ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 14 * * All Arts News On the Web * * March 31, 2011


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at various restaurants around Franklin County throughout the week, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.

      Find links to these events and more in our Spotlight!

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      The All Arts Council and Broadway Theaters, Inc., present the Franklin County Broadway Festival. The first curtain rises tomorrow evening at the Collins-Perley Sports Complex.
      Broadway. The lights. The sounds. The stars. Joel Grey, Ashton Kutcher, Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Rock, Jessica Stone and Jessica Walter, Robin Williams, Sarah Jo Willey, Bruce Willis, and even Tom Wopat grace the stage this year.
      The musical is the heartbeat of New York and well loved in northwestern Vermont. The smash hit, Memphis, grabbed four Tony Awards this year. The creators of South Park will bring a new musical to the stage this spring, alongside SuperGym, How to Succeed in Business, Wonderland, Anything Goes, Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo, and more.
      Many of those shows are in preview now.
      The Broadway preview has largely replaced the traditional (and expensive) out-of-town trial run, offering fully staged performances in which ticket prices are a little lower, the actors a little looser, the writers still tinkering, and the critics largely silent. But it doesn't give the same leg up as an out-of-town audience.
      Famed Broadway producer Philip W. Philip wants to return to playing New Haven and Phoenix and Philadelphia but with a twist.
      "We've lost a lot with New York-only previews so we're going to travel several shows together to make a mini-Festival," Mr. Philip said. "We'll do a lot of audience building and we can turn back some of the gate to the community."
      The Franklin County Broadway Festival opens this weekend as Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo takes over the Collins-Perley Sports Complex tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. Anything Goes comes to the MVU stage on Saturday at 8 p.m. SuperGym has both a matinee and evening performance at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls on Sunday at 2 and 8 p.m. And How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying finishes the run back in the Collins-Perley on Monday at 8 p.m.
      "We have eight shows in the runout mix this season," Mr. Philip said. "Lots of music and comedy and drama. We're doing these mini-festivals with four shows each in Connecticut, Pennsy, and Vermont."
      The first Broadway preview for Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theater began March 10 for an opening on April 7. The Cole Porter classic features You're the Top, Blow, Gabriel, Blow, It's De-Lovely, I Get A Kick Out of You and Anything Goes with a cast led by Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, and the two Jessicas.
      Bengal Tiger in the Baghdad Zoo at the Richard Rodgers Theater began previews on March 11 with a graying Robin Williams as a tiger who roams the streets of Baghdad with two American marines and an Iraqi gardener in search of friendship, redemption and a toilet seat made of gold.
      Jim Belushi and Nina Arianda head the cast in the revival of Garson Kanin's comedy on sex and politics, Born Yesterday. The still timely story gives us an ever-so-slightly-not-quite-honest tycoon and a not-quite-so-dumb blonde as they "capitalize" on Washington. Previews begin tonight leading to opening night April 24.
      Meanwhile Daniel Radcliffe brings his magic to the Al Hirschfield Theater in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
      In Jez Butterworth's new play, Jerusalem, Mark Rylance recreates his acclaimed, award-winning performance as Johnny 'Rooster' Byron to the Music Box Theater on April 2.
      Trey Parker and Matt Stone have Book of Mormon opening at the Eugene O'Neil Theater. This hilarious musical has a pair of mismatched Mormon boys on a mission a world away from Salt Lake City.
      Emily Frappier's musical, SuperGym, is set in the near-future city of Sveltania where health guru/dictator Bruce Willis as Benjamin Pratt obsesses over becoming the healthiest city in the world. Sexy, empty-headed trainer Thor, played by Ashton Kutcher, falls in love with Sarah Jo Willey as Ava, Pratt's oldest daughter and a woman with junk in the trunk. Together, they push Fat Camp where "You won't leave until you're perfect."
      Ms. Frappier received a N.A.S.A grant from the Flynnspace to develop SuperGym. click here to view clips from her work in progress
      Wonderland, Alice's New Musical Adventure at the Marquis Theater brings a new spin to the looking-glass world. The modern-day Alice has a life-changing adventure far below the streets of New York City accompanied by a pop score from the creator of Jekyll and Hyde. In previews now, Wonderland opens April 17.
      Broadway has 40 large professional 500-plus seat theaters plus Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Shows there sold over a billion dollars worth of tickets last year. The Vermont shows are the final stop of the Broadway Festival runout tour. The previews began in New Haven March 18 and in West Chester, PA, last weekend.
      Admission is $60 per person for each show but series tickets are still available for $180 for all for previews. Tickets are available at Proceeds will benefit local art projects in Franklin County.


