Celebrate a Russian-styled Christmas at Icons Museum

Posted on November 23, 2020 by Leave a comment

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, where an array of virtual holiday happenings highlights the season starting tomorrow and into December. 

  A free Zoom Christmas tree lighting takes place on Friday, November 27, 4-4:30 p.m. Highlights include a talk given by Romanov expert Nicholas Nicholson on “Christmas with the Romanovs,” craft workshops and a livestream of the annual tree lighting festivities. Free but please register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_J9B6YRsNRr2XHzmMlsMSSQ.

 Try your hand at painting Christmas angels on Wednesday, December 2 and Saturday, December 5, 2-3:30 p.m. both days. Museum docent Larissa Dyan will lead the fun and light-hearted workshops. Start by hearing the story of the Angel Gabriel and getting a peek at Dyan’s Christmas nesting doll collection. She will then show participants how to paint the angels. Painting kits, including two wooden angels, paints and brushes are available for pick-up at the museum by appointment. Cost is $20 for members; $25 nonmembers and registration is required by Monday, November 30. The Zoom link will be sent to participants on the morning of the program. Each workshop is limited to 15 people and us appropriate for ages 10 and up. Contact aconsalvi@museumofrussianicons.org to register and schedule a kit pick-up time.

  You have another chance to hear Nicholas Nicholson talk about “Christmas with the Romanovs” in his virtual lecture on Sunday, December 6 at 1 p.m. While Christmas is an important part of the Orthodox liturgical calendar, Christmas celebrations at the Russian court didn’t begin to resemble the kind of celebrations we are familiar with until the 19th century. That happened after generations of Germans, a Dane and three granddaughters of Queen Victoria arrived and brought their own traditions to change Christmas in Russia forever. Nicholson will look at how and when the traditions of decorating trees and exchanging gifts became common. He’ll also share what intimate family celebrations looked like and the final commemorations of Christmas during the First World War. Free for members; $5 nonmembers. Registration required by Saturday, December 5. A Zoom will be sent to participants the morning of the program. To register, contact www.museumofrussianicons.org/event/romanov.

Gallery notes

OUTDOOR ART MARKETS: Baby, it’s cold outside. But Western Avenue Studios and Lofts artists invite you to bundle up and visit their Small Business Saturday Outdoor Art Market at Western Avenue on Saturday, November 28, noon-4 p.m. It’s a fun and safe way to shop this holiday season, while supporting small local businesses. Over 30 WAS artists and makers will be on hand to help you find the perfect gift for those on your shopping lists. The outdoor shopping continues on Saturdays, December 5-12. WAS has also turned its Instagram feed — @westernavearts — into a Creative Catalog for the Holidays to give artists unable to participate outside a platform to show their work for sale on their website or other online shopping portal. It’s up November 28-December 20. For info, visit www.westernavenuestudios.com.

BOOST YOUR SPIRITS: Head to the seacoast towns of Salisbury Beach and Newburyport this holiday season for the 8th Annual Reimagined Sea Festival of Trees. From Saturday, November 28-Sunday, December 20, visitors will find their spirits lifted by thousands of twinkle lights, a safe, socially-distanced holiday tree stroll, giant gingerbread house and scavenger hunt. “People need an extra dose of joy this year, and the reimagined festival will lift spirits during a year when it is needed most,” said event director Kathy Aiello. Tree lights will be on daily, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. For updated info, to purchase tree raffle tickets and find tree locations, visit www.seafestivaloftrees.com or call 978-462-2512. 

BRUSH WREATHS: Tickets are on sale now for the Festival of Wreaths at Brush Art Gallery and Studios in Lowell. This year, the wreaths are on display online and at the Brush, 256 Market St., Lowell. Lucky winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 2. Visit www.thebrush.org/events.htm for info and tickets.

