Middlebury Actors Workshop kicks off its 2018 season with Lucas Hnath’s, “The Christians,” a big-little play about faith in America – and the trouble with changing your mind. It had its New York City at Playwrights Horizons in 2015 and quickly became one of the hottest tickets in town.
Performances are April 26-29 at Town Hall Theater: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. There will be two optional post-show talkbacks, April 26 and 29, with audience, cast and local clergy.
With sensitivity and clarity, Hnath (pronounced “nayth”) explores the world of the megachurch. “‘The Christians’ is different than anything I’ve read before. I love the way it dives into how beliefs shape our relationships, and how personal the story is, how nonjudgmental,” says Artistic Director Melissa Lourie. “It seems to me this is a basic human problem – the effort to communicate across the divide of belief!”
In “The Christians,” Pastor Paul’s church was nothing more than a modest storefront 20 years ago. Now he presides over a congregation of thousands, with classrooms for Sunday school, a coffee shop in the lobby, and a baptismal font as big as a swimming pool. Today should be a day of celebration, but Paul is about to preach a sermon that will shake the foundations of his church’s belief.
For tickets or information, call802-382-9222, or go online to www.townhalltheater.org.
Hilton Park, a three-piece folk-Americana group from southern Maine has “reinvented acoustic,” according to the Boston Examiner. Their three-part vocal harmonies (often compared to Crosby, Stills & Nash) and their careful choice of sparse instrumentation create a soundscape so full that they have been referred to as a “three-piece quintet.” Hilton Park makes the trip to Brandon Music at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 28.
Hilton Park is made up of father and son team Bruce and Conor Hilton, and neighbor Gregg Pannier. Their stage show includes up to 10 acoustic instruments. Six and 12-string guitars, dobro, mandolin, bouzouki, Weissenborn, dulcimer, and others make the stage look like an exotic guitar boutique. But it’s the band’s soaring three-part harmonies that capture the audience’s breath, telling timeless stories that touch people’s souls. “Every song tells a story, and there’s a story behind every song” is their mantra.
Tickets are $20 (pre-concert dinner is available for $25; reservations are required); call 802-247-4295, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road.
The eighth annual Middlebury Bach Festival will take place April 27-29, and feature Steven Isserlis, cello, and Richard Egarr, harpsichord, playing sonatas by Boccherini, Scarlatti, Handel, and Bach, and two performances of “St. John Passion,” BWV 245, by J.S. Bach led by John Butt, director of the award-winning Dunedin Consort and music chair at University of Glasgow.
The festival opens at 8 p.m. Friday, April 27, with a Middlebury College Performing Arts Series concert by Isserlis and Egarr. This concert will feature Baroque viola da gamba sonatas by Boccherini, Scarlatti, Handel and J.S. Bach and will take place in Robison Concert Hall at the Mahaney Arts Center. Tickets are $28, $10 for 18 and younger.
At 3 p.m., Saturday, April 28, George Matthew, Jr., Middlebury College carillonneur, will perform a carillon recital featuring the music of J.S. Bach. The free recital can be heard outside in the area surrounding Mead Memorial Chapel. It is free and open to the public.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 29, performances of “St. John Passion” will take place in the Robison Concert Hall. Tickets are $15.
For tickets, call 802-443-MIDD (6433), or go online to go.middlebury.edu/arts. For information and schedule, visit go.middlebury.edu/bachfest.
Author Richard Nevell
At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, Phoenix Books Rutland will host Richard Nevell, author of “A Time to Dance,” for a discussion on the evolution of country dancing in America and the social experience of dance.
“A Time to Dance: American Country Dancing from Hornpipes to Hot Hash” documents the history of American country dancing. Nevell records American country dances as historical artifacts, as social expressions of rural and urban communities, as manifestations of democracy, and as an evolving traditional art that changes to meet the needs of a changing American society.
Nevell is a photographer, visual artist, author, filmmaker, and songwriter. His songs have been performed by many musicians and received special awards from ASCAP. He lives in New Hampshire and Bali.
