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Light and Bright: Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker full of joy and hope

Festival Ballet: Kobe Atwood Courtney as The Nutcracker.
(Photo: Liza Voll)

Festival Ballet Providence has reimagined its annual production of The Nutcracker, and the results will be the start of a delightful holiday tradition for families in southern New England. This production was given its world premiere at the show’s new home stage, the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

The last few years have seen numerous disruptions and changes to Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker.  Costumes were stolen in 2016. Festival’s “Nutcracker Dog” Archie retired after 19 years on stage. COVID in 2020 led to the entire production being abbreviated and streamed online. Treating all this uncertainty behind the curtain as an opportunity, Festival Ballet Providence Director Kathleen Breen Combes and Artistic Curator Yury Yanowsky decided to revamp the entire show with new costumes, new sets, and new choreography.

Festival opens their new version with Herr Drosselmeyer in his workshop building the titular nutcracker and sprinkling the toy with magic. The story then moves to Clara, a young girl, on the night of her family’s Christmas party. Herr Drosselmeyer, who is a family friend and magician, comes to the party and delights both young and old with his mechanical marvels and wonderful gifts. The nutcracker is gifted to Clara and, after the party is over, she sneaks down from her bedroom and falls asleep on a sofa by the tree.

Festival Ballet: Mamuka Kikalishvili and Eugenia Zinovieva as Snow King and Queen. (Photo: Liza Voll)

Suddenly, Clara shrinks down to the size of her nutcracker doll and the room is filled with giant mice and rats. A battle begins, with the nutcracker fighting the Rat King and his minions. Festival’s 2021 battle is filled with fun and humor as combatants launch food at each other and the wounded are removed by an efficient rodent medical corps. Just when it looks as if the nutcracker might be defeated, Clara saves the day and distracts the Rat King allowing the nutcracker a chance to overcome his foe. The overly-dramatic death of the Rat King made his passing more humorous than scary. The nutcracker transforms into a handsome young prince and takes Clara away from her home to an enchanted snow-swept forest where they are welcomed by the Snow King and Queen who provide Clara with gifts fit for a princess, ending the first act.    

The second act takes place in the Land of Sweets where various characters dance and perform for the nutcracker-turned-prince and his companion Clara. These dances include cultural homages to Russia, Spain, Arabia, and China; Festival put time and effort into making all the dances show off these cultures in a dignified manner. The Chinese “Tea” dance especially has been reimagined with support from the Chinese community. The Sugar Plum Fairy (one of the sweets) and her partner dance a grand pas de deux displaying great strength and control throughout.

New to Providence’s production is the inclusion of Mother Ginger, a giant gingerbread house bursting with young dancers; the athletic prowess of some of the little dancers stole the show. The production doesn’t just have children in it as a gimmick: they are integral to the cast,  well employed as guests at the party, snowflakes in the winter, and propelling Clara and her Prince through the Land of Sweets.

Festival Ballet: Nina Yoshida and Kobe Atwood Courtney as Snow Queen and King.
(Photo: Liza Voll)

Festival’s Clara was played by teenager Charlotte Seymour at the December 19 performance reviewed. Using a younger dancer means that the Act I pas de deux sometimes performed by Clara is given to adult dancers. The strength of Seymour’s dancing and her delight in the role shine through, making it easy for all the aspiring ballerinas in the audience to believe in Clara’s adventures, wondering with her about what was real and what was imagined.  

Kobe Atwood Courtney danced the role of the nutcracker with powerful jumps and strong acting skills. In Act II he entertainingly relives, in pantomime, the adventures of the battle against the rodents and joins in the Russian Trepak dance.

Herr Drosselmeyer is often portrayed as mysterious or frightening, but in this production he is more of a “fun uncle” creating an opportunity for adventure. Unlike in many productions,  Drosselmeyer is a presence throughout Act II as he occasionally guides the couple, watching dances as he stands protectively nearby. Drosselmeyer’s final action is in the show’s penultimate moments to set things all back in order.

Much traditional Christmas fare is, in truth, rather depressing, almost like watching a television marathon of Little House on the Prairie, making you plod through four acts of unhappiness for the payoff in the final few minutes. This production is happy and joyful from curtain to curtain, making it a perfect diversion in uncertain times. It’s refreshing to see a show that can be readily appreciated and enjoyed by adults and children of any age. Light and bright, Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker is filled with youth and hope, a timeless tale made more fitting for our time.

