Monday, November 19, 2007

Strings Attached

Burlington Free Press' weekend edition featured a story about two puppet shows at the Flynn this month: The Salzburg Marionette Theater performing The Sound of Music on the MainStage Tuesday, November 27, and the recent weekend performances of The Viva La Voce Puppet Opera's Die Fledermaus in FlynnSpace.

Free Press Staff Writer Brent Hallenbeck writes: "The highly regarded Salzburg Marionette Theater is coming to Burlington at the end of the month. The Austrian company has performed The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and several Mozart operas, but only recently tackled The Sound of Music, the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical set in the Salzburg Marionette Theater’s hometown. The production made its world premiere Nov. 2 in Dallas and is visiting six other American cities before arriving in Burlington.

"Not only is Salzburg Marionette Theater producing a musical set in its homeland, it’s also bringing the production to the current homeland of the von Trapp family, whose escape from the Nazis is at the center of The Sound of Music. The von Trapps settled in Stowe after fleeing Europe. The youngest child of Maria and Captain von Trapp, Johannes, is owner of the Trapp Family Lodge just outside Stowe.

"He said he has seen various versions of The Sound of Music about a half-dozen times.

"'It’s always a complicated affair,' Johannes said of watching his family’s story play out. 'It’s not a simple enjoyment kind of thing. It brings all sorts of feelings back.'

"He will be attending the Salzburg Marionette Theater performance with his daughter and her 4-year-old daughter; he plans to find his enjoyment by watching the performance through his granddaughter’s eyes."
To read the entire story, visit the Free Press' website.

For a review of The Viva La Voce Puppet Opera's Die Fledermaus, read Penelope Wall's wonderful post-performance blog post.

Sara Felder's Jugglefest!

posted by Chris Ilstrup
Flynn friend

Chris Ilstrup, husband of former and much-missed Flynnie Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, submitted his thoughts on Sara Felder’s Jugglefest! workshop. The FlynnArts workshop was part of Felder's week-long Flynn residency, which culminated in three sold-out performances of her one-woman performance, Out of Sight: A Blind Comedy that Juggles Faith, Israel, and My Mom.

Sara Felder, comedian and juggler, taught a two hour juggling workshop at the Flynn Center on Saturday, November 10. I was lucky enough to take the class and, as she promised, I can now juggle. Here's video proof.

There were all types of students, older, younger, male, female. Three of the participants were accomplished jugglers. And teenagers. Sara was able to teach them some new tricks, a juggle called Mill's Mess. They were as surprised as she was that she was able to teach them the trick in two hours.

Five newbies were in attendance (including the Flynn's own artistic director, Arnie Malina) and Sara started us out easy: One scarf. Up and Down. Up and Down. Then we added a second. Up and across, up and across. Then a third scarf and it looked like juggling!

Next were balls. One ball, two balls, and then, the third ball. Look at us, we can do this! We all took a chance to show off the skill we had learned and everyone got a round of applause.

Thanks to the Sara Felder and the Flynn Center, I am now available to perform at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and birthday parties. Well, maybe not just yet….

Will Ilstrup take his act on the road? Find out—visit his own blog, Inside Chris.

...Arnie adds:

I took my first juggling class with Sara Felder at the Flynn. Since I think of myself as terribly uncoordinated, and my mind usually interrupts challenging flights into space like juggling three balls, I was happily surprised how much I enjoyed Sara's class.

Like Chris said, she started us off with scarves of many different colors. It was an upper and lower body workout, moving your hands fast enough to throw one scarf up in the air while catching the other two at the same time—and remembering which hand to catch which scarf, right brain, left brain, comedy in motion. But after some practice, I got it to work, and had a ball. Same with the balls. Realizing one side was easier to start with than the other, I practiced my weaker side, which was courageous and liberating. I made some progress. And then my mind went blank. By then I had been working out for nearly an hour and a half and my hand/eye/left brain/right brain coordination started lagging—my mind was overloaded.

I took a rest. I did it again. I did it still yet gain. I remembered. It became intuitive. I did it without remembering, and there were three balls in the air. It was magic.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Phishy Anniversary at the Flynn, Part II

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Manager, Editor

In April, I blogged on a Phishy Anniversary at the Flynn, in commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of a special Phish benefit concert for Lake Champlain during which Ben & Jerry's debuted its decadently delicious Phish Food. This past spring, the Vermont sweetailer was offering three special online downloads of the show to customers. Now, the concert downloads are available to everyone!

According to the site, "These four, previously-unreleased selections comprise a special audio download EP.... These selections were compiled and mastered from the soundboard reference tapes to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 3/18/97 Benefit for Lake Champlain and launch of Phish Food ice cream.

"This special show at Phish's hometown Flynn Theatre marked the worldwide debut of the new ice cream flavor and the beginning of Phish and Ben and Jerry's combined efforts to harness the magic of music, ice cream, and local synergy to clean up the Lake Champlain Basin. More than a decade later, royalties from Phish Food still fund The Waterwheel Foundation which the band created to support Lake Champlain cleanup efforts."

Selections include:
  • Ben & Jerry Intro by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (preceded the start of the show)
  • Cars Trucks Buses with Dave "The Truth" Grippo on alto saxophone and James Harvey on trombone
  • Phish debut of I Told You So, with Tammy Fletcher on vocals

Phish Archivist Kevin Shapiro posted a wonderful, 10-year retrospective essay about the show, recalling the collaboration between the band and Ben & Jerry's, the Flynn Box Office's heroic ticketing efforts, and prior Phish concerts at "their hometown theater." Check it out!

photographs of Phish at the Flynn from

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Can't Beat Global Drum Project

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Manager, Editor

We love to hear feedback about our shows, and so I was especially pleased to find the following blog post from a patron who attended Saturday's performance of Global Drum Project.

Brameltunes writes:

"I went out and caught the Global Drum Project at the Flynn last Saturday night. The sampling of international drummers was excellent (Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussein from India, Sikuru Adepojo from Nigeria, Giovanni Hidalgo from Puerto Rico)—and they were unbelievably skilled."