CALL FOR ARTISTS: The year 2020 will go down as one of the most difficult in our collective lifetimes.  But it has brought out the best in people, too. The Arts League of Lowell will celebrate that in its upcoming exhibit “Shelter: The Art of Caring,” running February 3-28. ALL is seeking artists to participate. View the prospectus at tinyurl.com/y4zlkwvq or www.artsleagueoflowell.org/gallery/future.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net

Museums make merry, Covid or not

Posted on November 19, 2020 by Leave a comment

Despite the pandemic, museums ‘round the region are decking their halls for the holidays and giving visitors a reason to celebrate. 

Worcester Art Museum celebrates the holidays with music, art and more

  At the Concord Museum, “Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature” celebrates its 25thanniversary November 25-January 3. Organized by the museum’s Guild of Volunteers as a benefit for its education initiatives, the time-honored tradition features several dozen trees, each thematically decorated based on a children’s book. Some are contemporary and some are classic, but each is beautiful and timely.

  Closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the trees are on view seven days a week, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., but only by pre-reserved timed tickets available at www.concordmuseum.org. The timed ticket ensures that occupancy levels remain low for comfort and safety. Visitors are asked to wear masks and keep a 6-foot social distance.

  Special events include art-making with honorary chair Nicole Tadgell, an award-winning illustrator on December. It is free and live-streamed but advance registration is required at the website. A virtual weekend with some of the accomplished authors and illustrators whose books are featured takes place December 11-13. You can watch videos, read stories and do art all weekend long. Free but registration is required at www.concordmuseum.org

  Museum benefit admission is $15 adult; $10 senior: $6 child (ages 5-18). Members are free.

  The Worcester Art Museum gets merry and bright for the holidays and celebrates on Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from November 27-January 3. Featured are new, artful decorations inspired by the WAM collection and by Worcester’s past and present, including a Worcester Heroes tree with ornaments made by community partners. The trees are designed and decorated by Sally Jablonski of Herbert E. Berg Florist. Admission is by timed ticket only.

  Other festive programming for kids and adults takes place through the season, including music on Sundays, December 6 and 20. There will also a virtual Hanukkah celebration, ice art and a puppet show. 

  The museum shop is open December 1-24 for gift-giving needs, but a reservation, obtained online, is required to visit the shop if don’t already have tickets for the galleries. 

  Tickets are $18 adults; $14 seniors and students with current ID; free for members and children 17 and under. Visit www.worcesterart.org/events.

Gallery notes  

MUSEUM HONORED: Concord Museum’s new virtual exhibit “The Shot Heard Round the World” has been recognized by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission as an expression of the America 250 vision to inspire the American spirit. America 250 is the multiyear initiative leading to the 250thanniversary of American independence in 2026. The microsite of the virtual exhibit can be found at www.shotheardroundworld.org.

 Z NOTES: Gallery Z, 167 Market Street, features Donna Howard’s colorful, whimsical floral paintings in its main gallery show “The Summer That Wasn’t.”  In addition, the gallery is holding its Basket Full’o Art raffle of 6 art-filled baskets. Included are a gift card to the café, various art from co-op artists and a personalized travel mug. Tickets are $10 each. Visit www.galleryzartistcoop.com for info.

Tom Gill

ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Tom Gill, a well-known New England artist with roots in Lowell and Chelmsford, is the first Artist of the Month at the Whistler House Museum of Art.  Gill was also a rock musician in the ‘80s and developed his own unique style of painting. “I feel like I’m making music when I’m painting — and that’s why there’s rhythm in my paintings,” he says. The result is always loose and impressive with harmonious colors that interplay with light. Gill is a valued member of the Lowell Art Association. His painting are available for purchase and may be viewed online at www.whistlerhouse.org. For info on participating in the Artist of the Month program, contact sbogosian@whistlerhouse.org.

MAKING ART: Claire Gagnon is offering several two- or three-week painting classes in December, either on-line or in her studio in the Brush Gallery, 256 Market St., Lowell. They include drawing/acrylic painting and watercolor painting. Contact her at claire@chezclaireartschool.com or call at 617-901-3873 for details…Colleen Sgroi just started an on-line watercolor class this week that runs for four weeks. Visit her website at www.colleensgroi.com for info.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net

Improv legends bring laughs to Tsongas Center

Posted on November 17, 2020 by Leave a comment

The Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell returns to live entertainment — or some semblance of it — with an all-new comedy experience with improv legends Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood for audiences to enjoy at home via Zoom.