The Nutcracker performed by Festival Ballet Providence, https://festivalballetprovidence.org/2021-2022-season/the-nutcracker/, at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. 1 Avenue of the Arts, PVD. Tickets: https://www.thevetsri.com/events/detail/the-nutcracker-21 or telephone (401)421-ARTS (2787).  Through Dec 26, 2021. Run time 115 minutes. Handicap accessible. COVID protocols in effect: proof of vaccination required for age 12 and up, masks required for age 2 and up.

Festival Ballet: Mamuka Kikalishvili as The Nutcracker, Joshua Tuason as Mother Ginger, Charlotte Seymour as Clara, and Students of Festival Ballet Providence School as Polichinelles.



DEVIL’s NIGHT at Dusk: A Stripped Up Costume Party

It’s the Eve of All Hallows Eve, and the fires of Devil’s Night will be roaring bright at club Dusk for the first ever BURLESQUE N’ ROLL! This two-stage indoor/outdoor carn-evil event will feature bloodcurdling bands and burlesque dancers.  

Getting mummified up for the night could “payoff” for a few lucky winners of the costume contest. Instead of a popularity vote (or graveyard groans), the secret judges will be lurking through the creepy crowd scoring the Grim and the Glamorous. Cash prizes will be awarded for Most Creative, Scariest and Funniest costumes. It might be the only time you would be willing to give your name to a stranger, just don’t pledge your soul.

A myriad of macabre music will pollute the air of the concrete cemetery. Haunting the outdoor stage, scream and dance away to The Hammer Party, Midnight Creeps, Gamma Rage, Video Shoppe, and the 20th anniversary reunion of White Mice! At a ghoulish gathering such as this, you never know which other special apparitions will make an appearance.

In between the beats, be mesmerized by the theatrical performances of Bettysioux Taylor, Maiden X, Hades Ivory, Bonanza Jellybean, Shirley MacSlain, Seiana Barbato, the talented tandem of Cabaret Sauvignon. Be sure to put some monetary treats in the bucket, or you might get tricked!

As the temperature cools down, things will heat up with the fire performances of Amanda Salemi and head-promoter Gogo Riot.  “We haven’t seen this done before on such a scale,” said Gogo Riot. “I would like to thank CHIFFEROBE and Double ‘B’ Burlesque.”

While the kids celebrate on Sunday, the adults will play on Saturday!

Burlesque n’ Roll, Saturday, October 30. The gates to hell open at 7pm, but your souls must be at least 21+. You’ll have to pay the ferryman $20 to crossover, and don’t forget to bring all the single dollars to tip the devilish dancers.  Dusk, 301 Harris Ave. in Providence




Um, They’re Called Graphic Novels

Grab your hot glue gun, your airbrush and your makeup kit and start figuring out your best side. It’s Comic Con time! After cancelling last year’s event to prevent Contagion from becoming a reality (nice try!), RI Comic Con makes its triumphant return, November 5 – 7 at the Dunkin Donuts Center (hey — are they gonna drop the donuts from their name, too?) and the RI Convention Center.

Celebrities who will attend are still being announced, but you can count on the

Greatest.

Starship captain.

Of all time.

to appear, as well as more wrestlers than you can throw a chair at, the kids from “Stranger Things” and, making their triumphant return to the con circuit, Wally and the Beav! Also in attendance and ratcheting up the tension in the main hall will be not just the cast from The Karate Kid, but the cast of Cobra Kai. We want to see them sweep the leg to determine who’s the best! Arou-hound! And pay attention, those of you who started to grow hair down there in the ’90s — “Home Improvement” Tool Girl Debbe Dunning will be signing autographs all weekend long.

For tickets, an updated list of celebrity guests and more information, go to ricomiccon.com, and watch this space as Motif counts down to fall’s best weekend ever.




A Whole Bucket of Fun: The Pawtucket Arts Festival brings two weekends of arts programming to the state

Twenty-three years ago, the Pawtucket Arts Festival was just a small arts fair that allowed vendors to set up shop and sell their art. This year, festival director Anthony Ambrosino and his team have pulled out all the stops. 

The festival, which is presented by the Pawtucket Teachers Alliance, The Pawtucket Times and the City of Pawtucket, will take place over the weekends of September 10 and September 19. 

