Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Harvard's Theater School takes 3 year hiatus

Harvard's Theater School takes 3 year hiatus

The ART Institute is housed within the American Repertory Theater in the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge.

By Malcolm Gay GLOBE STAFF  JULY 16, 2017
CAMBRIDGE — Harvard University’s struggling ART Institute, a graduate-level theater training program housed within the American Repertory Theater, has announced that it is suspending admissions for the next three years “to work on a strategic plan” for the Institute.

The move is the latest setback for the troubled school, which in January suspended admissions for the coming academic year after receiving a “failing” grade from the US Department of Education for saddling students with onerous levels of debt. In May, the Institute dropped off The Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of the 25 best drama schools for an acting degree. And in June, Scott Zigler, the Institute’s longtime director, announced he was leaving after more than 20 years to become dean of the School of Drama at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Over the past six months, the ART has labored to resolve the Institute’s problems, engaging its board of trustees, consulting with Harvard administrators, and exploring the option of partnerships with other Boston-area universities. With no good solution in sight, ART leadership decided to close the school temporarily to develop a plan.

“What we’re looking at is taking a three-year hiatus so we can come back stronger, better, and with better funding,” said director Zigler of the 30-year-old school, known formally as the ART/MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. “We found a couple of possibilities where we could have stayed open, but staying open just to stay open didn’t look like the best thing to do.”

By some measures, the ART is stronger than ever. Under artistic director Diane Paulus, the company has transformed from a venue for avant-garde theater to an incubator for Broadway shows, from “Pippin” to “Finding Neverland,” “Waitress,” and “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.” Paulus and ART productions have won a handful of Tony Awards, and in February the company raised nearly $1.3 million at its annual gala, a record.

The US Department of Education gave the theater program a ‘failing’ grade for burdening graduates with high levels of student debt.

But as Harvard’s marquee theater has prospered, the esteemed ART Institute, which traditionally enrolls about 23 students each year, has seemingly been left behind. Now some students and alumni worry that Zigler’s impending departure is tied to the school’s woes.

Speaking Saturday, Zigler sought to allay those fears, saying that his new position was a “promotion” that came with a substantial salary increase.

“I understand what it looks like, but it’s just not what happened,” said Zigler, who will remain at the ART Institute through the spring semester of 2018, when the last students will graduate. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done at ART, but the [UNC] School of the Arts is a great school.”

Zigler said ART leadership had met with the school’s three full-time faculty members (other than himself) to discuss remaining on staff during the three-year hiatus, likely helping to reimagine the Institute. He said adjunct instructors had been informed there would no longer be work for them following the 2017-18 academic year.

“When we re-launch they will be the first people we go back to,” said Zigler.

The hiatus was announced in an e-mail from Paulus and ART producer Diane Borger late Friday. “It was very important to me to include in that letter a commitment to the future of the Institute,” Borger said on Saturday. “We consider it an essential part of the future of the ART, and we’re committed to it.”

Although Friday’s announcement was ostensibly addressed to the Institute’s alumni and students, several current and former students contacted by the Globe said they never received the e-mail, learning the news only after being contacted by a reporter. And with little institutional support to look forward to, they say they are deeply concerned for their futures.

“It’s just so horrible,” said alumna Katierose Donohue. “Let’s be honest: The Institute’s over. . . . It’s just heartbreaking.”

A.R.T. students from 2012
Upon learning of the decision, Institute student Shawn Jain called it one of his worst fears realized. “We’re about to go into the industry,” said Jain. “We already have a scarlet letter on our names because of being on that list, but to know that they can’t get their act together for something they should have known was coming for a really long time is awful.”

Top theater programs are expensive, but recently some have moved to reduce graduates’ debt loads. The University of California, San Diego covers full tuition for graduate theater students. At the Yale School of Drama, students graduate, on average, with roughly $12,000 in student debt, according to the school’s financial-aid officer.