  Mochrie and Sherwood, famous for appearing on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 

Streaming live in November and December, with tickets available at the Tsongas Center.

the British and American improv TV show, deliver their indelible humor in the all-new live improv show “Stream of Consciousness.” It will stream directly to at-home audiences for five performances beginning November 21 through December 19. 

  The truly interactive hour is fueled entirely by audience suggestions, leaving Mochrie and Sherwood to rely only on their wits and intuition. Hilarity and irreverent humor are sure to bubble up as the duo work to captivate audiences with their whip smart senses of humor and off-the-cuff comedic brilliance. 

 Passes to access the live-streaming event are $35, plus applicable service fees per device. They are on sale now at www.TsongasCenter.com. Capacity will be kept to a minimum, with only 170 passes available per performance. Each ticket allows viewing on one device, so you can choose to enjoy the show solo or share the fun with friends.

  The show is produced by Mills Entertainment, whose other current projects include “The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical” and the comedy “Scary Mommy Live.” Visit www.millsentertainment.comfor details.

  In the wings

‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’: Scrooge, Tiny Tim and Marley’s ghost come alive in a special filmed version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” this holiday season. Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company is one of a group of theatres across the country who will present the production that will be available for streaming from November 28-January 3. The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to new life as Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays (“I Am My Own Wife,” “Oslo” and “A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder” on Broadway) plays over 50 roles in a virtuosic master class of a performance. Broadway director Michael Arden directs the production that was staged exclusively for this film and captured live at New York’s United Palace. It is based on the acclaimed 2018 production that made its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse. “A Christmas Carol” was Mays’ first experience of living theatre. “My mother and father would read it out loud every year,” he recalls. “My father would tell the story with clarity and humanity, while my mother, eyes ablaze, would transform into the characters, from the tortured Jacob Marley, to little Fan and the entire Cratchit family. Both, in their ways, created magic. And now, here we are, aspiring to bring this magic to people across the country during this challenging time.” Tickets are $50 per household, with select discounts for students and others, and are available online at www.huntingtontheatre.org/christmas-carol or call 617-266-0800. At least $20 per full price ticket will benefit the Huntington. Closed-captioning will be available. Ticket buyers will receive an email from the streaming company On the Stage with a viewing link. Beginning November 28 at 9 p.m. through January 3, viewers will have 24 hours to watch the performance once the link has been activated. The performance can be watched on any device or cast to a television. 

Jefferson Mays in “A Christmas Carol”

Playbill.com guide to holiday favorite

MORE HOLIDAY ENTERTAINMENT: Theatre folks have gotten creative this holiday season, offering dozens of favorites via streaming so audiences can get their dose of the Grinch, the Nutcracker, Scrooge and more from the comfort and safety of their living rooms. Check out Playbill.com’s guide to streamed holiday shows at https://www.playbill.com/article/2020-holiday-streaming-guide-christmas-on-the-square-dr-seuss-the-grinch-musical-jingle-jangle-more.

A GIFT OF THEATRE: Gifting season is here and theatre companies are offering special deals for the holidays. At Seacoast Repertory Theatre in Portsmouth, N.H., those purchasing a subscription, from now until December 31, receive 25 percent off of tickets, no ticketing fees and one free ticket to any Sol Series Mainstage, Teen Mainstage or Red Light Mainstage production. The lineup of shows includes “Winter Wonderettes,” November 27-December 19; “Stokely & Martin/Nevaeh’s Brother,” January 28-March 21; “Next to Normal,” February 4-March 20; “The Fantasticks,” February 11-March 28; “Fun Home,” April 8-May 28; “Godspell,” April 15-May 30; “Pippin,” June 10-July 18; “Cabaret,” July 22-September 5; a TBA musical, September 23-October 23; “Peter Pan,” November 18-December 23; and “The Little Prince,” December 15-30. You can purchase tickets for in-person or live-stream performances. Visit www.seacoastrep.org for details.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net

Hip-hop holiday fun at Hanover

Posted on November 12, 2020 by Leave a comment

Heat the cocoa, snuggle under a blanket and celebrate the holidays with cozy entertainment at home this year.

