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50 Years of Alice’s Restaurant

by Matthew Goguen, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of Arlo Guthrie’s performance on Wednesday, October 7 at 7:30 pm. Get tickets at

In 1965, a teenager named Arlo Guthrie was arrested and briefly jailed for litterin’ and creating a nuisance on Thanksgiving Day in the rural town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A story like this wouldn’t be likely to leave the dinner table or campfire, let alone travel to six continents and countless arenas, honky-tonks, taverns, clubs, and festival lawns had it been anyone other than a folk music prodigy. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Arlo’s famous run-in with Officer Obie that led to his best-known song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, an 18-minute talking epic that recounts every step of the entire event from Stockbridge to Alice’s Restaurant, and the litterin’ all the way to the U.S. Army draft office.

The Flynn is proud to bring Arlo and his daughter Sarah Lee to Burlington for a stop on the “Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour” on October 7th. The multimedia show will feature 75,000 photographs as a backdrop for plenty of stories, laughs, and songs from the famed folk singer.

For a career spanning half a century with nearly thirty albums and dozens of tours around the world, Arlo Guthrie isn’t a household name. In fact outside of songs like “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”, “The Motorcycle Song”, and “Coming into Los Angeles”, Arlo has never had what could be considered a hit song. He’s made a few film appearances, occasionally is on NPR, and has had the honor of performing with the Muppets, but he isn’t a star by conventional means – he is “too normal” even as the eldest son of folk icon Woody Guthrie who was anything but. The folk music of Arlo Guthrie has a foundation in the true music of the people, not the tweed-jacket, big beard, trust fund, artisanal, desperate earnestness of Mumford or any of his Sons that dominates popular “folk” today. For that, and many other reasons, he’s endeared himself to fans of all ages.

Somewhere down the line after Woodstock in 1969, Arlo settled in the tiny town of Washington, Massachusetts, which probably has less than Stockbridge’s “three stop signs, two police officers, and one police car” as claimed in “Alice”. He toured with Pete Seeger and other folk heavyweights playing old standards, originals, and rousing renditions of his father’s most famous song, “This Land is Your Land”, the message of equality that deserves to be our national anthem.

In years since, he’s toured all over the world playing an ever-changing setlist of old favorites and dusted off gems, but “Alice” only gets brought out on anniversary tours. In what could be the final Alice tour, why don’t you come on down to Burlington, have a dinner that can’t be beat, and get ready for 50+ years of pure Americana.

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Lucky, or just Plush?

by Lauren J. Sanders, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of Lucky Plush’s performance of The Queue on Saturday, October 3 at 8 pm. Get tickets at

From what can be found on YouTube, Lucky Plush seems to notice an awful lot about our modern dance culture and how it’s tied to our past. And they tie it all in with witty commentary and humor. Sounds like a difficult task, right? But then I watch this video, a full original work done at the Dance Center of Columbia College, and I’m blown away.

Beyonce, a household name for most people, has an excellent choreographer. His name is JaQuel Kight. In the music video “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On it)” there is iconic choreography that Beyonce and two other dancers carry out.  Those two people don’t even matter, though, because Lucky Plush Productions shows you how our modern day dance moves really come from all over the place. With some text to help convey the message and lots of comparisons, LPP shows us how a music video with over 422 million views really is a sum of all of the dancers’ parts. And that’s just in the first five minutes. I’m not going to delve into a play-by-play of this performance, but I’d like to say it’s unique and intriguing. I’m also going to avoid watching any more footage of LPP, in order to go into the show on Saturday with a clean slate.

From the research I conducted about the company itself: there are a lot of awards. I mean a lot. Some of them I’ve never even heard of because I’ll admit, I don’t really follow dance. Julia Rhoads the creator and producing artistic director of Lucky Plush has created more than 25 works for the company, 11 of which are full length evening productions. Again, that’s a lot of original work done by these dancers since 1999. Even the piece being shown on the Flynn Mainstage this weekend is unique to Burlington, as it was developed just last year during a two-week production residency. Doesn’t this show just keep sounding more and more entertaining as you keep reading? I think so.

