Arts & Culture

Theater Reviews
4:10 am
Wed November 6, 2013

2nd Story’s “Sons of the Prophet” Doesn’t Shy Away From Anything

Vince Petronio, Nathan Goncalves, Andrew Iacovelli, Jed Hancock-Brainerd, Paula Faber star in 2nd Story Theatre's "Sons of the Prophet."
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

“Sons of the Prophet” comes to Rhode Island with a pretty darn good reputation. Brown University graduate Stephan Karam’s play was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and did win several awards that year. It was a favorite of Manhattan’s downtown theater crowd, too.

So, what happened?

At 2nd Story this work, which the author calls “a comedy about a guy coping with chronic pain” seems pretty much weak-kneed. Its “comedy” never really clicks; its philosophy, which seems to be that coping with the unspeakable can be nourishing, doesn’t seem real, or true.

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Artscape
9:05 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Artscape: At Brown, Annual Organ Concert Keeps Things Creepy Each Halloween

The massive 1903 organ in Sayles Hall at Brown University.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

For the last twenty years Brown University’s organist Mark Steinbach has been playing a concert on Halloween at midnight.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender, went out to the University to learn more about the spooky tradition, and what makes a piece of music scary.

That’s Mark Steinbach, the University Organist at Brown.  He’s practicing for his annual organ recital which happens at midnight on Halloween.

“Technically it starts at 11:59 pm, so that people know which day to come,” said Steinbach.

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Artscape
4:08 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Artscape: Providence Loves HP Lovecraft

Brown librarian Holly Snyder holds one of HP Lovecraft's hand-drawn pamphlets.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

As a 10-year-old child, Howard Phillips Lovecraft would tuck himself into his grandfather’s library and read. Lovecraft’s father had gone mad and his mother eventually would too, making his wealthy grandfather – and all of those books –the center of Lovecraft’s world. Then his world fell apart. Lovecraft’s grandfather died and the estate was badly managed, wiping away his comfortable life in Providence. To earn much needed income Lovecraft, at 13-years-old, carefully crafted astronomy pamphlets and sold them, essentially starting his career as a published writer.

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Theater Reviews
4:20 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Festival Ballet's Up Close Is One Of Its Best

Ruth Whitney and Alan Alberto in Boyko Dossev's "Lovers' Song" at Festival Ballet's "Up Close."
Credit A. Cemal Ekin

Widely varied, indeed.

This latest “Up Close” offers dances from the 19th century to world premieres. Topics range from a smartly funny, and goofy, piece called “Tea Time” to a heart-rending vision of the end of life. The music? Well, that goes from Igor Stravinsky and Gustav Mahler to Ray Charles and Jacques Brel.

The dancing by Festival’s best is, generally, at a high level. And, of course, in that rehearsal room the dancers are right there in front of you.

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Theater Reviews
1:01 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Ocean State Theatre’s “Les Mis” is a First-Rate Effort

Fredric S. Scheff and Kevin B McGlynn star as Jean Valjean and Javert in Les Misérables being presented at the Ocean State Theatre in Warwick.
Credit Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Yes, you could figure that “Les Mis” might be just a tad over-saturated these days.

Many have seen it at least once. Or, they’ve heard the wonderful score.

But, you know what? “Les Mis” is still worth seeing, worth being affected by, worth pondering for its immense world view. And the production opening the season at Ocean State is a first-rate effort. No, it doesn’t have the great turntable racing the pace on stage. It hasn’t reached the incredible settings of Broadway or top flight road shows.

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Arts & Culture
9:00 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Historic Providence Diner Gets a Second Life

The historic West Side Diner on Westminster Street in Providence.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

An historic Providence diner is back in business after years of painstaking restoration.  The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The West Side Diner on Westminster Street was originally located in Olneyville. After it closed in 1999, it was slated for demolition until developer Jon Ozbek purchased and moved it.  The result is a gleaming stainless steel and glass block edifice that has been fully restored to its 1947 glory.  Co-owner Lisa Arena said much of the structure is original.

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Arts & Culture
8:59 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Artscape: Bringing Traditional Puerto Rican Music to Rhode Island

Lydia Perez and her daughter Yidell Rivera in their studio.
Credit John Bender / RIPR

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage month, Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender profiled Warwick musician Lydia Perez. 

Originally from Puerto Rico, Perez has been performing throughout Rhode Island since the mid-nineties.

With her group, Yoruba 2 she has toured throughout the region, teaching and performing the traditional music and dance of Puerto Rico.

“Well my name is Lydia Perez, I’m a traditional artist in the state of Rhode Island.”

“My name is Yidell Rivera.  I am Lydia’s oldest daughter, and I’ve worked with her since, well, my childhood.”

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Arts & Culture
10:08 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Taste Trekkers Descend On Providence

Food trucks wrap up the Taste Trekkers convention in Providence
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Providence restaurants did a brisk business this weekend as a convention of foodies descended on the capital city.

For the uninitiated, a taste trekker is a person who plans their vacations around food.  Over the weekend some 150 of these people visited Providence for the first Taste Trekkers Convention.  They listened to top chefs, heard lectures on subjects as obscure as Memphis barbecue and chocolate from Madagascar, and of course they ate.  Matt Bowie came from Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Theater Reviews
2:27 am
Mon September 23, 2013

The Gamm’s Season Opener is a Clunker

Credit Peter Goldberg / The Gamm TheatreCasey Seymour Kim and Alexander Platt in "Far Away" by Caryl Churchill, directed by Tony Estrella.Edit | Remove

For decades, English playwright Caryl Churchill has been accorded Goddess stature in the upper reaches of play writing circles. Fiercely political, strongly on the left, Churchill made her mark with plays of attitude and insight.

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Theater Reviews
2:42 am
Wed September 18, 2013

2nd Story Theatre’s “Lobby Hero” is a Tough, Snappy Play

Valerie Westgate as Dawn and Jeff Church as Jeff in 2nd Story Theatre's “Lobby Hero.”
Credit Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

2nd Story Theatre debuts its new 70-seat performing space this week with a play called “Lobby Hero” by New York writer Kenneth Lonergan.

Yeah, well, you see “hero” is not exactly the right word. On the other hand, maybe it is. Or it is sometimes. You get what I mean?

No, huh? Well, the strength of this very funny, charming, tough and potty-mouthed snappy play is that nothing is exactly as it seems. But it might be. Irony prevails in “Lobby Hero.”

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