By contrast, Harvard reported last January that the median debt for graduates of the two-year ART Institute is roughly $78,000. And the Department of Education found that Institute graduates earn on average just $36,000 per year — leaving them to pay roughly 44 percent of their discretionary income on student loan repayments.

Unlike other graduate-level drama programs, the ART Institute also does not offer a master of fine arts degree. Rather, Institute graduates are today awarded a master of liberal arts degree in extension studies through the Harvard Extension School.

Zigler said that some drama schools that offer more robust financial aid packages have developed relationships with donors over the years for scholarship initiatives. He noted that the ART Institute, by contrast, relies mainly on tuition money to fund the school. “I’m not aware of a specific campaign targeted to raising scholarship money,” he said.

During a meeting last February, ART leadership told alumni that the ART board had formed a task force on the Institute, and ART administrators were discussing a capital campaign. Such a campaign would raise money for improvements to the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, which houses both the ART and the ART Institute, as well as for ART operating funds and Institute scholarships.

So far, however, no campaign has been announced. “ART has never run a major fund-raising campaign,” said Borger. “We are exploring the possibility of running such a campaign, and it would include establishing a stronger base of support for the Institute.”

Two members of the ART board did not respond to interview requests from the Globe. A spokesperson for Harvard did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

Institute student Me’Lisa Sellers said the lack of an MFA and students’ high debt load are serious problems. “We drafted a petition to say will you help us, will you consider implementing the MFA?” said Sellers. “When you leave you don’t have the degree, and you’re entrenched in debt.”

In 2008, a Harvard task force on the arts noted that unlike other major universities, Harvard did not offer any MFA programs. It recommended that the university begin awarding MFA degrees, singling out the ART Institute as already having the “faculty and facilities that would be integral and important to creating graduate programs in arts practice.”

“For the Harvard program to be competitive with the most sought after programs in the country its students must have the tuition expenses fully funded,” wrote the report’s authors.

“In my mind this really comes down to Harvard stepping up to the plate,” said Institute alumnus Peter Cambor, noting the University’s large endowment. “I know that they can’t just write a check, but they could certainly find a handful of people who could, and they could certainly change the policy on the terminal degree and the arts and have an MFA.”

The ART’s e-mailed announcement said that during the upcoming “strategic planning period,” the ART and Institute leaders would “work with Harvard to explore options for an MFA, establish a stronger base of financial support for the Institute, and improve the A.R.T.’s educational facilities as part of an overall renovation of the Loeb Drama Center.”

“We saw this as a moment of inflection, where we can take a pause and really think of the best way to train artists in the 21st century and investigate the MFA degree,” said Borger. “In order for us to responsibly fund students we needed to assess the situation and approach with an open mind a strategic planning period of three years. It’s complicated, but we felt that that was the most responsible thing we could do for students.”

Malcolm Gay can be reached at malcolm.gay@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yard Sale/Moving Sale June 21!


My brother is having a yard/moving sale on June 21!

Full details on the following sites:




from 7 am- whenever their stuff is gone


• Furniture
• Toys
• Household goods
• Clothes
• Tools
••••••••••••••••••••••••> Everything Else we can't take with us! 