There are still some tickets available for Saturday’s performance, you can buy them online or at the box office, and I hope everyone joins me in what I’m sure is going to be a wonderful show.

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A Special Show for a Special Audience

by Anne Averyt, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite, Brown Box at the Flynn on Sunday, October 4. Get tickets at

The Flynn Center will be transformed into a magic place on Sunday, October 4 when the Chicago Children’s Theater presents Red Kite, Brown Box. The performance is described as a “Multi-Sensory Experience for Young People on the Autism Spectrum.” A better way to say it is that the program will provide very special children with a special opportunity to be part of a special theater production. It’s a show that won’t make them sit quietly in their seat for an hour, but one that will encourage them to move and laugh, talk, sing and interact with the cast.

The Red Kite show is an adventure that leads children and their guests on an imaginative journey into a magical, whimsical world. The interactive “play” uses textures, sound and lights, including a pillow fight, a dance party and playing with flashlights in a tent, to engage the young audience. Then the show ends with a relaxing lullaby as the whole theatre space is filled with stars – points of light moving gently to create a calm dream-state that leaves the audience mesmerized.

As Kat Redniss, the Flynn’s Accessibility and Student Matinee Coordinator, explains, the Flynn is working to break down barriers and make theater accessible. Red Kite Brown Box is, she says, an interactive show in an intimate safe environment for children on the autism spectrum. She calls the production a sensory adventure with some parts of the program high energy and others calm and soothing.

Each show will be limited to twelve children and one to two family members or caregivers. There is a range of performance times throughout the day: 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm. After purchasing tickets for the show, family members will be able to access a social story and study guide to enhance the children’s enjoyment of the performance and offer related enrichment activities.

Prior to the performance, a survey will also be sent to ticket holders to help better accommodate each child. The survey will help the performers know the child’s likes and dislikes and any additional information that can help the children have a comfortable, enjoyable experience.

The Chicago Children’s Theater has been performing in the Chicago area for 10 years. Its mission is to enrich their community through diverse theatrical and educational programming. Its vision is to create “awe inspiring” theater through “inclusion and accessibility”. The Red Kite show is the Theater’s sixth production and is being taken on a national tour in 2015 and 2016. The story is based on the book, Not a Box, by the New York Times bestselling author, Antoinette Portis.

The show promises to be a joyful, engaging experience; it’s a program not to be missed. For questions or additional information, contact Kat Redniss at (802) 652-4571 or kredniss[at]

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Matthew Shipp Review

by Colleen Ovelman, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Matthew Shipp Trio in FlynnSpace on September 18, 2015.

For eighty minutes on Friday night, Matthew Shipp, Michael Bissio, and Newman Taylor Baker, played one long continuous piece. Some themes rose to the surface and returned some time later, but there was no ABA, no central melody, no traditional structure.

As I sat surrounded by the music, I imagined it as a soundtrack, yet not a soundtrack for a tidy movie-style story, but rather it felt like a soundtrack for a day, a week, a long messy year in the life, where we only wish we knew that after the 16-bar solo, after running amuck, that we would be returned to something comfortable and familiar.

Here instead, we rode the music. A walking bass line that told us where and when to move our bodies, replaced by a scorching intimacy of bow on strings, at once discordant and squawking, then soothing; an intimacy we have all known. A drum beat played to a shifting metronome. Brush on cymbal, stick to the edge, leaving mylar for metal, leaving metal for wood.

And then the piano. Shipp’s hands moved on it with a grace and ferocity as he seemed to scratch an eternal itch or a sweet lover or a day he’d rather forget. The mess of life.

And without the traditional structure, what seemed most amazing is that the three of them were able to move through this together, to create cohesive incohesion together. Like some kind of molecular electromagnetism. Like living in a house full of teenagers. Like trying to strap everything together and move through the mess of life.

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Dwight Yoakam Preview

by Barbara Alsop, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of country star Dwight Yoakam on the MainStage on Thursday, September 17 at 7:30 pm. Matt Whipkey opens. Get tickets at

Dwight Yoakam comes to the Flynn as brash and full of bravado as he did to Nashville 30 years ago, a hungry musician trying to find his way. He rose to stardom as a hillbilly throwback to an earlier country music, nuanced by his knowledge of the Beatles and the other stars of the British Invasion. His brief foray in the punk scene in LA gave way to fame and fortune in the early crossover days of country to the rock ’n roll scene. He has walked his own path in those thirty years and is now producing some of the best music of his storied career.

