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Entertainment Highlights: A Battlefield Band, and ‘12 Angry Men’

Northern Stage Opens with a Simmering Classic

Time has turned 12 Angry Men, the jury drama initially written as a teleplay in 1954, into one of the pillars of American drama, a piece of work adapted countless times to various media, from film to stage productions.

It can be hard to alter a work viewed with such reverence. And so, for Northern Stage’s upcoming production of 12 Angry Men — the first play under new Artistic Director Carol Dunne — the script remains unchanged. The casting, though, not so much.

Dunne decided to go multi-racial in casting the 12 jurors tasked with coming to a unanimous verdict on a homicide trial. There are younger and older men, but there’s also an Hispanic man and a Jewish immigrant. Most notably, though, the famously bigoted Juror No. 10 will be played by the African-American actor Keith Hamilton Cobb.

“We’re taking a look at how the perception of one another affects the course of justice,” Dunne said.

The changes caused by this casting decision play out in subtleties, as the words remain the same. It also moves the play out of the 1950s and into some indeterminate time period that retains the colloquialisms of mid-century America but is informed by modern-day ideas.

“It’s giving the play even more depth than it had, I have to confess,” said Kenneth Kimmins, who plays Juror No. 9. “It’s probably a stronger play because of it.”

For Kimmins, a 72-year-old actor who is perhaps best known for his television roles on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Coach , 12 Angry Men has tracked the stages of his career. This will be his third go at the play, with his first in graduate school (as Juror No. 8, the first dissenter) and his second two decades ago (as the jury foreman, performing in Los Angeles’ Henry Fonda Theater).

The chance to act in a play that has such a laser focus on the drama occurring in one room, especially in the soundbite-reliant world of today, was something he relished. People have lost their ability to truly listen, he said, and 12 Angry Men forces the audience — and the cast itself — to do so.

“There’s no release, by the way,” Kimmins said, noting that all jurors remain on stage through the length of the production. “You’re stuck out there.”

Dunne also mentioned the timeliness of the play, considering, for instance, the recent Trayvon Martin case.

“I wanted to do something that was serious and accessible and meant something right now,” she said.

Northern Stage’s “12 Angry Men” begins on Wednesday with a preview performance, and runs through Oct. 20. Previews will also run Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4, all at 7:30 p.m. with tickets at $30. They can be purchased from northernstage.org or by calling the box office at 802-296-7000. Opening night is on Oct. 5. For the full schedule, check northernstage.org.

Best Bets

The international touring group Battlefield Band, which mixes traditional Celtic and modern Scottish musical styles, will perform at Haverhill’s Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall on Saturday. The show is part of the band’s U.S. “Room Enough for All” tour, which stretches from Tennessee to Maine. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22, and can be purchased from alumnihall.org.

∎ The North Country Chordsmen of Hanover will perform their 36th annual music show, “Make ’Em Laugh,” at the Lebanon Opera House on Saturday. The barbershop music-and-comedy combo will begin at 7:30 p.m., with tickets at $15. They can be purchased from lebanonoperahouse.org or by calling 603-448-0400. Special guest quartet Storm Front, which specializes in comedy and a capella music and won the gold at the Barbershop Harmony Society’s 2010 international contest, will perform as well.

Music

Vermont-born professional singer — and granddaughter of the husband and wife who inspired The Sound of Music — Elisabeth von Trapp will perform at the United Church of Thetford at 7 p.m. on Friday, playing her own guitar and piano compositions as well as songs by artists varying from Mozart to Procol Harum. Donations will be accepted.

∎ Singer-songwriter Myra Flynn will perform alongside Gregory Douglass at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, as part of their “Alone Together” tour. Flynn is supporting her third album, Half Pigeon, which came out at the end of August, and the show will see her and Douglass trading the vocal duties. Tickets can be purchased at chandler-arts.org or by calling 802-728-6464, and cost $20 in advance, or $25 at the door for adults. An after-party will follow.