Ambrosino, who became the festival’s director in 2019 when Eastern Equine Encephalitis was prevalent, says he believes the festival has minimal COVID-19 risk because it is all outdoors.

“I was more scared last year than this year,” he says. “ Everything is outdoors, so really the only worry is weather. People are desperate for things to do that are safe and get them out of their house, and we hope to provide that.” 

The free arts festival offers an eclectic itinerary of food, dance, music, painting, yoga and more. 

“We try to stretch that art definition as much as we can,” Ambrosino explains. 

Ten restaurants will compete for the title of best empanada, with festival goers as judges, and the festival has teamed up with Pawtucket Central Falls restaurant weeks to get people out to support local restaurants. 

Tree Yoga Studio will offer yoga; art studios and galleries will be open and interactive craft events also will be offered. There will be sculptures on site and live music performances throughout the event. For the little ones, there will be face painting, bouncy houses and more during the family fun day. 

The festival’s headlining attraction is Plein Air Pawtucket (see sidebar). En plein air painting refers to the practice of painting outside. For this event, 12 renowned artists will set up their canvases around the Blackstone River so that viewers can watch them paint live. “It speaks to what we’re trying to do with the festival, which is create art outdoors,” says Ambrosino. The artists will sit before Pawtucket’s landmarks and breathtaking skylines, and capture them on canvas in what promises to be an awe-inspiring experience for all those watching. 

The Rhode Island Philharmonic returns, bringing with them a sense of long-standing tradition.

“I hope to stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and bring the festival in the direction it needs now,” he says. Asking the Philharmonic to perform was important both because bringing tradition to the festival is a priority and, “it’s a celebration of a partnership that benefits our youth.” The Philharmonic has partnered with The Pawtucket Teachers Alliance for some time now, hosting many programs with Pawtucket schools.

With the world seeming a bit grey these days, it’s important to provide people with a colorful escape, though Ambrosino believes art is inescapable in our day-to-day lives.

“The arts are imperative,” he says. “Everything from song to storytelling to any kind of artistic expression goes back to the cavemen. The definition is so broad. From the design of your coffee cup to the Netflix show you are watching, art really is everywhere.” 

The Pawtucket Arts Festival takes place Sept 10 – 19. For more information, go to pawtucketartsfestival.org. 




Keeping Creativity Alive: What Cheer Writers Club marks their reopening after a year of virtual programming

Much like the rest of the world, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, What Cheer Writers Club was struggling with how to take their coworking space – made for writers and illustrators as well as other creatives – and bring it to their patrons. 

Jillian Winters, What Cheer’s general manager, said, “Having an online community was something we always wanted to do. We service or serve across Rhode Island, and not everyone can always come to the coworking space.” And so they went online. 

“I think the driving force was making sure people had the opportunity,” Winters continues. They cite the pandemic as a reason to make sure that the club members were able to connect in the time of isolation. Winters even joked that handling the pandemic was a little easier for introverts and writers, since they’re used to working alone and sometimes thrive on it.

During the pandemic, the club featured weekly coffee chat check-ins and brought local authors in to talk motivation and how they were using their time. Then in summer 2020, they started finding ways to safely engage the writing community with one in-person event and weekly online events. Though they were cautious to mention the dangers of Zoom fatigue, and how we’ve all felt it. The members of What Cheer Writers Club and the writing community helped the club thrive online. “Everyone is always so supportive and kind and willing to go along with our ideas and ways to keep the community connected,” said Jodie Vinson, program manager at the club. 

Winters and Vinson found that it was a success being online – and that more members than ever before were able to engage. The club has now reopened for the first time since March 2020. Members can book time for individual coworking, and safety has been at the forefront of the club’s mind, with new fans for ventilation, air purifiers and reduced capacity. 

On Thursday, August 5, at 7pm, as part of PVDFest, the club will host an open-air showcase called “Emergence” with The Avenue Concept and with support from the Providence Art and Tourism Council. It will be held in front of the “Adventure Time” mural, which will be painted over soon.

“We were feeling the impetus, this cultural moment, recognizing it as a moment of transition and wanting to give artists and writers and creatives a chance to reflect on that moment,” said Vinson. There will be 14 readers across genres, and it is open to the public, though reservations can be made through the club’s Eventbrite. 

“We see these moments in our culture and our times and want to give people an opportunity to reflect, and create stories and art and poetry,” Vinson continued. “Stepping forward and out at our own pace, we’re recognizing that moment.” 