His latest release is Second Hand Heart, a wonderful display of his erudition and broad reaching interests. With hints of the King and the Fab Four, he also speaks in the vernacular of the Appalachians and his roots in Kentucky. His brilliant guitar playing supplements his lyrics drawn from deep hillbilly sources to produce a music as fresh and invigorating as any he has ever written, and his very tight and polished band helps him perform to his highest.

Yoakam’s stage presence is electric, possibly a reflection of his other career as a skilled actor who has appeared in movies and TV in a number of challenging and iconic roles, from abusive boyfriends and psychopaths to cops and sheriffs. Still wearing the skin-tight jeans that have been his trademark from his earliest days, he exudes both youth and maturity and his sheer joy in performance will carry his audience to heights of joy and sorrow, cresting in the hillbilly heaven he can create at will.

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Lisa Fischer: A Bird Set Free

by Kelly Hedglin Bowen (@kelhedglinbowen), Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of Lisa Fischer at the Flynn on September 12, 2015.

Thirteen years ago, I was adrift in a sea of seventy thousand screaming fans and curious to know how, after so many years, The Rolling Stones commanded such a large venue. As the thunderous voice of Lisa Fischer boomed through the stadium boosting Jagger’s vocals and projecting melodies high into the bleacher seats, I had my answer.

Saturday evening I was part of a more intimate gathering as Ms. Fischer made her long-awaited appearance at the Flynn, belting out a ten-song set that resonated in my bones long after the music stopped.

Taking the stage alongside her band Grand Baton, and greeted with resounding applause, Ms. Fischer opened the night with a hypnotic rendition of Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven.” From the first buttery note, the sound eased into a sensuous rhythm that showcased the diversity and command of Fischer’s voice. Led by guitarist and musical director JC Maillard, accompanied by Thierry Arpino on drums and Aidan Carroll on bass, Grand Baton is an eclectic mix, a rock-soul-bluesy trio that skirts operatic alongside Fischer’s vocals.

Once firmly in our happy place, Grand Baton took the beat up a notch, launching into Eric Bibb’s “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.” But it was during “Bird in a House”, a song originally recorded by roots band Railroad Earth, that I understood the personal depth of Ms. Fischer’s performance. Threaded into the world beats and strings of Grand Baton, Fischer invited the audience to chant “Freedom,” as if we were, all together, invoking one powerful force.

At center stage, Lisa was finally free both physically and musically to express herself. The vocal range was intoxicating. As a writer, my thoughts went immediately to Maya Angelou’s Caged Bird and the female’s struggle for artistic freedom and self-acceptance. I felt as if I were watching her transformation.

Two fabulous elements of the performance were essential to the structural sound of the set. First, Fischer used two vocal mics: one hand-held and one, set with a slight delay, on a stand. This essentially gave her the ability to sing lead and backup simultaneously. At times, she even sang without a mic creating a third level of harmony. Amazing. The second element was a gorgeous SazBass, an eight-stringed electroacoustic instrument that added an intense Turkish flavor and was expertly handled by Mr. Maillard.

Fischer and Grand Baton took a unique approach to several well-known tunes, including explosive deliveries of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” and Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” Sliding into the tunes so seamlessly, she had us humming along even before we realized which songs we were singing. With her Grammy award-winning “How Can I Ease the Pain,” Fischer left no emotional stone unturned.

If I have one critique on a flawless musical evening, it was the audience. While gracious in applause, at times I felt they were still feeling the effects of last winter. The stoic calm that seemed to permeate the seated portion of the theater finally thawed a bit during Little Willie John’s “Fever.”  Keeping the temperature high, Fischer and Grand Baton gave exceptionally unique style to the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” With blended harmonies and surging rhythms and belly dancing, what we remember as a rock song was remixed into tantric gospel. I will never listen to “Jumpin’ Jack” the same way again.