∎ Also at Chandler, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra will play on Saturday, starting at 7:30 p.m. The orchestra will perform pieces including the Bach Double Concerto for Oboe and Violin, Vivaldi’s La Tempesta di Mare and an original commissioned piece by Andrew Massey, the conductor of the Middlebury College Orchestra. Call 802-728-6464 for tickets, which cost $27 for general admission for adults.

∎ Keene, N.H.-based The Shana Stack Band, which recently was named Country Band of the Year by the Independent Country Music Association, will perform at White River Junction’s Tupelo Music Hall at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com, and cost $15.

e_STnS New York-based orchestra The Knights, which will perform at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in early October, will first put on a free, public community concert at 6 p.m. on Monday at the South Royalton School, which will feature classical music as well as an original composition.

Theater

Bradford’s Old Church Theater will complete its two-week run of “Caught in the Act(s)” this weekend with shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The first two performances, which present eight short plays written by Twin State authors, will be at 7:30 p.m., and the Sunday matinee is at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and can be purchased by calling 802-222-3322 or emailing reservations@oldchurchtheater.org.

Dances

The Upper Valley Dance Club will host its monthly dance on Saturday, featuring Roxanne and the Voodoo Rockers, at the Richard W. Black Center in Hanover. The band will play from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and the dance will cost $10 for adults (and $5 for students). A free swing dance lesson will be offered at 7:30 p.m. Those interested can register by calling 802-356-1156 or sending an email to uppervalleydanceclub@gmail.com.

∎ Hartland Community Arts will hold a Contra Dance at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at Damon Hall. The dance is free, though donations will be accepted and those attending should bring finger food for the breaks.

Film

The State of the World Film Series will screen A Place at the Table, which explores hunger problems in the U.S., at the Hartland Library community room at 7 p.m. Friday. Admission is free. For more information, call 802-698-0257.

∎ Telluride at Dartmouth wraps up tonight with a screening of Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, in which he takes on the role of Charles Dickens. Screenings are at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and cost $12. Tickets can be purchased at hop.dartmouth.edu or at the theater.

∎ The Dartmouth Film Society will screen a digitally remastered version of the 1952 classic Singin’ in the Rain at the Black Family Visual Arts Center’s Loew Auditorium at 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $5 to $8, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Bar and Club Circuit

Fairlee-based rock band Hi-Way 5 will perform at The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon on Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Twin State soul, rock and R&B group The Squids will play a 21-and-over show at Lebanon’s Salt hill Pub on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Acoustic rocker Sean Wyatt will play at Salt hill Hanover on Friday, and Alan Greenleaf & The Doctor will perform the next night. Both shows are 21 and over, and begin at 9 p.m.

∎ New Hampshire country group the Dusty Gray Band will play the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday. The next night, acoustic musician Dave Bundza will play the pub. Both shows are 21 and over and begin at 9 p.m.

∎ Rock and roll group Talking Smack will play at Sunapee’s One Mile West on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Nashville recording artist Clay Canfield brings his 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 7 p.m.

∎ Dr. Burma will perform at Fairlee’s Lake Morey Resort on Saturday, starting at 8:30 p.m. At the same time and place on the night before, Wherehouse will play.

∎ Randy White will play at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday, starting at 5 p.m.

∎ Hanover’s Canoe Club has tapped Doug Henry to play at the restaurant tonight, and guitarist Phil Singer on Friday. The Billy Rosen & Steve Ellis Jazz Duo will perform on Saturday and the Michael Blum Duo will offer jazz guitar and upright bass on Sunday. All music begins at 7 p.m.

∎ Mo’Combo will play the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland on Friday. Music starts at 9 p.m.

Open Mics

The Sunapee Community Coffee House will host an open mic on Friday, starting at 7 p.m.

∎ Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction will host its monthly open mic night on Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m. Registration is an hour earlier, and there is a $5 admission fee. Brooks Hubbard, the night’s feature act, will go on at 8:30 p.m.

∎ 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. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com.