(Must cart away!)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012



    WHEN: Friday, June 1st from 6pm - 9pm. Sunday, June 3rd from 1pm -
    WHERE: Mixed Magic Theatre, 999 Main St. Unit #115, in the Hope
    Artiste Village, Pawtucket, RI.
    Mixed Magic Theatre is a non-profit arts organization founded in 2000
    with the mission of building more literate and arts-active
    communities. Located just over the Providence-Pawtucket line in the
    Hope Artiste Village, a thriving hub of cultural activity, the company
    is committed to bringing diverse stories and images to the stage, and
    exploring both original and classic works using eclectic prose and
    song. Past productions include: King Lear, Moby Dick: Then and Now,
    Driving Miss Daisy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,
    Art of Attack, and When Mahalia Sings. For more information, please
    visit www.mmtri.com or www.facebook.com/mmtheatre. (Don’t forget to
    “like” us on Facebook!)
    A concert celebration of traditional Gospel music.
    Availability in all vocal sections, especially tenor/baritone/bass.
    Age range: 14 and older. Please prepare sixteen bars of one uptempo
    piece and one slow piece. Both pieces must be in the Gospel, R&B Rock
    or Pop genre.
    *JULIUS CAESAR -- September 27 - October 28
    Shakespeare’s classic story of power, betrayal and politics.
    7 men, 3 women. Age range: 20s and older. Please prepare one-minute
    Shakespearean piece, NOT from Julius Caesar.
    *CELEBRATIONS: CHRISTMAS AND A NEW TIME -- November 29 - December 2
    Follow Princess Jaharri on a harrowing and inspiring journey as she
    struggles to fulfill a promise to her people and return home after
    being stolen from her village in West Africa and brought to Newport,
    Rhode Island.
    16 African-American actor/singers. Age range: 16 and older. 8 of 16 (4
    men, 4 women) must be proficient dancers. ALL AUDITIONERS will be
    asked to learn a simple time-step. SINGERS: Prepare sixteen bars from:
    “Amazing Grace”, “Summertime” or “In That Great Gettin’ Up Mornin.’”
    ACTORS: Scene sides will be provided at the audition.
    *GREAT HOLIDAY TRADITIONS -- December 21-23
    A cabaret show featuring performances of classic holiday tunes and a
    special tribute to the men and women serving overseas.
    Availability in all vocal sections, especially tenor/baritone/bass.
    Age range: 14 and above. Please prepare sixteen bars of one uptempo
    piece and one slow piece. Both pieces must be in the Gospel, R&B Rock
    or Pop genre.
    *FATE COMES KNOCKING (w/ MLK Day Brunch) -- January 14, 2013
    A historical play from the perspective of those who supported Martin
    Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.
    5 African-American actors; 3 women, 2 men. Age range: 40s and older.
    Some singing involved. Please prepare one-minute contemporary
    *THE EMPEROR JONES -- January 18 - February 17
    An American convict escapes to a small Caribbean island and become its
    dictator until the residents rise up in revolt.
    10 performers. 1 African-American male (25-50); 1 White male (45-60);
    8 dancers (4 men and 4 women, any ethnicity, 18 and older). ACTORS:
    two-minute prepared contemporary monologue. DANCERS: Come prepared to
    learn simple dance routine.
    *TARTUFFE -- March 15 - April 7
    A comedy about privilege, family, and how a little charm can go a very
    long way.
    12 actors; 7 men, 5 women. All ethnicities. Age range: 20s and older.
    Please prepare a two-minute classical monologue--comedic or dramatic.
    Exclude pieces from Tartuffe.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Teens & Tweens Get a Conference To Call Their Own

Teens and Tweens Get a Conference to Call Their Own

First of its kind Digital Family Summit holds inaugural conference in Philadelphia June 29-July 1, 2012

Philadelphia, PA  February 22, 2012

The old adage about families who play together is about to get a 21st century twist.

Digital Family Summit Philadelphia June 29-July 1, 2012The Digital Family Summit, a conference for teens, tweens and their parents who blog, vlog, Facebook, tweet, and pin, announces its inaugural event, a three-day summit of workshops, talks, panels, and parties designed to bring some of the top teen digital influencers and their families together to share digital strategies, practical pointers, and ice cream sundaes.

Quote startThere have been lots of conferences focused on moms who blog and dads who blog, but this is the first one that focuses on the kids, who are truly digital natives.Quote end
The Digital Family Summit will be held in Philadelphia, June 29-July 1, 2012 at the Sheraton Society Hill.

“The Summit is designed for both parents and kids who are creating exciting content beyond the walls of Facebook,” says Stephanie Schwab, chief executive officer of Crackerjack Marketing, and a Digital Family Summit founder. “The conference is geared towards families who want to learn new digital skills, explore new means of expression, and gain confidence in expressing themselves online.”