At last, as Fischer exited the stage, the same crowd that respectfully sat mesmerized flew to its feet cheering wildly for an encore. Shouts heard from the floor included “Shelter” and “Anything you want!”

“Anything you want?” She asked, returning to the stage with a wide grin and launching into her original rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” How many times have we heard this tune over the years? I was a 1-year-old in 1969 when The Stones released this song. I grew up knowing every word. But Saturday night the delivery was different. Maybe because of the soulfulness of the female voice or maybe my maturity, but not only did I know every word, but I also HEARD every word. Timeless art reaches into the past and brings forth a message still valuable today, the urgency and suffering and suspense echoing note by note.

For a woman who has spent most of her career performing to stadium crowds, Lisa Fischer seemed at home in Vermont barefoot in a flowing skirt that accentuated her graceful moves. Rarely does an artist express such gratitude in her music, her performance more of a personal journey than a concert; a musical memoir shared openly with her fortunate audience. I can only hope that she enjoyed being with us as much as we enjoyed being with her.

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An Overview of the 2015-16 Season

by Steve MacQueen, Artistic Director

The 2015-16 season is now on sale! Get tickets for any of these shows at

The Flynn’s 2015-16 season keeps rolling with country superstar Dwight Yoakam (September 17), who brings a blistering live show—along with decades of awards and accolades—to Burlington for his Flynn debut.

Dwight Yoakam, September 17

Dwight Yoakam, September 17

Chicago dance troupe Lucky Plush (October 3) returns with The Queue, a piece that was co-commissioned by the Flynn and developed during a two-week production residency here in the summer of 2014. I’m excited to see the final product. Woody’s eldest, Arlo Guthrie (October 7), returns for his once-a-decade full performance of his 18-minute masterwork of philosophical hilarity, The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. Someone in Guthrie’s camp told me he had an encounter with Burlington police years ago at the Flynn . . . anyone know the story? Woody Allen has written plays before but Bullets over Broadway (October 22) is his first big-time musical, an adaptation of his hit 1991 film involving prohibition, gangsters, dames, and the theater. New Orleans pianist Henry Butler (October 23) is one of the giants of his great American musical tradition—Dr. John calls him “the pride of new Orleans”—and he’s teamed with New Yorker Steven Bernstein & the Hot 9 for a scintillating take on ‘20s hot jazz that looks backward and forward simultaneously. This one’s fun! Today’s most creative and engaging voice in tap dance, Michelle Dorrance brings her company Dorrance Dance (October 29) for ETM: The Initial Approach, a high-tech, high-energy show that integrates incredible tapping with futuristic technology.

Ry Cooder is one of the great American musical adventures, and the Flynn is ecstatic to present him and his friends Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White as Cooder-White-Skaggs (November 16), for an evening of gospel, bluegrass, and pure Americana. For Anglophilia (by way of Canada), there’s Toronto’s remarkable Art of Time Ensemble (November 19). Basically a chamber orchestra with all-star vocalists, the ensemble performs the Beatles’ beyond-legendary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety.

December brings an annual treat: the musical stage version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (December 11), the story of . . . oh, you know the story!

Ragtime, January 20

Ragtime, January 20

Not too many works have been great books, movies, and Broadway shows, but E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime (January 20) certainly qualifies. The show, a kaleidoscope of fiction and reality in the American ‘20s, won Tonys for Best Book and Best Score. Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro never really got her due (though Eli’s Coming and And When I Die scored on cover versions by Three Dog Night and Blood, Sweat & Tears), but jazz pianist/arranger Billy Childs (January 23) is looking to change that with his towering tribute, Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro. A sextet with harp and two magical voices (Becca Stevens and Alicia Olatunji), the band resurrects Nyro’s music in electrifying fashion.

