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Lusty Ladies Sip From The Well of Sin: Provincetown Cares Brings Pulp! to P’town

October 11, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altImagine yourself as a regular in a lesbian cabaret in the mid-1950s, when a new girl from the Women’s Air Corps comes to town… now, what happens next? That’s what you’ll find out when Provincetown Cares presents Pulp!, a witty musical comedy that parodies the gender-bending lesbian pulp novels of the 50s and 60s, with fast dialogue, dramatic songs, and moments of tenderness woven in between.
The Well is a steaming-hot Chicago lesbian cabaret where women share lurid crushes, longings, loves, and adventures over cocktails and jazz. Terry arrives from the Air Corps, running away from a bad romance, and absolute hilarity ensues, with couplings onstage at the cabaret… and offstage in the women’s personal lives as well. At night they live the life of The Well; but in the daytime, audiences will see stories about women who are, fundamentally, friends.
The play is produced by Provincetown Cares, which puts on an annual benefit for women’s health-care services, what founder and director Lynn d’Angona calls “community organizing at its finest.” She and several other local individuals began the venture four years ago. “I had a desire to pay it forward. I had friends with breast cancer, and I wanted to do something about it… I asked myself, ‘What can I do? What am I good at? Okay, I’m a filmmaker – so I can put on a show!’”
Michelle Crone, one of the organizers of the first Provincetown Cares show, smiles when asked about it. “We produced it at the UU that first year,” she says. “And then went on to the Art House. The show was always sold out, from the second year onward.” D’Angona was overwhelmed by the response to what started as a simple idea. “The idea was that Provincetown is my home, and I really wanted to repurpose Women’s Week, open it up to doing a good thing, entertain, raise money, and bring a few more people to town,” she says.

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REVIEW: The Weight of Water

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altMyra Slotnick’s new play The Weight of Water takes place nine days after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans. With the water starting to recede, Pearl (Geany Masai) begins to clean up what is left of her home of 40 years when volunteers Finch (Andrew Clemons) and Natalie (Jamie Heinlein) arrive by boat to rescue her. The pressure of the sweltering heat and the devastation surrounding them crack each character’s veneer as we learn that this isn’t the first time Pearl has had to put her life back together and that Finch and Natalie might just be the ones in need of rescuing.
Masai gives an unforgettable performance as Pearl. Vulnerable and stubborn, Masai’s Pearl is a fractured woman holding the pieces together the best she can in not just the face of the disaster, but also the cruel, heartless realties of life. The fully developed and realized character does most of the heavy lifting in this play with tenderness, ferocity, at times humor, and most of all, humanity. Though Pearl’s husband Emery (Jimi Little) appears briefly and sporadically throughout the play, the portrayal is haunting. Little’s subtle delivery and easy stage rapport with Masai give extreme heft to the scenes of Pearl’s life before the storm, propelling the story with his great performance.

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REVIEW: Karen Grenier’s “Crazy” Love CD

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altFor some reason love songs never really go out of style. Since the beginning of songwriting history, love has been a favorite topic for musicians and Karen Grenier is no different. Her pleasant singing voice, rhythmic energy, and straightforward approach on her latest CD Crazy Love make for an uplifting soundtrack to your daily commute, a get together with friends, or as you go about your day.
The tracks on this CD are overwhelmingly up-tempo, free of angst-ridden tirades or mournful ballads that only serve to make a bad mood worse. Grenier’s approach is bright, light, and soothing.
If Grenier’s message isn’t abundantly clear from her musical style, she includes a written statement on the inside of the CD cover that speaks volumes about what you will find on the album: “Crazy Love is a collection of songs inspired by love. We experience love in moments. We find it in the ups and downs of life; in absence and in togetherness, in joy and in pain. Mostly, we find love in the ordinary. Love is serious and silly, difficult yet simple, rational and crazy, personal and communal. It is freely given and freely received. Love is part of the journey, part of us, when we are open to each other.”

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REVIEW: The Tides of Provincetown

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altThis past summer, the New Britain Museum of American Art (in Connecticut) presented an exhibition of works specifically tied to the Provincetown artist colony. The exhibition, containing works by over 100 artists closes October 16, but it will then tour the country with a stop at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, May 18 through Aug. 26, 2012. In the mean time, the exhibition book has been released and is available at a number of locations in town.
The Tides of Provincetown: Pivotal Years in America’s Oldest Continuous Art Colony (1899 – 2011) is a collection of essays about important moments in the art colony’s history, from Charles Hawthorne’s founding of the Cape Cod School of Art through today. In each period, we find Provincetown continually reinventing itself as the town changed from a Portuguese-American fishing village to its current status as a Mecca for GLBT tourism, among other things.
The book is not comprehensive, and everyone will have someone they think should have been included who wasn’t or someone they think should not have been included, but still it is an excellent resource for those interested in the history of art here.
Each of the nine chapters covers an important element of Provincetown’s rich artistic history. Former director of the Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum Jim Bakker starts us off with a piece on Charles Hawthorne’s founding of the Cape Cod School of Art here in 1899. His chapter is chock full of information about the very earliest days of the artist colony – before it even was an artist colony.

