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Rehearsing “The Seymour Sisters”

by Carole Vasta Folley, Vermont Artists’ Space Grant

Carole Vasta Folley of Essex Junction is the newest recipient of the Vermont Artists’ Space Grant. During the 10-week creation process, Carole works to develop a work-in-progress theeater piece that premieres on Saturday, May 30 in FlynnSpace. Apply now to be considered for the next Vermont Artists’ Space Grant.

When I made the choice to be IN my new play, The Seymour Sisters, let’s face it, it was before workshopping, editing, and rehearsing. It was when the project was a glimmer of an idea. Now that I am deep into the process as part of the Artists’ Space Grant, here’s what’s on my mind lately: What the hell was I thinking?

To be fair, I’ve done this before. In 2008, I wrote, directed, and originated the leading role of Millie in my play, Pronouncing Glenn. It was a big step to take, one I’m not sorry I did. I loved playing Millie, working with the other cast members, and being part of the process. But I do remember rethinking that choice as it is crazy-making wearing so many hats, let alone there are not enough hours in the day to get it all done. One minute I’m directing a scene, the next I’m an actor contemplating motivation, and the next, I’m rewriting the very line I as an actor just learned. But like a mother who forgets the pain of childbirth when deciding to have a second child, I jumped into The Seymour Sisters, heart first.

I don’t doubt I am a stronger director when not in the piece I’m directing. I’d guess that would be true for most. One does not have the same perspective when you’re not only juggling your character, but maybe have an unconscious allegiance to that character. I’ve examined this for myself and I don’t think that’s the case in The Seymour Sisters as I would have been happy to play either sister, and in fact was planning to play the opposite role . . . but who knows what’s going on down in the depths of our psyches.

Here’s the thing about this workshop process, being IN the piece has made the experience much more rich and fertile in exploration and development. As a writer, I feel every damn word I write, no matter the character. But having this opportunity to feel them again as an actor—to try them on, manipulate them, play with them, challenge them—has been extraordinary.

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Editing The Seymour Sisters

by Carole Vasta Folley, Vermont Artists’ Space Grant

Carole Vasta Folley of Essex Junction is the newest recipient of the Vermont Artists’ Space Grant. During the 10-week creation process, Carole works to develop a work-in-progress theeater piece that premieres on Saturday, May 30 in FlynnSpace. Apply now to be considered for the next Vermont Artists’ Space Grant.

The Seymour Sisters Post #2

This is a page from one of the scenes from The Seymour Sisters, my new play, I’m workshopping at the Flynn as part of the Vermont Artists’ Space Grant. And I love it.  (Both the Grant and the page :)  You can tell I am at the point where I should be making these edits and reprinting.  Although I don’t have the time right now to do that, at this point, I don’t think I would.  These pages of crossed-out lines and scribbled-in words ARE my work. I have found myself getting as much joy out of the dialogue I omit as the lines I keep.  That probably sounds funny as I would have thought it’d be painful to cut lines I really liked, lines that spoke to the heart, or were funny, or whatever. But instead, when I strip away these lines, they become unnecessary and what is left is stronger.

For me, editing happens in several ways.  First is pre-reads, just script in hand reading and rereading, stops and starts. Asking, “Do I really need that?” or “why is she saying that?” Words get changed and lines are crossed-out.  I am accustomed to this type of editing as I have edited this way solely for years—just me and my laptop. Alone is best as I speak the dialogue out loud.  My goal is to not just hear it, but to listen to it. This process is often surprising and marvelous, even when it’s just me alone in my office playing all the roles. After all, it is the first time my characters speak audibly and resonate beyond my mind. Their words become vibrations bouncing off walls and they become real.

I have been able to play with a deeper editing process in the Hoehl studio at the Flynn. This exploration has changed me as a playwright. It has given me new tools and ways of thinking in regards to editing. During rehearsals in the Hoehl studio, I continue to edit, but this time, on my feet—IN the scene, as an actor and as a director.  If you were in the room, you’d often hear me exclaim, “Let’s try it!”  The Vermont Artists’ Space Grant has given me permission of sorts to take the time to investigate the dialogue more thoroughly—trying scenes with and without certain words or lines and playing with moments to find the sweet spot. We workshop a scene over and over again—changing it up as we go—both editing dialogue and movement. Oh, the myriad of ways we humans communicate and thus the endless possibilities for exploration and variety. Sometimes—and this is really fun—I’ll say, “Drop the script!  We know what the script says, let’s now say it in our own character’s words”—improv of sorts.  This has been a successful method especially in wonky or seemingly disingenuous moments, resulting often in a big ah-ha!

