The performing arts are alive, well, and well-represented on Delmarva. It seems as though every town has a theater. Many of them are old movie theaters which have been taken over by community theater groups and converted into venues for life performances. Mostly volunteer and amateur troupes, their schedules include everything from dearly loved Broadway musicals and light-hearted comedies to works by local playwrights and thought-provoking dramas.
The music scene is as wide-ranging. The Rehoboth Jazz Festival and Easton Chamber Music Festivals are well-known, but you’ll find bluegrass, classical, rock, country, folk, and every other style performed and enjoyed in theaters, community centers, restaurants, and other venues every weekend, if not every night.
Film lovers can get their cinematic fix here, too. Rehoboth and Easton both have active film societies. Their schedule of screenings and discussions run throughout the year. Onancock boasts a monthly international film series that draws over 200 people to the tiny town. It just goes to prove that Delmarva is both laid back and sophisticated.
Eastern Shore of Virginia Performing Arts
North Street Playhouse, Onancock
Based in Onancock, the theater stages 12-15 shows a year in three series, including one designed for younger audiences. The theater also goes on the road to Chincoteague to mount several productions there each year. If you are accessing their website through Firefox, it will not be readable. It's set up for Explorer viewing only. www.northstreetplayhouse.org
Maryland Performing Arts
Prince Theatre. A very sophisticated schedule of plays and performances throughout the year. Most are mounted by the Theater's members. They stage an annual performance of The Vagina Monologues in conjunction with Washington College. Look for the annual Short Attention Span Theater Fest in June. Plays are only 10 minutes long. www.princetheatre.org
Church Hill Theatre. A community theater with a professional operating staff overseeing the year-long schedule of shows. A very varied list of plays, from I'm Not Rappaport, to Oliver, to Rocky Horror Picture Show. The theater is a restored and wonderfully maintained 1920's-era building. www.churchhilltheatre.org
Tred Avon Players. Hands-down, one of the best community theaters anywhere. Many of the members are retirees and ex-pats from elsewhere who have professional theatrical experience. Their calendar includes 4-5 shows a year. There's a conscious effort to find lesser-known shows of depth and quality, comedies, dramas, and musicals. www.tredavonplayers.org
Mar-Va Theater. The largest theater on Delmarva south of Wilmington, it still has the original 720 seats that were installed when it was built in 1927. After a long period of idleness, it's reopened as a performing arts center. Check the website for schedule of live performances. www.mar-vatheater.org
Salisbury University. The school's theater department produces several plays and performances every semester. www.salisbury.edu/theatreanddance/facilities.html
Wicomico County Civic Center. The civic center is the site of the Broadway in Salisbury series, which brings traveling road productions of current and classic Broadway shows. www.wicomicociviccenter.org/events.aspx
Community Players of Salisbury. One of the oldest community theaters in Maryland. They stage three shows a year. Generally, there's a musical to kick off the season in the fall, then two straight (non-musical) shows, in late winter and early summer. Venues vary: high schools, the Civic Center, or the stages at Wor-Wic Community College or Salisbury University. www.communityplayersofsalisbury.org
Snow Hill Center for Art & Entertainment. Stages dinner theater several times a year. Plans are for an expanded schedule of plays. It is home to the Worcester County Children's Theater Workshop. www.snowhillcenter.com
This tiny island, home to may of Chesapeake's watermen, stages its annual show in the autumn, after the crabbing season is over and when most other community theaters have shut down. www.tilghmanisland.com
Chesapeake College. The Todd Performing Arts Center has a schedule of performances, both by students in the Fine & Performing Arts Program and visiting talent. www.chesapeake.edu/generalinfo/Pac/pac_events.asp
Delaware Performing Arts
Delaware Comedy Theatre: Improv Comedy for the First State
Based in Rehoboth, this troupe travels throughout the area. Their website has the constantly updated schedule. They are careful to post alerts for 'family' vs. 'adult' shows. www.delawarecomedytheatre.com
Possum Point Players. The "Possums" carefully chose their name to emphasize their grass-roots nature. The quality of their shows makes other community theater groups with more elegant names jealous. While several of the active members have professional backgrounds in theater, most are dedicated, talented local amateurs. Their repertoire includes Broadway plays and musicals, comedies, dramas, children's shows, historical productions, dinner theater, reader's theater, and one-person shows. www.possumpointplayers.org
Second Street Players. A community theater with a reputation for solid, well-produced shows. They typically stage a winter drama, spring musical, summer comedy, fall drama, and holiday musical. They also put on several children's 'dessert' plays, usually based on fairy tales. www.secondstreetplayers.com
Milton Theater. Another grand old movie theater in the heart of a historic district renovated for multi-use, including a three-to-four play schedule. www.miltontheatre.com
Rehoboth Beach Theatre of the Arts. A great venue (a renovated church complex) in a great location (a block from the beach) with a great schedule of plays, dinner theater, and one-person shows. The mystery dinner theater package is particularly fun. www.rehobothbeachtheatre.com