Arts Beat for Sept. 26: The powerful Rodney King story on stage at THT
History, poetry and tragedy collide when stage and film actor Roger Guenveur Smith (“American Gangster,” “Malcolm X”) tackles the thorny odyssey of Rodney King, caught in the glare of the national spotlight as the victim of police brutality that ignited the 1992 Los Angeles riots. This performance will kick off the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series’ 97th season at 8 p.m., on Friday and Saturday in the Seeler Studio Theatre of the Mahaney Center for the Arts.
In this riveting solo theatrical performance, Smith offers a meditation on a flawed, good-hearted man and reveals America’s endlessly complicated relationship with its racial past and present.
This powerful solo theater work is a mix of spoken word poetry, strong monologue, urban styling and actual broadcast media clips that all add up to a tour de force performance that is just as relevant today as when Smith originally improvised it at Bootleg Theater in L.A. in 2012, at the 20th anniversary of the beating.
“Roger Guenveur Smith gets it all and gets it brilliantly,” says The New York Times.
While at Middlebury, Smith will engage with audiences at post-performance Q&As, and meet with Middlebury College students to discuss his work and process. Due to adult language and content, this performance is for mature audiences only.
Tickets are $20 for the general public. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 443-6433 or go to www.middlebury.edu/arts. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road, just off Route 30 south (South Main Street). Free parking is available in the Center for the Arts parking lot.
The Ripton Community Coffee House, a nonprofit community concert series, welcomes back singer-songwriter Joe Crookston on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ripton Community House in Ripton.
Songwriter, singer, guitarist, painter, fiddler, banjo player, eco-village member and believer in all things possible, Joe Crookston is not afraid to walk outside the trends creating his own version of magic. His story songs are universal, his rhythm infectious and in concert, he is funny one moment and transcendent the next.
Crookston’s music and songwriting are good-hearted, artful and intense. His keen musicianship as guitarist, claw hammer banjo player, fiddler, singer and songwriter fuse contemporary and traditional styles, and his writing simply and beautifully paints pictures with words. Whether it’s his mesmerizing guitar sound or bubbling banjo, his music draws from his rural Ohio roots and exudes a remarkable intergenerational, universal and timeless quality.
As always, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with an open mike set, followed by the featured performer. Open mike performers are encouraged to call in advance and reserve one of the four open-mike slots.
Admission to the coffeehouse is $3 kids (12 and under), $10 general admission and $15 generous admission. The economically challenged may pay what they can afford. Refreshments will benefit the coffeehouse. The coffeehouse is held on the first Saturday of each month, except August. For more information, contact Richard Ruane or Andrea Chesman at 388-9782.
“BEST OF THE FEST” at THT
With the 2nd Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival having recently concluded, MNFF bring its popular “Best of the Fest” screenings back to Middlebury this fall, giving audiences a chance to see the Festival’s VTeddy Award winners once again or for the very first time. In collaboration with Town Hall Theater, MNFF offers three double bills to its regional audience.
Best of the Fest 1 — Narrative Winners: Wednesday. “The Best and Worst Days of George Morales’ Unnaturally Long Life” (short) and “Broke” (feature).
Best of the Fest 2 — Audience Favorite Winners: Saturday. “Pony” (short) and “The Guys Next Door” (feature).
Best of the Fest 3 — Documentary Winners will be shown next week. All screenings begin at 7 p.m.
Individual tickets are $12 per screening or buy a Best of the Fest Pass to see all three for $30. Tickets are available at the Town Hall Theater box office at 382-9222 or online at www.townhalltheater.org. For more information about Best of the Fest, the VTeddy Award winners or the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, visit www.middfilmfest.org.
NATIVE SON RETURNS
Town Hall Theater is proud to welcome native son Brian Kremer to the stage on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. Though now a part of the vibrant music scene in Austin, Texas, Kremer still calls Middlebury “my home town.”
Kremer is a modern day crooner-songwriter who performs Jazz standards, originals and early Country songs with warmth and charm. His first solo tour will take him to Nashville, Brooklyn, Chicago and back to his hometown of Middlebury.
