---- — Theater in the Open is getting into the holiday spirit.
The in-house acting troupe at Maudslay State Park is traveling to the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport to present “A Christmas Carol Panto: Little Red and Robin Green.”
Pantomime, a musical play that features comedy, is often associated with the Christmas season. Directed by Theater in the Open’s artistic director Edward Speck, the show is written by Beth Randall and Speck.
“Now that Little Red and Will Scarlett have fixed up everything in Sure-Wouldn’t Forest, they’re off on another adventure for the holidays, with figgy-pudding, smoking-bishop and ghosts that’ll scare the Dickens out of you,” note organizers. “When the Sheriff is confronted by three spirits in the night, will he stop being such a Scrooge? Can Robin get over not playing the biggest role in the play?”
The 45-person cast ranges in ages from 8 to 38 years old. It includes Edward Speck as Robin Hood, Beth Randall as Sheriff/Scrooge, Aisha Chodat as Little Red, Justin Turner as Big Bad Wolf, Lily MacLeod as Will Scarlet, Tristan Horan as Little John, Spencer Redgate as Will Stutely, Kelley Knight as Deputy Bumps, Rachel Ameen as Officer Slap and Abigail Langsner as Titania.
The Merry Men, ensemble and Christmas spirits will be played by adults and children from Newburyport, Amesbury, Haverhill, Byfield, Bradford, South Hampton and Kingston, N.H. The performances begin tomorrow and continue next weekend. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. To purchase, visit the box office or go online to www.firehouse.org.
Book signing at PI Coffee Roasters
Newburyport’s Denise DeSimone will hold a reading and book signing at Plum Island Coffee Roasters in Newburyport tonight at 7.
DeSimone is the author of “From Stage IV to Center Stage,” which details her experience with stage 4 throat and neck cancer. The author, interfaith minister and motivational speaker treated her illness with a blend of traditional radiation and her own self-healing techniques.
“The presence of cancer was the best present I ever received,” DeSimone wrote in a press release. “Befriending my cancer as opposed to battling it was critical to my overall health. The world is constantly waging war on so many fronts, from drugs and poverty to AIDS and terrorism — I knew that waging a war with something that was already raging within me would be ludicrous.”
DeSimone is certified in multiple alternative healing treatments and is a wellness coach to cancer patients. This is her first book.
‘Free Art’ show around Newburyport
Looking for a local, creative holiday gift this year? Just look around the city.
For the 11th year, the city will once again sport the “Free Art” show, organized by Gordon Przybyla and Dylan Metrano.
The pair first launched the program in 2001 asking various local and regional artists to to contribute 50 pieces of art to be given away anonymously in December. Some donated 50 original works; others made prints or photocopies of a work.
Each piece got “Free Art” stamp and placed into a bin with a label, “Free Art: Take One.” The bins were placed around the city, in stores and public gathering places where people could look through the offerings and take what they liked.
Each December since, the show has returned, and this year is no exception. While the original concept has seen some slight tweaks — artists now donate 30 pieces and the boxes are placed in several other cities in addition to Newburyport — the premise remains the same.
This year’s boxes can be found in Newburyport at Caffe di Siena, The Firehouse Center for the Arts, Joppa Fine Foods and The Dance Place in the Tannery and Ganesh Imports. Bins are also located in Ganesh Imports in Portsmouth, N.H., Engine in Biddeford, Maine, and Waterfall Arts in Belfast, Maine.
Artists include Bonnie Jean Malcolm, Christopher Holt, Derek Laplante, Dylan Metrano, Elizabeth Personeni, Eric Smith, Erika Marquardt, Gordon Przybyla, Kevin (Darkman) Ormsby, Mandy Sabine, Rob Napier, Trev Stair, Mia Thurlow, Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, Charlie Russel, Olivia Clove, Larry Nile and Morgan Mead.
In 2010, organizers published a book, “Free Art: Take One,” which contained an assortment of artwork from 2001 to 2009.
Billy Joel show at Seaglass tonight
Singer Jon Abrams will perform at Seaglass Restaurant and Lounge in Salisbury tonight from 6 to 9. The Lowell native will entertain with a selection of Billy Joel songs, which he’s known for performing as lead singer and pianist in the touring production of Broadway’s “Movin’ Out.”
Seaglass Restaurant and Lounge is located at 4 Oceanfront North, Salisbury.
Alan Bull presents exhibit of new paintings
Newburyport artist Alan Bull is presenting a new show — just in time for the new year.
