Arts Beat for Feb. 8: Two one-act comedies on tap at Town Hall Theater

Brighten the gloom and cold of February by going to see two of the funniest one-act comedies ever written. Middlebury Community Players presents Peter Shaffer’s “Black Comedy” and Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Inspector Hound” at the Town Hall Theater at 8 p.m. on Thursday. There will be repeat performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.
“Black Comedy,” Shaffer’s brilliant take on classic farce, is the riotous story of the most important meeting of Brindsley Miller’s career. A struggling sculptor, he finally has the chance to show his works to the world’s wealthiest man. But moments before the billionaire’s arrival, a power outage plunges the neighborhood into total darkness. (The audience, of course, can see everything.) Throw in surprise visits from the spinster upstairs and the antique dealer next door, the unexpected arrival of his fiancée’s disapproving father, and his mischievous ex-fiancée’s arriving with a plot to reenter his life, and suddenly the apartment is filled with schemes, mis-identifications, and near-misses as the characters grope their way, unseeing, toward catastrophe.
“The Real Inspector Hound” is Tom Stoppard’s hysterical parody of the English drawing room murder mystery. Two critics watching and commenting on the premiere of a new play find themselves inexplicably drawn into the story, forced to become characters in a mystery where the stakes prove to be deadly. Bordering on the surreal, “Hound” combines ingenious plotting with Stoppard’s trademark wit and verbal wizardry.
“Hound” is directed by Trent Campbell and “Black Comedy” by Kate Tilton, and features talented local actors. Come for an evening of hilarious misadventures and quality theater.
Tickets are $12 Thursday and $17 Friday-Sunday, and can be purchased at the THT box office Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., by calling 382-9222, or online at
The Woedoggies have an eclectic sound firmly rooted in classic country, blues and Americana. With an arsenal of originals and an extensive repertoire of classic country, blues, and folk covers, the Woedoggies mix tight three-part harmonies with expert musicianship and strong songwriting to discover new horizons of the acoustic Americana sound. The Woedoggies make their debut at Brandon Music on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Based in northern Vermont, the Woedoggies consist of Vermont music veterans Peter Riley on bass and vocals, Rudy Dauth on lead guitar and vocals and Wylie Shipman on rhythm guitar, harmonica and vocals.
The band’s first record, “Sorrytown,” reflects their wide-ranging influences from bluegrass to classic country to loud, growling Blues. Liz Cantrell, of Seven Days, points out how contemporary country bands are so influenced by pop and rock music and therefore it can be difficult to find the real twang of old acoustic country music. Luckily, she says, “’Sorrytown’ offers some honky tonk relief” and explains that Woedoggies is “a group of older crooners who eschew the flash of modern styles in favor of classic, acoustic country and light bluegrass.”
Tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is also available for $20. Reservations are required for dinner and recommended for the show. Venue is BYOB. Call 247-4295 or e-mail [email protected] for reservations or for more information. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road in Brandon.
The Michele Fay Band will be performing for the Burnham Music Series at Burnham Hall, 52 River Road in Lincoln, on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m.
The band features original and Americana music that brings forth a comfortable groove of folk, swing and bluegrass-influenced songs that are woven seamlessly together. Fay’s heartfelt lyrics are central to the ensemble, as she sings with a clear, authentic voice accompanied by guitar and banjo. Tim Price adds melodic instrumentals on mandolin and guitar, while Kalev Freeman works his lilting fiddle. Michael Santosusso provides tenor harmonies and drives a dynamic beat with upright bass.
“Michele’s voice continues to be smooth and entrancing … and harmony vocals only serve to strengthen the songs. While the band’s playing is top-notch, there’s a reason it’s called the Michele Fay Band, and that’s Michele’s voice … another impressive CD from a band that seems to keep getting better,” according to the Rutland Herald. The band’s new CD, “Believe,” received rave reviews from Seven Days. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults; teens and kids get in free. Refreshments are served. For more information, call 388-6863.
“Return of the Spring” is the theme of an exhibition featuring the work of Middlebury artist Yinglei Zhang, her mentor Mr. Li Xubai from China, currently Canada, and her teacher Mr. Guo Ziyu of Hong Kong. Each artist applies traditional Eastern forms in ink-and-wash studies of nature, but each has a unique perspective. Yinglei Zhang will give an art talk during the reception scheduled for Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m. 
Yinglei Zhang blends the traditional techniques learned from her mentors with her own vision as inspired by the surrounding Vermont landscape. At home in two cultures, she also enjoys painting studies of bamboo. As in the classical Chinese style she writes lines of poetry in calligraphy side-by-side with her images.
Coinciding with the Chinese New Year celebration, also known as the Spring Festival, the show is on display now through March 5.
The Jackson Gallery is located in the lower level of Town Hall Theater, a community and cultural venue located in the center of Middlebury. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday noon to 5, and an hour before any public events in the building. For further information, call 382-9222 or visit
There will be two live performances this week at Two Brothers Tavern in Middlebury. Join Two Brothers every Wednesday at 9 p.m. for The Open Mic, an evening of music, comedy or anything else, alternately hosted by Mark Sikora and Kai Stanley. Come cheer on your friends or let loose on the stage. It’s free to enter and there is no cover charge.
Then, on Friday, the tavern presents Radio Flyer at 9 p.m. Radio Flyer is a seven-piece band that plays blues, modern rock, classic rock, pop and funk with great style, including a lead singer who is one cool cat and two back up female singer/dancers. There is a $3 cover charge. For more information, call Two Brothers at 388-0002.
There will be one live musical event this week at Middlebury’s 51 Main when Left Eye Jump takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. This Burlington-based group serves up blues music with the authentic sounds of Chicago, Texas, New Orleans, California and the Delta of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. From gritty and haunting Delta slide guitar journeys to T-Bone Walker-inspired jump-swing romps, this band delivers.
All ages, no cover. For additional information visit or phone 388-8209.

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