The Profile: Lost in Translation?

Not for the young Eastern Europeans who arrive for seasonal work at the beach, then stay to help those who follow.





Yelena Kretova of Russia (left) and Ciprian Gherghescu of Romania were drawn to the United State by the promise of the American dream.
Photographs by Keith Mosher
www.kamproductions.com

With no job and no place to stay, Yelena Kretova stepped off a bus in the middle of the night in Rehoboth Beach. An only child who describes herself as a homebody, Kretova was on her first trip away from Russia.

“I called my mom and told her everything was just great. I tried not to cry. I hung up and cried the rest of the night,” Kretova says. “Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.”

Five years later, Kretova is happily married, living near Lewes and working at the Rusty Rudder in Dewey Beach. She speaks with excitement about remodeling her house and her mother’s first vacation, a visit to the United States to see her, a year ago.

Ciprian Gherghescu’s course from Romania to Rehoboth Beach was less direct. “I came here at 19 having hope, faith and confidence,” he says. “I came here with myself and that’s it.”

He landed in Arlington, Virginia, four years ago to work as an au pair. When the family let him go shortly after his arrival, he was left with no place to go and little money. Still, he ended up at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown.

Any visitor to Delaware’s beaches in recent years will notice young people like them. Carol Everhart, executive director of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, estimates there are 2,500 foreign young people working at the Delaware beaches during the peak of summer. Most come from Eastern European countries, primarily Russia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

“Any destination that I talk to is telling me the same thing,” Everhart says. “You no longer have the number of American students to fill the seasonal needs. The foreign student is filling that void.”

Steve and Barbara Crane have owned Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue since 1975. As employers, they have witnessed the shift firsthand. They’ve hired young people from all over the world. The Cranes have been touched personally by the students and are still in contact with their first foreign student. “It’s such a joy. It enriches your life,” says Barbara. “It makes you remember things you should appreciate, things you already have.”

Though the paths that led Gherghescu and Kretova to Delaware are different, they share important similarities. Among them are courage and optimism.

Kretova grew up comfortably in Slavyansk, Russia, near the Black Sea. She enjoyed her studies, especially English. “In high school especially, I was always outgoing,” she says. “I was the first one in the school and the last one out.” At a state university, she completed a degree in public relations. At college, she’d heard about other students working abroad for the summer.

Working through an agency, Kretova obtained a job offer—in Daytona Beach, Florida—necessary to get her visa. “It all seemed like fun at the time when I was thinking about it,” Kretova says. She boarded a plane for New York filled with other Russian students headed for various destinations across the United States.

Then she ended up in Rehoboth Beach in the middle of the night.

“I met two girls on the plane, and we decided to go together,” Kretova says. “No one else on the plane was going to Florida. One girl had a contract in Dewey Beach at the Atlantic Ocean Motel. All the way down on the bus, we didn’t know if we were going in the right direction. I studied English, but it was different hearing it,” she says.

They disembarked at the Valero station on Rehoboth Avenue, then started looking for a cheap motel. They could find a room for no less than $100 a night, a considerable amount of money to the girls. Kretova then called her mom and reassured her that everything was just fine.

The next day Kretova found a job at the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel in housekeeping. Her housing was taken care of. She worked there all summer, then returned the following year with the same group of girls.

In 2003 she took a job at the Baycenter in Dewey Beach as a waitress. She returned the following summer, then stayed. She had met a man, a chef at the Baycenter. She obtained an extended visa, then married Michael that June.

When Kretova decided to remain in the United States, she worried about the effect on her mother. “I was afraid to tell my mom. I didn’t know how she would react,” she says, “When me and Michael were dating, she didn’t say much. Then my mom realized it was serious.”

Despite the distance, Kretova remains close with her family. “If I don’t call them more than once a week, they call me and ask what’s wrong.”

So Kretova’s mother’s visit was a big deal in many ways. “My mom has never taken a vacation,” says Kretova. “It’s work, work, work.” More important, she needed to see her only daughter’s life so far from Russia. “Mom said, ‘All I want is to see for myself that you’re OK.’”

“She turned out to be a real beach babe,” Kretova says. “She was doing a lot of cooking. She spoiled my husband.” But most signific, “She said, ‘Now I am absolutely calm. I’m not going to have any worries.’”

Gherghescu grew up in Bacau, Romania. After studying culinary arts at an economic high school, Gherghescu majored in food chemistry at Bacau University and worked as a waiter.

While waiting tables, “I met this individual from Salt Lake City,” Gherghescu says. “He did a tremendous job of explaining what a beautiful country America is.”

The man ran an au pair agency and inspired Gherghescu to get a visa and explore the United States for himself.

Gherghescu’s first au pair job ended quickly. “I didn’t have money to go home. My parents sent me a few dollars, as much as they could afford, about $200,” he says. When he met some Romanians in Arlington, he moved in with them temporarily. “Having to solve a challenge like that was a big step in my life,” he says.

Gherghescu was later matched with a family in Wilmington. He grew attached to the child, and his employers sponsored his student visa so he could resume studies at Delaware Tech. “They offered me the privilege and experience of the American lifestyle they were living, and I am thankful for that,” Gherghescu says.

In May 2005 he moved to Rehoboth and worked at the Terrace Restaurant. He also has worked at La Rosa Negra in Lewes and the Rehoboth Beach Country Club.

“All the people have been wonderful,” he says. The owner of the Terrace sponsored his student visa status and members of his church, Epworth United Methodist, have also been very supportive. “I was in a financial crisis earlier this year,” he says. “Ten people offered to give $100 toward my education.”

In addition to membership in the scholastic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, he also is a member of Alpha Beta Gamma, an international business honor society.

Many Americans can’t imagine arriving in a new country without knowing the language, culture, law or geography. Both Gherghescu and Kretova were lucky to have encountered many kind and generous people, but that is not a universal experience. “There are sharks and angelfish in every pond of water,” Everhart says.

Chris Berg once worked in the hospitality industry at the beach. He now works for the Council on International Educational Exchange, which matches foreign students with area employers.

“One of the reasons I got involved, I saw a lot of impropriety,” Berg says. “I’ve seen things that haven’t gone right. It made me sad to see these kids crying in the streets.”

Berg is also involved in a fledgling organization in Sussex County, The International Student Committee, which formed to help students, businesses and the community. Committee members and sponsors are diverse. They include the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Rehoboth Beach Police Department, the Lewes-Rehoboth Association of Churches, Wilmington Trust and the Delaware Community Foundation.

The group hopes to eliminate some of the pitfalls students have encountered in the past. It has hosted an international seasonal student orientation in four languages, and it has offered an educational seminar for employers.

CIEE has furthermore identified immediate needs such as meeting new arrivals at the bus stop. Volunteers from the church go to the Valero on Rehoboth Avenue to greet and help young people who find their way to Rehoboth Beach—like Kretova. The churches also host weekly meal programs for students. They have succeeded because they provide another opportunity for contact, allowing the group to get information about things such as local transportation and laws to the new arrivals.

When Kretova heard about the volunteers at the bus stop, she expressed an interest in serving as a volunteer. In the meantime, she’s enjoying her life and pondering her future. Going back to school is one possibility. “My mom brought me my diploma, and all my credits transferred,” she says.

Gherghescu hopes to pursue scholarships for a four-year college. More important, he wants to give back to the community that has supported him.

“I want to continue to be happy through service and reaching out to people in need with the use of the strength I’ve acquired,” he says.

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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

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
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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

Where:
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
Website »

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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

Where:
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
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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...
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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

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
Website »

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Cost: $12-$20

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

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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

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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