With 73 million teens on Facebook and 14% of teens writing blogs, parents have a new world of digital content to consider with their kids. The conference is designed to bridge the gap for content-creating teens and tweens and their non-digital native parents who may or may not be digitally savvy.

The conference features three tracks: Strategy, Tools and Safety. Each track will have options available for beginners and experts alike.
  •     Strategy: Blogging and video experts, teen content creators, and brands will discuss how teens can make their blogs and vlogs grow, expand their communities, and work on monetization and personal branding.
  •     Tools: Offers hands on workshops in blogging, photography, video and content creation, giving expert and beginning digital media creators the chance to explore new techniques, learn expert tips and advance their technical skill set.
  •     Safety: Gives parents and teens the opportunity to develop sensible family policies regarding online safety, address including cyber-bullying, identity theft, and intellectual property rights, and examine the privacy issues inherent in digital sharing.
In addition to workshops for young digital content creators, there will also be things for their younger siblings to do. "This is a conference for families," says Schwab. "We are planning fun activities for kids of all ages, and the whole family is invited to all meals and parties. We’ll be in the heart of Philadelphia, and the city itself has a lot to offer family members who are not bloggers, who want to get out and explore the city."

Bloggers have been very positive about the Digital Family Summit. “I’m really excited about this conference,” says Ciaran Blumenfeld, author of the popular blog Momfluential. “There have been lots of conferences focused on moms who blog and dads who blog, but this is the first one that focuses on the kids, who are truly digital natives. It’s the next logical step.”

According to Nathan James, a conference sponsorship expert with Fishbone Marketing who is working with Digital Family Summit sponsors, “We’ve had a lot of interest in this conference. Savvy brand marketers understand they need to reach out to today’s teens digitally, and in a different way than even three years ago. What sponsors yield from this conference will help them determine their brands’ futures.”

To get more information about the conference, including speaking opportunities, sponsorship opportunities, and early bird registrations, visit http://www.digitalfamilysummit.com. Also follow Digital Family on Twitter at @digifam and become a Fan on Facebook.
# # #

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Places to get Rhode Island Pizza Strips

Rhode Island’s Best Pizza Strips

Thursday, February 16, 2012
There are few things more Rhode Island than pizza strips--right? Whether it’s a birthday, graduation or religious celebration you can almost guarantee a platter of these saucy delights. This is originally what pizza was in these parts: a cheap, easy to transport street food. Italian immigrants didn’t have a lot, but they could make a basic dough and grow tomatoes in summer for this classic. We set out to find our favorites and we came back covered in sauce and oil. Check out these 5 spots to get that “tomato pie” fix….

Zaccagnini’s, Cranston


In Rhode Island, you can tell the quality of a bakery by the cult-like following it develops. Zaccagnini’s is that kind of place. We first went here as kids and remember our parents making sure they had cash--no credit or debit--and we headed over to stand in line on a Saturday morning. The smells were amazing and it where we first fell in love with the pizza. You have a choice here…traditional strip or pizza round. Really, were just haggling over a shape here as either choice features their sweet tomato sauce, the buttery crust and a sprinkle of grated cheese. The flavors are always spot-on and because of the amount business coming through the doors, you can always get a fresh strip. While you are there don’t forget to try the amazing pastry. Grown-ups will love the ricotta pie and the kids will love the cookies and frosted brownies. 701 Oaklawn Ave, 943-4567.