I happen to know that Brameltunes is a talented musician who frequently performs in Burlington area hotspots, so we especially appreciate his expert comments!

Friday, October 12, 2007

VSA Audiences Write In

As part of our community outreach programming, the Flynn is delighted to have a strong partnership with VSA Vermont, the Winooski-based branch of the national organization dedicated to making the arts accessible to people of all abitlities. Part of this partnership includes ticket vouchers to select Flynn performances.

VSA Vermont recently passed along some wonderful emails from patrons who attended two of our recent MainStage performances, Ballet Folklórico de México on Thursday, October 4 and Weston Playhouse's "Master Harold"... and the boys (and the related pre-preformance lecture) on Friday, October 5.

Following the Ballet Folklórico de México performance, the mother of a son with a disability wrote:

"I heard glowing reports about the show this morning. My 11-year-old son, Jack, said he loved it, 'especially all the foot stompin' and costumes and music and the big paper mache heads.' Our thanks to you and the Flynn for making this opportunity possible. The performance deepened my son's excitement for Spanish, a language and culture he's studying in school. The event also provided my husband a chance to share an enjoyable music-alicious evening out with this darling little boy. The ticket stubs from this memorable night out are definately scrapbook worthy!

"!Viva La Artes!"

A patron who attended "Master Harold"... wrote:

"I'm very glad to tell you about my experience Friday evening at the Flynn seeing the Athol Fugard play, 'Master Harold'...and the boys.

"I took a friend with me who has MS, and we met for the presentation before the play in the Tarrant Gallery. One of the three producers spoke eloquently of the playwright, the play, the historical setting, and previous productions of the work. I had often heard the name Athol Fugard, but had never seen any of his plays. The speaker told us about Fugard's own childhood in South Africa and explained that the play was really autobiographical.

"At the actual play, the stage had a box setting of an English Tea Room on a rainy day. There were only three characters in the play—two black men who worked in the tea room and a white youngster, 17, who was the owner's son. What a performance! Within moments, my friend and I were transported to the locale, the times, and the story unfolding in front of us. The actors were excellent, flawless. At the end, the audience gave them a standing ovation, a long one.

"My guest and I talked a long time after the play, commenting on how much the pre-play talk helped us to understand better what was happening, amazed that three actors could remember all their lines in a play that went on without intermission with complete attention in the theater the entire time.

"Thanks so much for sending me the vouchers."

For more information about VSA Vermont, visit or email

For information about the Flynn's commitment to accessibility, visit

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Critical Acclaim

The current issue of Seven Days turns a critical eye to two plays at the Flynn this week.

Theater reviewer Erik Esckilsen says of American Machine, "...the play has an immense heart," "compelling working-class agitprop drama," and takes "a mighty swing at a formidable topic."

He writes that actor Seth Jarvis' portrayal of Ipsy is "touching" and one that shows us, "that a single character, deeply explored and well-portrayed, can speak movingly about the general 'us' by confronting the particularities of his individual condition."

Read the full review in this week's Seven Days.

Feature writer Elisabeth Crean takes a look at Weston Playhouse's touring production of “Master Harold” . . . and the boys, arriving on the MainStage tomorrow night.

"Great theater reaches across the footlights and elicits a visceral response," she writes. "This genuine stage magic is infrequent. But occasionally the alchemy of writing, acting and subject matter is so electrifying that no one experiencing it can remain a detached observer." Crean recalls how Athol Fugard’s autobiographical masterpiece "grabbed me by the throat when I first saw it 25 years ago," as a college freshman at Yale.

The play examines the changing relationship between a young white boy, his friends, and his surrogate father—a black man—at the height of South African apartheid.

In writing her story, Crean discovered that the Fugard's powerful message about racism still resonates today.

"In 2007, the play continues to connect with young people," she writes. "Weston’s 'Master Harold' received an 'overwhelming response,' says [Weston Producing Director Steve] Stettler, from its school matinee audiences—numbering more than 1,000 middle and high school students. He found that the kids readily identified with teen protagonist Hally. [Actor Guiesseppe] Jones believes “the student audiences were some of the best audiences... They get that these three guys have a wonderful relationship, and that it goes askew... And I think that’s the heart of the play.”

Crean conclude with the advice that "Readers should be skeptical of anyone christening something a 'must-see.' But there is a stunning moment toward the end of 'Master Harold'—and if you see it, you’ll know exactly which one I mean—that I can picture as clearly today as when I saw it a quarter-century ago. Fugard taught me something about myself, about how strongly I feel. It’s a rare moment in theater, or in life, that does this, and it’s one I still cherish."

Read the full preview in this week's Seven Days.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ben Harper Rocks the Flynn!

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Manager, Editor

As one of Northern New England's largest performance venues, the Flynn occasionally has the opportunity to rent out our historic Flynn Theatre to other performing arts presenters in the community (on nights which we don't have our own shows, of course). One such partnership is with South Burlington's Higher Ground, which has brought major headline performers such as Ani DiFranco and Feist to the Flynn's own MainStage in the past year. Last night, Higher Ground presented Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals at the Flynn—hot on the heels of Harper's sold-out performance at NYC's Radio City Music Hall on Saturday and a studio recording for Late Night with Conan O'Brien (to air tomorrow)—and Burlington couldn't have been more excited.

The sold-out show was everything I expected: Harper's powerful, eloquent, and familiar lyrics blended with his masterful playing on the electric, acoustic, and slide guitars, as well as the piano; the excited energy of friends and fellow Harper fans nearby lent an added charge to the air. There was some dancing, (I glanced behind me several times to watch my friend Janet boogying in the first row of the balcony), and a little hollering, (after several fans shouted out song requests, one magnanimous patron shouted "Just play what you want, Ben!"), but the crowd primarily just sat back and appreciated the man, his band, and their talents. (See the Burlington set list.)

Always the gentleman, Harper was nattily dressed in a tailored gray three-piece suit, and his talented five-member band was equally swanky in suits and hats. He spoke with a quiet, serene voice and seemed truly appreciative of the audience's enthusiasm. As my friend and colleague Flynn Box Office Agent Chaim Rochester said today, "I was impressed with his level of humility and grace. It's nice to see that still happens."