I walk away from these studio sessions (gratefully) exhausted from all the editing, reiterations, and emotional journey traveled. The Seymour Sisters covers some tough topics and while workshopping them, we might be in a painful space for hours even though we’re working on one page of dialogue. But to be able to edit while acting and directing is so valuable I now can’t imagine it any other way.

Finally, so far the biggest gift of the editing process has been this:  Somewhere along the way,  I don’t remember writing the dialogue anymore, it lives outside me.  More accurately, the characters begin to live outside of me. Then—here’s the best part—THEY inform ME what to omit and what to keep. They are the ones who have something to say.

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An Evening of Wheel Thrills

by Kelly Hedglin Bowen, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk on the MainStage on May 10, 2015.

Photo by Jerry Metellus

Photo by Jerry Metellus

The Flynn launched into high gear Sunday night with a human-propelled spectacular worthy of the MainStage. Bicycles. Bicycles. Bicycles—everywhere. Amidst a backdrop of steampunk and wheels, Chris Lashua’s Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk pulsed to a beat of eclectic industrial tunes and applause.

What is it about the human condition that drives us to seek out these crazy thrills? I imagined myself back in the 1800s waiting outside of a circus tent, in line in a field somewhere, eager to pay my money to set my heart racing. To see something so unbelievable that I would marvel at . .

At what?

The body’s flexibility? The performer’s fearlessness? The belief that I could do that too if I only got up from my writing desk? And what about the performer? What compels a person to fling herself untethered from a pole and a wheel and a trampoline for the amusement of others?

I was in fine company sitting mid-theater in a practically packed house of both children and adults, everyone buzzing with anticipation. The only silence of the night came at the start of the show when the lights dimmed. From the moment the first acrobats flipped onto the scene, the audience became part of the act, gasping and hooting at every turn.

The set, a gantry scaffolding, towered over the stage and created the framework for a magical bicycle repair shop. As each new customer appeared, the unsuspecting repairman’s shop turned into a giant jungle gym with bits and pieces of moving parts.

At one point early on, a large wheel slowly descended and two amazing young women seamlessly shared the lyra as they were lifted high above the center stage to perform. Without nets, spotters, or safety belts—at least none that I noticed—each act twisted, turned, and spun to the crowd’s amazement.

I watched with one eye squeezed shut, cringing as the human gyroscope teetered precariously towards the apron. The show would have been thrilling enough on solid ground, but add the elevated stage and the continuous motion and the results were electrifying.

There was a sensuous aspect to the performance with each perfectly-tuned body clad in Victorian-era inspired costumes. Torsos intertwined as they hung from the rafters, clung to the pole and wheeled together across the stage. Moving bodies were everywhere with each act as awe-inspiring as the last.

The standing audience added to the finale with a booming round of applause. Pedal Punk delivered the thrills that we all had been after.

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Utterly Delightful

by Josh McDonald, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Anything Goes at the Flynn Monday, April 27.

anything goes

Photo:Jeremy Daniel

Outside, it was a rainy-dreary night. Inside the Flynn, though, a nearly full house got to enjoy a delightful revival of the Broadway classic Anything Goes. From the first notes of Cole Porter’s classic “I Get a Kick Out of You” to the grand finale, through comic hijinks and spirited dance routines, the show moved energetically and joyously forward. And the audience was only too happy to go along for the ride.

The story, first written by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse then revised by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, is a classic screwball-farce set on an ocean-liner bound for England. The ship’s onboard entertainer, torch singer Reno Sweeney (Emma Stratton), is in love with Billy Crocker (Brian Krinsky), who has stowed away in hopes of wooing heiress Hope Harcourt (Rachelle Rose Clark) away from her fiancé Lord Evelyn Oakleigh (Richard Lindenfelzer), whom Reno has taken an interest in. (Why settle for a romantic triangle when you can make it a Penrose Tetrahedron?)

