Highlights: Multiple stages open productions this weekend

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    As the characters Irina and Dr. Dorn, Rebecca Bailey, right, and Jim Schley talk about love in the BarnArts production of Chekhov's "The Seagull." (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

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    From left, Chelsea Mojallali, Rebecca Bailey and Mark Alloway rehearse a scene in the BarnArts production of Chekhov’s "The Seagull." (Courtesy photograph) Courtesy photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 6:58:53 PM
Modified: 2/12/2020 6:58:45 PM

Wherever we sit on the spectrum of romantic experience, few among us welcome outright drama around Valentine’s Day — at least in our own lives.

Better to watch other people act it out on a stage. It so happens that several sets of our Upper Valley neighbors are preparing to tackle romance in forms mythical and down-to-Earth — along with other deep topics — this week, with community productions of three classics in Pomfret, White River Junction and Claremont and of one work-in-progress in Thetford.

‘The Seagull,’ BarnArts

While Russian master Anton Chekhov subtitled this play A Comedy in Four Acts, the laughs grow out of multiple whirlpools of drama, most of them surrounding Irina Nikolayevna Arkadina. An actress who matured out of the status of ingenue some time ago, Arkadina keeps would-be suitors, members of her household and even neighbors all off balance.

Starting Friday night, the actual Valentine’s Day, Strafford resident Rebecca Bailey aims to strike her own balance in portraying this, well, drama queen.

“She’s a monster, pretty narcissistic, who does the most unforgivable thing you can do — be cruel to your own child,” Bailey, the mother of a grown daughter, said between rehearsals last week. “But there are dimensions to her that help explain it: How tricky it can be to be a parent, to balance your own ambitions as a person with nurturing the next generation.”

Among the players joining Bailey on the stage of the Grange Theatre in South Pomfret is husband Jim Schley. He plays Dr. Yevgeny Gergeyevich Dorn, the local doctor who is caught in Arkadina’s orbit but not quite as in thrall as the rest of the characters.

“Her role is very complicated in its emotional textures,” Schley said. “My character is tonally simpler … less tumultuous, but Dorn has a kind of equanimity, patience and compassion for everyone he encounters that I aspire to.”

Bailey said that she has long appreciated Chekhov’s compassion for “all his characters, no matter how flawed they are. … All the plays I’m familiar with deal with a group of people who are kind of sick of each other, who have to work things out.”

She found further revelations in the extra features on the DVD of the 2018 film adaptation of The Seagull, in which Annette Bening played Arkadina.

“I keep thinking about something she said in a talk-back … about Chekhov’s text giving you everything you need to know about Arkadina,” Bailey said. “You just have to follow the twists and turns in those lines and they take you into the layers of her psychology.”

BarnArts Community Arts stages The Seagull seven times from Friday night through Feb. 23. For tickets ($10 to $20) and more information, visit barnarts.org.

‘Metamorphoses,’ Northern Stage

The 12- to 15-year-olds in Northern Stage’s Youth Ensemble Studio perform Metamorphoses, Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning play built around the myths of Ovid, four times from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon in the Schleicher Rehearsal Studio of the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction.

To reserve tickets ($17.75) for Metamorphoses, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

‘Act 39

,’ Parish Players

Parish Players recruited four of its veteran actors to read through Circus Smirkus founder Rob Mermin’s new play on Sunday afternoon in Thetford. Act 39 dramatizes the issue of assisted suicide through the lens of the Vermont law, enacted in 2013 under the title of The Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act.

After leading the audience through the drama, Mermin and players Neal Meglathery, Dean Whitlock, Kay Morton and Will Moore will answer questions about the play and about the still-controversial law.

The Parish Players stage a reading of Act 39 at the Eclipse Grange Theatre on Thetford Hill. Admission free.

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream,’Amplified Arts

If the aforementioned plays sound like heavy going, consider also catching Amplified Arts’ adaptation of Shakespeare’s magical comedy in downtown Claremont over the next two weekends. Artistic director Shelly Hudson reports having sold out Thursday night’s opening performance, which is twinned with the company’s annual dinner. The six subsequent shows include Friday night at 7:30.

Amplified Arts stages A Midsummer Night’s Dream through Feb. 23, at its theater on the second floor of 31 Pleasant St. Tickets $15 to $17; visit amplifiedartsnh.org or call 603-856-5424 or email amplifiedartsnh@gmail.com.

Best bets for Valentine’s Day

The Speakeasy Prohibition Band sets the rhythm for Windsor Station’s Roaring ‘20s Party on Friday night from 8 to 11. Bassist Peter Concilio leads a jazzy lineup featuring singer Grace Crummer, pianist Bob Merrill, trumpeter Dave Ellis, saxophonist Katie Runde and drummer Tim Gilmore. Period costumes suitable for dancing are encouraged. For reservations, call 802-674-4180.

