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click to enlarge Carol Benson of Kimberly Akimbo
  • Carol Benson of Kimberly Akimbo

Sweet, er, Sixteen In the past few years, 39-year-old American playwright David Lindsey-Abaire has quickly notched both critical and commercial successes, winning the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His work finally comes to northern Vermont with a one-weekend run of Kimberly Akimbo (2001) at River Arts in Morrisville. The offbeat, dark comedy, directed by Michael Halloran, centers on a girl anxious about her upcoming 16th birthday. Greatly complicating the usual teen angst are the consequences of progeria, a rare medical condition that means Kimberly is aging five times faster than normal.

Carol Benson, 69, of Morrisville, stars. The retired banker has been acting for just five years, “shoved” onto the stage by a playwriting instructor. She appreciates Lindsey-Abaire’s “finely crafted” script and quirky perspective. “I find that basically life is absurd,” she reflects. “That’s more my view of life than a serious one.”

Benson is also producing the play. “Wearing two hats” is tough, she admits. But “my corporate background kicks in.” It helps that she, the director and the other cast members have all worked together before. And producer Benson stresses preparation and practice as much as does actress Benson. “I prefer to manage by fire drill rather than fire extinguisher.”

Kimberly Akimbo, directed by Michael Halloran, produced by Carol Benson. River Arts, Morrisville, Thursday through Saturday, May 14-16, at 7:30 p.m. $12. Info, 888-1261.

— Elisabeth Crean

Lake Keepsake OK, 100 words or less: What does Lake Champlain mean to you? UVM’s Fleming Museum opened “A Beckoning Country: Art and Objects from the Lake Champlain Valley” last week in conjunction with this year’s Champlain Quadricentennial. Afterward, it announced an addendum, “Treasures and Tales: Personal Connections to the Lake.” If you’ve got an object, photograph, memento or other item with a lake angle, the Fleming would like to hear your story about it. Describe “what your Champlain Valley object means to you and how it reflects your experiences with and feelings about the lake,” instructs the solicitation.

The current exhibition is organized around four themes: water, earth, flora and fauna. The objects, from stone tools to fine-art paintings, were culled from the Fleming’s permanent collection and other sources on campus, as well as from private collections.

To contribute, send a picture of your item, a completed form — found here — and your mini-story by June 1 to fleming@uvm.edu, or by snail mail to Fleming Museum, 61 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405.

See, it’s easy to go down in history.

— Pamela Polston

Mist-ified Vermont’s Bella Voce Women’s Chorus jumps into the 2009 Champlain Quadricentennial festivities this weekend with “Songs of Water and Light.” The concert’s centerpiece is the premiere of “East Bay,” a work for choir and woodwind quintet commissioned from University of Vermont professor Michael Hopkins.

Although Hopkins has composed other choral works, this is his first time penning a piece for an all-female ensemble. For the text, Bella Voce conductor Dawn Willis selected water-themed poems by Vermonter Anne Spencer Lindbergh (1940-1993), daughter of Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh.

Hopkins recalls the process of building the first movement. He mulled over the opening line of Lindbergh’s “Before the Fog Lifts”: I do not care to know more than the swan’s slow widening ripple on the lake. “For me, it just helps to create a visual,” he explains. “So in my mind, I kept imagining Lake Champlain on one of those cloudy, slightly foggy days where you can’t see New York on the other side ... The woodwind quintet serves the purpose of creating this atmospheric fogginess.

“I was sketching these ideas out right around the time of the election ... a time of just constant media bombardment,” Hopkins continues. “It’s very difficult to clear all the noise out of your brain when you want to. I just found in these poems a lot of peaceful solitude.”

Bella Voce Spring Concert: “Songs of Water and Light,” directed by Dawn Willis. First Baptist Church, Burlington, Saturday, May 16, at 8 p.m.; Middlebury Congregational Church, Sunday, May 17, at 3 p.m. $15.

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