DePetrillo’s, Coventry

We grew up on these strips, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here because DePetrillo’s is a terrific old-school bakery with tasty cakes, flaky pastries and, of course, the pizza strips. DePetrillo’s claims to be the originator of party pizza in these parts. Now, we don’t know about that, but we can tell you we’ve been eating their strips for several decades--did we just put that in writing? -- at the least. These are classic strips with a nice, crisp crust and just the right amount of sauce to keep it all moist. They find the right balance between the sauce and the crust so you’re not left with a soggy mess of a strip. The reason we love this kind of pizza is the same reason our ancestors ate it: affordability. DePetrillo’s offers their party pizza in a platter of 54 pieces for $14.99 for a full tray. That is why it became such a staple around here: a large platter for the kids was cheap and always good. 797 Tiogue Ave. 828-4300, www.depetrillos.com

Calvitto’s, Wakefield 

When the warm weather arrives, we head south. Not that far south -- we're Rhode Islanders -- to South Kingston. And just because we’re at the beach doesn’t mean that the craving for pizza strips subsides. When we were growing up, a trip to the beach was a communal experience. Our grandmothers and grandfathers would begin the night before, preparing a feast that would fill the fridge and our parents and aunts and uncles would pack it all up in the car and we would head out early in the morning. Those car rides were murder. Depending on beach traffic we would be looking to dive in to the feast by the time we hit North Kingston. Well, those crafty elders came up with an easy solution: always have pizza strips on hand for “emergencies.” The portability made them perfect for keeping us quiet and we never complained a bit. As the generations changed we sought out good pizza strips near the beach and found Calvitto’s, in Wakefield. The regular strips are always a crowd pleaser and make easy to eat beach food. We also love the “white strips” that are covered in olive oil, garlic and grated cheese. Add a couple of fresh tomato slices from the garden and call it Summer! 60 South County Commons Way, 782-2285.

Crugnale, Cranston

One of the largest groups of Italian immigrants to settle in Rhode Island settled in the area of Cranston that is west of Reservoir Avenue. It’s a sort of “demarcation” line in the city. The area was settled by poor Italians who brought their love of food with them. The good Rhode Island weather allowed them to grow the tomatoes and vegetables that became a staple of their diet here, just as they were in the old country. Well, since 1917, Crugnale bakery has been feeding this hungry community with sweet and savory delights. The spinach pies…the zeppole…the bread that they’ve been making for generations…oh yeah, and the pizza strips. As usually happens here, we went in for a couple of strips and came out with a box! These strips are the messy, saucy, oily ones you remember from childhood. Peel off the paper, lick your fingers and go. The crust is soft and chewy and the sauce is just sweet enough. Crugnale’s has grown through the years to five locations around the state, but we always find ourselves here for the original feel. 567 Reservoir Ave. 781-8800, www.crugnalebakery.com

Lasalle Bakery, Providence


Lasalle bakery, on Smith Street, would make a lot of peoples “best bakery” list. They have you covered from breads to pastry to cakes and, of course, pizza strips. We were brought here long ago by our Dads who went to Lasalle Academy and would sneak off for tasty treats. Lasalle Bakery has been doing it right since 1930 and that commitment continues today. This past year, Lasalle was voted the national retail bakery of the year. Quite the feat for them and one that left us saying “Duh!” We love their cookies and cakes but it’s the pizza strips that keep us coming back. The perfect “grab and go” food has been perfected here with a “cleaner” strip. This is one you can enjoy in a suit and tie. All the flavor is here but we find them a little easier to handle than most. The crust is a perfect hybrid of a pizza dough and a bread dough, giving it crunch and flavor all at the same time. Make sure you grab some of their killer cookies while you are there, you won’t be disappointed! 993 Smith St. 831-9563, www.lasallebakery.net

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Big Noise To Screen Greatest Hits 12/15/11

Al Gomes and A. Michelle of Big Noise in Providence, RI to Screen Big
Noise’s Greatest Hits

Thursday, December 15 at 7:30 pm

Brooklyn Coffee Tea House
209 Douglas Avenue
Providence, RI

Price: $5
All Ages
Event Phone: (401) 274-4770

By popular demand, Al Gomes and A. Michelle of Big Noise in Providence,
RI will once again screen films and clips from their 21-year history at
the Brooklyn Coffee Tea House on Thursday, December 15.