What Cheer Writer’s Club lives in downtown Providence, but will remain hybrid for with events for writers, including weekly networking events. Membership is $10 a month, with free memberships for BIPOC creators.  www.whatcheerclub.org 




Walk it Off: A Pageant for Providence celebrates artists and offers opportunity for reflection

Providence is the star, stage and celebrated guest at the upcoming A Pageant for Providence, a COVID-safe performance-art walking tour taking place downtown. Taibi Magar, an acclaimed director, together with her life and professional partner, Tyler Dobrowsky, who served as associate artistic director at Trinity Repertory Company, created this project to celebrate the Providence community. They project provides space for people to reflect on the past year and offers an opportunity for healing as we move toward discovering what the new normal will be.

Pageant is a direct response to the pandemic. “It’s been a devastating year,” says Magar. “Our industry almost entirely collapsed. But out of this wreckage, we started doing work together, which has been pretty incredible.”

She describes the event. “It’s part ritual, it’s part performance. It’s more like a space for reflection and catharsis, and asking questions about how to be in space with each other again.”

“We have all gone through something,” adds Dobrowsky. “Let’s just have a moment to reflect on what we’ve gone through, to dream about what the future could hold. [Pageant is] very much built for this moment.”

The project, made possible by arts funds and a grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts, celebrates the creative vision of various artists, including writers, dancers and musicians. The event starts as a series of audio tours, each of which leads participants on a unique walking tour through the city. Participants may choose one of six possible tours, each with its own distinct audio experience that includes songs, stories and historical testimony. All six tours will convene at the Providence Rink in Kennedy Plaza where a short communal ceremony concludes the tour.

A Pageant for Providence takes place August 12-14 in Providence and is free to the public. For more info, visit PageantforProvidence.com.




Cancel Cancel Culture: WaterFire Eye-to-Eye speaker encouraged her audience to consider a different route to change

WaterFire recently hosted the latest in their Eye-to-Eye series of public lectures intended to inspire thoughtful conversations around timely social topics. The event was co-sponsored by Leadership Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Foundation and featured Loretta Ross, a professor from Smith College who came to discuss the topic of cancel culture. Her ]premise is that cancel culture within liberal circles actually hobbles liberal causes by directing dissent inward, alienating potential allies over distinctions of relatively little consequence and distracting from the larger, real issues that require cooperation and understanding to address. She discussed her own learning curve, from a full career spent in activism around issues of social justice and gender and race equity.

“For close to 20 years, my motivation for doing this work was anger, because I was angry, I was angry at the world and I wanted to make a difference by grabbing the world by the throat and choking it. I was not a turn the other cheek person — if you hit me, I’d lay you out on the ground.”

In the course of her activism, she became involved in a lot of outreach. “For years, I taught Black feminist theory to Black men incarcerated for raping women. I taught race history to incarcerated white supremacists. So I had to learn to find love for the people who only know hate.”

The only way, she found, to make progress and change minds was to embrace those who disagreed with her and show them a different way. Not exclude them. Not pile on them. What she sees happening now, especially online, forces people in the opposite direction. She mentioned the “Caste” podcast by journalist Isabel Wilkerson and one of its consistent themes: that you can’t change society, unless you are willing to take responsibility for it. That highlights a huge difference between blame and responsibility, which has guided her through the latter part of her career inciting change.

Essentially, she encouraged the audience not to worry about what they were fighting against in society. “Focus on what you are fighting FOR.” Despite the heavy subject matter, Ross had the audience laughing throughout her delightfully anecdotal and engaging talk, which was followed by a community conversation moderated by Sterling Clinton-Spellman.

This lecture was held at the WaterFire Arts Center amid their current “Eye to Eye” and “Witness” exhibitions of photographic art by Mary Beth Meehan and Jonathan Pitts-Wiley, which created a perfect backdrop. It is an exhibition that could truly only take place in a space with the scale of the Art Center’s stories-high main hall, a virtual airplane hanger of art. Meehan’s poignant portraits of diverse Rhode Island everymen and everywomen are well worth dropping by to see, and they complemented the large, engaged audience nicely, bearing silent witness to the discussion.

The series is ongoing; watch waterfire.org for updates and coming attractions.




