Friday, February 24, 2012

Actors Studio celebrates wimmins
The Actor’s Studio celebrates Women’s History Month with a series of music, film and one-woman shows that look into women’s lives and experiences. All performances take place at the Actors Studio, 50 Water St., Mill #1, Suite #5, of the Tannery. Unless otherwise noted, shows are 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors. For more information, call 978.465.1229 or log on at Here is the schedule:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TITO's ghouls with a twist .... mmmmmmm, tasty

Okay, admit it: You've gotten a little spoiled, haven't you? Getting to see all those cool shows without spending a penny, like you're some kind of hotshot critic, or arts writer or something. Well, you're gonna have to dig into your wallet this time and cough up five bucks if you want to experience Theater in the Open's Haunted Trail, a one-hour walk through the Maudslay State Park, and exercise. we hear, is supposed to be a good thing. And when you're out on the trail, you'll see eerie vignettes, spooky sketches and get a good haunting — all in the autumn grandeur of Maudslay State Park. Besides, a fiver? It's nothing. Especially seeing how so many of you have enjoyed an exceptional season, with productions like "The Flies" and "Grimm, or the Uses of Enchantment," for nothing. Well, dude, even free shows always have a price tag. Someone has to pay the bill, and the Halloween show has been vehicle that brings in the money to pay for, at least partially, next year's coming attractions.

Expect old favorites, like the Monster Mash and Scary Clowns with a twist, but expect to laugh while you've getting spooked. That's from the press release. Personally we've always thought the phrase scary clown is redundant. They're scary and evil. And the only way to consume them is with a twist. Mmmmmmm, scary clown. But don't expect to be scared out of your wits or grossed out by clowny drinks. "We're family friendly," says TITO artistic director Edward Speck, who made his Theater in the Open debut in a Haunted Trail take on Hansel and Gretel when he was 14 years old. "I really miss performing in it now that I'm supervising, it's that much fun," he says. "We are not the blood and gore of Spooky World. We look to entertain as well as scare, and we expect easily as many laughs as chills." The skits are designed to appeal to all ages, and don't worry, smaller children will be provided with Magic Acorns to ward away the creepiest clowns — um, I mean monsters.

The Trail runs from 2 to 4 p.m. October 22 and 23 at Maudslay State Park. Tickets are $5. The state grabs two bucks for parking in the lot. Allow for a brief walk from the parking lot and follow the Frankenstein flags. Kids age 3 and under get in for free. Raindates are October 29 and 30.

For more information, check out the or call 978.465.2572. You can look at a map here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Port cruise is a stone cold groove

Damned hippies, right? Always gotta do things their way, do their own thing in their own time.  And this thyme they've naturally decided to do things a little differently — they being the Joan-and-Ra-era Fowle’s and the Canta Libre and Cluster School crowds — at least when it comes to this whole "Wasted Youth Cruise" business. It's a a three-hour cruise (all together now, a three-hour cruise) on the mighty Merrimack, from Plum Island Point to the Chain Bridge and back, that started out as an old-school reunion party, one with a distinctly counter-cultural vibe to it — and, at the same time, incorporating the spirit, if not the tedium, of Yankee Homecoming with the shut-up-and-dance fun of the Bluescruise, another Port summer tradition, focusing on survivors of Canta Libre, a short-lived, way-left-of-center alternative school back in the '70s; students at the Cluster School in Cambridge, another attempt at alt-education, and folks who remember the old food co-op at the YMCA. Well, they're doing it again this month. It won't be the Young Moderns this time, but Four Barrel Billy, Mark Hoag's Connecticut-based '60s rock and surf trio. That's them in the picture. Want a taste, see what you're getting yourself into? Here's some grainy video of them playing "A Taste of Honey" at  Uncle Eddie's, the Salisbury Beach club where folks went after last year's cruise. But this year, organizers want it to be even more inclusive, opening up the reunion to like-minded people — and everybody who likes to dance and get a little crazy, in a responsible way. The theme will be a '60s revival dance party, a concept that resonates even with folks who weren't around during those crazy times. The event will be held on the Captain’s Lady III, a large party boat departing Plum Island Point at 7 p.m. Sept. 17. If you really really really want to go, you should grab your tickets soon. It sold out last year. Rather quickly, actually. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Dyno Records, 1 Middle St., Newburyport, and Captain’s Fishing Parties, Plum Island Point. You can get them online here, but there's a $4.50 fee tacked on. Bring a little green along with you. It's a cash bar. Sorry. For more information, call 978.462.3141. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Affirmative: The answer is yes, yes, yes