Add in Billy’s boss Elisha Whitney (Michael R. Douglass), who hopes to woo Hope’s mother Mrs. Harcourt (Tracy Bidleman) and believes that Billy is back at the office taking care of business; and gangster Moonface Martin (Dennis Setteducati) and his moll Erma (Mychal Phillips), who keep Billy in disguise to hide him from Mr. Whitney, but also from the ship’s crew, who believe him to be a notorious criminal.

Hilarity, naturally, ensues.

Director Kathleen Marshall was also the choreographer, so it’s no surprise that the dance numbers are highlights of the show. And this is no small accomplishment; the performances are all strong, the dialogue snappy, the wit razor-sharp, and the pace never lets up.

If there was any shortcoming worth noting it was that the orchestra sometimes overpowered the singers, so that Cole Porter’s ever-droll lyrics became muddied and difficult to pick out. As performers and musicians were all miked, this seems a technical rather than a performance problem. Other than that, the evening was utterly delightful (and delicious and, of course, de-lovely). As far as I could tell, everyone left the theater singing.

Some of us haven’t stopped yet.

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A Circus Or a Drama in Motion?

by Kelly Hedglin Bowen, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk at the Flynn on Sunday, May 10 at 7 pm. Get tickets at www.flynntix.org.

Photo by Jerry Metellus

Photo by Jerry Metellus

 

Since 1977, when I wrapped my eager hands around the nubby plastic grips of my first pink Huffy, I instantly felt the allure of the bicycle. With two wheels spinning underneath me as fast as my little legs could pedal, I rode until the streetlights came on. I hurled my bike over homemade plywood ramps, with each pass trying to fly higher and higher without killing myself. The banana seat, the gears, the chain grease on my Levis… I held my own against the neighborhood boys.

Biking was my first taste of freedom: not only the given ability to transport my young self around the grid of our apartment complex, but a chance to step outside of the dollhouse.

My childhood cycling thrills peaked early, fears of a smashed pelvis and all that. But lucky for me, Boston-native Chris Lashua is still poppin’ wheelies. Lashua is the wheel mastermind behind Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk, a pedal-driven spectacular, which rolls onto the Flynn Stage May 10th.

Discovered in the 90’s by Cirque du Soleil, Chris created and performed an original BMX bike act. Eventually his engineering and creative self couldn’t be contained within the German wheel. So he began to design and build his extravagant mobile contraptions.

Since 2004 with his first collaborative project with the Circus Center of San Francisco, Cirque Mechanics has been amazing theater-goers. More than just an offshoot of the fantastical world of Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk is a methodically crafted narrative which revolves around the synergy between man and machine.

Is it a circus or a drama in motion? I still can’t decide.

The traditional fixed 3-ring becomes a multi-dimensional portal through which the reimagined motorized world of American ingenuity appears in a kaleidoscope of acrobats, trapeze artists, and flying unicycles.

So grab your mother and your tickets. Like that first forbidden ride on the handlebars, Cirque Mechanics’ Pedal Punk promises to be an unforgettable trip.

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Restless But Controlled

by Benjamin Pomerance

Wendy Whelan

Wendy Whelan

If someone had to summarize Wendy Whelan’s Restless Creature in a single motif, it would be the one that comes at the end of the night. After performing for an hour with four of the finest choreographers on today’s modern dance scene, the beloved former New York City Ballet prima ballerina arrived at a specified spot on the stage and — without any warning — collapsed backward. Then she did it again. And again. And each time, New York City studio boss Brian Brooks was there for her, using his back to support her from landing on the floor.

It was a moment that epitomized the aura of the evening. And it was a scene that represented so much of what this entire endeavor is all about.

For three decades, Whelan turned the New York City Ballet into a second home. A soloist with the company since 1989, she spun dozens of choreographers’ visions into heart-beating realities, interpreting new works by everyone from Jerome Robbins to Christopher Wheeldon to Alexei Ratmansky to Shen Wei. Audiences watched her evolve through a series of iconic roles, everything from George Balanchine’s regal Diamonds to Robbins’s primeval The Cage to Wheeldon’s breath-stopping After the Rain to Ratmansky’s dramatic Russian Seasons.

Her farewell performance in New York on October 18, 2014, left her receiving enough flowers during the curtain call to fill a governor’s garden. And at that point, nobody in the world could fault the 47-year-old dancer if she wanted to turn in her pointe shoes and call it a career.