Harper interrupted the show at least four times to praise the Flynn's historic Art Deco decor—enthusiastic and charming observations that I found particularly profound, as I also love and am awed by this spectacular space. Visibly wowed, he memorably asked his lighting crew to swing the stage lights out into the concert hall "so I can see this beautiful theater," adding, "There aren't many like these left any more." He also pointed out details such as our large, restored Art Deco facades, which flank the stage. His own simple set of lighted chandeliers was the perfect complement to the Flynn's elegance.

The showstopper, and the piece which cemented my own appreciation for Ben Harper, was his heart-wrenching a capella solo of Where Could I Go, sung without a microphone! Every person in each of the theater's 1,453 seats fell silent, breath held, before erupting into a standing ovation upon his completion.

I think everyone who attended last night's show will join me in this invitation: Ben, you can always come back to Burlington!

all photographs surreptitiously taken (sans flash, of course) by Lani Stack

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We Work Hard and We Play Hard

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Manager, Editor

Many of us who work for the Flynn not only love to watch the performing arts but also delight in taking the stage ourselves. We have talented actors, musicians, dancers, and multi-media artists on our administrative, Box Office, and facility staff—as well as folks who moonlight for community arts organizations as directors, stage managers, and videographers. (We also have several visual artists and crafters!)

I occasionally hear word of performances, exhibits, and other events in which my fellow Flynnies participate; however, I was still stunned to see a prominent photo of my friend and colleague, the lovely Odele Peter (Flynn Development Database Coordinator), upon opening Sunday's edition of the Burlington Free Press. The photo outed Odele as a contestant in Red Square's Air Guitar Hero contest, held September 13. (See Odele and her Addicted to Love bandmates strum their stuff.) Did they claim the prestigious Air Guitar Hero title? Sadly, no. "We got disqualified because Rachel (in center) works at Red Square and helped organize the contest," explains Odele. "We cried foul, however."

Odele rallied from her disappointment in time to dress up and smile widely for her role as a glamorous Wine Auction Hostess at the Flynn's Fine Wine and Food Festival at Shelburne Farm's Coach Barn on Sunday afternoon. I'll post photos from that wonderful event soon.

I've now worked for the Flynn for just over a year, and my colleagues never cease to surprise me. I look forward to discovering (and revealing) more about them in the year ahead.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Raves for Weston's "Master Harold"

Burlington writer and theater critic Dan Wolfe recently traveled to southern Vermont to see the opening of Weston Playhouse Theatre Company's "Master Harold"... and the boys, which will come to the Flynn's MainStage on Friday, October 5 at 8 pm, as part of Weston's New England tour and the Flynn's new "Identities" theater series.

Wolfe's subsequent review of the show in the Vermont Times-Sentinel was chock full of with high praise for this "outstanding performance." (Click on the newspaper clip below to read the full review.)

"If you think you can only go to see one play, one production, during this 2007-2008 season," Wolfe writes, "I tell you without any reservation that this is the play and this is the production of the play that you should see—indeed, must see."

Winner of the New York Drama Desk and London Critics Circle awards, this compelling autobiographical tale by acclaimed playwright Athol Fugard celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Set in a family-owned South African tearoom on a rainy afternoon, the touching coming-of-age story tells the autobiographical story of a white boy, Hally (the young Fugard), and his complex relationship with two black waiters, the lighthearted Willie and the noble, introspective Sam—whom Hally views as a surrogate father figure.

"A good friend of mine calls this play 'the greatest play of the second half of the 20th century,'" writes Wolfe. "And I tend to agree."

Of Weston's production, Wolfe says it's "typical of the best that the Weston Playhouse has to offer. The set is simplicity itself, it contains every visual necessity that the script requires, yet it transcends all of this as the three actors make use of it. The direction by Hal Brooks is spot on. The production team of Wilson Chin, Kirche Leigh Zeile, Stuart Duke, and Kimberly Fuhr have given the actors just what they need, a Tiffany setting for their diamond-hard, multi-faceted performances." The talented cast includes Guiesseppe Jones (Weston’s Fences and Of Mice and Men) as Sam, Wendell Franklin (Illinois Shakespeare Festival, TV’s Law and Order) as Willie, and Clifton Guterman (Berkeley Rep., Arena Stage, Alliance Theatre) as Hally.

“Fugard is a master storyteller,” Brooks says in Weston press release for the show. “This special play depicts an incident in his life which scarred and haunted him. In this deeply personal story of fear and caring in apartheid South Africa of the 1950s, we join Hally, Sam, and Willie as they grapple with the reality of their lives while tenaciously clinging to their dreams.”

Hailed as “shattering” by the New York Times, “stunning” by the New York Daily News, and “a triumph” by the New York Post, Fugard's “Master Harold” is considered a modern classic. The Weston production is deeply theatrical, featuring masterful dialogue, an onstage rain shower, ballroom dancing, and an unforgettable emotional climax.

Wolfe advises readers to check in with the Flynn to see if we will offer a pre-performance talk—(indeed, we will. Steve Stettler, Weston's producing director, will speak on the artistic and political impact of the play, as well as the choices made in Weston’s production of this classic but relevant masterpiece, in the Flynn's Amy E. Tarrant Gallery at 6:30 pm the night of the show. The lecture is free.)—"That should be a must-see also," Wolfe says.

photograph of Weston actors Guiesseppe Jones, Wendell Franklin, and Clifton Guterman by Hubert Schriebl

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Zumba's Here!

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Manager, Editor

Zumba has arrived at the Flynn! I just returned from FlynnArts' first ever Zumba dance class, led by certified instructor Deb Matthews. This dynamic Latin-dance and fitness class features high-energy moves set to spicy Latin music, helping participants maximize fat burning and total body toning while learning fast-paced steps can be used out on the town.

