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Entertainment Highlights: The Return of Vaudeville in Vermont

Hardwick Troupe Takes Its Show on the Road, With a Stop at Tupelo

  •  Brent and Maya McCoy, founding members of Vermont Vaudeville, play Secret Circus agents Honeymoon and Butterfly. Courtesy photograph

    Brent and Maya McCoy, founding members of Vermont Vaudeville, play Secret Circus agents Honeymoon and Butterfly. Courtesy photograph

  •  Brent and Maya McCoy, founding members of Vermont Vaudeville, play Secret Circus agents Honeymoon and Butterfly. Courtesy photograph

It didn’t take long for the residents of Hardwick, Vt., to get behind Vermont Vaudeville. One of the company’s founders, Brent McCoy, said that could be because the troupe’s four founding members made sure to bring professional entertainers to their twice-yearly shows.

However it happened, though, well, it happened. The first show at the Hardwick Town House, in spring 2009, attracted about 150 audience members. That number soon doubled.

“Everybody in town was buzzing about it,” McCoy said.

Now that the act has been home-tested, Vermont Vaudeville has gone on the road for its first in-state tour. It’ll hit White River Junction’s Tupelo Music Hall on Saturday.

And it’ll bring a form of entertainment not often seen these days, the humorous, loosely structured variety show that features circus acts alongside music and puppetry.

“Our goal was to really revive that energy of live entertainment, done by the people from around here, for the people from around here,” McCoy said.

The troupe is tied to its name. The tour was made possible by a Vermont Arts Council grant, and all nine dates are in the Green Mountain State. That, McCoy said, was by design.

“A big part of our goal in creating Vermont Vaudeville in the first place was to bring it all over the state,” he said. “If we just stay here, it’s kind of doing the same thing over and over again.”

Not to say the show is rigidly structured, though. According to McCoy, the variety show format offers the troupe the ability to move pieces of the show in and out of the program at will, whether due to the guest performers (puppeteers and musicians Cavan Meese and Jan Monteagudo-Meese will join the show for the White River date), or physical limitations of the venue. A ceiling height might not be right for an acrobatic sequence.

McCoy and his wife, Maya McCoy, have circus backgrounds — they met as Circus Smirkus performers in the 1990s. The other two Vermont Vaudeville founders, Rose Friedman and Justin Lander, are also a married couple, and specialize in theater and music. As farmers, they’re tied to their land.

In the future, the group might consider bringing the act out of Vermont, McCoy said. But for now, they’re content giving back to it.

“We’re really trying to bring something special to the folks who wouldn’t otherwise get it any other way, besides TV,” McCoy said. “We want to really take it one step at a time, and grow something that is well known and well respected and enjoyed. And if that keeps happening, we’ll see where it takes us.”

Vermont Vaudeville will perform at the Tupelo Music Hall at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Adult tickets are $15, and those 15 years and under can get in for $5. Tickets can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

Best Bets

The Dartmouth College Glee Club will present “From Spain to the Americas,” a choral music show focusing on Spain and Latin American music, at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Spaulding Auditorium at Dartmouth College. The centerpiece is Romancero Gitano, by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, which is based on poems by Federico García Lorca. Tickets are $9 and $10, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ Lee Adams, Lindsey Warren and Thomas Jocks form The ProMusica, a trio that will perform the show “A Baroque Valentine” at the Blue Horse Inn in Woodstock tonight. The show, which will feature instruments such as the harpsichord and viola da gamba, will also feature music by Vivaldi, Clerambault and Dowland. It’s part of the Studio 31 series, which sets the music in intimate venues. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and there will be a cash bar.

Music

Adam Gardner and Ryan Miller, members of the pop group Guster, will kick off Okemo’s Sugar Daze Concert Series with an acoustic performance on Saturday. Pete Kilpatrick, from the Boston-based Pete Kilpatrick band, will join the two on stage at The Sitting Bull, Okemo’s base lodge in Ludlow, Vt. The music begins at 3 p.m., and the show is free.

Theater

Thetford’s Parish Players will open its Ten-Minute Play Festival on Friday, which also runs Saturday and the following weekend. Tickets are $15, and reservations can be made by calling 802-785-4344.

∎ Shaker Bridge Theatre’s production of the off-Broadway show Freud’s Last Session, in which the psychoanalyst wages a battle of wits with professor and author C.S. Lewis, continues the next couple of weekends in Enfield. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30, and can be reserved by calling 603-448-3750 or emailing reservations@shakerbridgetheatre.org.

∎ Northern Stage’s production of The Fox on the Fairway will continue through Feb. 23, with shows every day except Monday, including both matinee and evening performances on Thursdays. For ticket prices and show times go to northernstage.org.

Film

The Hop will show this year’s five Academy Award-nominated animated shorts twice on Saturday, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. For information on each individual short or to buy tickets, which are $8 for adults and $5 for children, go to hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph will show Michael Powell’s 1946 film A Matter of Life and Death on Sunday as part of its “Great Directors” film series. Film historian Rick Winston will introduce the film at 7 p.m. General admission is $9, and tickets can be purchased by calling 802-728-6464.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Windsor Station will kick off Valentine’s Day Friday with accordion player Walter Gomez, who will perform from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Peter Concilio’s Latin Jazz Quartet will take over afterward. On Tuesday, Erik Boedkter will perform.

∎ Singer-songwriter David Mallett will perform at the Flying Goose Brew Pub in New London tonight, starting at 8 p.m.

∎ Scott and Diane Sanborn, the brother and sister who make up the Comfortable Genes duo, will play at Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub at 9 p.m. on Friday. Celtic group The Ryans will play the pub at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

∎ Boston-based Irish folk group The Gobshites will play at the Salt hill Pub in Newport at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

∎ Acoustic musician Dave Bundza will play at Salt hill Hanover at 9 p.m. on Friday. At the same time the next night, the Jordan Tirrell-Wysocki Irish Trio will make its Hanover pub debut.

∎ Clay Canfield brings his musical talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 8 p.m. He also performs at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

∎ Boston Irish musicians Patsy and Paul will play at Sunapee’s One Mile West at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

∎ Gillian Joy will play piano at Hanover’s Canoe Club tonight, followed by Paris-fashioned duo La Guinguette on Valentine’s Day on Friday. Randall Mullen will play piano on Saturday, and jazz singer and guitarist Rowley Hazard will perform on Sunday. Jonathan Kaplan will play piano on Wednesday. Music begins at 7 p.m. in all cases.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com .