MORE BLOGS: Off Message (News & Politics) | Bite Club (Food & Drink) | Stuck in Vermont (Videos)

Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


February 03, 2014

What I'm Watching: 'Heathers'

Teenage suicide. Don't do it.

One career ago, I was a professor of film studies. I gave that up to move to Vermont and write for Seven Days, but movies will always be my first love. In this feature, published occasionally here on Live Culture, I'll write about the films I'm currently watching, and connect them to film history and art.

When the fondly remembered cult film Heathers was released in 1988, I was only a year or two younger than its main characters, who are high school juniors and seniors. My friends and I loved it and talked about it often — especially when cable and dear old VHS gave us the chance to watch it again and again. And even though our own high school afforded us unlimited opportunities to observe the cruelty of the Popular Kids and the thoughtless acts engendered by cliquishness (the film’s chief satirical targets), I can say with certainty that, still, we didn’t fully “get” Heathers.

Continue reading "What I'm Watching: 'Heathers'" »

January 23, 2014

New Tunes: "Vermont Woman" by Dark Green Folk

For as long as there have been songs, there have been songs about women. Next to God, the fairer sex has probably inspired more music than any other subject — maybe even more since the dawn of pop music.

But for all the songs about California girls, northern California girls, girls from the North Country, barroom girls, my girl, girls who just wanna have fun and honky-tonk women, precious few tunes have been penned specifically about our personal favorite kind of ladies: Vermont women.

Local songwriter Josh Schlossberg, who performs under the pseudonym Dark Green Folk, has attempted to rectify that egregious oversight with a new song called simply "Vermont Woman." DGF tends toward humorous tunes, and his latest is no exception, as he touches on just about every Vermont-y cliché there is, affectionately painting a portrait of a crass, crafty and crunchy Green Mountain woman who might seem familiar to anyone who's lived in Vermont for a while. (In fact, I think I may have dated her.)

Here's Schlossberg performing the song recently at Radio Bean, with full lyrics after the jump.


Continue reading "New Tunes: "Vermont Woman" by Dark Green Folk" »

December 18, 2013

'Curves in the Capital' Brings Holiday Heat to Montpelier

Fishnets1Here's something to help you shake off the shivers. Green Mountain Cabaret is performing tonight at Montpelier's Lost Nation Theater in a one-night-only, 21+ burlesque show. And if you don't feel like shaking — or shimmying — Alexa Luthor and Her Sugar Shakers will do it for you. And then some.

Formerly living in Chicago, Luthor returned to her native Vermont a couple years back and brought professional burlesque along with her, not to mention her husband, MC Leif Peepers. Since then, she's trained other dancers in the North Country, some of whom will be entertaining central Vermont hippies, er, Montpelierites tonight — Trixie Hawke Siouxsie Chrisse, Aeshna Mairead, Swizzle Schtick and Merrique Hysteric.

And if any readers are expecting, I strongly suggest you consider one of these names for your impending child.

LNT actually said in a press release that Green Mountain Cabaret is "Ass-tronomically talented," so what more do you need to know? Except that tickets are $15 and the show starts at 8 p.m. tonight and you can only go if you are 21 or older.

Photo by Matthew Thorsen accompanied a story about Luthor in February, which you can read here.

November 08, 2013

When the Ogre Met the Princess: 'Shrek' at Town Hall Theater

ShrekMike Meyers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy are hard acts to follow, but that hasn't stopped any number of contenders from taking on the roles of the grumpy green ogre Shrek, the demanding Princess Fiona and a nonstop-talking Donkey  in Shrek the Musical.

In the production that launched last night at Middlebury's Town Hall Theater, they are Leigh Guptill, Kim Anderson and Justin Bouvier, respectively (pictured right).

THT's newest resident company, called, um, the Company, is tackling the stage-musical version of the Oscar-winning 2001 DreamWorks movie. The Hollywood actors named above lent their voices only to the animated characters. Onstage the actors are, of course, human. With silly costumes. I can't tell you who plays the Gingerbread Man or the Mirror or the evil Lord Farquaad. You'll have to go and see for yourself.

