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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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Thursday, January 12, 2017

MOXIE Productions Stages Solo Show Series

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 12:36 PM

  • Courtesy of Renata Hinrichs
  • Renata Hinrichs
There's a new act in town — or, more precisely, four new acts. Monica Callan, of the local theater company MOXIE Productions, is gearing up for a winter run of solo shows titled the "One & Only Series" at the Grange Hall Cultural Center in Waterbury Center.

Renata Hinrichs opens the series with performances this Saturday and Sunday, January 14 and 15. The New York City actor and playwright presents her autobiographical show, Random Acts, which chronicles her upbringing as the daughter of a white Lutheran minister on the South Side of Chicago. The show won Best Storytelling Script in the 2014 United Solo Festival.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Gov. Shumlin and Arts Council Present 2016 Governor's Art Awards

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 2:57 PM

Gov. Shumlin with Excellence in the Arts award winner Eric Aho and family - RACHEL STEARNS
  • Rachel Stearns
  • Gov. Shumlin with Excellence in the Arts award winner Eric Aho and family
On Tuesday evening, November 15, Gov. Peter Shumlin and the Vermont Arts Council honored six Vermont artists with the annual Governor's Arts Awards. This year's ceremony took place at the Putney School, in Shumlin's hometown.  Eric Aho, who lives and works in nearby Saxtons River, received the 2016  Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

It's no coincidence that the six award recipients are clustered in southern Vermont. As Kira Bacon, VAC communications and outreach manager, explained, awardees are selected from a pool of nominees through a nomination process that is open to the public.

Trustees review all nominations, consider staff input and then provide the governor with a list of suggestions for the Governor's Award. Once he has selected a recipient, Bacon said, "We see if we can find a cluster [of arts leaders] in the same part of the state" to increase community momentum. Last year, the "cluster" was focused on the Montpelier area; in 2014, it was St. Johnsbury.

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Lyric Theatre Puts on a Rock Show

Posted By on Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 11:02 AM

The band, L-R: Max Bronstein-Paritz, Andriana Chobot, Tom Whitney, Nate Venet, Matt Guzowski, Rob O'Dea, Marie Claire Johnson, Tom Walters - JORDAN ADAMS
  • Jordan Adams
  • The band, L-R: Max Bronstein-Paritz, Andriana Chobot, Tom Whitney, Nate Venet, Matt Guzowski, Rob O'Dea, Marie Claire Johnson, Tom Walters
Burlington's Lyric Theatre is getting ready to throw the biggest rock show it has ever thrown. Actually, it's probably the only rock show the local theater company has put on in its 43 year of operation: The Who's Tommy, based on the iconic rock album of the same name. While Lyric has dabbled with rock operas and rock and roll musicals in the past, such as Bye Bye Birdie, Rent, Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy will be the first attempt at creating a bona fide concert experience.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

All Aboard With The Pirates of Penzance at Skinner Barn

Posted By on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Singing sisters in The Pirates of Penzance - COURTESY OF DAVID GARTEN
  • Courtesy of David Garten
  • Singing sisters in The Pirates of Penzance
If you're looking for some silly entertainment without rancor and boos and, well, politics in general, step away from the tube, stream, Twitter — basically, reality — for a night and let Gilbert & Sullivan have their way with you. To be precise, The Pirates of Penzance, or, the Slave of Duty in a current run at the Skinner Barn

First of all, the Skinner is not just another renovated barn. Peter Boyton, actor/singer, proprietor and artistic director, kicked it up a notch when he transformed this classic beauty from a cow place to a people place. No doubt he was inspired by this location, on Common Road in Waitsfield, which is so lovely it almost takes your breath away. For me, a summer must-do is a picnic on the grass before the show, taking in the impossibly green and glorious landscape along with my plastic cup of rosé and takeout whatever.

When it's time to go in for the show, I'm so chill that the Skinner Barn theater troupe would have to really blow it to ruin my mood. But, in all the years I've been attending, that's never happened.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vermonters Receive NEA Grants, Spring for Joy

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 2:38 PM

NEA grantee AXIS Dance Company (through the Flynn) - COURTESY OF THE FLYNN CENTER
  • Courtesy of the Flynn Center
  • NEA grantee AXIS Dance Company (through the Flynn)
In its spring grant cycle, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded eight grants totaling $893,000 to six Vermont organizations.  The majority of that amount, $718,000, went to the Vermont Arts Council, which in turn provides a variety of grants to individuals and smaller organizations statewide.

The other grantees were the Vermont Folklife Center, the Dorset Theatre Festival, the Flynn Center for the Performing ArtsKingdom County Productions, the Vermont Folklife Center and Weston Playhouse Theatre Company.