Kremer is a former classical singer who earned a Grammy nomination (2003 with the Dale Warland Singers) and a degree from Berklee College of Music before relocating to Austin, his home for the last dozen years. Kremer only recently discovered his calling to croon from the Great American Songbook and to write songs with the masters of that classic form in mind. He’s also become involved in Austin’s theater scene as an actor, composer and accompanist with Love Me Tinder, a musical sketch revue directed and produced by award-winning playwright Adrienne Dawes.
Tickets are $15, and may be purchased at www.townhalltheater.org, over the phone at 382-9222 or in person at the THT box office (daily except Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.).
DURHAM COUNTY POETS
The Durham County Poets are five guys from Canada’s Chateauguay Valley who have played, and do play, in Blues bands, Gospel groups, Cajun, folk, Rock and Country bands. They will perform live at Brandon Music on Saturday, at 7:30 p.m.
In listening to their own material you get a mix of sounds and stories, influences and genres that is uniquely their own. Some of their songs had been lying dormant for over a decade, others are newborn. A collective blend of styles from Dan Hicks to James Taylor, the Band to Leon Redbone, theirs is a melting pot full of inspired tunes to enjoy.
The eclectic group is made up of lead singer Kevin Harvey, electric and acoustic guitarist David Whyte, acoustic guitarist Neil Elsmore, double bassist Carl Rufh and percussionist James Preimel.
Concert tickets are $20. A pre-concert dinner is available for $25. Reservations are recommended for the show and required for dinner. Venue is BYOB. Call 247-4295 or email [email protected] for reservations or for more information. Brandon Music is located at 62 Country Club Road in Brandon.
TWO BROTHERS TAVERN
There will be two live performances this week at Two Brothers Tavern located at 86 Main Street 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 Bill at 9 p.m. Bill is not one man, but four. Brothers Dave and Matt Nerbak share vocal and guitar duties, while the tight rhythm section of Phil Joseph on drums and Billy Dorsey on bass, round out the sound. They cover artists like The Gales Brothers, Vince Gill and Albert Collins — as well as originals.There is a $3 cover charge. For more information, call Two Brothers at 388-0002.
LIVE MUSIC AT 51 MAIN
There will be two live music events this week at Middlebury’s 51 Main. At 8 p.m. on Friday, Tony Lee Thomas will perform. Imagine the energetic strumming of Richie Havens and the intricate finger work of Bert Jansch. Add a vocal style that summons Stevie Wonder and Martin Sexton. Then take a songwriting vocabulary as poignant as Ani DiFranco, playful as John Prine, and add commanding stage presence. That’s Tony Lee Thomas.
Finally, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Soule Monde take to the stage. Soule Monde is instrumental, organ-driven funk in its purest form. Erupting from the syncopated minds of power-drummer Russ Lawton and organ-wizard Ray Paczkowski, the duo takes Soul-Jazz back to the deep end.
All ages, no cover. For more information visit www.go51main.com or call 388-8209.
With a personal, firsthand experience of truly earning a living as a freelance artist, Stephanie Stouffer will give a Gallery Talk at the Compass Music and Arts Center, as part of her current exhibit “The Creative World of Stephanie Stouffer,” on Sunday, at 2 p.m.
The exhibit, which showcases many of Stouffer’s original paintings, along with selected licensed products, runs through Oct. 29.
The Compass Music and Arts Center is located in Park Village at 333 Jones Drive in Brandon (Park Village used to be the Brandon Training School, located 1.5 miles north of downtown Brandon off of Arnold District Road). For more information, visit www.cmacvt.org.
The 2016-2017 Hirschfield International Film Series continues on Saturday at Middlebury College with the 2015 French film, “The Measure of a Man,” directed by Stéphane Brizé. At the age of 51 and after 20 months of unemployment, Thierry starts a new job that soon brings him face to face with a moral dilemma. How much is he willing to accept to keep his job?
The film, in French with English subtitles, will be shown at 3 p.m. and again 8 p.m. in Dana Auditorium on College Street (Route 125). Free. Some of the films in this series may be inappropriate for children.
The Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse presents “WAR and PEACE” (and other duets) featuring Jim Cave and Deb Gwinn at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets are $10, available at [email protected], or call 398-2776 ext. 819. The Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse is located at 1197 Exchange Street in Middlebury.