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Friday, November 16, 2018

Nico Muhly on His Latest Opera, 'Marnie'

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2018 at 1:42 PM

Isabel Leonard as Marnie (in yellow) with other cast members of 'Marnie' - KEN HOWARD/THE MET
  • Ken Howard/The Met
  • Isabel Leonard as Marnie (in yellow) with other cast members of 'Marnie'
In his latest opera, Vermont-born composer Nico Muhly, along with librettist Nicholas Wright,  reimagined Winston Graham's 1961 novel Marnie. The story follows a beautiful but troubled young woman who assumes multiple identities. Marnie, played by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, compounds layers of deception as she drifts from job to job and lover to lover, eventually landing in the cruel, abusive grasp of a wealthy businessman, Mark Rutland, played by baritone Christopher Maltman.

The book inspired Alfred Hitchcock's disturbing 1964 film of the same name, in which the filmmaker used shuddering camera work and long, leering shots to render Marnie's increasing derangement. For his version, Muhly turns to music — specifically, his gift for mysterious tonality and dramatic composition — to convey the lead character's inner mania.

After premiering in London last year, Marnie opened at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City last month. It's the second Muhly opera commissioned by the Met. The first was his acclaimed  2013 work Two Boys.

Following a seven-show run, Marnie closed on November 10. If you missed it, either live or via one of the numerous "The Met: Live in HD" simulcasts, despair not. Town Hall Theater in Middlebury presents an encore broadcast of the opera this Sunday, November 18 — exactly one year to the day after it originally premiered in London. Seven Days recently caught up with Muhly by phone.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Flynn Center Races to Complete Repair Work After Flooding

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 9:40 PM

Repair work outside the Flynn Center - KYMELYA SARI
  • Kymelya Sari
  • Repair work outside the Flynn Center
The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts is in a race against time to ensure that the flooding repair work in the FlynnSpace is completed before the upcoming performing arts season.

A water main pipe, located under the marquee, burst early Monday morning, causing water to flow into the downstairs venue and a storage area where production equipment, including lighting, was kept.

"We are too early on in assessing the damage," said Anna Marie Gewirtz, who assumed her new role as executive director of the Flynn just six weeks ago. "We are doing everything in our power to get things back in pristine condition and working order."

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Vermont Stage Finds a New Home at Black Box Theatre

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2018 at 10:31 AM

Kim Rosenstock's 'Tigers Be Still,' from a review April 25, 2018 - COURTESY OF LINDSAY RAYMONDJACK
  • Courtesy of Lindsay Raymondjack
  • Kim Rosenstock's 'Tigers Be Still,' from a review April 25, 2018
Vermont Stage is leaving the FlynnSpace after 17 years to take up residence at the Main Street Landing Black Box Theatre.

"We have become a victim of our own success,"  wrote board chair Peter Espenshade in an email. "The move will allow us to meet the demand for live theater and will allow us more room, from the lobby to backstage, to produce world-class theater," he said.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bread and Puppet Founder Peter Schumann Wins Lockwood Prize

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM

Peter Schumann - MASSIMO SCHUSTER
  • Massimo Schuster
  • Peter Schumann
The fifth annual Herb Lockwood Prize in the Arts has gone to Peter Schumann, visionary artist/activist and founder of beloved Glover-based Bread and Puppet Theater. He was presented with the $10,000 award — the largest arts prize in Vermont — in a small ceremony Tuesday afternoon at the BCA Center.

The aim of the Lockwood Prize is to "reward the pinnacle of arts leadership in Vermont by honoring the state's most influential artists," according to Todd R. Lockwood. He created the award in 2014 and named it for his younger brother, Herb, an artist and musician who died in a workplace accident in 1987 at age 27.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Mommy Issues: Complications Company Seeks Submissions for 'Other Mothers'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 10:13 AM

Actor Cael Barkman last year in Complications Company's production of Making Babies. - COMPLICATIONS COMPANY
  • Complications Company
  • Actor Cael Barkman last year in Complications Company's production of Making Babies.
Have you ever wanted to tell a story about your mom, without ensuring she'll write you out of her will? Or simply share a warm moment about her, without having to expose yourself? Well, a Burlington theater company has just the thing.

Laura Roald and Mary Beth McNulty of Complications Company are seeking submissions from playwrights for "Other Mothers," a production cum competition that prompts scribes to quickly draft dramas about each other's mothers. Participants will have 24 hours to create a short show, after being assigned a mom at a launch event at Butch & Babes on Friday, May 4. The lot will be staged on Sunday, May 6, at Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in Burlington's Old North End.

So far, Roald says, the company has received four submissions through its website. She hopes to end up with 10 in total. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, May 2.

The questions on the submission form are a mix of multiple choice and essay that allow for tender, or not so tender, reflections on one's mother. For example, "If your mom were an animal, she would be a …" Or, "Advice from your mother you never followed." McNulty notes that they're not looking for solely sugar sweet reflections, citing the complexities of motherhood and parenting.

While Roald can't confirm which actors will be reading the finished scripts for the Sunday show, she says they're all relatively well known, locally. She and McNulty will serve as directors.