Black Angels over Tuskegee (January 29) tells the incredible story of the first African-American pilots to fly in World War II. These brave men overcame harrowing obstacles and ridiculous racism to earn this honor, dramatized in this long-running off-Broadway production. The modest tale of an Irishman and Czech woman bonding over music, the Broadway musical Once (February 1 & 2) touched a chord in viewers and critics, earning eight Tonys including Best Musical. This is the show’s first season on the road and it’s here at the Flynn for two shows. Having hosted the first two installments of The Intergalactic Nemesis, we had to book the conclusion, right? TWIN INFINITY (February 5) continues this deeply entertaining retro-futuristic tale, which uses hundreds of projected animated cells and a live onstage cast to create a cross between a ‘30s radio serial and a graphic novel. The ever-hilarious Paula Poundstone (February 6) makes her third appearance at the Flynn and we’re hoping it’s as popular as the first two, which sold out. New York City’s tremendous annual world music event GlobalFest is hitting the road for the first time as GlobalFest Live! (February 24). The inaugural tour examines the ritual of Carnivále in the Americas, featuring joyous music from Brazil (Casuarina), Haiti (Emeline Michel) and Jamaica (Brushy One-String). Speaking of global vision, here’s a riddle: what has Swedish songs, is set on a Greek Island, and took Broadway by storm? Of course, it’s Mamma Mia! (February 29), the ABBA brainchild that, despite Pierce Brosnan’s performance in the film version, continues to fill theaters around the world.

The Cat in the Hat (March 8) continues to beguile those two kids (and that goldfish) left alone on a rainy day in this musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ famed book, which is an autism and sensory-friendly family performance. Yamato’s Bakuon: Legend of the Heartbeat (March 11) is bound to be less sensory friendly, since those giant taiko drums can get loud. Still the pageantry, musicality, and pure excitement of this group is undeniable. Things start getting Gaelic on St. Patrick’s Day, when County Sligo band Dervish (March 17) brings its deeply traditional music to life, via top instrumentalists and the gorgeous vocals of Cathy Jordan. Things stay Irish but get a bit weird with the Samuel Beckett Trilogy: Not I / Footfalls / Rockaby (March 23), three seminal one-act works by the Nobel Prize-winning genius. The show is performed by Scottish actress Lisa Dwan, who has received endless raves on both sides of the pond for her riveting performances of these famously difficult works. Seriously, don’t miss this one.

Evelyn Glennie, April 11

Evelyn Glennie, April 11

Keeping it Scottish, the world’s premier orchestral percussionist Evelyn Glennie (April 11) performs with the Community Engagement Lab Orchestra as the concluding event in a week-long educational tour of Vermont. Glennie is dazzling to watch and even more incredible to hear, as she makes music from her vast array of percussion instruments…or from a tin can and a stick. Brazil’s astonishing Companhia Urbana de Dança (April 14) comprises Rio street dancers as choreographed by founder Sonia Destri. The result is the excitement of hip-hop and capoeira, pushed to a new level by Destri’s moves. They’re an electrifying young company you’ll be hearing a lot more from. A student matinee favorite, the Peking Acrobats (April 15) bring their centuries-old mix of trick-cycling, tumbling, balance, and somersaulting for a return engagement.

Quite possibly the greatest living jazz composer (she gets my vote), Maria Schneider (April 20) and her incomparable orchestra return to the Flynn for the first time since 2008. She’ll debut a new work, co-commissioned by the Flynn. Fado, that sad and sensuous music of Portugal, has received a youth transfusion over the last decade. The greatest of these new re-interpreters is Ana Moura (April 29), who immerses herself in tradition while also updating the genre through collaborations with her admirers, which include Prince and the Rolling Stones. When the Alonzo King LINES Ballet (May 4) takes the Flynn stage for the first time in more than a decade, the company will be dancing to the sounds of nature, thanks to an intriguing collaboration with composer/ecologist Bernie Krause. Krause records natural sounds and turns them into soundscapes, and I’m intrigued to see how King’s beautifully fluid dancers interpret these sounds.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet, May 4

Alonzo King LINES Ballet, May 4

FlynnSpace most certainly deserves its own long article, as this year we’ve planned one of our basement space’s most ambitious seasons ever. But if I can only mention a few, they include avant garde jazz pianist Matthew Shipp (September 18); local jazz musician/composer Brian McCarthy’s ambitious jazz suite of songs built around Civil War themes (November 6-7); the hilarious and profound dancing of Monica Bill Barnes & Co. (December 3), last seen to such great effect on the MainStage with Ira Glass; the Bang on a Can All-Stars performing Brian Eno’s magical Music for Airports (February 19); Soovin Kim & the Ying Quartet playing Beethoven (February 27-28); the National Theatre of Scotland’s fever dream of a musical comedy, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart (April 8-10), spoken in verse and set in a bar (in FlynnSpace, the audience doubles as the bar’s patrons); and, the show I am most looking forward to this whole season, a performance by Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (May 14), who channels punk and avant-garde into a wordless display that is as much an exorcism as a performance. Not for everyone, certainly, but if it’s for you, I’ll see you there.