The screening will include projects that Al Gomes and A. Michelle have
produced themselves including works by Christina Aguilera (the smash hit
Christmas single 'Holiday with Christina' and her first interview as a
solo artist), Katharine McPhee (the holiday single 'A Gift to You'),
American Music Award winner Billy Gilman (the documentary 'The Making of
Everything and More'), Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Little Anthony and
the Imperials (dance remix video of their classic 'Shimmy, Shimmy, Ko-Ko
Bop'), and the chorus recording session for the Jefferson Award-winning
charity project, Bandwagon.

Al Gomes and A. Michelle will also screen clips from their artists'
projects who, through Big Noise's publicity and marketing efforts, have
made it onto the Grammy Awards ballot including pianist Jim Brickman
(his Grammy Nominee appearance on CBS This Morning), Grammy Nominee
Freddy Cole (his appearance on The MDA Telethon and documentary film),
Red Hot Chili Peppers ('Stadium Arcadium' documentary), The Beach Boys
('1974 - On the Road'), Bela Fleck ('Throw Down Your Heart'), and
William Shatner ('Gonzo Ballet').

They will also show segments from films whose Original Motion Picture
Soundtracks Big Noise has produced including movies directed by Andrew
McCarthy ('News for the Church' - composer Cathie Ryan), Tiffani
Thiessen ('Just Pray' - composer Paul Doucette from Matchbox 20), and
Charlie Shanian ('Le Chase' - composer Andrew Chukerman).

Al Gomes and A. Michelle have also worked with Jay Geils, Kittie, Glenn
Tilbrook (Squeeze), Nils Lofgren, multi-platinum producer Shelly Yakus,
actor / director Stephen Collins, two-time Emmy Award-winning composer
Sean Callery, and many other great artists.

A question and answer session will follow the screening.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Tom Sgouros for Treasurer: Run, Tom, Run!

My good friend Tom Sgouros is running for Treasurer of Rhode Island, and he needs your support.

I've known Tom for nearly 20 years, and he's one of the smartest guys I know.  More importantly, he's one of the most thoughtful guys I know.

Tom thinks deeply about the issues, weighs all of the angles, and makes truly informed decisions.

For the last 6 years, Tom has been writing a newsletter/blog about RI Policy, entitled the RI Policy Reporter. Take a look at any one of those issues, and it will become clear to you that Tom knows his stuff.  His latest columns and thoughts are up online at http://www.whatcheer.net

I've worked with Tom on a number of projects over the last 18 years, and his depth of knowledge, his integrity, and his ability to get things done all make it clear to me that Tom would make a great Treasurer of Rhode Island, and would make the state a better place to live.  He just has to get elected.

I urge you to support Tom in his race-- you can make online donations, sign up to volunteer, find out more about his policies, and find out more about him at http://www.tomfortreasurer.com

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why Jamestown has more than two policecars

My friend and collaborator Tom Sgouros has a great blog about RI policy, and has written a fantastic article about municipal budgeting. Well worth reading. And you'll find out why Jamestown has more than two police cars.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bright Night Article in the Projo

Got everything right, except at one point says about our celebration that you buy your First Night tickets. Ah well, can't win them all!

The article in the paper had some great photos of the event.

To make it easier to forward, I created a tinyurl of the article:


Fewer stars and fireworks, but New Year celebrations will go on

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 28, 2008
By Richard Salit

Journal Staff Writer

Performers converged Tuesday on Providence City Hall for the mayor’s announcement of Bright Night festivities. Among them, Big Nazo, Snow Queen (Clare Vadeboncoeur), Mark Kohler and Marvelous Marvin Novogrodsky. In front is Bright Night director Adam Gertsacov.

The Providence Journal / Sandor Bodo

The Scrooge-like economy may be forcing some communities to scale back their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but revelers in Providence, Newport, Fall River and Westerly will still be treated to everything from fireworks to the Friars, music to magicians and storytellers to sword swallowers.