  For some, it’s not the holidays without “The Nutcracker.” But how about a mash-up of the classic for the whole family?  Tickets are on sale now for “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” being streamed by Worcester’s Hanover Theatre on Saturday, December 19 at 7 p.m. The show is a contemporary dance spectacle set to E.T.A. Hoffman’s beloved story. 

  Critics have praised it as “a crowd-pleasing and uplifting saga” that “turns Tchaikovsky on his head, in the coolest possible way.”  

  Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, the show was recorded live at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. It’s a contemporary dance spectacle set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. 

  A unique and joyful event, the evening-length production is performed by a supercharged cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a D.J., a violinist and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set.

  Just like the original, in “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince go on a dream adventure, battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets and learning the lessons of the holiday season.

  Innovative digital graffiti and visuals transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffman’s beloved story from traditional 19th-century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of contemporary New York City.

  The re-mixed, re-imagined version of the classic takes the audience on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season. 

  Tickets are $20 for general admission and $50 for VIP packages, which gives viewers a 48-hour window to watch, after the scheduled time, and access to a post-show conversation with the show’s creators. The post-show chat is live and starts approximately 85-minutes after the initial scheduled showtime. The VIP package also includes an autographed show poster. Tickets are available through Stellar Tickets at https://www.stellartickets.com/events/hhn-and-hanover-theatre/hip-hop-nutcracker-worcester.

   The Hanover is also offering $10 off any one package to the virtual “Jim Brickman: Comfort & Joy at Home Live” concert, being live-streamed on Friday, December 18 at 7 p.m. The special limited time offer is valid through November 15 only and is not valid on previously purchased tickets. Use coupon code CJ10 when purchasing tickets at https://www.jimbrickman.com/worcester/.

In the wings

HE’S A MEAN ONE: Save the date for December 9. That’s when Tony nominee Matthew Morrison goes green for the holidays. The Broadway alum will star in “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical” on NBC at 8 p.m. Joining him on stage will be Tony winner Denis O’Hare as adult Max (the Grinch’s faithful dog), Booboo Stewart as young Max and Amelia Minto as Cindy-Lou Who. The musical is being filmed at the Troubadour Theatre in London. It’s been a popular holiday staple since it bowed on Broadway in 2006 and has played on tour regionally over the years, including at the Wang Theatre in Boston, where I saw (and enjoyed) it a couple of times. “The Grinch” follows in the footsteps of other NBC theatre presentations including “The Wiz,” “Hairspray” and the Emmy-winning “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

COME TO THE CABARET: Boston’s SpeakEasy Stage turns 30 this month with a special digital concert “Celebrating 30 Seasons of Groundbreaking Theatre,” premiering Thursday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. and streaming through Monday, November 23. Headliners include Broadway stars Miguel Cervantes (“Hamilton”) and De’Lon Grant (“Come from Away”), who have starred in SpeakEasy productions of “Bat Boy” and “The Scottsboro Boys.” Other alumni adding their voices include Leigh Barrett, Kerry A. Dowling and Kathy St. George. Grant is also the host and emcee. The line-up includes hit songs from such memorable productions as “The Color Purple,” “Next to Normal” and “Big Fish.” Music direction from Paul Katz and SpeakEasy founder/producing artistic director Paul Daigneault directs. Tickets start at $30 www.speakeasystage.com

LOWELL NOTES: Don’t forget the First Look tonight, Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. of Vichet Chum’s “Kween,” a work in progress at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell. Free but registration required at www.mrt.org/vichet.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net

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