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Fetty Wap, Matthew Shipp, and various musings from a damp kitchen

by Colleen Ovelman, Burlington Writers Workshop

Preview of Matthew Shipp Trio in FlynnSpace on Friday, September 18. Get tickets at


It’s a rainy Sunday and my 15-year-old has been playing track after track of Fetty Wap, and I don’t love it. I prefer my hip hop with a much less overt dose of misogyny, but I don’t object to the music in my kitchen because my son is happily peeling carrots for the lentil soup – and what more could I ask for on a dreary Sunday afternoon?

A new song begins, and yes of course, there is the Glock on the arm. Yes, Fetty Wap, it is as we have expected. But what happens when our music is not what we expect?

This Friday night, September 18, jazz pianist Matthew Shipp is coming to the Flynn Space. I have been listening to his recordings and thinking about the expectations we have for the art we consume. I think about story. I look at a page and think this looks like a poem, this looks like story. From this, the story, I want characterization, development, plot. I want an arc and a covenant.

I want foreshadowing.

I want there to be a present, past, and future.

I want consistent verb tense and paragraphing.

I stack up my desires and see what the story delivers. Yes, but I also love it when a story subverts my expectations. When it moves in circles. When it calls itself story but never goes anywhere. When it acts like a poem and invites me to come in and just wait . . .

to see what I see
to feel what I feel.

The carrots are peeled and we have moved on to potatoes. I cannot take another second of Fetty Wap. I cue up a Matthew Shipp Trio YouTube recording. My son, a musician who plays in the high school jazz band, listens.

And after some time he says, it is as if each musician is just playing whatever he wants to play. He is enthralled by the music, but he doesn’t quite know how to take it.

Indeed, there is no head. This isn’t the tethered yo-yoing of the jazz he usually hears, where we are flung out but always pulled back into the warm knowing hand of the head, that melody that can hold us and comfort us and ground us. That melody that’s hummable.

We listen and this Shipp piece has no melody I could sing back later in that humming way, from the top of my mouth and through my nose. No, it is not that, but it is not discord either.

The room we have been invited into is not without boundaries – the drummer and bassist hold the beat, while Shipp on the piano does what a virtuoso does. He ventures off, he coils and uncoils, he explodes and holds, and it feels like we have been somewhere, traveled on some wild octatonic tour, though we hardly know where we are going or where we have been.

But we have been.

I tell my son that this, this is the space of the poet sound.

Come in. Sit. Wait. See. Feel. Explode.

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Little Birdlike Women without a Nest

by Michelle Watters, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of The Glass Menagerie at the Flynn on September 11, 2015.


There is something about old movies or in this case old plays. The slow way they ease you in, grow on you until you are so emotionally invested in the scene time stands still. Movies today and even theatre today knows we can’t sit still. There must be noise and action and it must happen before we blink.

The Weston Playhouse brought me back to something I forgot I was missing. I can remember sitting on the sofa with my grandparents watching old movies; The Seven Year Itch, Barefoot in the Park, Auntie Mame, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. All of these movies had a commonality that as a teenager I couldn’t quite understand but now I do.

They all have an intimacy that in our present culture is frowned upon. Case in point, The Glass Menagerie, like most of Tennessee William’s plays, is meant to be dark and poignant. But tonight in the audience I heard nervous laughter at each opportunity. When Tom is screaming at his Mother and calls her an old hag she looks away to hide her tears but when the audience laughed the actors played to them as they are supposed to with comic faces. This of course did not take away from the performance but seemed to have the effect of modernizing it just a tiny bit.