It's the last word of James Joyce's "Ulysses." It's the word John Lennon saw when he looked through the telescope at Yoko''s exhibit. And it's Brendon Pelsue and Natasha Haverty's answer to the musical question posed by Frankie Valli all those years ago: Will I see you in September? And, yup, like we said, the answer is yes. If not in Newburyport, where the two actors have been staging "The Dangling Conversation," an ongoing improvisational series, then in Cambridge. The duo begins a Monday-evening residency at the Lily Pad for performances with themes having to do with changing times and changing seasons. The show is about a complicated relationship between two people with history, lots of it, that is created in the present, in real time. It’s something of a high wire act, of course, meaning the performance could be magical or, just as easily, could crash and burn, which is kind of exciting in itself — and about as close to bloodsport as theater gets to bloodsport. And on Sept. 27, they’ll use the Lily Pad as the launch Pad for a listening party for ‘The Yankee City Series.’ Yes, “The Kindness of Strangers” and “Parents Night,” the first two episodes of the performers’ long-anticipated radio show are ready to hit the airwaves. And, shhhhh, friends and supporters will be heading to the People’s Republic for a taste of the audio. The show is a unique combination of improvisation and scripted audio drama about life in a contemporary America,exploring small-scale mania and beauty behind everyday relationships with performances that are loopy, complex, strangely true to life, and yet hopefully different from what you've seen before. All the events take place at The Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. Tickets are $7. For more information, check out the venue or the performers' blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Zhu II: Bringing "Romance" to Easter

Tricky date to schedule a concert, Easter Sunday. Lots of people busy with family obligations that day. Meaning that if you hop-hop-hop to it, there's a chance to snatch up a couple of tickets for "The Romantic Piano," the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival concert with Philadelphia-based pianist Natalie Zhu, who is known for intense, emotional performance pyrotechnics. The concert had been all but sold-out on Feb. 5, before mean old Mother Nature put the snow-smackdown on us. So here's to second chances. The concert takes place at 4 p.m. April 24 at The Carriage House, 203 High St., Newburyport —  a lovely space with amazing acoustics. The program will include Chopin’s Barcarolle in F-Sharp Major; Rachmaninoff preludes, including “The Bells of Moscow,” and Liszt’s majestic B minor Sonata. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ron Pullins and the chocolately goodness of theater

After hearing that Ron Pullins was going to the fudge festival, we thought, "Mmmmmm, fudge!" and started brainstorming ideas to weasel our way in for free. But it turns out the festival has nothing to do with actual chocolate. D'oh! Well, almost nothing. Turns out that ”fudge” is actually an acronym. Seriously. Stands for "friends united developing genuine entertainment." But upon further investigation, we discovered the sweet, sweet connection: When the company came together in Wakefield more than a decade ago, the organizers had lots of big ideas, but could not come up with a name to save their lives. Story goes that someone came into the room with a plate of freshly baked fudge. Delicious, melt-in-your-mouth fudge, presumably without nuts because that would ruin the whole fantasy. And she asked, sans acronym, “how about some fudge?” The bleary-eyed creative team jumped on it, then came up with the acronymic justification. A couple of years ago, the company launched a festival of short plays, and that’s where Port playwright Pullins comes in. They’ll be staging “Pico,” a 10-minute play that was actually a study for "Woman. Bicycle,” a Pullins production that had its first reading this month at the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative. The title character is the sprite who shows up at a bar and … well, let’s just say it has almost nothing to do with fudge. It turns out to be a play within a play within a play — “not easy to do in 10 minutes,” says Pullins, who owns Focus Publishing, which specializes in classical Greek and Roman drama as well as textbooks. The play had its first reading earlier this year at the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston’s Open Mic for Playwrights, with Ian Thal, artistic director of Teatro Delle Maschere and a playwright specializing in commedia dell’arte, reading the Pico character. It will be directed by Dan Bourke. It will be staged May 2 and 3 at the New Rep in Watertown. Should be a treat. For more information, check out F.U.D.G.E. or Pullins online.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ain't that a Shane: Rocker hosts Japan benefit

There were times during the go-go '80s — and we have the deliciously dated videotape to prove it — that Gary Shane would pull double duty, playing in the opening and headlining acts — exchanging the goofy cowboy hat he wore with Alan Laddd and the Abashed, his country-tinged side project, for the de rigueur skinny tie for his power-pop band The Detour. Well, time flies. More than two decades have passed, but there he goes again. The Ipswich rocker has not slowed down at all. Or learned his lesson. In fact, he's going to redouble his efforts, literally. Shane will be front for four (count em, four) bands — The Detour, The Silvertones, Alan Laddd and the Abashed and, where it all got started more than a quarter-century ago, the Shane Champagne Band — during the Japan Disaster Relief Concert, a four-hour shebang set to ... Nah, scratch that. Make it five. He’ll also play in Imojah and the Skylight Band, the reggae act fronted by ex-Cultural Roots singer Wade Dyce. We hear there’ll also be a few other acts on the bill. We’ve heard some names, but aren’t saying nothing until it’s nailed down. Except for Asa Brebner and Friends, because he’s on the poster. Shane will probably be playing with him, too, but we’re hoping that Brebner will bring along some other friends, like, um, maybe the girl singer from that band he was in... what was the name? Oh, yeah. Robin Lane and the Chartbusters. Here’s to hoping. The gig had originally been scheduled for the Rowley VFW, the site of Shane’s last benefit concert — for the 2004 tsunami that battered Indonesia. At that show he opened for a sock puppet performance, a la Spinal Tap. Ah, good times, good times. The show runs from 4 to 7 p.m. April 17 at Ipswich Town Hall, 25 Green St. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. For more information, check out Shane's web.