According to Matthews, Zumba began in the mid-1990s when Colombian fitness trainer "Beto" Perez one day walked into the aerobics class he was about to lead and realized that he had forgotten his usual music. He went to his car and grabbed the tapes he loved to listen to while driving–the traditional Latin salsa and merengue music with which he had been raised. His students loved Perez's last-minute improvisation and requested a dedicated class—which soon became most popular class at his fitness facility. A fitness revolution was born.

In today's class, Matthews mixed salsa, mambo, cha-cha, and merengue steps with hip-hop and aerobics. While perhaps not all of us knew the basics of these steps, most of us recognized much of the music—including the always-popular Tequila. (I'm hoping that future classes will incorporate this song and forever break me from associating it with Pee Wee's Big Adventure.)

Whenever I begin a new dance class, I'm haunted by the memories of a French-accented scolding from my childhood ballet instructor: "Lani, my little wiggle worm, aim to keep your body straight and long." ...Can I help it that my hips move independently of the rest of my body? I've learned that I'm happiest when taking bellydancing, hula, or Latin dance instruction—not that these styles are free-form by any means, but they usually give me more latitude to wiggle and shimmy without feeling too foolish or restrained. I can already tell that Zumba will meet my expectations. I left the class feeling exhilarated and confident, if awfully sweaty.

One of the best benefits for working for the Flynn is that we're encouraged to take FlynnArts classes at discounted rates (or even for free!). To my delight, five of my fellow Flynnies joined me in the Flynn's on-site dance studio for this lunchtime class, along with five other participants. This 12-week class still has room for a few more people, so get moving on Thursdays from noon to 1—and dance alongside some of the folks who keep the Flynn running! (Early risers can join FlynnArts' morning session of Zumba, beginning tomorrow from 7:30 to 8:30 am.) The fall term began this week and we are still enrolling students in dance, theater, and music classes—contact FlynnArts now to enroll!

Latin dance enthusiasts who prefer to watch the pros in action shouldn't miss the spectacular Ballet Folklórico de México on the MainStage on Thursday, October 4 at 7:30 pm. The Latin-themed fun continues on the MainStage Thursday, October 25 at 7:30 pm, when the luminous Brazilian contralto Virgínia Rodrigues—the diva of Afro-Bahian song—wraps her beautiful voice around samba, classical sounds, and the deeply spiritual music of Bahia’s candomblé sect.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"American Machine" Running Smoothly

posted by Jim Lantz
Writer/Director, American Machine

Starry Night Productions and The Flynn Center present Jim Lantz's newest play, American Machine, in FlynnSpace September 25 through October 7.

Lantz is keeping friends updated about the play's progress through a series of e-newsletters, portions of which he has graciously allowed the FlynnBlog to reprint.The following excerpts are from Lantz's August 29 e-newsletter. For even more information, visit American Machine's website.

Where are we now?
Four weeks to go to Opening Night and lots of stuff is happening...

Off-book Rehearsals ... Tonight is our first rehearsal where actors are "off-book," meaning that all the actors have memorized their lines and we can start rehearsing with details like props, set pieces, and blocking (where an actor moves within the set). The show is coming together really well. I'm biased to say this, but our actors are so talented. I'm quite proud of our cast. Seth Jarvis portrays "Ipsy," a man with a disability and a cleft palette. Seth has put a lot of hours into researching this role and it really shows. Everybody else is researching their characters, too ... reading books, talking to people similar to their characters. We have plans to tour a factory in a couple of weeks.

Sets... Sam Rudy has finished sculpting the sets and now Isaac Wasuck has begun painting them and, boy, do they look nice! Both of these guys are phenomenal artists—the old brick wall looks so true to form that you have to touch it to realize that it's really carved stryofoam.

Beer for Cola ...
So we bought an old coke machine on eBay that will be a key set piece. The man we bought it from kept it in his garage to keep beer cold (his wife made him sell it). When we told him that we were probably going to gut it and rewire it, he got this sad look in his eye and said, "Hell, I thought you were going to use it for beer, too." (In order to get a beer, you have to pay 35 cents.) ... After the show, if anybody wants a beer cooler that could make money too, let us know.

Our Ads ...
Advertising for American Machine starts just after Labor Day. Check out SevenDays, Front Porch Forum, and your local kiosk. Each of our posters contains a statistic or fact about the vanishing American dream.

Be a Sponsor—Have Fun!
Egads! We're still $5,000 shy of our fundraising goal. With only four weeks to go and a big hole in our budget, to be honest, we're getting a little nervous about American Machine. We're making calls and hoping that we can still reach our goal. Did you know that for as little as $75 you can be an individual sponsor? For as little as $95 you can advertise in our program. Get great seats to the show with your complimentary tickets, advertise in the program, and see a really cool play about an important subject. Interested? E-back. If you're already a sponsor, THANK YOU! We're going to recognize you at the show in four short weeks. Of course, our play wouldn't be possible without you!

Blogger's Night
The Thursday, September 27, show of American Machine we're calling Bloggers' Night. This is how we hope it'll work. ... In addition to our paying audience and sponsors, we're going to invite about 20 of Burlington's bloggers to this show gratis. The only thing that we ask in return is that our bloggers do what they do best: blog about what they saw. What they say is up to them. What they see on Thursday, September 27, will be up to us. So if you regularly read any bloggers in Burlington, let us know who they are and we'll be sure to invite them!

Got an Old Home Movie Projector?
You remember those old home movie projectors from the '70s? 8mm clickety-click things that your mom or dad used to show scratchy films of trips to the beach, weddings and new babies with? Well, we're looking to borrow or buy one for our production. If you have one, or know where we can get one, let us know! We'd sure love to talk to you about it!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Flynn Honored as an Outstanding Historic Theatre

We're proud to announce that the Flynn was awarded the 2007 Outstanding Historic Theatre Award by the League of Historic American Theatres at its annual conference, held in Boston at the end of July.

League President Dulcie Gilmore presented the award to Andrea Rogers, the Flynn’s executive director and CEO, and praised the Flynn's adventurous programming, exemplary community outreach and engagement, and successfully phased renovation of Burlington’s 1930 long-neglected entertainment palace, adjoining bowling alleys, beauty salons, and bars into one of the finest performing arts centers in the country.

