishes. Consider pigs-in-a-blanket, chicken breasts wrapped with chipped beef, and cheesecake cupcakes, made with Nilla wafers and jarred fruit toppings. The host could trot out the same fare every year, and no one minded.

Things have changed.

“People are moving toward delighting and surprising their guests,” says Daniel Love, a partner in Catering By Design in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Paula Poorani, co-owner of Sugarfoot Fine Food in Little Italy and downtown Wilmington, agrees. “People want to do something different than the rest,” says Poorani. “They’re looking for something new.”

Novel menu-making is easy when there’s a theme, such as a Hawaiian luau or Southern barbecue. Poorani recently planned a Cuban party, where everything promoted the theme, from the food to the mojito drinks to the cigar-roller stationed on the patio.

Sometimes the menu sets the theme and not the other way around. Toscana Catering in Wilmington has seen an increase in wine parties, says Leslie McElfresh, director of catering. Wines are matched to multiple food courses. Chef Dan Butler will even come and cook the meal in the homeowner’s kitchen.

One of Love’s clients held a party to compare different vintages of Dom Perignon, which he’d collected over the years. “We had beautiful oysters with a saffron beurre blanc,” Love says wistfully.

The party’s location can also influence the menu. Along the beach, seafood is almost expected, says Leanne Silicato, co-owner of Make My Day Event Planning in Lewes. Take lobster fritters or the ever-popular cocktail shrimp.

Theme or no theme, there are trends in party fare. Bisques or consommés, for instance, have become increasingly fashionable, Love says. And you needn’t confine soup to sit-down dinners. Serve it surrounded by demitasse cups or Japanese teacups. Cocktail party guests can take a quick sip and move on. Similarly, perch tuna ceviche or another tasty tidbit on a teaspoon or Asian soup spoon.

In keeping with the handheld theme, Love creates unconventional lollipops with cheesecake. Seared rack of lamb, cut from the bone and propped on a stick, also makes for an unusual lollipop. “People love not having the bone left in their hand,” he notes.

No mess is now the way to go, he says. It’s been years since he left the tail on shrimp. Instead of the typical crab claws, which leave guests wondering where to put the shell, he serves bite-size chunks of Alaskan King crab leg that are lightly brushed with drawn butter. “It’s clean and simple.”

Cheese trays remain stylish, but cubes of cheddar just won’t do. The Cheese Chalet in Pike Creek incorporates cubed havarti and Stilchester cheddar, an English cheese comprised of a layer of Stilton cheese between two layers of double Gloucester.

When it comes to appetizers, the old can become the new. Carol Hoffman, a partner in The Cheese Chalet, says customers lately have showed more interest in mini meatballs, whether they’re Swedish style, doused with marinara or spiced with barbecue sauce.

For dessert, you might think the ubiquitous chocolate fountain would be all the rage. Love isn’t a fan. “They’re messy,” he says. “They splatter and splash.” He much prefers chocolate fondue.

Gail Ashe, general manager of Moveable Feast in Wilmington, is seeing a trend toward a medley of bite-size desserts, including chocolate-dipped strawberries, cream puffs and miniature fruit tarts. “For some reason, when they’re small they’re more guilt-free,” she says.

The Cheese Chalet also offers a variety of bite-size temptations, including lemon bars and brownies.

The manner in which the food is served can also distinguish the party. As is the case at weddings and corporate events, food stations are popular—if you have the room, that is.

Food stations not only encourage guests to mingle, but they can also add drama. Consider the sizzle and flame of an outdoor grilling station or the sight of a chef carving rare roast beef, both of which are offered by

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Sports Card & Collectible Show at Aetna Fire Hall on Jan. 22—sign up now! -Sports Cards McFarlane Figures Comic Books Non-Sports cards Wrestling Items Vintage Starting...

Cost: $2

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Aetna Fire Hall
400 Ogletown Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: A2Z Promotions
Telephone: 302-983-2636
Contact Name: Bob Harper
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
Contact Name: Zahra
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
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Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
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Come give curling a try! At this 2-hour intro-to-curling event we'll provide a basic lesson then coach you through a mini-game.  Whether you just want to cross #curling off your bucket list or...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Notbybreadalone Ministries presents Feeding the Hungry Outreach. All are welcome to come and partake of food, fun and fellowship. Those who desire a better way of life through Jesus Christ are...

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd and 3rd Streets
Wilmington, DE  19801


Sponsor: Notbybreadalone Outreach Ministries
Telephone: 442-0440
Contact Name: Ministers Wayne and Stephanie Dumpson
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Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Dover
Building A Auditorium
3282 N DuPont Highway
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Sponsor: East Coast Garden Center
Telephone: 302-945-3489
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

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University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
View map »


Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

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MARC BROUSSARD In 2004, Marc Broussard, then a precocious 22-year-old singer/songwriter, released his major-label debut; he called it Carencro, after the Louisiana town where he was born and...

Cost: $22 SRO- $32 SEATED

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
Website »

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
View map »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

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


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

January 28 – Saturday – 1 to 4 p.m. Science Saturday – Truss Me, You Won’t Fall! Become an engineer for the day. Design a bridge to hold as much weight as possible....

Cost: Activities are included in regular admission and free for members.

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

More information

The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

GRILLED CHEESE AND CRAFT BEER TASTING We have taken two of the best things on earth and paired them together – Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer – and paired them together in unexpected and...

Cost: $40

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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Saturday, January 28, 2017 at  7:30 pm at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 763 Valley Forge Rd, Wayne, PA 19087 Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 3 pm at Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square...

Cost: Tickets are $25 online, and $30 at the door. Student tickets $10 at the door.

Where:
Church of the Holy Trinity
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103
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Sponsor: Lyric Fest
Telephone: 215-438-1702
Contact Name: Jessica Nelson
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Fan favorite, Dick Smith, returns to the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society concert stage on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 for a show that is sure to bring the house down! Dick Smith has been a...

Cost: $15 Adults; $10 Students

Where:
John Dickinson High School Auditorium
1801 Milltown Road
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Dickinson Theatre Organ Society
Telephone: 302-995-2603
Contact Name: Bob Dilworth
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The Dickinson Theatre Organ Society presents Dick Smith. For tickets, click here: http://www.dtoskimball.org/events-tickets/ticket-information/ For further information, please call us at...

Where:
, DE

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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

Cost: $12-$20

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
10 West Lea Blvd.
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-3396
Contact Name: Kathy Buterbaugh
Website »

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MOTHERSHIP Mothership is the area's premier Led Zeppelin Tribute show. Composed of seasoned, professional musicians Mario Padovani - vocals, keyboards, Frank Ginocchio - drums, Chris Julian -...

Cost: 15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Website »

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