Roald and McNulty will meet with the actors on Sunday morning to run the scripts, and the plays will be staged that afternoon at 4 p.m. Complications Company is partnering with BurlingtonVT Moms Blog for the event. Judges from that latter organization will crown one of the subjects "Mother of the Year" at the end of the show. May the best mom win!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Flynn Center Executive Director John Killacky to Step Down

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 7:45 PM

John Killacky - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • John Killacky
In a release this evening, Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts announced that its executive director, John Killacky, would be stepping down from his role in June 2018. Killacky arrived at the Flynn in 2010.

During his tenure, the release says, the Flynn flourished, "growing to a $7.7 million operating budget while maintaining the organization's commitment to presenting exceptional artistic, educational and community engagement programs."

In addition to securing significant grants for the performing arts facility, Killacky is perhaps proudest of the nonprofit's commitment to access and inclusiveness. The Flynn works with 75 human and social service agencies to provide discounted tickets for their clients; of the 38,000 students who annually attend shows, 7,300 attend for free; and the organization provides $30,000 in scholarships yearly for kids to participate in camps and classes.

Reached by phone for comment, Killacky said, first of all, that "all things are good" and he's "not going anywhere." While he wouldn't call this transition a retirement, Killacky noted that when he was interviewed for the ED position in 2010, he told the board that, if hired, he would stay "for five to seven years, and then my service would be done."

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Days Are Here Again at Unadilla Theatre

Posted By on Mon, Aug 14, 2017 at 12:06 PM


Zephyr Teachout in 'Happy Days'  in 2012 - COURTESY OF ZEPHYR TEACHOUT
  • Courtesy of Zephyr Teachout
  • Zephyr Teachout in 'Happy Days' in 2012
In the five years since Zephyr Teachout performed in Happy Days at the Unadilla Theatre, she has run for governor of New York and the U.S. Congress to represent upstate New York, where she lives in the Hudson Valley.

Now the former Vermonter is returning to the Marshfield summer theater  to reprise her role of  Winnie in the Samuel Beckett play.

"It's a lot easier to tell people what you think about fracking than to memorize Beckett,"  Teachout said over the phone, on break from rehearsal. She added that her experience in theater proved useful to her as a candidate for political office.

"I will say that being at the Unadilla, over the years, certainly makes you more comfortable standing up in front of people and telling them what you think about things," Teachout said.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Off Center Reaches a Fundraising Goal, But the Drama Isn’t Over

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 1:46 PM

David Schein and Paul Schnabel - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • David Schein and Paul Schnabel
Last week, Off Center for the Dramatic Arts concluded its first fundraiser in two and a half years. The 65-seat black box theater in Burlington’s Old North End is an incubator for original works by theater artists of all stripes. But since it opened in 2010, it has struggled to keep its proverbial head above water, financially speaking.

The recent fundraiser was modest but successful: The OC topped its $5,000 goal by $32.68. Cofounder and director Paul Schnabel says the money was for “a general fund. Right now we don’t have a specific project [the money] is going to, just paying rent.”

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Off Center Showcases New Works by Local Theater Artists

Posted By on Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Meredith Gordon - COURTESY OF ANDY GORDON
  • Courtesy of Andy Gordon
  • Meredith Gordon
This weekend, Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in Burlington's Old North End wrapped its newly minted Spring Open Artist Showcase series. The democratic event included four new performances — two each weekend — selected by lottery.

The first weekend, Vermont Playwright's Circle performed five 10-minute plays. Those were followed by Joe O'Brien's "The Birth of Love: The Ballad of Miro Weinberger," performed by the Cosmic Noodle Improv Federation.

This past weekend, audiences were treated to two more theatrical debuts. "The Allegory of Flowing Water," written and directed by Martin Gil, and "Outpost," a one-woman show written and performed by Meredith Gordon.

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Purim, Revisited, Takes Over ArtsRiot

Posted By on Sun, Mar 12, 2017 at 3:41 PM

Rabbi Jan Salzman reading the story of Esther - SADIE WILLIAMS
  • Sadie Williams
  • Rabbi Jan Salzman reading the story of Esther
Saturday night, while hordes of partiers faced a frigid Mardi Gras, a group of art-savvy community members staged a politicized retelling of the story of Esther. Yes, Purim came to ArtsRiot in Burlington's South End.

Organized by Rabbi Jan Salzman, leader of the new nondenominational Rauch Hamoqom congregation, the show was a raucous affair that poked fun at current political figures in a lighthearted, dance-heavy atmosphere.

The Book of Esther appears in the Hebrew Bible.  As the story goes, Esther is a concubine of the king. When she hears of a plot by his adviser, Haman, to kill all the Jews, she risks her own life to beg the King to spare her people.

The actors and organizers in last night's revelries included art activist Jen Berger, Junktiques owner Phinneus Sonin, Nicole D'Elisa of Nico Suave and the Bodacious Supreme, musician Sarah Griffin, artist Jabari Jones and Salzman's husband, Loredo Sola.

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