Middletown's Everett Theatre is hosting an event next month of Titanic proportions.
"A Weekend to Remember" will be a four day extravaganza highlighting the work of one of its own alongside the history of one of the first global news stories of the twentieth century.
Here are five things to know about the weekend:
1 A local connection
The Titanic Historical Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Titanic, meets once a year for its annual convention. However, in 1987, the 75th commemorative convention, scheduled for Philadelphia, looked like it might have to be postponed or cancelled, due to a lack of accommodations.
Delaware was asked to step in and then Governor Mike Castle complied. The convention would be moved to Wilmington. To emphasize Delaware's support, Middletown's own Gibby Perry, an artist known for his depiction of local pastoral scenes, was commissioned to paint a mural of the Titanic's grand staircase. Perry was happy to oblige and the mural, 15 feet by 10 feet, was put on display during the convention. The painting now stands as one of THS's event centerpieces.
2 Coming back home
Despite its use at THS events, the actual mural has not been seen in Middletown (or in Delaware) since the 1987 convention.
"I'm so excited to finally get to see the mural and I can't wait for everyone in town to see it," said volunteer event organizer Carolyn Stanley. "I don't think anyone in Delaware has seen it since it was painted in 1987."
Grand gala guests will also have the rare opportunity to be photographed in front of the mural, which, given its sheer size, could be mistaken for the actual grand staircase.
"I've seen pictures of Titanic survivors and society members who were photographed in front of the mural and it really does give the effect of being on the ship," said Stanley. "It will make a great memento for anyone who attends the gala and especially for Titanic history buffs."
3 Hearing voices
The Everett Theatre's "Weekend to Remember" kicks off Friday night with a moving, personal account of what it was like to be on the maiden voyage of the Titanic from the only people who would know: the survivors.
The stage will come alive with the passengers and crew of the Titanic, who will speak directly to the audience about one of the nation's most prolific disasters. When the infamous iceberg is spotted, all the officers are called upon to carry out the most dreaded command a captain ever has to issue: "Get the lifeboats ready." The ending is an emotional powerhouse as the cast recites name after name of those who survived à and those who did not.
Page 2 of 2 - 4 Historical eats
Event organizers are going to great pains to give guests the most authentic Titanic experience possible and a big part of that will be the menu, which will be comprised of selections that were available to all classes of Titanic travelers, from first to third.
"There are a lot of books that cover what was eaten on the Titanic and we studied them extensively," said Stanley. "I think people are going to be surprised by all the options."
Guests will have the opportunity to munch on an assortment of canapés, creamy whipped Brie, island-seasoned shrimp with cilantro mousse, roast beef roulads and salami cornets. There will also be plenty of roasted veggies, fresh fruit, a soup and salad station, sorbet and enough pastries to go back in time and feed everyone on the whole ship.
5 The memorabilia and artwork
Titanic history enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to examine memorabilia of the White Star Line, the ship company that owned the Titanic. Many pieces of china, silver and other items will also be on display, painting a clearer picture of seemingly small details that created the real Titanic experience.
More Gibby Perry artwork will also be on display throughout the weekend, giving people the opportunity to get to know the artist who was instrumental in highlighting Delaware's commitment to collaboration.
"His artwork will actually be on display throughout the month, until June 1," said The Gibby Center's Caroline Zeitler. "People are welcome to come by any time before then to see his work."