Valley News – Highlights: Norwich native designs Dublin streets for Northern Stage’s “Once”

Watching the award-winning Tony adaptation of Once Several years ago, Northern Stage Artistic Director Carol Dunne decided to stage it one day.

When you run a theater, you can make some of your wishes come true. Northern Stage production Once is in preview Thursday and Friday and opens Saturday evening.

She also had the wish to polish the decor of the play, moving it from the bar where most of the action of the Broadway show takes place and to the streets of Dublin. The 12 performers of the show will also sing and perform in the aisles of the Center des arts Barrette.

“The show is about street musicians and street musicians, so we wanted it to be as much as possible outside, where the musicians are,” Dunne said between rehearsals last week. “Like in the movie, we wanted to bring in the street scenes and street noise. We recreate the way the story is told.

To help Dunne bring that vision to life, Norwich native Alexander Woodward is now a New York-based stage designer who created the look for Northern Stage’s fall 2017 productions. A doll’s house and of Frost: this matter of worms.

For a large part of Once set, Woodward and the Northern Stage production team mined scenic gold at the nearby Recover Store, which sells furniture, building materials, and housewares donated to raise funds for weather protection programs and COVER home improvement for low-income residents of the Haute Vallée.

“Lots of shutters, windows and doors,” Woodward said this week. “It’s exciting when we can make the setting look real and help the community.

It was the Upper Valley theater community that helped Woodward find his calling. At Marion Cross School, teacher Tracy Smith encouraged her talent for the visual arts, and at Hanover High School, Bill Hammond, director of The Footlighters, asked her to design sets for the three annual musicals.

“Mr. Bill was like, ‘This is a real thing,’” Woodward recalls. “’You should go out and do it. You should believe in yourself. Your dream is achievable. ‘ “

Encouragement from his teachers and internships with Opera North prompted Woodward to pursue first a bachelor’s degree in design at Ithaca College, then a master’s degree in set design at the Yale School of Drama. He has overseen stage design for the past several years at the Williamstown (Mass.) Theater Festival.

“The great thing you learn is that you can’t work in this medium as a solo artist,” said Woodward. “There are so many people to interact with. It’s like an architect who works with a team of engineers.

Woodward ranks his collaborators at Northern Stage, particularly production manager Jess Johnson, along with everyone he’s met from Broadway to the Berkshires and across the country.

“Thanks to Jess, it felt effortless to me when we were doing The doll’s house and Gel to the repertoire, ”he said. “It was exciting to take two pieces, like a puzzle, and keep taking them apart and putting them together. It was nice to have a salty and a sweet.

Dunne said it was nice to have a designer who grew up and started learning the ropes in the Upper Valley to set the scene.

“He’s from that culture,” Dunne said. “It’s another example of how the theater has developed here.”

Northern Stage launches production of Once this week, with previews Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Barrette Arts Center in White River Junction. It officially opens on Saturday evening at 7:30 a.m. and continues until May 19. Northern Stage also hosts open mics in the lobby before each performance, during which Upper Valley musicians are invited to perform to get tips from customers. For tickets ($ 19 to $ 59) for shows and for more information, visit or call 802-296-7000.

Best bets

The Seldom Scene weaves bluegrass beats through country, rock and pop to Chandler Music Room at Randolph on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. Line-up includes Dudley Connell on guitar, Lou Reid on mandolin, Ronnie Simpkins on bass, Fred Travers on dobro and Ron Stewart on banjo and violin. For tickets ($ 30 to $ 35) and more information, visit or call 802-728-6464.

Pete McBride screens In the canyon, his documentary about his 750-mile journey through the Grand Canyon in 2016, Saturday night at 7 a.m. at Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium. For tickets ($ 5 to $ 15) and more information, visit or call 603-646-2422.

■ Party Crashers return to Plainfield Town Hall Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. to play the soundtrack of the annual Hand to Heart fundraising dance and silent auction. Admission is by donation to the Hand to Heart program of free home massages for patients with advanced cancer.

■ Frydaddy shakes the Newberry Market at White River Junction Saturday night at 8 p.m. on behalf of the Mud Boot Boogie Dance Party. Vocalist Carlos Ocasio, keyboardist and saxophonist Ian Gollub, bassist Bill Craig, drummer Bob Sparadeo, trumpeter Dave Ellis and trombonist Don Glasgo play a mix of funk, rock, ballads, blues and Latin rhythms. Admission is $ 10. The group encourages dancers to bring non-perishable foods to donate to Upper Valley Haven.