Budget shortages threatened to snuff out Newport’s annual pyrotechnics display and the rest of the City-by-the-Sea’s celebration, but First Night Newport survived and will go off as planned, complete with fireworks over the harbor.

While Bright Night Providence had to cancel its fireworks — out of safety concerns, not financial problems — the city will replace it with a laser show. In addition, for the second year in a row, the festival has teamed up with the Providence College Friars men’s basketball squad, which will be playing Big East rival St. John’s University at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center during Bright Night festivities.

“The big thing is for everyone to gather together and ring in the New Year right,” said Adam Gertsacov, director of Bright Night Providence, the artist-run, nonprofit group that has organized the New Year’s Eve celebration in the capital city for the past six years.

While Bright Night’s budget this year is “slightly smaller,” Gertsacov said it will still feature close to 160 performers in 22 venues.

“The big focus of our event has always been the performers. We want to celebrate Rhode Island’s most important asset — its performers,” Gertsacov said.

Every year, Bright Night selects a different act to take center stage in the event. This year, the featured group is the Nerveless Nocks, a family of daredevil circus acrobats. The ninth generation family, which was formed in Switzerland and used to perform during the summers at the now-defunct Rocky Point Amusement Park, will give three shows at Rhode Island Convention Center.

In one act, Michelangelo Nock will climb a 20-foot-tall tower of chairs and do handstands on top. The troupe will also use a pendulum to perform leaps and somersaults.

“You definitely don’t want to miss this, but you definitely don’t want to try it at home,” said Gertsacov. “These guys are courageous and virtuosos at what they do. They’ve performed for kings and queens, on television and for the Super Bowl.”

Admission to the Nerveless Nocks is guaranteed with the purchase of a First Night wristband, which designates which of the three shows, either 6, 8 or 10 p.m., its holder may attend.

Wristbands, which provide free admission to all of the Bright Night venues, cost $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event (when a family four-pack may be purchased for $50). They are for sale at BankRI locations, OOP! Stores, the East Side Marketplace and ArtTixRI, 155 Westminster St. They may also be bought online at www.brightnight.org or by calling (401) 621-6123.

The first 3,000 people with wristbands to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts center will get free tickets to see the Friars game. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.

Like the fireworks display (which fire officials said could not continue for lack of a safe location to shoot them off), the laser show will begin at midnight. It will last nearly 20 minutes and feature music.

“That’s one thing we were never able to do with the fireworks was coordinate sound and music,” Gertsacov said.

Among the other performers are the Big Nazo Puppets, bebop artist Greg Abate and Grammy winning storyteller and singer Bill Harley.

In Newport, the grand event of the family-oriented New Year festivities is a fireworks display that you don’t have to wait until midnight to see. The pyrotechnics begin at 9:15, shortly after a parade from Thompson Middle School, on Broadway, ends at the harbor.

The Brazilian Capoeira Dancers will give three 45-minute shows––at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.—in the cafeteria of the middle school. Downstairs, in the gym, there will also be face painting, balloon sculpture, a kids bounce and slide, a clown, a magician and dancing for kids.

Next door, at City Hall, folk performers will turn the council chambers into a concert venue featuring Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischmen, The Remnants and Leroy White. Bluegrass music will be played live at the Florence Murray Judicial Complex.

Other venues include the Newport Marriott, the Gateway Visitors Center, and the Jane Pickens Theater.

Buttons cost $10 and may be purchased online at www.firstnightnewport.org. Children under age 5 may enter venues at no charge. Buttons may also be purchased at the Gateway Visitors Center and the Music Box, 160 Thames St., in Jamestown at Baker’s Pharmacy, in Portsmouth at Clements’ Marketplace and in Middletown at AAA of Southern New England.

Fireworks will also be shot off as part of First Night Westerly. In the past, there would be one pyrotechnics display early in the evening and one at midnight. This year, however, there will be just one show, at 9 p.m., a time meant to accommodate families, and that will conclude the evening.

