Arts Festival Events Begin This Weekend

Carol Collins's artist creation “Newtown, Express Your Love” was selected this past spring to be the iconic image for the 2013 Newtown Arts Festival. 

Calling her play O Heavy Lightness “intense,” actress and playwright Newtown resident Jan Neuberger recalls that it was her passion for Shakespeare that led her to imagine the aftermath of the deaths of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as experienced by two of that iconic tragedy’s secondary characters. The play will receive a reading on Monday, September 16, at 7 pm, in The Alexandria Room of Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street in Newtown. 

The event is part of seven days of programs that will lead into the 2nd Annual Newtown Arts Festival, September 21-22 at Fairfield Hills.

Admission to the play reading event is free; registration is greatly appreciated; visit www.newtownartsfestival.com to register.

The audience is invited to join the author, director and cast in a post-performance Q&A.

The play’s language echoes closely the Elizabethan idiom in which Shakespeare and his contemporaries spoke and wrote.

“I used the Shakespeare concordance for every word,” Ms Neuberger noted.

The play is set one year to the day after the suicides of the young lovers, and it reflects the interaction between Juliet’s nurse and Lord Montague, Romeo’s father, an unlikely encounter because of their differing class and family alliance.

Ms Neuberger has recruited colleague Brian Feehan to direct the cast of three (a young servant girl figures in the action as well).  Accomplished classical actress Shakespearean actress Jean Tafler will play the Nurse and Robert Resnikoff, a veteran of Stray Kats Production, takes on the role of Montague. Newtown resident Caroline McArdle, currently a senior at the Wooster School and already a Shakespeare veteran, will bring servant girl Nell to life.

Ms Neuberger is a veteran of Broadway and regional theater. She recently fulfilled a lifelong goal by receiving her bachelor’s degree in English from Trinity College.


Elaris Duo, Mr Cello Stories

“Larisa and I are very excited that we will be coming to Newtown and performing for your community,” Dr Steven Elisha of the Elaris Duo said of the upcoming concert on Wednesday, September 18, at 7 pm, at Newtown Meeting House.

There is no charge for the event, which is also part of the special programming leading up to the weekend arts festival. Reservations are requested, however, and can be done through the festival website.

Dr Elisha and his wife, the acclaimed violinist Larisa Elisha, are each internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians and teachers. Together they offer electrifying performances and consummate artistry, delighting audiences wherever they have performed.

“Their performances of the Brahms double concerto for violin and cello was revelatory…the Elaris Duo presented a unanimity of phrasing and tonal projection that was stunning in its conception and execution. The synchronicity of the unison passages alone was a marvel,” said one reviewer.

In addition to the formal performance at the meeting house, Dr Elisha will be performing Mr Cello Stories on Saturday morning during the arts festival.

Created by Dr Elisha, Mr Cello Stories is designed for audiences of all ages and abilities, from exceptional to special needs, combining music appreciation & performance, story-telling and creative interplay with the audience. This program begins by exploring how sound is created on the cello, highlighted by a short musical performance demonstrating the beauty and unique qualities of the cello, while introducing musical masterpieces. 


Inaugural Rooster Ball

Friday, September 20, will be Newtown’s inaugural Rooster Ball, a dinner-dance to be held under the Music Tent on the Newtown Arts Festival grounds, from 7 to 11 pm.

This will be the time, say organizers,  to “flaunt your feathery finery” (or just celebratory clothes). Guests will enjoy cocktails, dinner, and dancing to the music of Eugene Dobb’s Nu Cullers band with catering by Walsh Catering of Danbury.

Eugene Dobbs’ Nu Cullers Band, which features three of the most talented front-line entertainers/vocalists in the region and is considered one of the most diverse high energy dance band in the Northeast, will be leading the musical charge. From Motown to soul, funk to jazz, reggae to rock, country to pop, and current Top 40 hits, Nu Cullers offers a high-energy show with something for all.

The band has performed as opening acts for Chaka Khan, Cameo, Wilson Pickett, Tower of Power, War, Billy Preston, Chuck Berry and Sister Sledge, among others.