FringePVD 2021: An opinionated list

FringePVD 2021, the annual festival of off-off-off-Broadway unjuried theater performances, running now through July 31, adopts a hybrid model with both live outdoor and online virtual performances. Coordinated by the Wilbury Group, all five of the live performance venues are in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence: Farm Fresh, ISCO, Nicholson File Art Studios, The Steel Yard and the WaterFire Arts Center. There are 23 live shows and 20 online shows, usually each performed more than once. Most shows have a ticket price of $5-$15, some are pay-what-you-can, and an all-access festival pass costs $95. I went through the list and chose a highly opinionated selection, which in the nature of Fringe is almost totally uninformed because I’ve seen only one of these shows before, emphasizing artists with local connections.

Live outdoor

Family Fringe, a totally free three-hour live event for all ages, will be at the WaterFire Arts Center, Sun, Jul 25, 3-6pm, featuring performances by Moonshadow Puppet Theatre, PVD World Music, Manton Avenue Project, and Woonasquatucket River rangers. No advance tickets are required for Family Fringe.

katxup, mantxup, batukada (at the WaterFire Arts Center Drive-In Stage: Sat, Jul 24, 5:30 pm) examines the history of the Cape Verdean experience in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence, along with Cape Verdean music from the 1800s to the present. From Sylvia Ann Soares along with a number of musicians and storytellers.

Write Rhode Island: Short Stories​ (at the WaterFire Arts Center Drive-In Stage: Sat, Jul 24, 4:00 pm) showcases original stories written and performed by talented young writers. From Write Rhode Island (WRI), a creative writing partnership by Goat Hill and School One.

Chicago: A Two-Woman Extravaganza (at the WaterFire Arts Center Loading Dock Stage: Thu, Jul 22, 7 pm; Wed, Jul 28, 7 pm; Thu, Jul 29, 7 pm; ​Fri, Jul 30, 8:30 pm) is a very small re-interpretation of the hit Broadway musical Chicago, fueled by “the tragic combination of liquor and jazz which led to the creation of this show.” From 2Woman Productions, a collaboration between Alex Brassard and Sara Slusarski, whose previous productions have included similar takes on Wicked and Grease.

Booby Trap! (at The Steel Yard: Sat, Jul 24, 7 pm; Thu, Jul 29, 8:30 pm; Fri, Jul 30, 8:30 pm; Sat, Jul 31, 5:30 pm) is a cabaret where two sisters play a ritualized game with tennis balls to resolve a time paradox. From Dugway Proving Ground, a Providence-based collaboration by John Bender, Adam Kotin, Lily Mathews, and Kate Teichman, whose Pretty Bird premiered at a prior FringePVD.

HAMSTEAK; Alive and in Person! (at the BackLot Wilbury Stage: Tue, Jul 20, 7 pm; Fri, Jul 23, 7 pm; Sat, Jul 24, 8:30 pm; Tue, Jul 27, 8:30 pm; Wed, Jul 28, 7 pm) is a mock performance by “87-year-old country music legend Betty ‘Hamsteak’ Funkis on her ‘Come See Me Before I’m in the Ground’ tour, with her trademark wit, her one note range.” From Aaron Blanck and Brian Kozak who are well known in the RI theater scene from their work with Wilbury Group and Burbage Theater Company.

Zahak & Zeus (at WaterFire Drive-In Stage: Wed, 7/28, 8:30pm; Thu, 7/29, 10pm) is a modern interpretation inspired by Persian mythology from about 1,800 years ago, now involving “Uber rides in a flaming chariot and the questionable advice of a devious new demi-god named Siri.” From Baha Sadr and the Rhode Island Ukulele Armada.

Come Home Soon (at Farm Fresh: Fri, Jul 23, 8:30 pm; Wed, Jul 28, 8:30 pm; Thu, Jul 29, 8:30 pm) is either “a human show about dogs” or “a dog show about humans” but is not sure which, and probably does not involve a character named Sheba. From the Providence-based team of Anna Basile, Madison Weinhoffer and Pablo Colacce Sosa.

i love you. i hate you. shut up & tell me everything: my trials, tribulations, & total lack of understanding about Borderline Personality Disorder (a semi-sorta-sometimes sequel) (at Nicholson File Art Studios Courtyard: Wed, Jul 21, 8:30 pm; ​Thu, Jul 22, 8:30 pm) is, if there is still time for the performance after reading the title, “a raw honest autobiographical exploration of what it means to be human from inside the fractured mind of an alcoholic who has the audacity to write another play about his life.” From Teddy Lytle as writer and performer and Davis Alianello as director, the former a founding member of Spectrum Theater Ensemble and the latter a Wilbury Group veteran and regular Motif writer.

reptiles of the mind (walking tour starting from the WaterFire Arts Center River Stage: Fri, Jul 23, 8:30 pm; Sat, Jul 24, 8:30 pm; ​Fri, Jul 30 at 8:30 pm) is a 20-minute audio play intended to be listened to while walking along the Providence River, using a mobile device with earphones. From Davis Alianiello, a regular Motif writer.

