Snow Day

“Wooooo-ooooo!                                                                             Wild, whirling wind                                                                  Crashes limbs to lines.                                                                    Lights dance. Flick-a-lick.                                                            Lights die. Flick-a-floooo.                                                                Snow day, fierce snow day.”

-excerpted from Snow Day by Lynn Plourde

Last night at around 10pm the power went out here at home.  My husband and I tiptoed around the house flicking switches to ‘off’ so we wouldn’t be startled awake if the power returned in the middle of the night.  My eldest appeared at his door, asking for a flashlight to keep by his bedside.  I was able to find the electric company’s power outage telephone number (a shocker – no pun intended) and my husband called on his cell phone as I checked on our youngest, still asleep as the storm raged on outside.  The whole thing lasted only about fifteen minutes, but I was reminded of the youthful excitement of a snowy night and the promise of a snow day in the morning …

Today there was a lazy pajama morning, and then playing in the snow, digging and tumbling and sliding and building and tromping and eating!  Then peeling off dripping layers of snow-wet clothes, and snacking, movies, Wii, books, drawing, and a lazy leftovers dinner.  The wind is roaring outside the house now as we get ready for bed, and I won’t jinx myself by uttering aloud my tree limb worries … instead I’m off to read a bedtime story, Snow Day, a perennial favorite in our house (especially on a night like this).  How did you spend your snow day?

You can buy a copy of Snow Day by Lynn Plourde at A Novel Idea Booksellers on State Street in Bristol, or request a copy to be picked up at your local library using your Ocean State Libraries card.

Christmas Food Court Flash Mob

This is the week for holiday concerts, starting tonight with the Colt Andrews Elementary School Holiday Concert at 6:30pm in the auditorium on Hope Street.  Click over to our Music page for a listing of Holiday Concerts happening this week (and if I’ve left you out it’s because I don’t know about your concert, so please let me know in the Comments section below!).   As a prelude to this week’s performances (and if holiday shopping has you feeling less than jolly) here’s a little something that may help you find the spirit of the season-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE

Thanks for forwarding this to me, M! 

If you have trouble viewing the YouTube video here, visit Alphabet Photography on the web and click to watch it from their site.

Bravo!

Well, the play is closed and whew, what a run – six shows in five days!  Bravo to the KMS Masquers for putting on a marvelous production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  As a parent of a Masquer I had the great good fortune to attend all three shows held this past weekend, and in between the repetitive moments I was reminded that theater experiences are essential to our children’s education.   

An example from opening night – we all know from experience that in every situation there are always a few individuals who have to learn a thing the hard way.  There were times in my youth when I was that individual; perhaps some of you can relate.  Likewise, there were a few Masquers who did not learn their lines inside-and-out by opening night, and as a result there was a scene in the play that didn’t go so well on Friday.  There was more than one awkward pause, some stammering, and a whispered line fed to a Masquer in need.  It was obvious to the audience, and I’ll wager it was obvious to the actors in question, because by the next night they had their lines down pat and the awkward scene was vastly improved, thus improving the play as a whole.  By Sunday’s matinee one of the actors was even attempting a Cockney accent. 

There’s nothing like performing on stage for motivating someone to do their very best.  And the confidence that comes from mastery can fuel the desire to reach even farther, sometimes even as far as the East End of London!

On Saturday night, my four-year-old nephew attended the play, his first ever, so it was A Very Big Deal.  He was wide-eyed and excited, but much to his parents’ chagrin he had not yet mastered the art of the audience-whisper, and instead spoke in a normal voice throughout the performance.  “Is this the end?” he worried aloud each time the curtain closed and the audience applauded.  “No,” whispered my youngest, a whole year older than my nephew and therefore a young man of the world.  “This is when they change the scenery.”  I didn’t mind my nephew’s happy chatter, and I don’t think anyone around us minded, either; luckily we were seated among an understanding group of parents and grandparents, and besides, I can think of no better way to introduce a young child to the theater than to take him to his big cousin’s middle school debut.  During the intermission I noticed my nephew was intensely engaged in deep conversation with his daddy about the finer points of the story so far – he wanted to make sure he understood.  He didn’t talk as much after the intermission, and at the end of the show he clapped and clapped and asked his daddy if they could come back tomorrow for the matinee.  As we stood up to leave, my father-in-law, who sat behind us that night, asked the boy, “When you get as big as your cousin are you going to be an actor in a play, too?” to which my nephew emphatically nodded his head, “Yes!”

There’s nothing like experiencing your first live theatrical performance for igniting a passion for great stories, and for sparking the dream that maybe someday it could be you up on that stage.