The independent jury that selected the Flynn Center for this award included Jean Brody, director of the Master of Arts in Arts Administration Program at Goucher College in Towson, MD; Melissa Cullen, AIA, GTM Architects in Bethesda, MD; Susie Farr, executive director of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD; John Leith-Tetrault, president of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, based in Washington, D.C.; and Mary Margaret Schoenfeld, community development manager for Americans for the Arts, based in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

"The Flynn, long-recognized nationally for its excellent presenting program, received an outstanding rating in all review criteria," said panelist Susie Farr. “A compelling example of contemporary programming excellence in a beautifully renovated space that thoughtfully engages its community, the Flynn is an inspiration to other small cities,” Farr elaborated, summarizing the jury’s assessment.

The Flynn's artistic director, Arnie Malina, was present at the ceremony, along with Flynn Board Member and former Board Chairwoman Brianne Chase. As part of the conference's final banquet, organizers screened a video about the Flynn on a large screen, which drew a standing ovation from colleagues in the arts and historic preservation fields.

Andrea Rogers praised Flynn staff members with the following note: "Let me send that applause along to all of you who have consistently striven for quality and excellence in all that we do and who have enabled the Flynn to distinguish itself in so many ways. I was proud of all of us."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Building the "American Machine"

posted by Jim Lantz
Writer/Director, American Machine

Starry Night Productions and The Flynn Center present Jim Lantz's newest play, American Machine, in FlynnSpace September 25 through October 7.

Lantz is keeping friends updated about the play's progress through a series of e-newsletters, portions of which he has graciously allowed the FlynnBlog to reprint.

The following excerpts are from Lantz's July 29 e-newsletter, in which he shares some insights into the day-to-day challenges of producing an independent play and reminds theatergoers about Starry Night's opening night benefit for The Burlington Schools' Food Project. For even more information, visit American Machine's website.

What's our play about?

Part parable on the American dream, part cautionary tale taken from the headlines, American Machine tells the story of a great factory that once made parts for classic American cars. As a makeshift family of six friends come together each night to work, they're soon faced with rumors that their employer will be downsizing—or even closing altogether. As they begin working on a new order—making buckets and mops for Wal-Mart—the prospect of being split up looms before them, and their dedication to the once-proud factory is put to the test.

Where are we now?

Cast ... After months of auditions that have taken us from the far reaches of Vermont to Ellenville, New York, (where the TV antennae was invented, and Flynn Marketing Manager Lani Stack's familial seat), we're proud to announce our all-Vermont cast. We're glad to welcome back actors Dennis McSorley and Colin Cramer, who were part of The Bus [Lantz's last play, which was presented in FlynnSpace last fall]. As well as welcoming three very talented actresses joining us, Bridget Butler, Teresa Lorenco, and Chris Caswell. Seth Jarvis, who directed The Bus, is also a talented actor and has joined the cast, too.

... We've started building our sets which includes part of a working injection molding machine. We plugged it in last night—and it works! Normally an injection molding machine is about the size of a Winnebego and weighs tons, but between a set animator at the Shakespeare Theatre in D.C.; (thank you, St. Mike's grad Mark Prey); a plastics factory in Virginia, (thank you Valley Industrial Plastics); and a talented student from Cooper Union, (thank you Sam Rudy), our machine will be less imposing as we place it behind an open stage door to fit nicely onstage at FlynnSpace.

... It's hard to believe it's only eight weeks to the opening of our play, so rehearsing has already become part of our weekly ritual. We've moved to our permanent rehearsal home at The Soda Plant, (thank you Steve Conant!).

... By far the toughest part of putting on a play is raising our budget. We're lucky to live in a community where the arts are so generously supported, (for instance, I can't imagine producing The Bus in, say, Lubbock, Texas). ... As an independent production, our budget comes completely from corporate and individual sponsorships. So far, we've raised about half of our budget, but we've still got a long ways to go. If you'd like to become a sponsor of American Machine, shoot us an e-mail and we'll show you how!

Opening Night Benefit for Burlington Schools' Food Project
See a play and support a great cause! ... On Tuesday evening, September 25, the opening night performance of American Machine will benefit The Burlington Schools' Food Project100% of all proceeds from this show will go to the project to support healthy fruits and vegetables for students at Burlington schools and to support CSA farm shares for food service employees at Burlington school cafeterias.

Tickets for the benefit are $15 and may be purchased at City Market in Burlington after September 1. For more information, visit American Machine's website.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Making Movies with Kids

posted by Eva Sollberger
FlynnArts Faculty, Lights... Camera... Action! Summer Camp

Judith Kurtz and I have been co-teaching a summer camp at the Flynn all week called Lights, Camera, Action! We've been making movies with 16 boisterous 8-10-year-old boys and girls and a wonderful assistant/executive producer, Nora Cadwallader-Staub. I am pleased and amazed to say that we have managed to make a different film each day—you can watch the results below! The kids play ALL the roles except director, editor, and cinematographer. This means that they are the lead actors, supporting cast, assistant director, producer, assistant camera operator, set designer, sound designer, costume designer, and script supervisor.

The students take their roles VERY seriously and I have been amazed by the contributions of such a hard working cast and crew. A script supervisor will tug at my arm to ask me breathlessly, "Did we get the shot of the pirate battle scene yet?" A lighting designer will ask, "Do you think blue or yellow gels for the princesses' dream sequence?" A sound designer decides upon silverware to mimic the sound effects of sword fighting. A production designer uses gold tapestry and fabrics to turn a white room into a palace dining room and a costume designer turns colorful rope into prison handcuffs.

Each student’s contribution to the finished project is noticeable and shows impressive initiative. Every day they switch roles so everyone can try different sized acting parts and alternate crew positions. The students also wrote the scripts that we shot rough cuts of on our first day of camp. The difference between the rough cuts and the finished product is HUGE. But it is interesting to see that the "essence" still remains.