What I can tell you is that Shrek the Musical has proven popular nationwide, revealing the country's belief in magic, love and happily-ever-after despite all indicators to the contrary.

Shrek the Musical, staged by the Company, Thursday to Sunday through November 17, Town Hall Theater, Middlebury. $23/18. 



November 07, 2013

Better Late Than Never, the Burlington Fringe Festival Is Back

Andy Gordon called it a "big mix of whatever" last year. But that minimalist description from one of the actors in Potato Sack Pants Theater certainly didn't augur the three-night variety show that was Burlington's Fringe Festival in August 2012. Tonight at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts, the Fringe returns at last.

As it happens, Potato Sack isn't performing this year, but 18 other acts are. And did I mention variety? The performers include stand-up comedians, dancers, musicians and theater artists of serious and silly sorts. Or, as John Alexander puts it, from "drama to madcap craziness."

Each of the three nights will have a different MC, explains Alexander, the Off Center cofounder. Mastering the ceremonies tonight is actor/playwright Seth Jarvis; Phinneus Sonin will be in charge on Friday, and Kim Jordan on Saturday. 

While the performers are not exactly juried, there is some quality control, Alexander suggests. But, he adds, "We want to give new people the chance to get out there. That's why Off Center was created."

Each act will have just 10 to 20 minutes onstage. And, judging by last year's shows, this one promises to be just as deliriously entertaining.

The shows start at 8 p.m. $15 at the door, or order online via the Off Center's website.


September 26, 2013

Joel Najman and His Beard Celebrate 30 Years on VPR


Joel Najman
Joel Najman (and his beard)

Joel Najman has been the host and producer of the weekly rock-and-roll-history program "My Place" on Vermont Public Radio for 30 years. That's a remarkable accomplishment, one for which he was recently honored by the Vermont Legislature with a resolution congratulating him on his three decades spinning the classic (and not so classic) songs that compose the rich tapestry of our collective musical past — and more importantly, unearthing the stories behind them.

Najman's show is as much a celebration of early rock and roll as it is a history lesson, and it is entertaining and educational in equal measures.

The anniversary love for Najman continues this Saturday, September 28, as his esteemed employers are throwing a celebratory sock hop called VPR A Go-Go, a 1960s-themed dance party at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury.

The party will feature prizes for the best '60s hairdo, a Twister competition and go-go dancers. It will also, of course, feature the host with the most himself, Joel Najman, spinning the platters that matter. Oh, and Najman's beard. His totally awesome beard.

In anticipation of that party — and because we profiled Najman for his 25th anniversary — we recently got in touch with Najman's incredible Rip van Winkle and asked for its thoughts on 30 years behind the mic. Here's what Najman's typically silent partner had to say.   

SEVEN DAYS: 30 years. Wow. What are your thoughts about three decades in the biz?

JOEL NAJMAN'S BEARD: Well, it's certainly been a hairy ride. But I like to think there's been a lot of growth, too.

Continue reading "Joel Najman and His Beard Celebrate 30 Years on VPR" »

May 15, 2013

Spark Improv Troupe Riffs Seven Days

In honor of our inaugural comedy issue, we asked the funny folks at the Spark Improv Troupe to make fun of … well, us. So they did! Here's what happens when the improv comedians play a game using only the words Seven Days as a prompt.


May 06, 2013

Monday's Child: Potato Sack Pants Back in Action, With Baby

Hagfest3Spotted this weekend on the Church Street Marketplace: Meredith and Andy Gordon, in from Underhill and having a romantic dinner of sandwiches outside the Red Onion.

The Gordons are the married twosome of the sextet that make up Burlington's sketch-comedy troupe Potato Sack Pants Theater. Since last September, Meredith and Andy have also been parental units — to Henry Allen Gordon. And now that the little tyke is almost 8 months, his mom and dad and their zany friends are exploiting him, er, staging a performance in his name: HAG Fest 2013.

Billed as an "artist market and sketch comedy," HAG Fest will be held at — where else? — the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts next week for two nights, May 17 and 18.

