Best Bets: Capital Ringers to make music in Milton

The Capital Ringers perform during this season’s holiday tour of area venues. Saturday’s Milton Theatre show marks the final performance of their “Celebrate the Season” show. Next week, the group will change its base of operations from Dover to Lewes. (Submitted photo)

The Capital Ringers are on the move.

Starting next week, the 16-member handbell choir is moving its base of operations from the Presbyterian Church of Dover to Conley’s United Methodist Church in Lewes.

“We were offered the space to rehearse, which will end up being more accessible for us since most of our members are now coming from that area,” said Capital Ringers artistic director and founder Linda Simms.

The group has been located in one venue or another in Dover since its establishment in 2004 but Ms. Simms said it’s become apparent that their fan base and the pool of musicians from which they draw is coming increasingly from the Lower Shore.

The final stop on this season’s eight-show holiday tour will take them to the Milton Theatre Saturday at 2 p.m.

“Celebrate the Season” features music from Trans-Siberian Orchestra (“Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo”), as well as “The Little Drummer Boy,” “Jolly Old St. Nicholas” and more along with a multimedia presentation.

“We do traditional carols in a contemporary way. It’s quite a show. It’s been a busy but very productive season for us,” Ms. Simms said.

With an eye toward next year and beyond, the Capital Ringers will hold an orientation for anyone interested in performing at any level, along with those who would like to participate behind the scenes, on Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at Conley’s United Methodist Church, 33106 Jolyns Way, Lewes.

Ms. Simms said those who become involved in the performing aspect of the Ringers run the gamut of skill levels.

“We get folks who have a very limited musical background to those who are ready to step right in,” she said.“My job is knowing where to place them.”

For those on the lesser end of the scale, Ms. Simms said she is bringing back a feeder program called Bay 2 Bay Ringers. It was started a few years ago but then was disbanded due to lack of interest.

“This is designed for people who aren’t quite sure about joining or they want to learn more about ringing with the group. We can try to get them to the point where they can sit at the grownup table,” Ms. Simms said.

The Capital Ringers boast the largest selection of handbells and handchimes on the Delmarva Peninsula. (Submitted photo)

The January orientation will also welcome anyone who has an interest in video, sound, graphics, lighting, photography along with administrative duties, such as grant writing, fundraising and publicity.

“We are looking to expand a bit as we move forward,” Ms. Simms said.

Next year will also see the Capitals Ringers’ first handball festival at Conley’s United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 30.

Still in the beginning stages, it will raise money for a Sussex County charitable cause to be determined.

Ms. Simms is planning an afternoon of rehearsals for handbell choirs that register to attend and will culminate with an evening concert of massed ringing from all of the choirs along with individual performances.

“The church is a large facility. So there will be plenty of room for everyone,” she said.

The Capital Ringers own the largest set of handbells and handchimes on the Delmarva Peninsula. The ensemble performs on six octaves (73 bells) of handbells, five octaves (61 bells) of Whitechapel Handbells, made in London, England, and 5 1/2 octaves (67 chimes) of handchimes.

The Capital Ringers recently received a grant from The Longwood Foundation and get additional support from the Delaware Division of the Arts.

The group was born on April 25, 2004, when Ms. Simms met with church handbell ringers in Kent County to determine if there was interest in establishing a community handbell ensemble committed to performing sacred and secular music. Soon thereafter, Capital Ringers was formed.

Ms. Simms, who has a Master of Music Education from West Chester University, has been involved with handbells since 1980 when she started her first handbell choir after hearing them being played in a church in her native Maryland, falling in love with their sound.

The Capital Ringers’ new home at Conley’s United Methodist Church in Lewes will allow for more space to grow and will be home to a handbell festival in March. (Submitted photo)

“I had been thinking about starting a group for a while. I laid out my vision of developing an organization to do all kinds of music, not just sacred,” she said.

“We do all sorts — Abba’s ‘Dancing Queen,’ The Beatles, The Beach Boys. We have a such a high level of ringers that we’re able to perform in all different kinds of genres.”

The Capital Ringers do a spring tour every year that highlights the pop music end of their talents.

That show, entitled “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!,” will have eight performances starting on April 13 with a 3 p.m. debut at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rehoboth Beach and then 7 that evening at St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in Bethany Beach.

It will get as far south as Cambridge, Maryland at Zion United Methodist Church April 28 at 4 p.m. and as far north as Milford at Reformation Lutheran Church May 4 at 7 p.m.