They chose the genres after I showed them clips from a ton of different movies. The winners were drama, adventure and suspense but there are elements of action, musicals and horror as well. They like to have battle scenes in every movie and a lot of death scenes, too. Here are the results of all our hard work—three of our four completed films (the behind-the-scenes documentary is still in post-production):

Today is our final screening, when we show the parents what we have been doing all week. There will be popcorn. We are also shooting a documentary and going on a field trip to Roxy Cinema's projection booth. I can't wait to see what these talented kids cook up next….

Parts of this blog post originally appeared on Sollberger's own wonderful blog, The Deadbeat Club. Thanks for letting us "reprint" it, Eva!

N.A.S.A. Awardees Take to the Stage (Again)

The Flynn Center is delighted to share wonderful news about two friends and awardees of the Flynn's N.A.S.A. Grant:

Spring 2006 grant awardee Kathryn Blume is back in FlynnSpace with a three-day run of her wonderful one-woman show The Boycott, first developed with the support of the N.A.S.A. grant. The show, which premiered to standing-room only crowds in FlynnSpace as a Vermont Stage Company production in January and February, is a powerful multi-character solo performance piece that tells the story of a world-wide sex strike aimed at stopping global warming. Blume will take The Boycott on the road this fall, with a six-week run at New York City's Arclight Theatre from Oct. 11 to Nov. 18. If you can't make the show tonight or tomorrow, be sure to check out her videos on YouTube.

Spring 2007 N.A.S.A. Grant awardee Selene Colburn, whose History of the Future Suite premiered in FlynnSpace on June 17, was one of 12 dance artists selected earlier this month for the first New England Dance Lab, a free eight-day residency and professional development opportunity. Created through the New England Foundation for the Arts, the New England Dance Lab begins tomorrow, July 28, Connecticut College in New London, CT. It runs through August 4 and culminates in an opportunity for participants to share their work with presenters and peers.

"The Flynn's N.A.S.A. Grant re-opened a door into making work for me, following a debilitating injury and the birth of my two children," Colburn said.

"Receiving the N.A.S.A. grant positioned me well as an applicant to the New England Dance Lab. After a performance hiatus of a few years, I know I couldn't have been competitive without it. More importantly, as a participant, I'll be coming to the lab with a work that's developed and ready for a longer performance life that can be shared with fellow dancers, mentors, and presenters."

She is also moving forward in developing the project supported by her N.A.S.A. grant, The History of the Future Suite. "I'm in the process of creating a companion film with Bill Simmon and Recon (Clark Russell and Tom Lawson) that will be seen in installation this fall at venues such as the South End Art Hop and UVM's Living and Learning Gallery, and will be performing live sections of the work at Bennington College in October."

The next N.A.S.A. Grant application deadline is Monday, August 27. Applications are reviewed twice annually by a panel of regional arts peers, based on the grant criteria below. Questions about the grant, criteria, and application are welcome and encouraged; please contact Tracey Gilbert Dengler at 802-862-6825 or or download a N.A.S.A Grant Guidelines & Application Packet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

“You Must See Every Show!”

posted by A.J. Fucile
Flynn Box Office Manager

“You Must See Every Show!”

I hear that a lot. As manager of the Box Office, I do tend to work a lot of shows—but seeing them doesn’t go hand in hand with working them. That said, I am exposed to some interesting moments that I otherwise would not experience as an audience member. And even when I’m not personally interested in the performer on stage, I always appreciate the unique point of view.

The toughest shows to work sometimes are the ones that you would prefer to see as an audience member. But these shows do have their rewards. My favorite example is Trey Anastasio at Memorial Auditorium a few years ago during the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. With Phish recently returning from hiatus, Trey’s solo activities were generating all kinds of excitement, and I was particularly curious to check out his band firsthand. But of course, the Box Office had its hands full with the sold out show, making sure there were no ticket issues and that all guests to the event were taken care of properly. Sometimes this is challenging (when someone receives the wrong tickets) and sometimes it's rewarding (meeting Martin St. Louis, UVM hockey star and NHL Stanley Cup winner). By set break, I hadn’t had the chance to hear any of Trey’s show, and needed to prepare some settlement items with the promoter and tour manager. So I found myself in the dressing room reviewing numbers. And that, of course, offers a window behind the scenes. I was sitting at a table with the tour manager when the band left the stage to come back for their break. I got to see Trey greet Jon Fishman (again, Phish had just returned from hiatus, so this was particularly exciting to witness). I got to hear the band chat about the set they had just played—what worked, what didn’t, what they might play next set…. For most shows that require a high level of detail, I’m lucky to be able to watch the encore. In the case of this Trey show, I was lucky enough to watch the encore from the side of the stage, as Trey and Jennifer Hartswick played a cover of The Beastie Boys’ Root Down. They each had microphones in hand and were facing off center stage. From my vantage point, Trey was almost looking right at me. If I didn’t work here, how else would I ever have been able to witness this?

And then there are the shows that are hugely popular but may not appeal to me on a personal level. I’m always tickled by people who are so excited about the show they are going to see that they expect I am equally excited. The theater seems an extension of my office at times. It’s almost literally right outside my door. So, after a good eight-hour day, even when the show is one I might have an interest in, I usually prefer to go home, as opposed to stay at the theater another few hours, only to go home, sleep, and come right back in the morning. (You need the change of scenery.) A good example is this past weekend’s two James Taylor shows. One of our regular volunteer Spirits saw me and said, “Aren’t you so happy to be here?” I thought about it, and said, “I’m not unhappy to be here. But on a Sunday night, I’d probably prefer to be with my wife for the evening.”

Later that evening, the promoter requested that I go back to the dressing room to ensure there was no question with the settlement figures. I had to walk past the side of the stage, and paused a moment to see James Taylor working this elaborate contraption that I heard him refer to as a “drum machine.” Even though I’m not personally a fan of his music, I did find him to be a great entertainer. And that’s one of the benefits of this job—seeing performers you might not otherwise choose to see on your own, and being surprised by it.