Congrats, everybody! The full NEA document here

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Shakespeare Is Still Dead; Long Live Shakespeare!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 4:32 PM

The Bard is beloved worldwide: a production in Mexico City - COURTESY OF VERMONT HUMANITIES COUNCIL
  • Courtesy of Vermont Humanities Council
  • The Bard is beloved worldwide: a production in Mexico City
What will the world do on the 400th anniversary of your death? For most of us, the answer is a big fat nothing. But perhaps there's still time to turn out a zillion plays that actors and audiences will revere four centuries from now.

Meantime, Tuesday brings a pair of back-to-back opportunities to get your Will on. William Shakespeare, that is. Not surprisingly, Vermont Shakespeare Festival executive director John Nagle and the University of Vermont have a hand in both Bard-themed happenings.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

U.S. Promotes LGBT Rights With Fun Home

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2016 at 4:56 PM

Alison Bechdel at Fun Home - EVA SOLLBERGER
  • Eva Sollberger
  • Alison Bechdel at Fun Home
Vermont cartoonist Alison Bechdel has had an exhilarating decade. Her 2006 graphic memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic was a bestseller. In 2014 she became a MacArthur fellow, and Fun Home was made into a musical that won five Tony Awards last year. Oh, and Bechdel got married last year, too.

Today, a Reuters story (as reported on heaps more accolades on Fun Home from an unexpected source:  U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. According to the story, Power  took 15 fellow ambassadors from countries around the world to see the Broadway show as part of an effort to promote LGBT rights. She told Reuters that the lesbian coming-of-age story "brings home the challenges that LGBTI  are facing every day around the world."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Flight Records: Finding a Tuskegee Airman From Vermont

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Yearbook photo of Robert Cole, Northfield High School class of 1938 - COURTESY OF NORTHFIELD HISTORICAL SOCIETY
  • Courtesy of Northfield Historical Society
  • Yearbook photo of Robert Cole, Northfield High School class of 1938
This Friday, January 29, Black Angels Over Tuskegee comes to the Flynn MainStage in Burlington. The critically acclaimed off-Broadway play by Layon Gray is about the Tuskegee Airmen, the all-black aviator corps that played a critical role in the U.S. air campaign during World War II.

When the curtain rises, many audience members will undoubtedly know something about the corps, and some may have seen the 1995 movie, The Tuskegee Airmen, starring Laurence Fishburne. Yet few audience members will be likely to know that the Tuskegee's ranks included an aviator from the Green Mountains.

Robert Cole, who was born and raised in Northfield, was the only Vermonter ever to serve in the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military aviators in history. At least one living Vermonter, Bill Lyon of Northfield, personally remembers Cole from his days in Northfield both before and after the war.

Robert Arthur Cole was born in Northfield on March 8,1920, to Alonzo and Martha Cole. According to the Northfield Historical Society, U.S. Census data from 1930 shows that Cole had two sisters and two brothers.

Cole attend Northfield High School where, according to his yearbook, he belonged to the drama club, played basketball, sang in the chorus and played guitar in a dance band called the Blue Jackets. According to Lyon, now 68, Cole's father was himself a musician who played in and around Northfield. Lyon remembers that Alonzo Cole died tragically while his children were still young, after he fell off a trestle bridge in Northfield and drowned.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

'Mothers and Sons' Inspires Photo Competition

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 at 3:33 PM

Production photo for Mothers and Sons - COURTESY OF VERMONT STAGE COMPANY
  • Courtesy of Vermont Stage Company
  • Production photo for Mothers and Sons
The first production of 2016 for Vermont Stage Company is Terrence McNally's Tony-nominated Mothers and Sons. A drama that "addresses change, reconciliation and what it means to be family," according to VSC's description, it explores relationships past and present between adults (gay and straight), and between adults and their children. Critics described the 2013 work as "moving," "intense" and "resonant." 

Mothers and Sons is decidedly adult fare, not an all-ages family entertainment. But its themes inspired VSC to ask Vermonters what family means to them — or rather, what it looks like — in photographs. "How do you define your family? Who is a part of it? How do you see them? What do you like to do together?" queries a press release.

The company invites photographers of all levels to send a photo that "best describes your family" to no later than Wednesday January 11. It can also be mailed to 110 Main Street, Burlington, VT 05401. Include name, contact info and a brief description of your photo.

If your photo is chosen, you'll win two free tickets to the production, which runs January 27 through February 14 at FlynnSpace in Burlington. The top 10 photos submitted will be on display at the theater.

If you don't have a suitable family photo but just want to see the play, get tickets here.

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