Bull’s new exhibit, 12 x 12 x 12: The Calendar Project, is hanging at 17 State Street Cafe in Newburyport.
The show includes a dozen oil paintings of old trucks from throughout New England, each measuring 12 inches square and featured in a new 2013 wall calendar. Several of Bull’s larger paintings will also be available for purchase.
A Maine native, Bull received his BFA at the Philadelphia College of Art and worked as a portrait artist, theatrical set painter, poster artist, muralist and studio assistant to glass artist Dan Dailey before embarking on a career as a painter and illustrator.
The show runs through Sunday.
Drum gathering tomorrow
A Peace on the Hill drum gathering will be held tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. at Old Town Hill in Newbury. All instruments are welcome, particularly percussion. The event is free.
Birthday party for Whittier
The Whittier Home Association is hosting a 205th birthday celebration for its famous son, poet John Greenleaf Whittier tomorrow at Ristorante Molise in Amesbury.
The festivities will begin at noon and includes lunch, a holiday sing-along with classical guitarist John Tavano and a trivia contest.
Tickets are $30. Call the Whittier Home Association at 978-388-1337. Donations of non-perishable food and unwrapped children’s gifts will be collected for local families in need this season.
Ricci performs at Bridge Gallery
Classical guitarist Donna Ricci will play at the Bridge Gallery in Newburyport tomorrow night from 5 to 9 during the city’s Invitation Night.
Ricci is an accomplished guitarist who has studied and performed throughout New England.
The gallery is located at 1R Water St., Newburyport.
‘Solstice Song’ holiday concert at Actors Studio
Musicians Allyn Gamble, Steve Faria & Friends will perform at The Actors Studio of Newburyport tomorrow and Saturday at 8 each night.
“Solstice Song,” a holiday concert, will feature a program of jazz favorites and beloved seasonal tunes. Admission is $35 and includes a post-performance reception with the artists. For reservations, call 978-465-1229 or go online to MKTix.com.
The Actors Studio of Newburyport is located at 50 Water St., Mill 1, Suite 5, Newburyport.
Trunk shows at Sisters We Three
Two artists will visit Sisters We Three at Newburyport this weekend.
Pamela Jones will visit the artisan shop, 57 Pleasant St., on Saturday with a selection of her scarfs, photography, bracelets and ornaments from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Amy Dumas will be at the shop from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday with pieces of her jewelry and slumped glass cheese trays.
Rock My Soul plays in Newbury on Saturday
The 20-member secular choir, Rock My Soul, will perform at First Parish Church of Newbury, 20 High Road, Newbury, on Saturday.
The choir, which specializes in lively, roots-based gospel, will be joined by its “sister group,” The RMS Five, a five-member vocal ensemble that offers arrangements of roots, Americana and gospel. The members are five soloists from Rock My Soul.
Together, the groups will perform a “Rockin’ Gospel” holiday CD release concert, beginning at 4 p.m. The doors open at 3:30.
“All of us are influenced by gospel, blues, doo wop, and R&B,” Dawn Boyer, founder and director of the two groups, said in a press release. “Those influences make their way into our harmonies and our arrangements, and of course we put our own stamp on them as well. No one else that we know of does quite what we do. We have a great time, and our audiences love the style of our music.”
The RMS Five was recently able to raise enough funds to record and release its first holiday album. There are plans to release a Rock My Soul Christmas CD in the future, as well.
“We asked our fans what songs they wanted us to include,” Boyer said, “And the 11 we chose are based on those responses.” During the concert, the choir will perform from the album, as well as other Christmas carols.
Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for seniors over the age of 65 when purchased in advance. At the door, all tickets will be $18. Children age 12 and younger are free. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.projectmusicworks.org or by calling 207-450-8016.
Philo hangs show at Port bakery
New England native and artist Nancy Philo is celebrating her return to home with a new show at Chococoa at the Tannery Marketplace in Newburyport.
Philo is the owner of Houseportraits, through which she creates renderings of homes and businesses in pen-and-ink drawings, watercolor or oil paintings.
The show will hang through Feb. 1 and features watercolors, acrylics and oils done recently in New England and in Santa Fe , N.M., where she lived for the last nine years prior to moving back to the area. Philo was the owner of Hyperbole Gallery on Pleasant Street and a co-founder of the Newburyport Gallery Association.
Boston String Quartet plays at Belleville
The Boston String Quartet will return to Newburyport on Sunday with their new seasonal program, “Christmas in Paris.”