Another example of wanting to see a show, but not ending up being able to, would be when B.B. King was here at the Flynn about five or six years ago. I had never seen him before, and I had every intention of watching the show after I got out of work, went home, ate, and then planned to come back. The problem was that there was a bit of an ice storm that day, and I spent most of it on the phone talking to customers, explaining that the show was not cancelled; the performer was here, the power was on, the roads were open, and the show would go on. (This was not always good news for those that lived a fair distance away and did not want to deal with road conditions.) So, after eight hours of frustrated customers, I decided I would have to wait and see B.B. the next time he came to town. (Which I did, about three years later.)

Sadly, I only see maybe one or two shows start to finish on our stage each year, and I happen to have graduated with a theater degree! But my degree continues to benefit from my arts education here at the Flynn. While I may not see every show, I do tend to step into the back of the theater for a few minutes when something comes through our doors that I am not familiar with. For instance, I have a much better appreciation for dance companies now than when I started work here—at that time, Twyla Tharp was not a name that meant anything to me. It does now. As do so many other touring theater productions that I am happy to be acquainted with.

I do sometimes quietly yearn for the day when I am just another member of the audience and can take my family out to the theater for a night out, including a dinner before the show and the ability to leave whenever it might suit me. But I still have a lot of shows to see in the meantime....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Losing a Friend

We were very saddened to learn today of the death of Alex Chirelstein, the former executive director of Very Special Arts Vermont and a great figure in the Vermont arts community. Alex passed away suddenly on Thursday.

Alex's legacy lies in the strength of the arts community in Burlington and throughout Vermont, especially through his work to include and empower the disability community in art making—which included collaborations with the Flynn.

Flynn Artistic Director Arnie Malina said, "The Flynn worked with Alex Chirelstein on a number of different projects when he was director of VSArts Vermont, most memorably the AXIS Dance Company residency and Bill Shannon's Crutchmaster dance. He also helped the Flynn get the METLIFE Access Award. We will miss his advocacy on many pressing issues, his sense of idealism and justice, and his pragmatism as well."

His obituary from the Burlington Free Press is below:

BURLINGTON — Alex Chirelstein, a teacher who for many years was executive director of VSArts Vermont, died Thursday, July 12, 2007. He was 48 years old. The cause of death was a heart attack. Chirelstein was born in New York City in 1959. He grew up in New Haven, Conn., and went to college at Boston University. He moved to Burlington in 1991, and for 10 years ran VSA, a nonprofit that provides arts education to disadvantaged people. He was a guitar player whose musical tastes ranged from Lowell George to Handel. He wanted to elect Barack Obama, to the presidency and worked to do so with the humor and zeal that characterized his endeavors. Alex had just completed his first year of teaching middle school, in Montgomery. He was devoted to his students and was to start teaching in Charlotte next month. He was cherished by his many friends, who will miss him everyday. Chirelstein is survived by his parents, Marvin and Ellen Chirelstein, of New York City, and his brother, Paul, of Hoboken, N.J. Contributions in his name may be made to the Obama campaign. For funeral time call Boucher & Pritchard at 862-2851.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy 60th, Arlo!

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

I can't listen to the radio while I work. As a writer, I inevitably end up typing song lyrics or news stories or even commercials instead of the brilliant copy I should be writing. However, my colleague, Tracey, has a less wordcentric position and often listens to Vermont Public Radio.

Thus is was that she heard the news that today is Arlo Guthrie's 60th birthday. In celebration, his record company, Rising Son Records, has released the folk legend's newest album, In Times Like These. We Flynnies were particularly interested to learn of both, as we'll be bringing Arlo to the MainStage on February 2, as part of our 2007-08 season.

Although Arlo's Burlington performance is ironically billed as a "Solo Reunion Tour: Together at Last" (i.e. nothing but a couple of guitars and a harmonica, something he has rarely done since his performance at Woodstock in 1969), the new CD features Arlo with the entire University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and conductor John Nardolillo. The retrospective recording includes such favorites as Darkest Hour, Last Train, St. James Infirmary, If You Would Just Drop By, Last To Leave Epilogue, In Times Like These, Patriots' Dream, City Of New Orleans, You Are The Song, Good Night Irene, and a bonus track: Can't Help Falling in Love. Do these familiar and beloved songs work in an orchestral arrangments? Arlo's CD notes explain that these aren't pop-fluff arrangements that can be played on any synthesizer, but symphonic arrangements arrived at over years of work that challenge the skills of senior orchestral musicians.

We look forward to checking it out... and we anticipate an unforgettable night with Arlo in February. Remember, you can get your tickets for the show through the FlynnTix Regional Box Office on or after Tuesday, August 14. (To get a head-start, find out how to become a Flynn member and order your tickets as early as Friday, July 27!)

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Dirt on the Flynn Garden Tour

posted by Gina Haddock
Flynn Development Director

One of the highlights of our summer, the annual Flynn Garden Tour, now in its 11th year, is an opportunity to visit exquisite gardens in the region.

This year’s tour (Sunday, July 8, tickets are still available!) features eight of the best private gardens in the Essex Junction area, including: the three-family Willey Farm compound, with many gardens designed by Zita Lee, long-time Vermont gardener whose own gardens echo the tenets of Gertrude Jekyll; the chance to see what landscape nursery/owners/interior designers do with their own house and gardens; and an urban landscape redefined.

The tour also includes the Ethan Boyers Memorial Sensory Therapy Garden at the home of Richard & Rachel Boyers. The garden was created in memory of the Boyers’ son, Ethan, who passed away in May 2005 at age 2 ½. According to his parents, Ethan was a gentle soul who found pleasure in simple things like lying on the grass looking up through the pine trees to the sky, feeling the wind blowing through his hair, and experiencing the sensation of water running through his hands.

The garden was intended to be the Boyer family’s Make-A-Wish Foundation grant for their son, but was instead transformed into a highly accessible garden that delights the senses. When Ethan died before the “wish” was granted and the garden constructed, his two older sisters, Talia and Maya, asked, “Mommy and Daddy, does this mean we won't be able to make the garden?” They had already become captivated with ideas of planting flowers and creating wind- and light-catchers and building fairy houses. ...Who could say no?