SOUTH BURLINGTON--Higher Ground hosts a benefit for the Turning Point Center in the Lounge tonight at 7 p.m. The show features our own Nobby Reed Project, Kip Meaker with the Too Tight trio, the Joshua Panda Band, and Seth Yacavone.
      Nobby Reed brings that magical time of the world's greatest electric blues guitarists to the stage. North Carolina singer/songwriter Joshua Panda blends his strong gospel background with country and soul. Seth Yacovone's debut solo album is Land of Split Decision.
      The alcohol free event includes a pasta dinner at 6 p.m. with the music starting at 7. Admission is $15. Tickets are available at Higher Ground. click here for tickets and more info.

BURLINGTON--The UVM Old Time Music Club and Young Tradition Vermont present the 2011 Old Time Music Festival in Billings North and other locations starting tomorrow and running through Sunday.
      The Friday dance at 7 p.m. has caller Will Mentor with Pete Sutherland and Jim Burns. A post-dance session features Pete Sutherland and Jim Burns.
      Fiddleheads rehearse at the Burlington Violin Shop on Saturday at 9:30am with guest instructors Jaden Gladstone and Pete Sutherland. Bruce Molsky will hold a fiddle workshop at 1 p.m. and a banjo workshop at 3 p.m., both in the John Dewey Memorial Lounge in the Old Mill. The Saturday concert at 7:30 p.m features Mr. Molsky.
      Sunday begins with a Sacred Harp sing with Pete Sutherland and the Burlington Shapers at 1 p.m. There will be a dance and session at the Monkey House in Winooski with callers Will Mentor and guests and musicians Pete Sutherland and Jim Burns and others at 4 p.m.
      There are no advance tickets. Email for more info.

SOUTH BURLINGTON--Higher Ground presents native son Jamie Lee Thurston with Amber Hayes in the WOKO Birthday Bash on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
      Admission is $10 in advance or $15 day of show. Click here for tickets and more information.

MONTPELIER--The Legacy Concerts with Counterpoint and Robert De Cormier come to St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday at 4 p.m. Call 802.540.1784 or click here for more info.

ST. ALBANS--The St. Albans Historical Museum and the Osher Lifelong Learning Series hosts Jean Burks with a presentation of From Album to Crazy--the Quilt Collection at the Shelburne Museum on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
      Idiosyncratic collector Electra Havemeyer Webb founded Shelburne Museum to house her interests in American folk art. The museum's 400-plus quilts make up one of the largest and most distinguished public collections in the country. They include examples of wholecloth, chintz, album, appliqued, pieced, Amish and crazy dating from the 18th through 20th centuries made throughout the United States and Canada. This presentation showcases masterpiece quilts in each category and provides a visual history of the art form.
      Subscribers may attend any sessions of the series. Lectures are also open to non-members for a fee of $5 per lecture. The entire series is available for $40 for individuals to attend all sessions or $70 for a couple to attend all sessions (as payment for membership dues). All events are held on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. in the Bliss Auditorium on the third floor at the Museum.


     Johnson State College has an extensive fine arts department. They offer programs that lead to the B.A. Fine Arts, B.F.A. Studio Arts, M.F.A. Studio Arts, and Licensure in Art. M.F.A. students also interact with the Vermont Studio Center. Their faculty maintains an online gallery of work.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2011 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.