Yet Whelan would have none of that. Before she was born, her stunningly rapid heartbeat in her mother’s womb convinced the doctor that her mother was carrying twins. It was the foreshadowing for a life spent in a state of insatiable curiosity, pushing through a diagnosis of scoliosis when she was 12 to amass one of the finest careers in ballet history. Resting simply does not appear to be a word in her lexicon.

Enter Restless Creature, a project that allowed her to handpick four modern dance luminaries — Brooks, the founder of his own company in New York; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo; MOVE: the company founder Joshua Beamish; and Abraham In Motion founder Kyle Abraham — to design duets that they would dance together. The notion is not completely unprecedented. Mikhail Baryshnikov, after all, famously turned to contemporary dance forms after retiring from ballet.

Still, the entire notion required Whelan to make significant mental and physical leaps. Essentially, she was forced to re-think her entire kinetic vocabulary. In a number of rehearsals, she even danced barefoot, trying to get a better grasp of the floor, the type of grip that went against some her vertically inclined ballet instincts.

And that newfound grasp seemed particularly evident last Thursday evening at the Flynn in “The Serpent and the Smoke,” her vigorous pas de deux with Abraham. In the half-light of the stage, Abraham opened the piece with a whirling series of arm movements and turns. Then Whelan entered by circling around her partner in a sequence of tremendous intensity — perhaps reminiscent of her bravura performance years ago in The Cage, but with an even steelier sense of earthly focus. The effect was riveting, with intensity never lessening throughout the piece.

The opening suite, Cerrudo’s “Ego et Tu,” provided arguably the night’s most beautiful imagery. Set to a pastiche of music by Philip Glass, Max Richter, and others, Cerrudo opened with a solo of extraordinary flexibility before moving to the rear of the stage and escorting Whelan out from the darkness for an independent sequence of her own.

When they finally came together, their movements played off one another expertly, each action producing an organic and not-necessarily-anticipated reaction. As they walked slowly offstage together at the dance’s conclusion, the Flynn crowd — a full house that enthusiastically cheered the dancers at every available opportunity — was utterly still.

Beamish’s “Conditional Sentences,” set to J.S. Bach’s Partita No. 2, outwardly appeared to be the program’s most conventional creation. Indeed, plenty of sections from the dance, particularly the portions performed by the red-and-gray-clad Whelan, carried classical elements. Yet as the work progressed, highlighted by clever off-the-beat moves by both Whelan and Beamish, it was clear that this was really a baroque foundation re-imagined through a modern eye, building steadily toward an energetic ending.

And then there was Brooks’s “First Fall,” again set to Glass’s music, with Whelan’s startling elegant series of controlled collapses. Near the end of the piece, she athletically turned sideways onto Brooks’s back, starting a sequence in which the two dancers gracefully moved together from the floor into an upright position.

In a sense, it summed up what Restless Creature is all about. A star of ballet entering a different universe of dance, the proverbial fall of faith. A set of gifted partners ushering her into this new sphere, moving together as they support one another in this journey. And restlessness, always restlessness, among the forward-moving dancers in this progress, but always enough control over that restlessness to keep it standing.

 

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An Unforgettable Trip

 

The week of April 20, FlynnArts staff took a trip with our musical theater students to the Great White Way to see one of their own, Oscar Williams, perform in Fun Home. Here’s a note that one of the students sent to the friends and family that helped to fund his trip.

Hi everyone!

I would just like to update you all on the experience you helped make possible for me. The trip to New York City happened on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and it was such an amazing experience.

Proud Lionesses

The first thing we did after we hopped off the bus on Tuesday was go to the New Amsterdam Theatre, where the Broadway musical Aladdin is playing, and get a tour around the theatre! We learned about the incredible history the of the theatre, and at the end, we got to see props and try on costumes used in the original Broadway productions of Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Aida, Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, and The Lion King. It was amazing to see how the construction of props and costumes are a huge part of what makes the magic happen onstage.

 

 

Ready to cheer Oscar!

Ready to cheer Oscar!

Later that night, we went to see the musical Fun Home, starring Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, and Beth Malone.  Fun Home is a deeply moving story about the life of Alison Bechdel and her struggle to come out to her family. This show is an amazing work of art. I was deeply moved by the story, and it sends a beautiful message. I was speechless at the end of the show. It was also amazing to see a fellow FlynnArts actor and friend, Oscar Williams, in his Broadway debut!