Rachel and Richard—both landscape architects who have studied as far away as Kyoto, Japan set to work creating a garden for other children with special needs to come and enjoy as they had hoped Ethan would have. The garden is a work in progress.

Rachel is also a Master Gardener who works with Vermont’s Family, Infant and Toddler Program, which serves children with developmental delays or special needs. Now her career paths seem to be converging, as she finishes the certification program in horticultural therapy through The New York Botanic Garden. Some day soon, she will be able to offer horticultural therapy programs in her own backyard.

The Boyers’ long, narrow back lot is accentuated by a low, curved retaining wall of Pennsylvania fieldstone. Richard found solace in the cathartic act of laying each stone. The wall raises the gardens behind it to wheelchair accessible height along a wide and level path. Under the shade of five Donald Wyman crabapple trees, Japanese bells ring softly in the breeze and thick healthy perennials and shrubs thrive. Potted plants sit atop the wall and can be brought closer to visitors who are not able to reach into the beds.

The perennials are grouped according to a particular feature such as texture (hens and chicks, sea thrift, sedum, dianthus), color (delphiniums, coreopsis, astilbes, geraniums), fragrance (roses, lilies, lavender, sage, rosemary, artemisia), and sound (grasses, pines, chimes). Delicate fairy houses created by Talia and Maya nestle among the flowers, waiting for nocturnal visitors who grace them with treasures. In the spring, 4,000 bulbs unfurl their blooms, and visitors are encouraged to take a moment to stop and smell the flowers—as well as to touch the feathery seed pods and fuzzy leaves, rub snips of fresh herbs between fingertips to release the scent and listen to the birds singing and water falling. The Boyers family believes that Ethan’s spirit will live on in this garden and continue to touch those who come to enjoy it.

· The New England Culinary Institute will cater the tour’s afternoon tea while harpist Maura Morse plays beautiful, soothing music.

· At the tea tent, we have added a silent auction in addition to our popular raffle. Several unique items are up for bid, including a chance to have your name or message on the Flynn marquee for the day!

· Word of the Flynn Garden tour has spread! This year we are delighted to welcome editors from two national gardening magazines. Editors from Garden Gate Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens will join us on the tour. Both editors are on garden scouting trips for their respective magazines.

photograph from last year's Flynn Garden Tour by Odele Peter

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Carolina Chocolate Drops on Prairie Home Companion

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

I didn't know about the Carolina Chocolate Drops until earlier this spring, when we booked them for a FlynnSpace show (Friday, January 11, 2008 at 8 pm). Now, I seem to hear about them everywhere....
My friend Audrey, a North Carolina native, sang the praises of this "old-timey string band" from her home state at at recent "Stitch & Bitch" gathering, as we knitted and purled to bluegrass music by some of her other favorite artists. Not long after, I heard that their fantastic CD, Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind, was slated for re-release on June 26, with new artwork and two additional tracks. Then, on Saturday, I tuned into NPR's Prairie Home Companion and was delighted to discover that they were the show's musical guests, performing four songs: Corn Bread and Butter Beans, Georgia Buck, Hit 'Em Up, and Sourwood Mountain—as well as a Powdermilk Biscuit "Dance-Off" with Garrison Keillor and the Shoes.

If you were away from the radio enjoying the lovely early summer weather, or didn't catch the show for whatever other reason, you can listen to the entire broadcast, or just the relevant segments (1, 2, and 5), on Prairie Home Companion's excellent website. If you discover that you love this band—called the "hottest thing to hit the old-time music community in decades" by NPR's Weekend Edition—as much as we do here at the Flynn, you can get your tickets for their January FlynnSpace performance through the FlynnTix Regional Box Office on or after Tuesday, August 14. (To get a head-start, find out how to become a Flynn member and order your tickets as early as Friday, July 27!)

photograph of the Carolina Chocolate Drops courtesy of the artists
photograph of the Carolina Chocolate Drops in a "Dance Off" with Garrison Keillor and the Shoes: credit Andrea McAvey for Prairie Home Companion

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Worthy of a roadside stop," praises National Geographic

posted by Lani Stack
Flynn Marketing Coordinator, Editor

It's always fun to open up a new National Geographic magazine and learn more about our planet and the fascinating places and people on it. But it's absolutely delightful to open up a new National Geographic magazine and find yourself looking at a photo of your very workplace.

Alice and Halsey North, friends of the Flynn (whose New York City firm, The North Group, has consulted on Flynn endowment campaigns), spotted the warm glow of our familiar marquee in the May/June issue of National Geographic Travelerthe world's most widely read travel magazine, which "celebrates journeys that are about place, experience, culture, authenticity, living like the locals, and great photography," according to it's mission statement. Big thanks to Alice and Halsey for sending the story on to us!

"Worthy of a roadside stop, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Center in Burlington hosts Broadway shows, plays, and musicians," lauds the magazine in bold red letters in an article admiring the pleasures of the "Vermont Cheese Trail." The photo of our marquee offers a fitting accompaniment:

Further in the story, travel expert and Off the Beaten Path travel guide author William Scheller suggests,
"If you're in Burlington for an evening, check the schedule at the art deco Flynn Center for the Performing Arts... where recent bookings have included the State Ballet Theatre of Russia and the Broadway hit Hairspray."

Scheller's story also praises other prime Vermont attractions, such as Frog City Cheese, the Vermont State Craft Center at Frog Hollow, Shelburne Farms and the Shelburne Museum, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Willow Hill Farm, Green Mountain Blue Cheese, and several other destinations.

The Flynn also merited a mention on eHow: How to Do Just About Everything. In eHow Expert Zach Chouteau's step-by-step article on How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Burlington, Vermont, he recommends: "See a show at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, an art deco palace showcasing everything from big-time magic acts to pop stars to author readings."

photograph of the Flynn marquee: Raymond Patrick, National Geographic Traveler
story: "On the Road: Vermont Cheese Trail," William Scheller, National Geographic Traveler, May/June 2007