Live Music & Comedy (at The Steel Yard: Fri, Jul 23, 7pm; at the Waterfire Arts Center Loading Dock Stage: Sat, Jul 31 7pm) is a curated performance of music, singing, and comedy. From Cas Inez and Spocka Summa who co-own Public Shop and Gallery in Providence.

Sleep Mode live performance​ (at The Steel Yard: Thu, Jul 22, 8:30 pm; Sat, Jul 24, 8:30 pm) from a 3-piece alternative rock band out of Providence.

Online

Trainwreck (Sun, Jul 25, 8:30 pm; Sat, Jul 31, 8:30 pm) is the one exception that I have seen, and it’s an hilarious devised puppet/object theater piece that satirically skewers the literary canon from Sherlock Holmes to Anna Karenina, a treat for the well-read. From Chick Lit, a collaboration between Kate Holden and Katie Jones, the former a Providence native whose background includes Classical High School and New Urban Arts before going on to pursue an MFA and PhD very far away.

Space Shape & Mind Mold (Thu, Jul 29, 7:00 pm; Fri, Jul 30, 8:30 pm) is “a cosmic cabaret zoom disaster” demonstrating “subterranean alien encounters hosted by the Space Transformation Station’s resident Astro-Crypto Zoologist Dr Tremendanus and his Yuranian extraterrestrial collaborators” that presumably leaves you feeling as if your brain spent some time in a brain-shaped gelatin mold. From Space Transformation Station, a satellite studio of the famed Big Nazo Lab in Providence.

Alexithymia (Sun, Jul 25, 5:30 pm; Wed, Jul 28, 7 pm; ​Sat, Jul 31, 2:30 pm) explores the psychology of sensory experience as perceived by a fictional being whose body fragments and needs to re-assemble. From Madison Weinhoffer, a founding and active member of Spectrum Theatre Ensemble in Providence, a company focused on neurodiversity in the arts.

Mask On/Mask Off: Short Plays (Sun, Jul 25, 2:30 pm; ​Thu, Jul 29, 8:30 pm) is a collection of seven plays about the use of masks, both literally and figuratively. From a Providence playwriting group, in FringePVD for their 6th time, consisting of Elaine Brousseau, Kay Ellen Bullard, Susan Buttrick, Jayne Hannah, Norma Jenckes, Martha Douglas-Osmundson, and Monica Staaf, directed by Daniel Lee White.

On the Ho Chi Minh Trail & The Crisis (Fri, Jul 30, 7:00 pm; ​Sat, Jul 31, 4:00 pm) is a set of two one-act plays, the former looking at the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Viet Cong. From Milton Coykendall of Providence, whose day job is teaching students from various Asian countries including Japan, China, and Vietnam.

Veja Doolittle: Back Again (Tue, Jul 20, 8:30 pm; ​Wed, Jul 21, 7:00 pm) is an obvious pun on “déjà vu,” using stories and songs to explore memory. From Meg Sullivan, a Motif award winner (for dance) and Wilbury Group veteran whose day job is executive artistic director of the Manton Avenue Project, a non-profit after-school playwriting program in Olneyville.

ME7ROPOL17AN 7RANSPOR7A71ON AU74OR17Y (Sat, Jul 24, 5:30 pm) is a musical electronica multimedia homage to the New York City subway system, a concept that immediately suckered me in. From Darth Presley, who claims to be a cyborg with direct connections to his electronic instruments.




The Apothecary Is In!: Home-grown service and homemade treats make Green Line Apothecary a special spot

Picture this: You step through the frosted glass doors and take in the scene around you as pharmacists cheerfully fill prescriptions, greeting each customer by name. You approach the gleaming wooden soda fountain and settle into an evergreen velvet stool, peering at the menu, filled with seemingly endless choices. A cherry phosphate? A chocolate egg cream? What sort of wonderful concoction will it be today? No, this isn’t a stage direction from a deleted scene of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town – it’s actually just a day in the life at the Green Line Apothecary.

