For decades, beginning in the 1940’s, Wilmington’s Playhouse was a stop – a tryout town if you will – with productions whose terminal destination was Broadway. Shows written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Lerner and Loewe would be staged here to gauge audience approval, tweak, add or delete dialogue or songs, etc.

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That mantle has now shifted to Delaware Theatre Co. Since Producing Artistic Director Bud Martin’s arrival in 2012, there have been a number of productions still in the pipeline with aspirations to the fabled neighborhood around 42nd Street: DINER (waiting for Sara Bareilles’ WAITRESS to close), BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE and last year’s chimerical SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES.

Which leads us to the November 28th regional premiere of A SIGN OF THE TIMES – a show 3 years in the making – featuring the songs of Petula Clark and multiple other hit-makers of the 1960s. It was written by Emmy Award winner Bruce Vilanch based on an original story by Richard Robin. Vilanch sat to Whoopi’s left on Hollywood Squares. He and the entire heralded creative team are in Wilmington.

The show stars Chilina Kennedy, taking a hiatus from her role as Carole King in Broadway’s BEAUTIFUL. The fact that Chilina asked for a few months off from Broadway speaks volumes as to her dedication to this project. She has played the role over 1000 shows. (see the vid). Her cast members have major credits; including HAMILTON, SIDE SHOW, LES MIS, SCHOOL OF ROCK, DROWSY CHAPERONE…the list goes on. A SIGN OF THE TIMES played to nearly sell out performances at its premiere in 2016 at Goodspeed Musicals.

Aisle Say traveled to DTC’s Riverfront location last week and chatted with the charming Chilina. She plays Cindy, a young woman pursuing her passion and finding her voice in New York City in 1965. Set against the backdrop of women’s liberation, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam war. Petula’s songs include “Downtown”, “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”. There are a host of other songs relevant to this tumultuous era – songs of a generation – tunes that strike all too familiar chords in 2018. Think #MeToo? Think Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”.

This is a major production for DTC with major implications. It hosts 17 actors,150 costumes, 10-piece orchestra, numerous set changes (10 locations) and sizeable lighting and sound package rentals in addition to DTC’s in-house equipment.

Chilina made her Broadway debut as Mary Magdalene in Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s (Canada) production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Also, at Stratford, she starred inThe Grapes of Wrath, Evita, West Side Story, Forum and Kiss Me, Kate. That’s quite a range of characters, I’ll say!

I asked this “Belle of Stratford” what intrigued her about SIGN OF THE TIMES. “The most wonderful dynamic is being part of an original production, being part of molding the clay with something new. And this cast and Creative Crew is simply to die for”.

This show will be THE event at DTC this year. Exciting ‘signs of the times’ for the once and future ‘tryout town”.

Opens November 28 – December 23 DelawareTheatre 302.594.1100