But before their spring season can begin, their holiday season wraps up Saturday in Milton. It will be the group’s second year performing at the venerable theater.

“It has such a great ambiance and a great vibe,” Ms. Simms said. “It’s a great community of people and a fun audience. We love it there.”

Tickets for the show are $10-$20. Purchase them online at, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

For more information on the Capital Ringers, visit or call Ms. Simms at 302-632-3106.

Sinatra & Streisand

Staying in Milton, Carla Del Villagio and Tony Sands will perform the “Streisand & Sinatra Holiday Show” at the Milton Theatre for three shows this weekend.

Ms. Del Villagio has been described as “funny,” “charismatic,” “can improvise on the spot,” “creates the perfect illusion as Barbra Streisand,” “has Streisand’s signature phrasing, timing, and vocal mannerisms.”

Carla DelVillagio brings “Sinatra & Streisand” with Tony Sands to the Milton Theatre for performances today, Saturday and Sunday. (Submitted photo)

For more than 20 years, Mr. Sands has been performing across the country as Frank Sinatra.

Shows are at 1 p.m. today and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets are $20-$25. Purchase them online at, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

Smyrna anniversary finale

The Smyrna 250 Committee is sponsoring a free concert featuring the popular local group Party Fowl on Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. in the auditorium of the John Bassett Moore Middle School, at the intersection of West South Street and South Market Street Plaza.

During the first intermission, free anniversary cake and hot chocolate will be served. A plaque recognizing members of the 250th Anniversary Founders Circle, whose support funded the year-long celebration, also will be presented to the town of Smyrna. The plaque will be on permanent display in the Smyrna Town Hall.

The Smyrna-Clayton-based Party Fowl will play Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m. in the auditorium of the John Bassett Moore Middle School, (Submitted photo)

Party Fowl is a high-energy cover band based out of the Smyrna-Clayton area. The group consists of six good friends who have been on the cover scene for many years.

Special deals on 250th anniversary memorabilia also will be offered during the intermissions of the concert.

Earlier in the day, the town of Smyrna will present an array of family-friendly holiday events and activities from 2 to 5 p.m. featuring seasonal music, a tree lighting at Town Hall on South Market Street Plaza and a visit from Santa Claus.

First State Symphonic Band

Still in Smyrna, The First State Symphonic Band will hold its 40th annual Christmas Concert Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Smyrna Opera House.

You’ll hear your favorite holiday music along with Russian Christmas music for symphonic bands, music from the film “The Polar Express,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” and “A Christmas Festival.”

Doors open at 6:15. Tickets are $8-$16 and can be purchased by visiting, calling 653-4236 or at the box office at 7 W. South St.

Live nativity in Ocean View

In keeping with the season, Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church of Ocean View will present a live nativity featuring the Christmas story told and re-told every half hour from 6 to 8 p.m. today on the church grounds at 81 Central Ave.

The event includes Christmas carols, music, hot chocolate and refreshments by the fire. In the case of inclement weather, the live nativity will be held indoors.

For more information, contact Mariner’s United Methodist Church at 302-539-9510 or visit

‘Antiques Roadshow’

Get those treasures ready. “Antiques Roadshow,” PBS’s highest-rated ongoing series, visits Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in New Castle County on Tuesday, June 18 for an all-day appraisal event as part of the 2019 production tour. This will be the show’s first time in Delaware.

“We’re excited to visit Delaware and experience such an exceptional location,” said executive producer Marsha Bemko.

“Filming at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library will allow our cameras to blanket the property, capturing appraisals with the action of the event as a backdrop and, when possible, taking our audience ‘backstage’ to places the public isn’t allowed or may miss seeing.”

From each 2019 event, three episodes of “Roadshow” will be created for inclusion in the 16-time Emmy-nominated production’s 24th broadcast season, to air in 2020. “Antiques Roadshow” airs locally Mondays at 8 p.m. on WHYY.

Admission is free, but tickets are required and must be obtained in advance. Fans can apply for a chance to receive one pair of free tickets per household.

To enter the drawing, go to For more information call 888-762-3749.

Deadline for applications to get your wares appraised is Monday, Feb. 13 at 2:59 a.m.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is a PG-13 version of “Deadpool 2” entitled “Once Upon a Deadpool”; Clint Eastwood in “The Mule”; the sci-fi film “Mortal Engines”; and the animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Tom Hardy in “Venom”; Jack Black in the fantasy film “The House with a Clock in its Walls”; the mystery “A Simple Favor;” “The Predator;” and Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9.”

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