Arts & Culture

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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If you are a fan of live, acoustic music, at some point straining to hear over a loud bar crowd, you may have thought, wouldn’t it be great if my favorite performer could play at my house instead? It might surprise you to know the performer may be thinking the same thing. For this month’s Artscape, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Chuck Hinman examines the growing phenomenon of house concerts in the Ocean State.

Wikimedia Commons

The Newport Folk Festival has announced plans to celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan going electric.  But details of the celebration remain a mystery.

In true Folk festival fashion, producers are keeping silent on the headlining act for what they’ve dubbed “65 revisited,” an affectionate nod to the Bob Dylan album ‘Highway 61 Revisited.’

Richard W. Dionne, Jr. / 2nd Story Theatre

British playwright Joe Orton is probably best remembered for his loopy yet fiery comedy's “Loot” and “What the Butler Saw”. But his seminal piece was “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” a 1964 trouble-making work now being revived by 2nd Story Theatre in Warren.

When you enter 2nd Story's upstairs performing space these nights you'll be greeted by some real oldies. No, not the ushering staff. The recorded music being played: Petula Clark's “Downtown” The Seekers “Georgy Girl” and even “She's Not There” by the Zombies.

Peter Goldberg / Gamm Theatre

The Gamm Theatre is closing its season with a play reaching back to the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. It's a crackling production. But is there a connection to today? Not so much.

Lew Place / Copyright: Feinberg Entertainment 2014

Young filmmakers took center stage Saturday night at the Give Me 5 Teen Film Festival, for an evening of short films by teenagers across Rhode Island. RIPR's Chuck Hinman sat down with Steven Feinberg from the state's Film and TV Office to talk about the festival, Woody Allen's new movie (shot in RI) and the state of the local film industry.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A group of artists, scientists, educators, and residents who want to promote the health of urban ponds will march in a parade later today in Providence for the eighth year in a row. Mashapaug Pond and its watershed in the Pawtuxet River basin are the centerpieces of the Urban Pond Procession. The pond is on the state’s list of impaired waters. It’s not a safe body of water in which to swim or fish.

The procession, focused on water this year, returns with its distinct handmade art by students from schools in the south side of Providence.

Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

“Into the Woods” won three Tony Awards on Broadway in 1988. But “Best Musical” wasn't one of them.  Bill Gale thinks that a strong production at the Ocean State Theatre tells you why.

Full disclosure, I have never cottoned to “Into the Woods” which brought so much fame and honor to its creators Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

John Bender / RIPR

It’s been a year since the death of local musician David Lamb, whose passing threw the future of the folk duo Brown Bird into question. This week saw the release of the band’s final album. Crafted during Lamb’s battle with leukemia, the album was finished by his wife MorganEve Swain, the other half of the band. Music journalists are calling it Brown Bird’s swan song.

Chuck Hinman

Around the world, people are observing the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacre, while Rwandans are remembering the mass killings in their country 21 years ago. That genocide is the subject of a play, written by two students at St. George's School in Middletown. RIPR's Chuck Hinman stopped by the school during rehearsal...

For more than 40 years, Bob Kerr worked at the Providence Journal, where he was beloved by many readers for his columns about the people and the issues that animate Rhode Island. Recently, he’s been thinking back on his time at the ProJo.

Hilary Horton was my editor when I wrote the local column in the Providence Journal 20 years ago.  We would get together in the late afternoon, looking for the better word, cleaning up the clutter, finding what the heck I was trying to say.  The column was always the better for it.

John Bender / RIPR

The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities visited Rhode Island Monday. 

The agency has invested millions of dollars in Rhode Island cultural institutions including the Rhode Island Historical Society and Brown University. NEH also has roots in Rhode Island. It was created thanks in part to a bill sponsored by the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell. NEH Chair William Adams spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio Political Analyst Scott MacKay about that history and why he thinks the federal government should continue funding for the humanities.
 

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