■ Saxophonist Fred Haas conducts guitarist David Newsam, bassist Dave Clark and drummer Les Harris Jr. in Dartmouth College Rollins Chapel Sunday afternoon at 1 a.m., to pay tribute to the master of tenor-sax jazz Stan Getz. Free entry.

Theater / performance art

Taming, comic adaptation of Shakespeare Taming the shrew, directed by Shaker Bridge Theater To Whitney hall at Enfield. Performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings before closing on Sunday afternoon. Tickets cost from $ 16 to $ 35.

■ Mud Season Variety Show, Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at Chandler Music Room. Residents of Upper Valley and central Vermont feature improv comedies, dramatic readings, storytelling, dance and music. Admission $ 6 to $ 16. Reservations recommended.


Swing Peepers, folk-roots, annual Maple-Mud concert at Community Arts ArtisTree at Pomfret Sud, Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Entry on donation.

■ Camerata New England Piano Trio, chamber works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Joaquin Turina, Saturday evening at 7 First Congregational Church in Lebanon. To reserve tickets ($ 28 for ages 18 and over) and learn more, visit or call 802-785-4833.

■ Fifth Business, roots / Americana, monthly Coffeehouse Cabaret on Saturday evenings from 7 to 10, at Common Arts of the North in Chelsea. Entry $ 10.

■ Heliand Consort, chamber works by Brahms and the Schumanns on the theme “Kindred Spirits”, Sunday afternoon at 3 pm Fairlee Town Hall Auditorium. Entrance $ 5 to $ 10.

■ Nicholas Edward Williams, roots / Americana, Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Community Arts ArtisTree. Admission by donation.

Bars and clubs circuit

Whiskey Geese, roots / Americana, Thursday evening at 6 to Peyton Square in Orford.

■ Dr. Tom’s Band, light rock, Skunk Hollow Tavern at Hartland, 8 p.m. Friday.

■ Andrew Merzi, alt-rock, Friday evening at 8 p.m. at Salt Hill Pub in Hanover; Mark and Deb Bond, folk-rock, Saturday night at 9 a.m.

■ Dougie & Rudder, rock, Friday evening at 8 p.m. at Salt Hill Pub in West Lebanon; John Lackard, blues, Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

■ Singer-songwriter Ken Macy, Friday night at 9 p.m. at Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon; Off the List, rock and pop, Saturday night at 9 a.m.

■ Dirty Double Crossers, roots / Americana, Friday night at 9 a.m. Salt Hill Pub in Newport; Alec Currier, acoustic rock, Saturday night at 9 a.m.

■ Singer-songwriter Alison “AliT” Turner, Friday night at 9 am at Margaritas in Liban.

■ Turner Round, rock, Friday evening at 9:30 am at Windsor Station; Moxley Union, rock, Saturday night at 9:30 p.m.

■ Jim Yeager, rock / funk, Monday night at 7 p.m. at Woodstock Inn’s Richardson Tavern.

■ Saxophonist Michael Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe, jazz, Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm.

■ Jazz pianist Sonny Saul, Wednesday evening at 6.30 p.m. at On the river inn in Woodstock.

Open microphones

Jim Yeager hosts open mics Thursday evenings at 7 to Community Arts ArtisTree; To The public house in Quechee Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. and to Skunk Hollow Tavern Wednesday evening at 8 a.m.

■ Weekly open microphone of Alec Currier at Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon, Thursday evening at 8 a.m.

■ Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse, monthly open microphone at Methodist Church at Sunapee on Friday evening at 7 a.m. Entry by donation.

■ Weekly Hootenanny of America’s Joe Stallsmith, folk and bluegrass, Monday night at 6 to Salt Hill Pub in Hanover.

■ Weekly acoustic jam session by violinist Jakob Breitbach of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music, Tuesday evening at 7 to Gas station bar and grill at White River Junction.

■ Weekly open microphone by Tom Masterson, Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at Colatina exit.

Look ahead

Taylor Ho Bynum conducts the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble through one of the Hopkins Center’s free and informal live Thursday night programs at Top of hops next Thursday evening at 9 o’clock.

David Corriveau can be reached at [email protected] and 603-727-3304. Send entertainment information to [email protected].

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