What began as a romance on an MBTA Green Line train in Boston (get it?) blossomed into a booming business for husband and wife duo Ken and Christina Proccacianti, and they just welcomed a brand new brick n’ mortar outpost — an expanded location steps away from the former home of their Wakefield flagship. The new spot boasts extensive seating at the comfortable soda bar that’s polished to a luster that would rival the dapperest of gentlemens spit-shined spats, shelves stocked with dozens of local goodies, and a carhop-style pick-up, so you don’t even need to leave your vehicle to take advantage of this warm and welcoming spot that strives to be Rhode Island’s community pharmacy.

Christina grew up working alongside her father delivering greeting cards to local drugstores and saw the clear difference between the personalized feel of these small businesses and large chain stores. She wanted to replicate that authentic and personalized feel in her own business. Everyone who walks through the sliding doors are treated like members of the family, and it’s details like this that really set Green Line Apothecary apart from the big box competitors. 

Of course, Green Line wouldn’t be Green Line without their fabulous selection of vintage victuals and vittles. It’s hard to pick between the seasonal Banana Split Ice Cream, the Strawberry Soda with syrup made in-house or the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, but the Coffee Egg Cream is the true star of the show. This soda fountain staple that dates back to the 1880s consists of soda water, milk and syrup, but Christina and Ken pay homage to Rhode Island Coffee Milk with Dave’s Coffee Syrup added to the mix. It’s a delightful blend of old and new, with a touch of Li’l Rhody thrown in for good measure!

The Proccaciantis have truly made Green Line Apothecary into a family business — their three daughters serve as taste testers for the homemade ice cream and are integral players in developing the soda fountain’s menu. “They’re our biggest supporters, but also our biggest critics,” says Ken, laughing. Their oldest daughter will tie on the iconic green soda jerk bowtie this summer and try her hand at serving up sweets. Who knows? This could be the start of the next generation of ice cream soda superstars! 

No matter how the Green Line Apothecary expands (and boy, do they plan to!), you can count on the Proccaciantis to deliver friendly and one-of-a-kind service with a smile. “Pharmacy is personal. And the community has embraced our modern and personalized version of the classic American drugstore,” says Christina. I’ll raise an ice cream soda to that!

Green Line Apothecary has two locations: 905 North Main St, PVD and 245 Main St, Wakefield. For more, go to greenlineapothecary.com or follow them @greenlineapothecary.




Providence Art Revolt: A summer celebration of art, music and community

On July 24, from 3pm until midnight, Providence Art Revolt will take over Revival Brewing in PVD.

The idea for Art Revolt came from the three co-hosts of the local podcast Providence Leftist Radio. It’s a political podcast that never hosts politicians. Rather it hosts local mutual aid organizations in hopes of helping them connect to like-minded listeners. The Providence Leftist Radio hosts wondered if they could bring this type of connection into the art world.

“We wanted to host an event where people could get together and appreciate the art that’s coming out of our community,” said Art Revolt organizer and Providence Leftist Radio co-host Alex Herbert. “People buy art for their walls all the time, but my question is: If you really want to support your community, why not display a piece from a local artist?”

Art Revolt will allow people to do just that. Ten local artists will have their work displayed and available for purchase at the event. In addition to the artists displaying their work, there will be vendor tables and food trucks, and bands will play all afternoon into the night. “The point of Art Revolt is to celebrate art from the community, and the vendors, musicians, even the food is a type of local art,” said Herbert.

Will this become an annual event? “We’ll see how Saturday goes,” said Herbert. “The enthusiasm has been really cool. The vendors, musicians, sponsors and artists are really excited. And as long as the community-funded and community-oriented aspect of it remains, I don’t see why we couldn’t do this year after year.”

Art Revolt takes starts at 3pm at Revival Brewery, 50 Sims Ave, PVD. Gallery artists include Derek Raymond, Vickie Smalls, Still Hear, Dsfcult Dopesicksf, Doodle in Your Head, Marius Marjolin, Hell Dweller, Gostgod, Anobelist and Wormo. Performing musicians include Dirty Mushrooms (in their first ever performance!), Baby Baby, Burr, Darklands, Bochek, DJ For All Masters, John Prince, Von the General and Satin Suede. For more info, go to fb.com/plrpod or @plrpod.