“It’s a simpler event,” said organizer Ray Jones, pastor of the Lighthouse Community Baptist Church. “Basically what we did was we looked at the economy and we looked at our community and we just decided we were going to tailor our event to young families and just make it really cost-effective.”

Last year for example, American Idol contestant Chris Sligh performed.at First Night Westerly. This year, there will be no such headliner and there will be fewer venues for a shorter period of time. The price is $5, down from $13 last year.

But children’s activities will abound. At the library and YMCA, there will be arts and crafts, a mime, face painting and inflatable toys, while teen activities will take place at the Armory. Jazz and big band drummer Bobby Selvidio will perform on High Street. The best place to watch the fireworks will be from the YMCA parking lot, Jones said.

“It’s a nice wholesome time for people with their kids and teens. What our event is tailored around is providing a substance-free New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Buttons for First Night Westerly may be purchased on the day of the event at theYMCA or in advance at NewportFed and Washington Trust. For more information, go to www.firstnightwesterly.com.

Fall River also has downsized its celebration. The city announced that it would not be able to finance another First Night Fall River, but then community activists stepped up and produced a more modest replacement event, which they have dubbed “Back to Main Street: New Year’s Eve in the Neighborhood.”

“It’s an old-fashioned block party,” said Patrice Cloutier, the city’s director of cultural development and tourism, who with businessman Jerry Donovan, led the effort to rescue Fall River’s celebration .

The event, as always, will be free. It will feature horse and carriage rides as well as trolley tours, in addition to a variety of street performers, including jugglers and stilt walkers. A children’s venue, with arts and crafts, will be set up in a vacant storefront at 25 North Main St.

One of the highlights of the event will be a 7:30 p.m. performance by the Chinese Folk Troupe at the Eagle Performing Arts Center, 33 North Main St. There will be a dragon dance, a lion dance, umbrella dancing and drumming, said Cloutier. Seating for the nearly 1 ½-hour performance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Bonaparte, a Boston magician, will take the stage afterward.

In the past, Fall River would bring in the New Year with the dropping of a ball from the Armory. This year, with the events taking place in just a one-block area, the ball will be dropped at midnight from Government Center.

“It’s really a community event put together with a lot of heart and private donations,” Cloutier said. “It really brings you back to Main Street. It’s about quality and simplicity at the same time.”

For more information, go to www.fallriverma.org.


Great article about Friday Night Live performer and Shakespeare tough kid

This is a great story in the projo about art helping out people's lives:

Update 2008: Shakespeare winner has eyes on BU

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ari Brisbon has said that performing in the theater has saved his life.

The Providence Journal / Andrew Dickerman

PROVIDENCE — For Ari Brisbon, winner of last year's state Shakespeare contest, being a college student has been his most challenging role so far.

Brisbon, a tough street kid who said that the theater saved his life, went to New York City in April to compete in the English Speaking Union's National Shakespeare Competition, the winner of which spent two weeks at the British American Drama Academy in London last summer.

Brisbon didn't win the big prize but he did graduate from Hope High School in June, a nail-biter up until the last minute. After a very promising tryout at Boston University's prestigious School of Theater, Brisbon recognized that he had to bring up his grades before BU would accept him, and so he enrolled at Community of College of Rhode Island in September.

Dorothy Jungels, his mentor and second mom, said Brisbon has struggled to deal with the freedom and responsibility that go along with being a college freshman. But she said that Ari is determined to stay in school and re-apply to Boston University, where assistant professor Mark Cohen called him one of the most talented kids in Brown University's summer acting program.

In the meantime, Brisbon is performing regularly at Everett Dance Theater's Friday Night Live improvisation program and he is preparing another Shakespeare monologue, this time from Hamlet, for the monthly open mike session in January.

— Journal staff writer Linda Borg

Friday, November 21, 2008

Great New blog

There's a great new blog (well, new to me) featuring insightful reviews of  shows in and around Providence.  It also talks about food.


It's authored by John Rogers,

Check it out!