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Entertainment Highlights: Quechee Club Auditions Set This Weekend

From left, Dorothy Stanley, Pearl Guerriere and Carol Dunne are in the cast of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, at The New London Barn Playhouse from June 11-22.  (Courtesy photograph)

From left, Dorothy Stanley, Pearl Guerriere and Carol Dunne are in the cast of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, at The New London Barn Playhouse from June 11-22. (Courtesy photograph)

In the run-up to this weekend’s “Quechee’s Got Talent” auditions, Walt Cunningham wants to make one thing perfectly clear to all singers, dancers and other performing artists aspiring to share their talents at the upcoming Quechee Summer Music Series: There won’t be any smirking, Simon Cowell-esque judges to ridicule performers off the Quechee Club stage.

“No Simon!” Cunningham said with a laugh earlier this week. “No Simon! We’re just trying to see if there’s a hidden gem out there. If it’s one who we think is good enough, we’ll go with that person, whether it’s a singer, a storyteller, a soft-shoe act, a stand-up comic. If it’s 10, we’ll find a way to fit them in. It depends on how many people show up.”

Whoever emerges from the “Quechee’s Got Talent” auditions, which in fact are open to performers from throughout the Upper Valley, will join singers from the Dartmouth Gospel Choir and Dartmouth Idol — both of which Cunningham directs — on the Quechee Ski Hill for the Aug. 1 grand finale of the inaugural Quechee Summer Music Series.

The first of the festival’s two installments kicks off June 27, with members of the choir and the Idol ensembles performing a wide range of musical genres in a show of about 75 minutes at the ski hill. The Aug. 1 “Got Talent” performance will end with fireworks. The performers Cunningham has lined up include “powerhouse vocalist” Janet Salter, who also works at Dartmouth, and musicians and singers from One Accord, a Chicago-based team of gospel performers with which Cunningham also works.

“The Upper Valley has really embraced the shows we do at Dartmouth,” Cunningham said. “For this series, there’s going to be rock ’n’ roll, jazz, R&B, easy-listening — something for everybody from age 5 to 85, in an environment that’s stunningly gorgeous.”

The series got off the ground about a year ago, when Cunningham relocated his home from Lebanon to Quechee.

“The day we moved in, one of the neighbors said, ‘We heard you were coming,’ ” Cunningham recalled. “ ‘They’re going to try to approach you about doing some music things.’ ”

“They” were from the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association. Within a few days, Cunningham and the association were talking about how to put on shows to help charitable causes in addition to the association’s long-term support for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. WISE, with its counseling and other services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, became the beneficiary.

“One thing led to another,” said Alicia Baker, marketing coordinator for the Quechee Club. “This year, all the stars aligned.”

And, Cunningham insists, it won’t end Aug. 1.

“I told them right at the start, ‘If this is a one-off, I’m not your guy,’” he recalled. “If we approach this right, there’s no reason why, in three to five years, this can’t be something that attracts people from all around, like what they do at the Ravinia facility north of Chicago. There’s no reason we can’t have something very similar, even broader in appeal.”

Open auditions for potential performers in the Quechee Summer Music Series will take place in the main clubhouse of the Quechee Club on Saturday night, from 6 to 8. Winning competitors will qualify to perform in the grand finale of the Quechee Summer Music Series on Aug. 1 on the Quechee Ski Hill. Tickets to the June 27 and Aug. 1 concerts are $10-$30. For audition registration, and for concert tickets and more information, call 802-295-9356 or send e-mail to info@quecheeclub.com.