At Sunday’s matinee there was a wholly unexpected goof – near the end of the play, a backstager unfortunately got his or her cue wrong and opened the curtain wide when it should have stayed shut for a few more minutes (hey, these things happen!).  While one scene played out at the front of the stage, the next scene was revealed, fully laid out complete with actors in their places.  They were like deer in the headlights – but only for a moment.  These young actors had the presence of mind to NOT LOOK at the scene playing out in front of them, and instead to remain posed and very still, like a scene in a 5th Avenue storefront window at Christmastime.  And the actors in the current scene had the presence of mind to stay in character and ignore the curtain mix-up, proceeding with their lines and moving the show right along.

There’s nothing like being part of a theater production for learning about the importance of timing, flexibility, and grace under pressure. 

There are so many more anecdotes I could share that reveal how theater is such a good teacher of empathy, of perseverance, of responsibility, of comprehension, of teamwork … the list goes on and on.  We are fortunate to send our children to school in a district that knows there’s more to education than reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic, and offers its students the opportunity to reach for more.  I extend my heartfelt thanks to the KMS teachers who make this opportunity possible – Mr. James Hagan, Mrs. Michelle DaSilva, and Mrs. Marlene Medeiros, and Ms. Kathleen Podraza – thank you for giving our children your extra time and effort and dedication.  And many thanks to the KMS Masquers as well, for your hard work and commitment to the theater company, and for entertaining us once again with a terrific show!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

Well, it’s going to get cold this weekend, but there’s plenty going on to tempt us out of the house!  First and foremost for me will be the chance to watch my eldest make his Masquers debut in Kickemuit Middle School’s production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, opening Friday night.  I hope you will join me in support of our young thespians as they take a crack at this much-loved holiday classic; tickets are a mere $5 at the door and there will be three shows, this weekend only (Friday December 3rd at 7pm; Saturday December 4th at 7pm; and Sunday December 5th at 2pm). 

Also at the theater, there’s still time to catch Roger Williams University’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Good Woman of Setzuan”.  Set in China, this classic satirical tale confronts the age-old dilemma of good versus evil.  The last three shows are tonight, tomorrow and Saturday, at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for students and senior citizens.  The university’s Performing Arts Center will also host the Chinese Music Ensemble of Boston, an orchestra of traditional Chinese instruments, on Saturday December 4th at 2pm for a concert of classical and traditional folk music. Under the direction of Tai-Chun Pan, members of the Ensemble will play instruments that include bowed strings, plucked strings, bamboo winds and percussion. The event is free of charge; more information can be found here.

If you hoped to catch 2nd Story‘s “School For Wives” this weekend, I’ll expect you’ve already reserved your tickets.  All four shows this weekend are SOLD OUT, an indication that this sensational production is the show to see this month.  Looking ahead, you’re in luck – there are seven more shows over the next two weekends, but I’d act fast (call 247-4200 for ticket information).

The 30th annual “Many Moods of Christmas” concert will welcome the holiday season this weekend with two shows, Saturday December 4th at 7pm and Sunday December 5th at 3pm, at St. Mary’s Church in Bristol.  The Bristol County Chorus, with guest singers from Roger Williams University’s Chorus and several soloists, will perform all four of the Shaw/Bennett “Many Moods” suites, along with additional selections.  Advance tickets are $15; tickets are $20 at the door.  For more information call 253-9664. 

Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum in Bristol is an enchanting place to visit any time of the year, but it’s especially magical in December when they host their annual Christmas at Blithewold festivities.  Holiday musical performances are held on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the month as part of the celebration.  This Saturday, December 4th at 6:30pm Blithewold welcomes We Make Music, a vocal ensemble with recorder and piano.  On Sunday December 5th at 3pm Enigmatica, a mandolin octet, will perform.  The concerts are free with admission to Blithewold.

On Sunday December 5th from noon to 5pm, Mudstone Studios in Warren will be holding a Studio Sale and glass-blowing demonstration.  Glass-blowing is cool, and if you’ve never seen it done then this is a great chance to visit an art studio and see for yourself!  Bring your wallet along and pick up a gift or two while you’re at it. 

Downtown Warren is already beautifully lit up with colored lights, and Bristol’s Grand Illumination will round out the weekend on Sunday evening, December 5th in front of the Burnside Building on Hope Street.  Holiday festivities are ongoing throughout the day, but shortly after 4pm the entertainment begins on Hope Street with caroling, music, and dancing with Extensions School of Dance, choirs from our local schools, and the St. Michael’s Bell Choir, with the big moment taking place at around 6pm.  Come dance and sing along with your neighbors, and remember to bundle up, ‘cuz baby it’s cold outside!