■The Starline Rhythm Boys play honky-tonk and rockabilly during the “Sweethearts Dance” on Friday night at 7:30, at The Little Theater in Woodstock. Admission $20. Visit artistreevt.org for more information

■Goshen, N.H., singer-guitarist Tom Pirozzoli caps this week’s Anonymous Coffeehouse with a 9 p.m. performance on Friday at First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Preceding him to the microphone will be singer-songwriter Caitlin Wanic at 7:30 and the roots trio Decatur Creek at 8:15. Admission free.

Best bets, post-Valentine

Mezzo-soprano Laura Compton and pianist Daniel Weiser celebrate Black History Month this weekend with three Upper Valley concerts of spirituals and ragtime music, on the theme of “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”

On Saturday, they perform at 2 in the afternoon at the Old South Church in Windsor, and at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. Admission to each Saturday show costs $13.50 for church members, $18 for others.

Compton and Weiser also perform on Sunday afternoon at 2, in the Fairlee Town Hall Auditorium. Admission costs $18 in advance (visit fairleearts.org) and $20 at the door.

■Veteran roots musician and producer and Sharon resident Jim Rooney joins Bob Amos and Catamount Crossing on the stage at Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon on Saturday night at 7:30. Tickets cost $15 if ordered in advance through mtnfolk.org and $20 at the door.

■Decisions, decisions for fans of stand-up comedy on Saturday night: At 7:30, Boston-based veteran jokemeister Mike McDonald emcees a Comedy Extravaganza at Lebanon Opera House. Scheduled performers include Jimmy Shubert, Christine Hurley, Tina Friml and Robbie Printz. For tickets ($34.50 to $39.50) and more information, visit lebanonoperahouse.org or call 603-448-0400.

And at 8 at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater, Vicki Ferentinos launches her “Women of the Woods” series of monthly gatherings of stand-up performers on Saturday night at 8. Admission by donation.

Theater/performance art

Every Brilliant Thing, Shaker Bridge Theatre production running through Feb. 23 at Whitney Hall in Enfield. For tickets ($16 to $35) and more information, visit shakerbridgetheatre.org or call 603-448-3750. Admission $17.75 to $57.75.

■Monthly Comedy Club session, rescheduled from last week’s snowstorm, Thursday night at 8 at The Engine Room in White River Junction. CW Foley hosts, and performers include Lebanon resident Peter Pardoe.

Diagonal Life: Theory and Praxis, Bread & Puppet Theater production, Sunday afternoon at 2 at Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon. Admission by donation. Visit breadandpuppet.org/tour-schedule.

Hocus Pocus Magic Show, Blaine Goad, Sunday afternoon at 2 at Chandler Music Hall in Randolph. Admission $6 to $8.


Lonesome Ace String Band, folk/roots, Thursday night at 8 at Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille in New London. Admission $20.

■Second Wind, folk-rock, Saturday night at 7 at Corinth Town Hall on Cookeville Road. Admission by donation to The Mentoring Project.

■Singer-songwriter Jay Doucette, coffeehouse concert on Saturday night at 7 at Unitarian Universalist Church in Springfield, Vt. Free.

■Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble, concert on theme of “A Day in the Light,” Sunday afternoon at 2 at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover. Admission $12 and up.

■North Country Chamber Players, “Winterlude” concert of works of Faure, Dvorak and Beethoven, with guest violinist Curt Macomber, Sunday afternoon from 3 to 6 at Court Street Arts’ Alumni Hall in Haverhill. Admission $25. Visit courtstreetarts.org.

Bar and club circuit

Mad Hazard Band, jazz, bossa nova and blues, Thursday night at 5:30 at the Quechee Club’s Davidson’s Restaurant.

■Adam McMahon Trio, roots-rock, Thursday night at 7 at Windsor Station; Crooked Bridge, roots/Americana, Tuesday night at 6.

■ Royalton singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner, Friday night at 6 at Upper Pass Beer and First Branch Coffee in South Royalton.

■Bud “Kind Bud” Johnson, folk-rock, Friday night from 7 to 10 at The Public House Pub in Quechee.

■Still Hill, bluegrass, Friday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

■Singer-songwriter Sky King, Saturday night at 6 at Peyton Place restaurant in Orford.

■Singer-songwriter Jim Yeager, Monday night at 6:30 at 506 on the River in Woodstock.

Open mics, jam sessions

Alec Currier’s weekly open-mic at Salt hill Pub in Lebanon, Thursday night at 8.

■Al Carruth and E.J. Tretter host Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse’s monthly open mic, Friday night at 7 at Methodist Church in Sunapee Harbor. Admission by donation.

■Randy Leavitt guest-hosts monthly all-comers jam of folk and traditional music on Sunday afternoon at 4, at Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon. Free.

■ Jakob Breitbach’s jam session of acoustic roots, Tuesday night at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson’s open mic, Tuesday night at 7 at Colatina Exit.

■Jes Raymond, String Band Karaoke session of roots and Americana music, Wednesday night at 6 at The Skinny Pancake in Hanover.

■Peter Meijer’s open mic, Wednesday nights at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com or 603-727-3304. Se nd entertainment news to highlights@vnews.com.

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