 

 

Learning "King of New York"

Learning “King of New York”

 

 

The next day we took a Newsies-themed Broadway Workshop with former Newsies cast member, Adam Kaplan. This workshop was set up to emulate a professional rehearsal, and we learned a song and dance to the Act Two opener of Newsies, “King of New York.” At the end, we also had a Q&A with Adam, about training, what it’s like to be a professional, and the professional audition process. It was incredible to see how fast paced the rehearsal process is, and it gave a good inside view to how professionals work.

 

After the workshop, we went to see the new musical Finding Neverland, starring Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammer, and Laura Michelle Kelly. This is another beautiful and touching story, about how the idea of Peter Pan came about in J.M. Barrie’s life, and was very touching. I was stunned with the choreography, and the technical aspects of this show.

I enjoyed myself so much on this trip, and it’s all thanks to you guys. I’ve attached a few photos for you to see!

Thanks again for making this possible!

Zachary Varricchione

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A Ridiculously Delightful Concert Experience

by Lindsey Rae, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Flynn on April 21, 2015. 

Dear Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain,

I’ve become a convert. A new, big fan. Can I please become your roadie and tour the world with you? I would enjoy that very much.

Thanks a million,

Lindsey

I think that the above pretty accurately sums up my feelings regarding the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I fell completely and immediately head-over-heels for this talented, fun-loving group. They seemed to have a following, and it’s no mystery as to why. They provided an energetic atmosphere made all the better by the involvement and appreciation of the local ukulele community that was in attendance that night at the Flynn.

I’ll admit I had a different picture in my head before attending this concert. When I pictured a “Ukulele Orchestra,” I envisioned the entire stage lined with arcs of seats filled with tens of musicians, not unlike a more traditional, classical orchestra. That said, the eight-member ensemble that came out onto the stage by no means disappointed me and it made me think about how we define an orchestra.

Is it the enormity of the group or the enormity of the feelings their music elicits that acts as a qualifier for this moniker? As one of the members of the group deftly explained to the audience near the conclusion of the show, “it isn’t the size but what you do with it that counts.”

This same logic applies in this case.

Even if they hadn’t highlighted their “30 plucking years” together, it seemed obvious that the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain had played closely for a considerable amount of time. They were like a well-oiled musicianship machine.

The strumming and singing chops on these guys were truly impressive.

Having started learning to play the guitar, something that I really appreciated was the sheer speed and velocity of their playing. Their hands were a constant flurry of activity, flying expertly over and across the strings. Knowing how difficult it is to form the shapes of chords, I marveled at how effortlessly and skillfully their fingers moved.

Of course, they made it look so easy!

Quick, repeated bursts of activity were contrasted with the more methodical muting of strings that together provided a backdrop for the intricate fingerpicking provided by the lead artist of each tune. Each instrumentalist contributed their own unique sound and rhythm to each fun and familiar piece that they played throughout the night.

I wasn’t aware that ukuleles came in quite so many different shapes, sizes, and varieties.

I hadn’t known, for example, that there was such a thing as a bass ukulele. I was particularly surprised at just how very “bass” it was, given the fact that it was still a relatively small instrument. In spite of its small stature, it still packed a punch and a bass line that I could easily pick out listening along.

A concert ukulele, baritone ukulele, tenor ukulele, and three soprano ukuleles all rounded out the orchestra. During one song, an electric ukulele came out, producing a sound akin to “Jimi Hendrix on Quaaludes.” Each ukulele got smaller and smaller until finally, during the second half of the performance, one of the players pulled out the most miniature of ukuleles.

More of a “refrigerator magnet” than a ukulele, he explained, it was the teeniest stringed instrument I’d ever seen. The dexterity required to play such a fret board so tiny must be immense. I couldn’t imagine how a full-grown adult’s fingers could fit, let alone move with the expert dexterity and acuity required to produce the fabulous music that came out of it. It seemed a notable feat to me, and was one of the highlights of the show.

All together, this chorus of ukuleles produced a lively and unique sound.

From David Bowie to disco, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain covered all the bases. With their delightful renditions of familiar songs, incredible talent, and fabulous humor, I didn’t want the evening to end. I wanted to pack my bags and tour the world with these fantastic folks.

I hope that they enjoyed playing their show in “Montpelier”, I mean “New Burlington”, and that they will come back soon for a repeat. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain far exceeded my expectations and made for a ridiculously delightful concert experience.