Admission is free; call 802-855-8078, or go online to www.phoenixbooks.biz. Phoenix Books Rutland is located at 2 Center St.
Two local bands
Two local bands are “back together again, for the first time,” says Marcos Levy of the Plumb Bobs.
While the 7 p.m. Friday, April 27, concert at Shrewsbury Community Meeting House, 88 Lottery Road, will be the first time The Plumb Bobs and Miss Guided Angels officially share a bill, musicians in both bands have, in different line-ups, shared many a tune together. Whether it was as Extra Stout at McGrath’s Irish Pub in Killington on a Sunday afternoon, as George’s Back Pocket in any number of bars late on a Friday, or around a woodstove in Shrewsbury mid-winter, the Bobs and the Angels have shared the stage and many tunes more times than they can remember.
Admission is by donation ($10 suggested).
GMC spring concerts
The Green Mountain College and Community Concert Band will perform a free spring concert at 7 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Ackley Hall, of works by Aurelio Bonelli, George Butterworth, and Elliot Del Borgo. Directed by James Cassarino, the band includes students, faculty and community members.
The Green Mountain College Choir and Cantorion will present their annual spring choir concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 28, in Ackley Hall. Directed by James Cassarino, this event will offer choral selections based on Shaker songs, the poetry of Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Christina Rosetti, and songs celebrating music.
Both concerts are free and open to the public.
Frank Chase on stage
Pianist and entertainer Frank Chase returns for a special two-night “Ol Fahts’ Party” at The Foundry Wednesday and Thursday, April 25 and 26. Chase will be joined on stage by Rutland radio personality and musician Terry Jaye and will be performing his signature repertoire of jazz, boogie-woogie, blues and other popular music, interspersed with his unique sense of humor. Entertainment, billed as Chase and Smoking Jaye, begins at 6 p.m.
The entertainer has a longstanding presence in the Killington entertainment scene, having performed for many seasons at the Mountain Inn, the Summit Lodge and most recently at the Foundry. He is a student of the New Orleans music scene and has performed many times in New Orleans at Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.
For more information, call 802-422-3007. The Foundry at Summit Pond is located on the Killington Road.
Big Woods Voices
Big Woods Voices, which feature four veteran area singers celebrating their common passion for a cappella harmony, will headline a concert benefiting the Brattleboro Music Center, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 26, at the BMC Auditorium, 72 Blanche Moyse Way. Reveling in vocal harmony, Big Woods Voices marries singing traditions from around the world with various American roots genres.
Big Woods Voices includes Alan Blood, long-time member of area groups including the Blanche Moyse Chorale, I Cantori, Blue Moon and House Blend; Will Danforth, singer-songwriter, traditional acoustic artist, and the group’s arranger/composer; Becky Graber, leader of the Brattleboro Women’s Chorus and Animaterra Women’s Chorus in Keene, New Hampshire; and Amanda Witman, founder and co-leader of the Brattleboro Pub Sing with Tony Barrand.
Tickets are $15; go online to www.bmcvt.org.
Call for submissions
Canfield Gallery, in partnership with The American Museum of Fly Fishing, announced a call for submissions to a group exhibition of fine art for sale titled “The Art of Angling.” The exhibit will run at the gallery from May 12t-June 23.
The Canfield Gallery is located in the Martha Canfield Library in Arlington, home of both Norman Rockwell and the legendary Battenkill River. The exhibition intends to celebrate the artistic heritage of the river through the work of local and regional artists of all media. Artists living in the towns along the river are especially encouraged to enter.
Art in any media is welcome. Artists may submit up to five pieces and there is no entry fee. Digital submissions are due April 20. All work must be for sale; a 25 percent commission will be donated to the Martha Canfield Library.
For details on how to enter, call 802-430-4630, or go online to www.facebook.com/TheCanfieldGallery.
Arts Preview: April 19-25, 2018