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Entertainment Highlights: ‘Mr. Roberts’ Fights the Good Fight in Bradford

When the film adaptation of Mr. Roberts, starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon, was released in 1955, Peter Richards was in the Navy. He loved the true-to-form depictions of life aboard a cargo ship in the Pacific. When he left the military, he played the part of the captain in an adaptation of the play that preceded the movie.

For years, he’s been lobbying the other board members at Bradford’s Old Church Theater to put on a performance of Mr. Roberts . Starting Friday night, he’ll direct a two-weekend run of the comedy-drama.

“It’s a great reward for me to do this kind of stuff,” said Richards, who has directed several plays and acted at the community theater. “I just love it.”

Richards, 79, grew up in New Hampshire and didn’t venture much further until his Navy stint. He spent 32 months on a destroyer, visiting places as varied as Sicily, Cuba and Turkey. He’s lived in Bradford for the past 35 years.

But it was the people he met during his travels that he found so in line with Mr. Roberts.

Though the play focuses on the titular character and his desire to see combat, one crew member, Stefanowski, openly wonders if he’d get sent home if he cut off one of his own fingers. Richards remembered a sailor stepping on his hand, hoping to break it to earn a medical discharge.

Those situations make for the comedy. But the play is, importantly, set during World War II.

“There’s a lot of humor and laughter to it, and a lot of ridiculousness,” Richards said. “But there’s also a serious background to it.”

Charles Fray, who played the grandfather in the Old Church Theater’s recent adaptation of Heidi, will take on the part of Mr. Roberts, a Navy lieutenant junior grade, Fonda’s role. He’s one of 19 cast members who will act out a story that has won Academy and Tony Awards.

For Richards, putting on Mr. Roberts was an opportunity to direct something he’s wanted to for years, at a venue he’s been involved with since its inception nearly three decades ago.

“I’ve wanted to do this play for all that time,” he said.

“Mr. Roberts” premieres at the Old Church Theater in Bradford on Friday night, and runs through this and next weekend. Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday matinee is at 4 p.m. For tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for students, call 802-222-3322 or email reservations@oldchurchtheater.org.

Best Bets

The acoustic rock of San Diego singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman easily alternates between soapy balladry and stomping sing-alongs, both of which she’ll bring to the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction on Friday night. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com. Chris Kasper, of Philadelphia, will open.

∎ The New York Theatre Workshop will complete its three-week residency at Dartmouth with performances of two more work-in-progress plays. The first, Ghost Supper, written by Sheila Tousey and directed by Betsy Richards, is set in the food world of New York’s Lower East Side. It will be performed Saturday at 5 p.m. At 8 that night, Bacha Bazi (Boy Play), written by Gabriel Jason Dean and directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, will be performed. It follows an American documentary filmmaker who goes to shoot a film in northern Afghanistan. Both plays will be performed in the Warner Bentley Theater, and tickets are $13 for general admission, $5 for Dartmouth students and $9 for other students. They can be purchased at www.hop.dartmouth.edu.

Readings

Betsy Woodman, the author of last year’s novel Jana Bibi’s Excellent Fortunes , will read from its sequel, Love Potion Number 10 , at the Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday. The Jana Bibi series follows the titular character, a Scottish woman who moves to a small town in India and comes to call it home. Wednesday’s free public reading starts at 7 p.m.

∎  Two environmental activists and authors will take part in a conversation at the second of three Town House Forums in Strafford tonight. Bill McKibben, who has written 16 books and co-founded the climate-change website www.350.org, will join Gus Speth, the dean of the Yale School of Forestry and five-time author, in a talk hosted by Jon Stableford. The program begins at 7 p.m., with a bring-your-own picnic starting at 6 p.m.

Theatre and Music

Les Miserables continues its run at the New London Barn Playhouse through the weekend. The final shows will take place tonight, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from www.nlbarn.org, and range from $23.50 to $33.

∎ The final performance of Opera North’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the Lebanon Opera House will take place Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.operanorth.org, and range from $32 to $88.

The concurrent Opera North musical in Lebanon, South Pacific, will also finish its run with two shows in the next few days. Shows tonight and Saturday begin at 7:30 p.m., and tickets can also be purchased from www.operanorth.org. They range from $32 to $88.

Comedy

White River Junction’s Tupelo Music Hall is hosting a night of comedy, featuring Boston comedians Joey Carroll and Jody Sloane. The Saturday show will begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $17, and can be purchased from www.tupelohallvermont.com.

Music

The Vermont Jazz Ensemble will play its last concert of the summer season at Colby-Sawyer College in New London Saturday night. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $25 for adults and $5 for students, and can be purchased at summermusicassociates.com or by calling 603-526-8234.

∎ The North Country Chamber Players will peform The Bradenburg Concerti to Haverhill’s Alumni Hall on Sunday. The show begins at 4 p.m., and tickets are $20. Those under 18 years get in free. Tickets can be purchased from www.alumnihall.org.

∎ Dover, N.H.-area folk musician Dan Walker will play at White River Junction’s Lyman Point Park on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., as part of Hartford’s summer concert series.

∎ Blues guitarist Danielle Miraglia, of Boston, will perform on the Quechee Green tonight at 6:30 p.m.

∎ Wool will play at the Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon on Friday night. Music starts at 9 p.m.

∎ The Sensible Shoes band will play on Saturday at the Bridgewater Town Hall during the town’s chicken barbecue. The barbecue itself goes from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and the music goes from 6 p.m. to dusk. Fireworks will follow.

∎ About Gladys will bring its brand of rock, blues and funk to Windsor’s town common from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, finishing off the town’s summer Concerts on the Common series.

∎ The Jennings Duo and the Fischer Duo will bring violin, violoncello and piano to the Little Studio at Cornish’s Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site on Sunday. Music goes from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and it costs $5 for park entry.

Bar and Club Circuit

Modern acoustic duo Andrew & Kitch, based out of Sunapee, have played several shows at Salt hill Pubs in the past few months. On Friday, the pair will make their debut at the Lebanon pub. Music starts at 9 p.m. At 9 p.m. Saturday, Dr. Burma will play a 21-and-over show at the bar.

∎ Old Crow Medicine Show-influenced country band Woody Pines will perform at 9 p.m. Friday at the Salt hill Pub in Newport. At the same time the next night, Brooks Hubbard will play a 21-and-over show.

∎ Arthur James, a winner of the Granite State Blues Challenge, will play a solo show at the Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Friday night at 9 p.m. Mo’Combo will perform its soul, R&B and dance music the next night at 9 p.m., in a 21-and-over show.

∎ James will also perform at the 3 Guys Basement BBQ in Hanover tonight, starting at 7 p.m.

∎ Ed McGee & Chris Bradley will play Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock tonight at 8 p.m.

∎ Vermont singer-songwriter Rick Redington will perform at Quechee’s River Stones Tavern on Friday at 8 p.m.

∎ Ohio-born, New England-raised musician Cormac McCarthy (who, no, is not the author), will play at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday. The music begins at 5 p.m.

∎ Three pianists will play at the Canoe Club in Hanover over the weekend. Tonight, Jonathan Kaplan will play. On Friday, Bob Lucier will perform. And on Saturday, Keith Bush will play. The music starts at 7 p.m. each night.

∎ D.D. and the Diamonds will perform at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern at 9 p.m. Friday.

Open Mics

Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic, hosted by Chad Gibbs, on Mondays at 9 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.