Best Bets

The New London Barn Playhouse opens its 2014 season on Wednesday afternoon at 2 and that night at 7:30, with the first two of 11 performances of Stephen Songheim’s multiple Tony Award-winning A Little Night Music. Directed by Lillian King and choreographed by Jennifer Jancuska, The Barn’s artistic director Carol Dunne will star — and sing the musical’s signature song, Send in the Clowns — as aging beauty Desiree Armfeldt, around whom admirers past and present orbit on a European country estate at the turn of the last century. The cast also includes veterans Dorothy Stanley — who performed in the original Broadway productions of Ann i e and 42nd Street — and David Bonanno, whose appearances range from 40 productions at the Weston Playhouse to roles in The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center and Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic in London. The production of A Little Night Music runs through June 22. Tickets cost between $19 and $40. For reservations or more information, call 603-526-6570 or 6710 or visit nlbarn.org/box-office/current-season.

Starting tonight, the Northern New England Repertory Theatre Company will perform George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man seven times on the stage of Colby-Sawyer College’s Sawyer Center in New London. The comedy will run at 7:30 tonight, Friday and Saturday nights, and the nights of June 12, 13 and 14, and in a matinee at 2 in the afternoon on Sunday. Individual tickets cost $10 to $28, with groups of eight or more paying $24 a person. For tickets and more information, visit NNERTC.org or call 603-526-4112 or 844-323-9455.

Looking Ahead

New England-bred folk and country singer/songwriter Patty Griffin hits the stage at the Lebanon Opera House on June 13 at 7:30 p.m. In addition to generating seven albums over the last two decades — most recently American Kid in 2013 — she has performed onstage and in studio with artists such as Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller and former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant. Twenty-year-old Oklahoman Parker Millsap will open for Griffin, with bass player Michael Rose and fiddler Daniel Foulks accompanying his repertoire of musical parables, narratives and relationship tales. Tickets cost $48-$72. For reservations and additional information, visit the opera house box office in Lebanon City Hall, call 603-448-0400 or visit lebanonoperahouse.org.

As part of its Cafe 58 series, the Claremont Opera House is bringing the acoustic-rock band Carter Glass to the stage on Saturday, June 14 at 7 p.m. The band features tight vocal harmonies among its members, each of whom also plays at least one instrument: Caleb Freeberg on Irish tenor ban jo, fiddle, mandolin and bass; Cobalt Tolbert on guitar, Titien Tolbert on percussion, and Angus Davis on rhythm guitar and bass. The band formed at Sharon Academy, from which all four members graduated last year. Advance tickets are $17.64, reflecting Claremont’s 250th anniversary. For tickets and more information, call 603-542-4433, visit the box office at 58 Opera House Square, or visit claremontoperahouse.org.

Classicopia will open its summer season with a marathon of Father’s Day-weekend performances of music from the great American songbook — with the works, among others, of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern — on June 13, 14 and 15. Vocalist Emma Mellinger and pianist Daniel Weiser kick off this foray on Friday the 13th with a house concert at the Quechee home of Pat and Rod Vitty; for reservations, call Marcia Colligan at 603-643-3337 or e-mail her at marcia@classicopia.org. For the June 14 concert at 7:30 p.m. in Lebanon’s First Congregational Church, tickets are $10 to $20 at the door. On June 15 at 4 p.m., the duo will perform at Alumni Hall in Haverhill, at an admission of $20. For tickets to the last concert, call 603-989-5500 or visit alumnihall.org.

Pianist Haskell Small will perform mountain-themed solo works, including one of his own, one of Mozart’s, and several of composer Alan Hovhaness, at the Norwich Congregational Church on Friday, June 13 at 7 p.m. While admission is free, donations are accepted. For more information, visit classicalcommunications.com.

Theater/Performance Art

As a tuneup for the New London Barn Playhouse’s 2014 season, this summer’s crew of Barnies will showcase their singing, dancing and acting talents with the 57th annual Straw Hat Revue tonight and Friday night at 7:30, Saturday evening at 5 and 7:30, and Sunday evening at 5. While admission is free, tickets must be acquired in advance, either in person at the box office or by calling 603-526-6570.

