Arts & Culture

John Altdorfer / Squonk Opera

Providence kicks off the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival Thursday. Mayor Jorge Elorza has touted the event as one of his first major initiatives to boost tourism and the arts in the capital city. The four-day festival includes public art installations, theater, and lectures all around downtown Providence. It will also include dozens of musical performances from across the globe.

Mark Turek / Trinity Rep

The right of all Americans to be down-hearted once in a while is brought up -- and defended -- in a new musical comedy having its premiere at Trinity Rep. Bill Gale says it  can have you laughing out loud, and thinking, too.

Sarah Ruhl is a playwright known for her off-beat but well put together plays. “The Clean House,” has a Brazilian maid who cares only to find the perfect joke which then turns to a narrative about being joyful in the face of death and dying. Or in “Dead Man's Cell Phone” Ruhl looks at the societal disconnection brought about by the digital age.

Maggie Hall / Wilbury Theatre Group

Serious mental illness might well seem an unlikely jumping off point for musical theater. But with “Next to Normal,” now at the Wilbury Group in Providence, the subject becomes a powerful drama mostly well done. 

Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics for the engrossing “Next to Normal” once opined that “musicals can be ridiculous.”

“You know, all those people breaking into song all the time,” he said. But the author also  pointed out that, somehow, a good musical can be “sublime.”

Poor People's Pub

Bacon is on the menu Saturday at Poor People’s Pub on Block Island. The restaurant is hosting the second annual “Bacon Fest,” a benefit for the Block Island Conservancy. 

Why bacon?

"Why not?" asked server Corinne Adams, a seasonal resident of Block Island. 

The event features a mixture of professional chefs and home cooks, all competing to make the best bacon dish. Participants have the chance to taste each dish then vote for their favorite.

Clyde Media Productions / Trinity Rep

Thursday night was the first preview of a brand new musical at Trinity Rep. "Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical" is the latest work from world-renowned playwright Sarah Ruhl, with music by composer Todd Almond. Ruhl received her master’s degree in Providence at Brown University. She’s since been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has received the MacArthur "Genius" grant.

Ruhl's "Melancholy Play" is receiving a world premiere at Trinity Rep. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Morning Edition host Chuck Hinman spoke with director Leisl Tommy about the production.

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