The stage was true to form with the Victrola, chaise lounge, and table set for four. The costumes with the exception of Tom’s orange shirt seemed fitting to the time and place that Williams had intended. I have to admit in the beginning of the play I found the translucent backdrop of the wall that hung their father’s portrait a bit disconcerting. It had the effect of drawing my eye away from the actors. However, as Tom mentions in the opening of the play, it is “a memory play” and it did lend to a dreamlike quality.

The transitions melded beautifully from scene to scene with sad toned music and the dimming of lights. If I had to choose a favorite performance — and by all means each actor really carried their heavy roles — I felt that Eric Gilde’s Tom Wingfield was spot on. He channeled Sam Waterston so well I was convinced he had watched the movie several times.  Amy Van Nostrand’s portrayal of Amanda was equally intense and she really gave Katherine Hepburn a run for her money. My favorite scene was the apology scene when Tom apologizes to Amanda for their fight the night before.

Andrea Lynn Green’s portrayal of Laura and Ben Jacony’s Jim had its own life to it and honestly I found it to be better then the 1973 film. Again, there was an intimacy created with the audience that was so slow and sure in its unfolding it pulled me in. All four actors had true chemistry together and it gave me the sense that they had stepped out of the past, time-traveled and come here just to play these roles.

Would Tennessee Williams have appreciated the lighter interpretation of his stark rendering of lost dreams? I think so. It did not take away from the meaning at all. The ending was as dramatic and wistful as ever. No laughs to be had as Laura blew out the candles one by one. The weight of their performance brought the crowd to a standing ovation. I walked out into the cool night air almost expecting to see Tom smoking a cigarette in the mist.

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Night Songs with The Sweet Remains

by Cynthia Close, Burlington Writers Workshop

Review of The Sweet Remains in FlynnSpace on September 10, 2015.

The Sweet Remains launch of their new album, Night Songs, felt like a family reunion last Thursday night in the intimate FlynnSpace. Its black painted concrete walls gave the show almost a basement rec room kinda vibe.

The packed crowd warmly greeted the talented trio, Rich Price, Greg Naughton, and Brian Chartrand, even before they picked up their instruments. While there was some relaxed conversation with the audience and good-natured jibing between songs the evening was really all about the music, so with little fanfare, they briefly tuned up and then settled right in, eventually playing the twelve tracks featured on the album. All three play guitar and take their solo turns on vocals, Price and Naughton alternate on keyboard and Chartrand adds an occasional percussion. They were backed by Sean Preece on drums and periodically invited old friends up from the audience to play electric guitar and bass guitar for different tracks. It seemed impromptu; I didn’t catch their names, and they weren’t listed in the program notes. All this added to the one big happy family feeling of the evening.

What struck me was the collaborative nature of both their songwriting and their performance. All the songs were original and written by the trio. Their three-part harmony was indeed sweet, as has been mentioned many times before, and reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Eagles. Their lyrics were predominantly autobiographical, telling stories of love and loss, but mostly love as these three guys seem pretty satisfied with the lives they are living, evidenced by the fact that Naughton and Price are both relatively new fathers. Price’s wife was also in the audience and while she is pregnant again with twin boys, that did not stop her from rocking out in the aisle when the rhythm of the music became too hard to resist.

When the set ended, a standing ovation brought them back for an encore. The audience didn’t need much encouragement as a crowd formed in front of the table by the door where the new CD of Night Songs was available. I was one of those folks in the crowd, and I’m now listening to my favorite track written by Naughton, number 7, Night Song, for which the album was titled. Additional musicians featured on the album include Clint Bierman (guitar/mandolin/banjo), Joe Deveau (keys), Peter Day (bass), Sean Preece (drums & percussion), Brad Wentworth (drums & percussion), Sean Hurley (upright bass), Brett Lanier (pedal steel), Andrew Doolittle (electric guitar), Dave Eggar (cello) and producer, Andy Zulla (keys, percussion).

Not sure how long they’ll be available but you can check out some of the tracks on their website.

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Flynn Center for the Performing Arts

Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
153 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Tickets: 802-863-5966, voice/relay calls welcome
Administrative Offices: 802-652-4500 (P) 802-863-8788 (F)