The Gordons were sans child for their outing on Saturday for said romantic dinner; apparently they'd left him safely at home in a dresser drawer. Totally kidding!

But I've seen numerous photos of young Henry on Facebook, and he sure is cute. Given his genetic profile, he is probably also hilarious. I sure hope so, because otherwise his parents are going to be highly embarrassing in about 13 years.

When Meredith mentioned the upcoming show, I suggested it might be nice to announce it so that, you know, someone would show up to see them. Hence I received the poster at right.

HAG fest is not part of Burlington's five-day  Green Mountain Comedy Festival, which doesn't start until May 22. But there's no such thing as too many laughs, right? Right?

If you've never seen Potato Sack Pants Theater — which also includes Stetson Ward, Erin St. Cyr, Chad Hayden and Kelsi Goodall — you could read my 2011 story about them here. Tix here.  

May 03, 2013

Harry Bliss Infiltrates the 'I Can Read' Set

936960_10152968881510001_767115212_nNo grass growing on Harry Bliss. The Burlington-based cartoonist and illustrator has a brand-new, teacher-approved kids' book, Diary of a Worm.

Says Bliss on his Facebook page:

"All my life I wanted to have an 'I Can Read' book...and now I do. It's ironic, because I suck at reading..."

Written by Doreen Cronin, Bliss' partner on other children's books, Worm has a companion — or is it a sequel? — Diary of a Spider.

For someone who claims to just look at the pictures, Bliss does all right with writing, too. He's penned the children's books Bailey, about a charming and surprisingly talented dog, and Luke on the Loose, as well as the adult cartoon collection, Death by Laughter.

And then there are Bliss' very grown-up cartoons, which appear weekly in Seven Days and occasionally in the New Yorker. The magazine has also published more than 15 Bliss cover illustrations.

Can't get enough Bliss? Check the website for his cartoon of the day.

April 22, 2013

Monday's Child: Hangin' With Richard Sher of 'Says You!'

Sher2Well, I didn't exactly hang out with Richard Sher, host of the public-radio show "Says You!" But he and his cast of panelists were guests at a reception put on by Vermont Public Radio in Stowe last Saturday, and so was I. And though I'd had no idea what Sher looked like prior to this night, I recognized his voice immediately.

An interesting connection of dots happens when you meet someone you've known only through one modality, whether voice or written word (email, newspapers, books, etc). It's like little cognitive pieces fall into place, correcting misperceptions you didn't even know you had.

I'm not sure I'd given much thought to what Sher looked like, to be honest, but I've listened to him and his panelists many times — I'm often in my kitchen cooking dinner when VPR broadcasts his show on Sundays at 6. Sher has a slightly mournful, soulful face, with big, expressive eyes. (That's him in the photo here, with VPR president and CEO Robin Turnau). In person he's warm, down-to-earth, unpretentious and witty. As we were about to witness, he — and his panelists — are even funnier in action. Or what passes for action on the radio.

Sher and crew were in Stowe for a live taping of their show at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center. My friend and I arrived a tad late, having started the evening at an art opening down the road at the West Branch Gallery. After making our way from the bone-chillingly windy parking lot through the maze that is Spruce Peak, we got to the reception with enough time to down a glass of wine and a couple hors d'oeuvres, rub shoulders with some VPR peeps and meet Sher. Then it was time to retrace our steps back to the resort's beautiful theater (and if you haven't been there yet, check out the performing arts and film season here).

"Says You!" is a show about words — or, as its tag line helpfully specifies, "a game of words and whimsy, bluff and bluster" — played/performed before a live audience. From what I could glean on the "Says You!" website, it's taped about half the time at home in Boston and the other half at venues around the country. The nationally broadcast show has a lot of fans, including in Vermont: Saturday's event (which recorded two shows) at Stowe was sold out, as was the one in Bellows Falls on Sunday (ditto). My friend and I were lucky enough to get front-row seats, right next to VPR's Turnau.

Continue reading "Monday's Child: Hangin' With Richard Sher of 'Says You!'" »

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684