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BETTY – Making Their Own Rules

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altIf you were in a band in the 1980s, your path toward fame and fortune – in other words, “success,” was fairly clear and certainly predetermined. Play a bunch of gigs in a major city until you get noticed, make a music video and sign with a major label, get on MTV, done. As simple as it seemed, the process was almost completely out of your hands and it relied on the not-necessarily-brilliant tastes of the recording industry.
Some bands made it through that traditional route; many more found themselves eaten alive by it. But a few intrepid rockers made it out alive, securing a place for themselves in the indie rock explosion without giving in to the record industry’s whims, carving out their own spot for themselves. BETTY is one such band.
“The music industry came to us. We’ve always been D.I.Y. and that’s what the music industry is now,” says Elizabeth Ziff, the band’s guitarist. “We’ve always been sort of reinventing ourselves or pushing what it means to be in a band or be in a group… We’ve never really done the ‘straight’ path,” she adds with a laugh.
BETTY (intentionally spelled with all capitals, by the way) came on the scene in the late 1980s with Ziff, her sister Amy on cello, and Alyson Palmer on bass. All three claim vocal credit and the current lineup also features Tony Salvatore on guitar and drummer Mino Gori.

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Crazy Love: “A Mad Person’s Chronicle of a Miserable Marriage”

October 4, 2011 5:00 am0 comments

altIt’s the duality of life that makes things interesting. The good can’t exist without the bad, the beautiful without the ugly, or the sane without the insane. The rules of parallel universes or perhaps the laws of physics are the reason.  Those within the religious realm might cite God’s blessings, or an angry curse. Whatever the reason, or the cause, the most intense human emotion of love can bring bliss or despair. The marriage of Leo and Sonia Tolstoy provides an epic guide through the crazed emotions of an intense relationship, one so close that it eventually evolved into a common dysfunction, or a shared mental illness.
In playwright Sinan Ünel’s A Mad Person’s Chronicle of a Miserable Marriage, the idea of a marriage so intense, so intertwined that it becomes “a near psychotic episode” is explored in a one-person show acting out both roles of Sonia and Leo.
“It was a very dysfunctional relationship,” says Ünel. “I envision it as an internal conflict, as they are so enmeshed in each other’s minds and lives. There was nothing left to consume about each other.”

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Q & A with Whit Smith of Hot Club of Cowtown

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By Steve Desroches It’s not often that the music of Austin, Texas, makes its way up to our region, but Payomet Performing Arts Center is capping off its season of incredible, eclectic music programming with the western swing/jazz/indie band Hot Club of Cowtown. As it turns out, this Texas trio [...]

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Special Delivery: Poppy Champlin Comes Home to the Post Office Cabaret

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altPoppy Champlin has a new attitude, a new address, and a new girlfriend. Things are coming up roses for Poppy.
After 15 years in Los Angeles, Champlin made the move back to her home state of Rhode Island and is finding her niche in the ever competitive field of stand-up comedy.  Ever since leaving LaLa Land she’s been touring the country both with her solo stand up show as well as her Queer Queens of Qomedy, an all-lesbian comedy revue. And this Women’s Week, Champlin is making a homecoming when she plays the Post Office Cabaret, the venue that gave her the break she needed to start her career ten years ago.
“The Post Office was the beginning for me,” says Champlin.  “I am so glad they are having me back. I’m very indebted to them. I can’t say thank you to the Post Office enough.”

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REVIEW: Kate Clinton’s Lady HAHA CD

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altKate Clinton had a nightmare, a terrifying nightmare.
“I had a nightmare where Ann Coulter was going down on me,” says Clinton on her Lady HAHA CD, eliciting loud groans and shrieks from the audience. “I know! I thought ‘Anything to shut her up!’”
Recorded live at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia, on the last stop of her 2010 Lady HAHA tour, Clinton’s latest CD is a pitch perfect response to the absurdities spewed forth by the Republican Party, the Vatican, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party. Buy a copy for yourself to stay sane in this insane
   political climate and buy a copy for your conservative relatives for the holidays just to piss them off.
For almost 30 years Clinton has been a comedic liberal voice of sanity, intelligence, and thoughtfulness in a frenzied world of sound bytes and Rupert Murdoch orchestrated infotainment, a world where talentless celebrities like Kim Kardashian and the anything-but-real housewives of bland wealthy suburbs get more media attention than genocide in Darfur and global warming. It’s enough to make you cry if Clinton didn’t first make you laugh.

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Good Golly Miss Molly!

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altMolly Dykeman has the mind of a child genius, the mouth of a moron, and a haircut that looks like Chewbacca got a perm.  And she just may be the smartest person in the room.
Dykeman is a poet and an unlicensed security guard at P.S. 339 in Brooklyn. In between snacking on chicken fingers, avoiding work, and chasing the ladies, Dykeman hops on the subway from her Bay Ridge home to downtown Manhattan to perform her unique form of burlesque poetry for adoring fans blinded by both her sublime use of words and her fluorescent orange safety vest.
While the spirit of Molly is based in people we probably all know, she is a character created by actress and comedian Andrea Alton, who will bring Ms. Dykeman to Provincetown as part of the Bulldyke Chronicles, an evening of edgy and hip lesbian burlesque and comedy at the Art House hosted by downtown New York legend Shelly Mars.  This one-night-only show features characters and acts from Mars, as well as surprise guests, and a special featured spotlight for Molly Dykeman. An evening with Molly is a hilariously compelling night of poetry and performance from a woman with sharp insights dulled by Percocet, cheap beer, and a lazy eye.
Alton enjoyed a sold-out run of her show The F*cking World According to Molly at the New York International Fringe Festival in August, garnering rave reviews.  While Alton has performed in Provincetown before, this marks the debut for Molly.

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