The Lebanon Department of Parks and Recreation is now taking registrations for North Country Community Theatre’s annual summer camp for aspiring actors ages 8 to 14. The classes will run weekdays between July 7 and 23 from 8:30 a.m. to noon, culminating on the 23rd with a performance at 5 p.m. Fees are $180 for Lebanon residents and $200 for others, with discounts for families enrolling more than one camper. The deadline to sign up is June 16. For more information, send an e-mail to ncctetc@gmail.com.

Music

Coming off a tour of central Asia with the State Department’s American Music Abroad program, the folk singers of Windborne will perform at Norwich’s St. Barnabas Church tonight at 7:30. The quartet of Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig and Jeremy Carter-Gordon specializes in close-harmony singing, telling stories and explaining the intricacies of the genres and pieces they perform. The Rowans recorded their first CD, Windborne, as a duo in 2008, with Breunig as a guest singer. That trio subsequently recorded wand’ring feet, which came out in early 2011. Tickets are $12-$15.

For its last act of 2013-2014 before breaking for the summer, the Sunapee Community Coffee House will present guitar innovator Atilla Vural and his wide range of strings and repertoire on Friday at 7. He’ll lead a journey through Latin American rhythms, vintage jazz and pop. For more information, visit sunapeecoffeehouse.org.

The Quartet Brussieres will bring their strings to the North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock on Sunday afternoon at 4, for a classical concert kicking off the Pentangle Arts Council’s summer chamber-music series. Performers are violinists Bruce Eicher and Elizabeth Chung, violist Nardo Poy, and cellist Kari Jane Docter. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

The Upper Valley Music Center in Lebanon is inviting musicians to workshops in blues guitar and vocal harmony on June 28, with instruction from the blues-roots duo of Martin Grosswendt and Susanne Salem-Schatz. Each workshop costs $25, with the guitar session starting at 2:30 p.m., and the vocal harmony session at 4:30. To register, send e-mail to info@uvmusic.org or call 603-448-1642. Grosswendt and Salem-Schatz will perform a concert after the workshops, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for the concert is $20. For more information, visit uvmusic.org.

Dance

The Flock Dance Troupe is inviting applicants for internships during its July run in Sharon. The season runs July 1-3 and July 7-27. Each intern will rehearse, perform and train in Flock technique, learning stagecraft and developing their own routines. The goal is to build new skills, improve performance technique and gain experience. Room and board is provided at a location with a pond for swimming. For information about fees and scholarships, call Carol Langstaff at 802-765-4454 or visit flockdance.org.

Family Fare

Billings Farm and Museum continues its month of Ice Cream Sundays this weekend, with a two-hour session during which visitors can learn to make hand-cranked ice cream from the milk of the farm’s Jersey cows — then eat the results. The Sunday sessions, each running from 12:15 to 2:15 in the afternoon, are being held as part of National Dairy Month. Subsequent dates are June 15, 22 and 29. Regular admission fees to Billings Farm get you into Ice Cream Sunday.

Bar and Club Circuit

Drummer Tim Gilmore, keyboardist Tom Robinson, bassist Don Williams, and guitarist Randy Roos will join forces at Skunk Hollow Tavern Friday night, starting at 8.

The Vagabonds will play at Windsor Station at 9 on Saturday night, followed Tuesday night at 6 by Johnny O.

After tonight’s 7 o’clock performance by the Guitar Bliss duo of Tom Pirozzoli and Ted Mortimer, the parade of live performers at Hanover’s Canoe Club will take a break over Dartmouth College’s commencement weekend, then resume on Monday night at 7 with Nashville-based singer-guitarist Candi Carpenter in her first reunion since 2005 with guitarist/troubador/raconteur Ben Morrow. Next in line come jazz pianist Bob Lucier at 7 on Tuesday night and guitarist Bill Singer at 7 on Wednesday night.

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.

With Jim Yeager as host, the ArtisTree Community Arts Center in Woodstock holds an open mic for all levels and abilities on alternating Thursdays (the 5th and the 19th in June).

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 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.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304 .