The musicians will bring French carols, new stories and multimedia tools as they take the audience through the City of Lights beginning at 2 p.m. Belleville Church is located at 300 High St., Newburyport.
The quartet will explore Paris through music from a mix of hit movies, music from Edith Piaf and traditional French carols. Video images of beloved landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre will accompany the music.
The Boston String Quartet is one of only a few string ensembles that writes all original music and arrangements.
Tickets are $20. Children and teens under age 18 are free to attend.
Christmas Candlelight Service at First Religious
The First Religious Society in Newburyport is holding its 87th annual Christmas Candlelight Service on Sunday at 7:15 p.m.
The traditional carol service will feature music from three choirs, a brass ensemble and the newly restored pipe organ. Treasured tunes of the season will be performed such as “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “The First Noel” and “Angels We Have Heard On High,” along with musical pieces from around the world.
Artist reception at coffee shop Sunday
Amesbury photographer Nannette Poirier will celebrate the unveiling of her art exhibit at Plum Island Coffee Roasters this month with a reception at the Newburyport shop on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.
Poirer’s photography exhibit includes images she’s captured throughout New England.
Poirer calls travel and photography her two greatest passions, and she loves to meet people from other countries and cultures. Through her photography, she seeks to share her perspective of her journey.
“Photography makes me take a closer look at all the beauty around me and allows me to experience the peace of becoming one with my environment,” she wrote in a press release. “Photography has made me better appreciate my own home. New England has so much beauty everywhere. One doesn’t have to travel far from home to find it. “
A native of Everett, Poirer has won various photography competitions and was most recently named a winner in the Visit NH Foliage Competition. Poirer is also a volunteer photographer for BreatheNH. She is a member of the New Hampshire Professional Photographers Association, The Professional Photographers of America and the Professional Photographers Association of New England.
The exhibit runs through Dec. 31. Plum Island Coffee Roasters is located at 54R Merrimac St., Newburyport.
J. Laite & Bluescruise holiday show
The band J. Laite & The Bluescruise will give a holiday show on Sunday at Glenn’s Restaurant and Cool Bar in Newburyport.
Hosted by Justin Quinn, the evening will include a lineup of numerous musicians: keyboardist and vocalist Alizon Lissance, acoustic bassist “Mudcat” Ward, percussionist Sergio Bellotti and lead guitarist J. Laite.
A Boston Music Awards winner, Lissance is known for her “gutsy rock and blues style.” She is a founding member of the New England bands Girls’ Night Out and The Love Dogs.
Michael “Mudcat” Ward has been a fixture in the New England blues scene for nearly three decades, according to organizers. He is the bass player for Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. Bellotti is a faculty member of the Berklee College of Music. Laite has run the Newburyport Bluescruise for more than 20 years, through which he’s hosted many blues, soul, swing and R&B performers.
The show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Glenn’s Restaurant & Cool Bar is located at 44 Merrimac St. in Newburyport.
Holiday cooking class Monday
Local chef Carolyn Grieco will host a holiday cooking class on Monday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Compass Rose Inn in Newburyport.
Grieco, who recently concluded a decade-long career as the chef at Mann Orchards in Methuen, will share tips for making homemade food gifts. The class is $80 and includes recipes, instruction and samples. Registration is required. Call Carolyn at 978-994-1692 or visit www.carolynsfarmkitchen.com.
Sacred Circle Dance on New Year’s Eve
Sacred Circle dance instructor Ellen Kennedy will host the 10th annual New Year’s Eve Sacred Circle Dance from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Belleville Church hall on High St., Newburyport.
Welcome the new year with an evening of song, dance, ritual and meditation. Participants need not have experience as all dances will be taught.
Admission is a $15 donation at the door. Reservations are requested. The festivities will include a potluck of sweet and savory snacks. For more information or to make a reservation, call Ellen Kennedy at 978-388-8604 or email her at email@example.com.
‘Half’n Half’n Half’ plays in Lowell
The Merrimack Repertory Theatre is hosting a production of the John Kolvenbach comedy, “Half’n Half’n Half” through Dec. 23.
Directed by Kyle Fabel, the play offers a “farcical behind-the-scenes look at life in a repertory theatre.”
“When the personal conflicts of a long-suffering couple, their adult daughter and a young newcomer start to affect their performances, the audience is guaranteed a front row seat to this company’s theatrics,” organizers note.
Tickets begin at just $20 and are on sale at www.MRT.org or by calling 978-654-4678.
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