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The Inherent Intimacy of Radio

by Cynthia Close, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes, and Anna Bass at the Flynn on April 25, 2015. 

Photo by David Bazemore

The darkened theater, a hushed audience, and the familiar voice of Ira Glass sets the tone as he engages us as co-conspirators, just as he does on his syndicated public radio show This American Life. Here on the stage, Ira Glass is the heart and soul of this performance, just as he embodies the stories that have made This American Life the unique phenomena that built a cult-like following over the past twenty years.

There was a vaudeville feeling; a loose, improvised quality reinforced by the minimal stage set and the opening scene as Ira steps through the small, glittery archway that mimicked an entry onto the actual theater stage. He’s carrying what appears to be an old leather suitcase that he sets down as he addresses the audience. He unpacks and screws together a lectern, standing behind it and relating the stories that make up the three acts of this 90-minute production with no intermission.

While the three acts were thematically divided, different stages and types of love was a consistent thread. Act one covered love of performing. In Act two, burgeoning love for another individual was enacted by audience members who were selected to come up on stage to play awkward preteenagers at a middle-school dance. Love at the end of life flowed through the end of Act three, each of these stories told in Ira’s distinct style.

There is an inherent intimacy in radio that I have always loved, much more so than television or even the movies. Radio is a way to share secrets between you the individual listener and the disembodied voice somewhere “out there” that seems to be talking only to you, engaging you in a private conversation with your own thoughts. The illusion of being alone had to be sacrificed in this case, as every seat in the Flynn Theater appeared to be occupied, but in return we were treated to an insider look at the creative process. For me this was the most important take-away from the performance.

Ira shares with us how the idea for Three Acts, Two Dancers and One Radio Host was born, how he met the two dancers, Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes, and how the differing personalities of these two dancers were incorporated in the show. A most pleasant surprise was how delightful the tall, gangly, Ichabod Crane-like body of Ira Glass became as he flung himself enthusiastically into the rhythmic dances choreographed by Monica Bill Barnes.

The show ended with an explosion of confetti and then a slow, methodic packing up the suitcase as Ira Glass prepared to leave his Burlington co-conspirators to engage a new audience on the next stop of this creative tour.

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Gilberto Gil Heats Up the Flynn with Dazzling, Intimate Performance

by Brett Sigurdson, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Gilberto Gil at the Flynn on April 20, 2015. 

It was a cold, rainy night in Burlington Monday, but Gilberto Gil kept things hot, hot, hot in the Flynn.

The legendary Brazilian Tropicalìa pioneer was a regal presence as he sat under the muted lights of the Main Stage. Surrounded by his small, crack band—Domenico Lancelotti on drums, Mestrinho on accordion and percussion, and Bem Gil on multiple instruments—the legendary artist was often ensconced in light smoke at center stage, as if a spiritual presence was emanating from him.

In some ways, it was.

The concert was a tribute to a mentor of sorts, João Gilberto, a seminal Brazilian singer and guitarist and the godfather of bossanova. Many of the night’s songs were from Gilberto Gil’s latest album, Gilberto’s Samba, which features Gil reinterpretations of João Gilberto standards.

Singing with a voice as subtle and powerful as his earliest albums, the 72-year-old Gil paid respect to João Gilberto while also adding his own touch to the master’s music. Often this took the place of subtle percussion flourishes from Lancelotti in standards like “Eu Sambo Mesmo” or “O Pato” or “Voce e Eu.” Yet, sometimes Gil’s interpretations brought other surprises, such as subtle electronic percussive sounds in “Desde Que o Samba É Samba.” The most satisfying additions to João Gilberto’s songs came compliments of Mestrinho and his accordion solos, which added tasteful, funky flourishes to songs like “Tim Tim por Tim Tim.”

While most of the intimate, two-hour performance consisted of earnest acoustic samba explorations, Gil unleashed some of the joyous energy of his own songs toward the end of the set, most notably in “Chiclete Com Banana,” in which he got the crowd enthusiastically chanting  “bop bop bop she bops” over and over.

Gil’s band, his mastery of guitar, and his amiable banter with the crowd made the cold night an afterthought. In fact, it might as well have been summer in the Flynn as the crowd basked in the warmth and light of Gil’s brilliance.

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