Tickets for the Rooster Ball are $65, with tables of eight also available for reservations. Reservations can be done online, through the festival’s website.


Seven Days Of Programs

A Children’s Art Party at Newtown Youth Academy on Sunday, September 15, will be the kick-off event for six days of programming that will lead into the 2nd Annual Newtown Arts Festival.

The children’s art party will offer music and magic and therapy dogs and jugglers and coloring and drumming and crafts. It will be at Newtown Youth Academy, 4 Primrose Street. The party will run from 1 to 4 pm.

The party will feature Magician Al Garber, who New York Magazine says can make a child levitate while keeping up banter that results in gales of laughter; My Dad’s Truck, an acoustic musical trio, playing Americana and pop music with some contemporary pieces thrown in; Newtown Juggling & Circus Arts Club will be there to keep everything in the air, and everyone will be invited to paint pumpkins, make bracelets and practice coloring. Children who create illustrations on Sunday will have the option of taking their artwork home with them, or leaving them with organizers of the art festival to be used to decorate the coloring contest tent the following weekend at Fairfield Hills.

My Circles of love will be there with their hoops and drums and shaker craft. And through it all, Therapy Dogs International will have their dogs there to share the joy.

Admission is free but like other events, registration is requested and can be done online.

On Tuesday, September 17, there will be a screening of Youth, a short dramedy about being a teenager in the suburbs, conceived and executed by Newtown High School student Max Galassi. It will be shown at 7 pm in The Great Room at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street.

A special benefit concert, “Broadway Sings for Newtown” will be performed on Thursday, September 19, at 7 pm, at Walnut Hill Community Church, 156 Walnut Hill Road in Bethel.

All tickets are $35 general admission and are available at NewtownArtsFestival.com.

A cast of Broadway stars will take to the stage and perform two acts of music with such favorites as “Ring Them Bells,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “You Raise Me Up,” among others. Performers will include Mark McVey, Jeri Sager, Danny Zolli, Gary Mauer, Elizabeth Southard and Kate Schindle. Thirty talented students from Sabrina Encore’s Productions will round out the cast.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit HealingNewtown.com, a workshop and presentation space sponsored by Newtown Cultural Arts Commission.

The arts festival on September 21–22 will feature more than 80 artists in the Artists’ Market, offering a variety of items including painting, jewelry, woodwork, glasswork, sculpture, and more. Returning artists this year will include Ethan Currier of Sticks and Stones farm, who created the dancing children sculptures that were the centerpiece of the grounds last year.

Two full days of music will be performed in the Music Tent with well-known  local and regional bands on the roster including Boplicity, The Mark Rae Trio, The Skanktones, Goldrush Band, Peter Ferreira, OutFunked, My Dad’s Truck, Otis & the Hurricanes, and The Jay Willie Band. A special comedy performance by Newtown’s Flagpole Radio Café will take place on Saturday.

In addition, the festival will offer two days of dance recitals and demonstrations in the Dance Pavilion, literary presentations and discussions organized by the Newtowner Magazine in the Lecture Hall, arts & crafts for all ages in the Make & Take Tent, and quilting, looming and knitting in the Fiber Arts Tent.

Newtown International Center for Education (NICE) will return with programs on various cultures and languages.

The  Sandy Hook-based knitting club Cosmic Knittas will “yarn bomb” the festival. The Flagpole Photographers will have an installation in Newtown Municipal Center.

Members of Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue will host the second annual coloring contest on Saturday, and members of Newtown’s CERT team will host the coloring contest on Sunday.

Surprise street performances and activities will also take place during the two days.

More than a dozen food vendors will provide refreshments  including Aurora’s Café, Billy’s Barbecue, Biscotti etc, Ferris Acres Creamery, Nick’s Restaurant and Catering, Odeens Barbecue, Romy’s BBQ, Weenie Lynn’s, and Newtown Hook & Ladder.

Specific dates and times for all musical acts, performances and demonstrations for the festival weekend are all available online at NewtownArtsFestival.com.

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